July 2019 Article

July 2019 - Modeling the N&A without Scratchbuilding everything
Trying to model the Nelson & Albemarle Railway can be really difficult with stock rolling stock and locomotives.  Even scenery is hard to manage when the use of soapstone slabs needs to be replicated.  What can be done is modification or acceptance of some slight variations that give the 'look & feel' of the primarily soapstone railroad.  For scenery, I've started using Woodland Scenics Foam Putty and mixing dry pigment into the mixture before applying to scene features on the layout.  Once the application is in place, I use dental tools (purchased from Micro-Mark) to shape what appears to be thin soapstone slabs.  Because I'd already used pigments mixed into the putty, the appearance needs little touch up with paint, but I recommend anyone wanting to have as much realism as possible add some ground foam at spots to simulate growth slipping between the slabs.  Some touch up with paint to have the appearance of dirt is also beneficial in building a realistic scene along the N&A.As there are fewer true models available for tank engines manufactured by Vulcan, it's almost impossible to not scratch-build some part of the locomotives if your era of modeling is before 1951.  Most of those are shortened water tanks which can be easily modified if desired, but the differences only matter if your level of required realism is high.  After 1951, there are options for GE 44-ton diesel switches as well as the GE 25-ton diesel.  What isn't so easily found is the GE 35-ton diesel that was the 3rd #2 on the Nelson & Albemarle Railway.  For my model of the N&A, I've got three basic modules - one for Warren, Virginia and the interconnection to the C&O Railway; one for Esmont where the actual interchange between the C&O and N&A existed; and one for Schuyler where the quarries are depicted and trains can actually run to a sub-module representing Rockfish (where the interconnection to the Southern Railway was located).  By having three basic visual areas, I can operate a steam era in Schuyler, a diesel era in Esmont; and a second diesel area in Warren.  In this way, I can duplicate some locomotives and fit the schema developed for the 10' x 17' layout.  Freight cars became easy as most were in standard interchange service and mostly from the C&O though the opportunity to place Southern Railway freight cars from the 1930's was too hard to pass up.  As for passenger trains, there are two mainline tracks that represent the C&O running through the Warren module that carry the occasional C&O finery going by the depot as well as the unusual Freight Australia train (purchased for the birth of my first grandson in Australia in 2008).

It's obvious that having fun remains the key focus for the layout and my grandsons enjoy the easy DC parts of two main lines while I focus on the DCC parts of the three main modules.  
Send email to NelsonAlbemarle@comcast.net if you have any comments or questions or wish to contribute to future articles.