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Yard scenicing

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  • From: Phoenix, AZ
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Yard scenicing
Posted by bearman on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 12:13 PM

I have a modest yard on my layout and am now in the process of beginning to scenic it.  I have combed the internet for pictures of yards and it strikes me that, for the most part, they are rather stark, with either cinders or some sort of ballast between the tracks and nothing else.  It also appears that the track ballast is not has "groomed" as it may be on a mainline.  Am I off base with these observations?

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by RADFORD JONES on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 3:13 PM

There are various things you can add:  cut up paper to represent news paper etc on the ground (I used plain computer paper, type on it in small fonts, use a marker to color it in various shades to represent photos then cut in small strips and squares depending on scale).  Scatter around the yard.  Again using computer paper color it rust, brown or black, cut in small strips to represent banding material.  Use gloss medium and paint in various locations to represent wet spots or locations.  Use Crayola (light brown, yellows etc) powder paint and dab in various locations to represent earth, fallen material from box, grain cars etc. I also dab black down the middle of my main line to represent various locomotive stains.  After dabbing it on I will spray with wet water (water with rubbing alcohol added) and this will "fix it" to the ballast.  Around switch machines I will use black Crayolato represent oil.

You can also used woodland fine scenic material in earth, grass etc to represented patches in you yard.

I will also cut up plastic building material in very small pieces to represent broken glass.  Scatter these around or place in a pile.  Remember the safety of your yard working crew so keep the clutter down.  Also remember not to over do it.

Any material I add is fixed with wet water and then soaked with white glue and water mix.

  

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 3:53 PM

bearman

I have a modest yard on my layout and am now in the process of beginning to scenic it.  I have combed the internet for pictures of yards and it strikes me that, for the most part, they are rather stark, with either cinders or some sort of ballast between the tracks and nothing else.  It also appears that the track ballast is not has "groomed" as it may be on a mainline.  Am I off base with these observations?

 

No.

Google Maps earth view is also a good source.

Rule 108: In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken.
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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 4:26 PM

Not at all.  Most yards are pretty bland, with mostly level surfaces and not much in the way or weeds or junk.  This helps to minimise tripping accidents, especially at night, even if the yard is well-lit.  There's probably drainage, too, but rather than a ditch alongside the track, as might be seen on the main line, it's underground. You may see catchbasin covers or manhole lids, but a yard is dangerous enough without adding obstacles for the guys on the ground.

That's one of the reasons I don't model an on-layout yard.  My staging yards aren't even ballasted (although I could probably operate them as sorting yards).

Wayne

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Posted by cowman on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 4:33 PM

Yards often have a much finer ballast then mainlines as people are expected to walk there.  Some, it is close to dirt in an area where I would expect was well drained.  In and area of poor drainage a courser material would be used. 

Weeds would grow along the edges where there is little or no foot traffic.  A track used primarily for storage (MOW cars) could  have grass growing between the rails.  Such things as  spills (coal, oil, seeds, wood chips) from loads make good additions to yard scenery.

Have fun,

Richard

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Posted by Grampys Trains on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 11:50 PM

You are on the right track, bearman. This is how i scenicked my yard.

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Posted by bearman on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 4:53 AM

Sounds like I am on the right track (pun not intended).  And, I have checked with Goggle earth regarding a yard that is located a 10 minute drive down the street, here in Phoenix.  It is a BNSF yard and the local office of the Musket Corp is located there and when I checked it out it looked like that whole yard was ballasted in both white and black material.  It also looked like a lot of the ties were submerged beneath the ballast.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by mobilman44 on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 5:23 AM

Hi!

I've been "walking tracks" since the 1950s (CNW - Chicago) and subsequently spent a good amount of time in yards (work related) in Illinois, Kentucky, and Texas.  The usual in my experience is well worn and dirty gravel, with weeds and often various pieces of debris here and there.  Some in the south use ground up oyster shells (as opposed to rock), and of course some yards are "prettier" than others.   Depending on your era and the pocketbook of your RR, I would use that to guide how much "neat and tidy" you put into your yard effort.

Oh, I'm talking about ground cover - and not the tracks themselves, although then tend to be pretty worn and smaller than the mains.  

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by bearman on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 7:57 AM

After checking more pictures on the web and here, and reading the advice here, I think I know what I am going to do.  Thanks for your tips.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by NYBW-John on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 2:02 PM

A little bit of debris here or there might add a little interest but I would be careful about overdoing it. Junk is not allowed to pile up in a yard because it could pose a hazard to the workers walking the yard. Same with weeds. Less is better. Make your yard bland. It will be more realistic.

