Starting the Scenery

Having completed the track and baseboard, the next stage I considered was to add some scenery. The first thing to think about was the background and the sky. It is fairly easy to achieve a sky effect by using commercially available sky paper (e.g. Peco do one), and this is usually available in different varieties such as cloudy, cloudless, etc.. It is also possible to paint your own background and sky using watercolours, for those with particularly good artistic skills. Having looked at several sky papers, I discovered that most were not wide enough for the height of my backscene and, rather than spend about £8.00 on a large roll (Townscene) that was almost standard wallpaper width, I decided on the option of painting my backscene plain blue to achieve a cloudless sky effect. I bought two Crown matchpots of vinyl matt emulsion from a DIY shop, costing 79p each. I found that the shade 'porcelain blue' produced very satisfactory results and the paint was easy to apply as well as being very economical.

Painted backscene

When the sky has dried, some background needs to be added to give some 'depth' to the layout. Again, some modellers paint their own back scenes and with skill these can look very realistic. However, there are alternative ready-produced backscenes on the market which I think look equally effective. I used a backscene from Townscenes. These are produced on sheets and can be cut out and mixed and matched to suit your particular layout. I used one sheet with an industrial and agricultural background, cut out the sections I wanted using scissors, and then stuck these around the back board with wallpaper paste.

The second stage was to build the hill and rocky escarpment on the right hand side of the layout. This was easily built up using pieces of polystyrene (ceiling tiles) roughly cut to shape with a stanley knife and then glued down (using PVA adhesive,) gradually adding layers to the height required. The top of the hill is a flat piece of cardboard (this will eventually become a field), the left hand side slopes gently down to baseboard level and the front of the hill falls sharply towards the station. Room was left under the hill for the tunnel with a retaining wall on each side. At this stage I realised that the hole cut in the backscene was too small! I couldn't get my hand through to rescue any derailed rolling stock. The hole was enlarged using a keyhole saw (actually part of a swiss army knife).

Polystyrene tunnel construction

The glue should hold the polystyrene reasonably firmly on its own, but some long nails pushed through parts that didn't appear to be sticking, added extra strength. This base was then covered with wall filler (Tetrion, from my local Hardware shop), applied quite thickly in places to achieve a suitably craggy look in the area on top of the tunnel. In other places it was applied (using odd pieces of wood as 'spatulas') more smoothly, as the area sloping down to road level would form a grazing area for cattle.

The filler needs to be left to dry thoroughly - sometimes for a day or two for areas where it is quite thick. Further coats can be added thereafter to get the right effect.

The tunnel mouth and retaining wall are Peco products. The Walling was cut to shape using a razor saw and each individual piece cemented together using liquid polystyrene cement. The wall capping was cut from 60thou plasticard and scored to represent individual stones. The wall was glued to the baseboard initially with PVA adhesive, additional strengh being created when the Tetrion filler was put in behind. Finally, the wall was painted with a grey enamel paint. It still awaits weathering. The platform in the photograph is from Kestrel Designs.

Exhibition Postscript

Exhibiting 'Sough Lea' I learnt various things from this experience. The first thing was that my husband cannot measure cars very well! He had arranged to borrow an estate car from the company he works for. Unfortunately, having got the car home we found the railway wouldn't fit along with four people. If you are going to transport your railway remember to actually try the fit well in advance.

I also found that the fiddleyard points caused occasional derailment, particularly if the locomotive had leading pony wheels. The solution would appear to be to have a short length of straight track between the point and the curve. This would allow the pony wheel to 'straighten up' before going through the point.