Thursday, April 18, 2019

Whetstone Ridge and Sulphur Gulch

Size:  5'x6'x6' tall -- 30 square feet

1. Whetstone Ridge

Whetstone Ridge (1) is a six foot from-the-floor mountain that encloses the helix that moves trains from the staging yard under Ascape up to the West Whetstone Tunnel  portal onto the trestle at Sulphur Gulch (eastbound) or the East Whetstone Tunnel portal  at Professor Plunge (westbound).  Park City attaches to Whetstone Ridge at the left side; Echo Canyon and Ascape engine facilities attach to Whetstone Ridge at the right side.  The front of Whetstone Ridge (2) is adjacent to the aisle entering the railroad.

2 Front Whetstone Ridge
Terrain (See Post 22)

The mountain is constructed by attaching strips of corrugated cardboard together using hot glue to form an armature for the mountain.  Several 1x1 wood posts attached to the benchwork support the top-most part of the ridge.   Vertical cardboard strips are glued to this top ridge and then formed to the shape of the mountain and glued to the benchwork. Horizontal strips are attached to these vertical strips forming a lattice like armature.  The cardboard strips are then covered with cheese cloth painted with diluted white glue to form the terrain of the mountain.  This cardboard armature and cheese cloth are easily modified as the work progresses to form a pleasing terrain for the mountain. The terrain starts at 6 inches above the floor and rises to just over 6 feet above the floor.  The mountain is open at the top, which is not visible to the observer but does allow standing inside the mountain to make repairs on the helix or the scenery on the top of the mountain.

Once the cheese cloth is formed to represent the terrain of the mountain it is painted with a thin mixture of plaster of Paris which forms into a thin shell.  The plaster contains a bit of stucco dye to give it a tan color so that it isn’t stark white.  Once the shell is dry it is covered with a thicker mixture of plaster of Paris.  This material becomes like modeling clay as it dries making it easy to carve.  This stage only lasts for about 15 or 20 minutes before the plaster becomes hard as stone and is very difficult to carve.  The rocks and cliffs are hand carved a small section at a time during this molding period.  Carving tools consist of a small piece of wire brush, several different Xacto knives, some dental picks, and a small paint brush with stiff bristles.  Once the carved plaster is dry it is first spayed with alcohol containing a few drops of India ink. This emphasizes the cracks and ridges in the carved rock.  The whole surface is then colored using diluted (12 to 1) tan latex house paint applied with a spay bottle and allowed to run where it will over the scenery.  When the paint is dry the rocks are brushed with pastel chalks in various earth tones until the rock has a realistic appearance.  The cliffs and rocks are then sprayed with flat lacquer to prevent the chalk from smearing.  Scenery on this railroad is never painted with full strength paint because then the rocks and surface do not look natural. 
Once the terrain is carved, colored foliage is added consisting of small shrubs from Woodland Scenic colored foam, trees from various manufactures, and other scenic details.  Trees are sized to force perspective. The top of the mountain Is covered with small conifer trees with a few aspens.  Lower on the cliffs and closer to the viewer the trees are more to scale.  Around the stream are some deciduous trees and shrubs. Water in the stream and waterfall is Woodland Scenic Easy Water, a plastic substance that melts at a low temperature allowing it to be melted on the stove and then poured in the scenery.  We did encounter one problem, when the hot plastic hits the cold plaster it tends to set up very quickly rather than flowing into place.  The problem was solved by using a hot gun to melt the plaster in place on the scenery causing it to flow.  Rapids are emphasized by painting the plastic with acrylic white paint.

The left side of the mountain contains a tunnel entrance to Park City near where the mountain attaches to the backdrop.  A stream appears to flow from somewhere on top rear of the mountain and makes its way down and toward to top of Katy Falls, a large waterfall falling into Sulphur Gulch, a recess in the cliff in the front of the mountain to the bottom of the benchwork 6 inches above the floor.  The stream itself continue several smaller falls and rapids.  A large scratch built wooden trestle carries the main line in front of this waterfall across Sulphur Gulch to the front side of Whetstone Ridge (Figure 1).

