Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Category: Scenery (page 1 of 3)

Progress on the Rock River bridge

I’ve started to paint the Rock River bridge components and base for the river. I painted the bridge decking and shoes a dark brown and will be applying rust via Pan Pastels. Below are some images of the progress.

Here is a closeup of the bridge shoes. I’m very happy with how the pastels recreate rust and dirt.
Here you can see the before-and-after between the brown base paint (on the right) and after applying pastel “rust” (on the left).
The abutments and pier will be scratch coated with spackle compound so that I can create chips and cracks. After the distressing, weathering will be applied to give them an aged concrete look. I’ll also be mapping out the river bed and start the painting process. I’ll be trying to achieve a brown/green look to the water in the foreground that will transition to reflective blue — just like one would see as they look off into the distance with the sky reflecting on the water. The blue transition will hopefully blend in well with the backdrop colors as well.
Another view of the same area.
I painted the bridge ties a medium gray. Once they are weathered they’ll look more realistic. You may notice that there are two different styles of bridge ties shown. The 4-spike ties were made by Micro Engineering and the 2-spike ties by Central Valley. I had them available to use, and even though they don’t match it will make for an interesting variation.

The great bridge saga continues…

Today I received an update from my friend, Clark C., who is helping construct the two Rock River lattice truss bridges for the branch.

Clark is a true craftsman. And in the tradition of craftsmanship, he is testing the design approach to the bridges. Below are two images that show a “test bed” span. He is testing such things as lattice thicknesses, materials approach and heating the acrylic to help form it for alignment, etc. All this attention to detail is greatly appreciated and it will make for a spectacular presentation once completed.


Also: this last weekend I was at Trainfest in Milwaukee promoting the ProtoThrottle with Michael Petersen and Nathan Holmes. It was my first time at Trainfest and although it was rather grueling standing for almost eight hours both days, we all had a great time.

Nathan had graciously agreed to 3D print both bridge abutments and the one pier I needed. I plan to “skin” the three components with plaster and then distress, chip, and weather them to fit within the scene. Below is a rough setup showing the girder spans in approximate placement.

Rock River bridge girder spans

I just received my two Rock River girder spans from my friend, Clark C. They came in a very well designed protective wood enclosure because of all the delicate parts. The spans look fantastic and I’m excited to get to work on prepping them for placement.

Both spans need to be reinforced with metals strips along each inside length to make them more rigid to support the weight of the trains. After that, I will prime and paint them in a dark rusty brown color, add the ties and rail and then move on to scenery construction for the piers and river scene.

Clark provided the spans so that I can get the track work up and running across the river. The lattice trusses will come later and will be attached via the side beams. Both spans measure roughly 16 inches in length.

Here is an overall view of the two spans.

This closeup shows some of the detail. There are rivets lasered into the acrylic, but it is hard to see in the photo.

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