PRR Chartiers Branch: Hazel Mine - Backdrop & Lighting
06/08/2017

May 24, 2017

The backdrop panels are cut from a 4'x8' sheet of 1/8"-thick hardboard. I first ripped the sheet down to 2'x8'. One of those pieces was then cut down the middle to yield two 2'x4' sheets. These two sheets are for the side backdrops. The one long one is for the main backdrop. I then trimmed the side panels to fit in the actual module so that it would butt-up against the long backdrop.
The side panels sit in a groove cut in the modules. The creek exits at the ends of the modules, so I marked their edges off on the backdrop, and then cut about a 1-5/8" strip from the rest of the backdrop. There is also a groove in the creek bottom. With some adjusting, I was able to get the side panels to fit in the grooves.
I wanted a single, long backdrop for the back, so that there are no gaps to deal with. Since the backdrop panels are easy to remove, there is no issue with doing that. The long backdrop was trimmed to length to match the outside edges of the side panels. It, too, needed to have the bottom trimmed to fit within the modules' grooves, while also "dipping" down into the creek. With everything said and done, the top of the backdrop panels sits at 21-1/4" above the top surface of the modules, or almost 6'7" above the floor. The backdrop panels completely hide any distractions from the rest of the room.

June 08, 2017

I painted the backside of the backdrop panels white, so as to reflect the maximum amount of light into the rest of the room, and then painted the front side a sky-blue. You can kind of tell the difference in color by comparing the backdrop with the layout's white surface.
To the left of the cardboard boxes is the long, 8-foot, backpanel. It is quite wobbly, so I decided to attach two strips of 3/4"x1" plywood to the back. As I move this board around, I was concerned about the paint cracking over time. It actually makes moving this 2'x8' slab much easier too. I did this before painting the board, so that the strips are painted as well. I didn't bother doing that for the 2'x4' side panels.
Up next is to design the lighting panel that will rest on top of the backdrops. While I am doing that, I am doing a good bit of work on the back side of the modules while it is easy to reach them. Although the backdrop and lighting system will be removable, it is still a bit of work, so it is better to get a lot of the basic scenery work done on that section of the layout. Things, such as the structures, will be added over time.