The job we here are Rail Tales refer to as ‘the big job’ began as a simple consultation in the spring of 2013. The client is a collector specializing in early postwar HO Marklin trains and early postwar pre-built structures, figures, and automobiles. He had already designed and constructed an impressive all-catenary operating track network with working signals and track controlled automatic operations. What he didn’t have was a scenery plan and that’s where we came in.
After extensive discussions with the client and his wife, we came up with an overall scenery scheme that would create several distinct ‘regions’ on the layout: a mountain village, a main ‘town’, a village serving the mills, and an industrial area. The regions would be divided further into scenes. Although the details evolved over time, the original plan was carried out.
Work began in January of 2014 and Rail Tales portion of the program was completed in September of 2014. Some of the work was done off site but most was done on location. The client was actively involved in the entire construction process, providing logistical support while we were working on site and then doing a great deal of the detailing between site visits. Rail Tales did the terrain sculpting, road work, water, bridges, and most of the painting. We also built the soccer field and town park. Rail Tales instructed the client on ground foam and tree placement and other detail operations but the bulk of these time consuming tasks were undertaken by the client. Most notably, the client built the fences and vneyard arbors and installed all the lights.
This layout is built on a plywood platform. We normally work on foam instead but the old style Marklin equipment needs to be secured to a base and foam is not good for this so the plywood stayed. The deep canyon area was cut out and boxed by the client. In between all the tracks and underneath all the scenery on all flat areas is a base of ‘grass mat’ with a vinyl backing. This protects the plywood from moisture in the scenery making process. With layers of additional material on top, it is not actually visible anywhere but is an important step. The client did this very time consuming task a bit at a time.
Most of the structures were built in the 1950s. Some have been restored by Rail Tales but most were in good shape and only needed minor cleaning.
The client and his wife were also actively involved in the design process and in fact the design evolved almost continuously from the start of the project. The end result speaks for itself and is a strong endorsement for close involvement of the client(s) with the scenery building process.