01/06/2009 Progress Report
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Returning to Scenery by Installing Tunnels

(NOTE: While there have been visible changes made to the railroad between the two previous progress reports (08/19/2007 and 12/31/2008), I'm going to proceed with posting new progress reports at this time. I may revisit the progress made between those reports and post additional reports.)

While much of the work done on the Shenandoah Division in 2007 and 2008 was not visible to the eye (see the 12/31/2008 Progress Report), I have started to work on doing some rough scenery again. While I had started the rough scenery work e at Pearson Curve (see the 08/19/2007 Progress Report) in the summer of 2007, I had delayed doing additional scenery until I completed the installation of signals between MC Cabin and the north end of Covington. I wanted to install the signals before enclosing the benchwork with scenery as I prefer to work from above, rather than under, the layout whenever possible. This decision proved to be correct as I struggled with installing the signals at each end of New Castle and the south end of Laurel--all three locations already had scenery since they were part of the original layout.

With the signal installation complete at the end of September 2008, I began to turn my attention to scenery. I wasn't really able to start working on scenery again until early December as a result of travel plans and other time commitments.

When it came time to start working on scenery again, I decided to start with installing tunnel portals at various locations around the layout. When I install portals, I also ballast into the portal and install a tunnel liner to represent blasted rock.

I am using Woodland Scenics concrete tunnel portals. I had used these portals on V1 of the Shenandoah Division, so I wanted the tunnels on the new portions of the layout to match. I raise these portals with some .250" x .250" strip styrene in order to be able to clear double stacks. I used Woodland Scenics pigments (Concrete, Slate Gray, Black) to color and weather the portals, and I used Polly Scale Aged Concrete to paint the styrene extension. I installed pads of 1/8" thick Vinylbed at the tunnel portal locations to get the bottom of the tunnel up to to top of the subroadbed. I then glued the portal to the Vinylbed.

The next step at this point was to paint the rails and ties in the vicinity of each tunnel portal. I used three separate washes of acrylic paints to color the rail and ties. First, I applied a thick wash of Delta Ceramcoat Brown Iron Oxide to the rails. I didn't worry about getting any of this on the ties as it will be covered by the other steps--and, if it's not, then it highlights the tie plates and spikes. Next, I applied a wash of Polly Scale Railroad Tie Brown to the ties. Again, I didn't worry about getting it on the rail as it adds variety to the color. Finally, I applied a thin wash of Polly Scale Grimy Black to blend everything together. I applied this wash to both the rails and the ties, but I did not try to get complete coverage with it.
After everything dried, I cleaned the paint off the tops of the rails.

Next, I ballasted the track inside the tunnel and for a few inches outside. I normally like to apply ballast last as it allows me to hide the ragged edge of the scenery, but I ballast tunnels first as they will be hard to access later. :-) I use Woodland Scenics Fine Gray Blend ballast as my standard ballast, so I applied some of this dry using a spoon. I then use a brush and my finger to spread the ballast where I want it. I wet the ballast thoroughly with 70% rubbing alcohol and then I apply a mix of white glue diluted 50/50 with water (and a few drops of liquid dish detergent). After the ballast dries, I clean the track and I remove any ballast particles glued to the rails or ties.

Once the ballast was done, I proceeded with install the tunnel liners which represent the blasted rock interior of the tunnel. I had previously cast several tunnel liners from plaster using the Woodland Scenics tunnel liner mold. I used Woodland Scenics pigments (mostly Slate Gray and Black) to color these liners. I install these liners using black latex caulk.

After the liners were installed, I used 1" wide cardboard strips to create the mountain which the tunnel traverses. I use low temperature hot glue to attach the strips to the fascia, subroadbed, and backdrop. I use a stapler when attaching cardboard to cardboard. After I finished the cardboard web, I applied pieces of 2" (really 1.88") masking tape to the web. The masking tape helps to visualize the scenery and also helps minimize dripping when the plaster is applied.


Photos of Progress as of December 30, 2008

Both portals have been installed along with several tunnel liners at Hanging Rock Tunnel. I used black latex caulk to glue the castings to the plywood subroadbed, to the tunnel portal, and to each other. A piece of black poster board bridge the liner castings near the backdrop to prevent light from seeping into the tunnel from overhead. The track has been painted and ballasted. The north portal of the tunnel faces the camera.


The portals have been installed at Catawba Tunnel just north of Catawba, Va. The rails and ties have been painted, but the track has not yet been ballasted in this photo.


Close up view of the tunnel portal at the south end of Chimney Rock Tunnel just north of Abbott, Va. The rails and ties have been painted, but ballast has yet to be installed.


Photos of Progress as of January 1, 2009

Here's the south portal of Hanging Rock Tunnel in the process of installing the cardboard web and masking tape.


Photos of Progress as of January 6, 2009

North portal of Hanging Rock Tunnel after the cardboard web and masking tape have been installed. Northbound trains come out of the tunnel and cross the Catawba Creek Viaduct.


Overall view of the south portal of Hanging Rock Tunnel after the rough scenery form has been completed.


A closer view of the south portal of Hanging Rock Tunnel. The retaining wall is from Pre-Size Model Specialties. The wall comes prepainted in a grayish color. I applied a thin wash of Polly Scale Aged Concrete over it and then followed that wash with a thin wash of Polly Scale Grimy Black. I kept a paper towel handy to wipe off the wash if I applied too much.


South portal of Catawba Tunnel. The track has been ballasted here and the liner castings have been installed.


North portal of Catawba Tunnel. Black poster board has been applied to help prevent light from coming through the joints between the castings on the curve here.


This page was last updated on 01/01/11.


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