Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Signature Scene on the M & M Sub.

SD40-2 6027 leads a train downgrade on the CP Rail
M & M Sub. That abutment is more than decoration;
it keeps the ballast on the track!

One of the signature scenes on the M & M Sub. is the steep cliff at the entrance to the layout room. The track at this point is 15 inches above the "water" in the lake below, and 4 1/2 feet off the floor.

Ironcially, this scene wasn't in the original plans. It only appeared when I decided to "daylight" one level of the helix (in the adjoining storage room). When I brought that level out to the layout room, I had to run it up and over and alongside the lower level track. The result is what you see here.

The scene under construction, #1. I used L-girder
benchwork. Two-inch thick Styrofoam was used as
subroadbed on the upper level.

The basic landform was shaped by placing two-inch thick Styrofoam vertically against the benchwork. After patching the cracks with cheap spackling paste, I added tree bark to make the "rocks." A mixture of gray and brown latex paint, ground foam and foliage completed the scene.

The scene under construction, #2: The Styrofoam has
been added, along with the tree bark.

The small brick abutment alongside the track is more than just decorative; it proved necessary when the ballast refused to stay on the side of the track!

An overall view of the completed scene. That's the
town of Ritchie on the top level.
Some people worry when they see trains that high off the ground, with nothing to prevent them from tumbling over the cliff. But in over a dozen years of operation, I have never had an accident at this spot.

A view from above, showing the "water" below.


  1. John, now that you have actually verbalized (in print) about not ever having an accident at this spot, I would suggest hanging a net or some soft foam or something for a little insurance!! Last time I told someone I have never had a problem here or there, guess what??... Love your blogs and check them often...your layout is an inspiration to me as I build mine...keep up the great work and commentary!! Dan

  2. Uh-oh--have I jinxed it? I don't think so. I really am not at all concerned about that area. The trains go up and down slowly, and the track is super-elevated (away from the edge). It simply is not an issue. But I'll touch wood anyway . . . .

  3. Looks really great! I think my boy is going to go crazy looking at those trains and tracks.