Davis-Murdoch Stone Company


Scenery Behind the Track

The corner of the layout farthest from the door will be primarily scenic.


The area can be generally defined as where there is enough space behind the track to develop the scenery to any extent. The white cardstock in the photo extends about 6 feet or so in either direction out of the southeast corner. Beyond it the roadbed swerves really close to the backdrop on the right and left.

The cardstock will be used to create a pattern for cutting Masonite for the back profile of the scenery.

A Place for Everything

For years I made frequent trips to the Quarry Gardens at Schuyler

I worked on the Railroad Display in the Visitor Center there.

Still in Quarry Garden mode one year later

While at the Visitor Center, I would compile a list of items I needed to bring with me on my next trip. Back in my shop, I stocked a shelf rack with the tools and supplies that regularly showed up on the list. The night before heading back to Schuyler, I would use my list to pull what I needed and load the blue box at the bottom of the photo. Upon my return I would unload the box back onto the shelves.

One year after the last trip I made to the Quarry Gardens to work on the Railroad Display, the shelf rack and blue box still looked like I was planning to go back to Schuyler the next morning.

What a pile of stuff!

The day finally came to clear the shelves and put everything away. A complete rethink of my storage system was required.

Organized and arranged on the walls

I bought clear plastic containers, choosing sizes that both accommodate the contents and efficiently fill the space under the layout once construction progresses to the point that I can move them there. The taller containers will go on the floor, with two short containers stacked on top, total height coming up to 3 inches from the bottom of the benchwork. Something to keep in mind when installing the fascia.

For now, everything is organized and put away on shelves around the perimeter of the shop. So far I have been able to find things quickly.

Backdrop Painting

Going back around the backdrop and extending the tree/foliage pattern downward meant doing a passable job of matching painting I did 15 years ago.

To do that I dug up old notes and looked at old progress photos.


The new foliage only had to be good enough to not be distracting or draw attention to itself.


Since it was all down toward the bottom of the backdrop, a lot of it will eventually be hidden by 3-D scenery.


These revisions to the backdrop are going to give me a lot more flexibility when it comes time to design and install the sub scenery.

Downward Extension

The very first Construction blog entry on this website from December 2006 was about painting the backdrop.

At the time, I was preparing to host an Open House for the January 2007 Meet of the James River Division. At that Meet, I gave a clinic on backdrop painting, then invited attendees to my home to see my backdrop, which was the only thing to see in the train room at that time.

The bottom of the backdrop is high above rail height, and many areas are not completely painted.

Once construction of the layout progressed to scenery, it became clear that I had made a serious error in judgement regarding the backdrop. I painted it only as far downward as I assumed was necessary relative to the 3D scenery to be built in front of it, and my assumptions were incorrect. In general, the background tree and foliage patterns on the backdrop needed to be extended downward. There were places where the actual backdrop itself needed to be extended downward as well.


Strips of Masonite were used to extend the backdrop down to rail height or slightly lower in several areas.


The seams around the new extensions were spackled, sanded, then painted with white primer. Afterwards I dug out my acrylic paints. Also dug out the handouts from my backdrop painting clinic in 2006 to relearn the process of painting my backdrop.