I suspect that on any model railroad, there are times when you just have to re-do something. This is especially true when your empire contains segments that are older than the average horse. Just a figure of speech, of course; I have no horses, average or otherwise, and don’t really care to research what the average equine age might be. In my case, if I had a 33-year old horse, it would be the same age as my Tunnel 29 scene.
Back in that era I thought that a 24-inch radius curve was generous to the extreme, and I thought nothing of reverse curves. Heck, I hadn’t even heard the term. My layout, such as it was, was a intended to hug the walls of a spare bedroom, and this piece fit the corner between the closet door and the window. But life and a second child intervened, who selfishly wanted that room for herself, so out came the Plywood Pacific. A couple years and one house-addition later, the components were reinstalled in a new room, and it was time to put in some scenery. I cleverly cast a cliff face out of plaster to represent the scar left by the daylighting of a tunnel (Tunnel 28 on the Moffat line). It was beautiful. It was realistic. It was too close to the tracks! Dang it. Sadly I demolished it and cast another cliff further back from the right-of-way, and this time I was able to get most of my equipment past it without scraping the wall.
Fast-forward 25 years or so, when the Tunnel 29 scene has now been incorporated into an expanded La Plata Division. During those 25 years I’ve been running trains with cars as long as 89′, and most of them clear the cliff okay, with only the occasional bump, seldom serious enough to, say, derail the car. I could live with that until I scored a couple of Rivarossi steam locomotives and a brass business car. Turns out that all of these had more overhang than anything I’d heretofore run on the line. The steamers wouldn’t clear at ALL.
I was going to have to scale back the cliff face. No two ways about it.
Which meant that the above-mentioned equipment sat in boxes while I summoned the energy to tackle the project.
This is where my wife’s brilliance comes in. One evening a couple years later I was describing what needed to be done, and she suggested I have some fun with it. I should treat it like an actual construction project, using scale equipment and workers, and take photos of the whole process. Brilliant, say I, as I immediately began scouring ebay for 1:87 earthmoving equipment. I quickly scored a front-end-loader (FEL) and a trackhoe, and even a box of pre-painted worker figures. After I built a ramp to unload the equipment from flatcars (based on the real ramps the Rio Grande used to offload its sideboom dozers), I was ready to break things!
So, sometime around 1990 the D&RGW began noticing rock raveling from a cut high in the tunnel district. (This kind of thing was quite common.) They decided to scale back the unstable face of the cut and reinforce the face, to prevent rock from coming down on the track. A bid was solicited for the work and let to a local firm. The job was scheduled, a crew and work train assembled, and dispatch was informed to grant track-and-time windows for the job. Since this would completely stop traffic on the busy line while work progressed, the sequencing was carefully planned and all crews prepped for speed and safety. There would be nobody leaning on shovels on this job!
I bet you thought you were going to see me blow up my model railroad here, didn’t you!
Nope. The blaster foreman cited some obscure OSHA reg that prohibits photographers from standing in the way of a shot. Thanks to that, we missed the fireworks.
Notice how the freshly-exposed rock is lighter than the older, weathered face. Years of train soot have turned the native rock darker. It won’t be long before this new scar begins to blend in.
And that is how I turned a necessary modification task into an organic part of the imaginary life of the La Plata Division. Job successfully completed! *
* No plastic people were harmed in the making of this blog post.