Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Monday, August 12, 2013

Picture in MRH Magazine e-mail

This was cool - I posted some of my rock work pictures to a Weekend Photo forum at Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine. They selected one of my photos for the heading in their weekly e-mail update sent out to all subscribers. Neat!

Friday, August 09, 2013

Crawford Notch Scenery Progress

As I mentioned in my post in July, I started on some scenery in the Crawford Notch section of the layout. This section is one end of the layout that curves into staging. The Notch itself and the MEC's Gateway cut through the rocks is where the scenery starts (or ends depending on how you look at it). Having gotten all the basic landforms  in place, I turned my attention to the rock molds that would make up the dramatic entrance/exit for Maine Central freight trains on the layout.

I have a couple of Woodland Scenics molds, but like a lot of their products, I am finding them underwhelming as I do more layout building. They are a great company but I have been finding some really nice alternatives to their stuff. One such item is the rock molds from Sterling Models of Hardwick, Vermont. I picked up one at the Springfield train show and after one casting I knew I needed more of their molds. So I ordered 2 more and after they arrived I started casting rocks for this scene.

I did a few in the mold and let them set up, but I found that it was going to be real tough to just place them into the basic scenery I created. So on the one side, I cut some into pieces and glued them onto the foam, and used Sculptamold to fill in the gaps. On the larger mountain side, I cast the rocks in the mold, but before they totally set up, I pushed them into the scenic base, curving them slightly to fit. The result was that I was able to get to better fit the geography of the scene I created. Here are some pictures:

Here you can see the basic ground cover on the hillside as well as the field behind the tracks. Up front is part of the Rt. 302 highway that will be in the scene.

A look at one of Sterling Models molds and the resulting casting. They work great, clean up easily and have no problem getting castings out of the mold. They are flexible enough to contour to your scenery before fully set and they are strong and have worked great multiple times.
Here is a picture of the prototype and my rockwork castings.

Here is a straight into the staging look that will actually be tough for operators and visitors to see as my workbench will keep people from getting a look like this without really trying. Even still the rock work really helps conceal the train going through the backdrop.
After this set up for a few days, I went back and worked on coloring the rocks. I used the techniques described by Mike Confalone in Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine and the accompanying videos. Basically you use black RIT dye and alcohol to stain the rocks and then oil paints and turpenoid to add colors. Next some chalks are brushed on. It was my first shot using these techniques and I did learn a fe things, but overall I am happy with the results so far. I still am waiting to add some gray and white chalks as I do not have these yet.

With that done I really wanted to get the scene finished, as least around the rock work. So I added underbrush and built some trees. All that remains is ballasting and the addition of some other tree types.

I added a blue sky section on the gray wall to help the scene. Most of the trees are in place although I want to add some pines that I still need to construct.
A closeup with RY-2 reaching the top of the grade at Crawford Notch before stopping at the station to sign the train register book.

A slightly higher vantage point. It clearly shows the kink in my trackwork that I will need to fix before ballasting!
I do want to get back to track work, but this scene has been a lot of fun. I do have scenery on other parts of the layout, but I feel I am still experimenting and finalizing methods. Here I feel pretty happy with the results and look forward to ballast and some weeds to finish it off. I doubt the whole hill side will be tree covered before November, but at least there is enough for some good photos and to give a sense of what the overall look will be like.