Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Context, Details, and Maintenance Equipment

One of the things that working for a railroad can give you is lots of opportunity to observe the machines and people that make a railroad work - besides the trains!  While we all enjoy the trains themselves, the fact is that trains wouldn't roll if the property were not properly maintained.  Different departments work to maintain different aspects of the operation:  Track, 'B&B' (Buildings and Bridges), Signals, etc.

Scenery around the west end of Onondaga Yard has continued to progress.  With each small improvement, the context of the layout deepens.  Here's an overview of the scene at the big signal bridge supporting the westbound home signals for CP282, showing new ballast work, and the newly installed access road for the yard office:

And a quick snapshot of the signal bungalo for CP282, which has taken the place of the abandoned interlocking tower in the background:

In that first image, you can see a big knuckle-boom truck on the access road, headed towards the maintenance base that occupies some of the yard office area.  Built by my long-time buddy Mark in exchange for some weathering and DCC work, I only added some decals, window glass, and weathering to finish up his truck models for my fleet, each of which include scratchbuilt, resin-cast cabs, with kitbashed frames, wheels, and body.  

Here's a few shots of the current fleet at rest at the office.  First is a shot showing the rest of that area, which ends up being a good place to display the trucks behind the west end of the yard:

The trucks are not motorized, but are really beautiful models, with plenty of details!  Having a few of them fills a crucial role of adding important background for Onondaga Yard.  Most Conrail facilities would have a few trucks like these around, and Onondaga is no exception.  Here is a close-up of the boom truck:

 And finally, here is a close-up of the knuckle boom, the most recent and most intricate of the three models that Mark has delivered:

I am looking forward to getting more background and base scenery done, as it allows some of the real scenic detail work to begin in earnest.  All of that helps to set the feel of Conrail in the 1990's, as well as the feel of the area of Central New York that I am trying to convey.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Scenery & Close Clearances

Model railroaders always need more space.  I do, anyway.  Even where there seems to be plenty of space, we always squeeze in as much as we can, and Onondaga Yard is no exception.  Most of the Onondaga Cutoff will be built with narrower scenes than at Onondaga Yard, where I have almost 30" of space to work with between the front the fascia and the backdrop.   All that space is used by trackage in an effort to maximize capacity and efficiency at the yard itself.

This caused a bit of a challenge regarding scenery at the closest spot.  I want to model a wooded hillside behind the yard, based on what the scenery at Ram's Gulch looks like south of Syracuse where the railroad would run.   But cars were brushing against my test areas - even basic foliage requires more space than I allowed myself!  I decided a good solution would be to have a retaining wall at the tightest spot, modeled quickly from sheet styrene.

As you can see, after painting the styrene to represent aged concrete, and tracing some construction joints along the painted surface with a fine permanent marker, I simply glued the wall to the backdrop.  In the photo above I have started to fill in trees around the 'wall' which allows the hillside to look complete even where I did not have space for the trees.  Tracks here are, from right to left, the North Runner, and Park Yard tracks 4, 3, 2, and 1.  The painted backdrop above will soon be filled with foliage.  Here's a tighter view from track level:

The yard is without ballast or other details until the backdrop is complete.  Scenery is a messy process, and I want to avoid having to repair spills or damage on the ballast and track while working on the backdrop.  Here is a view west towards the Yard Office.

Finally, a quick shot from the aisle looking across the yard towards the backdrop.  Once this is filled with foliage, and then accented with the more finely-detailed 'super trees,' this scene will start to pop like the scene at CP 282 does now.  Then I can ballast the yard, add the access road and miscellaneous details, and step back to enjoy the view of long trains passing before moving on to the engine house scene!