Nice job! Looking forward to more pics. Southwestern PA was also my 1st choice when putting together my layout. There are a lot of older small towns that gave me ideas. For the clouds and backdrop I hung 4x8 sheets of Masonite. It was easy to put up and paint and looks good with the flats I built.
Your L-shaped layout platform provides opportunities for a track plan that transcends traditional rectangular layouts that are typically dominated by loops of track around the perimeter with some sidings. Many OGR FORUM-ites wish for the space your have dedicated to your Pennsy-inspired layout.
My two-level L-shaped layout is much smaller (15x19 feet) and rendered in a plainer style than your empire with elegantly crafted scenery. You are making full use of Lionel's TMCC and Legacy technologies - a great control system. Cardboard strips and plaster cloth create a lightweight yet strong foundation to support added-on scenic magic. Carry on valiantly!
Some pix of my two-level L-shaped layout are attached -- although modest by comparison.
On the subject of sky backdrops, I recently had a conversation with an gifted HO modeler who models the Lehigh and New England. His approach was to paint the backdrop using two shades of blue. The upper half was painted a brighter sky blue and the lower horizon with in what was called Ice Blue (almost white) at the same time, in short sections, using rollers and then, while still wet, blending them with a broad brush. It looked like a typical sky in Pennsylvania, no clouds to distract the eye away from the layout, but adding great color to it. I believe the paints were from Glidden. The look is exactly what I was looking for for my soon-to-be layout. Earl
Earl, that's an interesting technique. There's an old DVD video I watched years back that demonstrated painting a sky backdrop in a similar fashion where it gets lighter at the bottom. I think I'll heavily consider trying that; will probably get a scrap piece of something to test it out on first.
I would go to great lengths to make sure both loops are a minimum O-72. If you ever want 21 inch passenger cars.
Due to space limitations there are a few spots on the inner loop that had to be O-60, but it works enough for me. Luckily, the majority of the layout is O-72, O-84, and O-96 with the outer loop being O-72 minimum. The PRR Broadway cars in one of the pictures are the 21 inch variant from Lionel. They're a real pleasure to run
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