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Advice for Problem Area on Layout

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Advice for Problem Area on Layout
Posted by York1 on Thursday, July 29, 2021 3:49 PM

This is my first layout since retirement.  I did not plan out the layout as much as just getting track laid and working.  I then added some streets without much planning.  Finally, I added modern buildings as I worked, again without much planning.

The result is some areas that are "problem areas".  The areas are next to the edge, or in a strip of ground between the railroad and the street.

I realize in real life, there are probably large areas of open space with weeds, trees, etc.  However, I think that might look funny to have a weedy or plain area right across a street from a more modern building.

This is not along an edge that I have a problem reaching over.

Since I'm fairly new at this, and since I live in a very small town without any friends with layouts, does anyone have any suggestions about filling in these areas?

I appreciate any ideas.

 

My kids say they want a cat for Christmas.  Normally I do a turkey but hey, if it'll make 'em happy ...

York1 John       

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Posted by 7j43k on Thursday, July 29, 2021 4:00 PM

Well, first of all, it's not a "weedy area" across the street, it's railroad tracks.  

I think it would be very reasonable to have a "weedy area" between the tracks and the street.  The space is so small, nothing could go there.  Plus it's owned by the railroad, and I doubt they'd allow anything.

However, in the big space near us, top of my list is a farm field.  It could be vegetable planting in rows.  It could be fruit/nut trees.  In rows.  It could be a grazing field for animals.

If that doesn't suit you, I would recommend some sort of commercial space ('cause there's not a siding for an industry).  Lumber yard (most aren't rail served).  Small home improvement store.  Auto dealership?  Keep in mind there's a tendency when laying out lots for buildings to use straight lines.  So I think whatever commercial thing you were to put in, there'd still be weedy areas here and there.

Farms, though, are willing to follow the curve of the track.  It's just a fence, after all.  Don't put the fence right up near the track, by the way.  Railroads "always" have some extra land next to the tracks.  Maybe 3" away?  Fifty (real) feet is pretty common, though for us modelers that's asking a lot.

Layout's looking good--keep it up!

 

Ed

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, July 29, 2021 5:36 PM

I agree with Ed.  I always assume the railroad will own at least about a 10 foot strip of land that abuts the roadbed.  That leaves no room for anything except unmanicured nature in that spot.  Maybe a storage shed for the railroad and gravel lot access.

If you want to keep it looking manicured, how about a gravel lot for overflow parking at the Cracker Barrel.

But generally, I think a little unmanicured nature all along both sides of the entire roadbed would give a better feel to the whole scene.  JMO.

- Douglas

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Posted by BATMAN on Thursday, July 29, 2021 6:10 PM

A strip of grass with a wandering bike path and a couple of park benches or picnic tables. 

Diagonal parking spaces.

A fenced-in off-leash dog park.

A couple of billboards.

A caboose visitor centre with a half dozen diagonal parking spots.

A small fruit stand.

A row of colourful trees with grass.

 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1/videos 


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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, July 29, 2021 6:17 PM

Those pesky square corners left over after you install the bend in the tracks .

How about a water feature? A pond or edge of a lake, or bend in a wide slow moving river? You could add ducks to a pond, a canoe or fisherman in a boat on a lake and a fly fisherman on the bank of a river.....

Alyth Yard

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Posted by John-NYBW on Thursday, July 29, 2021 6:44 PM

I agree with those who have said a weedy area between the street and the tracks would not be unrealistic since there really isn't room for much else. I can't see that small a parcel of land being owned by anyone but the railroad. 

That large area in the corner could be made into a public park or a portion of one. Put in some trees, swing sets, slides, seesaws etc and a few picnic tables. Woodland Scenics used to sell a small Memorial Park kit of metal castings that would be perfect although I don't see it on Walthers website. It might have been discontinued but there are lots of listings on ebay. This is the cheapest one I saw:

 

NIP Woodland Scenics S132 Memorial Park HO Scale Kit Diorama 724771001324 | eBay

I used it on a town square and it is one of my favorite scenes. I also used their prebuilt gazebo and it looks like you would have room for that too. If not they also sell a kit for a smaller gazebo.

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Posted by 7j43k on Thursday, July 29, 2021 7:18 PM

I think that the small bit of land between the tracks and the street, in a small town, would end up as a sort of informal parking area.  I would consider parking a semi over there, off the road.  Or you could have a small pickup parked, selling produce out of the back.

You could extend the street in front of the church across the tracks and to the edge. Then you'd have a good bit of frontage for commercial usage.

