#43 -May Status Report

May 2, 2010

As in past articles, this month we’ll look at some more of the smaller details, which add character to the layout.   I’ll describe them in the order in which you would see them as you walk the aisle in the layout.

On the platform of the station at Mott Junction, are a man and a woman talking (Figure 1).  The man is missing the lower part of his left leg.  The medal on his chest implies that he lost that leg in the war.  Next time you’re in the layout, look closer at that scene.  What else in the story does this vignette tell?

In the Middle Period city, the buildings have the required fire escapes.  Resourceful residents, seeing an opportunity to increase their living space, have added some homey furnishings to take advantage of that potential. (Figures 2).

In the Middle Period Engine Servicing Facility is a curious scene.  Near the roundhouse, a worker, with a wheelbarrow holding a broken wheel, is digging a hole (Figure 3).  Pete Villareal who worked in a railroad maintenance shop tells the story of a new worker heating a wheel, to expand it to make press fitting a shaft into it easier.  He heated it unevenly causing the wheel to fracture into unrepairable junk.  To hide the evidence of both the worker’s error and the foreman’s failure to properly supervise, the foreman ordered the worker to go bury the evidence.  That’s the story memorialized in this scene.

Figure 4 shows a random shed behind the roundhouse?  Not really.  The switch machines, used to operate the switches that direct the diesel engines around the servicing facility, are bright metal cylinders about an inch in diameter that sit on top of the layout table rather than underneath.  They needed to be hidden, and the shed shown does the trick.  Perhaps it’s a place for the switchman to take shelter from the elements.

In the housing area by the aisle in the Modern City there is a dead tree, but the wonder to behold hangs from one of its branches: a miniature hummingbird feeder complete with customer (Figure5).

Also in that area is a group of Raccoons having a feast in the trash cans by one of the houses (Figure 6).

Finally, in the free-view area right next to the gift shop, there’s a beautifully modeled tree house (Figure 8), complete with moose head, American flag, tire swing, and zipline.  This scene can only be seen from outside the layout.     Across the aisle, on the porch of the lone house in the industrial area, a couple are trying to watch television.  He’s got the remote, the TV antenna has some aluminum foil augmentation, and she’s standing with hands on hips, totally unimpressed, especially since there is work to be done, judging from the ladder and the wheelbarrow.

There are, of course, many other little vignettes and scenes that are worth scouting out.  So, next time you come to visit the layout, take some time to find them, and, if you can, look for the story they tell.

As always, the changes continue; so next time I’ll show you some of the latest biggies, and there are quite a few.  Stay tuned.


Tom Bartsch

MVGRS Big Train Project Coordinator