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Carnegie Falls: Layout Construction Journal

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  • Member since
    June, 2011
  • 326 posts
Posted by DavidH66 on Thursday, June 04, 2015 2:16 PM
Man that scenery is looking like it's gonna go places.
  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Tampa Bay, FL (from Pittsburgh)
  • 137 posts
Posted by Carnegie Falls on Friday, July 10, 2015 11:47 PM

wildecoupe, ctyclsscs, NittanyLion, James Moon, and DavidH66, thanks for the comments.  I'll be in Pittsburgh in a few weeks and I plan to ride the incline and get a few prototype photos for reference.

It's been about a month so time for an update.  I have a couple weddings to photograph this month, I am finishing my master's degree this month, and we're going to PA in early August so I don't see a whole lot of time for modeling in my near future.  I also had to order more hydrocal so this is as good of a time as any to check in.

First, the kids painted some of the plaster brown where scenery is going.

 

Then, thanks to a tip from from Steve S, I ordered big sheets of black craft foam from ebay (like 30"x40" or something) to start working on paved areas.  I'm not sure if there's a standard way to do this, but I placed tracing paper down, drew the roads/parking lots, then glued the paper to the craft foam and cut out along the lines.  That foam piece with the sharpies is to keep the road width consistent.

The brewery, bank, and some hilly/curvy roads.

And some foam after it's been cut out.

 

Then it was time to start on the rocks.  Here are some shots that show areas on the layout with the individual castings in place, then after the gaps have been filled in with sculptamold.

 

There's still lots of rock work to do and I have one more paved area to cut out.  But we keep moving forward.

Modeling the fictional western Pennsylvania town of Carnegie Falls in freelance HO.
  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Tampa Bay, FL (from Pittsburgh)
  • 137 posts
Posted by Carnegie Falls on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 12:39 AM

I definitely slowed down progress on the layout, but not as much as a year and a half absence would indicate.

Plastered the rock molds together into a more uniform looking wall with sculptamold. This photo shows the future waterfall area.

 

Here's the same area after doing some paint washes.  The heavy black was meant to help emphasize the fact that the rock is wet/stained in that area.

 

A look at the other mountain.

 

Some rocks over by the slag dump.

 

Closeup of the rock detail.

 

The rocks look way darker in these photos than they do now.  I guess they faded after just a year or two.  Maybe I'll brush a few washes over them to freshen them up someday.

 

I also started playing with some vegetation/scenery.

 

Another nice development was that I built a model of my childhood home. I built it out of thin foam board.  I created images on the computer and printed them out; then glued them to the board structure. It was meant to be a temporary stand-in until I can build a real one, but something tells me that's going to be the final version. The second story doors/windows look weird because decks will be installed later. You can also see I painted the roads.

 

The next big step was to build the incline structure from scratch with styrene (and a couple hacked apart girder bridges).

 

I had a bunch of vertical surfaces that I wasn't sure what to do with. I decided to plaster them with a thin layer of sculptamold, then apply some paint washes to look like rock. The wall between these tunnel portals is a good example.

 

OK, I'll post more later. I basically stopped because I felt like it was just too much to do and I'd never finish. I also think I might have to sell my house due to a divorce which means the layout will have to be destroyed anyway. I was also too worried about everything being perfect. I am now focused on getting things done, even if they're not perfect and hopefully getting it close to a completed state before I have to tear it down.

Modeling the fictional western Pennsylvania town of Carnegie Falls in freelance HO.
  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Ludington, MI
  • 180 posts
Posted by Water Level Route on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 5:55 AM

Glad to see you are back at it and so sorry to hear about the troubles in your home life.  As I'm sure you have discovered, working on your layout can be wonderful therapy.  I too have let progress stagnate before while worrying about it being perfect, but finally realized "So what?"  It's enjoyable to do, can always be redone, and how else are you going to get better at it? 

 

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, and keep your chin up!

  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Tampa Bay, FL (from Pittsburgh)
  • 137 posts
Posted by Carnegie Falls on Friday, December 23, 2016 11:51 PM

Here is the layout in its current state.  Mainly I've been placing ground vegetation down.  The areas painted brown haven't had groundcover placed yet. Shrubs and trees will cover all the green areas eventually.

One of the areas to have the most work done is the mountaintop residence.

There will be a second deck level eventually

My brother and I both had VW Beetles in high school (he actually still has his). Ours were green and orange.  My brother and his wife had VW Beetle ornament favors at their wedding. I plucked them off the Christmas tree this year and they seem to fit right in, although not the right colors.

 

The next big project to tackle is the river and waterfalls.  I plastered it, then painted it with an elastomeric waterproofing paint I had left over from a project.  Then I used acrylics to paint the river. I'll pour resin onto the river after I finish landscaping the banks.

