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The Altamont and Blue Ridge 2
Starting Over: A Comprehensive Project Blog

Page 3: 
Beginning 3/7/2019

Go to "Starting Over" Page 1 (7/2015 through 2/2018)

Go to "Starting Over" Page 2 (3/6/2018 through 3/6/2019)

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Northwest Bench: Planning Overview for the Town of Fitzhugh and Fitzhugh Mountain:

Last year, when I roughed in the bench top topography on the Northwest bench for the town of Fitzhugh and the two adjacent mountain frames, I had a pretty good idea regarding how I wanted this area to look: a small town between a large finger of a lake and small, flat industrial area with two imposing rocky mountains bookending the scene.

ft Here is my rough topo of the town of Fitzhugh and the mountain at the turnaround end of the Northwest bench sketched onto  XCAD printout. The town will be built on a flat plateau at a level of 2.25 inches above bench zero between two mountains. On the South side, it will be bisected by a deep cut at bench elevation +0 for the double track mainlines, which will be spanned by a roadway bridge, and will ascend the grade past the industrial area and around the turnaround curve up to the depot and the other side at elevation 2.25. Most of this curve will be hidden in a tunnel through a large mountain (max elevation +14). the track in the tunnel will be accessed both through a large opening behind the backdrop wall and by way of a removable hatch. On the North side of the town along the backdrop wall, the terrain will rise abruptly up up to elevation +4 the backdrop mountain cuts-outs.

Tunnel Portals and Portal Retaining Walls

To begin work on the North bench, I first worked on molding, framing, and installing tunnel portals and portal retaining walls in both mountains at Fitzhugh. I use homasote cutouts to fashion screw-down, slightly oversize,
portal frames and then glue plaster cast portals to the frame. The plaster castings are made using latex molds that I made years ago using Chooch resin tunnel portals and walls as masters. Here I will need both double track and single track portals. Before the portal glue was fully set, I ran trains to test clearances. I always like to get the portals adjusted and firmly set before I proceed with work on the mountains.

fri Here is the rough-in of part of the town site and Fitzhugh Mountain. The first step was to set the tunnel portals and portal retaining walls. You can see one of my homasote double track tunnel portal frames installed  in the upper left center of this photo. The lift-out hatch base with part of the mountain frame attached to the top is the rhomboid homasote piece in the upper center, and the flat area to the right of that is the industrial section with its siding.  The town site is partially visible in the foreground with its deep cut for the mainline. Here I have temporarily set  the platform in place so I can do some detailed street and structure  planning after the mountains and the lake are complete. 
fp Here are the portal castings and their latex molds..
fpi Two portals and their retaining walls installed,clearance tested by running trains, and adjusted. Because I use a slightly wider track spacing on curves, the double track portals have to be broken in two at the top in order to make a slightly  wider opening. The resulting gap at the top is easily patched with Sculptamold, which can be molded and scribed to match the stone work for a totally seamless repair.

Constructing Fitzhugh Mountain

I'll begin by adding additional framing to the homasote rough-in. Then I'll install all the exposed rock faces, and tack on the plastic screen; next the Sculptamold, initial painting, ground zip texturing, ground color adjustments and enhancements, and finally ground cover, shrubs and trees.

fm1 3/10 Here is the mountain with the additional framing and the rock faces installed.In this photo the hatch is removed to facilitate work on the stationary frame. Next, I'll replace the hatch and reinforce the mountain frame on to of the hatch.Then, I'll be ready for the screen and the Sculptamold.
fm2 3/11 Here it is with the hatch in place and the screen tacked on, ready for Sculptamold.
fm3 3/13 Here is the completed application of the Sculptamold. Now the base coat of paint. 
fm4 3/13 Here it is with the base paint coat completed. The rock faces are painted a dark gray, and when dry, they will get several dry brush coats: first a lighter gray, and finally touches of white for highlights. The grassy areas get the red earth under coat, while the forest and brush areas get dark brown earth color. All the earth areas will get "Zip" texturing (powdered plaster of Paris mixed with a blend of colored tempara powders. This will give a highly realistic ground texture,  and I'll allow patchs of the earh undercoat to show thorugh in spots. For the exact method, see my post of  3/12/2018.)
fm5 3/14 Here is the texturing complete, the distant forest on top glued in place, and the light gray dry brushiung of the rock faces. Next comes the ground cover and the white dry brush highlights ob the rock faces. 
fm6 3/15 Ground cover applied and white dry brush highlights added to rock faces. I'll now install a thin flange to hide the joint running up the meadow - a piece of .015 styrene tacked to one side and painted, textured, and ground covered just like the meadow - maybe a few small shrubs - and it should disappear.  Then I'll extend the distant blue mountain cutout on the left and articulate the tree line in front of the patch. Next I'll work on the landscape around the rock faces always with an eye to forcing the prespective - larger bushes around the near rocks - smaller bushes around the rocks higher up the slope will help.The real effective forced perspective will come with the addition of multiscale trees getting samller and perhaos slightly grayer as they get higher up the slope.
fm7 3/18/2019 Here is the mountain with the shrubry added.

Constructing the Mountain on the Fitzhugh Curve

I will follow the same path to create the mountain on the Fitzhugh Curve.
fmc Here is my rough topo sketch, with elevations penciled over an XCAD printout.
fcs Here is my rough sketch of the mountain and the lake.

Here is the rough-in. here is a nexwork of track uped this mountain, so an ample access opening in the backdrop wall is essential.