Leberecht, my Prussian H0 layout.

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Hello All,
Having now finished my first show with this layout, it is now that I need to go back in time (so to speak) and show how I prepared the layout for the scenery.
First, I painted a thick layer of PVA all over the pink foam areas and coated this with strips of plaster impregnated cloth. Some I did wet but after a while, I decided it might be better to do it dry and mist a small amount of water on afterwards - this seemed more effective.
Once this was done and quite dry, I mixed up some plaster with 'brown' cement die and liberally painted a fairly thick coat all over.

43254731975_bde069c995_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

43254735455_6ab38afb61_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

You can see that I also incorporated some cut-down plaster 'rock' castings too.

43442085044_6fda5122a4_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

The 'soil' is just that, collected from my garden, ground, sieved and baked at a low temperature for an hour or so. We don't want any real growth as it would be out of scale.

It was now that I decided I really must do something about the remaining flat areas of the layout and apply the same treatment to them.

44926707851_00ef81156b_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

43114520130_335ab8f151_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

I was very pleased with the improvement to the turntable area.

44926708281_f62fce122d_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

The final ground treatment was to create a mix of chinchilla dust and my sieved soil to try and replicate the sandy soil seen in the Luneburg Heath area, where the layout is set. This was done by again coating the ground with a thick layer of PVA then spooning on quantities of mix followed by a generous spraying of diluted PVA to hold everything in place securely.

44876684942_d5710a7c72_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

29989919807_8aa2b14d24_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

That sums up the groundworks I think now onto the plaster castings.

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Several years ago, my good friend Doug Coombes, bought lots of silicon rubber moulds from Werkstatt Spörle, a sadly now defunct company*. These moulds can be used to make the most exquisite plaster castings of all sorts of model infrastructure using fine quality casting or ‘dental’ plaster.
One of the drawbacks of doings things this way, besides the castings being quite fragile, is the finished item is a quite stark white! To try and get around this we decided to experiment with adding dry powder paint to the plaster mix.
The first batch we did was with 3 grams of paint to 100 grams of plaster but this was rather dark so we then moved on to 1 gram paint per 100 gram plaster. This was better but on reflection maybe we should have tried 1.5 gram per 100? Time was short so we pressed on with this 1% mix.

30293549328_4cd95a935b_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

Doug provided the materials and methods, I mainly just did the donkey work as well as the quality weighing scale, casting table and other tools. My first castings were a little too thick as I was learning the techniques.
Within a few days, I had made quite a number of castings for the platforms, retaining walls, roadways and loading dock hard standing. I actually made rather more than was needed as I suspected we may have some breakages but, working carefully, I don’t recall any.

30293548668_22cc84efed_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

44111997902_763314706c_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

Now the hard work began!
Obviously, a plaster casting cannot bend at all and I needed to create some curved sections. So, I resolved to cut some sections into short strips, sand a fine taper onto one edge then reassemble - easier said than done. The main tools used were my fine modelling saw, fine sandpaper and a decent file. Individually, one piece of plaster only takes a couple of minutes to do but when I counted up the number of pieces used in my cutting, there were over fifty items - eek! That’s where the time goes.

43114554080_4da2be099a_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

44926743841_05c3cc0c91_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

44926744181_7035a3c234_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

I found the worst problem for me was that this plaster is so fine, the dust created gets everywhere and really sucks the moisture out of your skin, next time - I must wear rubber gloves like the medical professionals wear. Be warned, especially if you have sensitive skin or skin conditions.

29989987877_59df62c9bf_c.jpgUntitled by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

After I had laid the platform and created ramps for the ends of the platform, despite my best (too rapid?) efforts, I had some unsightly gaps between the individual pieces so I went over all these gaps with my white squadron putty - which I had used previously without any problems. It’s lovely stuff for plastic modelling but not for plaster modelling!
When Doug came to paint the castings, he was cursing me left & right for doing this as his paint would not cover the putty! Oops! Any future gaps MUST be filled with very liquid plaster. Eventually, he was able to cover the differences but it needed much more paint than would have been normal and so a lot of detail was lost, sadly. For this reason, a lot of my castings will eventually have to be redone.
Anyway, my much needed holiday was rapidly approaching so the layout was transported over to Doug’s house so he could apply the greenery.
Next time,

*Similar moulds can now be obtained from these sites;

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I cannot give a very detailed description of the next stages of the layouts construction as that was in the capable hands of my scenery guru, Doug Coombes, I can only show some photos he sent me as updates while I was getting some relaxation in.

