Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Rural Backwater and a People's 'Grasmaster'

Hopefully a little scene a tad like that from the excellent Railway Bylines? Here we picture an EWS class 08 trundling through Polbrock with coal for the nearby china clay works. Passenger trains haven't stopped here since 1967, and despite lack of use the ex-GWR corrugated iron 'Pagoda' looks in fine form considering its age. It would also appear to be in Southern Region colours, a result of frequent regional boundary changes.

Enough twaddle; it is of course the latest micro-project, today seeing a flurry of static grass activity whilst trying out a new budget static grass tool. The layout could still do with a good vacuum to remove the excess fibres but I think the result speaks for itself which is a bargain at £25 plus a little extra for postage. You now have no excuse to use dyed sawdust anymore - well for grass anyway.

There's quite a bit more to do on the little layout, for starters I need to fabricate two buildings to go in the far distance to act as a scenic barrier to the fiddle yard by the level crossing 'Helland Bridge style' (that sounds sort of Chinese take-away). The building in shot is my Cornish engine house which is temporarily standing in for this snap. Things like telegraph poles need to be added along with an open to the elements ground frame (do any of you fine folk know of a suitable supplier?). The photo here was shot in the garden against a big blue board for the sky, there will be a built in curved photo-back scene eventually depicting a hazy Cornish landscape.

Whilst I won't have the layout finished, I will be able to take it along to The Warley Show at the NEC to use as a OO gauge photo prop on the Model Rail stand. See you there.
  • A bigger version of the above photo here.
  • Find the budget grass tool here.


  1. Like this a lot - inspiration for an East Anglian version !! Thanks for the link for the budget grass tool too - £130 odd quid for the Noch version is waaay beyond most people's budget.

  2. So this static grass tool works well? I would love to pruchase the noch one but have always been put off by the price. In your opinion is this one as good??

  3. Chris, I made the almost identical grass tool, all you need is a electric fly squatter about £5 and a tea strainer for a few pence and a little bit of alteration and hey presto! Works perfectly.

  4. Of course you could build your own, but then you'd have to faff about finding this bits. The same could be said about several aspects of modelling I guess. The £25 price is pitched well against other static grass tools for those that would rather spend their time model making.

    Is it as good? Yes for small areas, but if you're doing a large layout then a proper Grasmaster will make life easier - it will be a minor cost with such a project though. Quality? Just as good.

    The small one has the advantage in that you can mix colours easily by just adding a pinch at a time.

  5. Top work as usual, Chris, and redolent of a Railway Bylines scene as you suggest.

    May I ask how you achieved the 'finer ballast' finish in the siding?

    Best wishes,


  6. Hi Chris two quick questions if I may - what did you lay on the embankments as ground cover? and any tips on hoovering off spare stuff without removing what should stay in place? Many Thanks.

  7. I've never really understood the "Noch Grassmaster is too expensive" argument. 1) It's a modelling tool for life. 2) You dont have to make one! 3) It makes incredible looking model grass 4) Get one instead of spending £130 on a model!

  8. Finer ash can be achieved with Das modelling clay. See this post:

    Embankments are plaster coated kitchen roll. Hoovering tip: if it's not stuck down it vacuums up - quite simple that one;-)

  9. Thanks for all the nice comments. Since taking the above photo I have removed and redone the flattened grass in the foreground and on the edge of the platform. I think the grass fibres fell over because I diluted the pva glue too much. Using it almost neat appears to have stopped this problem. I'll take sone new photos in due course.

    I've been a little elusive with this project because I'll be going in to far greater detail in a forthcoming Model Rail mag.


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