Mount Union Development Commitee


Still want to know where you find time. Need advice on that.


Jay, I know what you mean! I try to squeeze an hour or two a week after the kids go to bed. I also get some computer based stuff done at work during lunch. As an example, here is the finished artwork for the Union Hall interior. This will be printed full color on photo paper, cut out and laminated to styrene to form the interior walls and some details for the outside of the Union Hall. I use Power Point and Word to modify and scale images I find on the web as well as draw some stuff myself.


Amazing Rick. Great stuff for Mt. Union, WV.


This past weekend I put my efforts into the interior of the lumber yard office/hardware store. I combined some rudimentary 3D shapes for counters and shelves with a collection of photo textures to fill the interior. The photo textures are pictures and patterns I found on the web that I re-configured, re-colored, and scaled. I print these in full color on gloss photo paper using my desk jet printer. The 3D shapes are simple styrene shapes or forms made from scrap .020 styrene sheet. These are spray painted with a flat dark brown. The photo textures are cut out and trimmed to size and glued with spray glue.

I fit everything as I went, continuously check sight lines to ensure everything looked right. An easy way to do this is to take cell phone pictures as I go and study these shots looking for mistakes or omissions. During final assembly, I’ll add a few select and strategically placed 3D details such as clutter on the counter top to solidify the scene. Also, If I keep up this level of “texture” across the entire Mt Union scene, I hope most viewers will be too busy to find and thin spots in the details!


Looks fantastic! WIll there be a column under that flying corner?


Originally, no! But now that you mentioned it, I think it might “need” one! Maybe a simple metal pole with some fliers stuck to it and a bicycle leaning on it? Seems annoyingly natural!


I’m not a mason or building engineer but that brick just doesn’t seem like it’d be strong hanging like that. Jst seems like it needs some support, like Woody’s in Greeley.


It’s magic model brick…made by D.M. Dorn’s Magic Model Bridge Company!

Bob caught it too! It will be corrected!


It’s all magic, Rick! Beautiful interior!


Amazing Rick!! They look great. I love the use of the photo interiors too. They look seamless.



End of May, 2018

I have been looking at methods to simulate mortar on brick structures. I tried a white gauche wash, but it didn’t work out too well. I also tried using spackling compound (sheetrock mud). I am pretty happy so far with this second method. It is very easy and actually pretty quick! I used spackling in the little plastic container that I bought from the local hardware store. It is also available at big box stores like Wal-Mart, and it is very inexpensive. I prefer the totally white variety, but I imagine the “purple/pink that changes to white when dry” kind works too. I rub the spackling into the brick work with my finger using a circular motion. It is easy to see the mortar lines fill. In areas where I can’t get my finger, I use a paper stick (available at art stores in the drawing department) to push the spackle around. After about 5 minute of set time, I use a damp make-up sponge to wipe the face of the bricks clean. I use a diagonal motion to prevent cleaning out the mortar lines. I rinse the sponge often. I will seal everything with Dullcoat before I continue with weathering.

My test bed was the elevator shaft for the Union Hall (some would say it’s built like a brick sh… out house!). The door was added after the mortar.


The hardware store with mortar. I also added the missing support column under the flying corner!


That’s a cool method Rick. Going to have to give that a shot at some point.


The Mount Union depot has been delivered!


What appears to be cribbing involved in the unloading of the Mt Union depot actually is part of my mock up efforts to visualize how the new depot will fit in the scene and determine what modifications the structure will need.

I got the idea for this structure from another O scale 2-railer, Ed Rappe. He used a Mike’s Train House ready to run structure for his layout. He changed the windows and doors and repainted the model to achieve a much improved scale look. When I saw his work posted on the O Gauge Railroading forum, a light bulb went off. This could be the answer for Mt Union. $65 bucks on Ebay delivered a copy of the structure to me. This building is held together with small screws, so dis-assembling is a snap.

