Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Scenery for Berkshire Junction part 7

The scenery at Berkshire Junction is finished for now, there is always room for improvement and more scenery and details may be added as time passes. Stepping back now operating trains thru the diorama things that could improve the scene will be added as they come to light. It is a pleasure to have the plywood finally covered and seeing the landscape below when first walking into the layout room.

Looking railroad east.

Signal Station 199 structures west side.

Signal Station 199 east side.

Overview of the junction. 

Double track Maybrook freight main in the rear. 

The crossover from the east bound Maybrook to the west bound Maybrook used by Berkshire bound trains is in front of SS-199.

Switch from the west bound Maybrook, this is the beginning of the Berkshire line to Pittsfield Mass and the Lakeville Conn and State Line Mass branches followed by the switch for west end of Stearns siding.

Switch for west end of Stearns siding.

View of entire diorama looking west. An important junction, but in the middle of nowhere.

Freight cars on Stearns siding awaiting pickup by west bound freight NO-6 to Maybrook NY interchange yard.

The Berkshire Junction diorama is one of six prototype locations modeled on the layout its location is underlined in BLUE below.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Scenery for Berkshire Junction part 6

Point rodding

As mentioned in part 5 this interlocking junction scene would appear incomplete without some point rodding detail. Adding the mechanical parts and rodding could also offer a visual indication how the junction switches and home signals were operationally connected to the continuously manned signal station tower during the pre-CTC era of the layout.  

The question was were mechanical parts available in HO scale for this detail beside the pipe rodding? No parts turned up during search in the USA but numerous parts are available in the UK. It appears that adding point rodding detail is popular in the UK, many 3D printed parts are available plus brass parts are also available to make functioning point rodding. Many of the highly detailed portable layouts in the UK feature a signal box (tower) with very detailed point rodding.

The part most needed was the rollers for rods, MODELU in the UK offers many 3D printed detail parts including rollers. These OO scale rollers appear similar to US prototypes and are available printed in side by side connected rollers see below.  

Gangs of 8 rollers were purchased then cut to needed number of rollers. Tichy .015" phosphor bronze wire scales to the prototype pipe well and fits nicely thru the holes in the 3D printed rollers.

It is 8 actual feet to the furthest signal from the tower structure, that's a lot of rollers!

Some detail at 2 of the junction switches.

Berkshire Junction was a very weedy place during the era of the layout as one can see below, this may aid in covering up inaccuracies and or detail shortcomings of the modeled point rodding although it may be a shame to hide a weeks worth of work!

           J. W. Swanberg photo

The rodding that exits from the tower will have to be be connected to the ground rodding, to do this the structure will have to be permanently installed into the scene and that is the next step.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Scenery for Berkshire Junction part 5

Small details

There were some small details that needed to be built for installation along track side before the scenery can continue in the foreground between the track and facia.

From left to right are the sign and switch for Stearns siding, junction phone box, large gray cabinet that was located next to the signal station structure and 2 smaller electrical cabinets for the automatic block signals.

The 8 cranks are for a non-functioning point rodding system that I would like to install at the junction. I know little about the actual mechanical workings and have very few photos of the prototype to model from but the scene would look incomplete with out this rodding. I will give it my best shot next and see how it comes out?

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Scenery for Berkshire Junction Part 4

Forestry complete

Making and planting Super Trees is completed for now. It took a full value case of Super Tree material, 2 quarts of the "Cheshire Branch" foliage blend (1 part #T1346 "weeds" and 2 parts #T1349 "green blend" of Woodland Scenics fine turfs) and 3 cans of Aqua Net hairspray. Not sure how many trees that made but it filled in the scene enough that it is pleasing to my taste. Some static grasses have been added. 

Lots more to do next, the foreground area between the tracks and front of the scene needs vegetation and a facia installed. Some electric cabinets, a phone box and other details will finish up.

Below are some photos of the scene with the planted trees.

RS-3 #555 idles with NE-5 caboose #555 on Stearns siding, these were the first to run into the scene since scenery work started, needed a photo mark the occasion.


Friday, January 1, 2021

Scenery for Berkshire Junction part 3

Realism to strive for

I have long admired the scenery depicted on my friend Jim Dufour's Cheshire Branch layout, particularly the trees. Like mine his layout is set in New England and requires lots of trees. A photo of the model trees on a portion Jim's layout below are an example of the true to life realism I would like to be able to achieve.

