Monday, November 4, 2019

Trackside details, Part 2: physical

In an earlier post, I summarized several past projects on trackside details, consisting in particular of signage for my layout. There were a variety of these, all shown with links to details on the individual projects (see that post at: ). In the present post, I want to turn to physical trackside details.
     An important and visible trackside detail is a railroad structure such as tool houses, handcar sheds, or section houses. I have two section houses on my layout, and two tool house/handcar shed buildings, and may try to add one more tool shed (if I can fit it in).
     I showed a section house in my post about details near the mainline tunnel on my layout (the post cited in the first paragraph). Another one was built to conceal a switch machine, as I have shown (see that project at this link: ). One of my tool houses is in Ballard, and is shown below. It’s a Rix “Pikestuff” kit.

Note the phone booth to the left, and the tie pile at right (more on that in a moment).
     Awhile back I realized, after visiting Paul Chandler’s fine layout, that I was missing something quite characteristic of most railroads and certainly the Southern Pacific: pull-outs for track vehicles such as speeders. The SP practice was to have about two per mile. After researching what these looked like, I did four posts about building them (here is a link to the concluding post of the series, and it contains links to the previous three posts; it’s at: ). Here is one of the completed set-outs.

     Another characteristic sight along rights of way might be racks of spare rail and piles of ties. I decided to model both, and did a couple of posts about them. Here is a link to the conclusion about modeling of these features: . An example is the rail rack below, shown also in that post.

An example of one of my tie piles, described in the post just cited,  can be seen in the first photo at the top of the present post.
     Lastly, I might mention something I like to see on anyone’s layout: naming of physical features such as roads, water courses, or anything distinctive. Railroaders have long used such landmarks to describe where they are working or need to move toward or from. I place small paper signs on the layout fascia for this purpose. The example below is in my layout town of Ballard, with both Cienega Creek and Nipomo Street identified.

     These kinds of details can and should enhance the overall appearance of a model railroad. They are items of detail that correspond to the things we see or know in the real world, and thus need to be part of our model world too.
Tony Thompson

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