July 6, 2010

A Scenic Challenge

I finished gluing the roadbed pieces to their risers for the hidden track that runs behind Brooke to Aquia Harbor. Using Atlas code 148 flex track I soldered three lengths together and loosely installed them in position. (I forgot what a pain flex track can be to work with especially on tight curves. It weren't  for thousands of spikes to hand lay, I'd never use flex track again).

The first photo shows the tight spacing of the return track compared to the visible track at Brooke. I think the best scenic treatment is a cut through a hillside allowing the upper track to be hidden. The yellow lines show the approximate alignment of the terrain for the future cut. The additional challenge will be to make this section removable for maintenance.

This photo at the right shows the transition between the Atlas Flex Track and the hand laid section as it enters the closet. The 30 inch inter-rail track curve template helped get everything lined up. I still need to fashion transition pieces to allow the code 148 and code 100  rail sections to line up both at the top of the rails and laterally. The tie heights worked out to be about the same, so I'll need to add ties to the wood sections and sand them on an gradual incline (vertical easement)  to allow the tops of the rails to line up.

Eventually this scene will be hidden by a tunnel portal.  I will use the portal at Crozet as my prototype inspiration. The photo at the left shows an HO version of the tunnel portal that I cut with my laser cutter. There will not be a tunnel at the Aquia side of the hidden track. The hole in the wall will be disguised by a warehouse structures.

 The US Mail also delivered us a surprise - the solid wood hull from my Bluejacket 1/48th scale Smuggler kit minus the section below the water line. My brother Rob in Florida took it home with him last week to cut on his Inca band saw to make it a waterline model. He did a great job as the cut is quite smooth and perfectly level. He hand planed the base to smooth it out and to make it flat using a Stanely no. 5 Jack plane at first and then a custom made infill smoothing plane.  He also eliminated the carving stubs that were on the ends of the hull. The smooth bottom makes the machine carved sides and deck of the hull look quite crude in comparison. Here the model hull is sitting on the infamous Minwax water surface at Aquia.  Finishing this ship will be a fun project for next year.


  1. Another option to hid the back track would be a half/backdrop with trees painted on it and half trees in front and over the top of the back track. With your painting skills you would have no trouble blending the colors in the two back drops. I plan to use this to hid a tagging yard on my planned layout extension.

    Bob Harris

  2. I looked at something like you suggest and mocked it up The problem is that O Scale holes in the wall are so big it's hard to disguise them. The curve also makes it difficult to hide the back on any horizon board from different angles. Thats why I am electing to go with a ridge covering the track.

    One good thing is that one can reach through the hole in the wall from the closet to access about 3 feet of track. SO the removable section only has to be for the inaccessible part near the bump out.

  3. After viewing the photo of the area you are modeling that you posted on the railroad line forums and seeing that you have no forest to work with I see my idea would not work for you.

    Bob Harris

  4. You raise a good point. In the time of the civil war, northern Virginia was largely deforested. The wilderness area outside Fredericksburg was unusual because it was still heavily forested.

    Not only was the land deforested, but much of it was over farmed. By the turn of the 20th century many farms had suffered extensive erosion and were abandoned. Prince William Forest National Park is an example of land that was abandoned and taken over by the US Government and made into a National Forest. Now is is a thick thriving forest again.

    The problem was even more pronounced when soldiers camped in one location for prolonged periods as they chopped down trees for firewood, winter quarters and fortifications.