Monday, February 24, 2014

Started the Scenery

Since getting the main lines up and running, I've been chomping at the bit to get going on scenery. Today, having run out of rail joiners and all work on the yard coming to a halt as a result, I did just that.

Now, on my last layout, I sceniced the entire layout one step at a time (built the mountains, the roads, painted the terrain, added turf then trees and so on). Given that this layout is several times the size of the last one, this time around I intend to focus on one area, get it fully sceniced and move on. I started off in a small area just outside of Altoona, leading up to Horseshoe Curve.

I started out by painted the backdrop. Origionally, I thought I would use some bulletin board paper  with clouds printed out in. However, after an hour of fighting with the paper and some spray adhesive, that idea turned out to be unworkable. Instead, I used some poster paints to paint the tops of distant mountains on the wall.

I didn't take the mountain all the way to the layout base since they'd be covered up. Why waste the paint even if it is cheap?

After getting the backdrop done, I started building the mountains. U used wadded up newspaper and cardboard strips to form the mountains' super structure. I then covered that up with Woodland Scenics plaster cloth.

Once the plaster dried, I hit the mountain with a coat of Apple Barrel "Nutmeg Brown" acrylic paint. On my last layout, I used Woodland Scenics "Earth Undercoat" pigment. But the Apple Barrel stuff looks just as good and costs about half as much.

Mountains added. Some touch up on the backdrop will be needed.
For my last trick, I painted the rails Floquil "Rail Brown." This is an extremely tedious task, but it has to be done. I did approximately 24 feet of track, all in the area the scenery was added. I'll probably do a few feet here and there until its all done. Since my last layout was viewable from all sides, I painted both sided of each rail. However, since this layout is against the wall and one side of each rail is out of view, I was able to save a good bit of time by only painting one side of each rail. This is my take on what master model railroader W. Allen McClelland called the "Good enough philosophy."

Rails painted Floquil "Rail Brown"

The next steps will be ballasting the track, adding rock formations, adding turf, trees and other greenery and a small waterfall and stream.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Started Building the Altoona Staging Yard

I managed to get one track of the Altoona staging yard glued down and operational. I must say I'm finding these Peco turnouts to be somewhat difficult to work with in yard situations. For one thing, their design makes it impossible to connect two turnouts together end to end as one would at a yard throat. The throwbar mechanism is simply too wide. This necessitates cutting a whole bunch 3/4" spacers for each turnout. Kind of annoying but survivable. The other difficulty is the powered frogs. They require insulted rail joiners and feeder wires between each turnout. Again, not the end of the world.

Having even just the one staging track makes operation more fun. If I wanted to switch trains on my old layout, I had to physically remove one and store the rolling stock. Now I just throw a couple of turnouts and away I go!

In other news, spring seems to have sprung here in the Palmetto State. After last week's snow, the temperature was a balmy 77 degrees today. As such work on the layout will probably slow down quite a bit. With the arrival the nice weather, there will be trails to hike, lakes to canoe, grass to mow and other fun stuff. Yeah, I'll still come back and tinker with layout every so often, just at a more relaxed pace.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lights, Camera, Action!

Now that I've actually got some trains running around, I thought I'd go ahead and shoot a video of the layout in action. It follows an NS Freight from Altoona to Johnstown and back. In case you're wondering, the songs are "K4 Pacific," (which seemed very appropriate) and "Country Beaver," both by Gerry Mulligan from his album The Age of Steam.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Finished the Main Lines

Well it only took me three weeks but the two main lines glued down, wired up and operational. It's been a long tedious slog, but I'm glad I took the time to do it right. My trains run around flawlessly. Each main line loop is 136 feet long, a little more than four scale miles. It's realy neat to see full-length passenger trains and long frieghts run on the layout and seem like actually going somewhere instead of just around in circles. In fact, it takes the freight train nearly seven minutes to make a complete circuit!

All that remains for me to do in terms of track and wiring and are the staging yards, industrial sidings and a possible interchange. After that, it's time to dismantle the old layout and then I'll be building buildings for a while.