Snowy Soo

Winter Railroading.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

March Layout update

The fascia has given my in-progess layout a more finished look. The paint cost $5 from the return shelf at my local paint store.

With this winter refusing to fully retreat, I’ve managed to get quite a bit done on the layout this March. Here’s an update.

Fascia (partially) installed

Fascia installed. 

I must have read it dozens of times: layout builders impressed by what a big step forward the layout takes visually after the fascia is installed.

After humming and hawing (mostly hawing) about the depth and colour of the fascia, I let finances decide. I found a half gallon of forest green paint in the discount shelf at the local paint store and got started. As an aside, this a great money-saving tip for model railroaders: You rarely need to spend top dollar on of-the-shelf paint! Most paint stores have a shelf of paint that people have bought, taken home, decided that they hated and returned. It’s often heavily discounted (but almost never returnable). The paint I bought was a very high-quality Benjamin Moore interior latex with a flat finish. The price: $5.

Anyway the fascia was straightforward to install. I ran out of hardboard to do the peninsula, but I want to shore up the shelving under that section anyway, so it makes more sense to wait until that work is done. It does give the layout more of a finished look, less like a construction site.

Homemade throttle pockets

Now there's no excuse for leaving the throttle on the layout! Just realized the red light on the plug-in panel looks like Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Should I be worried it's going to turn on me unexpectedly?

As scenery progresses, there’s less and less empty layout space to set the throttles, but it’s time I start breaking that bad habit anyway! Commercial throttle pockets are $10 a piece and Al Mayo has a YouTube video where he makes his own using 50 cent electrical boxes. Neither option appealed to me so I made my own from bits from my scrap box. They work fine and look OK. I can always replace them down the road if I want something more elegant.

Here's the throttle pocket for the NCE PowerCab.

Without the cab in it, the throttle cradle looks like a La-Z-Boy for my PowerCab.

Area – H scenery/roads started 

Roads/scenery started near Korex. With each passing week, the pink insulation board loses precious ground.

I’ve tried two ways to do the roads: drywall compound and styrene. I have to say I prefer styrene because the process is cleaner and the results are easier to control. I generally am following the road technique outlined here by Lance Mindheim: A spray with Rustoleum primer, which I will follow with an India ink wash. I’m also hitting the roads with washes of lighter greys using my airbrush so they’re not too uniform in colour. I may also try using decals of road details like manhole covers and storm grates. So far I’m happy with how the road surface looks. I’ve poured Hydrocal between the tracks at the crossings. I’ll sand it down and clean out the rail flanges with my Dremel tool and paint it.

Pond scene progress

I’ve got mixed feelings about how this scene is turning out. Here’s the steps:

  • Mark and carve out stream bed from foam layout base.
  • Cut and glue foam piece beneath layout to provide a bottom for the stream.
  • Filled stream bed with Hyrocal to seal it (this worked well).
  • Painted the stream bed black in the middle with airbrush sprays of tan at the edges to simulate depth. Here I followed the technique David Popp outlines in his book Building A Model Railroad Step by Step.
  • Poured the stream using Woodland Scenics Realistic Water.
  • Added ripple effects using Woodlanc Scenics Water Effects

So how does it look?

The water looks ok like this, when the camera lens is dropped to the layout level. Looking down from a standing position, the water looks  almost invisible. I've added ripple effects since this shot was taken.

Look at this photo and it doesn’t look too bad. It looks like water, though I wish I’d put more rocks inside the water. But standing up and looking down at it, the water is invisible. I think this is a layout height problem (in other words the layout is too low).

If I did it again I’d add more pours for greater depth and put more material inside the stream.

Runnymede Road underpass

I'm staring work now on the underpass at Runnymede, with a print out photo showing the prototype. The bridge parts will be Hydrocal castings.

I’ve pulled out the wood abutments and I’m pouring Hydrocal ones to take their place. I just can’t make the wood look like concrete! I’ve also got the styrene painted for the road surface. I will provide an update on this later!

This spur in the corner will one day serve Polytainers. For now, it serves a distributor of model railroad scenery supplies, mainly ground foam.