Layout Scenery Part II - Background

By Ty’s Model Railroad - 6/03/2012 07:18:00 PM

Upgraded double wide warren-truss train bridge with forest scenery, bridge abutments and grade crossings

The second section of scenery I tackled was the double track portion directly in front of the backdrop. This section runs from the right mountain tunnel portal, over the warren-truss bridge, and in front of the remainder of the mountain scenery in the right-hand corner of my layout. This segment was probably the most inconvenient to work on, entirely due to the fact that I had to lean way over the rest of my layout to work on it. However, now that the background portion is complete, the middle and foreground should be a much easier and convenient experience.

Partially completed model railroad backdrop scenery and surrounding terrain

Woodland Scenics pine trees and scenery products being installed directly to backdrop

To start, I first needed to complete the tree line that runs along the top if the rock ridges and spans between the 2 mountains in each corner of my layout. I had already painted trees onto the backdrop, however this did not suffice to represent the forest above the rock ridges and required more texture. These rock ridges are only about 1/4" thick so the pine trees needed to be attached directly to the backdrop. When building the tree armatures, I made sure the back sides of the trees were flat which allowed the finished trees to be easily glued to the backdrop.

Background terrain and forest scene under construction around an upgraded warren-truss bridge

Small mountain scene with a layer of foam earth-blend ground cover

With the addition of actual model pine trees to the backdrop, I added clumps of Woodland Scenics conifer green foliage to the painted trees. This further added texture and helped to blend the painted trees in with the actual trees. The tops and faces of the rock bluffs were finished with various foliage, ground foam, shrubbery, and lichens.

Background terrain and forest scene under construction around an upgraded warren-truss bridge

The completion of the scenery around the road that passes under the warren-truss bridge and disappears into the background was also on the list to complete. I started by temporarily removing the bridge so I could more easily access this area. I applied fine gray gravel to the shoulders of the roadway, gluing it down with thinned glue and isopropyl alcohol. The next layer was earth colored ground foam, followed by coarse turf and bushes which I applied generously around the base of the bridge abutments. 

Background terrain and forest scene under construction around an upgraded warren-truss bridge

While I had the bridge removed, I decided that it required an upgrade. I originally built the deck using three Atlas bridge girder pieces to allow dual tracks and used the truss supports from an Atlas warren-truss bridge kit. I wasn’t happy with the design or look right from the beginning. The truss structure rubbed against rolling stock and looked inadequate to support the double track. 

Upgraded double wide warren-truss train bridge

I started by adding 3/8” wide styrene strips to each side of the deck, thus widening it by 3/4” so trains would no longer rub on the truss structure. I wanted the truss structure to also be supported over the top, which required raising the original Atlas warren truss supports. To do this, I built 1” risers out of styrene which I then glued to the bottom of the trusses, following the angles of the original struts and bracing bars. The horizontal struts and bracing were also constructed out of styrene strips which I built into t-girders.

Completed background mountain forest scenery consisting of ground foam, trees, talus and field grass

The truss system is not attached to the deck but instead sits between two slots on the deck. I needed to build it this way so I could slide the deck back under the track as it is no longer easily removable. I sprayed the bridge structure flat black and lightly weathered with powdered pastels. I then simply slid the deck under the track and onto the abutments and placed the support structure into position on top.

Light vegetation being applied on ballast between double tracks

Ballasted tracks with light vegetation and overgrowth

Ballasting the rails was next, followed by weathering the center of the track with black powdered pastels. I also applied light vegetation and overgrowth between the double tracks once the ballast was dry. The backdrop section of track and surrounding areas are the same type of mountainous scenery as the completed tunnel mountain so I used the same methods as before to build up the scenery. 

Plaster rock outcroppings and plaster terrain with various ground foam, trees, and talus to create a forest scene

Completed forest scene near a tunnel entrance made with various ground foam, trees, talus and field grass

I ran out of trees to fully complete the raised section of track leading up to the trestle so I will finish this once I put more trees together. At this point I’m not sure what section of scenery I will tackle next. It will most likely be the area in front of the single and double tunnel portals on the front of my mountain and the area right in front of the backdrop section I just completed. However, I am currently working on finishing my very first scratch built structure which is a priority to complete in the next couple days. 

Details of plaster rock castings next to railroad track showing various ground foams, talus and field grasses

Completed mountain forest scenery consisting of various model trees, ground foams, talus and field grasses

Completed background mountain forest scenery consisting of ground foam, trees, talus and field grass

Ballasted track and completed scenery on plaster rock outcroppings leading to upgraded warren-truss bridge

Completed mountain forest scenery between tunnel portals and a warren truss bridge

Completed background mountain scenery

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