I finished up the small engine servicing area and it represents the first actual landscaping on the entire layout. It's quite a milestone and should probably break a bottle of Champagne against it. I used various W-S ground covers, coal, buff-colored fine ballast. This was after putting on another coat of Spackle and a last sanding. I decided that the "concrete" bases of the coal tower didn't need paint since the India Ink/Alcohol/water mixture I'm using for the wetting agent in the yard grunged the bases up enough to be passable. I may go back and do some powder weathering to simulate the coal dust that would be covering everything around the tower.

  Engines Service Complete 8

 

Engines Service Complete 3

 

In the above pictures the W-S Scenic Cement is not yet dry so there's some color variation that is now gone. The engine getting its first coal, water and sand treatment is a 3rd Rail Pennsy T-1 demonstrator version with the full Raymond Lowey streamlining. It is my favorite streamline treatment and I especially like the portholes.

 

The Sculptamold is finally dry that surrounds the signal tower installation so I can put a skin coat on that prior to painting and landscaping. It took four full days to dry out.

 

Then I got working on the deck truss bridges. The plans I drew are working well and I made significant progress on the first of the twin bridges. The hardest part so far is the longitudinal I-beams that run directly under the running rails. These have to fit snugly between two slightly larger I-beams that make up the main cross-bracing. It's hard to make a direct measurement since the flanges block access so I scribed the place where the web is on top of each girder and used that distance to scribe on the I-beams. These then have to be coped to nest under and into the web of the cross braces. My first attempts did not fit as I would like and I will reinforce these joints with J-B Weld since these form part of the structure that holds the end beams in place. It is under the corners of the end beams that supports the bridge on the bridge shoes. The weight of many pounds of locomotives will be transferred to those beams and into the abutments. In the next bridge, I think I will install the cross-braces and longitudinal braces at the same time so the cross-braces can be butted up tightly to the longitudinal braces before gluing.

 

I'm building the bridge model-airplane style directly over the plans which are taped to my work bench with a layer of polyethylene sheeting over them. My work bench surface is Homasote which is a great surface for "T" pins. This is a much better way to build this bridge than the way the instructions shows since there are no full-scale plans with the model and you have to measure all the components and then assemble them. It's much easier to measure parts directly to plans.

  Truss Bridge Construct 01

 

I'm also gluing the gusset plate paper templates onto the ABS sheeting and just cutting them out with a scissors. I use 3M #77 spray adhesive. 

 Truss Bridge Construct 02

 

To remove the paper from the ABS I take some Goo Gone on a rag and saturate the paper. In a few sections it almost falls off by itself. A little more Goo Gone removes the adhesive residue. Isopropyl alcohol removes any residual Goo Gone since all this surface is going to get MicroMark rivet decals. I would someday like to have the NWSL Sensi-press and Riveter embossing system, but until that time, I'm hoping that these decals will make a passable job.

 

Once each truss side was complete, I set them up on the plans with angle blocks clamped to the sides to keep them perpendicular to the building plane. I cut the cross braces en-masse once I created one that was the correct length. After cutting I dress the ends with the NWSL True Sander to ensure that the ends are flat and dead square. I used the first one as a master to measure the lengths for the remainder. 

 Truss Bridge Construct 04

 

Here's the work as it was at the end of today's session. Cross members are mostly in place. I've left some out to grant access to the interior since there's cross-bracing that will go inside. The end beams are fully in place with gusset plates on the outside and bottom. For bridge number 2 I'm going to combine the angular gusset plate and the rectangular one that covers the end beam. It was an after thought in my plans and should have been one piece for a stronger joint. The end beams are the most important member on the bridge. 

 Truss Bridge Construct 05

 

Because of the redesign, this bridge is almost 3 inches shorter in height than the through truss version and therefore will be a very stout, stiff structure.

 

 

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Bridge number one is just about finished (except for the catwalk) with addition of a pair of Keil Line bridge shoes. They add a nice prototypical touch to this project. I've decided to mount the bridges on a blocks dropped from the subroadbed itself and then build a false work below that would simulate the abutments on each end. This way I don't have to be too concerned about getting the abutments an exact height. By using the subroadbed itself, the slope of the outer loop bridge would automatically be set and exact. 

 

Truss Bridge Construct 11

  

To add the catwalk, I cut relief into a dozen of Ross cross ties so they would slip under the Ross bridge track to clear the longitudinal stringer that Ross installs to stabilize the track. In this picture, they're not glued in yet. 

 

Truss Bridge Construct 13

 

 

Truss Bridge Construct 12

 

 

I've started bridge number two and practice makes perfect since I have it almost complete in one long work session. My bench stop has made the cutting of multiple exact-length pieces a snap.

 

With the dramatic reduction in both height and width, I have enough Plastruct structural shapes left to construct the deck plate bridge that will go under the O-88 curve under the 3rd gap in the layout. I've chosen the deck plate design since it will consist of two 12" segments bent in the middle. Again, as before, I'm designing it on CorelDraw in full-size and will build the bridge over the plans. 

 

Curved Bridge Elevation

 

 

While I could have used a concrete pier for the center support, I have enough "H" beams to build the lattice tower and I think it's much more interesting. The above view shows how the bridge will be supported directly from the sub-roadbed and not by the simulated concrete abutments. The only piece that needs to be exact is the spacing block (light yellow)

 

This view shows how the width was determined to enable the curve to be supported by the bridge beneath.

Curved Bridge Detail

 

 

I was originally going to use the cross-bracing for the inner structure as shown above, but then I realized that no one will ever see this work and I will have a lot of the larger I-beams left over from the truss project so I'm going to use solid girders inside instead. It will greatly simplify construction and be very strong.

 

While I was building bridges, the grandsons were doing landscaping. Older grandson was finishing the ground work around the signal tower, and younger was up on the layout vacuuming the loose ballast in preparations for laying down various colors of earth and grass. The kids really like landscaping since they can let their "artistic" impulses loose.

 

 

Boys at Work

 

 

Older grandson commented, "That's one down and 80,000 to go!", lamenting the reality of the size of the layout and how much has to be covered. Little grandson loves being able to climb on top and really get into the action.

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Here's today's work. Bridge two is almost complete except for the thin cross bracing and rivet decals. I've ordered the railing stanchions. When bridge 2 is finished I'll paint both of them and then install the track, walkway and railing. 

