Chelfham Viaduct in 4mm/1ft Scale
by Bob Barnard

For some years, the model L&B line around my loft passed alongside the loft ladder hatch on a narrow non-scenic “shelf”. There was no space to build a wide baseboard here, but I decided I could squeeze in a model of the famous (and still surviving) Chelfham Viaduct. So I built a very odd-shaped section; 80mm wide x 1200mm long x 300mm high.

The viaduct has to be removable, in case access is needed to manhandle large objects in and out of the loft, so the entire baseboard module is actually suspended from the baseboards either side of it.

The track over the real viaduct was curved at the Barnstaple end, and I had to accept that lack of space prevented me reproducing this curve in the model.

Lengths of 3 inch wide stripwood form the ends and base of the module, whilst the trackbed and piers of the viaduct are assembled from narrower stripwood. MDF sides were added to form the contours of the Stoke Rivers valley that the line crosses.

The viaduct itself was built up from thin MDF sides (cut out as a pair), which form the parapet walls and the sides of the arches. Probably the worst task in the whole project was building up the taper on the basic stripwood piers.

The entire viaduct is faced in brick embossed plastic sheet in the correct bond. This sheet was first glued inside the arches, then the brickwork was added to the sides and cut and filed to shape. Care was taken to match the joints in the brickwork, or hide them in inconspicuous places. This is not easy, as the pattern on the plastic sheets seems to get distorted near the edges of the sheets.

The piers were faced with Faller embossed card with a suitable stone effect. There was then a long task of detailing, with various bands of blue brick added, the parapets finished, etc. The viaduct was constructed of second-grade Marland brick, which is generally ochre in hue, but some bricks have a distinct red or grey appearance due to the firing process. The whole structure was therefore painted, and individual bricks picked out with different colours – a tedious job!
The scenic element is quite small, and is conventional in nature.

The backscene is of course huge, and was rather hastily done by making a collage of parts of recent photographs of the actual view down the valley printed on a computer printer, parts of heritage photographs tinted (e.g. buildings), photographs of scenes taken locally at home to provide generalised filler material (woodlands, streams, pasture, etc.) my watercolour painting filling in any remaining gaps. The result does not stand close scrutiny, and should be replaced one day.

As the viaduct is removable, it gets taken to exhibitions in the Lancashire and Cheshire area, as part of the L&B North West Area Group display and sales stand, which promotes interest in the L&B in the region.

Bob Barnard




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