The water feature that Mike mentioned is nice (really, they ALL are!) because it could have forced the railroad to turn the tracks.  Also, you could put the edge of a hill in the corner, with the creek/river at the bottom.

 

Such possibilities!

 

 

Ed

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Posted by York1 on Thursday, July 29, 2021 8:41 PM

Thanks for all the great suggestions.  I'm going to work on things tomorrow to see what is feasible and what things I may need to buy.

Thanks again!

My kids say they want a cat for Christmas.  Normally I do a turkey but hey, if it'll make 'em happy ...

York1 John       

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, July 29, 2021 8:51 PM

York1
I realize in real life, there are probably large areas of open space with weeds, trees, etc.  However, I think that might look funny to have a weedy or plain area right across a street from a more modern building.

That would look perfectly normal down here.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by NittanyLion on Thursday, July 29, 2021 9:02 PM

I know of a few oddball spots like that around that are used as garden centers.

Little more than rows of "tables" fashioned out of cinderblocks and planks for flower and small plants; clusters of bushes, shrubs, and ornamental trees; a shack for a cashier; piles of pallets off to the side; and space for a couple cars to park.  

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, July 29, 2021 9:05 PM

I seem to remember an article about a "problem area" on the MILWAUKEE RACINE AND TROY where they installed a small hay-bailing scene that looked quite good.

That trick has been stored in my idea bank.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by rrebell on Friday, July 30, 2021 8:31 AM

Well the square corner is there (on my railroad they don't exist), so I would get some foam, maybe only 1" and taper it toward the track area and cover it with plaster cloth. Areas on my layout that don't have a real use are ussually zip textured, random areas on this done in ground foam, next random areas of 2mm static grass, next 4mm on top in from edge of 2mm, finaly 6mm stuff in from the edge of the 4mm stuff, basially layered scenery.

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Posted by rrebell on Friday, July 30, 2021 8:33 AM

Personally though in that corner I would cut in a switch and make a siding for something.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, July 30, 2021 8:38 AM

Just one more point. The edge of the layout isn't the edge of the World. Whatever you decide to put there can't depict the World beyond that corner. You can build part of anything you think is plausible into that corner and the rest is filled in by imagination.

Just like the whole layout in fact. 

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by Lakeshore Sub on Friday, July 30, 2021 9:03 AM

John,

Another thought for you.  Many small empty spaces end up being used for advertising.  That thin space between the track and street would be a great place for a billboard and any type of signage.

Scott Sonntag

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, July 30, 2021 9:24 AM

Lakeshore Sub
That thin space between the track and street would be a great place for a billboard

Great tip.

Billboards always look good, and set the era.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Doughless on Friday, July 30, 2021 10:51 AM

Lakeshore Sub

John,

Another thought for you.  Many small empty spaces end up being used for advertising.  That thin space between the track and street would be a great place for a billboard and any type of signage.

Scott Sonntag

 

Excellent Idea!  A billboard angled a bit to fit nicely, would be a very logical and realistic placement.  A little maintained area in front, but natural behind it and along the tracks.

- Douglas

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Posted by Doughless on Friday, July 30, 2021 11:00 AM

Overall, I think the scene looks great.

I would try to introduce some natural messiness to the landscape in places, along the ROW and maybe property lines between buildings.  Maybe not every property so well manicured.  

- Douglas

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Posted by York1 on Saturday, July 31, 2021 9:29 AM

Thanks again, everyone!  Great ideas.

My kids say they want a cat for Christmas.  Normally I do a turkey but hey, if it'll make 'em happy ...

York1 John       

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Posted by JDawg on Saturday, July 31, 2021 9:32 AM

Rip the whole layout up and fix it. 

Kidding, Kidding. I'll second the motion for an informal parking lot. How about a scene with some railfanns? Perhaps some trackside equipment? Signal boxes, etc?

JJF


Prototypically modeling the Great Northern in Minnesota with just a hint of freelancing. Smile, Wink & Grin

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, July 31, 2021 9:53 AM

JDawg
Perhaps some trackside equipment? Signal boxes, etc?

ONe step further - some old cut off sidings.  An old MOW yard, team track, industry long gone sort of thing. 

   The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by York1 on Saturday, July 31, 2021 9:53 AM

JDawg
Rip the whole layout up and fix it.  Kidding, Kidding.

 

You're joking, but I've seriously considered it.  In fact, I think since this is my first layout, I may end up doing just that so that I can use what I've learned.

