Construction photos


Meanwhile Bob Kjelland worked underground brushing “Shotcrete” to line the long people tunnel in the Kayford valley (this day he said he was Corporal Newkirk, a character from the TV show Hogan’s Heros, who frequently was assigned to dig the tunnels.

Frequently “Newkirk” had to crawl out of the tunnel to reload his supplies.


After lunch we had the great pleasure to host two guests who hail from “across the big pond.” James and Jackie Lucas make their home a short drive outside of Bristol, England, only about a 20 minutes from “the bridge” to Wales from the southwest corner of England. It was certainly a much longer journey across the big pond!

James, who has started a personal journey in O-scale, brought two magazine samples of UK O-scale work. The printed photos show scenes with fabulous detail, nearly impossible to distinguish from outdoors.

During James’ visit to the A&O, he operated several trains, including an empty coal extra heading south from Ohio back to the coal fields of West Virginia.

Safe travels, our new friends.


It would appear that serious scenery work is under way in Mount Union.


Yay!! scenery!!

Jay Barnaby



David…what are you using for the tree material? I usually use Candy Tuft but can’t seem to find it anymore.


Hi guys,

The tree material is Golden Gypt wrapped in bundles and trimmed to suit. Then- sprayed green, spray adhesive, course ground foam flocked (foreground) or medium (background). When all was in place, an overspray of cheap mega-hold hairspray to minimize future “foam rain”.

A new technique this time around is attaching trees and ground cover up the backdrop. Who’d a thought.

I’m still tweaking with things, so don’t get too attached to it!

The first hillside landform was of foam. Didn’t look good. It all came down and was replaced by cardstock weave and red rosin paper with an overlay of plastered paper towels in the future rock areas- another new technique for me.

Then the rocks were cast. Didn’t like the first look so they got ripped off and went in the dumpster. Take two. Good enough.

Time to color rock. First try- too yellowish. Repaint with white drywall primer. Second try- too much of a color palette. Repaint with white drywall primer. Third try (deep breath) satisfied. I am looking to create an old, weather-worn rock face with a lot of decayed foliage wash staining the surface. I think it was the final step that got it done- a light overspray from above with flat black rattle can spray bomb followed by very light white dry brushing highlighting of sun-exposed edges.

Then onto painting backdrop. Should I expect any different? Bob was there when I painted the first hillside of trees into oblivion with sky blue latex. What you see now has had some areas similarly removed. And I’m still evaluating.

New techniques from A&O 1.0 are being learned, inspired by the trip to see Mike Danneman’s N scale layout. He’s a professional artist, so no delusions here, but he sets a marvelous example.


It has been a while since the last post. Today David and Mark laid the last rails, except for those on and immediately surrounding various bridges. Here we see them working in Mount Union.

Meanwhile the main control panel for Linnwood was installed. This one has 50 LEDs.


Wow, I miss a year on the A&O and amazing things happen. We didn’t make it to Longmont this year, hopefully next year. I look forward to seeing all the happenings on the A&O. Wish I lived closer. Carl


Perhaps it is time to catch up on a couple of things.

Rick Bacon built quick foamcore buildings for the town of Mount Union to get a sense of scale and proportion. That’s the A&D mainline in the foreground. This is an early photo before Rick started a lot of fine-tuning.

Recently there was a mini photo shoot for the 2017 Narrow Gauge Convention open house. Although the convention is about a year away, there was a need to submit a few photos and a brief layout description. Here are two of those photos. The first is in Mount Union.

The second is the operating Whiting Rotaside coal unloader in Glenn Forge.


Would have been funny if you had re-created the shot of a hopper on the rotary with the mis-spelled hopper.


The thought did cross my mind…


Bob, I know it must be difficult (due to the rain!) to show track configuration in Linnwood. The control panel looks interesting, but we don’t have a single photo of the rail layout. Is that a double slip at the right end of ‘Yard 1’? Thanx


Jeff -

The panel is easier to see if you click on the photo to enlarge it. And yes, I don’t want to get my camera wet.

Anyway, the left side of the double slip, horizontal line, connects to Yard 1. The up diagonal (illuminated yellow LED) leads to Yard tracks 2-6, the C&O connection, Mr. Bill’s Lumber and Hardware Emporium, and Fine Pine Furniture.

The right horizontal goes to the switch lead and switch to the Kayford, or diagonally down to controlled lock switch 33. Travel between the slip and 33 is locked out by the Dispatcher, and both the left points of the slip and 33 move in tandem (remember, it’s a puzzle switch, so the points where you enter actually control where you exit.)

There is a separate control panel for the C&O, which connects with the left side of this panel. I haven’t yet taken a photo of that one.

Lines on the panel have been straightened. Much of the track forms a 180 degree loop (or blob, in John Armstrong speak.)


