Saturday, October 13, 2012


Dalton GA was on the north end of the Western & Atlantic RR, just south of Tunnel Hill. By August of 1863 it had become a bustling city due to the defenses being constructed along the W&A to protect this critical supply line for the Army of Tennessee. The following 'movie' of slides gives you an idea of the development, start to near completion, of this section of the layout. It began in November 2003 as tabletops with basic track plan.Also posted is an interview of Brian Kammerer as he is painting the backdrop section along this area. Friends who have had contributed to this section include DC Cebula, Chris Comport, Andy Salcius, Jimmy Judge and of course, Brian Kammerer.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A New Modeler

I have known Andy for about 15 years., mostly through his cello music and improvisational gatherings. He has been integral to helping me establish this blog. He also takes great photos. However he had never done any modeling. A few months ago he took on making trees, with a little coaxing, as a first. As you may know, trees are always a scenic feature, especially those in foregrounds. A simple technique I use Andy is demonstrating here with medium and large plastic trees by Scenic Express. First step is to cut the plastic pin molded onto the tree base. The intent is to insert a brad for easy replanting. Once the tip is removed a hole is drilled into the base the size of the brad, and about 1/8" to 1/4" deep. There is usually plastic residue on the bit and is easily removed by simply unscrewing the plastic from the bit. The brad heads are cut off with a wire cutter. We adhere the brad into the new hole in the tree base using  blue Loctite CA glue; it is a gel. The brad extends about a 1/2" from the hole. Next step is to heat the tree to soften the plastic, then gently bend branches. The last photo shows the results. Interestingly Andy started bending the branches, AND the trunks! Although slight, it offers a more realistic contrast than every tree being boringly straight. This may sound obvious but it never came to mind. This is one good reason to have someone working on the layout that has no prior knowledge or limited thinking! You can expect new ways and approaches to any aspect of modeling.

Heating the plastic then twisting and
bending branches and trunks.

Below: final inspection before deployment into the fields 

The finished products below waiting for their paint job and foliage. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Atlanta Redoubt by LeBron

 Dr. Matthews, on one of his many visits to the "North Branch", has been instrumental in creating a few 'signature scenes'. LeBron is constructing a scene common along the outskirts of Atlanta and later in the war. These entrenchments were a series of earthen and log forts known as redoubts. As the war edged closer to Atanta, fortifications were constructed along a crescent shape, south west to east of Atlanta. Musket Miniatures makes earthwork sections with a logged interior, perfect representations of what was built at this time. LeBron included a long rifle trench, finishing off the scene with tree stumps and abatis (trees and branches laid out as an impedance to infantry attacks). Musket Miniatures also make the line of wooden stakes which come in 2" sections. It is these subtle details that enhance an authentic visual experience for the time. 

Here are a few photos showing his work and how he blended it into Brian Kammerrer's backdrop painting.

These black & white picture gives you some comparison of the actual construction and LeBron's replication in the 3 prior modeling photos.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The only reference that I have located to this structure is mentioned by one of the raiders from the GLC, William Pittenger, in Craig Angles book. If you have not seen this reference before, Craig wrote "The Great Locomotive Chase" in 1992. No longer in print, Craig takes time to describe various areas along the chase route. In his book he includes this from Pittenger, "...the large passenger depot which had a shed over all the tracks..." So I went with a similar look to Atlanta. Chattanooga had a similar shed but slightly different construction materials and design. This structure holds the foreground on the North Branch (the layout). I decided to add some details given very visible location.

These two photos show early stages of Dalton and the car shed when I considered foam-core as the material. I decided on plywood after Chris' exasperations using this material for another structure. He is building the Barnsley scene found in the LABELS.

Shed Construction

On the left we're pretty along the way with the walls, roof supports and support columns already assembled. To the right shows the brick work. It is an adhesive paper by Clever. They have a very good website with a wide variety of stone, brick, siding and roof prints. You can purchase just the print  at a very reasonable fee and print any number of copies, or the adhesive backed sheets.

