Saturday, 26 April 2014

Thornycroft Baseboard

Work on the baseboard for Thornycroft has now been completed. It is built to the exact same dimensions as Cliddesden, and same building technique, taking about 3 hours to make. However this time as the track is lower than the ground (in most places) we decided to use a single12mm MDF board, so that it's height matches that of cliddesden - for when we decide to join them together. This has meant that the board is a bit heavier than Cliddesden, but it has made it more rigid, so we did not need to use as many cross braces as we did before, and taking into account where point motors will be placed.

Thornycroft Baseboard

Debate is still happening about how to attach the ends so they can be easily attached / detached. With Cliddesden we used 2 bolts on each side, but they were a bit fiddly when we had to construct it at a model railway show 1 hour before it opened. So, we are thinking about using hinges, unless anyone can think of a better idea.

You may have noticed from the picture, that there is a slit at the back of the board, this is so we can drop in a 4mm hardboard back scene depicting the rest of the Thornycroft site. Making that is going to be a challenge in itself due to perspective and buildings being part model and part back scene, and trains running through it - I'm sure we'll work it out. We have also marked roughly where the track will be laid.


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Thornycroft Buildings - Review

The 15 factory buildings (and a railway bridge) presented in previous posts were scratch built in hobby time over about 5 months. All are based on documentary evidence of the Basingstoke factory and an invaluable contribution from a past employee.

Some aspects may be incorrect so, if any other Thornycroft veteran or academic would like to proffer their knowledge then I welcome it as I have no qualms about remaking buildings or correcting background information presented in postings.

There are three distinct phases to our Thornycroft Sidings project. The first was creation of the buildings; the second is the baseboard with scenery and working railway and the third is populating the layout with people, vehicles and factory materials. I expect all this to take well into next year.

With the buildings complete it is time to build the baseboard to accommodate them and this will surely be the subject of the next postings.

But, before moving on let's reflect on 'phase 1'. Faced with recreating the factory buildings (actually about a third of the real factory) sounds a daunting task but elements of it have helped to spur me on.

First, is the historical research undertaken because each piece of information or photograph uncovered increases knowledge in all manner of things from architectural details in building construction to the 'pickling' process of metal castings.

Second, is the variety of buildings on the factory site that make modelling challenging, from ornate brick to functional corrugated iron, from a model no bigger than half a thumb to one nearly half a metre long!

Third, is experimenting with different modelling techniques during construction. The most significant of which was window fabrication. No less than five different methods were tried, which I would like to review for you here.

At the outset I assumed that to model the actual buildings the windows would need to be scratch built rather than using proprietary parts so, brass frets or injection moulded plastic, which I know can have the finest level of detail were not used.

1. Opaque Printed

Designed in a graphic editing program to a resolution of 600 pixels per inch and printed on ink jet printer. The opaque window glass is a photo of  a real glass pane. For windows It is dark grey with white overtones giving the appearance of light reflection. For roof skylights, white to very light blue.

Good Points
Any style can be created with very fine glazing bars. Repeatable elements are produced quickly with consistent dimensions.

Questionable Points
Two dimensional, no relief although shading effects may compensate for this. Need a computer, printer and have access to and be competent in use of a graphic design application. No good if interior views or interior lighting is wanted.

2. Transparent Printed 1

As  above but printed on transparent film.

Good Points
Transparent like real windows so interior decoration or lighting can be seen.

Questionable Points
Limited colour palette for glazing bars using conventional home printers. White is not a printable colour and rainbow colours tend to be washed out. Black is commonly used but how often do we see black glazing bars? Possibly OK  for leaded panes. In the photo the glazing bars were printed this way but the frames are white card stuck on the film.

3 Transparent Printed 2

As 1. above but printed on a sticky label sheet that is then stuck to transparent film. The window panes are next sliced out to reveal transparency using this technique.

Good Points
Very fine glazing bars are achievable with good eyesight, a steady hand and sharp scalpel. I found the exercise quite therapeutic. Realistic glazing bars in relief. Could be done without a computer using sharp pencil and rule for design.

Questionable PointsSome may find it too repetitive or tedious. Quite easy to break and peel off bars, for which very thin strips of sticky paper have to be cut and fitted to repair it.

4. Sticky Label Strips

Fit transparent film to the window opening. Cut a long thin strip from white sticky label sheet and cut to length for each side of the frame. Stick to window. Cut another long strip thinner than the frame and cut to length for each glazing bar. Stick in place on window. This technique was used for the roof skylights in photo.

Tip: Lightly rub a pencil over the paper before cutting out for a weathering effect.

Good Points
Quick, using conventional modelling tools of scalpel and metal rule.

Questionable PointsNeed to accurately mark up the paper to get consistent dimension, which is a manual task prone to error. Manually fitting the strips may also lead to inconsistency.  Overlapping strips whilst quickest may be unsightly.

