Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Endless Summer?

One question I get asked from time to time is "why don't you build a winter layout?" Well that's a no brainer. Model railroading for many of us, myself included is kind of an escape from our daily lives. And since most of my model railroading activity occurs in the winter months, where even here in the Palmetto State, the world is a grey, bleak, depressing wasteland; why on Earth would I want to model it? Frankly, I'd much rather come upstairs, flip on the lights and see my favorite part of Pennsylvania on a summer day, and it's warm.

Also, part of the reason I chose this area to model was I spent many a happy hour railfanning there with my dad. And always during the summer. So the summer setting is definitely evocative of those memories.

Now that said, I did briefly toy with the idea of doing an autumn-themed layout with all the brightly colored foliage. However, that would've required making hundreds of different color puffball trees. I never would have made this amount of progress if I'd modeled the fall.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Progress at Cassandra

I've spent the past few nights plugging away at Cassandra and the Danager Coal mine. At the coal mine, I created the large rock outcroping by using Dap patching plaster. I've used it for most of the rocks on the layout. It has a nice long working time and as it dries, it cracks, not unlike real rocks. After it dried for a few days, I stained it with some inexpensive Wal Mart acrylic paints. I must say I think this one came out better than many of the others on the layout.

Once the rocks were finished, I added some lichen to the top of the hill and started turfing around the coal mine itself. I plan on using a lot of cinder ballast as ground cover in the area as well. 

As for the railfan overlook at Cassandra, I added a small relay box I acquired off eBay a few years ago and some more trees. I also ordered some more vehicles off eBay (seller chucktheprinter) and added one to the small parking area.

Unfortunately, I seem to have exhausted a lot of my scenery supplies. So I'll need to turn my attention to other things until I can replenish it. But that's the great thing about model railroading. Can't do scenery? Weather some rolling stock, or build a structure, or do some wiring (yuck). There's always something to do.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I'm not quite dead! Feeling a bit better actually...

Wow, well over a month since my last update. I hope you didn't think I wasn't coming back.  Simply stated, after finishing Gallitzin, I hadn't felt motivated to work on the layout. But, than I started chipping away at Casandra in fits and starts. So Here's what I've gotten done so far: I, I've gotten most of the earthworks built along the wall between Gallitzin and the conemagh river, Ballasted the tracks of the main line from Gallitzin to Cassandra and the Southfork Branch from the river up to the end of track. I've created rock outcrops and begun landscaping the Casandra and Southfork areas.

Cassandra doesn't offer much in the way of industry or operation but, it's one of my favorite railfanning spots and I had to include it on the layout. Here, the tracks come around a cure, downhill and pass under an old iron truss bridge before plunging into a rock cut. 
I built the iron bridge out of some Plastruct trusses and a bit of Model Power structure base. I glued the thing together and painted the trusses Floquil "Grimy Black." It will be mounted on a pair of Chooch Enterprises abutments. Right now it's only in place temporarily while other work is taking place.

I also went ahead and created the small railfan park. Check out the side by side comparison:

A Loram Rail Grinder passes through the real Cassndra, PA in August of 2010
And M1A 6720 thundering through the modeled Cassandra circa 1956

While the modeled scene isn't 100% accurate by any stretch of the imagination, it certainly captures the basic flavor. 

Meanwhile at Southfork, The track is ballasted and the groundcover applied. Also, the coal truck dump is finally in place of waiting patiently for two years. As you can see in the above photo, there is a gravel road running away from the truck dump. This goes to a small cabin on the Conemaugh River.