Saturday, October 8, 2011

28 Hidden Meadows

Articulated #49 Crossing the Trestle at Hidden Meadows
The Trestle at Hidden Meadows

In the back corner of the layout the main line curves around the front edge of the corner of the layout.  After negotiating the peninsula in the center of the room the main line returns to this corner  as a high line in the rear of the area.  The terrain on most of the railroad is mountainous and above the track.  In this corner the high line crosses a wide valley.  This necessitated that the engineers build a trestle across the valley.  Unfortunately the photographer neglected to photograph this valley before the construction of the trestle.  The  photograph shows the trestle after it was installed across the valley before the scenery was completed.  The feed store in the foreground was merely an experiment to see if it would work in this
MayBell Mill 
location.  It seemed to dwarf the trestle so it was not installed at this location.

The next three photographs show Hidden Meadows with the scenery more complete.  Behind the trestle is an N-scale barn in an attempt to force perspective and make the meadow appear larger than it is.    The MayBell flower mill is a better size and because of its size appears closer to the viewer and helps the trestle seem to be further away.

Plans call for a painted backdrop behind the trestle to extend the meadow into the distance with mountains beyond.
Siding at Hidden Meadows

Construction Details
Bent Construction
Rock Work on Trestle Approach
The Farmer at Hidden Meadow 
To construct the trestle I first drew a plan for the bents.  Using double stick tape I laid the dowels on the plan and then glued the cross braces and top beam to the bents.  Since I wanted the valley to slope on either end to match the mountainous scenery on either side of the valley, I varied the length of the bents.   The top beams between bents were laid out on a full scale drawing of the track representing the curvature of the track.  I actually used the spline roadbed which I cut out to made room for the trestle as a guide.  Before I cut this roadbed I constructed a support for the roadbed on either side of the cut so that the roadbed would not shift when I made the cut.  The trestle is on a grade as well as a curve so I propped up one end of the board on which I laid out the beams to match the grade.  I then mounted the bents on the beams using a level to get them vertical in spite of the grade.  I then cut blocks of wood to place under each of the bents and which would later be mounted on the floor of the valley to support the trestle.  While on the workbench, as shown in the photographs below
,  I added the cross braces between the bents.  I used a very small dab of hot glue and a small glue gun to attach these braces.  When the trestle was constructed I placed it between the two cut ends of the roadbed using the wood blocks to support the bents.  By careful measurement the trestle dropped into place without too much adjustment and the blocks were glued in place.

Installing braces to bents
The trestle was then removed and using cheese cloth and plaster the valley was formed under the trestle.  The plaster was painted and scenery material put in place before the trestle was placed.  After the trestle was secured I relaid individual rails on the ties of the trestle using goo on the bottom of the rails and heating the rails to secure them to the ties.

On the right end of the trestle I used vertical plaster to represent a rock wall supporting the track as it enters the trestle.  The rocks were carved by hand using a pen knife.  Scenic details were added including the barbed wire fence constructed from round tooth picks.  The cows were placed in the field and the farmer was on his way to milk the cows.  His old tractor sits in the field as well. (The out of focus photograph needs to be replaced by a better photo but we thought you might enjoy this detail even with the poor photograph.)  The road was constructed with the wooden grade crossing with cross bucks.  The flower mill was placed and trucks and figures completed the scene.

Building the fence:  I cut the toothpicks to length often cutting at an angle for the top of the post.  I plant them in very small holes in the scenery pointed end down.  To make the posts more realistic I scrape each post on a rough file.  I then paint them a brown color using diluted model paint more as a stain rather than a solid color.  I have found that gap filling ACC glue works best to hold the posts in place.  Stringing barbed wire is tedious but not difficult. I use rust colored thread for wire.   I form a slip knot for the first post and hold it in place with a tiny drop of ACC glue.  I use an accelerator spray to get the glue to set instantly.  I then wrap each post in turn with the thread.  When I get to the last post I again tie a knot around the post and hold it in place with a drop of ACC.  Then I carefully position the wire at the correct level on each post and secure it with a drop of glue.  I used three strands of wire on my fence. [Don't strain your vision.  I realize that the wire is not yet in place in this photograph.  But it will be for the replacement photograph.]

Carving plaster of  Paris:  If you have not tried to carve plaster the following directions may be helpful.  I use a cardboard armature for land forms.  I cover the armature with cheese cloth held in place by diluted white glue.  When it is dry I paint the cheesecloth with a soupy mix of plaster-of-Paris (1 cup water 2 cups plaster).  I add a small amount of powdered stucco color to give the plaster a light tan color rather than stark white.  This helps prevent white spots if the plaster chips.  The result is a thin shell for the terrain. I formed the wall under the roadbed at the end of the trestle with cardboard covered with cheesecloth.  If you let the plaster mixture stand for a few minutes (about 10 or 15) it achieves a consistency like tooth paste and can then be formed into a thick layer over the shell.  (Hint if you wait until the shell is completely dry it is important to spray it with wet water (water with a drop of detergent in it) so the thicker plaster will stick.  In another few minutes it assumes the consistency of modeling clay and is easily carved.  This condition lasts for about 20 minutes so it is important to work with small areas at a time.  To carve the rock wall I used a small level to scribe parallel (almost) lines in the setting plaster and then carved the vertical lines between the lines to form the quarried rock. I also roughed up the surface of my rock wall by pricking it with a small piece of wire brush.  After it was dry I colored the wall with the same technique I use for most of my scenery.  Ordinary water-based flat house paint (mine is a sandy color) is diluted 12:1.  To get a more gray color for my rock wall I added a small bit of acrylic blue paint to my base color. This diluted paint is then sprayed onto the rock wall.  After the paint is dry (usually only 20 or 30 minutes) I use various earth toned pastel chalks to add a bit of color to each individual rock in the wall.  I complete the whole process by spraying the wall with flat matte medium.