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Nick,
Here is the conversation about backdrops I mentioned.

The backdrops are .060 sheet styrene painted with two shades of blue flat latex paint from Home Depot that I blend together. I use a typical sky blue on the upper two-thirds. I no longer know which Glidden color I used originally, but Glidden's "Wild Blue Yonder" is close, though a shade lighter. On the bottom third, I use a very light blue (almost white) from Glidden called "Ice Age." I apply both to 4 or 5 foot section of backdrop with rollers and then I blend them together with a wide brush while they are still wet to create that hazy transition.

The Glidden website is great for comparing shades.

Here's a quick video of one lap around the mainline. I apologize for the messy layout and rather amateur video, but hopefully it gives a good general view of the track plan.



Awesome video and awesome layout! Nothing worse than waiting for someone to quit yabbering on for 5 minutes when you just want to see the layout.

Could you/did you go into detail about the mountains you did along the basement wall? I'm more or less trying to accomplish the same exact thing on my layout. It looks like cardboard lattice and plaster cloth?

@BillYo414 posted:

Awesome video and awesome layout! Nothing worse than waiting for someone to quit yabbering on for 5 minutes when you just want to see the layout.

Could you/did you go into detail about the mountains you did along the basement wall? I'm more or less trying to accomplish the same exact thing on my layout. It looks like cardboard lattice and plaster cloth?

Yep, that's exactly what I did. The below image shows basically every step from beginning to end. Starts with simple cardboard strip lattice. I then covered the entire thing with plaster cloth and on top of the plaster cloth I smoothed on joint compound; sculptamold or plaster would work just as well. Once it dries I decide where I want to add and carve some rocks made of plaster. I throw on some brown paint and add various colors of turfs, bushes, and trees. I still have to go back and add some more coloring to the rocks, add more trees and small details and such.



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Yep, that's exactly what I did. The below image shows basically every step from beginning to end. Starts with simple cardboard strip lattice. I then covered the entire thing with plaster cloth and on top of the plaster cloth I smoothed on joint compound; sculptamold or plaster would work just as well. Once it dries I decide where I want to add and carve some rocks made of plaster. I throw on some brown paint and add various colors of turfs, bushes, and trees. I still have to go back and add some more coloring to the rocks, add more trees and small details and such.



IMG-0574

Nick, Perfect !

I need to begin in my layout but I don't know the first step !!

Nick,

I just discovered your layout build.  I am super impressed!  You have made a ton of progress in a short amount of time.  I love your theme and your scenery is already making the PRR  come alive and feel real.  Your horseshoe curve section reminded me of the real thing as I have been there several times. Western PA is my old stomping ground.  My layout build, the Allegheny Crossing is along the same lines as yours, loosely modeling the look and feel of the PRR and Western Maryland RR in the 40's to 50's with a few other things mixed in there.  Although, I am nowhere near as far along as you are.  I will be following your build closely and if you don't mind, I'm sure I will be grabbing some inspiration for my layout.  Keep up the great work!  Looking forward to seeing your progress.

Michael

2/9/21

I was really anxious to start putting together my Horseshoe Curve inspired scene. So, today I put the base layer of scenery down around the tracks and hillside. I also added in a sidewalk that will eventually have a fence on the track side (I don't believe the fence was present in the steam era, but I like the look if it) and will have a staircase leading down to the small flat area below. Many more layers of details will be added in the coming days along with a good vacuuming of the track.

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@pennsynut posted:

From what I see, you have nice viewing angles of trains approaching, traveling through and exiting your horseshoe curve. I especially like your view of the train on a curve exiting the main curve area. The elongated "s" adds a lot of interesting drama to train traffic.

That was something I was really trying to incorporate on this layout wherever I could. There are some areas where I was forced to have the tracks run parallel to the edge of the table but in places I had more space, I tried to create as interesting yet realistic trackage as I could.

2/9/21

I was really anxious to start putting together my Horseshoe Curve inspired scene. So, today I put the base layer of scenery down around the tracks and hillside. I also added in a sidewalk that will eventually have a fence on the track side (I don't believe the fence was present in the steam era, but I like the look if it) and will have a staircase leading down to the small flat area below. Many more layers of details will be added in the coming days along with a good vacuuming of the track.

The fence was installed in 1952.

Nick,

I just discovered your layout build.  I am super impressed!  You have made a ton of progress in a short amount of time.  I love your theme and your scenery is already making the PRR  come alive and feel real.  Your horseshoe curve section reminded me of the real thing as I have been there several times. Western PA is my old stomping ground.  My layout build, the Allegheny Crossing is along the same lines as yours, loosely modeling the look and feel of the PRR and Western Maryland RR in the 40's to 50's with a few other things mixed in there.  Although, I am nowhere near as far along as you are.  I will be following your build closely and if you don't mind, I'm sure I will be grabbing some inspiration for my layout.  Keep up the great work!  Looking forward to seeing your progress.

