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Landscaping the cutting and the mine

Richard T


blog-0244928001397855175.jpgThe cutting is where the track emerges from the fiddle yard (a cutting not a tunnel; the cutting is deep enough that the viewer cannot see around it to the entrance to the fiddle yard), and here the track passes between Creag na Còsaig to its rear and Creag Ór to its front, crossing the Allt Creag na Còsaig on a 15' bridge before reaching the station entrance turnout. The tiny gold mine is (fittingly) at the foot of Creag Ór and its spur crosses the stream on a 6' culvert.


All of the above means that I need to complete the scenic treatment of the stream before fitting the bridge and culvert in place... so I decided to tackle the scenery of this self-contained corner of the layout at this stage—tied in with laying the completed track of the cutting and the mine spur. This way I'll be able to run trains to and from the fiddle yard as I progress with the further tracklaying.


It is decades since I tried my hand at any sort of scenic work, and consequently I put this off for some time before screwing up the courage—thinking it all through proved worthwhile.




This was my starting point: the bare track templates and coloured but otherwise bare baseboard. This also shows the tiny footprint of the mine—a separate challenge to be addressed later. The Works Engineer, Doctor John, surveys the site.


Note the 12lb/yd rail of the mine spur vs the 25lb/yd rail of the branch line. The mine spur sleepers are spaced at 36" centres, whereas the branch line sleepers are at 31" centres, and the longer bridge sleepers are at 26" centres.


The pins in the scenery indicate where I was thinking of placing bushes.


The track templates were glued down and pressed firmly into place overnight, after careful alignment of the bridge with the tracks at each end: the bridge is still removable at this stage. For the culvert I decided to build it straight in, as the streamed underneath it is very accessible.




First task was to build up the ground level. In the cutting I used plaster, coloured approximately using squirts of gouache in the mix, to cover the sides of the track template up to a level just below the sleeper tops, leaving place for ballast between and around the sleepers. For the mine spur I simply filled up to the sleeper tops, as any ballast here has long since sunk and merged with the ground.


I also filled the area around the mine shaft (cunningly using a different colour in the plaster mix). I have still to develop the detailed plan of the shaft and derrick and shed, so this area will simply be grassy until such time as the buildings catch up.




This shows the mine spur plastering carried on up the spur; I completed the ground cover almost to the end of the template. On the branch line to the rear there is a 6' length of track between the bridge and the turnout template: this short joining template has also been completed and glued down, to provide for aligning the bridge, and it will also be ballasted.


My ad hoc colouring of the ground cover plaster proved rather too Saharan for the Highlands, as this picture reveals.




Detail of the mine spur, which is sinking slowly into the ground. Those are 9' rail lengths.




Detail of the short culvert on the mine spur: as simple as could be. Any abutments have long since been overgrown and sunk into the stream banks.




A wash of Burnt Sienna mixed with a little black greatly improves the look. This is the top of the mine spur, with the entrance turnout template visible (as well as the bridge, temporarily placed there).




Culvert area with improved ground colour.




The corner of the layout with ground colour applied, ready for ballasting of the branch line.




The upper part of the mine spur, which descends at 1 in 25 to the culvert, where it levels off. Doctor John is keeping an eye on progress.


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