Sunday, June 28, 2009

Looks like California!

The last few week's fiddling with the signal controllers finally worked out, and the signal controller's now safely hidden under the upper deck with all its wiring neatly arranged. I did some final touches on the signals (including adding power to light them up, and then decided to touch up some of the Glenwood scenery.

I knew I was getting the scenery right. The scene started reminding me driving on lonely roads in the foothills with old, gnarled trees following the property lines - a common scene whether you look in Marin County, in the Sierra foothills, or in the Salinas Valley. In one place, I tried to hide the disappearing road by having it disappear underneath some live oaks, and I thought about roads near New Almaden where the road climbs up a short spur in the hills and dives into the tree cover.

This scene at the far end of the Glenwood siding is modeled on the track south of Glenwood proper. You're in one of the canyons of the Santa Cruz mountains, but Bean Creek is pretty small and the canyon's wide enough for the sun to reach the bottom. Oaks, sycamores, and other deciduous trees take over from the redwoods at the higher altitudes. The State Highway (later to be called the Glenwood Highway when Highway 17 is rerouted along the top of the ridge) still runs along the tracks, and just past this point, the railroad will jump across Bean Creek and into the Clems tunnel over to Mountain Charlie creek and eventually down to Felton. It's summer, and it's pretty hot - hope the photographer found a shady place to wait for the train to come by.

Scenery-wise, I finally pulled out the static grass (Scenic Express's new golden grass) and my home-made static grass applicator (made from a electric fly swatter), and tried applying static grass. It turned out wonderful - the 6mm fibers are tall enough to look like a typical grassy hillside, and the color's a great match. The grass looks better from the side - strong yellow, with a grassy profile. If you look at it from the top, the ground color shows through and the grasses look a bit bare. Luckily, the grassy areas in the photo were already covered with yellow ground foam (AMSI's -- Woodland Scenics's grass color just looks wrong). On the lower level where I tried some more static grass, the brown ground color showed through and the grass looked a bit bare.

The trees are mostly Supertrees with either Noch dark green leaf flake (for the oaks) or a yellow-green ground foam (for the sycamores and other trees.) The big old trees use their sagebrush twig armatures, with regular Supertrees material glued on. Scenic Express's self-stick bunchgrass also made it easy to dot larger groups of weeds around the scene.

Almost invisible in this scene is a barbed wire fence. This maybe took an hour: take some 4x4 HO lumber, stain it grey with a fabric marker, drill holes in the scene, and glue in the fence posts. Stringing the line was easy; tie some 2 pound fishing line leader to the first post, then put a slipknot in the free line, loop it over a post at the right height, and pull. Dot super glue on the knots occasionally to keep a too-strong pull from undoing all the nice work.

There's still some cleanup to do, and lots more ballasting to do. I also need to put some barbed wire on the track side of the field to keep the cows out of the way of the trains.

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