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									COPPERHEAD AND MOSS                         volumes but I am always redrawn to
                                            this book for ideas because of its varied
CREEK LOGGING                               photographic images. My initial plans
COMPANY                                     were to include a logging layout and a
                                            portion of the Mt. Sicker mining line
                                            described in Turner’s book. I
My HOn3 Logging Layout                      discovered without too much work that
by Jeff Fincher                             this was way too ambitious a plan for
All Photos and sketches by the Author       the available space. The design
                                            evolved into a diorama style layout with
Getting Started                             a highly detailed saw mill as the
I’m a confirmed doodler. I doodle all the   centerpiece. The background and the
time. I doodle during business              sides would contain the areas needed
meetings, watching TV and even on           to support a mill. I had seen photos of
vacations. A couple years ago I began       the Sierra West Twin Mill design but did
thinking about converting some of my        not think it could be modified enough to
sketches into a HOn3 Logging layout.        fit my plan, which had a more linear
The fascinating and fun thing about         design as opposed to the square
sketching is that they really don’t have    compact Sierra West scheme.
to make any sense in a real world kind
of way. It becomes a very interesting       I concluded that the detail available in
exercise when you try to convert the        the Twin Mill craftsman kit was worth
sketchy, free-flowing quality of a doodle   whatever kit bashing was required so
into an actual working model railroad       that it could become the centerpiece of
layout. The accompanying sketches,          the Copperhead and Moss Creek
notes and photographs are my attempt        Logging Company Layout. My
to do just that. This is my third layout    Copperhead and Moss Creek is
since 1983. This is by far the most fun I   basically an elongated “c” shape with a
have had and the most work I have           high line and low line. I modified the “c”
ever put into a layout. I have spent        shape by adding a removable center
approximately three years on this           panel that creates a millpond for the
project. I decided to name this layout      mill structures to sit on. The original
the Copperhead & Moss Creek Logging         elongated “c” always had water as the
Company. The layout represents a            foreground feature but now the
freelance logging operation set in the      removable panel created a much larger
Western US sometime between 1915            foreground water feature. I have
and 1935. Copperhead will eventually        included a series of sketches that show
be the town where many of the loggers       the progression from original idea to
are from and Moss Creek is the site of      final solution. A strong starting concept
the Mill.                                   often reveals an even better final
                                            solution as different alternatives are
Design                                      explored.

I choose a 4’ x 10’ nook on one side of     Construction
the garage to accommodate my HOn3
logging layout. I begin sketching           The benchwork is constructed of 1 x 4
multiple plan schemes that could fit in     with 1 x 2 risers to support the roadbed
this space and still maintain the quality   surface. I was never happy with the
of my earlier sketches. The first book I    plywood roadbed I had used on
ever purchased on railroading was           previous layouts particularly when
Robert Turner’s, Vancouver Island           grade transitions were required. I tried
Railroads some twenty years earlier         something new that I had not seen
when I first discovered the work of         done before although I’m certain others
Malcolm Furlow and others. My current       have reached the same solution after
Narrow gauge library contains many          trial and error with plywood. I took two
                                            sheets of ¼” Masonite and laid them
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end-to-end on the garage floor next to         Wiring
by nook containing the completed
bench work. I laid out the entire track        The layout is wired using very simple
plan on these two sheets; a small              blocks. There are only five turnouts on
portion of it extends onto the second          the entire plan. Each section is gapped
sheet because of the 4’ x 8’ size              and wired as an individual block. The
limitation of Masonite. I used various         schematic wiring panel is constructed
drafting techniques to accurately lay the      of the same ¼” Masonite. Masonite has
track plan onto the boards. I first drew a     two distinct sides, one is heavily
6” x 6” grid on the Masonite that would        textured the other is smooth. I used the
match the grid on my design sheet.             textured side up for the roadbed and
                                               the smooth side up for the panel. The
 I also created a compass type device          wire schematic is probably way too
using a 2” x 30” piece of the scrape           simple for the hobby purist but it works
Masonite from the extra material. I            like a charm. My theory on model
drilled a series of 3/8” holes down the        railroad wiring is that it cannot be too
length of the piece of Masonite. This          simple. I’m convinced that many people
allowed me to insert a pencil at one end       either never start a layout or never
to draw with creating a compass for            finish it because of the intimidation
almost prefect radiuses. The pivot point       factor associated with wiring.
works well if use a pencil with the
eraser end down. I suggest using a              My schematic is a graphic
white colored pencil to draw with since        representation of the track plan. I drew
the Masonite is a dark brown color.            this on the smooth side of the Masonite
After the entire track plan was drawn          using a wide felt tip marker and various
full size on the two boards I cut it out       straight edges combined with a smaller
using a saber saw in one piece with the        version of the beam compass I
exception of a small portion on the            described earlier. The block or gapped
second sheet. I discovered that my             points were delineated at the
grade transition idea had worked better        appropriate points along the schematic.
