No steam model railway is complete without a coal yard. Here’s how to get make and paint your own staithe in 5 easy steps.
Here’s how I built and painted the coal sheds in 5 easy steps, this is for the N scale set but the technique work for their OO set as well.
#1 Unclip and smooth the edges
First of all, unclip the plastic parts from their holder.
On some pieces, you’ll notice left overs from where the piece was attached to the sprue. These should be cut away or filled down.
I prefer cutting them off with a scalpel as at this size ( 1:148) I can get a smother finish without damaging the patterning.
#2 Glue and assemble
Next glue the pieces together.
For this coal staithe, I found it much easier to first glue the coal to the back wall, then attach the side walls and finally the middle divider – this provides more surface area for side walls to attach to.
#3 Paint base layers
Once the glue is set, it’s time for paint.
First, I primed it and opted for a Black for this for the reasons explained in guide on the colour of primer to use. (For some models I prime before assembly, especially those where there are parts that are hard to reach and will be difficult to apply subsequent paint too, but for this model where everything is easily accessible I primed it after assembly).
The smell of Enamel paints bring back happy childhood model making memories and as much as I love their smell for this job I opted for acrylics. It’s probably just me but I find even in Matt finishes Enamel sometimes leaves very slight shine which no matter how faint would have been out of place on the wood in this model hence the choice of acrylic.
To get the tired, textured, effects for the wood needs several layers, so I applied a brown wood Matt (Humbrol Acrylic Paint No. 110) base on the wooden parts and then painted the coals with Black Matt acrylic (Humbrol No. 33).
Painting the wood first also means the Black on the coals will cover up any brown that’s accidentally splashed onto them and also flow down between the coal and wood walls to improve shadow.
Once this had dried, I used a thinned down the Black wash and went over the wood surfaces again smearing it loosely with my finger tip. This was left to dry for a few minutes while I returned to work on the coal.
I’ve been experimenting with using lighter colours to add the glimmer effect that real coal has but Model Railway Engineer friend @MattThorpe619 suggested an inspired idea that was so effective I’ve used here. Matt’s tip is simple but brilliant: daub PVA on some of the coals.
The PVA dries hard but leaves a slight sheen, producing the glimmer I wanted. As before, while letting this dry, I went back to the wood and applied a thinned final coat of brown.
#5 Apply final detailing
Lastly, I applied another a Black wash to the wood in places, solid Black to corners and between the planks and touched up the coal for the final look.
The end result is shown above. With the model constructed, all that remains is to plant it on the layout for that added extra touch.
Tools and materials used in making the coal staithe
> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
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