Tuesday, June 15, 2021

More June Rework of the Layout Scenery

After completing the retaining wall and walkway behind the station all the problems with the mocked up scenic area became too much of a glaring issue in my mind and started keeping me awake at night. 

So, in one of those spurts of energy,  I tore everything out and have decided it is time I need to create the non-mockup scenery modules for the area behind the station and speeder shed.  I am using the 1/8 inch thick plastic from the 4'X8' sheet I bought at Zap Plastics a couple of years ago as the foundation for the scenic modules.  These are intended to be completely removable so I can work on the scenery at the dining room table from all sides as well as ballast and finish the trackage behind. The hillside with the water tank will be a smaller separate scenic module. 

Monday,  had a real burst of energy this afternoon.  The full sheet cutout for the scenic module is heavy enough it doesn't move on top of the Woodland Scenics foam underlay. I don't plan on using an adhesive at that level.  If it needs more positional stability I can screw it to the cross stringers of the benchwork. Still easily removable that way.

I may need to glue some support under the sheet where it is not supported by the two benchwork modules to avoid any sagging. 

This is with the buildings placed where they will go

This is what the flat raised area behind the station building looks like today. The retaining wall runs diagonally on the left side of the picture.  This is 60 years after the section house house and other buildings were removed.  I think the concrete pad visible in the lower center of the picture was the floor of the water treatment building.

The next challenge will be building the elevation levels above the module base level to resemble the actual land form south of the retaining wall.  For this, I just lucked out a bit. I vaguely remembered a huge Woodland Scenics landscaping module kit I had purchased for Steve, my son, when he was interested in building a module for his collection of N scale Wheels of Time commute coaches and FM trainmaster diesels about 2005. He is no longer interested in it and gifted it back to me for any modeling purposes I needed back in the days of my Brixham, Devonshire, layout. 

I found the Woodland Scenics kit tonight buried in a bedroom closet. All that was left in the large box were 2 18X36 1/2 inch thick sheets of very dense styrene foam. Perfect for building the elevated section which is 1 1/4 inches high over the new styrene base. And of course water resistant as I have some scenic plaster cloth also from the kit to model non-flat areas. I have two of the  2 X 2 foot x 2 inch pinkish dense foam tiles from Home Depot. You can have them if you want as I also have the large 2 inch thick sheets of very dense architectural terrain modeling foam that I bought many years ago. It shapes easily into ground forms.  The architectural foam will be used for the tank hill and the small bit of sharply rising terrain at the east end of the layout.  

I have to paint the base sheet with the camo sprays on the garage floor and then build the ground elevation which will be the challenge for the rest of the week. 

I have put off final versions of the structures until I can get full access to the CSRM library and the microfilm records that are not available to order prints online. Hopefully they have the specific plans for the station and section house. Maybe even the plan for the water treatment facility. 

I may get the layout back in order by the end of June but then will be involved with the 2021 Virtual NMRA National Convention so it will be mid-July before I have much time to return to my own model railroad. 

That's all for now. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

It's Already Mid-June and the Mockup Station Area Land Clearance

I'm a bad bad bad blogger for not having published any updates since May 1, 2021. I would just rather mess around with the layout than write about about it. 

And mess with it I have. This photo was taken this morning.  Currently the area where the station and other SP PC buildings looks like it did in 1962 after the SP razed the area hopping to sell the land after moving the switching operations 4 miles east to new yard trackage at Ozul. Steam had been gone 5 years and there was not more reason for keeping any of the structures now 30-70 years old.

Except the SP didn't remove all the trees but did remove all the yard tracks.

The reason for my land clearance is that I have been just putting around with the scenery  in this area and it is time to get more serious with the final elevations and shape of the ground. It is also time to paint rail and ballast and that is much easier done if you don't  have the buildings in the way. I may also get the mainline done before the structures return.  This may take a while and I have volunteered to help with the virtual 2021 NMRA National Convention from July 5-10. 

I have been working on the retaining wall and walkway that went behind the station building. Yesterday, I went to Port Costa and measured the height and it was only 45 inches at the highest level part of the retaining wall.  This was a bit lower than the 60 inches (5 foot) height I had scaled from the 1931 SP drawing of the proposed rebuilding of this area following the December 1930 opening of the Carquinez Strait SP drawbridge. Well, the station turned out to be 90 feet long instead of the 106 feet on the drawing so what else was different. I need to trim the height of the retaining wall I have cut from 1/4 thick styrene before final assembly of that area and any photos in this blog. I am keeping the current mockup of the station building. Hopefully, this fall I will be able to do some research at the California State Railway Museum library in Sacramento and get access to the uncatalogued microfilm archives that will have the correct information particularly of the internal layout of the station building. 

I am also working on the double 45 foot SP signal and telegraph and pole fixture that stood at the end of the walkway. Apparently there was an extensive telegraph operation in the station building. The Western Union joint poles with the SP Signal and Telegraph department split at this point with the Western Union lines going up over the hills while the SP S&T lines remained along the right of way. Also at this point the SP S&T (and Western Union?) main lines went underground under the SP tracks and then through an underwater cable to the north shore of the Carquinez Strait. There was a small Western Union Telegraph Office sign on the NW corner of the Station building that I am trying to find a decal (or picture I can photo reduce) for my model. 

Enough for now. Will try to update before July.