Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Monday, December 01, 2014

Fall progress

I started general cleanup and also worked on some scenery prior to the open houses. Straightening up took a bit of time as the layout area was housing a lot of stuff from upstairs while a remodeling project was going on in the kitchen during the summer and into September. After getting stuff out of layout area, I was able to put train stuff back where it belongs, clean track and stage trains for running during the open houses. Next I wanted to do some scenery in order to have some visual progress for repeat visitors.

First up was an afternoon of building about 70 trees for the Crawford Notch area. Nothing too difficult here, just takes some time. I start with the Scenic Express Super Trees, and working from the box separate and break off tree-like sections, different shapes for different uses. These get a quick hit of black primer and set aside (I do this in the garage near the open door to keep the paint smell out of the house). Once I get a bunch done, I get to adding the leaf material. I have 3 methods to do this.

The first and more traditional is to use ground foam. I use this a bit less now as I prefer the next two methods, but it still produces good trees, and some of the Fall colors I have from Scenic Express look good. I spray the tree with inexpensive hair spray from a pump bottle (Suave, Rave, etc. in the super hold-extra sticky variety). Then I sprinkle the ground foam over the tree structure, letting the extra get caught in a shirt box so I can recapture and reuse it. I usually put a second coating of hairspray and another ground foam coating, then I stick the tree to dry in a piece of foam with holes poked in it.

I should mention I do not go through the process of dipping trees in matte medium and hanging upside down as mentioned in the instructions. I'm sure this does a good job, and certainly helps straighten trees, but to be honest I just don't have the patience for all this extra work. Anything that is bent I address during planting by putting it next to other trees, letting them help "straighten" each other.

My second method is essentially the same as the first but I use the newer Scenic Express Noch Leaf Flake. They make some nice Autumn colors and the look is better in my opinion than most ground foams. One thing I did notice though is if I put a second shot of hairspray it tends to darken the color. Sometimes that is OK, but other times it makes the color too dark, so some care is needed here, In many cases less is more with this material anyway.

My final method uses a Tacky Web Spray Adhesive from Scenic Express followed by an application of  Scenic Express Super Turf. This material is more like pieces of ground up sponge-like material, a bit more airy looking than ground foam. I use this for a lot of the "green" fall trees on the layout. The web spray helps this adhere better to the Super Tree material and I usually do not do another coat of this adhesive or the hair spray. Some pieces will fall off before planting, and these I generally collect and reuse.

Here is a look at two of the foam pieces with trees drying:

And here are some shots of the area after planting. I still need about another 50 or so trees along the backdrop to get me out of this section of the layout. Luckily the grassy area behind the tracks as well as the foreground do not require any additional trees. It is a amazing how quickly what you think are a lot of trees get used up in a relatively small area!

Train RY-2 passes through Crawford Notch with U18B 405, while GP38 258 sits on the siding.

GP38 258 heads up ballast extra YZ-X from St. Johnsbury, VT to Bartlett, NH, waiting in the siding at Crawfords.
Winter is coming, got to get the plow out and in place for the upcoming season!
I often get a question about my photo backdrops. These are images on CD from LARC Products. They are printed on full page labels (8.5x11) and then trimmed and mounted, abutting to each other to make a seamless photo. Here you see just the tops of Fall mountains, this representing the White Mountains around Crawford Notch.

Here is a look at some trees that I make into birches. I use a little white craft paint over the trunks and then use yellow Leaf Flake material for the leaves. Makes an effective looking birch I think.

The shanty was built from a Hogdon kit around 1990 - nice to finally have it in use and at it's actual prototype location!

And here is a stepped back view of the area. I pretty much doubled the trees in this area, they extend about another 2 feet to the right. Now I just need to finish up the foreground scenery, including a gravel parking area and the addition of some signs for Rt. 302 and Crawford Notch State Park, and build the Crawford Notch station kit. I also need to add more people and some vehicles as this is a popular spot always with some people around, even when it is a chilly day in October of 1980!


Tom Patterson said...


Great looking scene! Those trees really turned out well. The colors and shapes look just right, and the arrangement of the various colors really captures the look of Fall.

That Honda Civic parked along the side of the road is a nice touch, too.

Tom Patterson

Greg said...


Thanks for discussing each of your three techniques for the SuperTrees. I recently started working on populating the wooded areas of Central Michigan on my layout and plan to vary it up with each of the techniques.

Your scene has come along really nice with the trees, right of way, and grasses in the foreground. Great to see the ballast and plow extras out as they are often a forgotten group in the modeling world, but a necessity to smooth operations in the prototype.

Greg McComas

jaggerbomb said...

Mike, I'm watching your site with interest, I'm also modeling a similar Crawford Notch scene after visiting the area a number of years ago. I'm in the process of building the Mount Willard section house from the plans on Dick Lords website. Thanks for your information. JOHN CVRHS