Trees are one of those hot button subjects. We’re amazed at well detailed tree models but let’s face it, they’re a pain, not only to build but placing them too. Volume 09 of The Missing Conversation is all about tree modeling (coming June 30, 2014). In addition to a detailed look at full-size trees, Trevor Marshall wrote a wonderful article with loads of beautiful photos showing how he’s using tree models on his layout. You’ll love it.

One thing he covers is tree placement in his rendition of the Lynn Valley. He’s placed numerous trees between the front edge of the layout and the single track that runs through this section.  Traditional thought urges zealous caution about placing anything between the aisle and the track. Obscure free access to said track and that’s where the gremlins will setup housekeeping for the life of the layout. We’ve had that thought drilled into our heads for decades. (I find it amusing that we’ll bury track inside a tunnel without the slightest twinge of worry.) In Trevor’s situation, it’s just open running, except for an occasional water stop at the Lynn Valley tank, and he allowed for clever sight lines through the trees to spot tenders at the tank. What are the real issues involved in placing tall objects in front of the track? They vary according to the operations required in the scene.

On the I&W, I placed a cluster of trees in front of the track near the Mill St. crossing. These trees are tall and reach over my head. There are also a couple of branches that extend over the track and I made certain there was plenty of clearance for passing trains.

Tall trees in front of the track at Mill St. on the I&W

Tall trees in front of the track at Mill St. on the I&W.

Tree branches can extend over the tracks where appropriate. Most lines would cut these back though.

Tree branches can extend over the tracks where appropriate. Most lines would cut these back though.

On a shelf layout like mine, vertical elements are critical to counter that table-top appearance. In addition to acting as a scene divider, this small woodlot creates a mini-scene for the eye to linger over.

Like Trevor’s Lynn Valley, operations are quite simple through this area. When planning the scenery here, I had to allow for operators (me) to reach in and work the ground throws for two turnouts in this area. (There were four originally before I removed the excess trackage on the layout.) Sight lines for throwing the turnouts are not an issue because I was careful to put trees where they wouldn’t get in the way, but could still act as a view block.

The ground throw for the end of the runaround is well away from the trees, so reaching in to throw this turnout isn’t a problem (photo below). As you see in the photo, where I actually reach in to throw the switch, the scenery is nothing but groundcover that won’t be damaged from contact with my hand. The ground throw for the Pole Track at the opposite end of this woodland is much closer, yet still has plenty of clearance for oversized hands to do the work and again, there is a simple treatment of scenery surrounding the reach in area.

Plenty of room to reach in past the foreground trees.

Plenty of room to reach in past the foreground trees.

Close but no worries about snagging the scenery.

Closer but no worries about snagging any scenery with my hand.

Because of the generous size of quarter-inch scale, throwing the two turnouts that used to be on the back track wasn’t a problem because I had plenty of room from both ends of the woodlot to reach my hand into the scene.

Obviously, there’s still work to do in this area and if needed, I can remove the trees to prevent damage and to give unimpeded access. Once the background is completed, I’ll add more saplings and taller growth among the mature trunks for more visual interest.

Regards,
Mike