 

Truss Bridge Construct 14

 

 

As I moved up the learning curve, I was able to fit the main rail supports between the cross beams much more precisely. I only needed to use CA on two of them. By cutting them just a tad long and using the True Sander to bring them to exact length, they all nested in nicely and were welded with plastic solvent.

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Both deck trusses are complete and waiting for the Bowser handrail stanchions to arrive before getting painted.

  Truss Bridge Construct 15

 

Meanwhile, I've started building the deck plate bridges. The first of the two is now complete and I've started on the second one. These get mounted at a modest angle to each other so the O-88 curve track catches all parts of the bridge structure for good support. 

 

Rather than spend the time and aggravation of building the inner cross-bracing structure, I realized that I had enough Plastruct 1-1/8" big I-beam to use that as the spacer and as a major structural member inside the bridge. How and where this bridge will be installed, no one will ever see the insides, and the I-beams are very strong. I glued two, flange-to-flange, to make an inner piece that is almost exactly the right size to sit inside the girders. This was just dumb luck since the depth of the girders (2.4") was more based on aesthetics than anything else.  

 

I worked hard to ensure that all these parts where the exact same length and square in both directions. I used a v-block clamped to the I-beam to support the part during gluing. All gluing is done with Plastruct Bondene plastic weld solvent. 

 

 Deck Plate Bridge 03

 

I wasn't sure how to handle the bearing surface where the track actually contacts the bridge structure. I first tried to use 5, H-beams laid cross-wise across the girders, but didn't like how it was supporting the track, so I went to Plan B which was to make a level bearing surface across the bridge to ensure that the track touched everywhere. The structure is extremely rigid and has no flexing in any direction. It's a solid plastic brick that will easily support any locomotive I own.

 

 Deck Plate Bridge 04

In the above picture, you can see the filler pieces that support the rails even when the ties are not touching the outer edge of the girders. With a deck plate bridge under straight track, you don't have this complication.

 

Here's some track laid across the bridge and you can see it is contacting all surfaces and looks exactly like the original design.

  

Deck Plate Bridge 05

 

 

I still have to design the angle connection between the two bridge halves. The bridge shoes will go under this mid section. I'm leaning towards a solid square plate of ABS plastic that will span both bridges, and then some inner structure that will fill in the gap. I've got some .080" material left over from the truss bridges that will work perfectly when combined into a .160 sandwich.

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Completed and joined the two deck plate bridge sections and am ready to start working on the center support tower. Building the second bridge was clearly easier than the first and finished in a little better shape. That being said, the novice probably can't tell which one was finished first.

 Deck Plate Bridge 06

 I thought about how to join the two halves and settled on using three angled plates of .080" ABS which is very stiff. I made a cardboard template first and actually tried out the angle on the railroad itself before cutting plastic. But even then, the angle was two sharp and I had to adjust the first piece so it matched the angle on my plan.

   Deck Plate Bridge 07

 

These plates were glued to the flanges on the inner I-beams that hold the bridge together. I glued them on one side and then when it was "sort-of" set, brought the other piece into contact. I then applied more Bondene liberally to ensure a good bond. The end result was a very strong junction that just needed some trim pieces to hide the insides.

  

Deck Plate Bridge 08

When fit over the tracks it fit exactly as planned. I used some more styrene, and ABS sheet and angles to fill the gap.  

 

Deck Plate Bridge 09

For the center mounting plate, I shaped and then glued on a piece of .080" ABS upon which the bridge shoes will be fixed. For the outside ends, rather than stacking up some more ABS, "H" beams glued crossways serves as a strong support.

  

Deck Plate Bridge 11

 

The center places also increased the strength of the joint significantly. 

 

Deck Plate Bridge 10

 

The entire assembly is solid and feels like one piece. When set on the end beams, it's very stiff and self-supporting.

 

Now it's onto the tower that will support the middle.

 

 

Deck Plate Bridge 11

Deck Plate Bridge 10

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Started building tower. I've got the plans laid on top of a MicroMark magnetic steel building jig, but the width of the tower's base on the tapered side is just a little wider than the steel plate. The results were the magnets not having a good enough surface to really hold on the wide end. It did the job, but for the rest of this job I'm going back to pinning the parts directly to my Homasoted work bench top.

 

One side of the tower has a 5º taper and the other is straight. I adjusted the True Sander's fence to match the taper so the columns and horizontal members can be sanded to that specific value and fit nice and tightly. The ruler is providing more surface for the fence clamp.

 

Deck Plate Tower 03

 

The next shot shows the cross braces fitted into position.

  

Deck Plate Tower 02

I then added the gusset plates which really tightens the whole thing up. I only had a short time to work today and was able to build one tower side and add the cross-bracing in the top bay. (I don't know why this picture is reversed?)

 

Deck Plate Tower 01

Tomorrow, I build the other tapered tower and then assemble them with equal-length spacers. Before cutting the H-beams I took the completed bridge and the tower plans to the spot on the layout and reconfirmed the height and how I was going to remove the temporary plank that now serves as a bridge in that area. I didn't want to waste the precious H-beams.

 

The tower's going to be embedded in a wood block which will then be surrounded with cast Hydrostone which will simulate a concrete foundation. I'm going to cast in the debris tapers on the upstream side of the base. 

 

I also added the bridge shoes to the center section of the deck bridge. There are two ways to put on bridge shoes. The right way and the wrong way. It's clearly a 50/50 proposition. So I cleaned up the castings and put a drop of medium viscosity CA onto the mounting plate, and some accelerator on the bridge shoe and set it in very carefully. It set very quickly. 

 

And then I realized I didn't check which direction the pin was facing. It's supposed to be cross-wise to the bridge axis and of course I just CA'd it with the pin in line with the bridge and WRONG. I had to use some force to pry it off, clean up the now cured CA and remount it correctly. I was rushing. Never fails. Don't Rush!

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Tower is almost complete. Got it all together and put on most of the cross-bracing until I ran out of material... AGAIN. The Plastruct ABS angle and T stock comes in sleeves of 7 pieces only. I keep underestimating how much of it that I need. It's also expensive at eight bucks for 7 pieces.

 

On the tapered side I used the 1/8" T stock, but it looks a little underweight, so on the parallel side I used 1/8" angle stock glued back-to-back to make a large T, but then I ran out so I'll get some more tomorrow and finish it up. I'm also going to adorn it with rivet decals since the gusset plates are big enough to accept them. It's very strong and could probably support 100 pounds in vertical static load. It's only got to hold up an 11 pound Allegheny.