than I even expected. The roadbed was          I then drilled 3/8” diameter holes and
easy to position and you could                 inserted Radio Shack toggle switches
experiment with different grades by            wiring these to the gaps and then back
using temporary blocking and clamps.           to the power source. The idea is to
The transitions work so well that you          provide continuous power to each block
can quickly exceed grades that even            you have gapped so that your
your best Shay can pull.                       locomotives will move along without
                                               shorting out or interfering with other
I highly recommend laying some                 pieces of powered equipment. They’re
temporary flex track to check your             many better ways to accomplish the
slopes prior to final installation. When       same results but nothing any simpler in
you have the slopes at an acceptable           my opinion. I think it is a great way for
grade the roadbed is then easily               the beginner to understand basic wiring
installed using a power nail gun and           principles. One of my last projects for
short brads. Masonite is a very hard           the Copperhead layout will be to create
material and is difficult to nail through      a more traditional control schematic
using conventional methods without             and rework the wiring for digital control
pre-drilling. I also suggest taking a little   and sound.
extra time and cutting the 2 x 2 riser
blocking to match the exact slope of           Backdrop and Lighting
your roadbed. This is easy to
accomplish by resting the block behind         Bringing a layout to life with well
the roadbed in the correct position and        thought out backdrops and lighting is as
tracing a pencil line along the bottom of      much of an art form as producing
the bed.                                       dramatic scenery. Knowing that I was
                                               limited to the 4’ x 10’ space I was
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careful to frame out the bench work to       above the fluorescents. The third
accept a radius backdrop at all corners.     lighting system is a series of rope lights
Many superbly crafted layouts fall short     connected together and wrapped in five
of their ultimate potential because the      rows below the fluorescents. Rope
backdrop was not considered as part of       lights are a series of tiny incandescent
the design. My backdrop is made from         bulbs similar to Christmas tree lights
1/8” Masonite with the smooth side           that are sealed in clear vinyl tubing.
towards the viewer. When possible            Their primary design was for outdoor
never leave an angled corner exposed         use. The rope lights come in varying
relative to the backdrop. The 1/8”           lengths that can be plugged together
Masonite easily conforms to 16”-18”          for an almost endless line. I use the
radius and is attached to the bench          rope lights normally when I am showing
work using ¾” brads and a nail gun.          the layout to a new visitor. The effect is
The Masonite is primed with standard         very dramatic if the garage door is
white interior house paint. I then           closed and all other light sources are
painted the entire surface a medium          off.
blue color. The clouds were added
using the same white paint I primed           A visitor would enter from the house
with but with a dry brush method.            with both cars removed from the
Because of the relatively small size of      garage. After the model is appreciated
my layout I constructed everything so        at these lower light levels I turn on the
that it is semi-portable. The bench work     fluorescents so that all of the details are
is supported by 2” x 2” and stabilized       revealed. These three different types of
with 1’ x 2” cross bracing. The end legs     lighting sources are very easy to install
are constructed from 1” x 4” much like a     and create an almost endless variety of
trestle bent. I added 6” lawn mower          photographic options. The rope lights
wheels at each corner. This allows the       are most difficult to photograph with but
entire layout to be pulled easily out of     a higher end digital camera can easily
the nook into the garage. I have             be adjusted to capture very dramatic
discarded several past layouts because       effects.
they were simply too hard to move
when time came to move. One                  Track and Scenery
additional feature I added is a boxcar
style door that rolls along the garage       My track is a combination of code 70
floor. The door can be shut to protect       Shinohara flex track with number 6
the layout from damage when not              Shinohara turnouts. A portion of the
operating. The length of the garage          foreground track is hand-laid on balsa
was not quite twenty feet so I had to        ties. I pre-weather all of the track and
add a secondary sliding door within the      turnouts using modelers spray paint as
large door so that the end 18” can be        a base then apply acrylic paint with a
accessed with the box car door in the        small brush to the rails and select ties.
open position. The section I drew            The top of the rails should to be
shows most of these pieces I have            cleaned before power can flow to your
described.                                   locomotives. Also be careful not to over
                                             spray your turnout points, as this will
I currently have three types of lighting     produce less than desirable operating
installed over the Copperhead layout.        results. The Masonite roadbed is too
The nook and the valance created by          hard to accept track brads. A hot glue
the sliding door track provided a prefect    gun used sparingly on the bottom of the
location for lighting. My primary lighting   ties anchors the track very nicely. Be
is provided by two sets of four foot long,   careful not to let excess squirt up
two tube fluorescents. These are center      between the ties especially at the
within the ten-foot length. The second       turnouts. An over abundance of glue
type of lighting are several                 will affect the look of your ballasting
incandescent track lights installed          operation. The glue gun method easily
                                             secures the track even in radius
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sections. The ballasting will be the final   My ground cover is a combination of all
attachment method as the diluted white       natural material ground up in a cheap
glue cures.                                  food blender. I live in an area rich in
                                             many different types of moss and
The scenery shell is supported on a          ground cover. One of the most
series of ¾” wide cardboard stripes          convincing ground covers is to put
woven together. This is a very fast and      semi-rotting tree debris in the blender.
