Scenery on the CPRX

Scenery was started in December 2007 for the July 2008 NMRA Anaheim convention and progressed for what seemed like an eternity! Of course, it's nowhere near complete but the mountians are in. Below is a brief description of my progress.

The first step was to cover the lower level with newspaper. My plan was to just get all the hardshell done at once and then remove the newspaper because this is a messy process. I found out it was a SLOW one too. As the story goes, everything always takes longer to do than one plans for. That newspaper was on the layout right up until the convention in July 2008! Once the paper was down I covered the upper level track with blue painter's tape. I also covered the tunnel portals with blue tape, which turned out to cause trouble later on. In a nutshell, I completely wrapped the portals in blue tape. Don't do that because as you put the hardshell on, the tape get's stuck underneath and it's a pain to clean it up when you remove it. There is another issue I had with the tunnel portals, which I'll enlighten you on later. Promise you won't laugh? The photo below is at Cable.

With the layout covered, it was time to put in the cardboard strips.

HINT...WHEN DOING SPLINE, MAKE SURE YOU ADD 1 to 2 ADDITIONAL STRIPS OF THE SPLINE MATERIAL, ADDING TO THE WIDTH OF THE ROADBED. WHY? YOU'LL NEED SOMETHING TO ATTACH THE SCENERY TO AND ADDITIONAL SPACE ALONG SIDE THE TRACK. Fortunately, I thought of this when I was doing the spline! You can see the additional strips in the photo above and the one below. An extra strip on each side. Also see the section on making SPLINE ROADBED. The photo below is just before the loop.

I used hot glue to glue the strips of cardboard together. Watch for "HOT GLUE" on the fingers. Of course I found out the hard way trying to keep things together for the time it takes to harden up. Also, when you are done with the hot gluing, remove all the "spider webs" the glue creates especially over trackwork.

The loop is about 5' deep. In order to get access to "issues" in the back, I left an open space behind the loop hill that I could get up into. It doesn't look like it but it's actually big enough to stand up inside of but it is well hidden by the hill in the loop so you can't see if from the isle. The photo below shows this access area.

With the cardboard strips down, I used a method I learned from Mark Lestico. He put 2" masking tape over the strips. Yes, an additional step and one I found very helpful. It not only prevents plaster droppings from falling through the strips onto the floor, track, etc, it allows you to see the contour of the land thus allowing you to make changes if necessary. Good idea Mark! The photo below is at Cable.

The next step was to put down the hardshell. OK, first I tried the "old" method of paper towel strips and hydrocal to save money on plaster cloth. Suggestion...skip that OLD method! Go straight to the plaster cloth!!! Run, don't walk. Way cleaner, way easier, way faster, way smarter! Take my word for it. You can have my left over paper towels (15 packages) if you don't believe me. While laying the cloth, I'd recommend about a 1' square section at a time. Always spray water on dryer cloth before you connect or lay new cloth on the old. Watch for sagging. You may need to prop up some areas.

Below is a shot of the tunnels at Cable again, now with plaster cloth applied.

Below is a photo showing part of about 15' or so of hardshell at Ilmon I installed but didn't like what it looked like after it was done. In my opinion, it hid the train to much. This section, the area at the end of the isle, and the oposite side of the isle (to the left of the photo) was removed and reinstalled. Don't be afraid to do scenery thinking you might screw it up (Mike!). You will and the fix is it out and do it again! Note the lower level covered with newspaper.

With the cloth down, I then put a layer of sculptamold over that, shaping the lay of the land with my hand. This was kind of fun and went quickly. Again, spray water where you are going to put sculptamold over the cloth so they meld together. Always make sure everything is nice and wet. The scupltamold is heavy from the water, so watch areas as things will tend to sag. You may want to put on a light coat first and then add more later to get the countour you want. Take it slowly and you'll enjoy it. Again, do small sections at a time, like 1sqft.

By the way, I bought a cheap basketball and cut it in half and used those halves for mixing bowls. Cheap and easy and no one is upset you used their good bowl! You can have a helper and they can be mixing one bowl while you are working from the other. Got that tip from a Model Railroader tipster, name forgotten...sorry.

With the sculptamold done and dry, I painted the new ground a tan/earth color. Again, small sections at a time. You want the paint still wet because as I painted a section, I also sprinkled my favorite mix of Woodland Scenics "grass" over the wet paint. This way, it sticks very well. Try to sprinkle this on evenly if you can. You can use different colors and sprinkle it thicker or thinner as you prefer. Just remember, if you're doing a hillside, keep it relatively even or it will look wierd later. Below is a photo showing several areas, on the upper right is Ilmon, lower right is Bakersfield, upper left is between Ilmon and the loop and lower left is Famoso.

Use more paint if drying too fast. By the way, the paint mixture is 1/2 paint and 1/2 water. Color is your preference to the area you are modeling. Just use a brush and slop it on. I did mine in 1sqft sections. You may get dividing lines in your scenery, kind of a checkerboard effect. Don't worry about that as this is just the first coat and you can fix that later. Below is Ilmon.

Below is Bena. The main is in the rear and the helper pocket in front. The turnout is for the double track helix. Ilmon is to the left and the helix down to Bakersfield to the right.

That's where I stopped for now. But once that is done, you can go back and make more scenery details, such as color, more rocks, highlighting areas, trees, bushes, etc. As of this writing, I haven't worked anymore on the scenery as it was convention time when I stopped and since then I've been working on other projects.

I'll add more photos as I get to them.