3 West Whetstone Tunnel 

The eastbound main line exits the West Whetstone Tunnel portal (3) immediately onto the trestle .  The trestle is on a curve and a 3 % grade, matching the grade in the helix inside the mountain.  Katy falls is behind the trestle in Sulphur Gulch.
4 Doug's Lake

The mainline crosses at the base of Whetstone Ridge around the front of the mountain (2).  A barbwire fence protects the railroad from cattle grazing on the hill side below the track.  The scenery on this side of Whetstone Ridge contains yellow, red, and orange fall colors to represent autumn weather.  A Doug’s lake (4) is nestled at the base of the ridge behind the Ascape round house.  Some fishermen can be seen trying their luck in the lake. 

5 Professor Plunge

The right side of Whetstone Ridge contains two tunnel entrances.  One is the East Whetstone Tunnel portal that returns the main line to the helix inside the mountain and down to the staging yard under the Ascape Engine Terminal, station, and classification yard.  The East Whetstone Tunnel portal is in a large cirque in the mountain known as Professor Plunge (Figure 3).  Beyond the cirque the Park City branch line enters the Park City tunnel.  This right side of the Whetstone Ridge forms the backdrop for the Ascape Engine Terminal. 


The large wood trestle at Sulphur Gulch is scratch built.  A clear piece of 1 x4 pine was cut into ¼ inch strips on my radial arm saw and then cut into scale size lumber of the sizes require by the trestle using a small 4 in table saw with a carbide blade.  The tunnel portals are Woodland Scenic products. An under-track girder bridge crosses Professor Plunge behind the Ascape roundhouse. 


Whetstone Ridge is lit by LED track lights mounted in the ceiling. 


The cliffs toward the top of Whetstone Ridge are red in color created by mixing a bit of red acrylic in the tan house paint mixture before spaying the upper cliffs.  The pastel chalks used to color the rocks also tended toward the reds.  Behind the waterfall the cliffs are grayer in color representing more hard stone found in lower strata in the mountain, also accomplished by adding a bit of blue acrylic paint to our base spray and emphasizing the grayer chalks in coloring the cliffs.  The result is a very realistic looking mountain and water feature.

Description of Completed Railroad

The AT&SG Railroad mainline is a big loop on two levels.  Eastbound trains leave the staging yard to the helix and exit the helix via the West Whetstone Tunnel portal at Sulphur Gulch, the lowest elevation on the railroad loop. They return to the helix and staging yard via Echo Canyon, the highest elevation on the railroad loop, to the East Whetstone Tunnel at Professor Plunge.  Westbound trains leave the staging yard to the helix and exit the helix via the East Whetstone Tunnel portal at Professor Plunge to Echo Canyon and return to the helix and staging via the West Whetstone Tunnel portal across the trestle at Sulphur Gulch.  There are three branch lines:  The Spring Canyon Coal branch begins at the Spring Canyon junction on the main line just in front-of and below Tennsion; the Tennsion branch loop begins at the west end of the Sage Junction siding and returns to the main just west of the Sage siding; the Park City branch begins at the east end of the Echo siding.

East bound trains enter the loop as they leave the West Whetstone tunnel on to the trestle at Sulphur Gulch in Whetstone Ridge (1). The helix and trestle are a 3 % grade.  The track levels out past the Ascape Engine Terminal (2), Ascape yard (3), Burgess Beef (4) and Farmer’s Grain (5).  It remains level across the truss bridge at Left-Hand Fork (6) and the Hidden Meadow (6) passing siding past the mining town of Clear Lake (7) but then begins a climb in Shaw’s canyon (8) below Roger’s Meadow and the Clear Lake Mine (9) around the end of the peninsula in front of and just below the industrial area on the Tennsion branch (9).  The track passes through the backdrop at the Spring Canyon (10) coal tipple and then levels out again at the Sage (11) passing siding, which is above the mining town of Clear Lake.  As it leaves the Sage siding it climbs again across the trestle above Hidden Meadow and the steel bridge over Left Hand Fork and climbs up past Craig’s logging camp (12) to the Echo Canyon (13) siding above Ascape.  As it leaves the Echo Canyon siding it descends through the East Whetstone Tunnel back to the 3 % down grade of the helix back to the staging yard.  The Park City branch line leaves Echo Canyon via the Park City Tunnel and proceeds past Whetstone Ridge to Park City (14).

