Fall Slow Down

Things have slowed almost to a stop on the layout. Mostly because I’m almost done, but also because I’m so busy. There’s just not enough time to do much more than keep the weeds down.

I have purchased another building for the motorcycle factory: the side building.

Access Door

What do you do if a train gets stuck inside your mountain?

This access door is about 12″ high and 36″ long, allowing me to easily “help” a train that has problems inside the tunnel. It’s formed from insulating foam, cut to shape and painted for UV protection.

Logging Wagon

I’ve finished up the first of two planned logging wagons. This one just needs a figure guiding the horses and it will be ready to go out next to the lumber mill and tree stumps I currently have on the layout.

finished-logging-wagon1

finished-logging-wagon2

I’m going to build another one of these later, assuming there turns out to be enough room on the layout for two once I’ve added the mountain.

Logs from pipe

I built some logs for my logging wagon from ABS pipe.

First, I cut it to length. Then I applied adhesive to the outside, in lines parallel to the length of the pipe.

log-texture-closeup3

I smoothed the application with a toothpick–catching any drips.

log-texture-closeup2

I cut pieces of sintra to fit the ends, then inserted them. Then I filled the ends with adhesive.

log-end-closeup

Once it was all dry, I dipped them in outdoor paint–a dark slate, almost black color I have.

log-texture-closeup-painted2

Next I applied a dry brushing of lighter browns and then washed with a darker brown.

log-painted

Finally, I painted the ends light brown to represent fresh-cut wood and added some light brown spots along the “trunk” to simulate where branches were removed.

chain-binder-closeup

I think they look pretty good. We’ll have to see how they stand up outside.

logs-on-wagon2

Mountain Ideas

I’ve thought for a while now about adding a mountain (and tunnel) to my layout. The problem is, this is Germany (or Ruritania, or Graustark) in the 1930s, so a southwestern U.S.-style mountain won’t do. I need an alp.

My current idea is to make a frame of rebar, cover it with wire mesh, and then use concrete-impregnated burlap to cover it in a sort of concrete version of paper mache.

Scale Kudzu

Well, I think I’ve found at least one plant that I won’t be planting on my layout again: wirevine.


This stuff is amazingly tenacious and ridiculously invasive. I planted a single 3″ pot of it last fall, and it’s gone crazy. Not only did it cover the cleared area where I planted it, it jumped (over and under) a paver, climbed two dwarf Alberta spruce, became intertwined with two other ground covers, and keeps trying to cross the right of way despite regular applications of Roundup. And places where I’ve pulled it up, apparently roots and all, it’s come back. All in about 8 months.

But if there’s someone else out there who needs to model Kudzu, this is your stuff.

Building Repairs / Refreshes

So, in the Kansas climate (summers in the 100s, winters in the 10s) buildings really take a beating. It’s now time for me to bring some in (into the air conditioned house) and work on ones that have deteriorated.

My oldest building is this Piko station. I enjoyed building it–it’s one of the few “new” kits I bought, but it’s definitely in need of some work. The base is a piece of Sintra laminated to a piece of acrylic, which seemed like a good idea at the time but has started to separate. Also, the “street” lights need work and the interior needs to be cleaned out.

First I’ll tackle the lighting: the LEDs in it are cool white. And after three years they’ve started to dim. Which means that it’s time to trade them out for new, warm white ones. That includes the interior lights, the light that highlights the passenger and station employee, and the two exterior post lights.