Sunday, January 29, 2023

Layout fascia evolution

In model railroad layouts, the term “fascia” can mean either a treatment along the ceiling to conceal lighting, or, more commonly, the treatment of the layout structure below the level of scenery and track. For my layout, both as originally constructed in Pittsburgh, PA and as it now is, I have used Masonite sheets for my fascia treatment. 

I decided early on that I wanted to retain the natural color of tempered Masonite, and sealed all the sheets I used with shellac. This provides good sealing and makes a semi-gloss finish that has turned out to be resistant to scratching. For more on the overall layout appearance, you may view this post: .

As the layout has been extended and various parts completed, I have continued the use of natural Masonite. I have mentioned in the past that I had saved all the fascia sheets from my Pittsburgh layout which was larger, so that I have a fair amount of material on hand. An example showing some of my additions to the new layout was posted (if you wish, you can see that post here: ).

I realized recently that my fascia at Santa Rosalia (shown in the post cited in the paragraph just above) was unnecessarily narrow. I had made it that way because of the placement of a staging track under Santa Rosalia, and I needed access. But that staging track has since been disabled as not useful, and so I can revisit the existing design. It’s shown below. I’d like to hide the great empty space underneath. And having removed the panel that was previously at lower left ( ), I need to make some kind of change anyway.

I chose a wider piece that would have about the right length, and after removing the fascia piece at right in the photo above (and a little bit of the piece at left), I simply attached the new piece with the old screws into countersunk holes into the wood base of Santa Rosalia. There were some additional holes in the new piece, from its previous life, and I simply filled those with paper mache. Here’s a wider view. The Kelp Products industry has been moved out of the way.

One nice thing about Masonite strips like these: when they are installed in a curved shape, as is the case here, they are very stiff. They don’t need any support underneath.

Since the removed fascia strips were also host to the relevant area signage (the white pieces on the fascia in the upper photo), I had to make new copies of the signs to attach to the new fascia piece. I have described elsewhere the ideas behind my fascia signage, and how it was designed and made (the post about that is at: ). They are attached with canopy glue.

Next, I had to paint the paper-mache-filled areas to match the Masonite. The closest paint color to most Masonite sheets (they do have individual color shading) is Raw Umber acrylic tube paint, a medium brown color, lightened as needed with Raw Sienna (an ochre color). I also needed to touch up the paper mache on the ground areas where I adjusted the contour to match the new fascia height (one is just above the large fascia sign). That was done with my “standard” dirt color, Rust-Oleum “Nutmeg.”

With those touch-up tasks done, I added the same “J-strips” to hold waybills that I have used elsewhere on the layout (for background, see this post: ). One commercial name for these is “frame strips.”

The last addition to the new fascia was some Velcro strips so crews working here have a place to put the throttle they are using. I have done this in several places around the layout (I’ve discussed this feature before; here’s one example: ). All my radio throttles have the hook type of Velcro on the back, and several places around the layout have the loop type glued onto the fascia, usually with canopy glue.

In the view above, I have included a couple of waybills to illustrate how they can be placed in the J-strip. This keeps them off the layout surface but handy to a switching crew.

This completes my modification of the layout fascia at my town of Santa Rosalia. It’s an overdue change and one I look forward to sharing with visiting operators.

Tony Thompson

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