Monday, 22 February 2016

Building a Station Overpass



The dead-end of my bookshelf layout has been screaming out to be completed for quite some time. With the small mirrored panel designed to trick viewers into thinking that the tracks continue on into the distance, and make the station platform appear twice as long when viewed lengthwise, it needed something to disguise the fact that it was just 3 mirror panels glued to a blue backdrop. I wanted to do something different to the highway overpass at the opposite mouse-hole escape end of the layout, such as a pedestrian walkway, but the lack of available space was proving a problem. So I compromised by extending the overhead station walkway beyond the borders of the layout, and ended up with a station overpass that measures just 2 cm in depth. That's a pretty handy space saving measure when you only have a small bookshelf-styled layout like mine.

Framing this mirror panel called for some clever shallow-relief modelling.

I started by gluing some 7 mm thick balsa sheet to the same height of the mirror panels on the blue backdrop, allowing a 7 mm gap in between for the support columns to fit. This would thicken the body of the shallow relief model compared to the blue backdrop when I applied some Chooch Enterprises timber cribbing as shown on the right.

Each stone block that makes up the station overpass was hand carved into balsa wood.

Following the same procedure I explained when creating the stone block work for the railway station platform, I measured then carved out the lines of stone blocks that would represent the structure. Each block is carved into the strip of 7 mm balsa by making a V-incision along pencil drawn lines. I simply guessed the height of the blocks at 1 mm long x 0.5 mm high.

The overpass in position prior to painting.

After test fitting the pieces and trimming the column shown on the right to fit the outline of the rock work that is a feature of the station garden, I also cut a 1.3 mm strip of balsa to act as a shallow walkway that fits behind the overpass fascia, just to give some 3D depth to the model.

I started by painting the mortar lines in the brick work.

Painting the individually hand carved stone blocks is a tedious task. I just set myself up close to the TV while I spent the afternoon half-watching some fishing shows, and started by painting the mortar lines a grey-white colour using a No. 2 fine tipped paintbrush.

Each individual stone is then painted a different shade of black-brown-grey to create the effect.

Painting the stone bricks involves mixing an assortment of black-brown-grey paint blobs on an artists palette, and applying a thinned-down coat on each block at random. Ensuring that you don't apply the same colour on two consecutive blocks makes for a better end result.

I screened-off each side of the overpass with Chooch Enterprises timber cribbing.

With the station overpass painted and ready to glue into place, I turned my attention to the Chooch Enterprises #8508 medium timber cribbing. The self-adhesive flexible sheets are easily cut with a pair of scissors. The adhesive however had some trouble staying stuck to the raw balsa wood. So I glued it down with some craft glue and pressed it into place while it dried. While I could have just left the background on each side of the stone columns the same colour blue as the background, to really pull off the mirror effect I needed to make it look as though the tracks continued beneath the overpass, and screen off the areas either side of the support columns that would have shown they didn't. It's a bit like working a magician's trick into your model railway.

I then used leftover handrails from my cement plant kit to add to the top of the walkway.

Finally, I remembered I had some leftover pieces from my Faller cement works kit that were still lying around in the box. There were enough sections of handrails to span the section between the two support columns of the station overpass.

My well-used silver paint marker may have just completed it's last project. I've used it to death.

I measured where the holes were required to mount these onto the top of the station overpass wall and drilled them using a 2 mm drill bit. To paint them I simply used a silver paint marker pen that dried in about 10 seconds. I've used this paint pen extensively on my layout so far, to the point where I'll soon need to buy another one.

Voila! The completed overpass looks much better than simply ending my tracks at a blue backdrop.

Gluing the shallow-relief model into place took only a few seconds. Although the structure only extends 2 cm from the backdrop, the mirror actually makes it appear twice as wide, almost the perfect width for an overhead stone walkway. When using the craft glue I was careful not to apply it too liberally to the base of the support column or anywhere it came into contact with my rock work. Any CA type glue will eat through foam, and with the rock work in my station garden being made from old packing foam, the last thing I wanted was to have to re-do this end of my railway station.

My station scene is now really coming together, with the overpass doing a good job of disguising the end of the line.

So there you have it. The dead-end of my layout is now almost complete, with the tracks appearing as though they continue to somewhere further down the line. Although there are no stairs leading down to ground level for the passing pedestrians, it is easy enough to imagine that they exist just beyond the edge of the layout. You'll notice that the brick work is a little more grubby on the wall of the station overpass just above the tracks. I didn't weather this, instead I applied a grubbier mix of colours when painting each individual block, along with the mortar lines in the surrounding area. Overall, the mortar lines on the station overpass are a cleaner white than the lines you can see beneath the station platform. I figured 100 years of passing trains would have left the mortar lines on the station platform a more weathered sooty-grime colour than the pedestrian overpass above the station. I guess the next logical step is for me to complete the railway station building. But as usual, that is a story for another day.

See also; Installing CTC colour signals or Adding theatre stage effects or Detailing a Highway Overpass

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Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil