Mount Union Development Commitee


I used some scrap .015 styrene to make a core for the awning. There are two styrene blocks with pins on the backside. These pins fit in matching holes on the building front to mount the finished awning. The pins are a firm fit that isn’t glued to the building allowing the awning to be remove if needed. Everything was measured and cut by eyeballing and matching against the building front. I laminated the printed pattern to the styrene using spray adhesive and trimmed everything after the glue had dried. The pattern overhangs the styrene core by a small amount to give the thinner appearance of canvas along the edges.

I think the awning makes for a real neat texture change along the block of buildings.


Bravo Rick.

I’ve been using a similar method to do my signs on my layout. It’s pretty simple, but effective.

Looking forward to seeing the buildings on the layout.


Here is a quick look at some of the ideas and applications I used to fill in the highly visible roof tops in downtown Mount Union.

Obvious appliances are vents and chimneys. Some are purchased castings, others are simple styrene tubing. I thought a TV antenna would seem normal so I made one with some brass wire. I suspect it doesn’t really work!

I scratch built a small water tank with some piping and hatches. This piece was fun…it’s made from a tape dispenser role! I spray painted it black, added a lot of rust spots, hit it with some Dullcoat, and dry-brushed some silver to bring out the details before super gluing it to the roof.



Hadn’t thought about it before but in the eras we model pretty much every building should have a TV antenna. Suddenly seems a much overlooked detail.


Great detail work Rick!! They fit in perfectly!!!


Awesome work, Rick! I’m always amazed with what you build.


BIG VISUAL IMPACT! I started working on the pavement this week. I am using a process that I found on the web over at the Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine forums. It is a thread called “Modeling Asphalt Roads” started by a gentleman named Steve S. I really like the effect Steve achieved.

This technique is based on two types of foam materials. The first type of foam is used for the base or road bed to build up to tie height. It is simple foam core with the paper backing removed from both sides leaving just the white open cell foam. Removing the paper backing prevents the foam from warping when painted, and allows the foam to be sanded in order to shape the road surface. The second type of foam is foam-rubber “craft foam”. It is readily available at most craft stores in several thicknesses and colors. I use 1mm thick black sheets, approximately 18 by 10 inch.

This craft foam has a special feature that I am counting on to make this scene work; it’s squishy! A big part of this scene composition is the street running trackage. There is quite a bit of rail “buried” in the street. This raises a big concern in regard to flange way clearances need for high quality and reliability of operations. With the paved tracks being at the very front of the scene I want to find the tightest balance I can between the visual and operational aspects. I think craft foam is the answer. With a little testing I observed that I can have very tight clearances, even tighter than NMRA recommendations, without compromising the rail to flange relation due to the “squishiness” of craft foam. Basically an O scale freight car or locomotive has enough heft to push the thin craft foam out of the way!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll further refine the clearances, color, and texture. There is still a ton of work in Mount Union, but I think this is the biggest visual game changer so far!


I wonder how often the A&D has to fix the switch stand in the middle of the street…


I’m planning on fabricating some rusty metal plates to detail the switch point area. The switch stand would be under the plates, “buried” in the street. Here is a picture from online of an underground switch being thrown.


Rick -

The work you just installed in Mount Union, and especially the street, looks fabulous in person! Well done.

A TV antenna is a must-have roof or chimney detail (and as you surmise, that design wouldn’t quite work properly, but visually the “fabric” is spot-on.) Of course, back in those days we actually had to get off the sofa to change channels (or shout-out to a kiddo lying on the carpet a few feet from a glowing cathode ray tube…)

Jim Ferenc has a steam-era C&S layout that operates TT&TO. He hands out scale brakemen who have to run out and protect the rear of a train. Truth be told, more than a few brakemen have been left behind and run over by following trains.

Have you thought about modeling the trap door so it can open and set a figure set nearby to stomp on the handle?

Sorry if I’m going overboard on this…


Challenge accepted Bob! Actually would be pretty easy to do, just has to look right!


I know someone who will be eager to shoot that scene with a camera and tripod!


Bob, your camera has been a big motivator for the Mount Union Project! Planning sight lines, color selections, attention to details, contrasts of textures, and even the back side of buildings are all thought through with your photography in mind!


Let’s bring it on! I love it when a plan comes together!


i’d love to see one of those to see how they work. By UP rules that guy is fired.


“Jim Ferenc has a steam-era C&S layout that operates TT&TO. He hands out scale brakemen who have to run out and protect the rear of a train. Truth be told, more than a few brakemen have been left behind and run over by following trains.”
You mean I’m not the only one to do this? I did this in Dallas once on one of those little foldable triangular paper OPSIG brakemen. I’m still looking in my rear view mirror for a little HO Mini Metals police car coming up fast behind me on the freeway. Oh the guilt…


A little detail work for the pavement. The craft foam I’m using is basic black. I using a sponge to apply color to the foam. I dip the sponge into some appropriate colored craft paint and then blot most of the paint off onto a paper towel. Using a rapid dabbing motion the color is applied and blended onto the pavement. A slight speckled appearance is the goal. There is a trick that seems to work well for representing the cracking common with pavement. Before applying the color, I carve the cracks into the craft foam. A peculiar technique is to use a straight pin with the head clipped off and the pin chucked in a battery powered motor tool. I simply draw the cracks with the motor tool on low speed using the point of the pin! Very easy! The cracks are in relief so when I dab on the color, the cracks stand out as the original craft foam color; black!

Here is my inspiration picture (from a long lost and now unknown source) and my effort in comparison.


That looks great Rick.


We are always challenged to maintain progress in our hobby. Life takes priority (or at least it should!) over hobby time. Add to that, I’m building on a layout not in my basement! I have broken the Mount Union project into many sub-assemblies not just to manage the overall project but to facilitate my time and distance constraints.

I had about 20 minutes of hobby time last night, so I knocked out a set of cross-bucks using some sign artwork I had already pre-printed. Cutting out the sign parts, coloring the backs of the signs, cutting and texturing the wooden posts, painting the posts, and gluing it all together…15 minutes! That left 5 minutes to take a couple iPhone shots and day dream about what these cross-bucks will look like on the layout!