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The Altamont and Blue Ridge 2
Starting Over: A Comprehensive Project Blog
Page 4: Beginning 2/8/2020

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

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

Go to "Starting Over" Page 3 (3/6/2018 through 1/6/2020)

Go to "Starting Over" Table of Contents

Go to "Starting Over" Alphabetical Index

Center Bench Overview and a Rough Layout for the West Slope and an Industrial Park

Now that all the mainline track and the terminal yard ladder track is laid and wired, I can continue with the scenery on the center bench. I have a rough idea of what I want, so I first created a very rough little sketch of the of the entire bench, dividing it in to six areas:

cbo Overview rough sketch of entire center bench including the West Slope and Industrial Park Sidings; Commercial Area; Large Mountain; Mine Siding Area; Siding for the Shops, Turntable, and Round House Area; and the Entrance Warehouse etc. Area.

I'll begin with the West Slope and Industrial Park, first creating a rough topographical sketch as usual.
This is the area to the South of the hinged terminal building terrace, which will abut the South side of that terrace along the edge of a large Southern Railway office/freight building that will stretch the length of the Southern edge of the hinged terminal terrace. The adjoining wooded/grassy slope will descend from the +5 East-West cross tracks above the terminal building to a small terrace at +2 1/2 above bench +0, and then to a large terrace at +2 inches above bench +0. The two siding tracks will ascend up from the mainline farther to the east on an 8 foot (2%)grade to the +2 terrace and terminate at the end of the +2 terrace. There will be two roads, both originating at tunnel portals in the descending slope. A steep bank just to the north of the northern-most road will tie in to bench level +0 at the edge of the bench via a step embankment with a few rock outcroppings.

aipr Rough topo sketch of the transitional area to the South of the hinged terminal complex.
SSIP1 Here is the rough-in for the South slope and the terrace for the in industrial park with track and road center lines snapped, and tunnel portals installed.

Next, Ill install the terrace for the mine (this has now changed of a large saw mill) at +1 above bench +0 with a 1 1/2% graded roadbed connecting to the turnout on the north side of the mainline parallel to and just to the East  the traverse track.

smt Here is the terrace for the mine (now saw mill). In the empty space just to the north of this, covering almost the entire West end of the center bench, there will be a large mountain, which I will frame in later.

Now, I'll lay and wire all the rest of the track on the center bench.

cbt Center bench track laid,(except fpt the shops and turntable.) Wiring will take another week or so, and then I''ll give some thought to all of the structures I'll need for the enitire cneter bench section. 

Planning and Constructing Structures for the Center Bench

I have said
many times in this blog, that, when laying out an area, it is useful to have the structures already completed. This allows for experimentation regarding placement and for the on-going evaluation of the overall look of the section under construction. The center bench will be covered with track-side,  factories and warehouses, not only in the industrial park pictured below, but also along the long siding on the North edge of the bench and along the entrances to the terminal. I have ordered 15 structure kits (mostly Cornerstone and Blairline), and to help with the selection and the layout of the various sections, I have created cut-out foot prints of each selected structure with a photo of the finished kit on the cut-out. I will also refurbish 3 large factories that had been kit bashed and used on the A&BR1.

fp Structure footprints aid in structure selection, layout, and planning, but until the structures are complete, I will delay adding the roadways, paved and gravel parking areas, lawns, and all the surrounding scenery. Having the completed structures on hand will allow me to visualize and layout the finished scene.

Completing the West Slope and the Industrial Park

ik1 I have completed 9 of the 18 or so industrial structures that I bought to use on the center bench. This allows me to layout the industrial park along the sidings on the terrace above the terminal ladder. 
With these structures in place, I can sketch right on the homasote to indicate the positioning of roads, gravel and paved parking areas and aprons, grassy areas and lawns, brushy or wooded areas and so on. Next, I cut the .040 styrene for all the roads and paved areas in the scene.
ip2 3/15/202 - Then I cut 200 grit sand paper for the road surfaces, glued it to the styrene using a very thin coat of Liquid Nails. (It is water based and will not deform the styrene.)  I then spray painted the road surfaces dark gray with a light, flat black, highlighting over-spray. Finally, I then added all the lines using 1/64 and 3/64 white and yellow poster tape, and glued the styrene roads and paved areas in place again using Liquid Nails.
ip4 3/16/2020 - Next I turned my attention to the West Slope, applying screen, rock castings, and a styrene forest wall about half way up the slope. The styrene wall will allow me to form a 2 to 3 inch deep enclosure where I can use news paper balls and paper mashe' to create an uneven base for the raised green foliage forest canopy, thus avoiding the need to make a large number of individual trees. On the exposed side of the styrene wall, I'll paste a forest photo, and then mask most of it using foam foliage brush and a ring of individually made trees. Here is the West Slope with the styrene wall and forest photo attached and the and rock castings installed along with a narrow styrene road base for the dirt service road leading to the water tower. . 

