Saturday, 18 April 2020

Bexhill West - A diversion.....

A slightly different post for today, but I thought I'd share what I've been quietly working on in the background.

A photograph taken inside my model in which School Class 30924 HAILEYBURY is at rest.

The seaside town I live in Bexhill once had a very grand railway station and associated yard with sheds which stood as the terminus to the now disused Crowhurst to Bexhill branch line.  I should add that Bexhill still has a station which preceded Bexhill West, but that is on another line.

Quite why the new line was originally built is nowadays a mystery, as clearly there wasn't enough traffic to justify it being built.  Yet I find it intriguing, as the ambition of those who built it was tremendous.  Not only did the 3 1/2 mile line require the construction of an impressive 17 arch 460 yard long viaduct, but the station buildings and infrastructure were all beautifully designed and used impressive materials.  Clearly those promoting the line were hoping to capitalise upon the development of Bexhill as a seaside resort and they wanted their architecture and engineering to impress.

There were just three stations on the line, Crowhurst, Sidley and the terminus, which was originally called Bexhill-on-Sea.  This name changed over time, until the name Bexhill West was settled upon.

As a side project over the past few months I have been modelling some of the structures in 3D CAD and plan to build some of them as photographic dioramas.  The end goal being to  to recreate some period photos in an effort to improve both my modelling and photographic skills.  

My intention was to keep all of this under wraps until I had something worthwhile to show.  However the internet has proved to be such a good tool for connecting with like-minded others that I though I'd share some of my progress to date..

The engine shed

This structure still exists today, although it is now used as a warehouse and has had a replacement roof added.

And here's my recreation, albeit incomplete.

There is still much to do to the model.  I am yet to complete the roof structure and have to add rainwater down pipes etc. However, the basic structure is done and ready for the finer detailing.

The inside will be modeled too, complete with the chimneys and funnel system which collect the smoke from the engines.  I have copied the structural components as closely as possible, the channel sections which form the gutters to the roof valleys will discharge through the down pipes mentioned above.

The picture at the top of the post, although taken in haste, is a flavor of of the kind of photography I have in mind when this project is complete.

The Signal Box

There were two signal boxes at Bexhill West, one of which was so grand it would have looked at home at a London terminus.  However the one which caught my immediate attention was its smaller, rather oddly shaped companion.

Box no. 2 sat between two platforms and the signalman perched above and between the arriving and departing trains.

This is my recreation of the signal box.  At this stage it is  just a mock-up, as a test of the accuracy of the laser cut CAD files.  Once I had cut the pieces I used it as a test piece for painting the brick detail before starting on the engine shed above.  However, as a test piece it has worked well and I have learned just how fragile the delicate brick pieces are.  You will be able to see where some have broken away.  The brick courses are just 1mm high.

Zoomed-in, one ought to be able to see the rebated window openings to the cabin.  The final version will have etched brass frames fitted into these recesses.  

Another cruel close-up! This time of the rear of the cabin.  And the real reason for this post.
You see, I have no photographs of this signal box take from this angle, and as such I cannot be sure of what it should look like.  I have assumed the locations of these doors, and am guessing that the cabin was accessed via steps from the outside.  However it could be the case that the cabin was accessed via stairs inside.  I just don't know.

By posting this on the WWW there is a chance (albeit slight) that someone with a camera in the 1950's, with a similar fascination, might just be searching-up 'Bexhill West No 2 Signal Box'.  
If you are that person, I'd really appreciate an email! You can contact me on makeitminiature [at]

The station canopy

I am very interested in architecture, and the latticework of the station canopy impressed me with its elegance. The feeling of light and space being so well captured in this period postcard scene.  Oh, if only all structures could be built so beautifully today.

I began, as usual with a Solidworks model of a section of the canopy, my intention being to use etched brass for the ironwork.

As a test, I laser cut the components for the ironwork from 1mm MDF, and was able to use the sheet metal function in Solidworks to develop the pattern for the glazing frames, shown here test cut in card.

Finally, a sneak peek at one of the gable walls for the station building itself.  Like the engine shed, this building still exists.  A benefit of the recent lock down is that it has given me the time to 'exercise' past it and count the bricks!!

Until next time, stay safe everyone,


Friday, 10 April 2020

Castle progress

I'm acutely aware that it has been quite some time since there was any update about 'our' castle.
Michael has been doing a sterling job of detailing many of the little elements which contribute to the whole, but progress with the castle itself has been somewhat out-of-sight.

There's been good reason for this but let's get going with a teaser.....

Publicly, we last saw our Tyrolean tower in December.  At which point it was a crude MDF box, with loads of potential, but very little actual progress.  When Michael and I split for the Christmas break, I took the castle with me on the promise that I would return it when the boards were complete for Michael to work his magic on the finishing touches and paintwork, etc.

The castle as it was at Christmas.  Taken from my Instagram @jameswalters160.

The Christmas period through to the end of January saw me make very little progress, a change in jobs and loss of access (at the time) to laser cutting facilities meant that I had little time to progress the job, and limited facilities also.  Once things had settled I was able to make encouraging progress, spurred on by the fantastic progress Mr Awdry had been making himself with the remaining boards.

One of the fun elements to make was the little tower.

This began with a spiral staircase inner structure...

Around which a sheet of perforated MDF was bent.

The battlements were added, and the end result was encouraging.  This would later be rendered using Vallejo earth effects paste and painted.

We have several fun elements planned for the castle interior and so each room is reasonably well detailed with window frames and wall panelling which will provide the 'studio' for our various photographic set-ups.

I am no photographer, but have developed an enthusiasm for pointing and shooting my iPhone thanks to some top tips from the boss.  The key thing Michael has shown me is that lighting can greatly affect the photographic opportunity.  With this in mind, several roof lights have been added to the structure.  These don't exist on the real castle, but will allow us to experiment with different lighting set-ups and maybe allow us to introduce a little drama with things such as elongated shadows, billowing smoke, etc.

I am so looking forward to photographing the whole Schloss Itter scene.  For me this will be the highlight of the project.

This is the same castle element, from the outside.  The roof panel under the roof lights is attached with magnets and is removable allowing the interior to be played.  In this picture the railings and final paint job are yet to be applied.

The structure above was one of my favourite parts to put together.  I've made shameful compromises from the original to suit our available playing area, however the essence of it has been captured.  I've deliberately left the staircase risers off, so that the base of a miniature can be tucked under the lip to enable them to climb the stairs.  I found a photograph of the real castle with all the staff lined up on this staircase and thought we ought to do the same with all of the delightful characters Michael has been beavering away on over at 28mmvictorialwarfare.

I have been debating  with myself whether or not to include this photo.  Clearly, the job is very unfinished at this stage, but I did want to hint at the acres of space we have to play with inside.  The view from my desk across to the beach isn't bad either!! 😎

And so, there it is. Just a quick WIP post to keep things up-to-date (sort of) and to answer the question no-one asked which was 'Have we forgotten the castle?'.

I must add that these photographs are about 6weeks old and that the castle has moved on significantly since these were taken. However, I'm hoping to keep the rest of the powder dry a little longer and will save the finished product for some future date when hopefully there can be a big reveal.  The reveal was planned for Salute, maybe another opportunity will present itself before the 2021 show.
As Michael posted recently, the full Schloss Itter is now separated across two counties and with the current lock-down cannot be reunited just yet.  

Finally, I have uploaded a couple of videos to YouTube of the build process.
Part one was the state of play in December 2019, and Part two late January.
I am not a video expert, in fact 'beginner' status would be overselling the offerings, however should you be interested do please take a look.

Until next time,