The On-Site Build
Building on site in front of the cameras is totally different to the much more relaxed model making we are all used to!
Before we arrived for the filming, we had practised various short cuts and methods to build things more quickly. This included using fan heaters to dry out the plaster, using paper towels and PVA mixed with paint to give a pre-coloured top surface, ready for detailed painting. We were also using Ballast Magic and quick dry PVA to shorten the drying time for the ballast, as well as a very thin coat of emulsion paint on the MDF base board - that was drying as soon as it was laid!
While Chris and Jon were working on the layout, Matt, Lucy, Phil and Helen were busy building the rest of the structures and detailing all the stock. We built another 6 items to go onto the layout, including 2 water towers and a pipe gantry to go over the track.
To make the buildings look a little different, we replaced the slate roofs with tarnished copper - as if old space craft had been salvaged and the copper body panels re-purposed as building material. This was made using silver wrapping paper and watered down acrylic paints. We did some in advance but for the houses and models we built on site we also created and weathered the roofs.
We had a few difficulties with the rocket launch platform. What became clear was that it was not running quite square, which meant it had too much friction for the loco to overcome. We eventually overcame this by removing weight from the loco chassis is was mounted on and correcting the model so that it ran square. By adding about 300g of weight to the loco itself, we had a reliable working solution.