Since I built the HO scale Box Street micro industrial switching layout, I have had a number of structures at the front of the layout, between the track and the front edge of the layout. When I placed them there, I felt it was a good way to add a scenic break, allowing the trains to partially disappear while moving around the layout. The structures performed that function well. But one thing I didn’t count on was the potential for damage to the structures I placed at the front of the layout.

The Hot Mix Asphalt Plant structures in the front of the layout, shown at the bottom of the photo above, have been knocked loose, bumped, and generally damaged, a number of times since their placement there. Partly this was because they were high compared with the fascia, and they were directly in front of some of the turnouts. So each time I needed to change the position of turnout blades, there was potential for the structures getting knocked and damaged. I thought it was time I did something about that. The first thing I needed to do was figure out what to put in that space, if anything, once those structures were removed. I could have just removed the structures and had a nice stone covered area, but that seemed a little too plain. I wanted something of visual interest there. I also wanted the hot mix asphalt plant to be at least hinted at, as it is a source of traffic for the train crews.

The photo above shows the empty space after the Hot Mix Asphalt Plant structures were removed.

In the past I have made a number of low-relief or background buildings for use on various layouts, using the Evan Designs “Model Builder” software. I found this to work very well in the past so I decided to try building a small shed for the empty space. I created a building using the available textures in the Model Builder software, and built it using card as the walls, and coffee stirrers and matchsticks to add some extra internal strength. I also felt that the asphalt storage tank in a position right near the edge of the layout would be suggestive of the Hot Mix Asphalt Plant and so decided to include that in the empty area. Once I had added the completed shed and the asphalt storage tank to the scene I scattered a light coloured sand (from a nearby river bank) around the objects and fixed it using the usual diluted PVA glue mix. Then I filled in any left over areas on the edge of the scene using a mixture of sand, small bushes, static grass and real dirt.

I purchased a 1:87 scale backhoe to suggest the need for aggregate for the industry – previously the need for aggregate was suggested by a stone container above a mixing conveyor belt. Delivery of the backhoe would take a while, it being ordered close to Christmas.

After some further mulling over the new scenery arrangement I felt that a pile of broken up asphalt suitable for recycling awaiting pick up could be added, so I added that to the area near the asphalt storage tank.

I feel the end result looks ok and it still suggests the need for the same commodities to be delivered or picked up from that part of the layout so has not negatively impacted on traffic requirements on the layout.

But wait that’s not all…

While I was waiting for the backhoe to arrive, I decided to make some further scenery changes to the layout. The area I felt needed changing was around the freight platform and silos at the back of the layout, as shown below before the changes.

The platform was just a little too short to have the doors of a 40 foot boxcar nicely aligned to it, and so I decided I would change things there around a bit to be able to add a bit of extra length into the platform. This meant I had to either remove or change the position of the silos. This would give me an opportunity to enhance the scenery in that part of the layout a bit too. I decided to keep the silos, but re-align it as the silos are a nice feature to have at the back of the layout. So I re-aligned it so it isn’t on an angle, added an extra section to the freight platform, and sceniced around the platform and silos.

There is still a little more to do, but apart from adding some grass between the silos and the brick wall at the back of the layout, and maybe some future 1:87 inhabitants, the changes are now complete.

Eventually the backhoe arrived, and as it was quite expensive I’m not going to glue it down to the layout. This means I can place it wherever it looks like it’s needed. Here it is waiting patiently for a gondolla load of stone for the now mostly off-scene Hot Mix Asphalt plant.


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