Monday, December 28, 2009

West Forge Layout: Scenery

So it has really been ages since I made a decent post about things. I think I will rectify that today. I'd like to post a bit about all the scenery I have been working on for my little module. Since this is now complete I'm going to go over it rather quickly in just one post. First I'll start with a quick picture of my test fit of all the structures I planned to use. I used some miscelaeous items to stand in for trees and some buildings are just pieces leaning together to help me plan out the space. Honestly I think I redid this process several times as the buildings took shape and I began to have better understanding of how to utilize the space. Next time I'll probably make cardboard cutouts of the footprint of each building to start with as that would have been easy to keep taped to the foam while I was working on the track.

Once the celluclay goop mixture was good and dry I began adding paint and ground foam to the layout. I think I did this step too early actually, some of the buildings weren't ready yet, and in all honesty the track needed a lot of work still, but that's another post. Here are two shots, one of the church area and one of the whole module with it's ground foam in place.

The ground foam is a mixture of Wood Scenics and Life Like greens and dry/dead grass with some sifted sand mixed in in some areas. The still unfinished road way is actually cardstock that I printed on my printer and glued to the layout. It came from a site that I highly recommend. Even if you don't want to use card stock buildings (which you should consider using anyway) The add ons like interior carpet and paintings are worth it.

Finally here is a picture taken after the trees were added to the hill and station area. This is looking down from the hillside onto the rest of the layout. The tree bases are not yet sceniced, I'll probably paint them and put some additional ground foam around them to conceal them a bit more. That's about it for today, I'll try and get some more up soon. On a side note I did have this module out and running this Christmas. I didn't have it under the tree it actually sat on a cabinet on the far side of my fireplace, but looking back at last years post about "Being Happy with what you have/an N-Scale under the tree" I felt it important to note that West Forge itself was my families Christmas tree train display. The kids enjoyed it quite a bit as did I.

Monday, August 31, 2009

West Forge Layout: Hillside

So work has been progressing on my layout even though I haven't made a post in ages. I was working on improving the hill and cut that I built into the original foam layout. The hill was covered with Celluclay and latex paint originally. It always seemed too flat and lacking something. I used the ground goop I created before to add more texture to the hill and area on top of it. I did a lot of pulling away with sticky fingers on the slope to add a rocky look to it and just some texture to the top.

Once it dried I painted it brown, then washed black over that and washed raw sienna over that. The top of the hill was painted plain raw sienna. I really liked the color of the top. Might be a bit too golden looking for Western PA, but it was much better thant he light tan I originally used. I think I'll look for a color closer to that for any future projects I work on. Finally I did a good bit of dry brushing grays and browns accross the front slope and sides and added some shadows to the nooks and crannies. Admitedlly the whole thing had a very "prehistoric" look to it which I was worried about but the next step really blended it all together better.

The final step was ground foam. I used 4 different foams on the hill, bright green, dark green, dried grass and earth. In addition to that I used some fine sand I had left over from the ground goop for added texture. The whole mass was sprayed down with Wet Water (using rubbing alcohol not soap) and then doused with a good layer of watered down glue. Any foam that was "run off" from the top and settled on the slopes I left in place and hit with the watered down glue. I added some additional foam to the slope to enhance that by putting full strength glue and sprinkling sand and various greens onto it.

I was very happy with the end result. It did retain a bit of the big fake hill look, but a lot of the road cuts in south western PA where I grew up look a lot like this. So with that I called this part of the project a success and prepared to move onto installing the road through the town.

West Forge Layout: Beginning Terrain

So I've decided that I need to start getting the terrain laid out on my layout so that I have a better idea how the structures and trees will fit in. I opted to use a variation of Lou Sassi's Ground Goop mainly because I had the needed supplies on hand. I mixed the goop up as follows:

1 part Celluclay
1 part latex paint
1 Part tube sand
1 cap Lysol
Water to thin as needed
Acrylic Art paints to darken the color
*in this case 1 part = 1 cup

Like I said I had this stuff on had. The tube sand came from my truck, it was an old tube that is falling apart so I scavenged a few scoops of the sand from the ripped bag. It was a bit on the course side. I think next time I might screen it a bit to get the large stones out first as they made the goop a bit more rocky in some areas than I wanted. The latex paint was the left over light tan I used to cover the blue foam. I felt it was too light so I put a few older watered down tubes of brown and black acrylic paint to try and darken it. It made things more gray rather than more brown. Next time I'll get a darker latex for my base. Closer to Raw Sienna I think

Here is the results.

Over all I'm please. I need to clean up the areas where the structures will go, but this has tuned my flat sheet of foam board into something a bit more natural and earthly looking.

