September 8, 2015

Draining the swamp

The saw mill is immediately in the foreground at Brooke

It's tough to remember you came to drain the swamp when you are up to your neck in alligators. A open house in a few weeks, and a tentative future visit next month by Kalmbach Video Plus to video record my layout made me decide to rearrange some priorities. At the top of the new list was to get some more work done on Brooke.

I completed a bunch of tasks in pursuit of that objective over the three-day weekend. The highlights include nearly finishing the  Tobacco Prizery, installing the saw mill and scratch built steam engine, installing the sawyers's work shed, installing the water tower, touching up most of the figures to fix damage from handling, adding grass and scenery to the area near the tunnel portal, finishing installing the split rail fences, and making a sign for the Spotswood Inn.

The steam engine is  skid-mounted with an external drive wheel. I based it on a photo of a similar engine shown in one of Andrew Russell's photos in Alexandria. I believe the tank on top is for water. Most of the parts were laser cut except for the steam dome. The dome I turned on my lathe. I could not spot a governor on the engine in the photo, and I forgot to add the valve control rod, but otherwise I am pleased with how it came out.

The saw mill is recycled from McCooks Landing. Since it was inside a background building on that layout , it was not very detailed. I need to add some of the pulleys and other controls for the slide now that it is in the foreground. Haupt mentions in his memoirs installing a saw mill to cut lumber for the bridges, but he did not specify where the saw mill was located. I put it at Brooke as it was the place where I had the most level ground other than at Aquia Landing.

The Inn is named after Alexander Spotswood, a prominent Governor of Virginia.  He was a very interesting person involved in military operations, establishing iron works and building the Virginia Colonial mansion at Williamsburg. He died in 1740. I made the sign on my laser and used a picture of Governor Spotswood off Wikipedia

The flag is another McCooks recycled item. I added it to the Inn via a hole drilled in the center column.

 This shot shows some of the scenery installed near the tunnel portal. The tall trees help block the view across this portion of the layout.  I installed the pine tress and added roots with Miliput. I added a lot of static grass and other scenery items to embellish the open fields near the inn. The dried looking flowers are Silfor autumn golden rod. Some of the new fencing is visible in this shot.

The brick mill is a Tobacco Prizery. It is based on a similar building in Brooklyn, Va,  a tobacco factory in a rural location. I added the cupola and weathervane to jazz it up a little bit. It still needs to be installed in its site and have loading docks added to it.

The water tower also came from McCook's Landing. I love how it fits in that spot.

The oxen are recycled from McCooks. I swapped out the boiler on the wagon with some logs for the saw mill.  The saw mill is in the foreground. I may need to install a plexiglass shield to protect it against wayward elbows and sleeves.


  1. Bernie,

    As usual, great work


  2. Very nice. We'll have to get Barry from TrainMasters down to see you too. Then we can compare coverage...

    1. Alright Mr DeMillle, I'm ready for my close up. :)

  3. Not bad…
    Any plans for a covering of some sort over the sawmill - a canvas roof? simple wood roof?

    1. I considered it but decided not to do it. I have three images showing saw mills in the ACW, all three show the saw and engine without a structural covering. Since these are portable machines, I suspect they didn't bother with the extra work of building sheds. Also, I mocked up covered shed and it looks better open. The area where the saw is is fairly narrow and the shed would be very close to the layout edge.

      On the flip side, a covered shed would help keep elbows from damaging the works.