The only thing holding me back is my age. 

I've also considered switching from N to HO, although I think that is unlikely since I don't want to sell things and buy new.

My kids say they want a cat for Christmas.  Normally I do a turkey but hey, if it'll make 'em happy ...

York1 John       

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Saturday, July 31, 2021 11:31 AM

Lots of good ideas here.  

I think your original concern about having some sort of unmaintained grassy area look strange really might have more to do with the size of the town or city you are modeling.  

I picture a wide open grassy, overgrown area on the east side of Michigan Ave in downtown Chicago for example: while its true that the Illinois Central had trackage and yards in that area, it wasn't just an open field on one side and high-rises (as opposed to small commercial buildings) on the other side of the street.  That would look odd in my opinion.  But a MOW yard was mentioned as well as billboards: both good ideas for a larger city layout.  And either would work well in a smaller town too.  

I've also seen many pictures of rail lines going thru or skirting the edge of smaller towns where you can see the "main drag" of the town on one side of the street and vacant overgrown land (or rail yard) right across the street.  I've seen photos showing junk yards, fuel or coal depots, freight houses etc on "the wrong side of the tracks" so to speak.  It would be easy to continue the illusion of any of these right to the edge of your layout and look perfectly prototypical.

You could also use the area to work in a water feature of some sort: a small fishing pond, a creek etc.

Andy

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Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Saturday, July 31, 2021 5:53 PM

Get a box of Super Trees and learn how to make a lot of them.  Trees can be moved around and recycled from layout to layout.  They are a great way to divide a town from the railroad right-of-way, and groups of trees can take any shape.  A low hlll covered in trees can make the division more pronounced.

A small scrapyard also fits any shape.  I like to use old plastic cars of less than layout quality.  They look great with the windows cut out and severely rusted up.

I have the well-known scene from The Wizard of Oz with Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion walking down the Yellow Brick Road.  I've got some beekeepers and beehives.  These are very small scenes.

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

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Posted by ndbprr on Sunday, August 1, 2021 3:44 PM

I think you have room to put a station in the corner with a curved walkway for passengers to board trains. Some of the remaining area could be a parking lot for the station.

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Posted by kasskaboose on Monday, August 2, 2021 2:56 PM

What about some height between the edge of the layout and tracks?  You can easily secure some angled sheets of foam to create a ton of visually appealing scenes.  Then def, add some woods to "hide" the trains and city scene.

Depending on your location, you can also do farm fields.

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 6:16 AM

After looking in on this thread several times and reading all of the replies, I am convinced that a water scene would make the most sense. There are already enough buildings and streets and a lot of track work on that side of the layout. So, maybe a lake with a sandy beach up against the track.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by NorthBrit on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 6:58 AM

All excellent and valid answers by everyone.   If I may offer my My 2 Cents  from a UK perspective.

 

1)   I would curve the road to follow the outline of the track.  The land between the road and track is therefore much smaller and would be owned by the railroad company.  They would keep that area semi tidy.

2)  The land gained on the opposite curve  near (I think is) the store would be well tended  like the small section already done.

3)  The corner area have the Church/Chapel there,  facing down the board.   (The Church was there before the railroad,  hence the curve of the track. Smile )  A road approaching the side of the church.  A pathway round to the front of the church.  There does not have to be a lot of parking  places etc.  They can be 'off stage' (on a backscene.)   The remaining land in the corner is Church land.  A few gravestones etc  semi-tidy to a little overgrown. 

 

Looking at the picture;  if that is a church on the left,  move it to the corner as mentioned.   The area where the church is now  a different store  could be added.

 

Whatever you choose to do it will turn out okay.   'Enjoy the journey'.

 

David

To the world you are someone.    To someone you are the world

I cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought

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Posted by York1 on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 11:40 AM

Thanks again, everyone.  I have some work to do on the railroad!

My kids say they want a cat for Christmas.  Normally I do a turkey but hey, if it'll make 'em happy ...

York1 John       

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 10:17 PM

There's all sorts of interstitial areas between curving railroad tracks and the rigid road grid here in Chicago.  Usually parking, a park, or community garden, or a storage area for railroad supplies and vehicles.  Sometimes a neighboring industrial building will just take it over and dump pallets and building supplies in these areas since the railroad has no use for the property.  I thought about putting a cement plant at the corner of the table in a shape very similar to this.  It's small enough to look convincing and not crowd things too much, but still very interesting to look at.

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