Blog entries from August 2017 and earlier have been migrated from a former site and many of the images are incorrectly linked. These will be repaired over time.

I've been getting a lot accomplished as the winter modeling season comes to a close. Since last time I have installed backdrops on the upper display level. I also finished installing the backdrop behind Yeagertown and Burnham.

I'm focusing on Mann's Narrows, with the goal of getting the area fully sceniced by the end of the month. The mountain has received a complement of trees and I have completed the plastering and some of the sculptamodling on the foreground scenery, including some trademark Pennsy retaining walls along the edge of the Kishocoquillas Creek.

I love President's Day... it's a holiday for me and I always plan on working on the model railroad. Spring is just around the corner and I am sprinting to complete several projects before the yard work comes a calling.

Since my last report, the mountain on the far side of the track received its final plaster coat and a

coat of Sculptamold. Plaster castings of rock outcroppings were applied and appropriately colored. A based coat of "dirt" paint was appied to all non-rock areas. The mountain is ready for a layer of "forest floor" and then comes tree planting time. Oops, gotta make the trees first!

Mann's Narrows Progress

With an assist from my son, Andrew, I got the first coat of plaster on the main mountain that forms the backdrop of the Milroy Branch as it runs through Mann's Narrows, between Yeagertown and Reedsville.

I'm using plaster-of-paris with paper towels over a cardboard web. I've found that I need to make the plaster a little wetter than the recipe dictates. Without the extra shot of water, the plaster was lumpy and way too thick.

Scenery has never been my forte, but this section will be very hard to access once the Lewistown Yard is constructed on the lower level. The trackage of the upper level will be accessible, but the back edge of the mountains will have to go untouched until the end of time!

Fourth quarter was a slow starter for Middle Division construction. The family had a late vacation; then I had to coordinate picking up the models from Joe Henry Kline's family. Add a few holidays, and where did all that time go?

The past two weeks have been very productive. I got about fifteen feet of backdrop installed on the top display level, as well as about fifteen feet through Yeagertown. I've also formed, but not installed, rough scenery forms for the Yeagertown area. Track painting is next for this area, as the photo indicates.

While it's been a while since my last update, a lot has been going on. I've been mired down with selling off all of the paper from the spring acquisition. Though it's kept me off the model railroad, it's provided welcome revenue for projects moving forward.

I started plastering the mountains in the Manns Narrows area. Though the results are acceptable, it has proven quite time consuming. I can only cover about two square feet with one batch of plaster, which has a working time of 6-8 minutes. Unfortunately, I have to crawl under a portion of the benchwork to get to the mountain area. This is proving to be a tiring process. It is probably more conducive to being a two person project -- one in the hole plastering and the other cleaning out the mixing pan between batches.

Today I managed to mount all 17 switch machines in the Yeagertown area. I also formulated the design plan for the fascia-mounted control panels. I have 6 more track power drops and 2 frog power drops to implement yet, then this area will be ready for the fascia.

I've also redesigned the web site a bit, making it more representative of a real railroad. Enjoy!

Undaunted by Hurricane Sandy bearing down on central Pennsylvania, I made use of the Governor's closure of the state to work on the turnout control wiring in Yeagertown.

This past weekend at the Timonium show I picked up wiring connectors for Tortoise switch machines. Though these add to the cost per turnout, they allow you to perform all of the wire soldering on the bench and then slip the connector over the card edge of the switch motor. It also allows you to more easily swap out a switch machine without having to resolder anything.

Cardboard mesh framing for the Mann's Narrows mountains.

You may have noticed in the background of photos posted a few weeks ago that I was starting to build the shape of the mountains for Mann's Narrows out of foam.

This was my first use of foam. I had purchased some 2" thick and 3/4" thick sheets and had built up a few layers. I started carving and decided it was not for me! I think foam is a perfect medium for small areas and perhaps "trivial" hills -- as well as for keeping things light for a portable layout -- but it wasn't giving me the control and the feel that I was hoping for.

Nothing better than a holiday without family plans, and Columbus Day was one of them. A whole day in the train room!

The first task at hand was installation in the fascia of a Digitrax UR-91 radio receiver and a Logic Rail Technologies LocoNet Fast Clock. May seem like a simple task, but it took a lot more effort than I had anticipated to make it look good. Also had to provide power to both, home-runned to the UPS system at the Power Desk. Had to also run a LocoNet home run back to the Power Desk.


Train room viewed from the bottom of the stairway.

The project included three light fixtures. I installed "daylight" tubes. I will soon replace the "cool white" tubes in the existing fixtures in the other room. You can see the color difference in the photos.