So the scenery starts: £35 project update, part 5

dock £35 model railwaySince my last update, things have developed with the project; the dock has water; dock side & walls have been made and the track laid.

As covered here, the electrics were soldered and sorted so it was just a case of adjusting the sleeper spacing to make it more realistic and then fixing the track down.

This was done in the usual manner: PVA white glue was liberally applied and the track was positioned and weighted down while it set.

After this, a few wagons with an old loco were used to make sure no gremlins had crept in between soldering the wires to the track and laying it. (I used some of my existing fleet as I’ve yet to buy the rolling stock for this project).

Thankfully, it all worked.

With the track down, I then painted the sleepers to give a more realistic wood colour instead of the cheap black finish track usually has. I used a mixture of yellow ochre, raw sienna and raw umber (yellow, light brown and dark brown) acrylics to get the desired wooden colour.

And finally, the track was ballasted with the techniques in these videos.

I’d also worked on the dock and trackside areas.

Just add water

The water in the dock was created using layers of PVA which I wrote about here.

One extra element to this was creating a rippled surface, caused by wind and currents, which I’ve noticed on real docks and harbours.

In theory, this was simply a case of gently touching the glue when it was drying. The indentations would smooth out as the glue settled but would leave a rippled effect.

The problem was catching the glue in the right state. Too wet and the finger impressions were just absorbed. Too firm and the edges of the ripples looked too defined.

After several attempts, requiring more layers of glue to be poured in to cover up the mistakes and then waiting for these to dry before trying again I achieved the effect wanted but it took the better part of a week as the PVA dried.

Dock walls & cobblestones

The walls and cobblestone ground were created using polymer clay and the textured roller. I’ve described this here and it’s rapidly becoming my favourite technique for large stone and brick areas.

making cobblestonesEssentially, it’s just a case of rolling some clay out flat to the shape required, pushing the textured roller over it to form the cobblestone pattern and leaving it to dry. After this, a black acrylic wash is applied and a variety of greys dry-brushed over the top. Finally, I dab a sponge into lighter grey and lightly brush this over the surface to create variation and shading.

Finally, wooden pillars were made for the dock walls.

These were coffee stirrers, cut to size, and then painted (using the same paints as on the sleepers). They were glued in and a touch of green acrylic was applied to simulate water-level weed and moss on the walls.

I’m pretty happy with the results of the water and cobble-stoned area (seen above) and it creates a good base for the loading areas, cranes and dockside paraphernalia.

Next comes the construction of the framework for a background cliff and the two main buildings — an office and engine shed — from foam board. These will replace the building seen in the opening photo which is just there for positioning.

Project Status


  • Track: Budget £5, Spent £5.
  • Materials (box): Budget £10, Spent £9.98
  • Electrics: Budget £10, Spent £9.99
  • Total: Budgeted for items purchased so far, £25. Spent £24.97.


  1. DONE: Choosing gauge, layout size, theme and track plan. End of August.
  2. DONE (two weeks behind schedule): Aquire basic materials: wood, track, electrics. End of September.
  3. DONE: (one week behind schedule); Lay and ballast track and electrics. End of October.
  4. Get rolling stock and make scenery and/of buildings. End of November.
  5. Add finishing details. 2nd Week January (allowing for Christmas holidays).


See a model railway for £35 for the previous development of this project.


> 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.
Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

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