Build An Authentic Coal Staithe In 5 Steps

No steam model railway is complete without a coal yard. Here’s how to get make and paint your own staithes in 5 easy steps.

For my layouts, and the St Blazey project in particular, I want some coal sheds. I opted for the Plastic Ratio Models coal depot (number 229) as I’ve used their kits before and have had great success with them.

Here’s how I built and painted the coal sheds in 5 easy steps.

#1 Unclip and Smooth The Edges

coal shed partsFirst of all, unclip the plastic parts from their holder.

On some pieces, you’ll notice left overs from the joins. These should be cut away or filled down.

I prefer cutting them off with a scalpel as at this size (N gauge) I can get a smother finish without damaging the patterning.

#2 Glue and Assemble The Parts

Coal Shed AssemblingNext glue the pieces together.

For these coal staithes, 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

Coal Shed Glimmer PVAOnce the glue is set, it’s time for paint.

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 coal and 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 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

model railway layout coal shedLastly, I applied another layer of watered down Black 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. What do you think?

  1. Looking forward to the replies for scatter.I have kept the sawdust from cutting wood. Then mixed in color.spray tack adhesive then use a kitchen sive/colander gently tap side to evenly spread layer of grass . I then use more spray adhesive to add various color scatter.adding various bushes with a little pva glue

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