The Cliffs At Evansport
Article and photos
By Jim Connal
Many years ago, the settlement at Quantico was known as Evansport. Out Railroad continues to serve the Village of Evansport, which is situated near some cliffs close to the Potomac River, just a few miles south of Powell's Creek.
After the benchwork is up, the general contour of the terrain is built up from plywood forms. The forms are carefully cut to approximate the hills and valleys of our layout. Some parts of the scenery are quite heavy, so the use of plywood ensures a solid base. The photo shows the left end of the Cliffs at Evansport, near the site of the Roundhouse.
After the plywood forms, the terrain contours are refined with a lattice of cardboard strips. Here we see the vertical strips installed; this was followed by horizontal strips woven into the verticals. The cardboard lattice provide a good foundation for the layers of hardshell scenery. The terrain is built up with layers of paper towels soaked in plaster to form a base layer..
A thick coat of plaster is added over the base layer. We used everyday Plaster of Paris...it is inexpensive and works well. Plaster has been used in decorative carvings for centuries. As the plaster is drying, the layered sedimentary rocks are carved using a utility razor knife. With varied strokes, the rocks are carved to different depths. Working in wet plaster means you have to work fast. Final carving is done with a hobby knife.
As the plaster continues to dry, color is added with latex paints and "Jim's Magic Elixir" is sprayed liberally to provide color. Using shades of gray and earth tones, the highlights of the rocks are enhanced. The darker colors are used in the low areas and lighter color for the highlights. The 'secret' ingredient in "Jim's Magic Elixir" is water-soluble India Ink diluted approximately 20 to 1 with water. It is applied with a fine mist sprayer. The latex paints are applied by brush; an airbrush can also be used.
Here's a view of the length of the cliffs. The pieces of plaster that fall off during the carving are left in place to simulate the talus that falls naturally. The hills above the cliffs will have trees and ground cover installed soon. In the foreground will be the Town of Evansport. This is the left end of the cliffs, near the future roundhouse. Compare this photo with the first...the Roundhouse area is beginning to take shape. Only on our layout does the VRE pass towering mountains during it's daily runs. Taken from a low angle, the photo enhances the height of the cliffs and background mountain. The tall scenery provide a real sense of scale for the HO train.
The Bridge Over Powell's Creek
Article and photos
By Lynn Kobliska
The Bridge over Powell's Creek is a depiction of the actual bridge in Leesylvania State Park. The same CSX tracks that run past the Quantico Depot cross Powell's Creek a few miles north of the Depot.
Work on the Bridge over Powell's Creek can only begin after the benchwork has been built. Using a cookie-cutter approach, the track and roadbed is built on the approach to the bridge. The bridge will have a slight decent from right to left, so the ends are carefully built to accommodate the grade.The gap between the approaching track is filled with two layers of plywood to be the strong base for the bridge. Over the plywood is a layer of Homasote. Available in many home centers, Homasote is favored because it is easy to work with and receives tack nails well.Much of the work on the finished parts of the bridge is actually done at the workbench. The easy availability of tools and a convenient place to work is of great benefit. Here we se three of the bridge piers being fitted under the plywood. In the background we see the hard shell scenery being added over a lattice of cardboard.The bridge piers are made of pieces of wallboard cut to size and glued together. Using a jig, the bridge piers are held against a disk sander to sand them to the proper height.The bridge piers have been painted at the workbench and are being fitted along with the capstones. The left pier in the photo requires some final adjustment to get it properly fitted. We can also see the girder plates have been added along with the conduit for wires.All of the bridge piers are in place as a Southern Railway passenger train passes over Powell's Creek. There's still some work to be done to finish the bridge.On the right side of the bridge is the road passing under the bridge. The highway guide rails are made of thin styrene and glued into small holes. Scenery has been added. Yes, this is the actual road that passes under the real bridge.