Monday, February 24, 2020

Monday Morning Motivation: A Week in Wethersfield

Many model railroaders are familiar with the "ebbs & flows" of working on a layout. Unfortunately, all too often, we find ourselves on the "ebb" side - not too motivated, stuck at an impasse, content just to sit in the armchair or watch TV. But sometimes - if we're lucky - we experience the "flow" and it seems everywhere we look there are things we're exciting to be doing on the layout.

That's where I've been lately. For the last month, ever since finishing the East Berlin scene, I've been motivated to get down into the basement every morning and get a little more done - even if it's only 15-30 minutes worth of work, it's at least something. And riding this wave is paying off. Just check out the photos from the last week . . . 

After adding some foam core as a base for the Gra-Rock building and surrounding area (needed to bring it up to the same height as the track), I decided to fill in just south of the area to flatten that out a bit as well.

While I typically use a cardboard lattice to support my plaster gauze, the area wasn't deep are large enough for that, so I just used some wadded up newspaper held in place with masking tape.

Instead of dipping the plaster strips in water and draping as I usually do, this time I tried just laying the dry strips down, spraying them with water, then blending them in with a brush dipped in water.

I did the same thing at the north end of the Wethersfield bulk track, making a flat area for the coal hopper offloading, and blending it in with plaster gauze.
Here's an overview of the Gra-Rock/bulk track area done and drying.

Next, I turned my attention to the north end of Wethersfield, adding a base layer of ground foam from the previously done area down to Jordan Lane. Matching the blend of colors wasn't easy. In fact, this was my second attempt - not so much due to the colors, but to the fact that during my first attempt, I'd "streamed" rather than "dripped" the glue on and created swirly dark lines where the glue had washed away the foam. Based on feedback from Facebook followers, I just went over it again with this 2nd layer, and it came out great.

At the end of last week's Monday Motivation progress report, I showed how I started to modify the lumber co. siding. Here's the shed being pressed down into some wet joint compound to make an impression of the footprint. The shed itself is protected by a layer of plastic wrap. This technique allows the building to "sit down into" the scenery rather than on top of it. It also allows you to just place the building in the impression without having to fix it in place. Makes it a lot easier to remove!
This area south of Church Street has bothered me for a long time. Unlike what I ended up with here, the prototype area is pretty flat. Unfortunately, the fascia is a bit too low here to make leveling it very easy. 

And you can see from the, um, level how unlevel the area is.

If I were to do this again, I'd try filling in with pieces of foam, carved to shape (despite the mess). I don't know why it didn't occur to me to just add another layer of cardboard lattice to support the plaster gauze, but you can see I ended up using masking tape as a support. Part way through, I realized that I shouldn't drape the tape over the fascia (would make it impossible to hide later and the plaster gauze would stick to it rather than the scenery. If the tape failed, so would the gauze). So I hot glued some N scale roadbed just inside the fascia for something to stick the tape to and added my gauze over that.

Here's the completed masking tape support. Still not flat, but at least back toward Church Street is much better.

Looking south from Church Street.

Speaking of Church Street - don't just drape your plaster gauze over foamcore roadways - it won't stick. I'll be installing a styrene sheet street here but first needed to remove the "bouncy" plaster gauze.

And speaking of plaster gauze, here it is draped over the masking tape support. Since I wanted to be sure it would drape nicely, I did dunk it first and then went over it with a wet brush.

I also added two layers of gauze since it's near the front of the layout and I wanted stronger support. I'm afraid adding two layers of wet gauze at the same time might have been too heavy and weighed down the tape a bit. Next time, I'll let the first layer dry & harden before adding a second layer.

Terraforming continued with more joint compound - and I turned my attention to the Fernwood Street area, deciding to raise the yards/houses above the street using cardboard.

The street is pretty obvious, but note also the cutouts for the driveway entrances from the street. I just cut out some of the cardboard and blended it with more joint compound. And speaking of joint compound - look how much I used to fill in between the cardboard and the scenery base!! That's gonna take a while to dry & harden!!
So that's where things stand as of now. Not bad progress for a week of mornings-before-work. Once I'm satisfied that the bulk of the terraforming-with-topping is done, I'll be going over everything and blending it all in with my ground goop mix. Since that's already brown and has some glue in it, I'll be applying ground foam to it right after I apply it. This one 2-part step ought to make for a huge visual impact.

Of course, I have at least one building to finish and a photo backdrop to do as well. But I'm very glad to finally be working in Wethersfield and getting it toward some level of finish.

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