There is something I always think about — but often fail to act on — before operating sessions. It has to do with the state of the layout scenery. There are usually a few areas where work is “in progress” and ought to be completed, and always a few areas where the scenic materials have not, as we might say, “aged well.”
But as I said, all too often I have thought about fixing such problems, but plain old didn’t get to it. Now for a new stimulus. This March in our local area, we are hosting a nationally-invited operating weekend called BayRails. Envisioning visitors from this audience of experienced layout owners and operators makes the maintenance topic, especially scenery, a little more serious.
In a reminder last fall to all the BayRails layout operating hosts, our organizers Seth Neumann and Jim Providenza sent out a write-up of things that would be useful to be sure about before the event. These ranged from better safety briefings, to clean sinks, to putting away tools, but included some comments on the state of our scenery. To quote the document section entitled ‘broken scenery,’ they said “Take a close look. Scenery gets old, colors fade, trees get broken. Is it time to refresh things a little? How about the ground cover at the edge, at places where people congregate and rub against it? Is the ground a little too bare?”
Well, this one hit home. I kind of knew I had some worn areas, but until I walked around the layout and looked for them, I did not recognize how much of a problem I had. As one example, here is an area in my layout town of Shumala, where scenic materials have worn completely off the top of the Masonite fascia. Note also the area just below the track, where some paper mache is exposed.
As seen below, adding some of the usual scenic material to this same area not only covers the bare spots but adds some needed foliage. The somewhat larger bush is made from Woodland Scenics’ foliage material (Dark Green, no. F-63), which is easily teased into as much volume as you wish. I like to include these kinds of shrubs as layout vegetation, somewhere in the size scale between ground cover and trees.
Another area distinctly showing wear, also on the Shumala side of the layout, was to the north of Chamisal Road (that’s the edge of the road at far left). Here again, you can see some bare paper mache in places.
I did a similar fix as with the first example, using scenic materials on hand, mostly Woodland Scenics, but some other makes too. (The tank car had been switched to its destination by this time.)
Then of course there are always other things needing fixing or repair. I noticed just the other day that one of the pit rails in my turntable had escaped its bonds. It’s the right-hand rail below.
This merely requires a little CA in the right places, re-curving the rail to the right arc, and placing a weight on it while it thoroughly sets. Not difficult, but certainly necessary — if we are to use the turntable.
All of these kinds of repair or upkeep are quick, simple, and effective. I must remind myself to do more of the same in the future!