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@NJCJOE posted:

12/2/23 - I added portals to each end of the tunnel along with some rock wing walls. These items were also carved from foam like the mountain. This helps finish off the look at the end of the tunnel/mountain. Some finer detail will come later on down the road, but for now it's time to start another project.


That has all the makings of a real masterpiece Joe. Nicely done!

Joe, the whole tunnel project came out beautifully.  I can understand moving on now and leaving vegetation and detailing to a later time once the major projects are done.  I love how you recycled construction plans for your drop cloth.

We used to print up so many sets when we would put out a job for bid we always wound up with extras.  I used them to wrap Christmas presents.

I never would have thought about stacking the foam instead vertically instead of horizontally.  I think yours was a more efficient way of forming the mountain.

Last edited by coach joe

1/1/24 - Happy New Year everybody!

I got the rock work and tunnel portals constructed and installed on the standard gauge side tunnel. Once again, the rocks and tunnel portals are carved foam. The pictures tell the story. Next I have to do the same thing on the front tunnel entrance, except there I will have two single portals and one double.



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@NJCJOE posted:

1/1/24 - Happy New Year everybody!

I got the rock work and tunnel portals constructed and installed on the standard gauge side tunnel. Once again, the rocks and tunnel portals are carved foam. The pictures tell the story. Next I have to do the same thing on the front tunnel entrance, except there I will have two single portals and one double20240101_122117

Well done!


02/02/24 - I decided to construct the front standard gauge mountain/tunnels on the other side of the layout next. So, back to foam carving and painting. This area would require two single tunnel portals and one double. The idea here was to create a view that would tie in the rocks along the river with this section of mountain and then finally with the large mountain/tunnel on the upper O gauge portion. This is what the area looked like before I started the rock work.


Here are some shots of getting the rough foam work in place.


And the final result. At some point I will address the inside portions of the tunnels that can be seen. Since this mountain is in sections and removable, I can do that at a later date.


Up next will be the installation of two O gauge bridges.

So, for the past 11 years there has been a modelers meet at the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum in Hamburg, Pa. in September. The name was changed last year to the Anthracite Railroads Modelers Meet. This year it will be Sept. 20, 21 & 22. The meet has modeling clinics, slide shows, Reading museum tours, sales area, modeling contest, etc. On Sunday there are usually 4 or 5 open houses in the area that you can visit. This year I volunteered to have my layout and railroadiana collection as one of the tour stops. So, now I want to get as much done on the layout as I can by September. I work better with a goal anyway.

If anybody is interested in attending the modelers meet, you can find more information and registration info here.


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Joe, you did a great job extending the mountain down and positioning the tunnel portals!  It looks very good.

I recently heard of the Anthracite Railroads Modelers Meet, and now I see why I hadn’t heard of it before.  Of course living on the other side of the state, there is a lot going on in the east that I haven’t heard of.  Congratulations on being on the itinerary.

Hi Joe

The Layout looks fantastic, and the videos are superb. Thank You for posting them. I enjoyed them both, but especially passing at the signal bridge. I recently aquired one of those and enjoyed seeing yours working. I got mine working with red and green lights. have not put it into service yet, needs a couple of hand railing pieces. I don't know if the Dog was too happy coming out from under the bench work as the Hiawatha passed, looked like a nap was disturbed

On another note, using your Email in your profile I recently sent you two Emails about the MTH Standard Gauge American Flyer Tower you have on offer. I have not received a response.Has the Email changed? I am interested in that tower. My Email is in my profile.  

Thank You


02/22/24 - I found a location on the layout where I wanted to install a couple of truss bridges. I picked up an Atlas Pratt truss bridge at York last October and I ordered a 24" Menard's truss bridge as well. My plan was to install Gargrave's track on the bridges and realistically weather them prior to installation. This was the location I chose.


Once the Atlas track was removed from the Atlas bridge, I painted both bridges flat black. The next step was to determine how I was going to weather these structures. My original plan was to use hairspray and weathering powders like Joey Ricard did in one of his videos, but I was concerned I would not be able to get into all the tight corners and inside the structural members of the bridge.

Searching the web I came across a product called Metal Effects by Modern Masters. It is a paint that contains iron particles. Once the paint is dry it is sprayed with an activator that actually creates real rust. Can't get more realistic than that! This was a fun product to use. And it allows you to create rust on anything.


The bridges were brush painted with two coats of the iron paint and left to dry overnight. The paint is grayish in color. I also varied the thickness in places so the overall effect would not be uniform. This is what the bridges looked like after the paint application.


