Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Paper Buildings

You may have noticed a recent increase in the use of and articles about using paper based materials for structures on model railroads. Lance Mindheim has written about using prototype photos for the basis of structures on his relatively modern layout in multiple publications ( And there are a number of good examples of roofing and siding material printed on sheets of thicker paper by companies such as Kingmill, Clever, Paper Creek (out of business now) and others that you can find on-line, at your hobby shop and at train shows.

Recently while reading the ongoing saga of nearby modeler Rick Bickmore's steel mill themed layout over on the 'railroad-line' forum, Rick mentioned a British company offering some interesting paper based structures that he has been using for buildings on his layout. (check out Rick's discussion at Page 104 is right in the middle of the paper model discussion and has nice photos of Rick's 84 Lumber building. If you have some time, the other 100 or so pages that detail Rick's layout and model building are a pretty good read with lots of tips and ideas).

The company Rick mentioned was Scale Scenes, They have a free download to try of a low relief brick building that would work well against the backdrop. The free download link is right off the main page. 

What you get is a of PDF file that you print yourself. They have 2 different brick colors to choose from and a separate PDF download for the instructions. The instructions are great and I had no problem following along and building the model. The structure PDF itself I printed on a color printer. You need to resize the output to 87% to get true HO (they have instructions for printing to other scales as well). This was no problem at all. I also sprayed the output pages with Krylon Matte Finish to protect the ink and prevent it from damage during assembly. 

The process involves gluing some of the sheets to thicker paper, such as matte board (Heavy Card), Poster Board (Medium Card)  and 67lb paper (Light Card) to give you stronger sections and allow for gluing surfaces of walls ends. The web site has some details in the FAQ that can answer questions on what paper and card to use. Some of the sections are wrapped with another image and help build out the 3 dimensional details of the building. the door and window pieces are glued with clear styrene in between for window glazing. I used Canopy Formula 560 glue and that worked real well on this structure along with a glue stick for gluing larger sheet sections to their backers. Overall I found the kit to be really well thought out and convincing.

Here are pictures of the completed structure. Considering it cost me virtually nothing to build this, I am pretty happy. I like how it includes the 3 dimensional aspects such as the end pieces and roof caps, as well as the recessed window and interior office. There is just enough there to fool the eye. Some additional features, like down spouts and lights would also help. 

Basic completed structure. I have not added any weathering to this at all, and may not need to.

The interior office adds a lot of dimension, and I look forward to adding some people, a vehicle and other detail parts.

I will probably investing a few "euros" and purchase one of their other kits. Rick discusses how he just used multiple print outs from one kit to give him plenty of siding material for the "paper-bash" of his 84 Lumber kit. I agree this is great idea and can really help get some structures on the layout, whether they are permanent or just mock ups.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Final benchwork and trackwork progress

As we head towards summer, I am still trying to stay busy working on the layout and associated projects. Recent news about a nearby layout being taken down, and the subsequent end to a monthly operating session there really have me wanting to keep work progressing towards getting my layout ready for an operating session. In that regard, I have made more progress, getting subroadbed and fascia in place for the Groveton paper mill area. This represents the last area of relatively major "lumber cutting". With this in place, I can finalize plans for trackwork here and put in the removeable bridge that the B&M will use to cross in from of the utility closet between Whitefield and Groveton.

Along with this work, I did more of the fascia work and under shelf construction for Gilman and Lyndonville. These are nearly complete and I will post pictures of that once they are completed. At that point I will be able to stain and clear coat the rest of the fascia, moving the overall layout area to a completed look. it also will help the operators as I will be able to give them a place to work with the waybills.

An in progress shot of the work at Groveton, to the left, below the shelf for North Stratford. The removeable bridge section will join in below the level where the clamp is seen. To the front right is the Lydonville Industrial park, and behind that the paper mill at Groveton. The 4 locations in this picture are all served by different railroads from different mainlines. This could be a busy area during an Op Session. Hopefully the 4' wide aisle will do! Since this photo, all fascia and subroadbed work are completed.

The other major area needing attention was the yard and industry tracks at Morrisville. Operating the LVRC really would not be possible without this in place, and I am happy to report that all track is in place. I still need to install ground throws, but it is possible to operate without them as I have seen on other layouts.

Morrisville finally has yard tracks and industry spots to switch, plus tracks to head into the engine house.

Trackwork still remains to be done for the B&M in Whitefield, specifically a couple of spurs past the ball signal that will add operational interest. This is not needed however before an operating session commences, This can be added later, with appropriate waybills cycled in at that time too.

Another similar area to get trackwork is the talc mill on the LVRC at Johnson. This will be an industry that will ship and receive a fair amount of covered hoppers, but again does not need to be in place before the first attempted operating session. The area here has received no attention since the initial benchwork went in place 6 years ago. I don't even have a picture of the area!

The industrial park at Lyndonville has long been my "last to do" area because of the convenience of having a large flat area to work on things (see first photo, lower right). I could think about simply running some flex track here and having the local just drop the cars there while I contemplate where to spot the industries I have planned, and that I have already made up waybills for!

A final small location needing some additional trackwork is the CV interchange with the LVRC at Sheldon Junction. I anticipate one or two CV served industries here, but right now there is just a switch off the CV main. Also another example of something that can wait, or can at least be temporarily set in pace with flex track and some spikes. Initially the CV trains do not even have to be operated as they are not critical to any other trains on the schedule.

This area has not changed at all since I took this picture a few years ago. Those CV engines need an industry or two to switch, don't you think?

The point seems to be that I could indeed probably look at the calendar now and set a date for an initial op session. Something to get a crew familiar with my layout and concept, and run a subset of the overall train schedule. The Maine Central is fully in place. The CP could also be operated with at least that temporary track in Lyndonville to receive the local cars. The B&M does not need to be fully functional at this time, and could perhaps just terminate at Groveton on a temporary track after it works the Whitefield interchange. The LVRC can also be fully run, perhaps leaving the covered hoppers for Johnson in the yard for now (replacing empties also in the yard).

I can think of a ton of other things I would like to do before an initial session, but I wonder if it is just better to plan on a date and do it. Otherwise it seems I will always be pushing it back as I find more things to work on that seem "critical" but probably are not when a layout is first starting to get operated.