The Roster

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Landscaping work on the layout continues!

Spent some time this week making progress on landscaping the layout. After scrolling back through the archives of the blog, it's nice to see the layout taking a more finished shape. But words fail where pictures excel - see what I mean below.

From the south end of the layout - the east yard and town.

The town fronting the train station.

The Kwiky mart

The police make a stop for coffee


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Landscaping progress on the apartment district

Managed to paint/flock the ground cover in the area of the apartments. What a difference a little flocking makes!

Landscaped with a couple of palms tossed in to flank the door. These trees are cake decorations that were based on a washer, had the trunks painted light brown and hit with a coat of dullcoat to remove the shine off the plastic leaves.  The car is Dodge Charger from the M2 line. The dumpster is a resin piece from the Armorcast line.

Overview shot showing the landscaped grass and river bank. The parking lot is gray paint with light gray fine ballast dropped onto it. The mottled effect reflects old payment that has seen better days.

MRC field grass installed between two tracks. In S scale, it's between 2-3 feet tall.

Same grass from a different angle and no rail car in the background.

I'm really liking the field grasses. Yes, it's labor intensive to install, but it looks good when it's done. I'll be slowing adding the tall grass highlights around the layout as the basic scenery gets installed.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Cityscape - scene 1 the low rent apartment district

A couple of years ago I picked up two of the Plasticville apartment buildings. You likely know them - two story buildings that look like they have 2-4 apartments. It's an old staple of the Plasticville line and represents apartment buildings from the 1950's to the early '60's that captures some of the modernist and art deco elements that give Plasticville kits their character.  I want to drop them into the layout, but where?

After fitting in the track plan and the train station, I feel pretty confined with locating the apartments. There is an unused section that fits between the river, the railroad tracks and the convenience store. It's a little cramped, but 'compression' is how we usually rationalize this for model railroading.

Who would want to live in an apartment right next to the railroad? You can find plenty of towns where the rails run next to residential properties. In addition,  I can say is that I've lived in two apartments in my life that were in close proximity to the rails - one was right next to a major yard. After a while, you do get used to it. To some degree I want to model these buildings as a reminder to my earlier adventures and experiences. 

I assembled the buildings and placed them on the layout, adjusting them to get an idea of exactly where I best want to site them before I starting painting and flocking the landscape. We've got the river flowing close by on the north boundary. I'm thinking of squeezing in an access road to the rail yard next to the river bank. More a dirt/gravel track than a formal road.

Looking to the left
 On the south we bump up against the back of the convenience store. This area needs more landscaping.
Looking to the right
 Here's the view from the convenience store looking north toward the apartments.

Looking north

 And here's the view from across the river looking south. The river bank when finished should be covered in brush and trees providing some additional screening.

Looking south

 From a modeling aspect, separating the railroad right of way from the apartments seemed like a good safety aspect, so I dropped some brick wall sections from Armorcast around the east and south sides of the property to secure the boundaries. It also makes a nice divide with the backside of the convenience store 6' tall

Boundary between the store and the apartment. It's going to be a tight fit for the garbage truck.

The parking lot feels cramped, but again for modeling purposes, I'll be compressing the scene a bit to better fit the buildings into the available space.

The parking lot will be a crowded space when the cars and dumpster are added.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Landscaping with Field Grass

On a recent trip to the hobby shop, I picked up a package of MRC "field grass". I've tried Woodland Scenic's 'static grass' before and was disappointed with my results.  But reading the instructions on the package I thought I'd give this a shot.

Opening the package, my first thought is that unlike static grass, Field Grass has the consistency of "broom straw". Each stalk is rigid and will bend and  ultimately snap if pushed too far.

The instructions were so simple even I could follow them. Use a nail to push a hole in the base. Fill the hole with glue, then shove a clump of field grass in the hole and let it dry. I started with a few small clumps to see if I like the effect.

Some grass along the river bank

Same grass, different angle

Using these as a highlight in a subtle drainage swale. 

The darker flocking and tall field grass imply more water at this spot.

Lead in to the stream
This marks the soft groud that leads to the drainage stream. I'm liking the effect and will likely like the banks of the stream with more grass. This is sort of a 'dead' area on the layout. It's bounded by tracks and the river and bisected by the stream. It'll end up looking sort of wild with a lot of cast off railroad junk scattered about.

What's the verdict?

I like it! It's easy to use and adds a lot of detail to the layout.