Modelling 1980's China Clay Dries, part 1.

DBS 66106 passing Treviscoe. Photo by kind permission of Sicco Dierdorp - his super photo stream is here
The railways of Cornwall have always had a certain fascination about them; running through a landscape both beautiful and yet scarred by the remains of Tin mining and China Clay extraction. One such line, the Cornwall Minerals Railway, running from from Parkandillack to Fowey, has inspired countless railway modellers. So I was rather pleased recently to be commissioned to build a modern(ish) Clay Dries facility, roughly based on Kernick dries, near Treviscoe, on the course of the CMR.

The first problem was to research the structures- slightly difficult, because security is tight around the plants. Luckily a few intrepid photographers had included glimpses of the Dries in the backgrounds of their shots. The photo at the head here is from Sicco Dierdorp's photostream on Flickr, showing a class 66 shunting at the now disused Kernick Dries. It shows a modular steel structure, clad with corrugated asbestos. At first glance, it would seem a fairly nondescript thing to model, yet a closer look reveals a wealth of detail and texture, bristling with many of the characteristic features of China Clay facilities. The most obvious would be the sheer size...my customer required a structure to sit at the rear of the layout, so straight away, some selective compression would be needed; but this had to be done carefully, so as not to destroy the character of the building. The canopies, stretching over the full width of the wagons, are another feature along with the very heavy duty raingoods to get rid of runoff away from the clay. There's a lot of rain in Cornwall.  The loading platforms are high...in this case I had to allow 35mm in 4mm/foot scale to give an appropriate height against the ballast and track, but they look to be a good 7' high from the photos. Nowadays, the wagons (and road trucks, I'm afraid) are loaded by JCB bulk handlers, hence the girders at the edge of the platforms, to mitigate against occasional loss of concentration by the loader drivers...

After I had scoured the web for information and pestered my long-suffering customer for scans from his books, I was ready to sketch some ideas out.
This was my initial idea, but my customer came up with the very attractive notion of a ruined boilerhouse at the end of the building, something like the Wenford dries. Obviously, because of space constraints, the structure is designed as a low-relief feature.


 We've shuffled things round a little since; the old boiler house is going to appear at the left hand end now, but otherwise the scheme is roughly  as you see here, but with three bays and slightly wider canopies.

I've been experimenting with ways to represent the corrugated asbestos/breeze-block construction and the textures of the walls, which will be interesting. Petra and I spent time studying the effects of weathering on asbestos roofs in Porthmadog -oh, yes...I know how to give a girl a good time. Considering that we normally spend our weekends underground, exploring mines this was a slightly safer and brighter way to spend the morning.

At the end of the dries there is a hint of an earlier structure, perhaps some foundations, built over or left. The ends are faced with cement over breeze block and this has flaked off over the forty or so years of it's life, leaving some fascinating textures.
I'm using Wills breeze block sheets and corrugated asbestos here, fixed over .040" styrene sheet, infilled with Das clay (I wonder if there's some China Clay in that?)...so far the results are interesting. In the next installment I will show some early attempts at weathering and more of the construction. It's going to be a lot of fun. Who said modern image structures aren't interesting?

DBS 66156 @ Treviscoe - another of Sicco Dierdorp's super photos from his photostream here.


6 comments:

workbike said...

This looks ike an interesting project. I can supply images of asbestos: we've a shed roof made of the stuff and one job this year is to get rid of it all: full cover overalls and face masks obligatory. ugh...

Iain Robinson said...

LOL! Thanks, Andy. When you start to look, the stuff is everywhere.

lnrmodels said...

This is going to be a brilliant and fascinating project. I look forward to following your progress on this.

Also always interested in the materials used. It's Wills again is it? ;)

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks, Lee. Yes, it's Wills at the moment, although I have some South Eastern Finecast materials which I'm going to trial as well.

lnrmodels said...

I've heard of South Eastern Finecast before, but their website is of shall we say, not of optimum quality, and as such doesn't feature images. The lack of decent model shops nearby means I can't go and look at the things in person either. After reading your last post though, I'm tempted to go out and get some Wills sheets

Iain Robinson said...

I can't believe that some suppliers still haven't wokenb up to the fact that they could increase their business ten fold by going on the internet properly...even a Paypal button would be better than nothing! Wild Swan, are you listening?

The Wills stuff is a curate's egg - some of it is good, the brick arches are superb and their building kits, too. The materials sheets are very thick and sometimes brittle, depending on how old the stock is. I like this corrugated asbestos though, and the breeze blocks. The slates are too small, below "Lady" size, more like "peggies", while the brick is a little too coarse. Overall, though, all their stuff has it's uses and some of it is excellent.