The scenery of the Ascape Tennsion & Sulphur Gulch Railroad consists of a series of integrated scenes which will be described and illustrated below.  The Staging Yard is under Ascape and Echo Canyon and does not include scenery.  The numbers in the previous paragraphs identify each of the scenes that will be described in subsequent posts:  Whetstone Ridge (1), Ascape Engine Terminal (2), Ascape Yard (3),  Burgess Beef (4), Farmer’s Grain (5), Left Hand Fork (6), Clear Lake (7), Shaw’s Canyon (8), Clear lake Mine (9), Spring Canyon (10), Sage (11), Craig’s Logging Camp (12), Echo Canyon (13), Park City (14).

Sunday, September 3, 2017

35 Round House Ascape

Ascape Roundhouse 
More than 40 years ago the ATSG acquired a Scale Structure Limited Sterling Colorado Round House kit.   The Roundhouse served on an early version of the ATSG railroad for a number of years.  The railroad was moved in 2006 and began reconstruction in 2009.  The roundhouse was removed from its crate where it had been packed for more than 5 years.  The construction crew in those early days were far less skilled than our current crew. When the roundhouse was put in place next to the turntable it was apparent that the construction standards did not meet the new building code for the railroad.

Ascape Roundhouse RIP track
Doug Whetstone, a member of the Color Country Model Railroad Club and operator on the ATSG volunteered to reconstruct the roundhouse to bring it up to code.  He completely disassembled the previous round house, discarded everything but the metal parts including the windows, doors, roof vents and details.  He repainted all of these metal parts using paint that he had on hand. He reconstructed the right wall of the building using foam core covered with embossed stone paper.  The new wall looked great.  But then the press of other responsibilities prevented him from further construction for a couple of years.  The management of the ATSG finally revoked the contract and retrieved the building parts for later reconstruction.

Reconstruction of the Ascape roundhouse was resumed in 2015. Using the pattern of the right wall constructed by Mr. Whetstone, the construction crew of the ATSG went to work reconstructing the remainder of the building.  Using plans from the original kit a floor complete with simulated pits was designed to correspond with the turntable already in place.  The roof supports in the middle of the roundhouse were reconstructed using some of the parts from the original kit.  The inner walls were lined with embossed red brick paper.  Overhead lights were installed under the roof support beams.

Ascape Round House
The roof was made removable.  Rather than attaching the rafters to the roof beams, these rafters were attached to the underside of the roof so that they rested on the support beams when the roof was in place on the building.  The roof was constructed from poster board with the roof vents and windows secured in place.  Scored aluminum was cut into appropriate panels and secured to the roof.  The roof was weathered by brushing on ground rust colored chalk.  The whole structure was then dusted with powered graphite to give it a dirty well used appearance.

When the windows were originally repainted, one window escaped and was not painted with the new paint scheme.  When the reconstruction was resumed Floquil paint had been discontinued and it was not possible to match the color scheme used on the windows.  The problem was solved when the roundhouse was placed on the railroad by including painters repainting  this window.

The original Scale Structures kit included a number of details of some of the equipment that might be found in a roundhouse.  These were also metal parts that were retained.  When they were placed inside the roundhouse it became apparent that even with the lights that were installed these details would not be easy for visitors to view.  Thus a construction shed was added to the right side of the building where some of these detail parts could be placed for construction on the RIP track at the side of the roundhouse.  A crane was also constructed for this RIP track to give the whole scene a more used appearance.  Appropriate railroad junk was placed near the RIP track including a set of locomotive drivers.

