The Sawmill Scene

As I have been working my way around the upper level of the layout adding scenery, I have been trying to figure out an industry for a fairly large area on the north side of the peninsula. I had thought of placing another coal mine there but finally decided to put in a sawmill and log pond instead to add some variety. Part of the problem with this was how to get logs to the sawmill. I would solve this by adding a log flume that would empty into a mill pond. In the picture below, I have started the scene by carving out the log pond in foam with a plywood bottom. There is a culvert going under the tracks on the left side to allow water to run off. The turnout for the spur track is roughed in. A trestle will be required alongside and through the mill pond. The loose piece of track simulates the location of the spur heading to the loading dock.

Part of the upper track shown above will be replaced by a trestle which will pass over the main line and passing siding as well as the log flume. I measured the existing trackwork to come up with a centerline for the bridge, then I laid this out full size using Corel Draw which is shown below. This bridge is 60 inches long.

Upper Trestle Layout
Proposed Sawmill Layout

Logs and water will arrive at the mill pond via the log flume which will come out of the hills behind the bridge and pass underneath.

I did some research online and found a drawing of a section of log flume along with some pictures of old flumes. Using this I built the frames from pre-cut and stained dimensional basswood and then laid out the stringers on a plan view drawn on a scrap of plywood and glued the frames in place. I glued scale 12 x 12 on a 45-degree angle at the bottom of the V to add strength to the assembly. This would not show as there would be “water” in the flume. Then I added the rest of the 2 x 12’s which made up the sides of the flume.

Next, the trestle construction begins. First, I needed to design the bents that would support it. I laid out and constructed the bents before creating the landforms that would be filled in under the bridge. The only place that there were hard and fast vertical locations to consider were the abutments and the sub roadbed for the mainline and passing siding. I printed the bents out full size and used a light coat of spray on contact cement on the drawing to hold the pre-cut and stained components in place while the Alene’s tacky glue dried.

Trestle Bridge Under Construction

The picture below shows the bridge and flume in place. I added short bents where needed to support the lug flume. There is styrene sheet that will support the water and a log coming down the flume. Here I am starting to add the foam supports for the bridge bents. This is one of the hundred or so times I have placed and removed the bridge and flume as I worked on the supporting scenery.

I use aluminum screen to bridge the gaps between the foam supports. Next i add a layer of plaster cloth and then a thin layer of plaster of Paris as my scenery base. Some rock castings are placed in the plaster and blended into the scenery.

After staining the rocks with acrylic paint washes, I brushed on brown latex paint and sifted a mixture of Scenic Express Dirt and brown grout on it while still wet. After the paint dried, I first wet it with alcohol, then fixed it with a 50-50 mix of white glue and water. I used artists acrylic paints to add clouds and some distant mountains to the backdrop. I airbrushed some mist on the lower part of the mountains with white acrylic and then added the foreground hills and trees. Masking tape protects the track during this process.

After painting the bottom of the mill pond and adding static grass to the scene, I placed the log flume in place for the final time (I hope). I ballasted the track in the tunnel and under the bridge then installed the bridge. I had to level the surface of the bridge a bit by sanding the wooden beams after gluing it in place. Next, I’ll add the Micro Engineering bridge track.

The Micro Engineering bridge track worked well for this bridge. Since the bridge is about 60 inches long, I would need two lengths of track. I removed bridge ties from one end of the track and slid on some standard ties for the transition from abutment to bridge. I used 2-3 inches of the standard ties on each end. These were removed from some of my Peco flex-track. They slid in place just fine. Although it was a bit difficult to shape the bridge track going around the slight curve in the bridge, once I was able to get it right, it stayed put. This allowed me to add the guard rails which I glued in place with gel superglue which gave a little working time to get the rails in place. I put a dab on about every fifth or sixth tie except at either end where I glued several consecutive ties. I also added the outside guard timbers in place.

I soldered 22-gauge feeder wires on the underside of the rail near either end of the bridge where they would go through the sub roadbed. Next, I painted the ties and rails using camo brown spray paint and cleaned the top of the rails with a block of foam and a rag to remove paint from the areas needing electrical contact. I fed the feeders through drilled holes and glued the two pieces of track in place with gel superglue. After giving the track a final cleaning with mineral spirits I gave it a test run.