Thursday, June 10, 2021

Feedburner is now gone.

I guess Feedburner, the email subscription is now gone or soon will be.  I'll be using FollowIt for now, so I guess we'll see how it works.  They are trying to get things set in place shortly.

Once installed if you have already subscribed to my blog via Feed Burner, you should not have to re subscribe.  They are trying to add your subscriptions to the FollowIt so you should continue to get email updates as you did before.

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Friday, April 2, 2021

Home grown Supertrees...

...or imitation Supertrees, whichever you'd like.

In the process of making the Wyatt Rd. overpass, originally I had planned to just make it a foam rise and cover it with poly fiber and ground foam to make it look like a stand of trees with only the front row or two showing trunks.

Once it had been decided to add the bridge, my plans changed a little, I was going to have to have taller trees so they'd rise above the bridge and road.

I have enough actual Supertrees but since they wouldn't be right up front I thought I try something a different and see what I could come up with.

I dug out a box of of weed stalks and small branches that had been collected long ago when we were still using our Bend Track modules.  Having more than enough I started picking out a few that looked like trees.

I did a little pruning.

What I pruned off, I kept for later use for ground cover and rip rap.

Then I tore off small amounts of the Woodland Scenics poly fiber and stretched it thin.

Then I proceeded to wind it onto the weed stalks until it took on a shape of a tree.

Once it was close, I sprayed the whole thing down with a strong hold hair spray.  This helped to glue it to the stalk and was enough that it held any fine ground foam to the poly fiber.

I started by turning the tree upside down and sprinkled some dark foam, which I think was "Soil" to give it depth. I followed this by using a burnt grass to the rest of the tree but didn't cover it completely.  Next I turned the tree upright and used a medium green color to cover more of the fiber and finally a dusting of darker green to give it a nice random color effect.  

I didn't add a lot, on some of the first ones I played with I got it too heavy and it looked caked on, so I just dusted them afterwards, this kept them looking thin and airy.

After that was all on, I sprayed another coat of hairspray to lock everything in place.  The last thing I did was to use a pinch of bright green  and yellow on the tops to simulate sun shining on the tops and another coat of hairspray.  I then stuck them in either foam or the edge of cardboard and let them dry.

Before planting them, I took a small scissors and trimmed and groomed any straggling branches of the poly fiber.  Here is a batch that's ready for planting.


I tried to keep the colors as random as possible for a nice variation.

Overall I think they'll pass nicely for background trees.

Monday, March 22, 2021

The Wyatt Rd. overpass

After getting the bridge roughed in and the road secured in place I made some guardrails out of small sections of Hardware Cloth and I soldered a section brass rod to the top and painted it all gray.

I planned to add a concrete erosion slab under the bridge but found a bag of WS tallus which I thought might be a little more era appropriate.

I weathered the bridge with Pan Pastels and with some instructional help from David Foxx, I added some grease and grime lines to the lanes of the road and bridge using black chalk. 


Next I started making some imitation Super Trees.  Since these would be in the background they didn't need to super detailed.  I started with some weed stalks that I had stashed away years ago.  I used WS Polyfiber and stretched it real thin and wrapped it around the stalks.  Sprayed it with cheap "Super Hold" hairspray to glue it to the stalks and to hold several shades of green WS fine ground foam to the polyfiber for color.

For some of the shorter shrubs I just stretched out the polyfiber and added the ground foam without the weed stalks. This is pretty much the same method I used for some SuperTrees I did a while back.  I also added in some WS coarse foliage to help fill in any gaps and for a variation.

I had made and used 15 trees and shrubs when I took this image.  I wound up making a dozen or so by the time I was done.  In another post I'll show how I made the imitation Super Trees.


I'm gonna stick a fork in it for now.  The last thing I need to do is to get the "Distant hills" painted on the backdrops as I've done elsewhere on the layout, until then I wanted to get an idea of the final scene so I took about 25 shots and photo stacked them and then edited in a stormy sky. 

The NB Winnfield local passes under the Wyatt Rd. overpass with less than a mile to go before it reaches Biddle Yard.  Hopefully the crew will get her tied down for the night before the late afternoon thunderstorm rolls in on them.  

I named the bridge after my friend Wyatt who suggested that this scene was begging for a bridge.  Thanks Wyatt!

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Yard has Hills

After getting some ground foam down around the yard tracks and the loop end, I decided to break up the overall flatness and add a couple of hills on the loop end of the yard.  Nothing too big, just a couple of bumps.

I also decided to add a backdrop on the far right end of the yard.  I think they'll compliment each other, plus it will help hide the shelving unit and other clutter for photos?

I started with a couple layers of pink foam.

I got it shaped and then covered it with paint and a base layer of ground foam, then started blending things together.  I also extended the ballast a few inches further.

Then a friend told me that that area was begging for a bridge, maybe an abandoned bridge?  After thinking about it, I thought it would be a great way to get a frontage road into the industrial I had planned for the middle of the yard.  So I dug around and found an old Rix bridge that I was planning to use on an old module years ago and started playing around with it to see if it would work.

Seeing that there was promise to the idea, I proceeded to work it into the scene.  A second friend told me to use pink foam for the abutment.  After getting one cut out, I covered it with a thin layer of  plaster, inserted it and glued it in place and test fit the bridge.  


I had to grind down the foam a bit to level things out for the road.  I also added a couple layers of cardboard to build it up even with the bridge and abutment so the road would line up.  I wound up with about 1/8" between the top of a double stack container and the bottom of the bridge.

After getting everything lined up and glued in place, I cut a piece of 1/16" gray craft foam for the actual road, glued it down and then used grout for the shoulder and then got the rest of the ground foam laid down.

