Kootenay Lake and Taghum bridge

One end of the layout that I feel I should really get in shape is the section just outside of Castlegar – the long set of bridges over the Kootenay River at Taghum, giving my wye a leg of another 1000′. Plus, scenery experience is great! I still don’t like rockwork. Really unfortunate.

To start, I had a wire mesh section already plastered in at the west end of Nelson yard (nothing to the east will exist until I raise the funds to finish the other 3 walls of the room) but I was unsatisfied with the embankment. The prototype’s lakeshore at this point is fill, so it’s a fairly uniform bank. To achieve this, I took some paper similar to bristol board, cut it to size (Pythagorean theorem style) cut slits in it so it could bend around the corner, and taped it down before applying plaster.  Once the plaster was dry, I sanded it so it would be a smooth base. Later on I’ll put a layer of ballast on it. The rock castings are not secured in place in the first photo.

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After painting the lakebed with latex acrylic house paint:

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I hope that blue isn’t too blue and light.

A note about the lakebed: SAND THE PLYWOOD FIRST. I made the mistake of doing a light rub, but you really really REALLY need to give it a thorough go-over with a power sander to make it flat enough that the grain won’t show through. I did two coats of paint, sanded the paint and added a third and it still shows. You’ll see in the following photos…

One nice thing about such thick and rubbery paint is that if you have a backdrop that has a tendency to move away from the wood, leaving a place for liquids to flow later, the paint will seal that shut. If you’re wondering why I’m not worried about paint all over the backdrop, it’s because we’ll be putting digital illustrations in there later.

On to the bridge. The piers were causing me problems as I couldn’t get them cut just right until I had an idea: Use the mitre saw and shim it. They’re tapered towards the top so I figured out exactly how much skinnier the top was, divided by half to get it straight (close to 1/8″)  and then rotate the saw to an angle matching the base of the casting to get that right. I also had an extra scrap behind the casting so it wouldn’t skew into the hole behind the cutting area. It worked! Now I have two beautifully straight piers and two…not quite so straight ones. I painted them with a mixture of white and black (guess who doesn’t have any gray?) with a touch of a reddish-brown colour called burnt sienna. I secured them with wood glue, although I did scratch a hole in the paint below each pier to allow them to bond with the wood. I recommend doing this!

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Another thing I got done was the Central Valley 150′ pratt truss – it’s not perfectly to prototype but it looks damned good. I’m going to paint all the bridges a uniform shade of grimy lack and then weather them before putting them in place. Still, it’s fun to simulate!

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Great! I like progress!

Now one thing that was bothering me recently was the sawmill. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted a loading building (thereby making it look like a bigger industry) or just a covered loading shed (like a prototype at Slocan City). I started mocking up the building, but eventually realized what must be done, at least with the help of polls on several forums. I moved the track closer to the aisle to leave room for a loading platform behind the tracks, instead of blocking them. I think I like this!


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This scrap of foamcore turned out to be the correct size for a loading dock, if I decide to have it at boxcar door level.

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That’s all for this week, in the future I’ll be working on getting the bridges in place and rockwork around the tunnel at Labarthe. Ciao!



Quick fix: Broken flextrack

Shortie post today. A bit of hydrocal got under the newspaper and stuck to the rail of my flextrack, and in the process of removing it I broke the rail out from under the tabs. This was in about a 3 inch section. Here’s how I fixed it…

First, I pulled up the section of flextrack until I could get under it with a small xacto knife blade. I cut one tie free so I could put a PCB tie in its place. At this point I also filed the underside of the weathered rail to make sure I could solder to it. I used a pair of ME track gauges to make sure that the rails had the correct spacing.

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Solder the rails in place with an appropriate isolation gap and bam! Your track’s in gauge again!

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