Trestle and Trees

It takes a lot of trees to fill a layout and I’ve found the best way to tackle the task is to try to do a few each week. Last week I twisted up a few more armatures and planted them in the space back of the trestle in the Lynn Valley.

One of these days, I will have to remove the armatures from the layout, mount them on some foam board, and start building up the trunks with flexible modelling paste. But not just yet. Meantime, I’m enjoying twisting these armatures and building up scenes in my imagination.

Trestle and Trees photo Trestle-Trees_zps594c6ffa.jpg


Here’s more stuff I don’t need to know about…

These ferns by military company Eduard are photo-etched and scaled for 1:72 – a bit tiny for S, but that’s okay when one’s talking plants. I use HO scale scenery items on the layout all the time.

Click on the photo for more details:
Eduard Ferns photo EduardFerns_zps0eda59bb.jpg

Scenic Express also offers ferns, in two styles. No scale is given but they measure approximately 0.5″ tall.

Click on each photo for more info:
Scenic Express Fern Rows photo Fern_Rows_zps1165d3ac.jpg

Scenic Express Fern Plants photo Fern_Plants_zps0dadd33b.jpg

Used sparingly, these would look right at home on the forest floor in the Lynn Valley.

Tree Armatures for the east Lynn Valley

I’m really in a tree-making mood these days…

 photo Trees-LV-East-01_zps8a33510a.jpg

Having recently twisted up wire armatures for 11 trees in St. Williams, I decided to keep twisting – and have created several armatures for trees at the eastern edge of the Lynn Valley scene. This is the small piece of rolling land between the Stone Church Road overpass and the Robinson Bridge over the Lynn River.

So far, this modest space has sucked up 17 trees and I can easily see a need for another half-dozen.

Trees-Lynn Valley East photo Trees-LV-East-02_zps56f33855.jpg

It’s a good thing I like making them, and that they can be twisted while doing other things such as watching TV.

At some point, I’ll have to start pulling armatures from the layout and start painting flexible modelling paste onto the trunks and major branches. Then they’ll need canopies and leaves (because I’m modelling August, not November!) – plus more scenery work to blend them into the layout. But for now, I’m happy to twist wire…

7 Fresh Trees thanks to Chris

My friend Chris Abbott dropped by yesterday to join me for lunch at Harbord House, and he brought along a present – seven ready-to-plant trees from the now-defunct Scale Trees company. These were state of the art at one time, although Chris and I agree that today they come up short for us in comparison to building one’s own trees following the techniques popularized by Gordon Gravett. (I’ve written extensively about Gordon’s influence on my thinking about scenery in general – and trees in particular.)

Still… seven trees is seven trees, and they do a fine job of filling in the background in the Lynn Valley. The new additions are the bright green trees in the following two photos:
Filler Trees - Lynn Valley photo Trees-Lynn-130710-01_zps5ca0123e.jpg

Filler Trees - Lynn Valley photo Trees-Lynn-130710-02_zps60ce45ab.jpg

I have many more trees to add to this scene, but every little bit helps!

Chris also helped with some water remediation efforts in the train room following Monday’s unprecedented thunder storm. Thanks Chris!

Bathing Beauties – on film

When my wife and I visited the Lynn Valley in 2011, we discovered a small herd of cattle bathing in the river near the twin-span steel deck girder bridge. (Click on the picture below for more on the cattle.)
Bathing Cows! photo LynnValley-03.jpg

I’ve been working on the Lynn River scene near the water tank and wanted to add a bit of ambient sound to the scene to help bring the cows to life. This will be particularly important once I get the rest of the trees built for this area, as they will overhang the river making the cattle less obvious – and therefore a small reward for those who go looking for details on the layout.

Following yesterday’s visit from my friend Hunter Hughson, in which we ran a freight extra to Port Rowan and back, I restaged the train as it appeared after switching the terminal.

Here’s Bathing Beauties – a short video taken as Extra 80 East crosses the Lynn River:

(You can also click here to watch this video on YouTube – where you may be able to view a larger version.)

Yes, I still need to pour the water. I’m not yet ready for that. Stay tuned.

Since I’m thinking about audio a lot these days, I’ll reiterate what I wrote about the turntable video I posted ealier today:

All the sound on this video is natural – i.e.: picked up by the condenser mic on the camera, with no fiddling in the editing suite. The locomotive sound is generated by the on-board Soundtraxx Tsunami decoder, feeding two speakers – a small one in the boiler and a larger, high-bass model in the tender.

The ambient sound includes bird calls, the cattle, and – very, very quietly – some river burbling. I’m representing a fairly sedate river so the only noise the water would make is the occasional eddy around obstructions, like the centre pier of the bridge. And cow legs.

Bushes and weeds for the Lynn Valley

Weeds and bushes photo M233-1532-Meadow-03_zps764aaa8a.jpg

M233 rounds the last curve to Port Rowan photo M233-1532-Meadow-02_zpsfb318f88.jpg

M233 rounds the last curve to Port Rowan photo M233-1532-Meadow-01_zpsc384131e.jpg

Since I was in a scenery mood, I worked on the east side of the Port Rowan orchards as well. Here, the line curves away from Port Rowan and towards the Lynn Valley.

