Frank Ellison once remarked that model railroads are stages in which the trains are actors (or words to that effect). and there is much that the hobby has in common with the stage. We have our sets (infrastructure and scenery), scripts (operating method), and actors (the trains!). Part of setting the stage is the scenic backdrop, and I tackled the first stage of that recently.

Conceptually the layout is a folded shelf, and was designed to have a scenic divider running lengthwise. I’m ready to start detailing the interchange side of the layout, so I needed to put the divider in place to get an idea of what things would look like. I’d bought a sheet of 1/4″ foam board a while ago for this project, and the board has supplied the layout with a few structures before it got around to its original purpose. I bought some 1/4″ aluminum channel to insert into the layout surface.

I’d had an art shop cut a 12″ x 48″ slice of foam board, but found this was too high. I cut another 3″ off the top. The idea was to lay the channel in the layout top, then fit the board into the channel. There were complications.

Laying the channel went well enough:

Backdrop channel 1

And after painting:

Backdrop channel painted

I noticed a problem after I shaped the foam board and fit it:

Backdrop raw 1

Backdrop raw urban side

It leaned. The channel was insufficient to hold the board in place. I figured I could attach some of the 7/32″ styrene tube I had left over from wiring along the sides and slip them over a rod of some sort to hold the backdrop vertical.

After some trial and error I got the backdrop to work. I figured with two sides I could try a couple of different painting methods. On the interchange side I sprayed the board with Testors Light Blue out of a rattle can. I tried to keep the paint lighter toward the horizon. On the other side I used a goodly amount of Apple Barrels Cool Blue acrylic (left over from the harbor water project) then oversprayed with the Light Blue.

Baackdrop blue interchange side

Backdrop blue urban side

The change in appearance, especially the level of brightness, was quite unexpected. The blue backdrop gives a whole different appearance to the layout. I’m not a particular fan of the ‘blue sky void’ backdrop appearance, so I’ll be looking to flesh out the scene.

End Times

It’s obvious from the photos that the time of storing material on the layout is ending. I’ll be working in the area of storage, so I’ll have to find a convenient place for things that have become accustomed to their home.


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