Building the Hitop, Part 7

So now finally we start talking actual scenery. For those again that followed the MR series, please refer back to their list of materials for scenery installation. I used I believe the same or similar materials, with a few exceptions. These included: Mountains In Minutes foam rock, WS tunnel portals and abutments, MicroMark poly fiber, PollyScale paints, WS scenic cement, and WS plaster cloth. I did use WS trees for individual trees, but most of these have been replaced with Grand Central Gems trees, made with real wood. Note that I used black poly fiber as MR did, however, I believe the black is no longer available, at least from MicroMark. Also, PollyScale paints are no longer available.

For  ground cover, plus dirt, I used the excellent line by Scenic Express. Their ground cover is a finer mixture than WS, and their dirt has an excellent texture and look, as it is real dirt. For ballast I used the excellent line from Arizona Rock and Mineral. I highly recommend these products. I did obtain some WS light green coarse turf to simulate undergrowth and weeds, however, in hindsight I wished I had used static grass. Any expansion I do I will use the static grass and flock.

So, in starting, I had already painted the entire plywood top with a dirt colored interior paint and sealant by Behr. For the slight gradient along the left corner of the layout where Sam and Mickey’s grill sits I used plaster cloth. For the rise in the gravel road going into the yard, I taped formed newspaper down to the plywood, then applied plaster cloth over the top. After drying of course, I then applied plain white glue first and then the ground cover, using the dirt plus green blended turf for the area around Sam and Mickey’s, and of course gray ballast for the gravel road and parking areas between the freight house and Armitage furniture. I did the same with the right front corner of the layout, laid down plaster cloth first, then applied the various ground covers over top, and notice I said “various”, as the scenery will look more realistic, especially overgrown areas if you use a combination of products and textures. Finally, the same was done in the Hitop area, that being I put down plaster cloth first, then ground covers and dirt for the road areas. I should back up at this point to also mention after the plaster cloth was down and dry, I then went back over it with Behr brown (dirt color) paint to further seal it and have that earth colored base. The elevation of the dirt road from the back edge going up over the tracks into Hitop was also done with forming the road out of newspaper layers, then taping it down, then covering with plaster cloth painted brown, then the dirt applied.

The next area I tackled was placing the two industries in Dickinson yard. In laying down the cork, I left a slight gap between the edge of cork and the curve of the branch proper, so when I placed the freight house in particular, the base wasn’t even and level. I then decided to cut out a piece of the cork to accommodate the freight house. This again left a slight rise in elevation between the freight house and the scale house shown here:

In the top left photo, you’ll notice the scale house painted with PollyScale PC green is already in place, with the gap mentioned between the edge of cork and the branch. Next are two photos of the way I made the dirt road going up and over the tracks into Hitop. Note in the photo on the top right you’ll notice the underlying layer of plaster cloth. In the bottom left photo is the start of ground cover on the right front corner of the layout. The white area is hydrocal covering the gap in the plywood where the cut was made for the mainline. The bottom two photos hopefully show the “cutout” made for the freight station.

Next, I believe I tackled where the tunnel portals on the front and back of the layout had to go. The front tunnel portals I knew had to be angled to the track, not flush or straight, nor mounted flat up against the handy panel piece of plywood that supports Morris Fork. The tunnel portal for the branch also was a bit higher than the mainline tunnel, as the branch starts to climb on the front side of the layout, through the tunnel. This was solved with a piece of cork, actually I believe several thin pieces under the left tunnel portal edge. As these portals were angled, I had to cover the gaps between the back of the portals and the ridge line with pink foam. I had to slightly elevate the rear branchline tunnel portal as well, to accommodate the track rising in elevation, so as to clear any locomotive and car. Again, in hindsight, I would have ballasted the track completely through the tunnels, which I did not. I at this time also had planned to place some of the foam Mountains In Minutes rock inside the portals to simulate blasted rock. Photos here of the tunnel work:

In the top left photo we see the tunnel abutments and one tunnel portal, all by Woodland Scenics, and painted a weathered concrete color. These were later weathered with a dry brushing of black powders. I did not use the abutments, but instead used the wings as you see in the middle top photo. In this photo you not only see the one tunnel wing, but the pieces of pink foam I had to use to basically build a box to separate somewhat the two portals. The top right photo shows the angled right front portal, with the pink foam used to fill in the gap. Notice the pink foam underneath the plaster cloth. More on this in the next installment where I discuss the ridge line and mountain. Finally, the bottom photo shows the cork underneath the left corner of the portal to make it even, and the painted foam rock inside the portal. I painted the foam rock a battleship grey color. One last thought here. Notice the blue tape covering the track work. Anytime you’re working with glues, painting scenery, using plaster, Smooth-It, or whatever, you should always cover the track, especially completely cover the switches.

That’s about it for this installment. Stay tuned for the next one covering the building of the mountain and ridge line using the foam rock, plaster cloth, and pink foam….




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