Sunday, March 25, 2012

Creating a Custom Station Platform

by John Kendall

25 March 2012

This morning I was able to gain access to the track on our branchline to begin making the platform. I always prefer to make my own platforms, using plastic.

Here's one I made earlier:

I thought I'd begin with the very basic first steps to help those who were wondering where to begin.

This method assumes the track has already been laid - our track plans are always curved.

I get myself some light card, don't know the weight but it's about 0.5mm thick. Use a pair of scissors to very roughly cut the card so that its edge overhangs the track by a healthy amount. Find a datum, like a backscene board and press the card over the rail that is next to the platform wall, this will provide a mark. Cut the card at the mark and check the card on the track. The edge of the card should fit snugly to the outer face of the rail. If there are places where it doesn't, trim until it does.

Next, obtain the longest coach that will be used in the station and a pencil. This is a time honoured method. Hold the pencil against the coach side and mark the card as the coach is pushed along the track. Again, cut the card on the mark you just made. Check it again, re-mark and trim until you're happy.

When you're finished you should have something like this:

29 March 2012

My chosen method for constructing this platform is for 2 layers of 0.020" plastic sheet. The first layer is the base layer and the second will be scribed with paving stone detail. A recess is left so that the station building looks like it is part of the platform (not plonked on top). You could use Wills sheet for this but I dislike their small size (hard to disguise the join) and they are difficult to cut.

OK, my first attempt didn't work as well as I wanted. I discovered that the curve was discontinuous in one spot so last night I retraced the line and made the repairs. Today I scribed the paving stones using an Olfa carpet cutter (aka scrawker). Mine is pictured. Also in the picture is an Olfa circle cutter which I used to mark out the edge pavers.

I added strips of 0.040" x 0.100" plastic under the platform edge. This makes the edge crisper and provides something to glue the walls against so I get a consistent inset.

30 March 2012

I finished constructing the platform support walls this morning:

Being white plastic, it's a little difficult to see clearly.

process is as follows:

1) Determine the height above baseboard. According to Rice, height above RAIL is between 3' and 3' 6", or between 12mm and 14mm. However, track height (code 100) is 4mm so add that to get between 16mm and 18mm.

My platform is to be 16mm above baseboard. If this proves to be too low I can always shim up.

2) Cut strips of 0.040" plastic card (I use Evergreen but Slaters is fine too) to, in my case 15mm (the platform top is 0.040" or 1mm thick). These will be 12" long.

3) Cut strips of textured plastic sheet to something a bit wider than 15mm (trim later). I used Finecast English Bond. Slaters do a good selection of brick and stone. This sheet is ~ 0.020" thick and is VERY easy to work with. Glue to the card strips, staggering the joins for strength.

4) I wanted (OK I was told) the top courses to extend from the platform in an inverted step fashion.

a) Cut strips of 0.020" plastic 5mm wide.
b) Cut strips of brick, 3 courses wide. (recall the 0.040" strip under the edge, we want two courses to be revealed).
c) Glue the strips together, making sure that courses line up. Again stagger ends. When dry, trim.
d) For the 2 course layer, I glued fairly wide strips of plastic and brick together. Trim to get a nice edge. Use your knife and steel rule to follow the mortar line. Make as many srips as required.

Now we pause to think about end ramps. These are 1 in 6 minimum. I calculated the length I would need and cut them off from the platform top. Knowing the length of the long side of the triangle and the height, the base is easy to get (I simply drew a picture, but if you want to be clever you could use trig.).

Cut the platform support walls at their ends to the appropriate dimension for the ramp.

Now, glue the 3 course strip to the platform wall, overhanging the ramp. I won't put the protruding bricks along the side of the ramp (doesn't make sense to me). Trim the strip to the ramp angle.

Now, glue the 2 course strip in place and trim to the ramp angle again.

31 March 2012

Having made the main components, I also made some plain walls to support the unseen side of the platform. With these done, I glued it all together as you can see here:

and here:

To ensure the side walls are square I made a bunch of plastic triangles to use a buttresses. I also added widthwise and lengthwise strengthers.

Here's the underside of the platform:

Next - the paint shop.

I primed the platform with red oxide and grey:

It looks massively better now.

I painted the platform wall with acrylic Aged Concrete (any similar colour will do) as the mortar:

Next, I will rub the surface colour off, leaving the mortar in the cracks.

I'm quite pleased with this. I dipped Qtips in IPA and rubbed the surface paint off.

2 April 2012

This morning I started by dry brushing a brick colour (and this is quite subjective, I simply added Tamiya flat red to flat brown) onto the platform support walls. This brightens up the brickwork and adds another layer of shading I think.

Another thing I learned from Mr. Rice (a very useful chap) is that older walls do not have uniform colour bricks. There are various shades of brown and even black. Yesterday, I went to the art supply store and hasd a look round (I recommend you do this - these places can have very useful things for us modellers). I picked up some fine point coloured pens (light brown, brown and black) and picked out bricks at random to try to represent an older wall.

I'm really quite pleased with the way this looks.

I spent some time today making station nameboards:

The name is made with Powerpoint. The board is made from 0.015" paper coated plastic card. Strips of 0.040" x 0.040" were superglued around the edges. The legs are bullhead rail soldered to scrap brass strip.

5 April 2012

Since my last report I completed a number of tasks:

1) Laid down masking tape in the recess for the cinders and trimmed. Also mask the support wall.

1) Painted the platform surface grimy black. I used an airbrush for this.

2) Added the cinders. To prevent cinders and PVA from getting onto the platform top I masked the recesses off. I then brushed on some neat PVA. This was followed by sprinkling fine cinder ballast into the recess. Finish off by spraying some "wet water"* on. This will "lift" the glue and make sure the ballast is soaked.

*Wet water is water mixed with a small amount of soap to break the surface tension. I have read that some people use IPA instead of soap.

Remove the masking tape BEFORE the PVA dries. Leave overnight.

3) This morning I masked the edge of the platform and sprayed on some flat white.


I don't recommend that you try to brush the white on. In my experience, brushed on paint always bleeds under the tape. If you do, paint a coat of platform colour over the tape to seal it.

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