 

It looks like it will just be vegetation work for a while now.  If/when I get bored of that, I need to work on the mechanical aspects of the incline motor. I'm kind of intimidated by that, but it would make a huge difference to have some more motion on the layout.

Modeling the fictional western Pennsylvania town of Carnegie Falls in freelance HO.
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 7,070 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Monday, December 26, 2016 5:30 PM

You have done a lot of great work in a very small space!

Dave

  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Tampa Bay, FL (from Pittsburgh)
  • 137 posts
Posted by Carnegie Falls on Friday, January 13, 2017 10:29 AM

Thanks Dave - I tried to use every inch of the layout since it's a small space to begin with.

I've been pretty excited by how quickly things change when doing scenery.  I feel like I would work for weeks with foam and plaster without it looking like I was making any progress. 

I finally glued down the roads and paved areas so I could start landscaping around them.  Also glued down the crossings.

 

Just an example of the type of landscaping I'm doing right now.  Put down some base ground cover, then adding some gravel next to paved areas along with some dirt.  Nothing is glued.  I might cover some of the gravel with more grass/ground cover.  This rock wall is an example of a bunch that I did around the layout recently just using sculptamold.  They were a rush job and I don't love them but it was so much quicker than dealing with molds and stuff.

I also put in the first layer of the dirt road.  I'll fine tune the shape, then add wheel ruts, etc.

The kids were enjoying the landscaping, so they grabbed the bag of foam bushes and went to town putting them everywhere on the layout.  Most of those areas will also get branchy shrubs and trees eventually.  Here's my son admiring his work.

 

The thing I'm really excited about is the incline.  I painted some flex track primer gray then gave it a light wash with dilluted black paint.  Then rusted the rails with a paint pen and got them in place.  No real reason for the gray, just wanted them to look differnent than the regular train tracks.

A view of the incline as it goes up the mountain next to the eventual location of the waterfall.

The best part is IT WORKS!!!  I hooked up a couple Thomas the Tank Engine freight trucks to stand in as cars for now, but it works just like I planned.  I'm actually pretty surprised.  It takes about 25 seconds to make the trip, then stops for passengers for about 10 seconds before reversing direction and making the trip again.  Now I'm motivated to create some incline cars as soon as possible.  Here's a shot of the motor that powers it.  I should have included a photo of the auto-reversing controller - I'll do that next time.  Using the drive shaft on its own moved the cars too slow and adding that thread spool to it made them move too fast.  I'm using a bobbin from a sewing machine which seems to be just right.  The auto-reversing controller has a speed control but it's meant to be hooked up to regular train tracks.  It doesn't seem to have the same speed control abilities when hooked up to this motor.  I'll do a movie soon to show it in action.

 

 

 

Modeling the fictional western Pennsylvania town of Carnegie Falls in freelance HO.
  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • From: Pittsburgh, PA
  • 325 posts
Posted by ctyclsscs on Friday, January 13, 2017 1:04 PM

It just keeps getting better!  I was thinking...some of those Thomas coaches don't look all that much different than some old incline cars. If you cut one in half and built a triangular support structure underneath for the wheels, you could be in business.

Easier said than done, i know, but they could be a starting point.

Jim

  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Tampa Bay, FL (from Pittsburgh)
  • 137 posts
Posted by Carnegie Falls on Friday, January 13, 2017 2:39 PM

Jim, you're absolutely right! I have the "troublesome trucks" hooked up right now, but I actually used the Thomas coaches as stand-ins when I was planning the clearances/spacing of the incline tracks. They might be a little bigger than what I'm looking for, but they could definitely work.  I bought some small wheels and trucks/axles and I plan to scratch build the cars out of balsa, styrene, or a combo of both. I had always planned on making Duquesne incline cars, but now a friend is pushing me to model Monongahela cars instead.

Modeling the fictional western Pennsylvania town of Carnegie Falls in freelance HO.
  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Tampa Bay, FL (from Pittsburgh)
  • 137 posts
Posted by Carnegie Falls on Monday, April 17, 2017 9:51 PM

I made a quick video of the incline. The structures aren't built yet but the cars are done and it's functional.

https://youtu.be/YZ-0uyydz-E 

 

Modeling the fictional western Pennsylvania town of Carnegie Falls in freelance HO.
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 7,070 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Monday, April 17, 2017 10:04 PM

Carnegie Falls:

The inclined railway is amazing! Well done!!

Dave

  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Tampa Bay, FL (from Pittsburgh)
  • 137 posts
Posted by Carnegie Falls on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 1:30 PM

Just posting a few pics of the layout progress. I shared the little video of the incline, but here it is again passing by what will be the main waterfalls on the layout. I started pouring resin into the river which makes a big difference.  It's going to take A LOT of resin though.