 

Once again the True Sander really did its thing in getting all the members trued to the correct angles and perfectly square. My small miter box is wearing and the slots are letting the razor saw cut some less-than-90º angles, so I squared everything up with the sander. If anyone out there really wants to get into scratch building I would wholeheartedly recommend getting the three tools from North West Short Line, The Chopper II, The Duplicutter, and the True Sander. 

 

Deck Plate Tower 04

 

I still have one more side to go with the cross-bracing, then I have to finish up the top mounting area. I was originally going to lay the I-beams directly on the H-beams forming the top, but they are edge up and don't give a lot of gluing surface. I may put a sheet of styrene across the whole thin as a glue base for the I-beams. Onto the I-beams goes another piece of heavy ABS upon which the bridge feet will sit.

04Deck Plate Tower 05

 

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Finished the tower except for the rivet decals and sort of tried it out on the layout and it fits as designed. Overall, I'm happy with the results. I still have some more shapes left over, but not enough to build anything specific. My youngest grandson and I decided that they'd make good flat car loads. 

  

Deck Plate Complete 1

 

The deck bridge almost perfectly balanced on the tower with the help of a few pieces of ABS on one side. The lower legs will be embedded in plaster once I make the base. I'm going to set it on a wood block of the right length and width, and then build a form around it. With the tower sitting on the block the plaster will completely encase the lower leg almost up to the first gusset plates.

 

The tower was almost level. It needed some shims glued to the tower legs to bring it to level and cross-level. The white gussets are the result of finally running out of the .020" ABS sheet left over from the truss bridge kits.

  

Deck Plate Complete 2

 

The bridge shoe footings is solid a rock. The shoes aren't glued here, just resting.

 

I had one bottom gusset that moved before it was dry and looked awful. So I decided to take it off and fit one correctly. Wow! You cannot separate properly glued ABS where it's welded to another piece. I used a single-edged razor to try and slice it off, but I ended up slicing the gusset plate in half. What remained was a lot of grey plastic on the black leg. Continued scraping and a sanding stick finished the job so I could put on the new piece.

 

Next session I'll put the rivet decals on the other side and then get back to the truss bridges and build the walkway, then it's the paint shop for all the bridges.

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Finished the rivet decals on the tower and started building the walk ways on the truss bridges. This involved the following steps:

  1. Cut the strips from a single sheet of balsa,
  2. Stain each piece
  3. Using CA, glue in each outrigger beam spaced every four ties.
  4. Glue on the outrigger beams
  5. Glue on the flooring
  6. Drill holes to accept the rail stanchions (#50)
  7. Prime and paint the stanchions
  8. Glue in the stanchion
  9. Blacken the .032 railing brass
  10. Install the rails and secure with CA
  11. Before mounting track, paint and install the bridges

 here's the Master Airscrew Balsa Stripper that I use to make the 1/4" balsa strips. My LHS didn't sell basswood strips of the right size so I chose to make my own.

 

 

Balsa Stripper

I used the Chopper with a clamped bench block to cut 60 strips. Balsa's not that strong, but there should be no load on this walkway, unless an Allegheny decides to derail on the bridge, in which case I'll have bigger problems than rebuilding the walk way.

 

Cutting Walkway Planks

 

Here's the first course of planking going on. By staining the pieces before installing, and varying the intensity it looks more natural. I'll go back and weather it a bit with some powders to give it some aging. I have "Weather It" chemical weathering solution for wood, but it didn't react much with the balsa and looked terrible. Instead I just wiped on Raw Sienna with rag and varying amounts of water to change the tone.

 

Walkway build 1

After I glued on all the slats, I realized I hadn't painted the rails. I had wanted to do this before walk way installation. So I masked the wood and airbrushed the rail brown. The other bridge's track was also done at this time, but without the walkway. I wanted to finish one bridge completely just to be sure that it worked the way I wanted before I made two of them.

 

Walkway build 2

 

Next session should finish this track and the next one too. Then I'm paint the bridges before installing on the layout. That will be a milestone step.

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I followed all the steps in yesterday's post and finished the bridges except for the final step, installation. I did the painting outside. It was a nice hot day with a mild breeze and the Krylon paint dried very quickly (like in a baking oven).

 

The rivets, while being somewhat understated, look pretty good and I would be inclined to buy more of them from MicroMark for future structural projects. I finished the walkways for the second deck truss and added the rail stanchions. The "Blacken It" worked perfectly on the .032" brass wire so I didn't have to paint the brass and worry about it peeling. I'm now ready to start installation and will maybe get to it tomorrow. Part of the second truss walkway is going to be on a short piece of curved track that just enters this bridge. This curve was one of the reasons why I had to use a deck instead of through truss.

 

Bridges Complete 1

 I haven't weathered the bridges yet and will do so by using some judicious applications of rust. My railroad is a Class 1 pike and they keep their infrastructure in pretty good condition, so I don't intend on any massive weathering or creating anything "backwoods-looking", but I also want it to look reasonably realistic.

 

Bridges Complete 2

 

I'm glad I chose to use "rattle-can" paint instead of the airbrush. This job took a full large can of Oxide Red Primer. The Bowser handrail stanchions worked out nicely and weren't too expensive. The Plastruct bridge kits build a very substantial structure that should do very well in service. While it's a bit "hefty-looking", I think it looks pretty good for a major railroad bridge.

 

I dropped the deck plate bridge and lost the pin holding the bottom half of one of the bridge shoes. I looked for it, but it was gone so I machined one on the Taig Lathe. You can just make out a piece of shiny brass at the hinge point. I paint it before installation.

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Couldn't leave well enough alone so I did some weathering on the deck plate and one of the deck truss bridges. The other truss I just added some dark powder to the horizontal upward facing surfaces. My thinking is that this bridge was recently repainted and its sister bridge is waiting for that. The deck plate is much more interesting with some weathering. 

 Deck Plate Weathered 1

Deck Plate Weathered 2

I used a 50/50 mixture of artist acrylics: Raw Umber and Raw Sienna to make the intense rust spots, then I went over it with rust and grimy black colored Dr. Brown's weathering powders. I may still have to shoot some Dullcoat to kill the shine of the acrylic. I learned about the acrylic in a weathering video on YouTube.