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Posted by bearman on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 5:16 PM

I have decided on a rather bland yard.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 5:37 PM

Bear:

I think you have made the right decision. Too much junk turns me off. I recall seeing a turntable with a skid tossed into it. I can't imagine how a wooden skid could find its way into the middle of a turntable pit. No offense meant to the modeller but it just didn't seem realistic to me. I do like the idea of a wind blown newspaper or two and some weeds around the edges, but not a whole bunch of them.

Dave

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Posted by gdelmoro on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 6:09 PM

How about lighting, sanding tower, fuel.  Not scenery but adds interest.

Gary

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Posted by bearman on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 7:09 PM

My yard is rather modest, right now there is a turntable, office, warehouse and tower.  Eventually,  I might try to shoehorn some diesel fuel tanks into the area.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by Choops on Thursday, March 09, 2017 9:16 AM

An overpass for cars can break up the scene also.

Steve

Modeling Union Pacific between Cheyenne and Laramie in 1957 (roughly)
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Posted by JimL on Thursday, March 09, 2017 9:41 AM
I think Grampy's are perfect. Great work!
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Posted by tomikawaTT on Thursday, March 09, 2017 11:51 AM

One thing, seen in Grampy's photo but not mentioned otherwise:

The yard tracks are laid with regular-size ballast.  The space between is filled with finer material, level with the tie tops.  This is then fouled with blown-in dirt and spilled lading, and the results thereof (small patch of wheat where a covered hopper door leaked...)

Anything that might pose a tripping hazard will be removed as soon as detected.  Broken glass and lengths of banding material would be quick to disappear in an active yard.  Likewise, major lading spills would be cleaned up, or at least leveled to the general surface level.

A run-down, virtually unused yard might look like a disaster area - rails submerging in mud, weeds and brush growing between the tracks (and even between the rails,) lots of blown-in and thrown-in trash.  Such a yard would be scenery, not an operating asset.  (Track embargoed by nailing an X of scrap wood to the switch target!  Saw that at a PC facility in 1975.)

Bottom line.  Active yards are rather sparse and clean.  Junk and greenery are a sign of poverty and disuse.

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, March 09, 2017 4:02 PM

tomikawaTT
Bottom line. Active yards are rather sparse and clean. Junk and greenery are a sign of poverty and disuse.

Chuck,If you look closely in some major yards you will find weeds along the edge of the yard and may see corn growing in the gauge.Look closely and a air hose or brake shoe may be found.

Yards are not spotless nor are they cluttered with tripping hazards.

That's one reason you face the direction of travel when riding on the side of a car plus,back in the day you never swung off a car before a switch  stand always,but,always ride beyond the switch stand before dismounting.

Larry

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Posted by hornblower on Thursday, March 09, 2017 4:16 PM

I looked at several yards in my area using Google Maps.  All appear very clean and well maintained.  Thus, I would have to agree that the spartan look is correct.

Hornblower

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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, March 09, 2017 5:41 PM

hornblower

I looked at several yards in my area using Google Maps.  All appear very clean and well maintained.  Thus, I would have to agree that the spartan look is correct.

 

Can you visit those yards from a public viewing area? You will be surprise.

Larry

SSRy

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Thursday, March 09, 2017 6:57 PM

Larry, "Rather sparse and clean," doesn't mean NASA clean room clean - just rather less cluttered than the average vacant lot.

Corn might sprout in the gauge, but passing axles would tend to stunt its growth.

Ditto the wheat I mentioned.  I believe it wiped some traction motors, too,

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by bearman on Friday, March 10, 2017 12:16 AM

Quite frankly, I never expected this many responses on this topic.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Friday, March 10, 2017 2:59 AM

Where the yard is, and how busy it is, matters too.  Antoine Yard in Iron Mountain, MI in 1986 looked very different from the Beacon Park intermodal yard on Conrail in Boston in the same year.

Disclaimer:  This post may contain humor, sarcasm, and/or flatulence.

Michael Mornard

Bringing the North Woods to South Dakota!

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Posted by SouthPenn on Friday, March 10, 2017 12:52 PM

You might want to add some very small white piles of sand intermttantly along the rails. This is where the sanders were used on engines trying to get traction, or testing the sanders.

South Penn
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Posted by MisterBeasley on Saturday, March 11, 2017 11:07 AM

This is mine.  I just did what "felt right."

I put a small ditch in the center, in front of the light tower.  Most of the scenicing uses brown and tan fine turf, with bits of green in a few places.  No roadbed, and the ballast is much thinner that on the main lines.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by bearman on Saturday, March 11, 2017 11:11 AM

Hey, Mr. B, where did you get those light towers, although I suspect they may be too post-1960 or so.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Saturday, March 11, 2017 3:35 PM

bearman

Hey, Mr. B, where did you get those light towers, although I suspect they may be too post-1960 or so.

 

 

The models are in that time frame, so the prototypes must have been older.  The original bulbs were very strange, shaped kind of like a Hershey's kisses chocolate.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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