Down to a Fyne art

David Har­ri­son wanted to build a lay­out that would be small and eas­ily por­ta­ble…

Model Rail (UK) - - CONTENTS - Words: Chris Gadsby Pho­tog­ra­phy: Chris Ne­vard Art­work: An­drew Mack­in­tosh

VI­TAL STATS Lay­out: ‘In­ver­cal­ley’ Size: 15ft by 2ft Gauge: ‘N’

Have you suf­fered from this? You build a lay­out, start ex­hibit­ing it, and then you see some­thing that in­spires you so much that you want to rip it up and build some­thing else? In­spi­ra­tion came to David Har­ri­son on a visit to In­ver­aray, the beau­ti­ful lit­tle town on the shore of Loch Fyne. The hand­some white build­ings stand some way away from the wa­ter’s edge – it al­most looks as though there is enough room there for a small branch line ter­mi­nus... just like one in Ian Futers’ Scot­tish Lay­out Projects book. The de­sire to give In­ver­aray a rail­way drove David to build ‘In­ver­cal­ley’ while still ex­hibit­ing his other lay­out. “Once I saw the plan for the lay­out in Ian’s book, that re­ally set me go­ing,” ad­mits David. “I adapted the lay­out slightly to in­clude a run­round loop and sid­ings, and changed the name so that, even though it was based on In­ver­aray,

I wouldn’t be tied down to the spe­cific lo­ca­tion.” The lay­out’s name was de­rived from sev­eral sources, in­clud­ing a dog he once owned called Cal­ley, and the fact that he sup­ports In­ver­ness Cale­do­nian This­tle foot­ball team. BEST LAID PLANS... De­spite the near­est rail­way to In­ver­aray be­ing the West High­land Rail­way, ‘In­ver­cal­ley’ de­picts a fic­ti­tious Cale­do­nian branch from the Cal­len­dar & Oban line. David en­vi­sioned a much smaller lay­out than he ended up with. He ex­plained: “The plan was to make a lay­out that wouldn’t need three peo­ple to load into a van. The scenic sec­tion is 15ft by 2ft, with the fid­dle­yard branch­ing off at 90º on the right-hand side to make an L-shape. This is about 4ft long, mak­ing the whole lay­out 6ft long on that side.

4 Tight curves and nar­row cut­tings are typ­i­cal of Scot­land’s rail­ways – which help cre­ate a very ef­fec­tive scenic break.

“The orig­i­nal lay­out was only 9ft long. Then I added another base­board in­spired by the lo­co­mo­tive shed at Kyle of Lochalsh. That brought ‘In­ver­cal­ley’ up to the length it is now.” DUAL OP­ER­A­TION ‘In­ver­cal­ley’ al­lowed David to dip his toe in the wa­ters of DCC. Trains are con­trolled by dig­i­tal, but the point mo­tor wiring uses 12V ana­logue wiring for ease of fa­mil­iar­ity. “I’d never built a DCC lay­out,” David ex­plains, “but was keen to keep up with tech­nol­ogy and wanted to give it a go. One of the best things about it is that I can have two lo­co­mo­tives on the same track and bring them up to one another. I use two Gauge­mas­ter Prodigy con­trollers, so that one op­er­a­tor can be per­form­ing ma­noeu­vres in the sid­ings while the other is run­ning the main line. “I tried sev­eral dif­fer­ent DCC con­trollers and, in the end, de­cided on the Prodigy be­cause I found it the sim­plest to use. With it be­ing an end-to-end lay­out I don’t have the lux­ury of be­ing able to leave a model run­ning round and round, so hav­ing two op­er­a­tors keeps the in­ter­est lev­els up when it’s at ex­hi­bi­tions.” The lay­out took just over two years to build. Among its most strik­ing fea­tures are the wa­ters of Loch Fyne and the large hill on the right-hand side. “The wa­ter has a base of 3mm ply­wood coated with Ar­tex, which is creamier than nor­mal plas­ter,” says David. “Once I’d pasted it on I used a small paint­brush to stip­ple it and make the waves. “The good thing with Ar­tex is that it doesn’t sink once its been ma­nip­u­lated, so the waves held. I could then paint it with acrylic paints and ap­ply a coat of var­nish ev­ery day for a week. The re­sult is ef­fec­tive and the wa­ter is quite re­flec­tive when the light is on it, adding to the re­al­ism. If mak­ing the wa­ter sounds rather straight­for­ward, the hill proved more prob­lem­atic. “The main hill is made from cor­ru­gated card­board which I shaped un­til I had the con­tours I wanted. This took a few at­tempts to get right –

“The lo­co­mo­tives are run on DCC but I’ve left the points on ana­logue to give me two com­pletely dif­fer­ent cir­cuits”

I kept mak­ing it too large and it dom­i­nated the scene. “When I’d got a hill shape that I was happy with, I cov­ered the for­m­ers with plas­ter ban­dage, which doesn’t take too long to dry. Putting plas­ter on the top of the ban­dage adds to the strength of the struc­ture. I then painted it and cov­ered it in scat­ter ma­te­rial. I don’t have a ma­chine to ap­ply my static grass, so I coated the hill­side in PVA glue be­fore sprin­kling the grass onto it. “An old tooth­brush was used to ma­nip­u­late and tease up the grass. The rocks in the hills are just scribed into the plas­ter us­ing a flat­head screw­driver.”


The build­ings on David’s lay­out are all based on those found along Front Street (the A83) at In­ver­aray. They have been scratch­built us­ing a card­board car­cass with a printed ex­te­rior, with de­tails such as drain­pipes added to make it more three-di­men­sional. David took pho­to­graphs of the real build­ings square-on, and paced them out (much to the be­wil­der­ment of tourists!) so that he could con­vert them into feet and inches and then scale them down to the cor­rect size for ‘In­ver­cal­ley’. The tiles and chim­ney­pots are Ra­tio ‘N’ gauge prod­ucts, and the ar­chi­tec­ture and stonework of the sta­tion is based on that found at Dal­mally. It wouldn’t nor­mally fit in with the rest of the ar­chi­tec­ture at In­ver­aray, which wouldn’t have stones in that style, but David has blended them into his lay­out well and they don’t look out of place. He in­cor­po­rated castel­la­tion into the roof of the sta­tion to fur­ther add to the Scot­tish ‘feel’ of the lay­out. Sev­eral ar­eas of the lay­out took sev­eral at­tempts to get right. David laid the track be­fore the plat­form be­fore de­cid­ing that the plat­form looked too wide, so he took it all up again and re­laid the track. David re­mod­elled some of the build­ings three times! David ad­mits that he re­ally en­joys all the re­search that goes into build­ing a lay­out like this and gets sat­is­fac­tion from peo­ple recog­nis­ing the lo­ca­tion. He even met one per­son who didn’t re­alise that the line never ac­tu­ally ex­isted!

“The wa­ter has a base of 3mm ply­wood coated with Ar­tex, which is creamier than nor­mal plas­ter”

‘In­ver­cal­ley’s’ build­ings are based on those at In­ver­arary. The track is all Peco Code 55.



The dis­tinc­tive twin arch road bridge is 3 on the road to In­ver­aray. David cut the main shapes from card, over­lay­ing them with em­bossed plas­tic card. The balustrade was made from in­di­vid­ual pieces of thin dowel and the cap­ping is made from more plas­tic card.

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