 

I ballasted a long (7' or so) section of track just to give me something else to do.  Here's a closeup in front of the brewery.

 

I also used sculptamold to level out an area where the whitewater rafting outfitter is going.  I started working on this structure early on in the layout construction and I stopped when I realized I had so many other things to worry about before I could even thing about structures.  Almost time to start thinking about it again.  It's a laser cut wood kit and I really like the quality.

 

Here is the view from behind that same building.  I roughed out some vegetation and dirt to show where the rafters will put in to start their adventures.

Just another view of the river a little further downstream.

Modeling the fictional western Pennsylvania town of Carnegie Falls in freelance HO.
  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Tampa Bay, FL (from Pittsburgh)
  • 137 posts
Posted by Carnegie Falls on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 12:47 PM

Here's an overview shot of how things are looking.  Lots more ballast put down, adding resin to the waterfalls, and planting some trees.

 

I made a test pine tree to supplement the deciduous trees that will cover the layout.  It's a wooden dowel rod tapered down, then textured with a rough metal file/brush.  Black paint wash.  Then I drilled tiny holes and inserted dried fern branches.  It took forever to make, but it might be worth it to add more branches.

Closeup showing the bark texture.

 

Then I started with the waterfalls.  I cut some "angel hair" - basically fiberglass strands.  Following some videos by Lex Parker, I used tape to keep the leading edge of the fibers together.  I placed them and was pretty happy, but you could see the tape through the fibers, especially after adding resin.

One coat of resin poured over the lower falls.  I really like the way it looked (except that you could see the tape right at the top of the falls).  I still have to add foam/splash at the bottom and some other finishing touches/highlights.  I added another layer of angel hair to hide the tape but I don't like the final look as much - I'll post pics of them later.

After not loving the effect of seeing the tape under the falls I did the large waterfalls a little different.  I just cut sections of angel hair and tacky glued them to the edge of the falls.  Then I poured resin over them brushed it into the fibers.  I took a shortcut with the Envirotex Lite and didn't pour the resin into a second mixing cup and the stuff hardned up on me in no time. It just hardened into a ball a few minutes after I started applying it but I got it mostly done.  I'll probably add more fiber and resin to clean it up a little bit (still lots of dry fibers, especially on the back side), then paint some highlights. And foam/spray at the base to hide the ugly fiber clumps.

 The rest of my time has been building and planting trees.  I didn't get many large trees from my super trees bush and many were curved pretty badly (even though I boiled them with a fixative and hung them upside down with weights to straighten them).  I started by planting the largest straightest ones where I wanted them to go, then putting the curved ones where they would work.  I now realize I should have started with the smaller understory trees, and I also learned to start at the top of a hill an work my way down.  I spray painted the trunks gray when they were hanging to dry but I hurried and did a poor job. I wish I had taken more time and covered more area.  The brown/yellow trunks don't look nearly as nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That's it for now.  More waterfall work, more trees, more ballast to come.  Other projects on the horizon are the slag dump (I painted some slag to get ready) and the incline structures (walls are printed, I have to cut and assemble the foam board just like I did with the house structure).

Modeling the fictional western Pennsylvania town of Carnegie Falls in freelance HO.
  • Member since
    April, 2010
  • 174 posts
Posted by fender777 on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 5:32 PM
Been so much fun reading this and your build. I hope you don't have to tear it down and things workout. I will say a prayer here. Thanks for sharing your story.
  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • From: Pittsburgh, PA
  • 325 posts
Posted by ctyclsscs on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 6:06 PM

Love the layout! Great modeling work and it's a family project! I especially love the inclines. They look just like the real thing. I brought a friend up to see them last week. Like others have said, hope things work out.

Jim

  • Member since
    April, 2010
  • 174 posts
Posted by fender777 on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 7:08 AM
May I ask what bridge kit you all used for the under girder bridge. Thanks
  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • From: Tampa Bay, FL (from Pittsburgh)
  • 137 posts
Posted by Carnegie Falls on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 9:23 AM

Thanks for the kind words Jim and fender777.  Unfortunately, I'm pushing hard to finish it because it really does look like I'll be moving in a few months.  And unless I figure out a way to cut this thing into pieces, it will be dismantled.  But that's OK.

FYI it is a Faller Deck Arch Bridge #120541.  One kit comes with one full arch.  So I used two kits.

Modeling the fictional western Pennsylvania town of Carnegie Falls in freelance HO.
  • Member since
    April, 2010
  • 174 posts
Posted by fender777 on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 2:35 PM
Thanks for the bridge tip.

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