Progress Update 5

September 8, 2013

I started cutting ditches and laying roadbed over the past couple weekends (I tweeted a photo). It’s gone fairly well but it’s tricky to get the center line of the track just right so that the roadbed matches up (the roadbed tears down the center and is applied to each side individually). I’m marking the center of the track on the foam base, which is error-prone because there’s this goofy center rail in the way.

While I’ve had a few trestle bridge bents built for, well, months now, I haven’t made much progress. There’s been a lot of strategizing, which is code for staring at it and wondering how on earth I’m going to do it. For a first trestle it’s pretty daunting, primarily because it’s curved, and also because there’s no symmetry to it. So I waffle back and forth on how to make the bents the correct height for the [in progress] terrain.

Searching for inspiration, I came across Lex Parker’s excellent Building a Wooden Trestle series. While much of it isn’t directly applicable to my situation (extruded foam construction vs Lex’s thin shell; Lex is laying his own ties and rail) I think it did send me in the right direction. Plus there’s tons of other great inspiration in the series, as well as in his other clinics. I wasn’t familiar with Lex’s work but that’s likely only due to my newness; you don’t have skills like his (and YouTube videos) without having some notoriety.

Lex’s videos made me start to ponder how I’ll handle my mountainsides and rock faces. He uses latex rock molds and plaster, Eric Siegel uses geodesic foam resin (see also: Bragdon Enterprises) reinforced with window screen, and Evert does great things with just extruded foam. In the short term I’ll stick with going the foam carving route. If I don’t get the results I want I can shift to rock molds later.