Monday, December 19, 2022

Layout improvements

 I’ve written a number of times about the process I use to identify and work through the many small items that need doing on the layout, whether repairs, upgrades of existing arrangements, or newly recognized needs. In some instances I’ve done this through discussion of my “tool” for the process, my “walking-around” list (for a post about it, you might look at: ).

In the post just mentioned, there were two pairs of small projects that I had noticed were needed. One of them was to create grade crossing representations where two subsidiary roadways crossed an industrial lead track, at the back of my town of Ballard, and that’s been done (see the post at: ). The other pair of projects comprised minor upgrades to scenery, in trackside ditches.

One of those ditches was the one alongside the Southern Pacific’s Coast Division main line, as it exits from the tunnel at the west end of the Shumala siding. Here is a repeat of the view I showed before, which I concluded had too few fallen rocks from the cliff face above the track. This area of the SP is characterized by the rather frangible rocks of the Franciscan Formation, and it would be likely that a cliff like this would be shedding pieces.

Luckily I had saved some scenic materials from when these rocks were first done (proof that sometimes “packrat-ism” does pay off). I was able to about double the number of rock fragments in the ditch alongside the track.

This photo, though from a lower angle than the one above, does show the “speed sign” to the right of the track, and on the telegraph pole in the distance, the mile marker for Mile 270 on the division (such poles were painted white up to the height of the mile marker, as you see here). I discussed speed signs in a previous post (which can be found here: ).

The other ditch mentioned is alongside the main track at Ballard. I showed just part of it in the previous post. Here’s that photo again: you can see that it is almost entirely dry and free of plants.

The ditch of course really could be dry. But if there is local ground water that could accumulate in the ditch, then plants benefiting from that occasional water would certainly grow there. I decided to add some Woodland Scenics “Medium Green” coarse turf to the ditch, installing it with matte medium. This material does look like clumps of plants, so is suitable for this ditch. 

Here is how the clumps look on the majority of the ditch, with the additions. It’s only a detail, of course, but I think adds to the visibility of the ditch, which ought to be noticeable.

I also added some vegetation around the culvert under Nipomo Street and in the area where the ditch joins Cienega Creek, at left. You can see the creek passing under the tracks just to the left of the street.

These are not very visible changes, to be sure, but they add to the overall impression. I have a growing list of more of these kinds of upgrades to pursue in coming months.

Tony Thompson

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