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I completed about 60 square feet of scenery this past fall and winter. The NMRA Achievement program requires 32 square feet in HO scale to qualify for judging. Using my smart phone to document each scene and the creation of certain items helped me write articles for my local NMRA Division and Region. It was finished enough for me to invite the judges over. Here are a few of the scenes and some behind the scenes work.
More will follow as I fired up my blog again after a rough 2018. I'm glad to be back to devoting some spare time to my hobby.
I worked all fall and winter on my peninsula, lower yard and Elizabeth Mine area. I created the base from florist foam covered with wall sparkling compound. Super trees were made in abundance for the million Birch Trees I need. Structures relevant to northern Minnesota were put in place. I will go into more detail on each scene and the creation of those scenes in future blog posts. I just wanted to get back on my MRH blog and show off some work. I hope you enjoy.
The Elizabeth Mine received backdrops and many new trees and shrubs.
Track workers get ready to replace some ties.
Finding an old photo of a Logging line named Splitrock was an inspiration. I created an abandoned right of way for a narrow gauge logging line using code 40 rail and scratch building the remains of a water tower.
I worked on scratch building a Weeping Willow tree. This was a lot of work, and the branches actually move in a breeze. Lots of tedious work went into this tree, but I really wanted to have one on my layout hanging over a pond/lake.
I also wanted a pair of Loons, Minnesota's state bird. I had Creaky Chair electronics create a sound card that plays cricket noises and loon calls. It is placed under my layout and is broadcast with a inexpensive pair of speakers.
Loons were created by making duck bills into a point, then hand painted and placed on the pond.
Woodland Scenics deep pour water with some tint was used for this deeper pond. water effects was used for the waves, and they were dry brushed white.
The lower level yard of Agate Bay received some final details. The material yard occupies a small section of land between the yard and the ore dock. Rail, ties, tie plates, spikes, frogs, point rails and switch stands are all ready for the crews to use if a mishap happens out on the line.
The new upper and lead had a lot of work done to it. The old yard lead was left in place and old weeds were applied to give it the overgrown look.
Scenery was completed behind the yard and between the tracks of the arrival and departure yards.
Weeds have a tough time growing in all that iron ore dust.
I only ave one grade crossing on the visible portion of my layout. I wanted to make it a signature scene. I always liked seeing the Superior National Forest signs when we head north. The Splitrock Mining travels right through the heart of the forest. This represents Hwy 135 near the towns of Tower/Soudan. The road signs were made from Model Builders software. The crossing flashers work and are activated by optical detectors between the rails.
The classic design of the sign was created by Bill Brillinger and his PDC laser cutting company. My wonderful wife helped me measure an actual sign outside Two Harbors, MN.
I finally settled on the paint colors needed. The decals are also supplied by PDC and even show the bolts used to hold the sign onto the framework. It really helps place my layout on the map.
My "signature Scene", as Trevor Hoffman's coined phrase depicts, is the rock cut between Tower and Sudan. It received a better grade of Birch trees and shrubs. Switch stands and ballast were added as well as more foam to hide the edge of the mine where it sits on the layout. Floating structures are a big no-no for judges.
The open corner, or the inside of the curve on the upper level yard was just begging for a better treatment than static grass. I wanted to add more water to my layout set in a state with 10,000 Lakes. I built the shoreline from Vallejo Mud and added Woodland Scenics reeds, cut to size. The base was painted green-ish, and a dam was made of clear silicone to prevent the water being poured from running onto my floor.
I wanted to add lots of small things to see as this is on the front of the layout. I added lillypads, cat tails and rocks and logs. I switch between calling this the turtle pond, or frog pond.
I actually found 3D printed frogs and turtles on Shapeways site. Those frogs are small!
I added the turtles to the logs and rocks sunning themselves. Frogs went on the lillypads and I added Canadian geese and some ducks.
The abundant HO scale geese are all white, domestic types. I could find no Canadian geese. I think a manufacturer could create these, and sell them in packs of 100. So I painted my own, and even adapted a few swans to the Canadian colors.
Next came the tunnel scene. My layout uses an open helix to gain elevation. I knew I could fit another signature scene as I wanted to create a likeness of the Erie Mining Tunnel at Cramer, MN.
Erie mining has a door on their tunnel to protect it from the elements in the winter. When the line was being built, they stored the F-units in there until railroad operations could start. I added a door, machinery to operate it and the electronic boxes.
New switch stands were built from laser kits. I wanted a family appearance so I made circles from styrene using a paper punch. I added the switch number or location with a decal. This is R for the reversing track in Agate bay arrival track.
I wanted to have a pair of eagles above one of the lakes. I found a neat article on how to scratch build them and created them from black and white styrene. The body is a black parts sprue cut to size and drilled for wire legs. The leg feathers are wire coating flared out with a X-acto blade. the head is formed from two-part epoxy and taped as it dries.
I made them a nest high up in a dead tree. No eaglets yet, but maybe next summer.
Another signature item I wanted was a fire tower. My layout set in 1969 has the old school method of finding forest fires. Twin Whistle makes a nice kit, and I added glass and a forest ranger. Maybe its ranger Gord from the Red Green show. Rumor has it that Bigfoot has been sighted nearby.
The Regional and Divisional judges add up my score. I hope they liked the loons.
108 points is enough for a Merit, whew! Now this makes my seventh AP Certificate and I can apply for the Master Model Roader status.
Now I start work on my eighth AP certificate, motive power, for the Regional Convention in April.
More photos and some how-to blogs will follow. Some of my articles can be found in the Thousand Lakes Region publication, The Fusee.
Modeling northern Minnesota iron ore line in HO.
This article first appeared on model-railroad-hobbyist.com
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