            Jim Dufour Photo

Those unfamiliar with Jim's layout may see photos of his modeling in Prototype Railroad Modeling Volume Four from Speedwitch Media and soon in Model Railroad Planning 2021 from Kalmbach. A search for Boston & Maine Cheshire Branch Model Railroad by Jim Dufour with come up several videos of his layout.

Berkshire Junction foliage

Berkshire Junction was a remote tree lined and weedy location as indicated by a prototype photo taken during the era of the layout. This is the look that I would like to approximate, it will be a new and interesting modeling challenge for me.

No short cut

I have dreaded and put off making the large number of trees that will be necessary for the layout since first deciding to model the New Haven Berkshire line. I enjoy modeling all things man made, but not so nature. The few individual trees I made for the Danbury diorama are pleasing but were time consuming to make. The thought of making many hundreds more individual examples prompted trying some time saving short cut methods but the results failed to be realistic even when I tried to convince myself that the were. Individual trees made one at a time from Super Trees armatures sold by Scenic Express will be the best way forward for my layout. 

Tree production begins

Jim noted that his spray and sprinkle tree making method is no different from many other modelers but offered much needed encouragement, tips and the basic tree foliage blend used on the Cheshire Branch to get my tree production started, I sincerely thank him.

I find this production tree making is actually quite simple once getting over procrastinating about it. The Super Tree armatures are first sprayed flat black from a rattle can then set aside for a day, this was done on an outside work bench.

Next is the spray and sprinkle part. Aqua Net extra super hold hairspray is used as an adhesive to quickly affix the foliage blend to the tree armatures, this hair spray is labeled as "unscented" but it is surely not plus flammable, this is also best done outside. Apply the hair spray onto the branch part of the armatures first then sprinkle the foliage blend onto the branches, quick respray, done, fantastic!

The Cheshire Branch foliage blend of 2 Woodland Scenics fine turfs is, 1 part #T1346 "weeds" and 2 parts #T1349 "green blend". These were purchased in the 1qt shaker containers, emptied and blended thoroughly in a larger clean plastic container then returned to the shaker containers for use.

I did modify the sprinkle part to a "spray a squeeze" method. I find that sharply squeezing the plastic shaker container propelling the blend onto the armatures works better for me. I do this over the deep clean plastic container below, a lot of material comes out with each squeeze but the excess is captured in the container. After 5 or so trees the excess blend is pored back into the shaker container and the squeezing continues, there is very little waste.

Planting trees

The Berkshire Junction diorama is 17' wide but only has a 9" vertical opening. With this limited opening the foam board land forms are better completed on the inside workbench where there is more room before permanently installing them on the layout.

I find that sitting at the bench planting the trees into the land forms, arranging/re-arranging them easy and kind of fun after all the trepidation about this job. 

After a pleasing arrangement is reached two additional colors of Woodland fine turfs #T1344 "burnt grass" and #T1342 "earth" are lightly sprinkled randomly on a few trees for a color variation then all the trees are sprayed with matte medium for a permanent set. 

Tree making out side was shut down recently by a snow storm, but it has mostly melted and work will now continue.

The land forms have been returned to the layout for a check to see how they look so far and to take the below photo. I like the Cheshire Branch blend colors and think they look good under the 5000K layout lighting. 

I am also pleased how the trees on the dividing hill between the Maybrook main in the rear and the Berkshire line in the foreground now accentuates the "junction" of Berkshire Junction.

Will post more photos when trees are completed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Scenery for Berkshire Junction part 2

Additional structures

The below photo of Berkshire junction shows there were two additional small railroad structures near signal station199 and coal shed, these are circled in red. This photo came to my attention at an opportune time when they can be modeled and blended into the scene before any foliage is applied to the foam board terrain. Thanks to Chris Adams of The Valley Local for sending this timely photo. A note about this photo, there was a large structure in the left of this photo that has been edited out for clarity because on the layout that structure would be operators aisle therefore not modeled.

The two additional structures have been modeled and will be blended into the terrain before adding foliage to the foreground scene, prototype photo above shows this area very grassy/weedy.  

Base ground cover

A basic ground cover has been added to the terrain against the backdrop and the separating hill between the Berkshire line in the foreground and the Maybrook line behind the hill in the below and previous photo.

The foam board terrain was painted with a flat dark green color then covered with black poly fiberfill. Woodland Scenics #T1341 earth and #T1344 Burnt Grass Fine Turfs are sprinkled randomly over the poly fiberfill and affixed with a spray of matte medium thinned 4:1 with water.

Next is to add trees. This scene needs trees, a lot of trees! Made a small start in the far distance in the above photo, more on adding the trees next time.