Sunday, July 7, 2024

Highway crossing at Ruston, LA

With my visitor gone and the Fourth now past, I had some time this weekend to get back to the layout.

The first thing I did was to work on the private farm drive by adding some earth colored grout for the drive and crossings.  It's drying as I write this so I'll see what it looks like tomorrow.

The next thing I worked on was the highway crossing at Ruston, LA.  Now like most things on my layout, this in not the prototype location as the depot and ICG diamond was in the middle of Ruston.  I have this set just outside of Ruston, so this is my rendition of a two lane blacktop.

Checking on road widths, I came up with a road of 24'.  That's two lanes of 10' with 2' past the outer lines, plus I'll add rock or dirt shoulders when the time comes.  For now it looks pretty close.

I started off cutting some cardboard to 2" wide to mock it up and then I found some cork that I used for the roadbed to keep the road elevated to match the track so there was little to no incline to the rails.  I cut the cork 2-1/2" wide so I could add some shoulders to the highway. 

This width seems to match up pretty close to the Blair Line crossing I chose.  My plan is to use some 0.30" styrene for the actual road, much like I did on the scrap yard driveway.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Another visitor!

This afternoon I had the pleasure of hosting another visitor to The Little Rock Line.

Alan B (some of you may know him as badlandnp on other train forums) and his wife Dorothy were on their way to Iowa to visit some friends & family and asked if they could stop by for a visit.

I've known him for a number of years through several model railroad forums.  Alan models in N scale and owns the Northern Pacific & Black Hills.   He brought along a couple of his favorite models to run on The Little Rock Line.  Both are BLI: a Pennsy T-1 and BLI Pacific that he lettered up in his own road, the Northern Pacific & Black Hills #104

Both had sound and both ran as smooth as silk as I've seen them run on his layout.

Thanks for stopping and thanks for an enjoyable afternoon, please drop by anytime Alan.

When I get a chance I'll get a quick video together of the Pacific and post it.  

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Roads less traveled

I got some roads worked on this weekend.

I started first with the farm crossings.  I got them cut, fit, stained and then sealed them with a liberal coat of  Dullcote. After they were dry I added more ballast in to fill in the gaps left between the floral foam roadbed and the tracks.  Eventually I will tape things off and start applying some brown sanded grout that I used for dirt in the main yard.

I will use the grout to cover the road, the driveway leading up to the farm and around the buildings at the farm.  I'll also try to cover some of the areas between the tracks and the foam hills.  Once that is done I can continue covering the rest of the area with the mixed turf ground foam.

While the farm crossings were drying, I set about to add the crossing for the scrap yard.  I only added the planks between the rails as the styrene would sit right up the outer rails.  After getting it installed, stained and sealed, I worked on painting the styrene road that leads into the scrap yard.  

I shot them with a gray primer for a base coat.  Then using a sponge and several shades of gray and some tannish yellow craft paint, I dabbed the roads with different shades working dark to light, then sealed them with a heavy coat of Dullcote.

I wanted this road to look well used and non-maintained, full of cracks and patches.  The cracks and patches were done using a black fine tipped Sharpie.  For the patches, I used several things: Black Pan Pastels, a gray Sharpie marker and some Tamiya Black Panel liner.  These all gave me different shades for the patches that were put down at different time.

Once everything dried, I started lightly brushing some different colored Pan Pastels across the road.  I used a dark gray down the middle of the road for stains, medium brown along the edges to look like dirt and dust.  Finally I took a small stiff brush and dipped in the Panel Liner and using my finger, I pulled back the bristles so the Panel Liner lightly splattered the road.  Then everything got a heavy coat of Dullcote to seal it all.   I think it turned out ok? 

I originally I had cut the styrene to 1-1/2" wide, but after looking and thinking about it, this is more of a driveway and not a main road, so I cut it down to 1-1/4" wide.  Once I cut the cork with a slope for the shoulders and add some dirt and weeds to each side, I think it'll be fine?  At least that's what I'm telling myself...

Friday, June 21, 2024

Spring is in the air

 🎵 It's beginning to look a lot like springtime...   🎶

Continuing to apply the base layer of ground foam. That area is about 5' long.  I brushed on lightly diluted Elmer’s glue, then hastily sprinkled on the mixed turf blend from Scenics Express.

When this dries tomorrow, I go over it with a vacuum and reclaim the lose material.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Union Scrap crossing

I started to get some ground foam down and then realized a little too late that I needed to get the crossing installed first.  While the glue was still wet I swept the ground foam away from the area where the road was going to go.   A couple of nights later I gathered up the tools and the wooden crossings needed and started the process.  I wanted to try using styrene for the road.

I've always been impressed with the look of the roads that Dave Foxx made on his layout, so I thought I'd give it go.  I did use styrene on another crossing in Haskell that worked out pretty good, I got it painted but never finished it off for some reason?

I first removed the inner spike heads in this area of track so the crossings would fit.  I used two single width crossings.  I angled the ends a bit to account for the radius, then I removed the ballast next to the track.

I planned to keep the road pretty level leading up to the crossing from the fascia and then let it slope down into the scrap yard.  I used the same thickness of cork that I used for the track roadbed and then chose 0.30" styrene which will keep it just under the railhead so I won't be so apt to scrape and scuff it when I clean the track.  However this section of track will be modeled as track that hasn't been used in years, so I shouldn't need to clean it much.

This is also the same section of track where I leave some MOW cars sitting during Ops and they won't block the crossing, so it shouldn't be a problem.

The following images are just for pictures, nothing is glued down other than the cork.

Removal of the spikes and ballast shoulder.

Crossings laid in place.

Cork positioned and glued.

Styrene cut, fitted and laid in place.

It's kind of hard to see, but if you look close at the front rail, you can see the top of the railhead protruding above the styrene.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Fascia cut and ceiling tile painted

I was able to get back down before bedtime and I got the fascia cut and painted the carved ceiling tile this evening.  I do believe I'm ready for the base scenery this time?

I know I have one small area that needs some attention before I get too far.  It's the area where the railroad dump will be, near Ruston.  I need to apply some plaster then carve it to make it look like an eroded hill, but I can work on that later. 

It's a little hard to see in the images, but the slope between the outer track and fascia drops about 5/8", it's not much but it should make a difference when it's covered in weeds and Kudzu.

A little more terraforming

"I finally got the last of the mainline ballasted in Winnfield.

With this done I think I can finally start working on the scenery, I'll start by applying the base layer of ground foam."

Well I guess I need to back up a bit. 

Things are moving pretty quickly here lately and I kind of got ahead of myself a bit.  One thing my layout has been lacking is terrain that is below track level, not that this is a requirement, but is sure adds to the look and feel of a scene.

Several months ago I picked up a Milwaukee multi tool to aid in cutting my fascia.  It also occured to me that it should work to cut through the ceiling tile and underlying foam of the subroadbed.

So before I got started on the scenery base and getting it covered in dust, I decided to get after with it multi tool and the round blade.

This is what I had before I started, the tile was just below the fascia.

Being careful not to disturb the existing track and ballast, I held the tool at a slight angle, just close enough to the edge of the ballast and pushed it down towards the fascia.

It worked like a champ.  After clearing out the cut material I used my fingers to rub out any major imperfections, followed by several passes with the vacuum.  I was also happy that there wasn't as much dust as I thought there might be.

I'm hoping with a different blade installed, I can also cut the 1/8" fascia to somewhat follow the new contours?

If this all works, I'll sand the fascia edge smooth and paint the top edge black then seal the exposed ceiling tile with a good coat of earth latex.   Then maybe I can get started on the scenery base?