Today we start talking adding the scenery to the layout, one of my favorite jobs. My other favorite is building structures. With all the track work, ballast, and wiring in place, with the track tested by running some trains, I was ready to start on this task.
I have to say this was the most enjoyable, but also the most time-consuming and tedious task. I wanted to capture the feel MR did with the scenery of Appalachia, and what I remembered from my last visit to the area. I feel I did, hopefully I did anyway! I did however make some scenery changes from the MR plan, which I’ll discuss here and in further posts. So, to begin, I again refer those that have the back issues to look at the list of materials in the specific issue (March and/or April as I recall).
Many different suppliers were used, as those of you who have these issues can attest. I too used many different products from many manufacturers, including pink foam from Owens-Corning, Woodland Scenics products, rock from Mountains in Minutes, poly fiber from Micro-Mark, PolyScale paint, since discontinued, Behr paint for the fascia, trees from Grand Central Gems, vehicles from Classic Metals and Athearn, Preiser figures, and detail parts from several manufacturers.
Let’s first start with the scenery base. I first painted all the plywood with Behr interior paint/sealant in a dirt brown color, not only as a base color for the actual ground cover, but to help seal the plywood from various wet products I was planning to use (for example WS scenic cement). At this point, several changes were made to MR’s plan. As they didn’t have much of a town on the backside, other than a station, company houses, a small store, and the mine, plus toward the edge of the track a bar/saloon, I decided I wanted more in the town of Hitop.
This caused me to move the Sam’s Roadhouse kit used as a bar to the front of the layout, as an eating spot for the rail yard, and the industries close by. As I also wanted all three tracks into the mine, this left moving the mountain the mine sits by (Hunter Mountain I believe on MR’s plan) closer to the front of the layout, again eliminating the valley and bridge that MR used. This then necessitated making the ridge line closer to Hitop proper more pronounced and more vertical than the gradual rise MR did. I also eliminated the small Virginian prototype station that MR used along the front of the tracks, and moved it to the right front corner of the layout as my DB Tower, located where the old Virginian came into the NYC tracks at Alloy. I’ve since moved this station to the Hitop mine as a railroad yard office.
This also then left a void where Sam’s Roadhouse had been located. So about this time, I had been planning another siding, and this was the perfect place for one. Now to find a suitable industry and size building to fit in the spot. Along came Blair Line’s Greene’s Feed and Seed, which was perfect for the spot, and just fit. I now could have a two car siding where MR had their “moonshine bar”. With the station also moved, I could move the road going into Hitop over a bit to the right to accommodate the parking lot for the feed and seed. I guess at this point, I should show some photos of these changes:
In the left photo above, you can see where I moved Sam’s Roadhouse to my left front corner. The gray ballasted area at the left edge of the layout is where Allied Chemical sits (more on this later). In the above right photo shows the siding and placement of Greene’s feed and seed, while the bottom right photo shows the mine placement and the test placement of Blair Line’s General Store. Btw, this will be a multi-post article on the scenery, as I have a lot to cover, perhaps four parts on the scenery alone, plus one specifically on the buildings I used.
Another change I made was to include a bit larger, older looking general store in Hitop. Blair Line’s kit was perfect. It reminds me of Ike Godsey’s store on the show “The Waltons”, and had the feel I wanted. I wanted at least three company houses in Hitop, and I turned to City Classics company houses, which fit the bill nicely. I originally did not intend to put a service station/garage in Hitop, nor a church, but I had spare room to do so. Most small towns in Appalachia will have and do have a church somewhere close to the tracks, so again, this made it feel to me like the region we were modeling. More on the reason for the gas station/garage in the next post.
Finally for today, MR had a Walther’s background building along the left front edge of the layout. I didn’t like this huge building sticking up along this side, nor did I want to curve the fascia up behind this multi-story building as MR did. I also wanted to incorporate some type of chemical plant here, as the Kanawha valley is known for it’s multitude of chemical companies. Of course I couldn’t fit a halfway reasonable plant in such a small space, so I improvised and kit-bashed several items to create a siding for Allied Chemical. An office from Bachmann was used, two tanks from Plastruct connected by spare piping from Walther’s oil unloading facility was used, plus Walther’s pump house from their diesel facility was used to complete the scene, shown here:
The photo on the right shows the completed Allied Chemical, minus the Bachmann office building, and the chemical plant workers.
One other change I made in the plans was along the yard (Dickinson yard) itself. I wanted a yard office, diesel pad, and another industry to switch besides the long freight house that MR used. Again, I was able to fit all these in, using a smaller “general service building” by AMB, plus a Sicken Tire kit from Woodland Scenics that was completely re-painted and weathered. The diesel facility is by Walther’s, while the one metal shed is by BLMA, the other shed is by Bachmann. The yard office is also by Blair Line. With these changes, I now had nine places to switch, which I feel is not bad for a 4×8 layout! Photo here of the yard:
That’s all for today. Next time we’ll start on the actual scenery building, going over among other things the use of plaster cloth and pink foam, plus foam rocks. Stay tuned!