Saturday, November 30, 2019


I have begun work on the Eugene turntable, roundhouse and steam-era engine service facilities.  I was prompted by a comment by another local model railroader describing his work on his turntable.  He was using components from the same manufacturers that I planned to use.  The missing link for me was the New York Railway Supply ( turntable drive and indexing system.  I long planned to use their system.  Unfortunately, when I last checked a couple of years ago they were not shipping, as they were shifting production to their now-current Model 4 system.  My friend's comment sent me back to the NYRS website.  Following a brief e-mail discussion with the owner, I placed my order and soon had this important component.  I will comment further on this system in a future post when I get to the installation and setup of the indexing system.  My current activity involves layout and preparation of the turntable area.

I am using a Diamond Scale Products ( 134-feet long HO scale turntable.  This model is a good representation of the style of turntable bridge and center arch used at Eugene, albeit longer than Eugene's 126 feet.  I acquired mine a decade ago, but they remain available.  Principal elements of the kit include the turntable pit, center shaft and bearings, bridge and end dollies.  The pit is formed on a piece of medium density fiberboard (MDF) with the outer ring cast in Hydrocal  onto the MDF base. 

Diamond Scale Products HO TS-134 turntable components.

I began my turntable preparation by installing the ring rail.  Following the instructions, I used gap-filling CA cement.  In my case, I applied it to every other tie. The other ties and the rail base received a drop of Pliobond  adhesive.  I use Pliobond to bond assembled switch rails to their tie base using the Fast Tracks system, so I felt this was a good addition, especially for the dissimilar materials of rail and plaster.  In addition to the step in the ring ties provided for the ring rail, I ensured my rail location by creating a radial arm with a notch for the rail.  Per instructions, I worked in sections of four to five inches of rail at a time.

Installing the ring rail using a radial arm with a notch for the rail position.

With the ring rail installed, I needed to form a slope in the pit floor between the raised ring and the base of the pit.  From pictures of the Eugene turntable, this appears to be about 20 feet of slope.  This matches the tapered ends of the turntable bridge.  I added a slope form to my radial arm to help shape the plaster I applied to form the slope.  I used Hydrocal plaster.  In retrospect, I probably should have used some form of spackle to give me more working time.  The Hydrocal slopped up onto the previously cast ring and between some of the ties.  Though I worked quickly to remove this slop, I was not quick enough in some places.  Not to worry; most turntable pits become pretty messy places.

Sweeping the contour of the plaster slope between the outer ring step and pit bottom.

Removing plaster slop from between the ties on the outer ring.

My slope-forming sweep operation left a few gouges and other holes in the slope.  I filled these with spackle.  Light sanding quickly produced a smooth surface, though I ended up making four separate spackle applications.

Turntable pit with slope formed, filled and sanded smooth.

Paint and weathering were the next tasks.  I used a "rattle can" gray spray paint as a base color for the concrete.  Several light coats of paint ensured the surface was well-coated to provide a good base for subsequent weathering.  I cleaned off the ring rail with a small piece of cork after each spray paint application.  This greatly helped the final cleaning of the ring rail top.  The ring rail will be used for one side of the power feed to the turntable bridge rails.  I also applied "roof brown" paint to the rail sides and base.  

Weathering took several forms and multiple operations.  I practiced most of these operations on the outside of the pit before applying them inside where they will be seen.  I began by making a number of vertical lines on the ring wall using a black Sharpie .  These represent oil stains I see in photos.  I then applied a couple of washes of black and dark brown paint around these marks.  The pit wall was looking quite dark at this point, so I applied washes of "aged concrete" and "earth" to lighten up the wall.  I also applied the aged concrete was to the pit interior.  At times, I felt I had gone overboard on an individual color, so a subsequent wash would tone it down and blend it all together.

Turntable pit after many applications of weathering washes.  Streaking toward the pit center represents the natural drainage of the pit.

As I finished the weathering washes, I returned to the pit rail ties, and used a paint pen to highlight their tops with an appropriate color.  I also applied a final coat of the "roof brown" paint to the rail.  When I was finally satisfied with the overall coloring of the pit, I applied a coat of Dulcote  to seal the paint and weathering washes and to provide tooth for weathering powders.  As with other concrete structures on my layout, I use Aim Products weathering powders to provide the rust appearance that older concrete often exhibits and as seen in color photos of the Eugene turntable pit.

Completed turntable pit.

Completion of the turntable pit sets me up for subsequent efforts with the turntable bridge and power arrangements.  While waiting between paint and weathering wash applications, I laid out the turntable approach tracks and radial tracks off the turntable.  This also involved a preliminary plan for the roundhouse stalls.  Stay tuned.  The Eugene roundhouse and steam era facilities represent a big effort.

Friday, November 15, 2019


With the structures for the station company village complete for Cruzatte, it was time to fill in the terrain.  The structure sites needed to be prepared as the terrain base was formed.  Filling in this portion of terrain closes the gap between Noisy Creek and Shady Creek along the upper mountain wall of my layout space.  Though my simple backdrop painting helped convey the desired image in this area, nothing beats rendering it into three dimensions.

An important resource for forming the terrain and locating the structures was Joel Ashcroft's website:  The Cruzatte structures section of the provided link were particularly helpful.

I used my proven terrain forming techniques employed last year.  The base was formed using styrofoam insulating foam, building up contours.  Gaps were filled with spray insulating foam. This base was further shaped using knives and a Stanley Surform  scraper.  Finally, Sculptamold was lathered over the surface.  I mixed paint into the Sculptamold.  This immediately provides an appropriate surface color and ensures future dings and holes will not produce white splotches.

Terrain forming begun at Cruzatte.  Building platforms are slabs of insulating foam with the RR-East end (downhill) slightly raised for level structure foundations.  The plywood subroadbed and station site is built on the railroad's 1.8 percent grade.

Base terrain contours formed with slabs of styrofoam insulation.

Gaps have been filled with spray foam insulation.  The pictures on the track below are copies from Joel Ashcroft's website.

The site for the RR-East water tower has been prepared.  A thin strip of styrene was glued to the down-hill end of the water tower base to level it.

Scultamold has been applied to the scene.

The Cruzatte scene is coming to life with structures and terrain base.