Finishing up the team track required building a chain link fence so workers wouldn’t fall into the coal trestle pit, so I purchased the N-scale fence kit from Pro Tech. The kit consists of a roll of plastic mesh, a selection of 1 mm round styrene strips, and instructions.
The instructions include templates for industrial and residential fences, and a fence post template for spacing. The fabrication and installation instructions are fairly detailed, but I elected to depart from the instructions at certain points.
Because I was modeling an industrial setting, I chose the 8′ fence height. I figured 9′ posts would be about right, and cut the styrene strips to that length plus a little bit for setting. I painted the posts with grey primer, then washed them with diluted Rust and India Ink. While these were drying, I used the post spacing template to mark holes along the edge of the concrete pad. I didn’t have the appropriate drill bit on hand for the posts, but I did have a #70, and drilled the initial holes with a pin vise. I finished with a round needle file, reaming the hole until the posts fit snugly. I used an unpainted post for testing.
1 mm is about 6 N-scale inches: far too wide for a chain-link fence post. I had some 0.81 mm piano wire from another project, but though thinner, they looked less convincing than the painted 1 mm posts:
That’s the wire on the right. As a test, I tried a 0.5 mm pencil lead, and that thickness looks much better,. Next time I do a chain-link fence, I’ll look for round stock in that size.
Next I mounted the posts:
I wasn’t happy with the color; they looked too much like the concrete. Another wash of India Ink improved things.
The instructions are very specific in how to cut the mesh to size, but the process seemed too prone to error, so I rigged up a cutting jig:
The mesh is taught but not stretched, and a new blade made short work of the material. I tried washing the mesh with Rust and India Ink, but the plastic takes paint not at all.
Mounting the mesh to the posts is the most finicky part of the operation. The mesh is attached with CA, so if there’s an error, there isn’t really a way to fix it short of repainting the post and cutting new mesh. I didn’t want to do that, so I came up with a jig to hold the mesh at the proper height while glue was applied.
I planned to have 6″ above and below the mesh, and a little arithmetic revealed that 0.040 styrene is pretty close to 6″ in N-scale. I cut short strips of styrene, laid them about midway between the posts, and taped them in place with painter’s tape. The idea was that the mesh would sit on the strips, and the fence would be even. I used the ever handy box of nails to hold the mesh in place. In this way the mesh was held tightly against the posts. I left one post free to be glued. After giving the glue a bit of time to set, I moved the box one post down, and repeated the process.
I started by tacking the upper edge of the mesh, and when all posts had been attached, removed the box and tacked the lower edge. This worked fairly well:
I finished the project with ground cover and planted some weeds. I used a beveled strip of the table facing siding glued next to the track side of the pad to create a berm as transition between the table top and the bottom of the pad foundation. Perhaps not the most elegant solution, but certainly a livable one.
I need to add some cargo ramps, a truck or two, and some laborers, but the Northern Pacific has another revenue-producing industry.
Total project time: about four baseball games.