Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Diorama: Trestle Beginnings and Backdrop Support

When it came to building the trestle, I started to get all ambitious. I figured it'd be an easy relatively easy maybe not-so-bad scratchbuilding project, and even found an article on building a pile trestle in an old Model Railroader. I was actually fairly excited to do it. But, despite the fact that I thought I had all the stripwood I needed in my extensive stash, I had NOT ONE piece of the proper dimensions. And the local hobby shops didn't either. Luckily, I was going to a train show so figured I'd get some stripwood there - or, even better, get a deal on a trestle kit (like this).

Alas, I found no stripwood and the only trestle kit I found was in N scale. I thought all was lost until we were leaving and friend JohnG reached into his bag and pulled out these:

Already starting to modify them by removing the track clips and mounting slots
Yup - those are the trestle bents from your old "up and over" train set. You're probably thinking the same thing I thought, but the price was right and I figured they were worth a try. Besides, I didn't have anything else to use. I started by removing the track clips and mounting slots (see pic above) and then roughened them up (to simulate wood grain). I gave my completed overpass kit the same roughing up treatment.

Here's the overpass and all the trestle pieces ready to go:

If you've visited this blog for a while, you've probably guessed that I love "what's on your workbench" photos.
The "trestle pieces" consist of the bents described earlier, two lengths of 1/8" square strip (for under-track stringers) and a section of MicroEngineering bridge track.

Since I was chicken decided not to try and make plastic look like wood quite yet, I turned my attention to something more familiar - topping and sanding...

Here's the masonite backdrop in place. The seam on the left is all done (3 coats of topping, sanded in between coats), and a piece of vinyl in the corner
The above pic shows the masonite backdrop in place. The seam on the left is all done (3 coats of topping, sanded in between coats) and a piece of scrap vinyl to form a coved corner.

Since the edges of the vinyl needed to be feathered in, I used my handy dandy fiberglass mesh tape.... and some more topping. Here's the result once all the sanding and (re)topping were finished:

This would provide a good base/backing for the photo backdrop. But first, I wanted to figure out how far down I needed to paint the sky. So I taped up the photos temporarily:

This way I knew I didn't have to paint ALL the way down to the "snow" (since the photos would cover the lower portion of the masonite). Here's the backdrop all painted:

Once I got in the painting mood, I figured it was time to tackle painting/coloring the trestle parts and overpass. I'll go over that in the next post.


  1. This probably doesn't help with the this project with the time constraint but a couple years ago I built a Blair Line Standard Timber Trestle ( and had a pretty good go of it. It was the first (and so far only) trestle I've built and would do it again if I had a project that called for it

    1. Hey Matt and thanks for stopping by! That looks like a really great and fun kit to build! I've added your blog to my blogroll since I'm especially interested in reading up on your "Raging River" module - what a cool project. Thanks for your comment and have a Merry Christmas