3/17/2020 Next a coat of Sculptamold outside the wall, a coat of base earth and rock colors, some zip texturing, and ground cover and some dry brushing of lighter gray and then white of the rock faces.
ip5 3/19/2020 I am now ready to mask the styrene canopy wall with foam shrubs and a ring or two of hand made trees.
ip6 3/20/2020 Now, I'll create the undulating canopy base inside the wall using balls of newspaper covered with a thin layer of paper mashe made with a very thin Sculptamold mix. When it is dry, I'll paint it black.
ip7 Finally, I'll glue down the foliage canopy using contact cement, and here is the nearly completed industrial park with the transitional slope and false canopy behind,

Completing the Altamont Terminal Complex

Although the upper levels of the terminal with the main terminal building and the two freight houses are pretty much complete, there is still a great deal of work to be done below along the terminal yard ladder including doubling the size of the train shed, constructing and installing a dozen or so more platforms and lighting the sheds and covered platforms, as well as adding five freight sheds, and a half dozen track side warehouses and light factories. When this is all done, I'll ballast all the track.  

ty2 Here is the yard ladder area where I'll be working. The train shed and the platform are not yet lit and are in place just to check track spacing. 
ty1 I'll begin by removing the train shed and the platforms.
ty3 3/23/2020 Then I'll finish the stone wall and rock face and shrub/tree line along the edge of the industrial park on the South side of the ladder, complete the adjacent stone walls and foliage around the road tunnel portal, replace and light the two adjacent warehouses. 
ty4 Then I'll complete the gravel, grass, and paved areas adjacent to the terminal yard ladder and add five small freight sheds in the graveled areas, two on the North side and three on the South side.
ty5 4-5-2020 Then I'll construct, light, and install the new train shed and all the long platforms.
ty6 4-6-2020 Terminal Complex - night view.

Installing Turnouts for the Shop Area.

I will next begin work on the turntable and shops area. The first order of business is to install turnouts number 614, 615, and 616. Again, I will lift out the entire bench top 3/4 inch plywood and homasote section and do this work on the work bench where I can turn the section over and work on the underside without having to crawl around under the bench working above my head. Once these turnouts are working and the associated turntable and siding tracks installed, all of the track work for the A&BR2 will be complete.

sto1 Top side with turnout and cork roadbed in place.
sto2 Underside with Tortoise interfaces installed.

Another Factory Structure

Back to work on the industrial and commercial structures that will line the southern sput of the ladder at the entrance to Altamont Terminal. The largest of there is a DPM kit called Woods Furniture Co.  It is a testament to what can be done using the DPM modular wall sections. I have used these sections extensively in various kit bashing projects. In this case DPM has designed a rather large factory using multiple modular walls to construct the entire wall sections.

ik3 Assemblying the wall sections.
ik4 Complete factory ready for the roof gravel.

Odds and Ends

With almost all the track on the center bench laid and wired, I spend some time running a loco over all the new track section by section at very very slow speed to check for any dirty or catch spots
in the track or in the turnouts and for any lateral or vertical rail mis-alignment. I cleaned as a went along, and when every thing was running smoothly in an area, I coated the rail tops with a very thin coat of NO-OX A Special, my magical no-tarnish compound. I also spent a day or two slipping sleepers under the rails to replace those removed for rail joiners or for dropper solder points.

Third Annual Altamont and Blue Ridge Train Room Clean Up.

My annual train room clean up is a full month overdue. When I cleared all my tools and materials from the center bench to make way for progress there, I cleaned and straightened up the entire area behind the backdrop and built some shelves. At that time, I also got most every thing up off the floor and swept up really well, so all that remains to be done for the annual clean up is to mop the concrete floor. God, I hate that job. The floor is plenty dirty, and, remember, the train room is 40' by 25' - so this is a big job. Ill just have to face it.

I'll do half of it today and half tomorrow.


More Track Side Structures

After having recently built a number of DPM and Walthers Cornerstone plastic factory and warehouse kits, I will now turn my attention to constructing a few wooden kits: one from American Model Builders, one from Blairline and one from Motrax Models.

ik6 4-21-2020 - Motrax Models - Consolidated Auto Parts - A good kit with very fragile and delicate parts requiring considerable patience and skill. A lot of the detail involves very fine strip wood that has to be cut to size.
ik6  4-25- 2020 - American Model Builders - A. C. Brown Mfg Co.  Excellent kit.with good detail requiring skill and experience.
ik7 4-29-2020 - Blairline - Farmer's Fertilizer Bulk Plant. Very nice kit. More robust components with excellent fitting slotted parts.  Easier assembly. Good detail .

Laying Out Roads on the South Side of  the entrance to Altamont Yard.

With the completion of these three wooden structures, I have enough factories and warehouses to layout the line of structures along the southern-most spur of Altamont yard ladder.  I will then install the associated roadway, the underpass and the crossroad intersection and commercial area on the South side of the spur to the industrial park.

ts Here is a rough sketch of the plan for this area. I have not yet purchased the structures for the commercial area, but since it is to be a simple crossroad, I will not need them for initial planning or layout.
ts1 5-5-2020 Here are the completed roadways - as usual .040 styrene sheet laminated with 220 grit sand paper, painted gray and lines with 1/64 inch poster tape.
ts2 5-10-2020 Here is the underpass and the terrain transition from the industrial park to the flat areas below.
ts4 5- 18-2020 Here is part of the nearly completed track side industrial area.
ts3 5- 22-2020 I have purchased some commercial buildings and some worker housing structures for the crossroads. I am now beginning work on  that area. 
ts5 5-29-2020 Nearly completed first section of the crossroads area.
5-30-2020 I went back and completed the lighting hook up for the Industrial park. Here is the 12 volt lighting distribution block. It consists of positive and negative 12 volt buses, with a 680 ohm resistor attached to the negative output for each of the 6 4-LED groups.