I do know that Doug spent some time studying and practicing the techniques of Josef Brandl and Gordon Gravett but this was long ago although I believe he gave himself a refresher course before starting work.

First, Doug painted the plaster castings.
31222958498_71df9b0ec6_c.jpgScenery on Leberecht by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

You can see how difficult it was to disguise my crude attempt at filling the gaps between the castings, sadly this caused Doug much angst and he had to paint over my filler several times, leading to a darker finish than was otherwise necessary or wanted.

31222958548_f77f9146b4_c.jpgScenery on Leberecht by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

31222958618_fcedef5d5b_c.jpgScenery on Leberecht by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

Fortunately, I had not used any filler on the retaining walls so they came out much more satisfactorily and won’t need to be redone.

Next came the grassing with the electrostatic gun.

31053760678_572e0d6563_c.jpgGreece 2018 by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

31053760668_3dfc32887b_c.jpgGreece 2018 by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

While I’m working rapidly through the photos, I must point out there was a lot of work just to get to this stage. Each static gun use only covers a relatively small area of terrain, partly because the charge fades away if working far from the earthing nail and partly because of the need to work onto wet PVA.

After grassing came the weeding, that is adding weeds, not removing them.

44876851692_f369c11acc_c.jpgGreece 2018 by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

44876851782_4054cfb812_c.jpgGreece 2018 by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

Next, trees were added and more weeds around the bases of the trees.

44206605164_428572aa4e_c.jpgGreece 2018 by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

29990088717_b061b3e369_c.jpgGreece 2018 by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

I had researched the types of tree to be found on Luneburg Heath and they included Spruce, Birch, Beech and Juniper. Most of these were available from MBR Model of Poland and I was very grateful that they had them all in stock and could ship very quickly indeed, this certainly saved my bacon. It may have been ‘nice’ to build my own trees but I have neither the experience, time nor motivation to do so when such magnificent models are available for a fair price.

Probably the most important signature flora on Luneburg Heath however, is the heather which appears to grow everywhere and puts on a magnificent display, MBR do a purple shrub that looked a good match for the original.

29990088657_e7aa1d2e5d_c.jpgGreece 2018 by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

44926827131_48149f1a87_c.jpgGreece 2018 by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

Actually, I think my heather is a still little tall despite Doug cutting it down from the original but it is the best I will get until Doug or I learn how to make it ourselves so it will stay for the time being.

Finally, Doug then carefully masked off my track and added additional fixatives to secure the greenery and added further detailing such as ‘flowers’, ‘weeds’ and grass between the tracks and so forth.

44876850892_0a659dff06_c.jpgGreece 2018 by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

30802851988_4650bbd9be_c.jpgScenery on Leberecht CC. Doug Coombes by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

While Doug was busy in the UK, I took my time in Greece to assemble in ‘flat pack’ form, my station building. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos, sorry. I had to build it in this way as I was so scared of it getting damaged on the flight home as it would have been too late to repair it by then.

Next, the return home with just two full days prior to the layouts first exhibition appearance. Never again will I subject myself to this level of stress.

All pictures © Doug Coombes.

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Now to try and describe the stress that I went through upon my return from holiday!
Despite having had a wonderful break away from everything, when my wife and I returned to the UK, my feelings of anxiety returned with a vengeance as there was so much still to do. We also had some rather rainy weather to contend with too that caused a delay in collecting the layout but I busied myself clearing the kitchen as my lovely wife Bev, had allowed me to assemble the layout here rather than down in the big shed. It meant that work could be carried out in comfort.
When I did get over to Doug’s and laid eyes on the layout, I was stunned! He really had done an excellent job, I must say.
After some discussion, we added some further vegetation to certain parts of the scenery and changed some grass colours to darker shades, other than that, I was very satisfied with how the scenery looked.
We then transferred the layout over to my kitchen and set it all up again. This at least was good practice for the exhibition.