The motive power of the ATSG now runs much better with a roundhouse for regular maintenance.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

34 Ascape

When Echo Canyon was mostly complete the folks in Ascape turned their attention to finishing the yard and some industries in Ascape.  Other posts will feature individual structures and their construction.  The purpose of this post is to provide an overall view of Ascape, particularly the Engine Terminal, Yard and associated industries.  
Figure 1 View of Ascape Engine Terminal.
Figure 1 shows the Ascape Engine Terminal (center), Ascape Station (left), and Ascape Power Plant (right).  The main line and Ascape siding are along the back of the terminal.  The caboose track is seen at the end of the Ascape siding.  There is another passing siding in front of the station next to the main platform. The other tracks from left to right include the engine ready track serviced by the coal tipple, the sand house, and the oil terminal.  This track connects to the turntable in the background.  The roundhouse is under construction and is not present in this photograph.  The track to the right of the engine ready track also leads to the turntable and is track for locomotives entering the terminal.  The track to the right is the lead track for the Ascape yard.  The yard ladder is switched from this track.  The gondolas sit on the Power House stub.  

The station is a Fine Scale Miniatures kit, the coal tipple is a Campbell kit, the turn table is a Diamond turntable kit. The water tower is Walthers.  The power house is scratch built from card stock with hand carved brick detail.  The sand house (hidden by the oil depot) and the oil depot are Campbell kits.  There is a old box car shed under the water tower.  Saulina's Tavern and Harley's Cycle Shop are hidden behind the trees behind the station.

Figure 2 View of Ascape Yard

 Figure 2 is a view of the Ascape yard. The yard lead shown in Figure 1 feeds the ladder to these tracks.  The track to the right is the main line with the turnout to the Ascape siding shown.  Burgess Beef packing plant and Mauzy Ice are at the end of the yard tracks.  Farmer's Cooperative elevator and feedstore are to the right of the main line in the upper right of the photograph.  Craig's Camp is in the far background.

Burgess Beef is a Fine Scale Miniatures kit, Mauzy Ice is scratch built, the grain elevator and feed store are Walthers structures.  The turnouts in the yard are powered by Tortoise machines from switches and indicator lights on the fascia.

Figure 3 View of Ascape Station, Water Tower, and Power Plant
Figure 3 is a view of the station, water tower, and power plant. Echo Canyon tunnels 2 and 3 are in the background.  This photograph was an earlier photograph that did not use Helicon Focus or the settings indicated below.

Figure 4 Ascape Coal Tipple from between Harley's Cycle Shop and Saulena's Tavern
Figure 4 was the photographer's first attempt to use Helicon focus with multiple exposures using manual focus (see photographic details below).  Note that the cliffs are about 30 inches from the camera. The coal tipple is about 20 inches from the camera.  The figures and gas pumps are about 8 inches from the camera. Enlarge the photograph by clicking on it to see the clear detail at every distance. 

Figure 5 Burgess Beef and Cattle Yard
Figure 5 is Burgess Beef packing plant.  Bruce Burgess is a cattle man and close friend of the president.  This structure and corral are a Fine Scale Miniatures Kit. The Cattle yard is small and can handle only one or two cattle cars in any one shipment.  Reefers call at the platform to ship processed beef and pork to the market. 

Figure 6 Mauzy Ice and Burgess Beef
Figure 6 is Mauzy Ice.  This small structure is perfect for the very small operation of Burgess Beef packing plant.  Reefers are iced one at a time and it is rare for more than two reefers to visit the plant on any given day. The ice house was named for Chris Mauzy, who is a frequent operator on the ATSG.  This structure is scratch built from polystyrene siding and strip wood.  The builder drew plans from photographs of an On3 model of this ice house designed and constructed by Troels Kirk of Sweden.

Figure 7  Farmer's Cooperative 
Farmer's Cooperative and Feedstore are Walthers kits weathered by the author.   Craig's Camp is on the hill behind this scene. The main line is behind these structures and again behind Craig's Camp on the upper level.

All of the photographs except Figure 3 were processed via Helicon Software and involve multiple exposures focused at different distances. The focus was set manually.  The photographer measures the distance from the furthest object and closest object in the picture using a metric measuring tape.  This distance is then divided into 5 or 6 equal lengths and an exposure taken at each distance. The camera indicates the distance when using manual focus:   Sony 35 mm 8 mp digital camera, F8.0, color real, no zoom.  Lighting is from overhead compact florescent spot lights enhanced by two photo lamps also with compact florescent bulbs.  Exposure time is automatically determined by the camera.  All photographs were taken on a tripod via the camera timer to avoid any camera shake.  You should be able to enlarge the photographs by clicking on them.