I’ve added weeds and bushes to this section of meadow. I planted bushes along the track here, and used them to define the edge of the forest that I must build along the banks of the Lynn River.
M233: Port Rowan ahead photo M233-1532-Meadow-05_zps23ef7ee7.jpg

Final approach photo M233-1532-Meadow-04_zpseb9632c7.jpg

I also removed my trees along the Lynn River, planted bushes along the banks, and then replaced the trees. This area is filling in nicely. As I’ve mentioned several times before, I must spread out the evergreens and build more broadleaf trees for this area:
Cows in the Lyn River photo LynRiver-Shrubs_zpscb596eb8.jpg

The trees cast quite a lot of shadow, making this a moody scene when a train passes through:
The Daily Effort crosses the Lyn River photo CNR7176-Bridge-02_zps534a1317.jpg

CNR 7176 and bathing beauties photo CNR7176-Bridge-01_zpsf9074b44.jpg

(Click on the photos for larger versions.)

Good progress, I think, for a few hours’ work!

Background trees

Background trees photo LynnValley-BKTrees.jpg

While looking for something else, I came across a stash of Scale Tree armatures in a rubber tub under the layout.

Remember Scale Tree? The company created armatures and canopy materials for big trees. (Scale Tree went into hibernation in 2004, but the web site still exists if you want to have a look.)

I’ve decided I want to try my hand at tree modelling using the techniques described by Gordon Gravett in his book, Modelling Trees. (I’ve written about Volume 1 previously – and have just ordered Volume 2.)

But, I have a lot of real estate to cover, and some of that real estate is a couple of actual feet away from the fascia. I have a deep corner behind the water tank in the Lynn Valley, and I realized the Scale Tree armatures could be put to good use there. So, today I built some trees – trimming and shaping the armatures, adding netting, spritzing with hair spray and sprinkling on leaves by Selkirk Scenery and Woodland Scenics.

They don’t hold a candle to Gordon’s trees, but they fill the corner and allow me to put my full effort into the foreground models.

The lead photo is an overview, looking up the cow path to the Lynn River. Scale Trees and evergreens from my friend Dave Burroughs at MountainView Depot mix nicely in this scene. They create a nice neutral background for the water tank, which will be surrounded by foreground trees as soon as I start twisting wire armatures:
Tank and new trees (2) photo Tank-1stNewTrees-02.jpg

Up close, one doesn’t even notice that the scene does not have enough trees in it:
Tank and new trees (3) photo Tank-1stNewTrees-03.jpg

As I add trees, I will include a thicker line of them along the Lynn River at this point. But I will have to be careful to leave this view available to operators and visitors. I like it:
Tank and new trees (1) photo Tank-1stNewTrees-01.jpg

A river raising party

Last night four friends joined me for a river raising party.

Chris Abbott, Mark Harris, Vince Pugliese and Mark Zagrodney lent their hands and eyes to raising a plywood riverbed – approximately 1’x3′ and with the beginnings of scenery on it – until it just kissed the bottom of the bents on the Lynn River Trestle. We then levelled the riverbed to the best of our abilities by adjusting various risers clamped to the benchwork.

It’s quite a nest of structural framing underneath the trestle. I’ve marked some of the wood in the below photo of the riverbed as follows:

– the red pieces are part of the framing system that keeps the roadbed in alignment on each side of the trestle.
– the blue pieces are just a few of the risers we installed last night to support the riverbed.

Raising the river in the Lynn Valley.

It took a fair bit of fiddling but with so many hands and eyes on the job, it was much easier than it would’ve been with just one or two people. Thanks, everyone, for the help! I’m pleased with how closely we got the riverbed to fit under the trestle:

Raising the river under the trestle.

Even though there’s still much to be done, I can already imagine what the finished scene will look like…

Raising the river under the trestle.

When satisfied, we drove home the screws and retreated to Harbord House to celebrate our victory.

The shape of things to come

First railfan photo: the steel bridge over the Lynn River.

I’ve started to work on scenery!

Yes, I know – I’ve barely started on track. So what gives?

I decided that doing the scenery under and around the bridges would be easier without the bridges in the way – safer for the bridges, too. So I’ve started adding land forms around the abutments of the twin-span steel girder bridge over the Lynn River:

Lynn Valley steel bridge - terrain.

I’ve added a plywood base for the river, and defined its edges with some leftover cork roadbed. I’ve also added some 1″x2″ on risers, just under the roadbed, to support expanses of blue foam board – there’s a support at the left of the scene:

Lynn Valley steel bridge - terrain overview.

Between the support and the riverbed, I’m installing slices of blue foam board, vertically. I’ve done four to each side of the abutments, and filled in the space under the bridge with more foam board. This foam has been roughly shaped – I’ll do final shaping when the rest of it is in, then start adding plaster, paint, grass, rocks, sandbanks, etc.

I need to decide how much of this scenery work to do before I install the bridge. Obviously, I can’t run trains through here until the bridge is in place and the rails are spiked to the abutments (although I can mock up the scene to see what it will look like). But the more I do before I install the bridge, the easier it will be.

My thoughts are to work on the scenery in the corner of this area, out towards the track, then lay the track, then continue the scenery out to the fascia.

I’m a long way from running trains, but it’s great to get this taste of the shape of things to come.