Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Friday, July 22, 2016

Groveton Scenery

With the main portions of the mill structures complete, I turned my attention to the scenic elements of the Groveton paper mill area. Even without detailing, adding a bit of scenery will go a long way to making the area look more complete and realistic.

I started by preparing a surface for representing the paved lot around the buildings. An access road will cross the tracks to lead to the warehouse buildings. I used more of my supply of left over foam board to build up the road sections between the tracks and the main area in front of the middle and right building.

Once firmly glued in place, I had a nice level surface to work with for the lot and road. For paving material, I use DAP Fast 'n Final spackling material with black paint mixed in. This leaves a nice gray appearance for the main coat.

I put an amount of the spackling into a plastic container (left) and mix in black paint until I get the color I like.

The material is very nice to work with. It is not messy and dripping like plaster. It is more like cake frosting but without being too sticky. In fact it is fairly easy to remove should you get some where you do not want it. I work it onto the surface area with the mixing spatula, then use a drywall knife to smooth the area, I end up with a fairly thin coat of material as the smoothing will remove material as you do it. It can be tough to get all marks out of the surface, but it is OK if you end up with 1 or 2 ridges from the knife edge, These can easily be sanded later when dry. As the material is colored, you will not get any white to show through when sanded. You can also mix up a darker batch and apply over the dried first coat to represent patched areas and pothole fills.

Here I have applied and smoothed main paved lot area which will extend under the middle and right buildings. To the left, the largest building will be directly on the plywood with scenery built up to the edge. The glue gun was used to attach the foam core sections to the plywood.
I also took this time to put in an overall base coat of dirt and weeds. I will build this up with more elements over time, and then do ballasting and more weeds in the tracks. But this base coat helps transform the area from plywood to a scene. Materials I used included Scenic Express dirts and ground foams, static grass and grout in black and dark gray.

Blue tape protects the track and also marks the outline of the building and car sheds. The idea here is to get a base coat of earth, cinders, some weeds and such to then build upon. The standalone building is positioned within the paved lot . In the distance will be a large wood chip pile and trees to hide the trackage behind that area.

The roadway has been paved and smoothed up to the outside of the rails. After about an hour it is pretty well set but not fully dried. I'll do between the rails later as it is difficult to work there without disrupting the wet spackling. Some of the initial scenery of dirt and grass can be seen also. I still need to build up some landforms with sculptamold to the road edges and to hide the turnout control rods. I'll do that later and then reapply this base coat of scenery before moving on to more detailed grass, weeds, etc.
Imperfections in the paving will be sanded out, and in some cases used to show signs of wear, such as divots made into potholes, and uneven edges showing signs of deterioration. Overall I find this paving process quite easy and enjoyable. Adding signs of wear with chalks and other details will be a fun process.

To ensure the external building would sit properly on the paved lot area, I built a foundation from bass wood, and then lightly pressed that into the spackling after it set up a bit. Putting the building on this ensured it would sit flat and look "planted" instead of on top of the paved area.

The foundation put in place. A little of the material pushed up along 2 edges. I'll be able to lightly sand this down, as well as sand the 2 ridges you can see

Friday, July 15, 2016

Groveton Paper Mill Update

Over the past 2 months I have slowly chipped away at the core buildings in the Groveton Paper Mill scene on the layout. Starting with the excellent Monster Model Works Robertson Paper building kit led to ideas in composing the scene with background flats utilizing DPM wall pieces and Evergreen styrene sheet I already had on hand. Only a couple of times did I devote more than 30 minutes at a time to this (mainly being work sessions with the kit), proving that if you do a little each day or so, you can get things accomplished.
An overall look at the scene with the 3 flats and the standalone building in place. The deck above represents North Stratford, NH, and does not have all track laid yet. Behind the Groveton flats are the Maine Central and Canadian Pacific mainlines (see the MEC train appearing to the right behind the far building), as well as the staging track for White River Junction, which holds the Boston & Maine train that will come to Groveton to perform switching work.

The background flats consist of 3 sections, all of which can be removed for access to the tracks behind. Left to tight, the first flat (pictured below) utilizes Rix/Pikestuff concrete block interlocking sections topped with Evergreen metal siding. A foam core substructure was used (More details are in earlier posts). Pikestuff components for "modern" metal buildings were used to build out angled car sheds protecting the tracks leading into this building from harsh New England weather. These angled buildings provide  a nice bit of dimension to the otherwise flat appearance of the building. I was able to use spray can paints for the white and teal colors, saving me time on firing up the airbrush. You just need to apply light coats and let it dry a bit to build up the color. That way you will not end up with a heavy coat hiding the details. A small amount of pan pastel weathering was added to show that these relatively new buildings were part of a working mill environment.

The more recent concrete block and metal siding building includes car sheds for paper loading.

The middle building flat uses DPM brick modular wall sections to represent an older building in the complex, before the mill expanded. I detailed how I used plaster for the mortar and pan pastels for coloring in an earlier post. I kept the roll up door partially open so I can show some interior details and add little more life to the background flat.

The last flat to the right in the scene combines older brick walls of a lower building that has been expanded vertically with metal siding. Here I included some windows using parts from a left over Walthers kit. I used Dullcote to frost the back of the windows and made sure the foam core behind that area was painted black. The window adds some more interest to the relatively plain look of the metal siding.

The older brick section to the left, and the final section to the right with the sheet metal section above the brick walls and a window to provide natural lighting to the inside mill area. Staged in front is the nearly completed Robertson Paper kit.
The Robertson Paper kit building, with its distinctive arched roof, will occupy an area closer to the tracks. I imagine this older building would now be used as a supporting structure to the expanded mill at this point, perhaps a machine shop.

The kit was a real joy to assemble. The brickwork is outstanding. As detailed in an earlier post, the mortar was done with Liquitex medium following an article in Model Railraod Hobbyist magazine.The process was easy and the results outstanding. The only real challenge was fitting the windows into the opening, which were probably compromised from painting of the walls and windows. Nothing insurmountable, but just a bit more work than the rest of the kit.The roof was particularly well designed and easy to construct. The rafter tails were simple and fit perfectly.

The space available is relatively tight, but still adequate. I will probably locate the building a little closer to the track, and keep an open driving path between the buildings on the back side.
With so much open window space on this kit, I decided to try to represent painted out or blocked panes that you often see in industrial buildings like this. I simply applied paint to the individual panes right on the glazing. I tried various colors, but ended up liking the grays and blacks the best. I kept different colors to represent different times the windows were painted out.

A closer look at the mortar work. I still need to come up with some appropriate signage and other details, plus add weathering and tar repairs to the roof..

The window panes randomly painted out with grays and blacks. I need to add internal dividers into the building to prevent seeing through to other window openings in the panes that are not blocked out. The building is raised up here as I expect it to be closer to this height once I add in base scenery, including evidence of a foundation.

Moving on, I need to add exterior details and signage to these flats. The prototype Groveton pictures I posted provided numerous ideas. I also want to get a base layer of scenery around the buildings and up the back tracks to give the overall back area of this scene a more finished look. Up front scenery and ballasting can come later.

A final picture with a not too perfect panoramic capture helps convey the appearance one gets when standing in the aisle in front of this scene (click on the picture to get a larger view). To the left I will be adding tanks and piping for unloading and storing kaolin, and to the right will be the start of a large woodchip pile, backed by tress to help hide the tracks behind that area.

So still more to do, but this will definitely enhance the experience for the operators who will do switching work at the mill next op session!