Thursday, January 18, 2018

Complete, but not Finished - and the Onondaga Cutoff, In Print!

Big news lately on the Onondaga Cutoff - first, Model Railroad Planning 2018 arrived! As expected on page 44 my article appears.  Kalmbach did a beautiful job putting it together! 

It is such an honor to see this in print, and to see it next to names that I grew up admiring through these pages and those of Model Railroader magazine.  What a rush!

I also have some smaller success to report on the railroad itself.  While waiting for MRP to arrive, I made a big push to complete the scene on which I have been working for several months.  (I had series of late nights in the last week or two.)  The results are what I'd hoped - the scenery was completed ahead of the most recent operating session, and now the railroad has scenic greenery all the way from CP282 and the Syracuse skyline along Onondaga Yard, around the big turn to the east past the dairy farm, to the automatic signals on the bridge at MP 278.8!

First I taped off the areas along the main line where I didn't want grass - the maintenance road, and the track areas.  Once that was in place I installed a mix of static grass as a scenic base.

Once the grass was down, and not yet dry, I proceeded to put down a layer of cinders for the shoulders of the ballast area, and then the ballast itself as shown.

Ballast is spread by the time-tested manner of a brush, with my own addition also of some foam cut to fit which I use as a sort of regulator along the tracks.  Moving this gently back and forth knocks the dust and stones off the rail web and base, and helps to smooth the profile overall, ensuring most ballast stones are down between the ties where they belong.

Here's the profiled ballast before the glue process.   As I have noted here years ago, some of the chalky dustiness will go away after the ballast is soaked with isopropyl rubbing alcohol and diluted white glue (or matte medium).  Once it is soaked it needs to dry for about 36-48 hours to harden.

And, here's the result!  What a change from the earlier photo above.  

Here is the ballasted area beneath the overpass to the east of Onondaga Yard, with all the new scenery in place besides it.  Some details have yet to be added but this gives a good feel for the general look of things.  To some degree, the new scenery seems to belie the amount of thought and planning that went into the scene - this appears as though it has always been this way.  

It's been a great start to 2018, here's to the next few steps on the Onondaga Cutoff - some overdue equipment maintenance and getting a few new locomotives into service.  It's nice to be able to look at this progress each day!



  1. I got my copy yesterday, great article and I love the track plan Dave! You did a excellent job planning everything. Bravo!

  2. Congratulations on the article! I got my MRP over the weekend and even though I've followed your blog for a while, it still was fun to read about your railroad's story.

    1. Thank you both! It's great fun sharing progress with you here!

  3. A little behind on my reading, but just read your article. Great to get more background on your layout. Congrats!