Friday, November 25, 2016

Clearance Train

With the helix installed I wanted to make sure there was ample clearance for the rotary, so I ran a rotary train. I could have just pushed the rotary around to see if it would rub any of the supports but this was way more fun. Plus the sound of a double header is really cool.
This is a section of the old layout from the other house that was saved. I still need to remove the trees and paint the backdrop.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

More Bridge

Here's what it looks like today. The backdrop has been painted and I'm starting to add more details to the scenery. The scene is starting to come together, even though the photo is a bit overexposed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bridge part 1

Same bridge, now with the plaster painted and some dirt added. Later this week I'll add more dirt and start adding ground cover.

Monday, October 17, 2016


When Caboose Hobbies shut it's doors, they were scavenging everything to sell, including this Central Valley bridge. This bridge was on the HO scale layout that was located in the scenery department. By buying it (for cheap), I figured I could retain a bit of Caboose Hobbies history on my layout by rebuilding it for Sn3. Since whoever removed it from the layout wasn't very careful, it needed a bridg-ectomy anyway.
Once I pried off the girder section from the deck, I removed the rails and scraped off the molded on tie plates meant for HO scale. I added new rail gauged for Sn3, gave it a good scrubbing and set it aside. The girder section required more work. One side was missing the rods and stringers so I added new brass wire and styrene to replace the missing parts, scrubbed it down to remove years of dust and set it aside.
The next day I fitted the bridge into place; I changed some of the bench work, added a piece of plywood for the stream bed, added Chooch bridge abutments and added new approach rail. Once I was happy with the fit, I removed it from the layout and airbrushed on a new coat of flat black and let it dry. While it's not built perfectly, I think it's cool that I have part of the old HO scale layout in my basement. Eventually I will add some weathering so it won't look so new.
I have also added an additional 10 feet of plaster using the same method as before, dryer sheets soaked in hydrocal over drywall shims. Once I get the scenery finished along this wall, I can start building the yard.

Monday, October 3, 2016

New Scenery

I started adding scenery to the upper level of the layout about three weeks ago. Once all the webbing was in, I added the hard shell using used dryer sheets soaked in hydrocal. One to two layers is all that's needed. Once dry, I painted on a thick coat of flat latex paint, that was close to my dirt color, and sprinkled on sifted dirt that I picked up off Hwy 285 just west of Denver a few years ago. After I let that dry overnight, I then added more dirt to cover any spots that needed it. I do this by spraying the ground with "wet" water while adding the additional dirt so it sticks, then I use a syringe to cover it all with diluted white glue. With the glue still wet I add different colors of ground foam. I then add lots of rocks and some other foreground materials and glue them down using the same technique.
I still need to add a bunch of forest floor junk made from sticks, leaves and other stuff from the backyard that I'll grind up in an old blender. The rocks also need more color and some vegetation, and mostly I need to add trees. But for now it's fun to see a train run over something other than plywood.

Test Results: Cardboard versus Drywall Shims

Here is a photo of the same area from the previous post, now with some scenery. The drywall shims held up just fine, so no more cardboard for me.

Monday, September 12, 2016

New Technique for Scenery

After a great time of 2 foot narrow gauge in Maine last week at the 36th National Narrow Gauge Convention, I'm now motivated to start some scenery on the Jakes Creek branch. In the past, I have used several techniques for the webbing that supports the scenery. I've tried foam, chicken wire, screen wire and cardboard strips.  While all of these have their pros and cons, I thought I would try something new; drywall shims. They are already cut into strips, they are very easy to work with and readily available, plus I had a ton of these left over from house remodeling. A pack of these run around $10. Although I have always been able to get cardboard for free, it's time consuming cutting it into usable strips. I was concerned however that the shims might not hold up when they get wet.
I will mention that I do not use plaster cloth for my scenery. Years ago, a fellow modeler shared with me his technique for making scenery. Instead of using plaster cloth or paper towels, he uses dryer sheets, used ones of course. You only need two layers, because when the plaster infused dryer sheets dry they are really strong. You simply use them the same as using paper towels, plus they're free. So instead of throwing the used dryer sheets away when the laundry is finished, my wife saves them for me and has for years.
I have put on a few of the sheets in the photo and the drywall shims seem to be holding up. They really don't get that wet from dryer sheets as the sheets dry very fast. Plus there's no static cling...