Here's how it stands today. 

I plan to add some guardrails and either a concrete anti-erosion slab or just some rip rap below the abutment.  This whole area will be covered in trees when finished.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Grass in the yard

After getting the ballast and dirt in the yard, I started adding the ground foam base.

I used an Earth blend starting at the edge of the dirt and ballast and spread it outward, followed by fine burnt grass over top of that leaving a bit of the earth blend showing.  Then I came back over top of the burnt grass with a turf mix.

While this looks ok, I plan to come back and add a layer of static grass over all of this to give a look of tall weeds.  I also plan to glue down some shorter static grass within the yard, both between the tracks and hopefully between some of the rails in a random pattern. We'll see how this works out?

And for the fun of it, I roughly edited the last photo to give me an idea of the finished product.  The large brown area is reserved for and industrial line that will serve a string of large buildings similar to a downtown theme, someday...


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Dirt in the yard

My goal is to try and make the yard look under maintained with lots of dirt instead of fresh ballast.

I know actual dirt would have probably been the best choice, but right now it's buried under a decent blanket of snow and I didn't feel like digging any up.  So I turned Woodland Scenics ground foam and Grout.

As mentioned before, I chose not fill the space between the tracks with solid ballast.  I intentionally left some painted plywood showing through and planned to cover this with my "Dirt" and leave patches of ballast showing through.

After a little experimenting, I wound up mixing Woodland Scenics Fine Earth ground foam with equal amounts of a Mocha colored grout.  This gave me the ability to spread/sprinkle the mix into the scene a little easier.  Trying to sift the grout can be a little tricky as it's so fine and can get go down pretty heavy.  By mixing it with the foam it gives some body and a little more control.

I started off by brushing a 50/50 glue mix that I used for ballast in a random pattern around the ballast patches as well as up on the ballast next to the track.  Then using my fingers, I grabbed a pinch and started spreading it around the ballast.  You have to be a little careful here as the Grout can stain and discolor whatever it touches and can be hard to get off.  A little is fine, but you don't want too much.

This is a little time consuming, and I suppose there is faster way, but it worked for me.  Trying to get good pictures of this is turning out to be a little more challenging.  The color never seems to come out quite right but in person it looks pretty good.

This is the base color of the yard, but I plan to add some greenery to it, being careful not to put too much on.  I'll probably use more fine ground foam as well as using the static grass.  Another thing I want to try is to make and use grass/weed tufts mixed in with everything else.

As for ballasting, this all I have left to do for now, a small stretch from the top crossing around to the two turnouts by the giant pair of scissors and the tracks in the engine facility.

Here's a close up of the two wood crossing I forgot to add.  These were darkened using PanPastels, then I sealed them with TCP Flat paint to help resist the glue mixture when I applied the ballast.



Saturday, February 20, 2021

Yard ballasting

This is probably the most ballast that I've spread in one scene.

Even though this is nothing more than open staging yard, I figured I might as well make it look halfway decent so it blends into the rest of the layout.

I started off by spraying Krylon Camo Brown on the track like I've done in the past, it's a great color for the base.  But it is a little stark with the color I'm using for ballast.  I also wanted the yard to look weather worn and unmaintained, which meant the ties were not going to be fresh looking.

Just after starting the ballasting project you could tell how stark the color differences were.

So I grabbed a makeup sponge and mixed up a couple thin batches of acrylic paint, one tanish and the other more grayish and proceeded to blotch the sponge on the tracks.  There was no way in hell that I planned to paint each individual tie or groups of ties, so this was going to have to do.

At this point I also decided to sprinkle on more ballast between the tracks.  I plan to add a lot of dirt to the yard, so most of the ballast between the tracks will be covered, and I found doing a little testing that it'll be cover the ballast up rather than adding small amounts of ballast to the dirt.  Just looked a little more natural.

So the ballasting proceeded.  What's lighter is freshly glued.

I was having so much fun ballasting that I almost forgot to add the first crossing.

This is where it stands for now until I get the second crossing that I ordered.

While I'm waiting for the second crossing to arrive, I also decided to play around with some Pan Pastels and chalks to dirty the yard up a bit before adding the dirt.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Back to ballasting

Not near as exciting or fun as the loco facility, but a needed process.

I've got all 7 of the turnouts ballasted on the head end of the yard.  I've got another 13 on the opposite end.  At first I wasn't going to ballast the yard as it's just supposed to be used as an open staging yard.  But as things progressed I figured why not make it a part of the layout?  

While the yard is long (16') it doesn't have near as much track as it had previously.  Also, with the work that I put into the engine facility recently, if it didn't get ballasted, it just wouldn't seem finished.  So let the ballasting begin...

Awhile back I seen a product called Ballast Magic by Deluxe.  It's a powdered glue that you can mix with your ballast (and other scenic materials) and you spread it just like you normally would, but instead of using a 50/50 type glue mix to adhere the ballast, you just spread it and spray water on it.  The water activates the powder and when the water dries, the ballast is suppose to be stuck.

Recently a couple of friends bought some who thought they'd give it a go.  Another one said he's sold on it and that's all he plans to use.  So I figured why not?

The instructions say to mix it with your ballast to a 7:1 ratio (ballast:powder).  In my trial that didn't work, so I tried 5:1.  That made it solid, but with a bit pressure I could still get it to crumble.  So what I've done is to mix the powder with the ballast to 5:1 ratio, once dried I come back and soak it with alcohol and then add the typical 50/50 glue mix to make permanent.

Sound like an extra?  Yes, but if it keeps me from having washouts, I can live with that.  Right now I'm doing this only on the turnouts, haven't decided if I'll use it everywhere else or not?   We'll see...