Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Finally filling in at 294

It has taken nearly 15 years to decide how to add scenery at CP294, and we are finally making great headway.  While the railroad around it and above it was clear, and while the top area is fully covered with scenery in that location, it took a lot to visualize how the lower level would work out.  Tracks were added and moved and all of that required a redo on the vision for scenery.  

Finally after 12 years of operations, it was clear this configuration worked.  And so I got to work.  This will be the location of the former tower, now field office, scratchbuilt by Perry Squier and detailed and installed by me here.  

It will do the dual purpose of belonging to the front tracks at CP294 and visually representing the prototype SJ tower (formerly SS#4 tower) at Solvay.  It also makes visual use of the rear tracks.  On the Onondaga Cutoff, those are the far eastern end of the railroad.  But at Solvay, the visual is a strong reminder of the old West Shore mainline, which was built parallel to the NYC at that spot.  SS#4, and SJ the followed, were between the NYC mainline that they served and the West Shore immediately to the north: exactly the configuration here.

That decided, it was time to get started from back to front with ballast and base scenery.  It is always hard to see a mainline flooded with diluted glue!

It was a tight place to be working, but since the operations had to start first and confirm it all, it was how it needed to be.  Grass came next along with ground cover.  

Ballasting track is delicate but switches are extremely delicate - moving parts don't do well with ballast granules in the wrong spots.  So it is slow, slow progress.  Ballasting the interlocking limits at 294 ended up about 11 hours of work over the course of a week.  

But, after all that, it really does come together well.  Here we are below with glue applied, still wet and awaiting the cure of the ballast to finalize its shape.  Some quick additional weathering and details will follow in the days to come.

The points are held on center by spare ties, so that the glue doesn't freeze the rails shut against a stock rail.  No matter how careful we are, the glue will work great on those points - so you must take action to deal with it as the cure happens.  A few times in the first hour of curing I moved the points by hand, and then again after about 7 or 8 hours, each time breaking the bond of curing glue.  

I also use graphite on the points as I move them, which helps to counteract the bond. Even if it gets mixed with glue residue, this is a helpful step as the glue dries.  Keep working the points once every 8 hours for a full two days, and you're going to have a great result.    

Next steps include foreground scenery, as well as trees and shrubs, weeds, and details.  It will be a busy and satisfying few weeks!