Wednesday, July 19, 2023

More on duckboards

 Some time back, I wrote a blog post about duckboards: what they are and how they are used, along with my approach to modeling them in several places on my layout (see that post at: ). There remain a couple of places on the layout where more duckboards could be added, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. 

Last October I participated in the Desert Ops operating weekend in Phoenix, Arizona (for a description of my attendance at the event, there is this post: ). And as I often do at Desert Ops, I operated on David Doiron’s large layout. 

To my surprise, David greeted me in the layout room as “the duckboard man,” and proceeded to explain that my post (cited in the first paragraph of this post) had inspired his layout-building team to make a number of duckboard segments by 3-D printing, to use on his layout.

He was then kind enough to hand me a couple of these printed duckboard segments. I show one of them below, in its “as-printed” appearance. You can see by the scale alongside that it is over 5 inches long, about 40 HO scale feet long. (You can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish.)

Here’s a more revealing photo angle to show the structure of the part:

I should mention that this part is not the same as the typical Southern Pacific duckboard installation, which usually had short boards crossways to the long axis. I repeat below an excellent Richard Steinheimer photo from the engine terminal at Los Angeles Yard (Taylor), July 1950, which was shown in the post linked in the first paragraph, above. (The negative is in the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University, used with permission.)

Nevertheless, I like the Doiron part and wanted to use it on my layout. I decided to paint it dark brown and install. I have a couple of places that can logically use a duckboard or grating installation. One is in my Shumala engine terminal, where the fuel and water cranes are placed on a concrete pad. This is shown below, with the inbound engine track at top. At bottom is the caboose track.

As I wrote in describing this terminal and its details, many drawn from SP prototype examples (Model Railroad Hobbyist, August 2017; see also my post at: ), SP practice was to fill water and oil bunkers, and sand box, before entering the roundhouse for further service. Thus the primary need for duckboards is alongside that upper track.

I trimmed the printed part to fit, and glued it down with canopy glue. Then I added some spillage and staining, logical expectations for such an area, using acrylic tube paints. Here is a view of the installation, with SP Consolidation 2575 standing alongside for scale. The grating is fairly unobtrusive in this photo, which is how I wanted it, and how I believe it ought to look.

This nice 3-D printed part, generously given to me by David Doiron, looks quite good in place, and I’m happy to have been able to add it to my engine terminal.

Tony Thompson

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