Monday, July 6, 2020

Dividend Progress Report: Structure Height, Feeders, Painting Track, More "Backdropping"

Hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday weekend, though I suspect for most of you it didn't feel quite the same. And I I suspect some of you were able to make it to your train room a bit.... I, for one, was able to make some more progress in Dividend . . .

Once I finished redoing the trackwork last Thursday, I put the Hartford Rayon structures back to double-check placement and discovered that, for some reason, the loading doors are about 3/8" too low. Maybe Dave assumed I'd be putting these on a(n additional) foundation?

In any event, after soliciting lots of feedback from the always-helpful members of the Valley Local Facebook Group on how to address this situation, I've decided to raise the buildings by adding a taller foundation. I may also raise the terrain slightly (and/or goop around the foundation), but since things are relatively level around here, I think focusing on the foundation is the best way to go.

While I was mulling structure height, I decided to get the feeders installed and out of the way. I had to disconnect them to change the track arrangement, and I added a new siding, so I needed to repower everything.  Click here and here if you want the details on how I do feeders.

After feeders are all done and tested, the next step track-wise is to paint the track. I've considered using an airbrush (even bought a 50' hose to get it around the whole layout!), but for basic track painting I just use a rattle can (Krylon Camoflage Earth Brown #279178) and clean the railheads immediately aftewards with a rag dipped in denatured alcohol.

One of the main reasons I do this blog is to document how I've done things before so I can refer to them later, if needed. And good thing: Just as I was about to start spraying, I vaguely remembered that there were a couple things I needed to be sure and do before painting. Sure enough - there's a post for that! But the skinny is: clean your solder joints, file any rough spots on the track (including tips of turnout points, add some oil to the point hinges, and add filler ties.

And one more thing that I didn't mention in that post - and, sure enough, forgot this time around: Add headblocks to your turnouts (and turnout details, if you're so inclined).

Of course, protect the surrounding areas. Then paint!

After the paint dried, I turned my attention to the scenery between the track and the backdrop. The prototype photos I've seen give the impression that the area is a bit flatter than my current scenery base.

While the small hill at the north (in the distance, just short of the Rocky Hill station area) is consistent with the prototype (and - bonus! - will make a nice scene separator), the hill here at the south (close) end - while also prototypical - will need to be a bit smaller since it currently crowds the Cromwell scene (there's no transition/it ends abruptly).

But the biggest problem - to my eye at least - is the slope from the track to the bottom of the backdrop.

This problem is especially apparent when you look at a mockup of the Cromwell scene.

Admittedly, in the far distance, there's a bit of an upward slope as the Middlesex Turnpike climbs a hill. But I don't want to foreshorten that slope right into the town area itself.

So, remembering my lesson in Wethersfield way back when I "lowered" the backdrop there, (the lesson being - it often takes more time to mull something than to actually do it), I decided to rip out the scenery base and "drop" the backdrop to allow for a flatter scene.

Once the scenery base was out, I just needed to glue in some supports/splices for the backdrop extension. . .

And once those were dry, I cut some masonite strips from scrap and glued those up. . .

The scrap I used was blue #luckybreak

Although I removed the hill from between Cromwell and Dividend (it was to the right in the pic above), there actually was a hill between the two towns (and actually included the ruling grade on the line) and it'll provide a perfect scene separator. I'll just redo it - but this time with stacked foam, and also with a more realistic transition into Cromwell.

Experienced modelers (heh - or just about anyone with a better sense of project management?) may think I'm crazy to go through all this for what may end up being marginal gains. But "gains" really are in the eye of the beholder. I'm pretty sure if I didn't make these changes, they'd nag me. And - fortunately - I've gotten pretty good at doing things over and not catching the Analysis Paralysis bug quite as often.

And the proof is in the progress. I'm making pretty quick headway in Dividend - certainly more than I'd been making in Wethersfield lately. With any luck - and some better time management - I'll be getting back to scenery and structures here again soon!


  1. Hey, Chris, how did you keep the Krylon from crazing and eating away at the pink foam? Light passes from up high (essentially the paint dries and the volatiles flash out before landing?), or you consider it the "price of doing business", knowing your going to apply further layers of ground cover? I have a LOT of track to paint, and it's ALL mounted upon (painted) pink foam. However, I ahve found that even PAINTED foam STILL gets eaten away at! I have even used their "craft foam protector spray", but its an of white that adds another level of unwanted spray, and it's NOT cheap! Help me Obi Wan, you're my only hope! ~ Ralph

    1. Wow - Maybe I'm not paying close enough attention - or I've been super lucky (or, the most likely reason, I'm just now getting to foam areas), but I haven't had that problem. Not yet anyway. That said, I *do* spray from about 12-18" away, but just out of habit since that's my usual spraying distance for coverage. I definitely don't intentionally spray from a distance to have the paint dry/flash off before hitting the track. Just never gave it much thought. Sorry I can't be munch of an Obi-Wan in this case %^) but as I move on to more foam-based construction I'll definitely be paying close attention to how the paint affects it - and will definitely report back here!