 

While this was all drying, I went to work removing one of the temporary planks and fitting a deck truss bridge into position. I was rewarded in that it came out very easily. I didn't use to too much Liquid Nails holding the track in place since I knew it was coming out eventually. I used the Dremel with a cut off wheel and the flex shaft extension to cut the track and the roadbed right at the joint. This plank was pre-sized for the bridges that I bought so the bridge just dropped in. 

 

Truss install 02

This outer bridge is a on a 2º slope and it's set up automatically by fastening the bridge to the subroadbed one each side rather than attempting to accurately size the abutments. They'll just be for show. It works out that a piece of 1 X 2 and one piece of cardboard spaces the bridge to track height perfectly. Using some clamps and scrap wood on each end, the bridge sits in its final position.

 

These pictures are close ups of the temp supports at either end. The cable tie is holding the bridge firmly to the piece of track so I could get a good idea of the spacing requirement. 

 

Truss install 01

Truss install 04

I will need to put a spacer block in the end with the stub track to provide a foundation for the ballast that was on the temporary plank. I will also properly size the abutment blocks so they'll blend properly into the false work that will cascade down the sides of the ravine the bridges are crossing. The installation for the other truss bridge will be exactly the same except for the little piece of curved track that will come over the right-hand end.

 

Looking at it from this angle, having real bridges on the layout really works for me. I was going to wait awhile before the bridge building project since I was a little intimidated by the whole thing and was procrastinating. I'm glad I just dove into it. The railroad is much better off because of it. 

 

Truss Install 03

 

That pole sticking up on the left side of this picture is the vertical hanger support from my Dremel and the flexi-shaft.

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After a 2-week+ trip back East I finally have the opportunity to post the last work completed before the trip. I started the process to mount the curved deck plate bridge and ballasted the last remaining unballasted section. 

 

Since I decided to make the "city" at track level, the entire front left track area needed ballasting. Having ballasted several hundred feet of track already, this last section went quickly and without any hiccups. I had sprayed the rails brown the day before.

 Last Ballast

I next added some aluminum screen wire to the first ravine in preparation to receive the foam rocks, plaster and other landscaping material. I'm going to wait to permanently mount the bridges until after the scenery is almost completely in place, but I may temporarily hold the bridges in some way since I can't run trains with that gulch in the way.

  Ravine Landscape 01

Staples hold the screen in place. I also took some pictures when we were traveling on I-64 heading East to Washington of the various rock cuts through the Kentucky limestone and sandstone to give me more ideas about it's strata and coloration. I'll post more information about that as I get into it.

 

Next I started putting the deck plate bridge into place. I first removed the temporary bridge but left the track in place. Again, I didn't use too much Liquid Nails so I could easily remove the OSB and roadbed from under the track. I then screwed down a thin plywood plate to the two middle joists running across the ravine's bottom. I fastened the bridge to the track using cable ties and then fastened the tower to the bridge using the same thing. Since the track run is only 24", there is not much sag so the tower was almost in its final location hanging down in thin air.

  Deck Tower Placement 1Instead of measuring the gap for the base block, I just piled various thicknesses of wood until the tower was both sitting on something solid AND supporting the center of the bridge. To test if it sagged I rolled a railroad car over the bridge. It was solid.

 Deck Tower Placement 3

Three pieces did the trick. I then cut them to the size of the foundation, smeared them with Titebond and glued them together. With that step the work day was over. 

 

Deck Tower Placement 34jpg

Tomorrow, I'll spend a solid workday completing the base. I am planning on gluing the tower to this block, then building a styrene form around it with a debris deflector on one end. I will then pour Hydrostone into this mold up about a 1/2 inch onto the tower legs. After removing the mold, I should have an authentic looking cement foundation for the bridge tower. At least that's the plan. When I mount the tower, I will recheck the height and adjust with some shims under the foundation if need be.

 

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Thanks!

 

Didn't get too much done yesterday, but what I did complete was important. I finished repairing the Schnabel car and it's now parted on a siding on the layout. I then made the end abutments for the deck plate bridge.

 

There's limited room on the right side to mount the faux abutment directly under the sub-roadbed. This area is congested with a riser and joist that's very close to the beginning of the bridge, so I mounted the abutment directly onto the joist. I just glued and clamped it. It's not going anywhere and supports the bridge well. 

 

Deck Plate Right Abuttment

With the bridge firmly attached to the track with the cable ties, and the track firmly attached to the existing track, all I did was just push the abutment up firmly to the bridges fixed shoe and clamped it.

 

The left end had more room so here I held a piece of wood up to the bridge's fixed shoe and marked this height on a piece held vertically under the sub-roadbed, cut a piece of 2 X 4 to that height and tried it out. It was about a 1/16 too high so I trimmed it slightly with the chop saw. A piece of 1 X 3 cut to a length that extended past the fixed shoe the same amount as the right side finished it up.

  

Deck Plate Left Abuttment

I screwed and glued the 1 X 3 to the 2 X 4 and then glued this assembly under the sub-roadbed. It's been drying overnight and is very strong. Not shown in these pictures is the slight angle needed to adjust the angle of the abutment to the bridge. This whole process was harder to describe in words than it was to do.

 

With the abutments in place, this bridge is fully functional. I'm going to try to install the tower on top of the scenery-supporting aluminum screen. It would be easier than to try and cut the screen to fit around the "concrete" foundation. I don't think this extra thickness will cause a problem since the tower has a little bit of clearance under the bridge and the screen should close that.

 

Now it's onto the false abutments (Styrofoam with plaster?), and the rest of the ravine scenery under all the bridges. I'm still torn about doing all the scenic work with the bridges missing since with be much easier to do, but I can't run any trains with the bridges out. The deck trusses need to have their tracks jumpered to the adjoining tracks since I won't be able to insert their normal track pins and get them into position. Nothing flexes enough to do that. This means once the bridges are in place, they can't be removed.

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I haven't been slacking off... what I had been doing is fighting an annoying cold that kept out of the basement all week. What I did do was take some of this down time to think about and do some design work on the scenic treatment in the ravines under the three bridges. I fastened the screen wire in place and then took pictures, imported them into Corel Draw where I added the bridge abutments that would blend into the rock faces.

