Sunday, June 3, 2012

Layout Scenery Part II - The Background

Upgraded warren-truss train bridge with almost-complete scenery
The second section of scenery I tackled was the double track portion directly in front of the backdrop. This section runs from the right mountain tunnel portal, over the warren-truss bridge, and in front of the remainder of the mountain scenery in the right-hand corner of my layout. This segment was probably the most inconvenient to work on, entirely due to the fact that I had to lean way over the rest of my layout to work on it, resulting in many sore and strained muscles. However, now that the background portion is complete, the middle and foreground should be a much easier and more convenient experience.

Small mountain with first layer of foam earth-blend ground coverOld bridge and background scene before scenery

Woodland Scenics pine trees and scenery products added to backdrop

To start, I first needed to complete the tree line that runs along the top if the rock ridges and spans between the 2 mountains in each corner of my layout. I had already previously painted trees onto the backdrop, however this did not suffice to represent the forest above the rock ridges, and definitely required more texture. These rock ridges are only about ¼ of an inch thick, so the pine trees needed to be literally attached directly to the backdrop. When building the tree armatures, I made sure the back sides of the trees were flat, which allowed the finished trees to be easily glued to the backdrop.
Light vegetation between tracksBallasted tracks with light vegetation and overgrowth

Background scene under construction with upgraded warren-truss bridgeBackground scene under construction with upgraded warren-truss bridge

With the addition of actual model pine trees to the backdrop, I also added clumps of Woodland Scenics conifer green foliage directly to the painted trees, further adding texture and blending the painted trees in with the actual trees. The tops and faces of the rock bluffs were finished with various foliage, ground foam, bushes, and lichens.
Scenery and vegetation under constructionUpgraded warren-truss train bridge

The completion of the scenery around the road that passes under the warren-truss bridge and disappears into the background was also on the list to be completed. I started by temporarily removing the bridge so I could more easily access this area. I applied fine gray gravel to the shoulders of the roadway, then the normal cementing regiment of thinned glue and isopropyl alcohol. The next layer was earth coloured ground foam, followed by coarse turf and bushes, which I applied generously around the base of the bridge abutments.
Original warren-truss bridge structureUpgraded warren-truss train bridge with almost-complete scenery

Upgraded warren-truss train bridge with almost-complete scenery

While I had the bridge removed, I decided that it required a bit of an upgrade. I originally had to custom build the deck of the bridge using 3 Atlas bridge girder pieces to allow dual tracks to run over it, and used the truss supports from an Atlas warren-truss bridge kit, which I glued to the sides of the deck. I wasn’t happy with the design or look right from the beginning; the truss structure rubbed against rolling stock, and looked to be too small to support the double track.
Forest scene with Woodland Scenics scenery products and upgraded warren-truss bridge

Background forest scene almost completedForest scenery between tunnel portal and warren-truss bridge

I started by adding 3/8” wide styrene strips to each side of the deck, thus widening it by ¾” so trains would no longer rub on the support structure. I wanted the truss structure to also be enclosed over the top, which required raising the original Atlas warren truss supports. To do this, I built 1” risers out of styrene, which I then glued to the bottom of the trusses, following the angles of the original struts and bracing bars. The horizontal struts and bracing were also constructed out of styrene strips, which I built into t-girders for the main roof supports.
Completed background mountain scenery around trackBallasted track and scenery on background section

The truss system is not attached to the deck; but instead sits in 2 support slots that are located on the deck. I needed to build it this way so I could slide the deck back under the track-work as the track is no longer easily removable. The re-designed bridge was then sprayed flat black and lightly weathered with powdered pastels. I then simply slid the deck under the track and onto the abutments and place the superstructure into position.
Scenic details of rock face, ballast, and vegetation along tracks

Scenic details of forest scene on top of small mountainCompleted mountain scenery at track level

Ballasting the rails was next, followed by weathering the center of the track with black powdered pastels and applying light vegetation and overgrowth between the double tracks (once the ballast was dry of course). The backdrop section of track and surrounding areas are the same type of mountainous scenery as the completed tunnel mountain, so I used the same methods as before to build up the scenery here (see my Scenery – Part I post).
Background forest scene almost completedCompleted background mountain scenery

I ran out of trees to fully complete the raised section of track leading up to the trestle, so I will need to finish this once I put more trees together. At this point I’m not sure what section of scenery I will tackle next; most likely the area in front of the single and double tunnel portals on the front of my mountain and the area right in front of the backdrop section I just completed. However, I am currently working on finishing my very first scratch built structure, which is a priority to complete in the next day or two.
Forest scenery between tunnel portal and warren-truss bridge

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