Structures Update

I made some progress on the layout over the holidays, so I’ll post a few updates to bring things up date. Check out the photo for some details.


In this scene, you’ll see two structures that have replaced stand-in shells. In the centre of the image, the concrete building is the powerhouse. It’s not finished, but it took a great number of hours to get it to this point. I feel that it’s far enough along to give a good impression of how this scene will proceed. This is the powerhouse building, loosely approximated from aerial photos of the plant. It is currently sporting the base colour that use for approximating concrete structures. It’s entirely scratch built, except for the shed building in front of it in grey primer. That building uses a Tichy kit for the side wall. I’ll scratch build the end wall and roof. This will be the enclosed building into which hopper cars are spotted for unloading of coal into the storage silo.

Behind that building is a concrete structure with brick curtain walls. This is the end of a building in the area of the paper machine, where bulk solids are delivered by boxcar. This building is finished except for the final details and clutter. Here’s a photo featuring this structure.


The building to the right is a mock-up/core of the next structure on my to-do list. Also in this photo, you’ll see that I’ve painted the facia. Next time, I’ll post more details about the facia and valance.

Building Cores Become Mock-Ups

I like to work in 3D when I plan. For instance, when I planned my layout, I had a basic notion of where the turnouts and track would go, and I moved templates around the benchwork until I came up with something that seemed reasonable. Then the buildings in my paper plant were mocked up with cardboard boxes. After that, I build styrene cores to hold the veneer of the finished models. In a few cases, it took a few attempts to get the proportions correct.

Once I felt that the proportions were correct, I set about finishing the structures, which I’ve started to do at one end of the layout. It would probably take another year of my spare time to finish up all of the structures on my layout, but given that all the track is functional, I’m feeling like it’s time to have some people over for operating sessions. I decided to try painting the structure cores in the approximate colour that the finished model will have. A trip to the local Canadian Tire store and I was set up with an assortment of spray cans.

I used a light grey primer on some metal structures, and a darker grey on others. I think those look good. The concrete buildings at the plant were painted in a tan colour, but the Krylon “camo light brown” that I bought looks more like a light olive colour. I think I’ll find a better colour and paint those again.

Regardless of my struggles with colour matching, the end result is that the painted building cores look more like coloured mock-ups now. While they completely lack any kind of detail whatsoever, they do serve to give an impression of what will eventually be built. I’m inclined to finish the scenery between the edge of the tracks and the structures in order to provide basic ground cover. Over the past month or so, I’ve posted some photos of the more completed areas of the layout. Here are some shots of the other end, now populated with painted building cores.


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Scenery Progress: Woodchip and Tank Car Unloading

I’ve made some progress on the transition between the on-scene and off-scene portion of the paper plant on my layout.

In the photo below, the long building flat against the wall has been put in place, and all of the ballast and ground surface between that building and the front edge of the layout is now finished. More details will be added later. I’ve also de-bugged the track. I’ll be placing a variety of tanks and piping on the concrete pad in front of that building, and around the two structures in the mid- and foreground (the foreground structure is not in place, and I cropped it out of the photo anyway).

On the prototype, the main building where the tank cars were unloaded had a fan of three tracks that could hold one or two tank cars at a time, and then two tracks for off-spot tank cars. I compromised by having one track pass in front of the building, and then extend into staging where tank cars can be located.

The track closest to the front goes to staging representing the woodchip unloader.

PC 9574 brings its train into the International Paper plant.

PC 9574 brings its train into the International Paper plant.

More: Track as a Model

My previous post was about track as a model on my layout. This time I’m posting some pics of another area on my layout where I spent some time trying to build track as a model.

In this case, the rails are embedded into concrete. I’ve posted a photo of this same space previously, but I hadn’t finished the concrete yet. My aim with this scene is to represent a space deep inside an industrial plant where the concrete pad has been in place for a long time and repaired with concrete, asphalt, and cold-patch. In other words, I’m going for a pretty worn appearance. I spent some time weathering the concrete pad with a couple of different media. Have a look at the finished product:


The photo above was taken from what I consider to the typical “photographing” angle, or the angle I’ll use most often to photograph the layout. This is slightly above HO scale eye-level.


The photo above is the same location as the first photo, but the camera is slightly higher. This represents how the operator would apprehend the layout.

Obviously, the front edge of the concrete pad has yet to be blended into the surrounding scenery. When I was preparing these photos for the blog, I noticed that the colour temperature seems off. I’ve learned that off-white or bone colours are difficult to accurately reproduce with the equipment I have. But for reference, the tank car in both photos has very small areas that are painted white.


What’s New: Structures, Transfer Caboose, Concrete

As I was drafting this post to my blog I realized it’s been quiet on here for a while. Five weeks, to be precise. Surprisingly, my site stats didn’t fall off, which tells me that people are coming back to read through my old posts. I’m pleased to have been writing this blog long enough that there’s some depth here, and doubly pleased that people are actually reading old posts.

Sometimes, projects move in such small increments that there’s not much to report. Compounding this is fact that I’ve been engaged in more thinking than doing. I had to sort out a few things before I could move ahead.  So here’s what I have to show for five weeks of work.


The scene above is far from finished, but it’s far enough along that I decided to pose some rolling stock and take a photo. Staring in the background, you’ll see that I’ve been working on one of the buildings in the paper plant. This is where some of the processing of the pulp and chemical additives takes place. In the middle of the frame is a brand-new Bluford transfer caboose that I bought today and placed directly into this scene. To the left are two of the nine tank cars that I bought from Atlas over the winter. Each needed some work to get them on the rails, and over the past weeks I’ve finished two of them. The most recent work that I completed was the concrete surface in the foreground. This will eventually be a tank car unloading area.

That’s all for now. I’ll try to work faster so I can post more frequently 🙂