5. 3D Printed Plastic

So, you don't have a 3D printer? Shame on you! When you do get one you'll also need to obtain and learn to use a CAD Application so you can design the windows. The side wall windows in the above photo are 3D printed and stuck to transparent film for the glass.

Good Points
Create elaborate designs with built in relief. Can batch produce at the touch of a button.

Questionable PointsHelps to be a mechanical CAD designer. Design and print can take a long time but small, simple objects like window frames are quick to design and print out in batches. Printer may not be capable of very thin N scale details. Smallest width on our machine is 0.5mm (3 inch glazing bars in 2mm scale!).

In conclusion

Not one of those methods stands out as a best approach for realism or simplicity. They each have their own  merits and downfalls. Best thing to do is choose a method that suits your own needs and abilities. If I had to choose a method for 'N' gauge I would lean towards the first method, assuming it's a bespoke design and transparency is not required.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Thornycroft Building #16 - Running Shed

In the photo below this building is the white ended building between the main yard and the road on the right.


The running shed was where chassis builds were stored until the body shop was ready to accept them. The small extension on the west side contained lorry test loads. These were one ton concrete blocks, which were bolted onto the chassis for test drives. The NW corner of the building contained a block of lavatories and along the front wall was a lean-to cycle shed. Each bay accommodated 5 bicycles, was fully utilised with more bicycles stacked outside.

Time Line

The dutch barn roofed section nearest the main yard was built between 1902 and 1919. The other parts were added between 1919 and 1928. By 1939 the small extension on the west wall had been lengthened to join the next building and by the 1950s the small yard there was completely roofed over.


Corrugated iron throughout with white finish. The front of the original building had a series of tall sliding garage doors separated by tall windows. The doors were later replaced with same style windows, except the lavatory end, which had shorter windows, presumably finishing above the water closets/urinals. The later addition of a cycle shed hid the lower half of the tall windows.

The enlarged building had a vehicle roller door (assumed roller) on the end and two personnel doors, one of which was for lavatory access.

The south wall of the complex was pierced all the way along with windows comprising a small frame above a larger one.

The saw tooth roof had skylights.

The Model

The next photo shows the model in situ on our full sized layout plan in a similar orientation to the real building shown above.

Designed in a graphic design application and printed on paper that is stuck to card. The building is raised on a 4mm plinth that will disappear into the ground on the layout. 

The front of the extension is unclear from photographs so the double doors placed there are guesswork. I would not be surprised if it was open to the elements since concrete blocks do not need protection. The hole in the end of the extension is where the strip light pokes through into the next building.

The large vehicle entrance doors are operational and made in a similar fashion to other models in this series.

Window frames and cycle shed frame are 3D printed in plastic but the glazing bars are too thick, a limitation of our printer. The cycle shed is populated with bicycles from the Peco range. Eventually the entire shed will be filled.

The South side window arrangement was taken from an artist illustration of the works as this side is completely hidden by trees and shrubs in photographs.

The model is shorter than the real building, being cut short by the back scene that it butts onto. Consequently the East end is blank.

This building has working interior lights (one strip from a Livarno 3 strip set sold by Lidl) so, all windows are transparent.


Saturday, 5 April 2014

Thornycroft Building #15 - Worting Road Bridge

In the photo below the bridge is bottom left of the site. (Click for a larger view).

J.I. Thornycroft and Co Motor Works, Basingstoke, 1939 - Britain from Above

Time Line  

Built 1899/1900 along with the railway from Basingstoke to Alton that opened for public services in 1901. Just to the north of the bridge is the siding off the single track line into the factory site. When the railway closed and track lifted in 1936 this stretch from the main line at Basingstoke to about 400 feet this side of the bridge was retained for the movement of factory goods. In the late 1960s part of a ring road was constructed on the railway route and the bridge replaced with a bigger concrete type spanning the new four lane dual carriageway.


Brown old English bond brick with the stronger blue engineers brick in vulnerable areas. Four buttresses, two each side were probably flared towards the base. Grassed embankments each side of the bridge.

The Model

Here is the bridge on our full sized layout plan in a similar orientation to the above.

There is a photo of the prototype here, whilst it can be use to scale the model the decor is less clear. Other colour photos of the bridge at Winslade on the line and drawings in the book "The Basingstoke & Alton light Railway" helped to provide details.

The model is made from brick paper on card and lightly weathered with black soft pastel scrapes applied with a dry paint bush. The height of the arch has been made higher to accommodate our tallest wagon load, which is our Thornycroft J class lorry.

The buttresses have not been flared due to complexity and mostly hidden by the embankments.

The model will be built into the landscape of the layout (the roadway shown is temporary). The roadway will be created with the landscape so that its texture and colour will be uniform as it crosses the bridge.

The next photo shows how the bridge fits into the landscape.