08/19/2007 Progress Report
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Rocks and Roads at Pearson Curve

(NOTE: The August 19, 2007 Progress Report has been delayed because of other priorities preventing me from posting this report until December 27, 2007.)

While much of the work done on the Shenandoah Division in 2007 is not visible to the eye, I did manage to find some time this summer to continue working on the scenery in the Pearson Curve area. The basic plaster cloth shell had been installed in this area for some time (see the 01/31/2007 Progress Report) but other projects had my attention in the mean time. With some out of state railroad friends coming for a visit over Labor Day weekend, I decided I wanted to have some new scenery work to show them. :-)

As a result, I decided to focus my scenery work on the area around Pearson Curve. I had previously cast a variety of rocks using Woodland Scenics rock molds, so I installed several of the castings in the cut just north of Pearson Curve. This area was originally supposed to be a tunnel. However, we've been operating for quite a while with no scenery, and one of my crew members commented how the train coming out of a cut as it climbs the grade southbound at Pearson Curve would make a neat scene, so I decided to model a cut there instead of the tunnel I had originally planned. Earlier in the year, we had installed the plaster for this area, so now it was just a matter of installing and coloring the pre-cast rocks in the cut (which still needs a name).

Since the scene at Pearson Curve is modeled after the Western Maryland's Helmstetters Curve, I needed to model the road coming across the track near the farm. I had previously cut and installed some cardboard to serve as the base of the road. I covered the cardboard with Sculptamold to build up a base for the road.

After installing the rock castings, I also used Sculptamold to provide a base for scenery on top of the plaster in all the areas not covered by a rock casting. I smoothed out the Sculptamold with a wet paint brush, and I made it as smooth as I could for both the road base and the area of the farm pond and creek.

I spent quite a while coloring the rock castings with Woodland Scenics pigments. The thing I like best about these pigments is how easy it is to correct mistakes. I make washes using various of the pigment colors and apply them to the castings until I get a color combination that looks like the rocks of the region I'm modeling. Using these pigments in washes makes it easy to change the color by applying a lighter or darker wash. I would get the color almost to where I would want it, then make it too dark, then correct it by making it too light, then too dark, then too light, then too dark...well, you get the idea. I finally stopped because of the impending visit by my friends. I'm still not sure I like the "final" color, but several of my crew members have said they like it. For now, I'm leaving it as is.

I had hoped to get some basic ground cover installed prior to my friends' visit, but I ran out of time, so I decided to simply paint the exposed ground area green to represent ground cover; Cherie helped me with this project as I found the white plaster and Sculptamold absorbed a lot of paint. I also painted the road a dark grey, and I painted the farm pond and creek a sandy color in preparation for future coloring there before pouring water in those areas.

The scenery that is done in the Pearson Curve area is what I consider roughed-in scenery. At some future time, I'll go back to bring the scenery to a more finished level.

Tunnel Liners

During the time I was working on the scenery at Pearson Curve, I was also casting liners for all the tunnels on the layout. I used the Woodland Scenics Tunnel Liner molds and cast the liners out of Woodland Scenics Lightweight Hydrocal. These molds are made to cast HO scale tunnel liners, so I modified the molds with styrene dams to correct the dimensions for N scale. I have two of these modified molds, so I mixed a batch of plaster and poured two liners each night over a period of a couple of weeks until I got the required number of liners.

I also started working on coloring these liners with a mixture of Woodland Scenics pigments in preparation for installing them at some future time. Each tunnel portal will receive 2-4 liner castings to represent blasted rock for each tunnel.


Fascia Schematic Diagrams

After the July 21, 2007 operating session, I decided to create a schematic diagram for each town and installed them along the fascia.  Each sign shows the location of all the tracks in a given town area. The diagrams help operators know which track is the main, which track is the passing siding, and which tracks serve a given industry.

I created my fascia schematic diagram signs in Microsoft Publisher; the signs are approximately 4" x 10" in size, so I can get two diagrams to one piece of paper. I simply printed these signs on regular paper for now and installed them temporarily with tape. If I need to make changes, I can modify the diagram and print a new one. When I get the final diagrams made, I intend to print them on photo paper so they look a little nicer. In the meantime, my operators now can consult these diagrams whenever they have a question about the location of a particular track.

I got the idea for making these diagrams after viewing some on the Layout Design SIG (LDSIG) wiki page for Mark Lestico's N Scale UP Cascade Subdivision.

(Note: All of the scenery work in this report--including work that was not photographed--was done between 05/06/2007 and 08/19/2007. The posting of this report has been delayed until 12/27/2007 because of time constraints.)


Photos of Progress as of August 4, 2007

Overall view of the Pearson Curve area looking north into the cut. The road has been roughed in, rock castings have been installed in the cut, and Sculptamold has been applied to the plaster shell. The track is protected with 3M blue painter's masking tape, which has a low adhesive.


Another overall view of Pearson Curve.


Close up view of the rock castings at the south end of the cut. The Sculptamold texture is visible as well.


Close up view of the rock castings at the north end of the cut. The hillsides are covered in Sculptamold.


Completed tunnel liner plaster castings prior to coloring.


Fascia diagram for Catawba. These diagrams contain a schematic drawing of all the tracks in a given location. Each track is labeled with a name. If the track is an industry track, it may also have a specific commodity "spot" listed as well. The diagram also indicates which direction is north and south out of town.


Fascia diagram for Abbott.


Fascia diagram for New Castle.


Fascia diagram for Laurel. Notice that north is now to the right since the railroad changes direction while climbing up Rich Patch Mountain from New Castle to Laurel. North is to the left on the lower level of the railroad, but it is to the right on the upper level.


Fascia diagram for High Meadow.


Fascia diagram for Ridgemont.


Fascia diagram for Carpenter. Most of the tracks in Carpenter actually belong to Virginia Eastman instead of CSXT.


Fascia diagram for Covington.


Photos of Progress as of August 19, 2007

Overall view of the Pearson Curve area. The rocks in the cut have been colored, and a base coat of green paint has been applied to areas representing ground cover. The roads have been painted gray, while the sandy tan paint is the farm pond that flows through a dam (with a road on top) and then into a creek where it will eventually pass under the CSXT mainline in a culvert.


Overall view of the rest of Pearson Curve. Even though the scenery is far from finished, having something other than stark plaster dramatically improves the appearance of the scene.


View looking across Pearson Curve into the south end of the rock cut.


A closer view of the rock cut at Pearson Curve. The portable toilet is made by BLMA. It is placed out here in the middle of nowhere for the convenience of railfans similar to the placement of some portable toilets found in the Powder River Basin.


Close up view of the rock castings at the south end of the cut.


Overall view of the north end of the cut.


Close up view of the rock castings at the north end of the cut.


This page was last updated on 01/01/11.


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