 

After printing out the pictures, I used markers and colored pencils to draw what I'd like to see on these steeply angled, weathered limestone ravines. My theme comes from the topography in the KY River Gorge that runs north and south through my state. We took a boat tour of the this area last summer and there are very dramatic cliff faces with overhanging foliage that makes for some dramatic scenes. 

 

This area of the Gorge is the location of the KY High Bridge, a deck bridge that soars over the gorge carrying the Norfolk-Southern RR. I took pictures of the rocks with the understanding that I'd want to model them for the layout. Limestone and sandstone throughout Central KY is very stratified and looks like it was laid down with a ruler. It might not be too hard to model.

 

Here's some shots of the Gorge, and then my artistic treatment. Of course it's all shrunk to proportions acceptable to an O'guage layout. The real gorge is very deep.

 

KY High Bridge Even in N-guage, this thing would be a monster. Perhaps Z-gauge...?

 

Here's some of the topography.

 

KY River Pallisades

 

And here's a detail shot which I'm using for shape and coloration.

 

KY River Scenic Modeling

And here's what I'm going to try and do.

 

This is the deck bridge ravine. What's not shown is a nice collection of tallus rock at the river's edge. There will be foliage on bushes and overhanging the rock edges. 

Deck Bridge Ravine Scenic Concept

 

This is the double truss deck bridge ravine.

 

Truss Bridge Ravine Scenic Concept

 

I'm going to start working this coming week since the cold is now at the point where I can function. I may use Sculpt-a-mold to form the rock formations. Before I do anything, I'm going to do some trial runs to see how best to form the surfaces. I don't know of any rock molds that look like these formations. If anyone does, please let me know.

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Jim, I have both of those materials. There's an observation deck overlooking the KY River Gorge that looks just like the one on your layout. Life imitating art? i also took this picture of it. This was built rather later compared to the age of the original bridge (1870). My gorges may be too small for this detail, but it might be fun to add.

 

KY River Overlook

 

Your rocks look very similar to what I'm trying to create. Thanks for input!

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Started to build the scenic structures in Ravine 1. I'm using a multi-media approach; combining cardboard strips, Styrofoam Bead Board, plaster cloth, plaster impregnated paper towels, Sculpt-a-Mold, plaster rock castings and various kinds of fillers to create the topography.

 

First challenge was to fill a large gap between the screen wire and the foreground bridge abutment's edge. I'm using bead board held together and to the layout using W-S low temp foam hot glue. It will support NO loads and just has be stable enough to hold in place while the plaster cloth hardens that will be attached to its surface. Running down the front will be the false concrete bridge abutment that will blend into the ravine's face. 

 Ravine 1 scenic 04

I also started to fill in the sides and the between-the-tracks area in this area of the layout. I did this will cardboard strips attached to sub-roadbed edges and/or joists using normal-temp hot glue. Again, these will be covered with plaster cloth, filler and rock molds, before ground cover and vegetation.  

 Ravine 1 scenic 03

I was only in the basement for less than 2 hours. There's lots more to do here. Perhaps today...

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I didn't get back to the ravine until today (Friday). I finished the Styrofoam underlayment for Ravine 1, and finished the forms for the bridge foundations. To cut foam without the mess, I'm using the Avalon foam cutter that I bought years ago at the York Train Show. Up until this project I only used it once, making a construction stand for the big RC B-17 I built a few years ago. Now it's finally earning its keep. I also purchased the big hot knife foam cutter from MicroMark, but haven't used it here yet. It tends to make much more styrene smoke and is messier. Unless I have to cut thick sections, I'll use the Avalon.

 

Foam Cutter

The main challenge I faced today was building out the ravine wall since the screen wire was attached to the layout frame which, at some points, was far behind the the bridge location. Using foam here filled the space quickly and saves large amounts of plaster cloth and Scultamold. Each side had this problem. I also started filling the space between the outside and inside loops using cardboard strips for the narrower parts and then more screen wire for the larger areas.

 

This is the right side (facing from outside in)

 Ravine 1 scenic 06

Reverse angle:

Ravine 1 scenic 08

 

Here's the left side: 

Ravine 1 scenic 05

I'm still haven't decided how to treat the bridge abutment foundations. I can coat them with Spackle/joint compound/patch filler to create a smooth "concrete" surface, or I can sheathe them with thin styrene and paint it concrete color. I'm going to experiment with the plastering idea on some scrap to see how it looks. I'll pre-color the compound so it won't really need painting which looks much better. I really liked how this worked out on the deck bridge foundation. The rest of the screen/Styrofaom will be first covered with plaster cloth and then Sculptamold.

 

Here's the beginning of the landscape skeleton for the between-the-tracks area. I'm planning a fairly substantial ridge simulating a cut for the upper level track. I'm also deciding to leave some of the areas of the layout that don't yet have any paneling on them in a lower landscape area. In this way I can use screen wire fastened directly to the joists to support landscaping.

 

Ravine 1 scenic 07

 

I'm not worried about the lumpiness of the cardboard strips. Ill work some of that out when plastering and some of it is welcome since the real world isn't that regular.

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UN real.Hope I can be as good as you guys some day.I'm working at it.

No such thing as over kill-do it RIGHT.                                                                                                                             

Rather than starting to plaster cloth the ravines, I decided to work the entire topographic treatment around that entire end of the layout. I made this choice based on difficulty in imagining how to transition the scenicked area to the untreated area. By establishing the terrain for the whole area made it easier to visualize the total look.

 

I then realized that fascia boards needed to be fitted to provide an anchorage for the scenery that extends over the edge of the layout. So I bought a 25' roll of aluminum screening from Lowes. Also from Lowes I bought two 4 X 8 sheets of green extruded polystyrene, one 1/2" and the other 3/4". This will be enough to get started on the basis for the city. 

 

The hardest part of this whole job is getting into the between-the-ravines space. I have to use my scooter to propel myself under the layout into this space. I'm leaving this space open so all areas of the layout are reachable except for the center of where the city's going to go. I still have to figure how I'm going to handle that.

 

Here're some shots of this area with their fascia boards in place. I'm thinking I'm going to make the terrain height the same as the joists which would add more interest coming off of the track level. It's one of the advantages of building with L-girder and using shaped sub-roadbed pieces—being able to build below-track-height areas as easy as building elevations above.

