Saturday, December 11, 2010

CA&E - Rte 53 Overpass in Lombard

The contest theme for our local NMRA Division for December 2010 was "Diorama", which had to include a structure and a revenue piece of rolling stock. Diorama building is of course right up my alley as I always have a need for such things for my IoFV display, something to put the cars into a scenic (and hopefully somewhat) accurate setting.

As per my typical route, I waited until pretty much the last minute to do anything. In my defense, the workload at the office is still pretty daunting, but I looked at Thanksgiving weekend as my key piece of time to get something done.

First up was finding a suitable scene. I had done a couple of AE&FRE scenes in the past, it was time to do something CA&E, and try something with third rail. After going through many many books, pictures, ideas, I settled on a color photo in the Morning Sun book "The Insull Chicago Interubans (CA&E-CNS&M-CSS&SB)In Color", by Gordon E. Lloyd.

The scene depicts the Rte 53 bridge in Lombard, Il.
A two track, concrete, Art Deco styled overpass

This is the photo from the book, it was lifted off of someone else'e webpage where I suspect they scanned it from the book, so chase down that guy first. In any event, of course the photo credit goes solely to Mr. Lloyd, and I will remove it if asked.

Back to the model. I didn't have any measurements, and frankly was just to damn lazy to go to Lombard and do any measuring. The overpass still exists as part of the Illinois Prairie Path Bike Trail, or at least I assume it does since I haven't been that way in about 10 years, and I remember seeing it back then. Maybe I'll look at Google Earth when I'm done here, ah the internet, world traveling from your desktop.

So, based on (a) the size of the piece of foamcore I had handy to use as a base, and the generalized measurements of the Pullman and St Louis cars in the photo, I came up with a typical model railroad "selectively compressed" version. The bridge/overpass itself is built from styrene, the colums are simply long narrow boxes built up from strip styrene, edges sanded smooth, and the tops filled in with modeling putty and sanded smooth. In point of fact, this was an incredibly easy build, really suprising just how dynamic of a scene it creates given the honestly minimal amount of effort needed to put it all together. The basic scene and the overpass were built in one day, the Saturday after Thanksgiving 2010. The scenic elements (the two hillsides) were done the following Saturday, and the track was laid and ballast added the first Monday and Tuesday of December. All just enough to get things to set up, and dry and be ready to be handled for the Division meet on Sunday the 12th.

The scene has two failings, one is that it doesn't have the railings in the photo. I may add those at some point, I really left them off because (a) I was lazy, and (b) they'll end up being pretty fragile, which will simply irritate the hell out of me when I snap one or more of them off somewhere down the road, most likely just before a train show starts. The other failing is that it has Code 148 track which is a bit big. I purchased some Micro Engineering Code 148 track for my O scale layout about 9 months ago, in typical fashion, once the damn track was laid, then ME announced that they were coming out with Code 125 ! Oh well, it looks okay and given that I have an interest in older "historic" models that were built in the days before fine scale standards and such, it's not such a bad thing to have something a bit heavy handed that can handle those cars and deeper wheel flanges.

In the very likely event that I won't get around to posting anything else in the next 14 days, consider this my extended wish to you and yours for a safe and happy holiday season, regardless of your religious preferences (or lack thereof) and credit card limits !

*** UPDATE - After posting all this, I just couldn't leave the thing without those railings, so,, after a couple hours of hacking up some more innocent, unsuspecting styrene, here you go.

It makes for an obvious difference, and was well worth the effort, I would have seriously short-changed myself by letting it go without those railings.