Monday 17 December 2012

Bridging The Gap

A southbound Canadian Pacific freight headed by a CPR RS-3 is crossing the newly completed bridge at the north end of White River by Don Janes 

Adding A River Scene To The Green Mountain Division

by Don Janes

 Once I finished the White River Jct. yard and the North Bennington scenes in my new layout room, I tore out the old layout, my Green Mountain Division housed in a 12 x 20 space. It was now time to finish the section of my layout that would eventually connect the two rooms together. This particular spot was right where guests enter my train room. I wanted the scene to really "pop" and give a welcoming first impression.  What better scene could one ask for on a New England layout than a deck bridge spanning a river with a typical old wooden mill along the riverbank.

     The major structural components used in this scene are stone and concrete bridge abutments and piers from New England Brownstone,  NEBS Carved Model Stonework | Miniature Stonework for Scale Dioramas three Micro Engineering 50 foot deck bridges and the South River Model Works, Whitney Bent furniture factory kit.  Follow along as I show you the steps I went through to complete this scene.

Above is the raw bench work with the bridge installed and levelled
      The first step in this project was to plan where the bridge would go and install the abutments and piers.
Once these were in place I temporarily set the bridge in to make sure it would line up with the road bed at each end, a very important step to ensure smooth operation later.

These water based craft paints were used to colour the plaster bridge components

     To colour the plaster bridge abutments and piers I first gave them a very light wash of India Ink and alcohol to stain them.  After that I added thin washes of the water based craft paints shown above until I got them the colour I thought looked natural.  Dry brushing the edges of the stone brought out the fine details and then I weathered them with chalks.  New England Brownstone makes fabulous castings with detail like I have never seen before.  I highly recommend that you check out their products if you are planning projects requiring stone elements.

Once I got the bridge positioned I built the mill kit and determine its exact location.
Seen here the mill was built on a base of wood and foam and set in its final location.  The stone retaining walls were cast in resin so I could bend it to follow the curve of the river.

The ground contours were built up by forming a cardboard web and adding Woodland Scenics plaster cloth on top.  The backdrop is a Sceniking kit that was glued to the wall  representing a rock cut.

Once the plaster base was done I added a coat of sand over the entire area.   This acts as a "primer" to cover the plaster and acts as a base for the rest of the scenery. 

The rest of the riverbank was built in the same manner. The riverbank had to rise to a height that would hide the track in the background.

I finished the surrounding scenery using rocks, ground foam, static grass, trees and various other scenery materials.  I wanted to obscure the background tracks making  the train visible but not the right of way.

It was time now to add the water.  I used a base of  Enviro Tex clear resin. Once that dried I added six coats of Mod Podge, a clear gel that gives great texture to the river.  As a final touch I used Woodland Scenics "Water Effects" to create the foamy water around the rocks and debris.  The tips were dry brushed with white to give a foam effect. 

The crew on CV 8027 have watched the daily progress as the scene  transforms from plywood sheeting (seen in the second photo of  this post) to a very picturesque scene shown here.
A southbound CPR freight is crossing the newly completed trestle as it heads towards White River Jct.
     I hope you've enjoyed watching this river scene evolve.  I really enjoyed working on this project and trying out a few new techniques and materials.  Now its onward over the bridge and through the wall to the next phase of layout construction.


  1. George, this really looks great! I especially like the proportions of your scene. High bridges are dramatic, but the height of the track above the river looks just right for the tracks I've seen crossing rivers in Vermont. My only suggestion might be to add some drifted trees against the upstream side of the abutments: Hurricane Carol washed a lot of wood downstream in 1954. Really great work you're doing!

    1. Hi Geof, this scene was posted by Don Janes on his Green Mountain Division...he did a great job on the scene and I will ask him to post a photo looking down the are right about the trees...I saw this first hand after last years flooding in Vermont.

  2. George, I forgot to ask my question: where does the river go? Would you post a picture looking down the other side of the railroad track? Thanks!