Fascia Boards 06

 Fascia Boards 05

In this case, the screws holding the fascia are put into the joists end-grain. I'm not particularly happy about this, but these boards won't be bumped or touched very often. On the outside of the layout, I'm adding blocks to the joists or joist extensions for the screws are holding in cross-grain. The above picture also shows the depressed area next to the track that will be landscaped at that level.

 

After putting in these boards, I went back outside and built the screen framework for the terrain that lies between the left-end tracks. I'm going to sculpt this area so the outside will be a cut, with bare Kentucky limestone strata, and the inner-face with a more gradual, nature land-form. To push the screen up more on the outside I quickly cobbled together some cut Styrofoam "beams" hot-glued to the layout framing. Again, you have to use Low-temp hot glue for bead board. Normal hot glue is too hot and melts holes into the foam. This is from experience. 

 

Topo 01

 

Once the plaster cloth is added, the lumps will be worked out. This screen is not for strength which comes when layers of plaster impregnated cloth or paper towels hardens. Scultamold will then be applied for texturing the rock face. I've got good pictures of the rock formations that I'm modeling and probably won't need too many rock molds. Kentucky rocks don't look like that.

 

While the screen was being applied, I was letting joist extension and mounting blocks the chance to dry. In most cases I'm gluing the extension, not screwing them since they don't handle much load and Titebond joints are stronger than the wood when properly clamped during drying. 

 

I have many feet of fascia board that's already prepared with junction plates that were used on the last iteration of the layout. In fact, I had just installed all the fascia boards when I was laid off, decided to move and had to disassemble the whole thing. There are extra screw holes since these pieces are no longer in the same place. I'll fill those holes before painting the boards. 

 

Fascia Boards 03

 

As the fascia bends towards the foreground is another area where the landscape will gradually taper down from the edge. Further around the curve the edge will drop straight down. While I'm not happy with that, It gets into an area where aisle width get narrow and I can't afford to make the layout any wider.

 

Here's one more shot showing how the fascia boards are fastened to the layout

 

Fascia Boards 01

 

All these little extensions and mounts help use up a lot of odds and ends in the wood scrap box.

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As I was lying in bed last night and thinking about what's coming up next with the layout—being retired and in reasonably good health, thinking about the layout project is what occupies my mind—I realized that I put the fascia boards on wrong. I was mounting them at the level of the lowered landscape area near the ravine, rather than level with the platform. This left a 2 inch gap between the top of the fascia and the layout top which would have been ridiculous to fill.

 

So the first thing I did today was to rip it all out and remount it at table level and then using the saber saw, cut out the area that would be landscaped lower. 

 

Fascia Boards 11

 This change also made it much easier to attach the boards since they screw directly into the panels edge. This was going so well, I decided to do the fascias all the way around. Again, I have lots of boards from the last layout, and even though this layout is 11 feet longer, since I have 39 feet of it against a wall, I have enough to almost complete all exposed edges on this layout.

 Fascia Boards 07

Since I'm doing this build mostly alone, he's how I hold the boards in place so I don't need three hands (or more) to align the pieces for drilling and screwing.

 

A large C-clamp fastened to a joist and then a smaller one set to support the boards at the correct height. It works nicely and makes the job go quickly. Individual boards are joined to each other using a backing plate glued to one side and 3mm screws, nuts and washers holding the mating piece. Metric sizes are because these screws were purchased when building layout #1 in Germany.

 

Fascia Boards 09

 Fascia Boards 10

 Here's the right end. I had to trim the piece slightly at the swing-gate to make sure it closed completely.

 

Fascia Boards 08

 

After all the boards are in place I'm going to mask the layout and track and spray with a nice deep green. I have some paint I used before, but I might by new low-odor paint so it won't smell up the rest of the house. The forced-air heating system is just leaky enough on the intake side to suck up any hobby smells from the basement and send it all over the place.

 

Resetting the fascia height meant that some of the supports that I glued on yesterday were now hanging below the boards. The saber saw made fast work of them.

 

The layout immediately looks more finished without those joist ends stick out all over the place. There's plenty of holes in the boards from when used in previous installations. I'll fill them before painting.  The fascia board also adds a convenient place to add any local controls for more switches, and/or any operating accessories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What a spectacular layout and read! It took me well over an hour to read this thread from start to finish but well worth the time.

 

I congratulate you on your attention to detail. I will be following this thread to see how it all turns out.

Thanks! It's fun to write about it also. I found out about doing detailed build threads on a Scale RC aircraft website where some of the finest modelers in the world detail their construction projects. As much fun as it is seeing the finished results of peoples' handiwork, there's much more learning to be had by seeing how they did it. The swing gate idea was the direct result of input from Clem on this thread. There's many more...

 

Did you go back and read the platform construction thread in the Layout Design forum? If not, it gives the same level of detail on all the steps to build a large L-girder framework.

What I really want to know, and keep asking myself is, "Where was this creativity and attention to detail when I was a freshman at Michigan State in 1963?" Somehow between then and becoming a senior citizen it came about. There's still hope for all of us.

 

Not only that, but throughout my education I hated to write. Had a terminal case of "white paper syndrome" and froze when looking at a blank page. I previously (on another forum site) did a 13 month thread on a model battleship build. Someone suggested extracting it and creating an eBook. So I copied the thread into MS Word, removed all the back and forth commentary and just had the pictures and text of what I was doing. It came to over 300 pages! If anyone would have suggested when I was 18 that I would be writing 300 pages of detailed descriptive text on a model project, I would have thought them to be nuts. If I only knew. Youth is definitely wasted on the young.

 

I haven't published the eBook yet because I have a railroad to build.

Finished putting the framework in that will support the city and then marked and cut the thin Masonite. This material is quite old since I believe I purchased it to build the n-gauge layout with my son before he went to college (it never got past the L-girders) and he's now heading for 39. It's amazing that almost every scrap of wood that I dragged from our old house is slowly being incorporated into this new RR.

 

There's 3/4" dimensional lumber running across the cleats. I also added more cleats to span areas that I thought would be too broad for stability. I still have to add some brackets around the perimeter to support the thin material and foam around the edges. For some reason, the cleats kept coming out at different heights. I was taking all level measurements from the first cleat I installed, but there must have been stacking errors creeping in since some cleats were more that 1/8" higher than they should be. I was up and down on the scooter more times than I'd like to count. 

City Foundation 3

I was using every scrap of lumber I had and didn't want to got to THD to buy more. So I had to extend on board to span the gap I wanted. 

