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Our N Scale layout – Part 4

We continue with our budget build. So what have we been up to? We have been added more details to the layout. Now we have an idea of where things will go we decided to order a few bits that we just could replicate.

We purchased some figures, cars, tractor and ordered some light from China. The light have really lifted the build and the fine detail is really coming together now.

We also bought some fencing to surround the track. Of course a crossing point was purchased. We used cardboard for the fencing around the farm, and near some of the houses.

We added our building from Railway Building Kits including the station, farm building, farm house, terraced houses, full and low relief, low relief warehouse, petrol station, workshop, and a signal office. Just a variety to show off the kits.

We are almost there now and are so pleased. Its not super cheap but we have kept the budget to a minimum. We could of saved more money without the small extras, but we want to show off our building kits the best we could.

We did originally print out the background, but decided to have a go using some paint from a bargain shop, which was £1 a tube. This is definitely what we would buy for the next layout.

We will add the final touched and do a final blog showing the final layout. I say final, but it’s never truly finished is it. We have some ideas we wish to do already!

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Our N Scale layout – Part 2

So what have we been doing with our small N scale layout. In the last update, we laid some track and got trains running. It was so satisfying to see something moving. So what was next?

We said in the last one we wanted to add some tunnels to cover the holes we have through the back of the board. We used our N Scale bridge entrance kits the create 2 entrances. They look great and were really please to see them on the board.

Next up was creating the tunnel itself. As always it’s all about budget builds, so we decided to try something. First off we built a basic shape using some cardboard boxes. We just taped it in place so we could start to re-enforce it. We wanted to use something that would be strong enough but cheap. We had a load of waste paper from our trusty office shredder. We took it and soaked it in water for an hour and squeezed most of the water out of it. Applying it onto the card was fairly simple. Although it didn’t stick as much as we thought it would. Maybe longer soaking would have helped. We persevered and painted some pea on top to seal it. Once dried it was pretty solid. We would say it was a success, but we wouldn’t recommend it. As the top part will be scrub, the rough texture will be ok. We gave it a coat of green paint we had lying around. Just a base coat before adding static grass. Using filler, we tidied up the edges where it met the card tunnels. You don’t want the get the card wet.

When added some leftover cork to the edges where we will put some houses. Next up was the road. We saw someone mention sandpaper, so seeing as we have loads of used pieces. We decided to give it a go. Using a bit of PVA to glue in place. We really like the look of it. A little worn and rough. We will paint it black and see where it goes.

We used some filler to make the crossroads. Not taking too much care overfilling the tracks as we can tidy this up. One thing we used was an old piece of track, and run it along the track that was filled and make a gap for the train wheels. Seem to work ok.

So now we have a road, crossroad, basic layout shape and some tunnels! We decided on a second line with a tunnel just for show (it’s a dead end, but don’t tell anyone).

Overall we are pretty pleased with the start! Let us know what you think.

Any suggestions are always welcome (as long as they are cheap).

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Our N Scale layout – Part 1

Seeing as we are all about affordable builds, we decided to build a layout using our buildings. Not only that but we want it to be as cheap as possible and ultimately look great.

We will be trying various techniques and see how we get on. Im sure we will fail a few times, but it is a learning curve. We hope you enjoy our progress and hopefully we will end up with a great layout we can take to shows when we can.

First job was to make a board. This was straight forward with some old wood we had in our shed.

Board for our layout

Two high sides and a lip around the front edge. This may change but its all we had at the time. We had some blackboard paint, so we covered the lot. We like it already.

Next was to come up with a loose layout. We wanted to maximise the small space so we thought about adding a couple of tunnels to sen the track around the back. Bring out the jigsaw.

We added a layer of cork and painted that black. Then the task of glueing the track. We used some general glue and seems to work. All good so far. Drilling a couple of holes we soldered the wires to the track on the back side.

We have running trains!



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How do we prototype our designs

Padgate Railway Station

We often get asked, how do we come up with our designs. The answer is pretty simple, we look around. our inspiration usually comes from spotting a building, either in the flesh or online.