It’s a bridge day! David has been working hard on a scene in the isolated Kayford branch aisle. It looks great!

First photo, an Atlas truss bridge re-detailed by Rick and David spans a gorge not far from the start of the Kayford branch. Just past the bridge rails plunge into a long tunnel, as do operators. It is a “people tunnel” as well. The A&O “eats trees for breakfast” and David ran out before finishing the people portal.

David asked Craig run a first official coal train through the tunnel and across the bridge. That’s a GP35 on the head end.


Continuing with the theme of “Bridge Day”, Vince installed finished cast urethane pieces on the Ohio River bridge pin-connected truss section. It is inspired by OC bridge in Pittsburgh, PA, only at a much more practical scale. Even still, this bridge will be about 12 feet long over the 3 spans. All this lacy detail steers the eye away from the interior structural aluminum square tubes that support the span.

First up, Vince explains how he built the sides. We previously saw parts of this construction but when it was all laid out for installation, all I can say is that once again my jaw was on the floor. As the afternoon progressed I suspect that David had to roll out the “Shop-Vac” to clean saliva off the carpet after we left.

A closer view of the North side of the bridge. Click on any photo to enlarge.

The “Urethane Maestro” goes to work installing the back side of the bridge section.

Vince’s plan is coming together! It fits!

Details! Rivets and more rivets! Turnbuckles!

After all this Vince spent some time weathering the outer sides of the pin-connected truss. Wow!


I am still in awe over what Vince created. The level of detail is simply amazing!


There is really not a lot to see on the electrical front. Craig and I diagnosed a couple hardware problems with SMINI control outputs. One turned out to be a hairline open on one of my home-etched PC boards. Craig also installed a control panel for D&K Dock in the Kayford aisle, off-camera to the right in the photo of Craig and GP35 in a previous post.

I spent my remaining time going into a “programming coma” at the CTC machine. The Macbook is just for compiling and loading programs into a $20 Teensy 3.1 microcontroller mounted behind the machine.

On the model board you can see a train sitting on the North side of Ohio Bridge. For an occupancy test the train was run up the hill from the start of CTC at the left end of the panel. The radio throttle was sitting on the Dispatcher’s desktop during the entire run. And no peeking at the layout!

Rick brought over a beautifully scratch-built Texaco station for Mount Union. I’m sorry I didn’t get any photos of it to share. It will certainly be a star (pun intended) in future photos of Mount Union.


“You can tie one on!”

David laid 530 ties across the approximately 11 foot long Ohio River Bridge spans. Ties started as 3/16" square basswood sticks (9 scale inches) cut 2 at a time to length on David’s bandsaw. The long ones will support the walkway. Today I brought over 6x8 guard timbers I custom ripped on a Byrnes precision miniature table saw.

Let’s see now. There are 2 spikes per tie plate, times 2 per tie, times 2 tracks, times 530 ties, well that’s only 4,240 spikes! After aligning the outer then inner rails, loosely spiked, David comes back and slips tie plates under the rails and spikes them into place.

For the majority of guests the bridge will be just below eye level. That will make for some real in-your-face railfanning.

Here David stands on a stool and on the Ohio River (sort-of walking on water) to get a more comfortable perch while spiking the rails.

There are a few more pieces to install on the bottom of the pin-connected truss. Hopefully they will be out of the urethane oven and installed in a few days hence. David and I were again were overwhelmed by Vince’s amazing craftsmanship in urethane casting, and also in planning all the parts in 3-D CAD before scratch building the masters for mold making.

I can’t wait to video the first train across this span! This will also be a popular place for the dispatcher to schedule meets. To the north is the ruling grade, and the south a rather short passing siding.

David observed that when the rails are in, we can do point-to-point test ops between Ricksburg and Linnwood, with a yard on each end. Pretty soon I’ll be on the hot seat to finish rebuilding a brass Overland pin-connected truss and an Atlas deck girder bridge.


Today Vince ran his first train across the Ohio River Bridge, still under construction. David roughed-in the south main so we can start running trains into Linnwood (entry through the black curtains closing off the people tunnel behind David.) By rough I don’t imply operation, that was buttery-smooth. Rough means that not all of the spikes and tie plates are yet installed. No flex track on this layout!

At the bottom of the photo you can see a long aluminum straight edge that David uses when he wants rails dead straight and without any sideways wobble.

Vince also installed the last of his urethane cast parts below the deck of the pin connected truss section. I love the details! The diagonal “streaks” seen on the top member are actually rays of light cast by a halogen spot light located above the bridge.

Later in the afternoon Vince and I tested switch and lock control on the CTC machine. Signal logic is next on the schedule. Here we see Vince’s train out of sight, running through the Bayfield crossovers and heading towards namesake Point Vincent.


Now THAT is just plain awesome!!!

A big milestone for sure. Can’t wait to see a meet in this bridge.