This site is dedicated to my model railroad, the HO scale Virginia Midland Railroad. This layout comprises a 12X9 room with two levels. The upper level is complete and the lower level scenery has just begun.

I do a handful of train shows in the Virginia/Maryland region with Makin Tracks.
I also can help you find that freight car/locomotive or other hard to find item.

Email: virginiamidlandshops@gmail.com
You tube videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/Virginiamidlandrr/

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Well it was back to work this week at school so not as much is getting done on the layout.  I do have several cars on my work desk that need decals.  They have been sitting there all week and most of the summer!  I was taking a look at the layout this afternoon and realized I don't have a lot of scenery left to put on the layout.  It almost "complete"!  I do have one industry spur that needs me to settle on what I am going to do with it.  It has gone through a pulpwood loading, wood chip loading, plastic pellet unloading and a few others.  The plastic pellet unloader is new but I think I am going to settle on a team track with a unloading ramp.  I could unload stuff on the ramp or near it.  I also could add a tiny residential area with a house or two near it. 

The other area is the wood chip loader on the VC.  It's there but I need to do the scenery.  Should be quite easy.
Here in the spur that has changed several times on the layout.  May finally become a team track with a unloading ramp.

May bend the track a little more this way.  Maybe a house or two where the vehicles are.
The wood chip spur that needs to completed.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A video through the new scenery

Also the first annual Mid Atlantic Rail Prototype Modelers Meet is exactly 3 weeks away.  It takes place in Stafford, VA and is worth the trip!  I am helping to organize the show and it will be a treat with the door prizes itself and the great clinics we have lined up.  Also bring a model to share!
Register today at: www.marpm.org

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Scenery update day #2

Well the scenery is 95% complete in this area and was not as hard as I had envisioned.  Here are a few things I have to finish up:
-weather the overpass
-ballast some areas where the scenery meets the ballast
- vacuum the area in a day of two, gives the glue time to fully dry

Things that I liked about doing this large scenery: (You must try these!)
- Heki Wildgrass Fiber-  this stuff is awesome!  Got the tip from Lance Mindheim and order some a couple of weeks ago.  You tear it and glue it where you want.  Sorta like static grass,  Good for clumps of weeds and grass.

-Super Trees:  A must for good background trees.  Mine have been sitting in the garage painted ready to go all
  summer.  I added the different leave colors to them.  It was so easy, my 7 year old was making nice trees.  

You can see the Heki wildgrass on this little hill.  The shack was a late minute add last night about midnight!

Gotta work on this siding a little.  Don't know if I'm happy with the blue hole for the overpass.
A different angle.  Got to get the masking tape up off the tracks.

VM #281 makes the first run through the scene.

A closer view of under the overpass.
Decide to use some static grass in a small field near the entrance to Battlefield Yard.  Thought this picture was the best I took!  No unfinished scenery in it!
My afternoon/evening task:  Cleaning up my scenery mess!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tree making and West end scenery

I have worked on the scenery for my west end of the layout because simply that part of the layout has no scenery whatsoever.  I put in the ballast last week and that helped but it needed alot more.  This area is only about 12" inches wide and 4 feet long but I want it to be more rural than my industrial switching area.  This area also has the "hole in the wall" that leads to hidden staging.  So its not easily done.  I wanted to hide the hole in the wall so it will not be visible.  I also have an overpass in this same general area.  I had two overpasses but settled on one so that I could put some trees in to hide the rest of the area.  My sub-road bed is plywood so planting trees would be challenging.  I used some 1/2" blue foam board to give the area some height and to also plant trees in.  Here's my progress:
Background trees have been painted and foam shaped, painted and installed.

Another view of the area.

Initial coat of scenery.  Background trees have been touched up with more paint.

This area with have the bridge span and foundation.  Need to paint the stud in the wall a dark color!

Tree planting is off to a good start.  Since  The little ridge is only a few inches from the track, I had to choose tall skinny trees.  I push in the foam with a Philips screwdriver and insert the tree. 
From a distance.  I have plenty of holes to fill and bushes to add.  Use the smaller trees and plant them in the empty spaces at the top.  Gives you lots of variety and the look of trees behind the foreground trees.

Almost done shot.  The glue bottle is holding bushes against an area near the "hole in the wall".
A track view. The white paper towels protect my ballast from paint, glue and scenery.

VC #3 poses for a shot near the woods.  In my hasty work, I forgot that I was going to send a wood chip tube across the tracks.  Might have to send it the other way now. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Scenery tidbits at Battlefield Yard and a new industry?

Did a little scenery to Battlefield yard towards the end of the week.  I did a Scenic Express order earlier in the week and wanted to try some of their grass mats.  It seems a lot of modelers are using them on their layouts and are getting decent looking results.  I also used some of their scenic dirt and used that in the parking lot/roadway.  It looks good but I need to go back and pick out the bigger pieces.

A new industry I want to put on the layout is a wood chip loader.  I've always wanted one but could never find the right spot.  I even did some research and thanks to some guys on Trainorders.com, I was shown pictures of a small loader in the northwest.  The facility is hundreds of yards away but the loader is across the road.  Mine will be across the tracks.
C424 #292 stops on track #5 beside the grassy meadow.  I will tone this down a little with bushes and darker grass materials.
BB #3002 waits for it's next move. 
The conductor prepares to climb down off of #292 for a little break.

