A teaser at the end of last week’s post suggesting more to come about changes to the layout peaked Chris Mears’s interest, so, let’s not torment him any longer.

After much debate and procrastination, I decided to alter the yard area above the workbench -again.

I considered changes to the track arrangement but chose to leave it as is, having concluded things were as good as they could be given the available space and my desire not to overcrowd the scene. If I have learned nothing else from working in quarter-inch scale, I now understand how easy it is to overcrowd a scene with track, which takes up far more space than those working in HO or N scales can ever imagine, and can produce a toy-like effect that destroys any sense of realism. As I suggested last week, the key to this scale is restraint.

This mismatch between the open service road and crowded scenery was jarring

This mismatch between the open service road and crowded scenery was jarring. There was no easy way to extend the road.

Despite prior efforts, the scenery at the back of the yard still didn’t fit well with the rest of the layout, which is what truly bothered me. If you recall the photo from last week, there is a wide service road that runs along the yard tracks. As seen in the foreground of this photo, I started the road in the middle section and planned to extend it all the way to the end of the layout.

The problem this time revolved around the lack of space for this road next to the yard track. The low hill I modeled to ease the transition from layout surface to the backdrop intruded as did the remnants of the decommissioned turnout. The scale height trees I placed next to the backdrop brought the background forward visually and greatly reduced the feeling of depth. All of this was a jarring contrast to the open area next to the old station platform seen below. The background scenery is still incomplete but you get the sense of where the scene is going.

The new access drive on the I&W

A good start from a couple of years ago.

Brought in the heavy equipment and cleared the land.

I brought in the heavy equipment and cleared the land.

I’ve discovered that it’s often better to start with a clean slate than to work around pre-existing conditions, so I stripped off the old scenery in 15-20 minutes of work (photo above). Later I removed the rails from the old turnout. I initially left them in place for the visual effect but the railroad would have removed this turnout completely to eliminate a safety hazard. I patched the gap with the stock rail by moving it over and trimming to length. It already had a feeder wire, so problem solved electrically and the track is back in service.

Track is patched and back in service

Yard track is patched and back in service.

A road at last!

A road at last! The shrubs surround a low spot but I’ve since removed them.

There is still much work to be done but even with the service road in its raw state, I can see a greater continuity across the entire layout, so I feel this is the right course. The road extends into the yard as it should with room to stretch out to its proper width. To soften the hard transition to the backdrop, I will continue the chain link fence from the mill across the length of the entire scene, letting it peek in and out of a generous quantity of weeds, shrubs and more appropriately sized trees. To prevent the background from coming too far forward visually, I need to pay greater attention to the proportions, textures and coloring so that it stays back where it belongs.

I have high hopes this will finally resolve the conflict I’ve long felt about this area and bring a sense of openness to the scene.

On the surface this solution should have been obvious from the start. Observe the prototype, then model what you see as closely as possible. This multi-year soap opera of revolving fixes demonstrates how rigid and convoluted one’s thinking can become. If you would like an overview of the progression of this area, I’ve linked to the archive posts below.

Now, Mr. Mears, about all that large scale masonry that keeps showing up on your blog? I’m curious.


Archive Links
One Layout or Two?
Weeding The Yard
An Update Or Two
Scenery Progress
The Power Of Empty