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Southern Colorado Land Navigation & Transfer Co.

Colorado & Western Railroad Co.
Southern Colorado Land Navigation & Transfer Co.
In the summer of 2011 I suffered two more strokes.  This combined with my severe arthritis I could no longer work at the workbench.  So I changed my direction with the railroad deciding to make it an all scenery railroad with no structures.  While I can’t work at the workbench to build structures, I fortunately can still work on the scenery.

At this time I also decided to resurrect my HO scale Colorado & Western RR as On30 narrow gauge runs on the same gauge track as HO.  I simply like to watch my trains run, so ignoring the tie spacing, large trees, etc. was easy for me.  I did however move to smaller trees.

First, I need to say that I use a variety of colors and textures for my scenery.  By studying real scenery one can easily see that there is a wide variety of colors and textures.  On the model railroad I use many different textures, including natural materials and commercial products.

I began the railroad using plaster for the scenery.  Plaster is messy, heavy, and was a lot of work for me, and I simply stalled out due to the amount of work with plaster.  So I changed to Bragdon Enterprises Geodesic Foam scenery and have never looked back.  This stuff is great; easy to work with and light weight.  The foam is used for the hard shell and resin is used for rock castings.  The learning curve was very easy.  After I changed over to Bragdon’s scenery process, progress on the railroad moved along rather quickly.

Another nice aspect of Geodesic Foam scenery is that it takes far less mock up for applying it.  For mock up I use extruded foam insulation (blue board).  I use mostly 2’ insulation board, although I also use 1-1/2” thick board at times.  I like this stuff because it’s light weight and easy to cut with a wallboard knife.  I cut and carve slopes in the blue board mock up, but always outdoors as this makes a big mess with the shavings that will stick to anything through static electricity.  So I let the wind blow this stuff away; I’m very fortunate here as we live in the country, so no one complains.

I’m a big user of rock molds.  If I am making a small rock outcropping I use a small rock casting and glue it to the Bragdon hard shell with hot glue.  Then fill in any gaps with latex caulking.  If making a large area of rocks, such as Frisco Canyon, I blend the large rock castings together the best I can, then fill in any gaps with latex caulking.  I have many rock molds from Bragdon Enterprises and Woodland Scenics.  I love the Bragdon molds because they are really big, but the Woodland molds are great where smaller castings are needed.

This is a good place to talk about the height of my mountains.  In a nutshell, they’re simply not high enough, but are high enough for the location of the railroad.  Our office only has 7’ high ceilings and we needed space above the railroad for air circulation.  At the highest they rise about 30” above the benchwork, which is high enough to give the illusion of high mountains.  Also, they are plenty high enough when taking the width of the benchwork into consideration.  The entire west wall of Frisco Canyon is made in two large removable sections, one 5’-6” long and the other one 3’-10” long.  The shorter one wraps around the corner of the railroad.  Due to the light weight of Bragdon’s resin rock castings, these large removable sections are easy to remove.

What do I use for backdrops?  That’s a good question and I hope I have a good answer.  Due to the railroad being in the center of the office, and thus people walking around it, I decided on putting protective low walls around the railroad, and I tie in the scenery with these walls wherever I can.  At areas where there isn’t a hill or mountain up against the protective wall, such as at Westcliffe, I paint the inside of the wall (against the railroad) a nice soothing light blue.  I’m not building a show railroad, or one that I plan on having featured in any magazine.  I’m building a railroad for my own personal enjoyment and entertainment, and I don’t need pretty backdrops to enjoy my railroad – light blue it is.  Since underneath the railroad is used for storage, I’ll probably end up putting curtains around the outside of it to help hide the mess.

D. A. Bontrager: Owner
Colorado & Western Railroad Co.
Southern Colorado Land Navigation & Transfer Co.