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Home / News & Reviews / News / Meet the Modeler: Kathy Millatt

Meet the Modeler: Kathy Millatt

By Rene Schweitzer | February 8, 2022

With time and patience, anyone can develop great modeling skills

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Kathy, in red T-shirt, poses with a paintbrush and several structures

What was your first train set (or locomotive)?

My first set was my Dad’s Hornby Dublo 3-rail set from the 1950s. He had loads of buildings and track that we put out every Christmas. Over time, I moved on to a 4-by-8-foot piece of plywood. The height of my modelling was using (bright orange!) builder’s sand for soil, and the white lines on the road were well over scale! Sadly, the desk was needed for homework, and it was put away. I still have it in boxes waiting for the right time to play with it.

Cover of Building Realistic Model Railroad Scenery book

Describe your model railroading philosophy in 6 words.

Looks just like the real thing.

What has been your biggest modeling success?

My biggest success is writing a book on scenery that is being published by Kalmbach. It took a year to complete, and I had to revisit many of the basic techniques that I had tried over the years. The book involved loads of new modeling, but it was challenging and fun to capture everything. It made me try new techniques, and I built a number of small dioramas to demonstrate key parts.

What was your biggest modeling mistake?

The remains of Port Dinorwic, upside down in my neighbor’s trash bin. Kathy Millatt photo

Port Dinorwic. I started it a few years ago and used loads of new techniques. Some worked well, but many did not. I overcomplicated the trackwork. The area is based on a slate dock in North Wales, and the wagons [freight cars] were double-flanged with rotating frogs. I tried to copy this with hand-laid 3-D printed track, but I hit a snag with a section of narrow gauge track that runs over standard gauge. It’s just pieces of rail moved by hand, which I tried to repeat on the layout. It never ran as well as I wanted, and it’s now in my neighbor’s trash bin. The new version will have normal turnouts and baseboards.

What’s your least favorite modeling task?

Benchwork! I have just ordered laser-cut baseboards for Port Dinorwic version two.

What project(s) have you been working on recently?

I have been working a lot on science-fiction projects while I procrastinated over Port Dinorwic. I have used the diversion to try modeling explosions, water splashes, waterfalls, and more deep resin water.

What advice would you give to a new hobbyist?

Kathy, in red T-shirt, poses with a paintbrush and several structures
Kathy Millatt is a full-time modeler who has contributed to Model Railroader Video Plus and Trains.com with her Making a Scene series. She has also written a book, Building Realistic Model Railroad Scenery, due in spring 2022. She was a judge on The Great Model Railway Challenge, a British television show. Kathy lives in England.

Start small and don’t become bogged down in any one area. I like trying out ideas on micro layouts or dioramas, as they suit my attention span and I can quickly finish them. My main layout is also broken down into dioramas, which allows me to build them on my workbench. Modelling, like any hobby, is as much about practice as it is about talent. We can all achieve great results over time.

Learn more scenery techniques in Kathy’s video series: Let’s Make a Scene. https://www.trains.com/mrr/videos-photos/videos/series/lets-make-a-scene/

Visit Kathy’s website at https://www.kathymillatt.co.uk/

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