I spent a couple hours with David mocking up the depot scene. I use a couple extra height boxcars to find the clearances needed, and to visualize what the scene would look like with trains surrounding the depot. There are several modifications that will need to be made so the building fits. The biggest change will be to raise the structure, by about an inch. His lift will be accomplished by adding a foundation/basement. The overhanging roofs will need to be re-shaped, and a raised platform added for the lower level. Supporting structures like staircases, canopies, and retaining walls will also be added.

I have left the scene mocked up, (maybe for a few weeks) so others can view it and make comments.


And the comments are in!

Let me start by saying; in my opinion, the most important aspect of scene composition is…does it LOOK right. Model railroading is an illusion art. Every detail may be present, and every dimension may be exact, but if the illusion isn’t convincing, the scene fails. The real trick is knowing were the hard compromises are (real world limits…the actual edge of the layout, $$$, time, etc) and still finding a way to tell the story that doesn’t break the illusion.

The foundation of the Mount Union project has been mock-ups. I have found that for all the advantages these mock-ups provide, the biggest by far has been the feedback they cultivate. Combined with the “friends/relationships first” atmosphere among the A&O family, the mock-ups generate meaningful conversations and very thoughtful examination of the scene. The honest feedback is very helpful!

So, back to the comments! To mock-up the Mount Union station, I used pieces of the actual model “kit” I intended to use as the final model. After about 4 weeks in place on the layout, it has become pretty obvious that this piece of the illusion is way too forced! First Bob defined the “forced” as too tall, too wide, and ultimately too much bulk. I wondered if maybe the orientation of the scene was backwards, with the team track and station being swapped. David and I talked and both agreed that reality dictated that the orientation of the scene could not be changed (would require re-laying tack and turn-out, and a new control panel…big, fat, NO!!!). We tried tweaking the back story to justify the mock-up, but that ultimately violates one of my personal composition rules; if you can’t “see” the story without my words, the scene fails.

In the end, the MTH station model that worked so well on other people’s layout and looked so good in my mind, didn’t work at Mount Union! No harm, no foul! I’ll put the model back together and re-box it. I got a great deal on it, so I’ll be able to easily recoup any costs!

Funny thing, as I review my notes on Mount Union and my original conceptual thoughts for the depot, Bob’s comments were exactly the same as my first concept! Basically, a narrow, single story structure with steps up to the A&O tracks. I also had committed to myself to scratch build all the structures to maximize my flexibility to fit the whole scene together.
On to the next mock-up! I started by doing a little internet surfing for inspiration. I’ll work this weekend to generate another foam core mock-up. This one will also begin to incorporate the surrounding area and include platforms, retaining walls, and the A&O stairs.


My original (and now renewed) inspiration is the restored L&N depot at Clarksville, Tennessee. I like the platform and the classic look.!


I like the look of a brick base with clapboard uppers. I have altered somebody else’s picture of their model to start my visualization process. For the record, the Mount Union depot will be white, not green!


July 24, 2018

I have finished the Ace Hardware display for the window. The basic elements for this detail are printed “textures”. I gathered all the signage from simple Google searches and modified and scaled them using Power Point and Word. I also made “wraps” for the 3D items using the same techniques. The paint cans, Radio Flyer boxes, and Red Rider BB gun boxes are simple styrene shapes wrapped with a color printed image I modified. The Radio Flyer wagon is scratch built from styrene scraps. I believe I might have spent more time on the wagon by itself than the rest of the entire display! It has 20 individual parts and took 3 attempts to get the lip around the tub to work! I actually had to quit my first attempt and try it again the next day!

Next step to finish this display will be to build the window glass and trim. The building lighting will allow the display to be lit from above.


I also finished a new mock up for the depot. I’m going to try and slip it onto the layout this week so other eyes can begin to evaluate it. I really want to get the depot end of Mount Union composed so I can better resource materials and begin finishing the back layers of scenery like the retaining walls along the A&O tracks as well as define all of the streets and curbs leading to finishing these base layers.