33 Echo Canyon

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the ATSG Railroad was how to provide creditable scenery when there is a high line behind and above the main line?  Figures 1 and 2 show the problem.  

Figure 1 High Line above Ascape Yard

Figure 2 High Line above Ascape 

Several solutions were tried. The first was to try to hide the high line with buildings but this required either hiding the high line completely or trying to provide a rational why the high line was above the buildings.  Not an acceptable solution.  A second solution was to hide the high line completely as it returned to the helix.  But this eliminated more than 20 feet of railroad that could provide additional running and scenery.  A ride through Echo Canyon Utah provided a possible solution.  See Figures 3 and 4.  Why not a series of tunnels through the cliffs forming a backdrop for Ascape Engine Terminal and Yard?

Figure 3 Echo Canyon Utah  the Prototype

Figure 4  Echo Canyon Utah the Prototype

Figures 5 and 6 show the construction of  Echo Canyon.  The high line is partially hidden by the eventual cliffs and a series of tunnels carries this main line through the cliffs.

Figure 5 Armature and Cheese Cloth Echo Canyon

Figure 6  Plaster covering Echo Canyon

Figures 7 - 13 show the details of the resulting canyon with carved rocks, sprayed paint with chalk weathering with foliage proved by Woodland Scenics.  Portals were modified to appear to be partially built into the cliffs, the roadbed was hidden by a rock wall support between tunnels 2 and 3 and a bridge between Tunnels 1 and 2.  Rock was hand carved, spray painted with diluted house paint, and weathered by raw pigments and colored chalk.  The scenery was sealed with dull coat.  The plan is to place photograph backdrops between the cliffs in Echo Canyon.  There is lots of red rock to choose from in St. George and Snow Canyon.  We will illustrate these photograph backdrops in a future post to this blog.  The cliffs of Echo Canyon make a very nice backdrop for Ascape.  A future blog will illustrate Ascape with these cliffs in the background.  The illusion of height used forced perspective by using small shrubs and trees high on the cliffs and larger shrubs and trees in the foreground at the base of the cliffs.  Interest was created at the base of the cliffs by including a retaining wall in some placed, a rock fall in other places. 

Figure 7 West Portals Tunnels,  No. 1,  No. 2 and No. 3.

Figure 8 East Portal Tunnel No. 1

Figure 9  West Portal Tunnel No. 1

Figure 10 East Portal Tunnel No. 3

Figure 11 West Portal Tunnel No. 3

Figure 12  East Portal Tunnel No. 1 Echo Canyon

Figure  13 West Portal Tunnel No. 2 Echo Canyon

32 Craig's Camp

The high line curves around the back corner of the layout above Burgess Beef and Farmers Cooperative.  A short stub was installed here to serve a small logging camp.  The challenge was how to fill in the corner and create a plausible scene.

Figure 1  Future Site of Craig's Camp

Small mountains were created to fill in the corner.  Even though they are 3-dimensional the attempt was to make them appear to be further away than they are. We are still debating how to make them appear pine covered without causing them to appear closer.  The scenery in front of the camp is behind Farmer's Cooperative and Burgess Beef.  A freight train is passing on the upper main line behind the camp.

Figure 2  Craig's Camp with upper main behind.

Craig Harding, a model railroad club member spent many hours helping construct the return loop in the staging yard under the location of the logging camp.  In honor of this arduous task the lumber camp was named in his honor.  The camp consists of a small shed, a logging crane, and a log pond.  Figure 3 shows a set of scratch built log buggies behind a Bachmann three truck Shay locomotive.  To the far left is a Barnhart log loader that rides on the top of rails on the log buggies.  This small crane can then crawl from car to car as it loads the logs.  How can you have a log camp without any trees in the vicinity.  Hopefully some trees will spring up in this location in the near future.  

Figure 3  Craig's Camp 

Figure 3 is a Helicon photograph of Craig's Camp as described in other posts (See Post 30).

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

31 Professor Plunge and Hardly Falls

I'm finally back to posting to this neglected blog about the Ascape Tennsion & Sulphur Gulch Railroad.  I will not try to include these posts in order but will merely date them as I post them rather than when they were constructed.  I will try to give some details about the back story.