For example, one of our railway stations is based on a station near to our base. The one in question being Padgate Railway Station in Warrington.

Padgate Railway Station

We literally took this as our base, and built it out from there.

We have a great design knowledge that allows us to design something, and visualise it as it would be in 3D. We pride ourselves on getting it 95% correct in our first pass. Then refining as little as possible to get the final product. We love nothing more than nailing it first time. (Its a bit of an office competition).

We also extend our initial designs if we think we add value. So extending the Station above was a secondary thought. As with the terraced/semi houses. They can be developed into numerous shop fronts easily.

We will post more of our tips and tricks very soon.

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Tools for the job

Cutting table


There are so many options when it comes to scalpels, but one thing is for sure. USE A SHARP BLADE. Its a must for any card builder. I use the below so I can easily get a new blade when I need one.

This I find is great to hold and less wearing on the hands.

Scalpel Handle Comfy Grip Economic Handle 3 Fitting. (C6020)


This is also great, just a little harder to hold if you’re cutting a few things in a short space of time.

Swan Morton Handle No 3

Swan Morton Handle No 3
For Blades 10,10a,11,12,15,15a

A large box of blades is a must, always replace blunt ones and dispose properly. PLEASE BE CAREFUL when removing the blades. Blood doesn’t wipe of printed card easily.


Swann Morton 0103 Blade Non-Sterile Size 11 (Pack of 100

Precision cutting performance
5 blades per pack
Disposable crafting blades for use with Swann-Morton handles
Also great as spares and replacements

Metal ruler

A metal ruler is a must. Not only will it help you cut your perfect lines, it is great for hold card as it glue, easily adding pressure to it as it dries. I sometimes use them as weights when you need just a little.

Heres the one I am currently using.
The 6 inch is also handy for creasing the card when you need to fold.

Stainless Steel Ruler 12 Inch and 6 Inch Metal Rule Kit with Conversion Table

The set include 1 piece 12 inch (300 mm) ruler and 1 piece 6 inch (150mm) ruler
Metric and Imperial Graduation; With conversion table on the back side
Clear marks for your convenient measurement
Stainless steel material for your long lasting use
0.9 mm thickness avoid sharp edges

Cutting board/mat

A cutting board is a must if you want to keep those nice worktop surfaces! They will last for an age and are great at holding your card in place as you cut.

Heavy Duty Multi Layer Self Healing Cutting Mat. Mat size : 17 Inch x 11 Inch / (44cm x 29cm)
Double Sided Markings. Imperial (Inches) on one side and Metric (cm/mm) on other side
Clear grid lines. Multiple cross-lines, angles (0 to 180 degree), 1 mm to 50 mm circles. Paper sizes A6,B6,A5,B5,A4 and B4
Special Non-slip, non reflective surface perfect for Quilting, crafting, cutting paper, card and other materials
Environmental Friendly. Fully Recyclable
Tough PVC material

PVA glue

I use a cheapish one from Hobby craft, but there are loads out there.

Hers one example, I like the thinner nozzle on this one.

Black Premium Label Pva Glue 180ml

Felt tips

Gouache/Watercolour paint

Gouache or water colours are great for adding that final detail to any build. I usually water it down quite a lot when painting the scored edges. Practice on scrap paper first and don’t over do it. It will bring your builds alive with a little patience.

24 Tubes of high quality student grade paint
Royal & Langnickel gouache is an opaque paint that produces smooth washes with good coverage
Wet on Wet Technique – Use a silk sponge to wet the paper. Colours will spread easily and will appear fuzzy
Bold Colour Technique – Use the colours full strength for bold opaque coverage or miz them together for more colour tints

Dull Coat
Testors Spray Lacquer 3oz, Clear Coat

For use on many surfaces
Finely ground pigments give superb flow and coverage
lead free, fast-drying, and easy to apply
Contains one aerosol can with 3oz (85g) of enamel paint
Available in a variety of colors