Bridging The Gap

I reached a bit of a milestone on the layout this past weekend: I was able to finally install the bridge on the 3rd module and lay rail across it. So trains can once again to run on and off the layout, no small achievement when the layout has to appear in public for the first time in just under 3 months! I have been working on various elements that were going to make up the scene in the right hand corner of the layout. These elements consisted of brick and stone walls, about 600mm of paling fence, the bridge itself and the “water” that forms the base upon which all of these sit.

Quite a while ago I decided that I didn’t want to attempt laying on the final layer of water at this early stage of the layouts development. I am well aware how much fallout can occur as you work on a layout: any attempt to install the final top layer of “water” at this stage was bound to end in damage being inflicted on that surface. In spite of this I felt I need to have something that “represented” the water’s surface in place before the exhibition in March so I put a good deal of thought what might work as a temporary installation. Nothing else could be installed until this decision was made.

So after having spent the last 6 months gradually working on these various elements I reached a point where I needed to decide what to do about the water before I could bring it all together. In the end I took the simplest route, bought a spray can of gloss black paint and used this as the temporary water. The “water” was a thin sheet of plywood which got a coat of black paint on Saturday and by late Sunday afternoon I could sit back and see the all the elements in place with the ability to run a train over the bridge. That’s not to say a train actually did run across the bridge but simply that the rails were laid in preparation for a train to cross when I get around wiring things up.

After the “water” was in place I installed the stone wall, brick retaining walls and the bridge into position and then worked on getting the paling fence installed along the top of the brick walls. This fence was a key element in the Morpeth “look”: it was a key visual element in the photos of the real place and it was important to me that it appeared as a prominent feature on the model. I had looked briefly at a commercial fence kit that I’d purchased a few years ago and it only took me an hour of struggling with this to toss it in the bin. In the end I fell back to using plain Mt Albert strip-wood stained in India ink and glued together with PVA. I have no doubt that has produced a fence that more than satisfies my need to reproduce this signature element.

After I had pinned the rails in place over the bridge I was able to pose a train and take a photo. Things are coming along nicely I think but there’s still lots to do.


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