New Saddletanker

Through email correspondence among the members of the James River Division On30 Module Group, I was made aware that Paul Dougherty of Rickety Rails Models had a locomotive for sale. Paul is a master at working with brass. He has built many Backwoods Miniature conversions with unique variations.

Considering how well suited one of Paul’s small saddletank steam locomotives would be for the Piedmont & East Blue Ridge, I contacted him, and purchased one of his fine creations.

The little 0-6-0 came painted, weathered, and with sound already installed. It is amazing how Paul has fit the electronics and speaker into this small locomotive. It runs and sounds great.

Immediately upon taking delivery, the new locomotive was put to work. It looks right at home doing the dusty work of hauling stone in the hills of Nelson County.

Winwood Backdrop - 1

As the first step of scenery, and to bring Winwood up to the level of completion of the rest of the layout, I designed a very simple backdrop.

The backdrop is 18 inches tall, and about 11 feet wide, to cover the 8 foot length of the shelf, turn in the back corners, and come out to the front edge of the shelf at either end. The scene is simple low lying ridges and hills along the James River in Nelson County. At this point the James River runs from south to north, and is toward the right of the scene. The river itself will not be on the backdrop or modeled, since it would be several hundred yards out of the scene.

The town site of Winwood will be marked by an old water tower. The water tower idea came from Bill Davis, and it is a good way to imply the scene’s industrial heritage. I decided not to try to build a water tower, but to just paint it in the medium distance on the backdrop itself.

The backdrop is painted on a 2 by 12 foot strip of cheap vinyl flooring. I chose vinyl because I want sharp radius coves in the corners. I chose this particular flooring due to its smooth, even backing. I unrolled the flooring face down in my shop, and applied 2 coats of acrylic primer with a roller to the back.

Once the primer was dry, I moved the backdrop to my workbench and sketched out the rough design. I had to keep in mind where the coves would be, and that quite a bit of the top would be trimmed off when the backdrop was ready to be installed.

I mixed up large amounts of 2 colors of paint: sky blue and a pale warm yellow. These colors were used to block in the areas that would be sky and hills. Once dry, I painted on a coat of clear matte medium as an isolation coat to protect the base paint.

Once the matte medium was dry, I began to apply thin layers of green and brown paint, wiping and daubing it on the backdrop with sea sponges. Color was built up in thin layers of rough texture, allowing the paint to dry between each application.

As the color and texture built up, I concentrated on adding darker tones to the areas that would become shadows under individual trees.

Winwood Track Ballast

Once the new track in Winwood was in place and electrified, I ran a few trains on it to check for dead spots and other problem areas.

I then cleared all rolling stock out of the area in preparation for painting the rails and ballasting the track.

I used a Q-tip to wipe a small amount of transmission fluid along the top of all the rails and over the points of turnouts, hoping that the oil film would make the eventual cleaning of the track easier. I taped large pieces of kraft paper along the track on the shelf for masking, and then spray painted the track lightly with gray primer.

Once the primer was dry, I randomly brush painted ties with earth tone acrylic paints to add some variety to the color.

Once the ties were dry, it was time to paint the rails.

The gray primer helped water based Polly S brand paint adhere to the rails. I used Rail Brown as a base, mixing in International Black and International Orange for variety and to add some slight differentiation between the main line and the sidings. Mixing the black and rail brown produced a greenish brown, which I warmed up by adding the orange.

After painting the rails, I mixed ballast for the track. My ballast is primarily Pecos & Brazos limestone O scale ballast, to which I have added sifted dirt and sand from my neighborhood streets. On the coal transfer siding, I added coal dust to the ballast. I graded the ballast with a one inch brush, and cleaned all the ballast away from the turnout points.

Once the ballast was in place, I sprayed it with a mix of water and alcohol. I then used a turkey baster to apply diluted matte medium as an adhesive.

A characteristic of the limestone ballast is that it becomes much darker when wet, and once the matte medium is applied, it will remain dark even after it dries.

To lighten up the dark toned ballast, I applied a few thin washes of the same earth tone acrylics that I used to paint the ties. The washes make the ballast look particularly dirty and rain scoured, which I like.

Once the ballast was dry, it was time for a major cleanup. Dried ballast had to be picked off the rails and switch points, which marred the rail paint so it required some touch up. The turnouts had to be worked free and functional again, and the railheads had to be polished clean of all paint and grime.