A simple new diorama has been completed, which will be featured in the next three issues of Model Rail magazine (MR264-266) as part of our popular Skills Station series. Part One looks at the creation of the trackbed and scenic contours, along with laying the track. The following issue showcases the art of ballasting, while the final instalment deals with adding the vegetation.

Using a 4ft x 1ft baseboard, that was originally built as a fiddleyard for my Maudetown Colliery layout, it has produced a handy new photographic 'plank' which might crop-up in the mag from time to time. Ballasting's never been my favourite job, but I'm pleased with how it's turned out here, not least as I've been unusually patient in my approach and got it all looking neat and tidy, which is just the thing for a steam-era scene.

The use of expanded polystyrene foam for the landform creates a lightweight baseboard that's actually highly resilient. Woodland Scenics offer a range of 'track risers' for this purpose, but I got some sheets of domestic insulation foam from a DIY store for a fraction of the price. After shaping with a hot wire cutter, the formation of the scenic contours was really quick and easy. A full demo can be found in Model Rail issue 264, on sale August 8th.

A Proxxon hot wire cutter and 12V power supply - an essential tool for rapid and clean cutting of polystyrene foam.

Hattons' Constructor range of ballasts was employed on this diorama, namely the light limestone shade in both medium and fine grades. Look out for a full ballasting demo in Model Rail issue 265, on sale September 5th, while MR266 will reveal how the grass and vegetation was applied (on sale October 3rd).


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