Next will be ground foam, some asphalt for the street and I think I'm going to repaint the rail head and ties to be a better color. I'm really not sure why I did such a red color for that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

West Forge Layout: Recovery and reconstruction

Well over the last few weeks I got back into working more on my n-scale West Forge, PA layout. I added some new 1x4 lumber to the base to strengthen the module after the "Earthquake" ripped a fault line across the town. Since that time the town has rebuilt itself.

The station has remained the same near the the railroad cut through the hillside. WF Tower likewise hasn't really changed. Along main street we have a new machinery and equipment supply vendor that receives flat cars, box cars and tankers at semi-regular intervals. Next to that is still St. Patrick's Church, a local landmark it survived the earthquake unscathed. The local general store is still next to the church, it's received a new coat of paint during the towns reconstruction, but otherwise is the same old store with a small Railway Express office on the side. Across the street from the store is sill the lumber yard. It was farther away from the fault line and really didn't take any damage, it's mostly unchanged except that they tore down one of their old sheds. Where the old lumber shed was is now a small warehouse that receives mainly boxcars of LCL goods that go out via truck to other local businesses that aren't rail attached. The row buildings along main street are pretty much all the same still, the corner bar, the hardware store, and the soda/candy shop are all unchanged. There does appear to be some construction planned for the far end of main street just before the railroad tracks.

Back out into the real 1:1 world I've finished a few buildings including a new warehouse card kit that I got from If you have not read about them in the latest Model Railroader magazine or haven't been to the website do yourself a favor head over there and download their two free kits. I will say that I recommend using a glue stick over spray mount to mount the pages to card stock. My spray mounted pages began loosening from all the folding and stuff needed to build the kit. Also since the page weights are in metric I mistakenly used too heavy of card to build mine and ran into some issues, so for those interested I recommend that for light card just use standard ink jet printer paper (around 20 lb), for the medium card I think his recommendation is about 80lb card stock. I used a poster board which was a bit too heavy. For the heavy card though laminate two or three pieces of poster board together to get the right thickness. I will say that even with the issues I had my kit came out great, and hence I made room for it on my layout.

Shortly after I finished my card kit I went back to scalescenes and looked at their texture sheets. I picked up the US roadways kit. It's worth the $6 USD that I paid for it. The asphalt looks great once it's cut out and flanked with sidewalks or dirt, and the sidewalks came out really nice when I printed them. I'll attach a picture of my road and tree test from the other night to the end of this post. This was just a test so I used only one sheet and that's why the road markings are a bit off. my only real complaint about the roadway kit is that there isn't just a sheet with three n-scale sized two lane roads with a single white or yellow line down the middle. The addition of that to the kit would take this from a should have to a must have in my opinion.

Anyway, before I run on too long that is what has been happening on my layout. I will try and get some additional pictures of the new structures soon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

West Forge Layout: Magnitude Simon Earthquake Rocks the Town!!

So it's been a few months since I wrote anything about my layout project at home. For good reason, my father was hospitalized for two months after the new year and then we started March with his funeral. Not a fun time.

One of my earliest memories of my dad is a shopping trip of all things. It's not too surprising that I would remember this as it was a rarity, my dad didn't like to shop unless it was at his own pace at a fleamarket. Anyway, this trip was to a home improvement store called Busy Beaver if I recall, although the details in my head are sketchy and it might have been a Hills or Gold Circle or something like that. The important thing is that it was the day my dad picked out a train around our family Christmas tree. I think I was about 3 or 4 years old at the time. I remember how excited he was about that train set. Just last year I had asked him about it, and he told me he was actually really excited as he had always wanted a train when he was a kid, but his family could never afford one. That train over the years apparently meant a lot to both of us.

Onward to 2009, and my youngest son Simon seems to have the train bug right now too. He spent a lot of time with me just watching my GG1 go around and around this year. So sometime in March I pulled out the West Forge model I've been working on and got some trains running on it. I pulled out some structures and rolling stock and had a great time with a table top module. The kids really enjoyed it too. Unfortunately I decided not to stick it way back in the closet where I had been keeping it I set it upright along the wall of my bedroom with full plans to pull it out in a few days and start figuring where I wanted to place my structures on it. In comes my son who manages to somehow fall off my bed and breaks his fall with my foam layout. The damage is probably fixable but it's cracked clean through 98% of the module. If it weren't for some ducktape and ballast I think it would have been sheared clean into two pieces.

So now I'm left decided do I try and repair this to make it functional (my goal was to be able to provide 20 to 30 minutes of operating fun on the module), or do I scrap it and start moving on and renovate my basement to give me a nice train room.

Obviously the latter option would be much more fun :-D