Looking for that dirt/ballast/sandy parking area.  I believe I have found it.

This loader is pretty close to what Walthers has.  I already have it built!

Talk about the facility been away from the tracks.  
I would send the loader pipe across the tracks to the left at and angle.  The perpendicular angle does look right.  I've been struggling with the bridge scene in the background.  That's also perpendicular and harder to fix. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Scenery rush and another dilemma

Spent the last week working on some scenery items on the layout.  In my last update, I replaced 2 turnouts that would help out the layout.  I finally got the Old Dominion Foods turnout installed and it looks great and more importantly it works great.  So after I got the turnouts in and wired, I was ready for some ballast.  I had a whole bag left and a little in another to work with.  I use real rock ballast and it looks great.  A lot better than the walnut shells Woodland Scenics has.  I used the little bag first and then opened the second bag.  It was not the ballast I needed.  It was super fine!  This ballast was bought from a vendor at local shows.  The vendor, Brazos & Pecos owned by Gene Browning, died earlier in the year.  I thought I had enough to finish the layout, but I did not since I bought the wrong bag last year at a show.   So I was at a stopping point.  I ordered some Highball ballast online last week and it arrived on Friday.  It was the wrong color and was not even close.  Hard to order ballast online especially when your trying to match what is down already!  So, on Saturday I was a vendor at the Lynchburg Railday train show.  I always do this show.  It's a great small show in the area.  Last time I was there, I bought the ballast from B&P.  After looking around the show, I found a vendor who's been clearing out in the last 2 shows there.  There and behold, I found not one bag, but 2 bags of the ballast I needed.  I got the 2 bags, 4 coal loads and a bag of granite loads for $9.  I was very thrilled!

Last night I finished ballasting all the mainlines on the VM.  I just glued it down a few hours ago.  It feels good to finally seeing this layout getting finished.  At least for the ballast!  I also put in an order to Scenic Express for a some grass mats and other items.  The only ballast I have left is two spurs that have no industries on them.
Add all my switch timbers last week while waiting on the wrong ballast.

The turnout at Old Dominion Foods works great.

Virginia Central trackage is drying.  Real stone ballast will always be darker when glued down.

The VM mainline is complete with ballast.  The spur to the right will be a pulpwood loading area on the VC.
Another view from the Battlefield Yard area.

I also did some work on the Battlefield yard crew house.  I used Monster Model Works concrete sheets for the parking lot,  Cannot wait to add the rest of the details.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Turnout replacement & track realignment

Ever since my last operational session, I wanted to replace the turnout into Old Dominion Foods and realign the Virginia Central trackage.  Well I got that going last week sort of.  The taking out of the turnouts was easy.  Both areas were ballasted in.  Warm water with some Dawn dish detergent dripped on the ballast lets the glue loose it's grip.  Then it is simply taking out the track.  I had to cut the track for the turnout into OD Foods using my Demel tool.  If you do not have one of these rotary tools, you have to get one.  Mine is a generic one I got from BJ's for $20 and came with a thousand attachments.  It's a must in track laying, or in my case track removal.

  Lets start with the VC alignment first.  This required taking out a lot more track.  I wanted this area to be more smooth to operate and a little more room in the spur trackage.  I also want to remove a turnout that was tight.  I used a Peco curved turnout to give me the most room.  I'm not total sold on it but it may look better when ballasted.

 The OD Foods turnout was a different story.  I also replaced this #4 turnout with a medium radius Peco turnout.  This spur gets mainly long mechanical reefers and they were ugly going through this turnout.  I wanted a bigger turnout to have these reefers flow into OD Foods.  It worked perfectly but I had a problem, the turnout was not DCC friendly.  So I worked on it, cut on it, and almost re-built it. I thought I had it but i did not.  I added some plastic shims to protect the frog from shorts.  I finally came to the point that I would have to put styrene in the top of the rail in the frog.  That when I said, OK I'm getting a PECO turnout that's DCC friendly.  Being totally flustered for 2 days in a row, a guy on HO- Interchange yahoo group was selling PECO DCC friendly turnouts.  A bunch of them.  He had what I needed and it's on it's way now.  The offending turnout is still in my trackage, waiting to be "ripped" out.  I got to the point where the turnout only short out when going straight through the switch.
Before shot.  Wanted to extend the spur and get rid of the turnout in the middle.

A shot from the other end.

New trackage in.  The curved Peco turnout gives me more options in this area.  The spur leads on the left leads to an unknown industry.  It maybe a wood chip loader.

View of the VC trackage on the other end.

The old turnout has been removed.  I believe I used a Atlas #4 turnout because it was the only one that would fit.  I mainly use #6's.

The hole is for the under the table switch machine.  I use the Atlas ones with push buttons and they work pretty good.  The Peco switch has automatic locking switch, so the switch machine will not be needed.  I covered the hole with a very thin piece of styrene.

The +$#*!@# pain in my butt turnout.  It looks good and provides smoother trackage into Old Dominion Foods.