In 2009, installment #23, this blog described the construction of Whetstone Ridge, Sulphur Gulch, and the trestle at Sulphur Gulch.  This bit of scenery served as the focal point for the railroad since that time and is sure to get a “Wow!” from visitors as they enter the railroad room.  However the back side of Whetstone Ridge maintained its “under construction” status for the next several years.  As the president was about to undertake a whole new construction project on the peninsula of the railroad the Chairperson of The Board subtly made the following observation: “Don’t you think it might be well to finish a bit more of the railroad before you undertake a whole new construction project?”  Good observation.  A wise president always listens to the Board Chairperson and thus construction on the back side of Whetstone Ridge was begun.  This installment will describe the construction of Professor’s Plunge, Hardly Falls, the East Tunnel Portal, and the Park City East Tunnel Portal. This section featured in this post was finished for the 2012 November Open House.

Figure 1 Helix
 Figure 1 shows the helix with its cardboard safety wrap prior to the construction of Whetstone Ridge.  The backside of Whetstone Ridge including Professor’s Plunge with Hardly Falls will hide the helix in this area.   The track at the lower left is the mainline as it comes from the trestle at Sulphur Gulch and enters Ascape.  The roadbed at the upper right is the mainline as it enters the helix at what will become East Portal and the branch line as it crosses through Whetstone Ridge through       what will become the East Portal of the Park City Tunnel.
Figure 2 Armature, cheese cloth, and plaster
Figure 2 shows the initial construction of the side and back of Whetstone Ridge.  The cardboard armature in in place over this section of the helix and the cheese cloth has been glued to the armature.
Figure 3  Scenery Demonstration
Figure 3 shows this same view of Whetstone Ridge.  This section was the first scenery on the ATSGRR.  It was deliberately left in this partially finished state to show the construction technique used on the ATSTRR.  The near section shows the cardboard armature and cheese cloth prior to the application of a plaster coating.  The next section shows the cheese cloth coated with a thin plaster shell and some rock castings have been placed over the shell.  The third section is the first part of Whetstone Ridge that was completed to show the scenery technique.  The Sulphur Gulch section of Whetstone Ridge was then completed as shown in an earlier post (#23).  This section of the railroad stayed in this condition from 2009 until the construction described in this post was completed in early 2013.

Figure 4 Armature for Professor Plunge and Hardly Falls
Figure 4 shows the area that is to become Professor Plunge and Hardly Falls with the cardboard armature constructed but not yet covered with cheese cloth.     The armature has indentations where the canyon will be and a notch in the summit of Whetstone Ridge which is the head of Hardly Falls.  The roadbed leading into the helix can be seen cutting across the front of the scene. East Portal will be constructed where this track enters the cliff to join the helix.  The roadbed leading to Park City can be seen in to the right of the picture.   The Park City Tunnel East Portal will be constructed where this track enters the cliff to cross to the rear of the helix.

Figure 5 Main Line around Whetstone Ridge

 Figure 5 shows the aisle side of Whetstone Ridge after the scenery has been completed over the armature and cheese cloth that had occupied this location for several years.  After experimenting with rock molds it was finally decided that hand carved cliffs were not only more efficient but could include a far greater variation of rock formations than is easily accomplished with rock molds.

Figure 6 East Portal of  Main Line Tunnel and West Portal of Park City Tunnel with Professor Plunge and Hardly Falls
Figure 6 shows the East Portal of the Park City tunnel and the bridge leading to the East Portal of the Main Line Tunnel.

Figure 7  Ascape Engine Terminal with Professor Plunge in the background.

Figure 7 is a view of the Ascape Engine Terminal with Professor Plunge and Hardly Falls in the background.  The train is entering The westbound  main line from the East tunnel.  The caboose is entering the East Portal of the Park City Tunnel. Saulena's Tavern and Harley's Cycle Shop are in the foreground.  The Ascape Engine Terminal Coal tipple and Sand House are to the left behind Saulena's Tavern.

You will observe that the edge of the railroad has been protected with Plexiglas to prevent accidents during open houses.  Ironically the only serious accidents so far on the railroad have been caused by the president when on one else was in the room :-(