44751884862_4ce23093f5_c.jpgLeberecht by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

I now had to start working my way through the extensive list of jobs I had written whilst in Greece, the first job being to ensure greater reliability of the action of the points. My first thought was to superglue the actuating rod to the tie-bar. Big mistake! What had been inadequate performance previously was now rendered completely useless. Bev came to the rescue thankfully, with her suggestion for more substantial actuating rods, sourced from her jewellery making collection. A bit of filing and cutting later, the first new rod was installed and worked beautifully, thanks Bev! This was repeated for all the other points, what a relief when they all worked.
Next, I had to assemble the station building but first, I wanted to recreate mortar lines in the brickwork. Some folk use “Jif” but I had heard good reports about “Roberts Brick Mortar formula” so I gave it a go. Unfortunately, due to the pressures on my time, I left it longer than needed so it set harder than it should have been but scraping with a toothpick resolved this issue and I was quite satisfied with the results. It was then very quick and easy to assemble the flat-pack parts of the station building, I was very pleased with how it then looked. Small details still needed to be done but it was at a good state for the show, especially after I gave it a quick blast of weathering from my airbrush.

43932889360_a37434ebb5_c.jpgLeberecht by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

45750643321_b89d40df93_c.jpgLeberecht by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

Boosted by this, I then gave the mortar treatment to the loco shed and all the components for the water tower,  which I then assembled quickly but accurately - I’ve never built a building so fast! I hasten to add that I had built the loco shed previously, it was only the water tower I built in a hurry. These two were also treated to a quick airbrushing for a much improved appearance.

43731555110_646c4b01b6_c.jpgLeberecht at Leigh show Sept 2018 by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

30607961707_c4940bf72c_c.jpgLeberecht at Leigh show Sept 2018 by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

Whilst I was doing these jobs, I was also working on many other jobs, some of which caused a major meltdown like when I initially connected up my Roco Z21 digital controller. Previously during testing, I had always used my trusty NCE but I thought that Doug would prefer to use the Roco Multi-Maus, hence the Z21.
Unfortunately, it turned out that I had connected on of the serial leads into the wrong socket on the wireless (wi-fi) terminal so there were red lights flashing on the main black box! I thought this meant there was a major ‘short’ on the layout so panic ensued. Fortunately, Doug gave me a talk-down and, feeling calmer, I re-read the instructions, connected everything correctly and voila! We were in action and the electrics and points were now working as they should.
I also finally wired up the turntable and was very pleased when it worked perfectly, what a relief!
Having gotten so far, I really wanted to fit my Viessmann signal as I really love the action on these mechanisms but I only had a 12mm drill bit. I managed to enlarge the hole by waggling the drill bit but sadly, the signal went in at a slight angle, never mind! Unfortunately, I then discovered that the output of my Lenz accessory decoders was incorrect to drive my signal, Grr!

30810601587_05c0afb19d_c.jpgLeberecht by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

Meanwhile, Bev was busy finishing the painting of the back-scene boards and also making a front ‘skirt’ from some green cloth that I had bought for my US layout but never got around to doing ‘properly’, this entailed cutting to the correct height, stitching the edges and fitting ’Velcro’ so the skirt can be added and removed easily.

30607962307_400ec1e155_c.jpgLeberecht at Leigh show Sept 2018 by Allegheny1633, on Flickr

Also, Doug and Bev did some ’tidy up’ painting of the baseboard edges where there were still pink foam edges on display(!) along with additional ballasting right up to scenery sections, buildings and so on. 
I had wanted to at least get my freight stock weathered before the show but time was running so late, I only had chance to make sure everything was fitted with Kadee couplings and the one loco I knew was iffy, got a clean of wheels and pick-ups.
By now, we had reached Friday tea time so it was time to get the layout over to the exhibition venue.
Until next time.

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