Monday, October 29, 2018

Progress on the Harney section

I started the month of October by beginning to create the land forms on the Harney section of the layout.   I thought it would be good to make an update post to see what has been accomplished in the month.  All of the land forms were completed using the cardboard webbing and insulation board covered with plaster cloth.  The Rock outcropping for the tops of the canyon walls were done using aluminum foil molds for Hydrocal castings.

The white of the plaster cloth was painted with the same paint that I have been using under the scenery on the rest of the layout.

In this view the rock casting have been stained with Woodland Scenics raw umber with touches of gray stone and burnt umber here and there.
In this photo I have set some track and some rolling stock on the right of way to get an impression of how it will look.  What I am happiest about is that to my eye it has a sense of greater depth than what is really is.  There is only about 3 inches between the track and the face of the rocks.
Over the past couple of weeks more scenery has been added, the river is starting to take shape, and the rear track has been installed and painted.  To work with the track I moved the section onto the saw horses for a lower working height.

Still plenty more to do but I have been quite happy with the progress and have been having a good time with it.

Monday, October 22, 2018

4 years of layout building

At about this time each year I have been making an anniversary post on the layout reviewing what has been accomplished in the past year and with some loose goals for the next year.  This will be the 4th one, hard to believe it's already been 4 years since I started work on this layout.  Here are the goals for the last year, along with the results and excuses.

  • Complete the Battle Mountain section including structures and scenery.
  • Begin the bench work for the Harney section that will be to the east of Battle Mountain.
  • Continue to fill in details and scenes at Winnemucca, Wesso and Golconda.
  • Add the last of the cabinets in the train room to clean things up.
  • Add the additional work bench using a Maple top I bought at a garage sale.

The Battle Mountain section was installed into the layout early in the year and is completed to a high level.  I still want to add a few more details.

The 5 ft long Harney section got started this past summer and is further along than I had hoped including some of the scenery.  More on the progress of the Harney section in future posts.

The original backdrop for the Winnemucca area was made of laminated styrene sheet and ended up warping rather badly so work in this area got set back.  A new one has been made from fiberglass reinforced plastic sheet so work on finishing this scene should resume soon.  There was not much left to do in the Wesso and Golconda sections but a few details were added.

I have not gotten around at all to installing more cabinets.  Sometime this winter I need to get over to Ikea and pick up what I need so I can get them installed.   The clutter in the room has been getting less and less as materials are used in the layout and I have also been selling some un-needed items.

I dropped the plan for a second work bench and instead used the maple top to replace the worn Formica top on the existing work bench.

Here is the current drawing of the layout showing the Harney section in the layout.  Actually right now the turn around loop is in that spot.  When the Harney section is permanently installed in the layout the turn around loop is not going to fit and some modification will be needed then.

So what's next ?   Some of these goals are repeats from the last year but there are also some new ones.

  • Install the last of the cabinets above future sections of the layout.
  • Install plastic panel backdrop on wall behind the Harney section and the next section.  This will be curved around the corner and painted a sky blue to match photo backdrops.
  • Fully complete and install into the layout the 5 ft long Harney section
  • Finish the scene  at Winnemucca with painted backdrop, building flats, and a few trees.
  • Make a start on the flyover section which will be the next section after Harney.

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Hi-Rail truck from an Atlas Ford F150

The starting point for this project was a white Atlas Ford F150 pickup.  Several years ago I had purchased several of these to decal as U-Haul rental trucks after making the decals for them.  I had also made cast resin truck mounted tool boxes to fit these models.
The truck's major components come apart easily enough as shown in this photo.  The front bumper removed leaves a gap that can be used for a replacement extended bumper.

An extended replacement front bumper was made from scrap styrene.  Crude rail wheels with axles were made from scraps of styrene rod and tube.  The front guide posts are .020 brass rod stock.
 A rotary beacon was modeled using styrene rod and tube scraps.   I was able to get some MoW truck sized decals from Peter at www.nscalekits.comThey don't have them in their catalog but if you contact them they will make them for you.

The tool box was painted aluminum color and attached to the bed with E6000 adhesive and the truck re-assembled.   Here it is on one of the service roads on the layout.  I plan to do another one with "wheels down" to display as a high rail on the rails.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The signal maintainer's van

Lately I have been getting interested in MOW (Maintenance Of Way) vehicles for the layout and was looking at some photos on the Internet for some ideas.

It had not occurred to me that maintenance of way workers would use vans as well as trucks but after seeing this photo of what was described as a signals maintainers vehicle I got an idea.

Several years ago I had decorated some Lineside models cast resin kits of a Ford van to model one I was using as a work vehicle at the time.  They were just plain white so they would only need decals.

I acquired several sets of MoW vehicle decals from

As this is a late 90's era Ford van, I used the UP decals for this one.  With these decals I plan to add more MoW vehicles of various types for the SP, UP, and WP railroads and matching the different eras of the layout.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Creating the canyon walls

The Palisade Canyon part of the layout will be represented by building up a canyon wall as a backdrop beginning where the photo backdrop ends.   This transition will occur in the Harney section of the layout which the the section I am working on now.

This photo of part of the Palisade Canyon that I found on the Internet shows how the top of the canyon walls are near vertical while the lower part near the track in angled.   The bottom part is most likely rock debris that has fallen from above over the ages.  I am using this photo as an reference of what I am trying to create on this part of the layout.

To create the canyon walls I built up a structure along the back with scraps from the bench work and some pegboard.  Then I am gluing cardboard strips and covering them with plaster cloth.  This will be the lower sloping part of the canyon wall.   The upper part will have insulation board attached to it that can then be shaped to represent the more vertical top parts of the canyon walls.

I am continuing this method in the area between the track and the river.  The river itself will be the flat bottom of the bench work.

As creating this type of scenery is a bit new to me I consider this to be a bit of an experiment and if it does not come out the way I want I could still rip it out and start over but so far I am encouraged.