The PRR Chartiers Branch - Progress Report - 2011-12 Report
12/11/2011
12/11/2011
As I pondered how my scratchbuilt structures will look on my layout, I remembered reading about using foam board to make mock-ups. So I went off to Hobby Lobby and bought a handful of 3/16" thick 20"x30" sheets for $1.99 each. The photo below shows the first four mock-ups I have made. I started off using Aleene's Tacky Glue, but got frustrated in that it takes a few minutes to dry. A couple of days later I came up with the idea of using a glue gun. I was afraid the hot glue would melt the foam, but it doesn't. It works almost as fast as superglue, in that the joint is solid in a matter of a couple of seconds. This speeds up the process immensely. The structure you see in the foreground I built in a matter of an hour or so.
2011-12 Report
The next photo shows the close up of the "Alman Cash & Feed Store". Purely done from imagination, this structure has two roofs and a loading dock (blocked from view by the box cars, but you can see it in the photo above). It was the first one I made and took me two nights because of the Aleene's glue's drying time. I wanted the lower roof to cover the boxcar so that the car could be unloaded in the rain. However, when I made the roof that long, it just didn't look right. I trimmed it down and the structure looks better now. That's the sort of thing you want to find out early before spending a lot of time scratchbuilding a structure that you won't be happy with.
2011-12 Report
My next project was the "Hardy & Rankin" building. Again from my imagination, I wanted a building that consisted of two completely different shapes. It is mostly a one-story building, but the sloped-roof section could have a crane-type system that moves loads on and off flat cars or gondolas.
2011-12 Report
My first scratchbuild structure project for this layout will be the Canonsburg passenger station. For this one I have plenty of prototype information (thanks to Gary Carmichael), and so this mock-up is made to scale. It is not finished yet, because I still need to use some cardboard to make the sloped roofs. These have a bend in them, so they are somewhat more difficult to make. However, the overall mock-up is an exact 1/64th reduction of the real thing, limited by the depth of my layout.
2011-12 Report
The foreground structure is of the "Canonsburg Milling Co.". I found one small photo on the web of the structure as it was in 1902. Apparently it burned down or was demolished at some point. I don't have the space to build the structure as it was, but I liked the overall shape of the roof. It wasn't that big of a building. It had a secondary structure attached to it (office, storage?). I decided to make that into a covered area for loading/unloading boxcars. The structure's dimensions are purely made-up. This photo shows it as I was building it. I sized the secondary structure to just clear the boxcar.
2011-12 Report
I added a wall to the secondary structure, and then used some cardboard from a pizza box to make the roofs. As I was moving the boxcars in and out to make sure I had made the opening to the right dimensions, it dawned on me that my engines are a bit taller than the boxcar. Oops. I guess I need to raise the whole building a couple of feet. Again, that is the sort of thing you want to discover during the "mock-up phase". I need this track to switch other tracks, so an engine must be able to go into the building. That reminded me that the employees of the milling company probably don't enjoy breathing diesel or steam engine smoke, so I will have to put some vents on the roof on my scratchbuilt structure.
2011-12 Report
This side of the structure is purposely left open. Since my layout is only 18 inches deep, some of the structures that sit at the front edge of the layout will need to be "chopped". Imagine a very large circular saw cutting the structures right at the edge of the layout. That's what I want to model. So this structure, as you can see in the photo below, will have part of its interior visible because it sticks out of over the edge of the layout. There will be a number of structures on my layout that will be modeled like that, which will allow me to super-detail their interiors. Also, since there will be a door to the loading area of the secondary building, you will be able to see through the building to view the boxcars being unloaded. I haven't done all of this to this mock-up, but I probably will, just to test the concept.
2011-12 Report
Continuing with the idea of chopping off the front edges of buildings, I experimented with the idea of a two-story factory at an inside corner of the layout. It was a neat idea, but it completely blocked the view of the rest of the corner of the layout, and made switching operations behind the building impossible.
2011-12 Report
I thought about building a small team track platform for one of the short spurs I have on the layout.
2011-12 Report
On the left-hand side of the layout, I built a mock-up of a train station and some building flats up against the back wall.
2011-12 Report
The idea was nice, but it just overwhelmed the scene.

Update: I kept these buildings on the layout for a few weeks, but then removed them. They are, of course, ugly. I thought about buying paper brick sheets to glue to the buildings, but the amount of money and time involved in making that a reality held me back. I finally moved them to the closet. Eventually that started taking up too much space and they made a one-way trip to the trash. I learned a lot from them. The photos I have shown on this page are going to help me to decide what my actual structures are going to look like and apply the lessons I learned from building these mock-ups.
2011-12 Report