Two more views showing some of the wall supports and the most recent backdrop work from Brian Kammerrer. I invite you to view the new posting of Brian's work creating the backdrop scene as well, completing this and other backdrop scenes in 7 hours! More to come.

Thanks for following our work. Although we began in 2003 and await the arrival of the first sounding locos (still working out the bugs), the enjoyment never ceases.

Christopher continues in his next phase for the Barnsley Mansion at Woodlands scene. The mansion has been completed and he is now building the gardens based on diagrams from the book. Nothing like having the research to authentically replicate a scene. Early construction of the mansion can be found in the list of LABELS in the right margin.

Diagram from Godfrey Barnsley's plan.
The view to the left is a diagram from Godfrey Barnsley's plan for his gardens. The author refers to this as the parterre "a formal garden construction on a level surface consisting of planting beds, edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging, and gravel paths arranged to form a pleasing, usually symmetrical pattern." Wikipedia. We simply copied and enlarged this diagram to a close-to HO scale with selective compression for a  reasonable fit. You'll notice this is pre-mansion given the structures illustrated. Barnsley had not yet built his home.

Gardens from the mansion's 2nd or 3rd floor.

    The  photo to the right is the gardens from the mansion's 2nd or 3rd floor. Although very post civil war, they stayed close to the original design concept. 

Below left you see Chris slicing hedges from Faller. Although a bit tedious as it is a fibrous foam product (nothing new for Chris), smaller lengths are a great fit. A foam-core base allows Chris to remove it while he constructs the garden. And to the right you see the addition of the first hedges and a sense on how the scene will come together. My wife, Ku'uipo, is looking forward to adding the flowering plants, ornamental trees and the green roses that Godfrey horticultured. She loves real gardening so those of you looking to involve your wife, significant other...

Chris slicing hedges from Falleraddition of the first hedges

Brian Does Dalton

May 29 weekend the W&A had a fabulous visit from DC Cebula, Christopher Eldridge and Brian Kammerrer. In this upper view, Brian Kammerrer is sketching a backdrop for the town of Dalton.
He is working on a left over piece of canvas from a prior backdrop.

There have been no pictures of Dalton that I could uncover, even after a visit to the town, local libraries and a couple of local "historians". One source indicated that Dalton was a very up and coming town. A high looking set of structures would have taken a few visits for Brian to complete. We decided to go with a viable version of what was plausible to give the town a larger feel but not fully developed so I pulled photos on Chattanooga and other locations for references. 

Here Brian is beginning to paint in his sketches and bring life to black lined drawings. The third view below is the canvas taped to the backdrop. Along the entire area Brian also connected the ridges from the point of the peninsula, Rocky Face, to the other end where he painted Lookout Mountain.

Dalton's Role
Half way down the line on the W&A between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Dalton was a key location General Joe Johnston chose for the Confederate Army of Tennessee to defend in 1863. It was a small to medium size yard with a Car shed in a similar fashion to Atlanta. There was also a turntable on the north end but in my research to date, no engine house. Most of the information gathered on Dalton was from Craig Angle's book, The Great Locomotive Chase. If you are looking for a thorough journey into the entire story of the chase, not only has Craig researched the Chase but the players and the aftermath. About one half to two thirds of the content is told from the participants of that April 12 day in 1862.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The General has a Voice

Sound on the Western & Atlantic
This is a maiden run by LeBron's Mantua General. He has completely retooled this 4-4-0 including scratch building the boiler from styrene. As you will shortly experience, if you have not already played the video, LeBron is one of two people that I know of who have successfully installed a Tsunami sound decoder in a completed, fully functioning model. Sound takes the experience to a very enjoyable level. The rolling stock include repainted Mantua house cars, IHC cattle cars, and two of my first scratch built cattle cars. The latter two are based on drawings in the April 1969 issue of Model Railroader, "Cars of the 1860's". The bridge is a Howe Truss modeled after photos of the type used on the W&A, most notably over the Tennessee River.