Virginian Railway
Being rebuilt through the Appalachians in O Scale in Fort Worth, Texas

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August 5th, 2015

I am indeed guilty of not updating the site for over one year. Computer work is one technology that I have (or refuse) to spend time learning and so I rely on one son to do the uploading. Layout building continues as time allows.

One of the potential issues with "around the wall" style layouts, especially in O scale, is that scenery must be done in the back sections before so much trackage is built out from the wall that the areas become near inaccessible. When I do crawl under and to the rear of the layout the low back pain the next day reminds me of my actual age.

Various types of scenery construction are being tried, including plaster cloth over chicken wire (useful for larger areas with limited support); plaster cloth over cardboard webbing, and plaster cloth over a variety of reinforced paper products. I'm planning to also try 4 inch pink foam in areas, especially where lift out sections are planned.

The plaster hard shell is painted a light green. Matte medium was liberally painted on and Scenic Express green Adirondack blend was lightly sprinkled on, followed immediately by flocked grass. The "Flock-it Rocket" by GrassTeck ( worked great for covering large areas.

Modeling Appalachian scenery means lots and lots and lots of trees. Trees are something western scenery modelers don't have to worry as much about. In the sections done so far, the scenery is just too close to the viewer to make "puff balls" realistic. So I set up a tree making factory in the garage where I work in summer and fall making trees. Bulk packs of super trees material from Scenic Express were sorted, with the better sections making trees, and the smaller or less well formed pieces cut up to sprinkle over sagebrush "trunks." A variety of leaf products were then added.

I also purchased several large packs of trees advertised on-line. Take a look at SuntekStore Online on Amazon where you can by large packs of Chinese made trees at a reasonable price. You will also find some US sellers who sell packs of 100 "furnace filter" type trees meant for the toy train market. With spray painting and better leaves they are quite decent appearing especially in background areas.

I've learned that "planting" trees is also not a simple matter. Trees can simply be punched into a foam base. But "hard shell" scenery is another matter. I tried getting a friend to use a hot glue gun under the layout. The result was hot glue dripping all over him and burned fingers. Now I use clear hot glue on the tree trunk when setting the tree in a pre-drilled hole. You have a few moments to pick away extra glue, or cover it with a bit of scenic material. Just watch out for all the tiny strands of glue falling on the layout.

Problems - yes. I had hot glue drip through the hole onto a hidden turnout below. Took me two months to figure out why the turnout was not working! And while standing on a 3-step ladder working in the corner finishing the top of the mountain, the ladder went one way and I the other. It took three months to get over that bruise - but of course that did not stop me from working of the layout.

With scenery started, trackwork in the engine service area has begun. And for a change of pace, I'm spending some time building structures for the service area, and starting scenery in other areas. The layout will again be open for the 2015 Southwest O Scale meet (

Posted by Michael Ross

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