The next day the bridges were sprayed with the activator from a spray bottle. I sprayed two light coats. Once it dried I did go back and spray some more in places that I felt needed more rust. This is what one of the bridges looked like about a half hour after the activator was applied.


And this is how they looked about two hours later. They do appear a little more orange in these photos than they actually were. This was because I forgot I had the camera HDR setting on.


The larger bridge did seem to rust up more than the smaller bridge. I don't know if this was because one was plastic and the other made of wood, or if my paint applications/thicknesses were different. I was able to make them more uniform with the application of the sealer. The sealer is used to stop the rust process, otherwise the object could keep rusting over time. It probably wasn't necessary for this application since the bridges are not made of metal. The sealer also keeps any of the rust from rubbing off. Here they are after the were sealed and the camera HDR setting turned off.


I then installed the track to both bridges with screws installed from underneath.


Next came out the sawsall and I cut out the bench work where the bridges would go. Some new braces and supports would be installed.


I got some bridge abutments from Scenic Express and bridge shoes from Scale City Designs. These items were painted and weathered accordingly. Once the bridge abutments were installed at the correct levels the bridges were mounted in place. Here is the end result.


I'm really happy how these turned out. I still want to install track guard rails on the bridges. I also need to hook up the lights on the Menard's bridge. Here are some close ups of the bridge details.



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@NJCJOE posted:

Searching the web I came across a product called Metal Effects by Modern Masters. It is a paint that contains iron particles. Once the paint is dry it is sprayed with an activator that actually creates real rust. Can't get more realistic than that! This was a fun product to use. And it allows you to create rust on anything.


A thumbs up for Metal Masters products.  I used their Copper paint (with real copper powder) & their 'Patina' Activator on the galvanized 6" half-round gutters and downspouts that were on the house when I bought it... 18 years on, they still look great.

@NJCJOE posted:

9/24/23 - It finally came time to do a task I have been putting off......weathering the O gauge track. I knew it had to be done but was not looking forward to it. In my opinion, weathering track is one of those details that is really not noticed until you take a closeup photo of the finished layout. Then the shiny side rails just look out of place. Weathering your track makes a big difference.

My initial plan was to use the Rustoleum camo paint that a lot of modelers use nowadays. I bought some and tried it on a test piece of track. While it looked good, I was concerned about the amount of over spray in my finished basement/railroadiana room. I decided that maybe the airbrush would be the better way to go. The last time I used my airbrushes, solvent based paint was ready available. Since that is now hard to find, I would have to rely on acrylic paint.

I bought some rail brown and tie brown from Tru-Color. I first tried my Badger single action airbrush, but it was acting up a bit. I then switched to my Iwata double action model and painted the test track. The first issue is that it appeared it would take a long time to weather all the track with an airbrush. The second issue was that the rail brown came out more like orange that brown. Here is a shot of the test piece. In person it shows up even more red that in the photo. I didn't like it.

I decided to go back to the rattle can method. I bought a bunch of lightweight plastic drop cloths and basically created a sealed room around the work area. It looked like I was prepping for a murder scene.

This is the paint I used. The earth brown gets sprayed at a low angle to coat both sides of the rails. The weathered wood is then sprayed from directly above the track to give the ties some additional color.


It took about 3 hours to do all the spraying. I'm happy with the results. I don't think I would like to do it again, but it's done. Anyway, on to the results. Here are some before and after shots.

And some overall pictures.

Joe, this looks terrific. I’m at the same point - it’s time to paint the track and I'm not necessarily looking forward to it. I have an airbrush, but really like what you did with spray cans. Do you have a rough idea as to how many cans you used?  Linear feet/can, etc?  Thanks, Joe and, again, your work looks awesome.

Last edited by Rider Sandman

@eddie g Thanks Eddie. I am truly blessed to have a very supportive wife. She attends train shows and York at least once a year. I haven't been able to get her to help out with the layout yet, but I'm working on it. She has the artistic talent to do it. Way more than I have.

Thanks for the kind words everybody. I appreciate the encouragement.

@LT1Poncho For the turnouts I didn't do anything special. I painted them just like the rest of the track. I did make sure to use light coats so things didn't get too sticky. As I painted I made sure to open and close the switch points to get all the surfaces covered.

Also, after the turnout painting was completed, I made sure to put the switch points in the mid point between the tracks so everything could dry without touching.

Joe you’re certainly correct! That basic ground cover looks fantastic and made a big transformation. I’d be curious if that’s the look you had in your minds eye hen you started? Track layout always seems to evolve as it goes down. However, the time period and landscape motifs are something that maybe set at the onset. Keep the updates coming.

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