City Foundation 4

I flopped the pieces of Masonite onto the framework and aligned one edge to keep the amount of cutting to a minimum. From underneath I marked the circular shape of the opening using a Sharpie. The saber saw with a fine-toothed blade made quick work of the cuts. I had to go back and re-cut some of the curves due to the parallax induced by the gap between the curve and Masonite.

 

City Foundation 6

 Here're the pieces in place... not fastened.  

City Foundation 7

 

All the pieces are cut and reasonably fit. Now I have to figure out the best way to fasten the Masonite to the support network. I want this 'sub-floor' to be fastened tightly, but the foam on top will be removable so I have build scenes off the layout and bring them to it when done. It's over 7 feet across and much too far to reach, and is not as strong as the layout and wouldn't support someone walking on it. Too much concentrated load would punch a hole right through this stuff.

 

Tomorrow I will finish up fitting these pieces and then get them into permanent position. As I'm writing this, I'm thinking that I'll mark the position of the support structure on each panel piece from under. Take the pieces off the table and drill holes for some small wood screws in the center of the framework marks and then return them to the frame and screw it down. Since these screws will be hidden, it would make taking the layout apart some day more difficult, but if the foam is detachable, they won't be so hidden after all. I also need to join the panel pieces together. Here again I'll use screw plates underneath made out of some thicker stock and put the screws in from above.

 

Once again, taking time to write this build thread helps me think through challenges.

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I completed final fitting and screwing down the Masonite city foundation. It was the hardest thing I've had to do on this layout in a long time. It involved scooting below and climbing above multiple times. While the Masonite's not strong enough to walk on, I was able to lean on it when I was directly over the underlying framework. I did find some particularly spongy areas that I will go back and reinforce. 

 City foundation 9

There's a couple of areas needing some more attention, one which is circled in this next shot. There seems to be a depression in that area that I'm going to see if I can level it. I'm also going to firm up the spongy areas so if you do need to lean on it, it won't break through.

 

I shot these pictures with the Canon Rebel. The last few days I was using the iPhone 4. I'm getting a 5s on Monday which has a superior camera. I may be able to get away using the phone for all these shots. The above picture also used the photo stitch software to make a deep depth of field. My problem with the iPhone is holding it steady. My hands aren't too steady and after handling the DeWalt XRP, they're even shakier. The Canon has image stabilization and for the depth of field shots, I use a tripod with a 2 second time delay so no shake.

 

I also need to fasten a splice plate beneath this are since I spliced next to it, but missed all the corners. 

City Foundation 10

 

Next session I'll start cutting and fitting the foam. I'm thinking about creating a fixed perimeter of foam around the curves, with the inner pieces removable. This is necessary since the perimeter's going to need not only fixed, but landscaped pretty significantly. The weekend's here and my deal with my major supporter is "no trains on the weekend".

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You're the reason why I spend all the time writing about this... giving me inspiration and thoughts that I haven't had. A lift out... Hmmmmm. It's not too late for that. L-girder is flexible enough to make modifications at this time. I'll look at the structure and see what I can come up with. I have to separate some of joists a bit so it's easier to get up through them. As it was I was able to stand between them if I did so carefully.

 

Trains have been running but are stymied now by the bridges being out. I was going to plaster the ravines so the bridges could be installed right away and get the trains running, but now I'm glad I've chosen to flesh out the city area since I would have been banging into that plaster all the time. I've bumped the screen wire between the tracks more times than I'd like to admit, but without scenery it doesn't matter.

so now that your percolating on a lift out how about using a separate piece of 2" pink foam board for the hatch cover then you only have the weight of the building or? to lift out of your way.

I myself have a 12' area for a town and intend to use the same foam for it as well.

 

am I mistaken that you can bypass bridge area seems like there was a wye or a line heading for the yard area or am I mixed up.

 

apparently your agreement with better half didn't include the ogr forum! can you hear my laughter. haven't heard you mention grandsons for awhile are they still helping you with the layout?

 

$oo

I like the idea about the 2" foam, or I could laminate a piece of Masonite with the 3/4" stuff I have and not have to buy any more foam.

 

The Forum doesn't count since "I'm not in the basement". 

 

Grandsons are swamped with school activities, including after-school sports for both. We're watching them both nights next weekend so maybe I can get some more work out of them. There's lots of ground cover to be put down on the finished areas of the layout.

 

If anyone watches "Parenthood", there's a sub-story running right now that really strikes a nerve. One of the couples has an adopted adolescent boy who's having trouble reading. The school wanted to let him back for 4th grade, but the father is upset about that. The grandfather, meanwhile, (Craig T. Nelson) has purchased a 1966 Pontiac GTO fixer-upper. He cons the youngster into helping him out, but he has to read the repair manual in order to do it right and the kid's learning how to read. When I was teaching power technology in inner-city Philly in the late 60s, I kept a supply of Hot Rod magazines in the room. I didn't care what they read as long as they did it. I often said as an industrial arts teacher, that with some kinds of kids, if I had them all day, I'd teach them all their basic skills in the context of working with their hands and making things. I stand by that thought today. This is the way the guild system worked in the old days. You worked with the master and he not only taught you the craft, but he taught how to manage the business. Maybe we should have some of that again.

I have been thrilled to hear about your grandchildren helping you out as I have been following your project for some time now.How old were they when they first started to take interest?NickOriginally Posted by Trainman2001:

I like the idea about the 2" foam, or I could laminate a piece of Masonite with the 3/4" stuff I have and not have to buy any more foam.

 

The Forum doesn't count since "I'm not in the basement". 

 

Grandsons are swamped with school activities, including after-school sports for both. We're watching them both nights next weekend so maybe I can get some more work out of them. There's lots of ground cover to be put down on the finished areas of the layout.

 

If anyone watches "Parenthood", there's a sub-story running right now that really strikes a nerve. One of the couples has an adopted adolescent boy who's having trouble reading. The school wanted to let him back for 4th grade, but the father is upset about that. The grandfather, meanwhile, (Craig T. Nelson) has purchased a 1966 Pontiac GTO fixer-upper. He cons the youngster into helping him out, but he has to read the repair manual in order to do it right and the kid's learning how to read. When I was teaching power technology in inner-city Philly in the late 60s, I kept a supply of Hot Rod magazines in the room. I didn't care what they read as long as they did it. I often said as an industrial arts teacher, that with some kinds of kids, if I had them all day, I'd teach them all their basic skills in the context of working with their hands and making things. I stand by that thought today. This is the way the guild system worked in the old days. You worked with the master and he not only taught you the craft, but he taught how to manage the business. Maybe we should have some of that again.

