Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
Click image to link to my web site,

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Morrisville Scenery

One other area that I worked on prior to the open house was Morrisville along the Lamoille Valley. It was somewhat unplanned but I had some inspiration to start something, and then ended up with more done than I would have thought. This is one of those interesting aspects about model railroading where you can end up doing something totally unplanned when you entered the layout room.

Before I discuss that though, I realized in my previous post I forgot to show one of the main pictures I was discussing, that being the view of the layout when you first enter the Layout room. Shown below, you can see how having the trees and scenery here is important as it is what visitors see first as they enter the room. I think that making a good impression here will subconsciously make the rest of the layout look good as well, even though other areas have less scenery and are less complete overall.

This door leads into the layout area. Now that the trees are planted, the appearance is of a completed layout.

A view looking back while in the layout area provides perspective on the amount of scenery competed in this area.

A while back I completed the track work for Morrisville Vermont, which is the center of operations for the Lamoille Valley. The area includes a small yard, a few industries and the engine house for the railroad. All of this is prototypical, but in my implementation, I have compressed things into something that supports operation more than it follows the prototypical layout of trackage. One of my goals is to support interesting operating sessions, and in my space I really cannot dedicate the 15 feet or so of space required to model Morrisville faithfully. 

So one night I was working on my car weighting project, adding additional weight to all cars bringing them up to 7 to 9 ounces each (see earlier posts on this topic). I started work on an Atlas Plywood Mfg. double plug door boxcar. It got me to thinking about the car operating on the layout, and soon I was looking at the 2 spurs for Morrisville Lumber.

A while back I had read and heard about using Fast 'n Final lightweight spackling for roads and had a container on hand. AsI looked at the tracks and thought about how I wanted the tracks to be embedded in asphalt for forklift unloading of lumber-products boxcars, I figured, why not give this stuff a try and see how it works?

Next thing I know, I am spreading out a layer of Fast 'n Final around the tracks to represent the asphalt. I find that the material is very interesting and different than say plaster. It tends to stick to itself better than other things, at first. This makes it very easy to control. I would get a little on the rails, and it was a simple matter to just remove it with no residue. It is almost like a putty in that regard. Anyway, it is really an interesting product to work with.

I built an initial layer and let this dry overnight. I should note that I added black craft paint to get a gray color that looked like sun bleached asphalt. The next night I applied more and took care to get the product leveled and even with the height of the rails. And letting this dry another night, I cam back and used small amounts to fill in any areas that were still not flat, and also added styrene pieces between rails. It is probably possible to use the sparkling here too, and as it dries, clear out a flange way. But I would try that on a test piece first before committing it to a finished track on the layout. 

I then used some chalks to weather things a bit, and tried used a black Sharpie to create the look of cracks that have been filled with tar. Not sure if I totally like that look or not, so I may revisit that.

The Fast 'n Final dries very hard, but is still a little pliable and soft which I think will prevent any chipping like plaster. Overall I was pretty happy with this and will use it again elsewhere.

Here is a look at the scene. I added the Motrak Models brick shed, some wrapped lumber and a forklift for the open house. I plan to add more details and lumber later.

The overall area. The idea is that the lumberyard structures are mainly off the layout and this is the receiving yard.

The Caboose Industry Ground throws along the front edge are easily accessible and somewhat blend in with the scenery.

To help blend in the edges of the asphalt, I decided to add a little scenery base to the area. This is part of that "one thing leads to another" aspect as well. I built up gravel, dirt and static grasses, and it quickly looked like a completed scene. I decided to work this scenery all the way along the front edge of Morrisville. I found it really amazing how that quickly transformed the area into looking much more complete than it is.

The yard tracks in Morrisville are behind the initial scenery added to the front edge of the layout.

From a normal viewing angle the area looks like much more complete than it is. Like many of my areas with more trackage, I have integrated a shelf under the area into the fascia.
This has gotten me to thinking that adding a basic scenery treatment along all of the front edges, from the fascia back for a couple inches, or up to the track, would not be a bad idea to focus on in the remaining areas that are not sceniced. There might be a spot or two I want to leave alone until I have planned the area, but a lot of it is just basic scenery in these areas and I think it will go a long way to making the layout look more complete.

One other area I started the thought process on was Whitefield. In addition to the diamond and ball signal BM-MEC crossing, I wanted to include a bit of the downtown area. Whitefield has a small little section of brick and wood frame business buildings along Routes 3 and 116, and I'd like to include a representation of this on the layout. Most of my layout is either rural or focused on rail served industries, so a place to add a few other kinds of structures will be fun. 

I wanted to have the Stella Models diner in a good spot that can be easily viewed, so starting with that, I worked on a scene that goes slightly uphill representing Rt. 116. Again, not an exact prototype replication, but something that captures the feel of the area. this will be another area where I can use the Fast 'n Final, and also have a grade crossing with the B&M line heading south.

The B&M will cross the road here, the MEC is on the bridge to the back. The area to the right will need additional planning as it will include an industry switched by the B&M.


George Dutka said...

Hi Mike:
That is a great view through your doorway and a nice welcome to New England as one walks in...well done...George Dutka

Shannon Crabtree said...

I agree with you totally! The first thing a visitor sees when coming in, sets the whole visit. I'm currently doing that myself. Thanks for the great blog too!