Engineering Blog

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!

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!

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.

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.

Two views of Yeagertown, under construction. The tracks are operational and have become storage for freight cars as they are built.

Yeagertown, looking east towards Milroy