Michael

Thank you for the kind words, Michael! I finally had a chance to look at your layout thread and I really like what you're creating. I really wish I went with Gargraves track like you did, but sadly I had too much Fastrack to justify getting rid of it. 40s and 50s era is exactly what I am modeling, too; perfect choice haha. I'd really like to get some backdrops in similar to yours.

Thank you for the kind words, Michael! I finally had a chance to look at your layout thread and I really like what you're creating. I really wish I went with Gargraves track like you did, but sadly I had too much Fastrack to justify getting rid of it. 40s and 50s era is exactly what I am modeling, too; perfect choice haha. I'd really like to get some backdrops in similar to yours.

Nick, thank you!  When I was starting to plan the Allegheny Crossing layout along with my dad, we both decided that we wanted to lay a good foundation, which is why we decided to go with Gargraves and Ross switches.  All I had from previous layouts was a lot of Lionel tubular track and Lionel 031 switches.  So, that made the decision a little easier for us.  I'm sure if I had a stockpile of "better" track and switches I would have considered using what I had.  I have never used fastrack, but I'm sure it is great to work with and it looks great on your layout.  The Gargraves track, Ross switches and Midwest cork roadbed is all new to me, so I'm definitely going to be learning as I go with the trackwork.  The good folks here have already given me lot's of good tips, tricks and advice.

For my backdrops I used Backdropwarehouse.com.  They make a nice product that looks super realistic.  The only downside is their website is a little clunky and it takes a bit of planning and effort to get what you want, but the end result is very nice.  Mine is actually 4 different sections.  2 bottoms half's and 2 upper sky extension half's.  I rubber cemented it to a Masonite backing wall that was built on top of a grid of furing strips attached to the block wall.  You can see some of the construction on my thread.  It is not perfect, (especially if you look at it close up, haha) but overall I'm happy with how it turned out for our first time.  With all your beautiful mountain scenery you might just need some sky backdrops to finish it off.

I was going to tell you, a neat project for your layout at some point, would be to build an operational incline plane (funicular) at your horseshoe curve scene like the one they have there.  But then after thinking about it, I don't think that was there in the 50's.  I believe they built that later on.

Michael                   

Nick, thank you!  When I was starting to plan the Allegheny Crossing layout along with my dad, we both decided that we wanted to lay a good foundation, which is why we decided to go with Gargraves and Ross switches.  All I had from previous layouts was a lot of Lionel tubular track and Lionel 031 switches.  So, that made the decision a little easier for us.  I'm sure if I had a stockpile of "better" track and switches I would have considered using what I had.  I have never used fastrack, but I'm sure it is great to work with and it looks great on your layout.  The Gargraves track, Ross switches and Midwest cork roadbed is all new to me, so I'm definitely going to be learning as I go with the trackwork.  The good folks here have already given me lot's of good tips, tricks and advice.

For my backdrops I used Backdropwarehouse.com.  They make a nice product that looks super realistic.  The only downside is their website is a little clunky and it takes a bit of planning and effort to get what you want, but the end result is very nice.  Mine is actually 4 different sections.  2 bottoms half's and 2 upper sky extension half's.  I rubber cemented it to a Masonite backing wall that was built on top of a grid of furing strips attached to the block wall.  You can see some of the construction on my thread.  It is not perfect, (especially if you look at it close up, haha) but overall I'm happy with how it turned out for our first time.  With all your beautiful mountain scenery you might just need some sky backdrops to finish it off.

I was going to tell you, a neat project for your layout at some point, would be to build an operational incline plane (funicular) at your horseshoe curve scene like the one they have there.  But then after thinking about it, I don't think that was there in the 50's.  I believe they built that later on.

Michael                   

The next layout I build, whenever that may be, will definitely use Gargraves track and Ross switches. They have such a superior look to other track systems in my opinion. Fastrack is decent, but not really the best for a larger layout. It can be a real pain. One thing I that I do with my Fastrack that helps with the look is putting my own ballast on, which I have yet to do on this layout. I've also decided to start painting the rails a nice dull brown to make it look more realistic; much more tedious to paint compared to other track systems. Oh well. Your photo realistic backdrops are really incredible. Had I had the foresight, I would have done similar, but I'll have to stick to hand painting them for this layout haha.

2/18/21

Today saw the addition of bushes, trees and other shrubbery along the top of the rockface. Still need to go back a few more times and add more, and some greenery on the rocks themselves in some areas. The Curve scene got some new train watchers added to the sidewalk, and a parking lot down below. Need to start making the staircase connecting the parking lot to the viewing area soon.

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Looking at the new pics, I was wondering if you are going to put a fence up to keep the railfans separated from the tracks.  Not sure if they had fencing back in the transition era, but there is wrought iron fence there now.  Looks a lot like the fence that originally came with an old Lionel passenger station and is currently manufactured by Hennings.

Henning's Parts 156-5 2 Section Black Fence, 2 pieces - HENNING'S TRAINS (shoplightspeed.com)

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