 

No such thing as over kill-do it RIGHT.                                                                                                                             

Really little. It started before they were two when I used to run Train Simulator on my laptop. Alex used to love to blow the whistle. When the 2nd came along (2.5 years later) he too liked the Train Simulator. When the trains were finally built in Pennsy, I immediately let them couple and uncouple cars, follow the trains around, and touch anything as long as "Grandpop" was there to guide them. By the time they were five, they could run the controls. I had some loose trucks which they liked to shoot back and forth between them. We also did that with some sturdy cars. It was easy to do then since the layout had no scenery to get in the way.

 

We would also build lots of other stuff together including Legos and K'Nex. I also play video games with them and show interest in what they're interested in.

 

This is the same way I worked with my son and daughter when they were that age. I was building Pocher 1/8th scale model cars on commission. I was building three-at-a-time on the dining room table so there were cars and thousands of parts just sitting there. So whenever I was building, I would sit my son down next to me—he was just over two at the time—and give him some pieces to fit together.

 

I also had a part that both kids did. The vinyl tires were very thick and stiff and if you tried to put them on the wire wheel rims cold, the rim would disintegrate. So we had to heat them up in hot water. So one kid would put them in the water and one would take them out and then I'd build the wheels. Whenever I started a new batch they'd be asking if it was time to make the wheels yet.

 

In other words, and I apologize for this very long answer to a very short question, I've always believed that kids can touch things with supervision.

 

Now the kids major work is to put down ground cover and plastering. 

It's time to really understand how the city's going together. I have 2, 4X8 sheets of green foam, one 1/2" and the other 3/4". One sheet isn't enough to pave the entire city area that's now covered with Masonite. Rather than buy another—I may still have to to do mountain construction—I've concocted a scheme to use both thicknesses to some advantage. 

  

City Plan with top surface

 

My buildings are all mounted on 3/8" foam core. If I use the 3/4" for the streets, and the 1/2" as a foundation under the buildings, what results is a very nice curb between the street and sidewalk. I plan on surfacing the streets with illustration or Bristol board, so the actual height difference is about 8 scale inches which is very nice. In this way, I'm maximizing the use of both kinds of foam I have and solves the problem of having the streets at a slightly lower level than the surrounding construction.

 

I'm using 5" width for the streets. That's 20 scale feet which is a pretty narrow street. I could make them wider. Does anyone have suggestions about city street width?

 

In looking at some other folks pics I realized that my original design wasn't making the best use of the space since I have the main street receding into the distance perpendicular to the front of the RR. I re-positioned things so there's a main street running across the face. The gas station is on a base that is exactly what mine is, but the rest of the buildings are right out of RRTrack and are representations of what I have. I had to position the streets so they crossed tracks away from switches. I will also have to make a "rock cut" on the left side where there's now a hill between the tracks. Notice that all the grade crossings are on curves which makes their construction much more complex.

 

This is another example of bringing in a screen print from RRTrack and using CorelDraw to design a scaled working drawing.

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just a thought have you considered raising the town area and spanning tracks with bridges?

 

as to street width it depends as to how much area you have. so do you want space to allow for parked cars at curb as well as a driving lane?

 

if not you can get cars approximately 1 1/2-1 3/4" wide so use that as a guide.

 

might be only me but I would think the roadway at lower part of drawing could be omitted only my opinion its your layout to do what pleases you true.

 

$oo

The original design had the city elevated withy trackage below, but both grandsons nixed it due to their height deficiencies. I tried to convince them that their height was just a temporary condition that would be resolved in a few years. They didn't buy it and insisted that I build the city at track level. This simplified a lot of things for me especially creating the retaining wall that would surround the entire city area. It would also eliminated some tricky hidden switching operations. 

 

Without the street across the front... what would the foreground buildings front against? I'll take suggestions and/or diagrams. I haven't cut any foam yet—will do that tomorrow—so I can change darn near anything as long as it fits in that 7 foot circle.

 

There's a lot of surface area in that space (39 ft. sq.) so it might allow for some nice sized city streets. It also would use up more of the 3/4" foam and make my 1/2" go farther.

 

Today I reinforced the soft areas under the Masonite and the entire area is now ready for more stuff to go on top.

Started cutting lots of green extruded foam making the main streets that run through the town. I drew up a section view to show how the various thickness stack up to make the streets, curbs and a foundation for all the structures.

 

City Plan Section

That house on the drawing is a 1:48 scale drawing that I made of an old Mainline Modeler HO project. It's a lovely little house that works perfectly for my railroad, and it's a scratch build project I'll get to someday.

 

The stack gives about a 6" curb height which I like since most model railroad curbs tend to be too high.

 

I cut all the streets and got them positioned. Here's what it looks like.

 

City Roadwork 01

Everything's working out as planned, but there are a number of grade crossings at curves and even over switches that are going to be a bear to build. You just can't throw a couple of stripwood planks down and call it a crossing. I'm going to take to Steve at Ross Custom Switches to see if there's any way he can help out. I'm especially concerned about creating good flange ways. If I come up with a good way to make a barrier for the flange way, I could use plaster and mold the grade crossing. I could also cut them out from balsa. In fact, as I'm writing this, I think that might be the best way to attack this challenge. 

 

City Roadwork 03

City Roadwork 02

I'm also looking at these pictures and realized I wasted a lot of time beveling the underneath of the road pieces to nest into the ballast. It would have been much easier to just remove the ballast and sub-roadbed where the road approaches are. In fact. I'm going to go back and do that, and then add some new piece of foam to get very close to the track.

 

There are two streets converging on the train station. The station is raised on a piece of thin foam core, and some illustration board to bring it up the same height that the road. There will also be a parking lot next to the station.  

City Roadwork 04

 

The pieces of foam at glued together with the low-temp hot glue. On top of the foam go 4 ply Bristol Board that I just purchased at Michael's crafts. It was pricey. It cost as much as the foam. It will be adhered to the foam with 3M 77 spray adhesive. Then it will be painted and have line work painted on. I also want to install man hole covers, storm drains, potholes, and other street-like things.

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