Friday, April 27, 2018


Continuing to sculpt terrain for my railroad, I decided to tackle the terrain surrounding Salt Creek Trestle.  This should become the signature scene for my railroad.  With a layout tour scheduled as part of the NMRA Pacific Northwest Region Convention in Portland May 30-June 2, I needed to fill in around the trestle.  

My original plan was to fill in the terrain to cover the plywood platform that supports the trestle.  This plan quickly developed to a far more extensive project encompassing most of my Salt Creek canyon.  I needed to define the terrain that flows into the opening for the trestle.  I began by creating a raised platform for the terrain that would fit around the trestle tower bases.  This led to a more extensive support frame filling the gap that has been between Wicopee on the aisle side of the trestle and the tunnels against the wall.  The terrain platform was built with 1x2 support and scrap hardboard panels.

Scenery platform surrounding the Salt Creek Trestle towers.

Salt Creek Canyon support framework.  Wicopee is on the left.

With the supporting framework built, I cut a series of profile panels from cardboard.  These helped me see the space in three dimensions while providing an easily modified profile before I commited to wood or foam.

Salt Creek Canyon profile panels.  Blue tape is on the wall to represent the terrain profile along the wall.

With the basic terrain profile designed, I set about building support structures for that terrain.  This included foam strips along the wall, several plywood profile panels for the two access hatches, and a "front" profile foam panel for Tunnel 12, my first tunnel up from Salt Creek Trestle.  The access hatches will be described in a subsequent post. I then set about filling the space with foam panels and strips.

Salt Creek Trestle base terrain filled in with pink insulation foam panels.

The pink foam was shaped further using knives and a Surform scraper tool. Then it was time for Sculptamold! Once again, I mixed batches of Sculptamold with paint.  This provides a base color right away and provides a color other than white for any chips or dings.  I used gray for the Salt Creek streambed and rock outcropping locations, and tan for general earth terrain.  The trestle towers were removed for a couple of days to allow installation of Sculptamold around the tower bases, blending the tower piers into the terrain. Finally, a new fascia panel was installed over the original fascia to fill the gap below the new terrain platform and the trestle base.

Salt Creek Trestle surrounded by terrain.

Salt Creek Trestle RR-West abutment and towers blended into terrain.

I'll discuss other parts of the scenery in this overall area in subsequent posts.  For now, my major railroad engineering feature--Salt Creek Trestle--is anchored within terrain. I look forward to seeing trains rolling through this scene!

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