Summer Evening and the ML401

Summer Evening and the ML401
Conrail ML401 rolls west through Central New York farm country in Onondaga County, September 1994.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fascia and the Creative Process


Long winter evenings - despite many having temperatures akin to April - are good times to make progress on the layout as they allow longer work sessions with the kids going to bed early.  Some of the work sessions recently involved me standing in front of the layout, staring at the areas pictured below, and trying to visualize how the finished product would look given the constraints.

The two levels here are different scenes on the railroad, at different locations - so, while I want the area to look organized, I wanted the fascia to continue to provide a visual cue that the top scene is indeed independent.  Further, since crews need to lean over the bottom level to throw turnouts at Iroquois Paper on the top level, this fascia needed to be extra sturdy as well.

Here's how it turned out:

I use 1/8" tempered hardboard for backdrop and fascia construction.  It is hard and smooth, but flexible so that it can be adapted to the benchwork behind it.  As purchased it is a brown color, seen here after cutting and installation but before paint. 

Layout construction - and all of model railroading - is an interesting juxtaposition of creative processes.  On one side it is very linear and organized.  Mechanical repairs, track laying, wiring, decoder installation - these are all activities that have a defined start and finish, more of a linear approach.  On another side, though, we have a totally different creative process when we are visualizing the layout edge, designing and installing scenery, or applying weathering.  These are much more subjective and decidedly NOT linear, with no definite 'finish' line.  


The shot above does a good job showing the variety of sight lines that come together here, which is a big reason why it took me such a long time to see in my mind.

I decided on a thin strip of fascia on the top level, with a larger one on the bottom, using gentle curves to blend into the larger fascia on the layout edge under the interstate highway scene.  Here's a closer view looking down on the new construction. The image below shows some of the supporting benchwork and bracing - I used a 2x3 stud across the main span, and a smaller 1x2 to the left where less strength was needed, and more clearance helped.


With this fascia installed, the next step is to finish fascia on the last stretch of the layout that remains without it - the new branch line and associated benchwork out of view to the right.  I am hoping to install much of that today and be ready to paint all the new fascia this weekend.   It will be a major visual upgrade and help to inspire scenery construction through the rest of the winter.

All of this is also happening in concert with my family expecting the arrival of our third child any day now.  We will be family of five - a whole new level of chaos!  That promises to stretch layout time, but on the other hand, painting fascia sounds like a fun project for my older two kids.

Never a dull moment here!

~RGDave


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