accurate way to create topography. The       The best stuff is almost always found
finished web allows you to look at what      lying with a fallen tree; moss growing
the ultimate ground shape will be            on the tree material indicates it is soft
before applying the hard shell. I use a      enough to process in a blender.
hot glue gun to attach these strips to
the bench work and to each other. They       All of my trees are made from natural
can be easily modified using scissors        materials. I find the best tree trunks are
and hot glue gun to reposition. The          made from dead weeds that have been
hard shell is created using 8” x 8”          exposed to mother nature for a year or
pieces of brown wrapping paper               so. Ironically my best source of material
soaked in 100% white glue solution. A        has actually come from old railway right
second and sometimes third layer is          of ways. I suspect this is true because
added using similar size newspaper           the area is periodically sprayed with
pieces and white glue solution.              herbicide and has very good drainage.
                                             The weeds remain standing longer
 When the shell is totally dry, which        because they were artificially killed as
usually takes about 24 hours; I paint        opposed to seasonal death. Remember
the surface with earth colored house         railroad right of ways are always private
paint. Large home improvement stores         and quite often very dangerous so
sell paint that has been incorrectly         tread lightly if you search any similar
mixed or returned. They typically add a      areas for tree trunk stock. I finish the
color to it that renders it an earth tone    trunks by attaching caspia branches,
then price it at about two bucks a           which are available at most craft stores
gallon. This is prefect and cheap way to     but very few hobby stores. Caspia
rough in your color scheme. I have           comes in a multitude of colors. Its
used plaster as a hard-shell surface on      natural dry condition is an earthy brown
several of my previous layouts. The          color. I use this color as well as a
white glue method far exceeds this in        medium green color achieved with dye
time and clean up. It also makes a very      applied by the suppler.
forgiving surface that accepts layout
movement quite well. I personally will       The final step is to cover the branches
never use plaster again as a hard-shell      with various shades of scenic, finely
surface. I have used very limited            ground form. I have used diluted white
amounts of plaster to create three rock      glue and aerosol adhesives. The
outcroppings on the Copperhead. I still      aerosols seem to work best. No
like the way plaster renders the effect      logging layout is complete without
of a rocky environment. For those of         hundreds of trees and almost as many
you who model RGS style terrain it may       stumps. I discovered a particular weed
still be the best material unless you are    that grows in a tubular fashion much
comfortable with foam castings. Most         like bamboo. The larger varieties can
deep woods logging style layouts look        be as much as two inches in diameter
best with a minimum of exposed rock          and have a very pronounced bulge at
unless you are depicting waterfalls. I       each joint. The dried version of this can
used real rocks sparingly placed to          be cut apart at the joint and then
create these areas. The overall weight       shorten to an appropriate stump height.
was a nominal addition to the layout.        The textured grain and shape make
                                             very convincing stumps. Some of the
                                             older pieces will be hollow but this can

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be easily filled using water putty or          tanks are weathered and detailed N
sawdust glue mix. I typically airbrush         scale resin castings. All of the stripe
my trees and stumps using a reddish            wood is prestained using an ink alcohol
brown stain. I use to airbrush all of          mixture. The main mill complex was dry
these before inserting them on the             brushed with white paint onto the stripe
layout but have discovered that the light      wood prior to staining. The pieces were
overspray actually enhances the                then randomly applied without regard to
groundcover look. This makes                   direction or amounts of dry brushing. All
installation much easier.                      of the strip wood is individually
                                               roughened using a dull razor saw.
 I typically attach the stumps and trees       Almost all of the pieces are roughen on
using a hot glue gun. The really large         both sides because so many of the
tree trunks will most likely be hollow         buildings have finished interiors. This
which allows for the insertion of an old       also keeps the small width pieces from
wooden pencil, which can be inserted           warping so badly.
into the hard shell. I typically don’t glue
these in place, which allows me to
reposition trees or temporarily remove          All of the roof structures are
them for photographic purposes. You            prototypically framed as opposed to
will most likely realize that weed trees       using cardboard sub-roofs. I felt the
do not taper as much as the tradition          extra effort was warranted based on the
method using balsa or cedar for the            level of detail I chose to portray. All of
trunks. This concerned me at first but         the structures are built independent of
after studying photos of the layout            each other and fit together like a 3D
carefully this non-tapered effect is           puzzle. I did this so that I could add
hardly noticeable. I supplement my             lighting at a later time. It also makes
background trees by photographing a            transport of the layout much simpler by
dense section of my layout and then            being able to remove all structures. The
printing this section in color on cheap        majority of the roofing material is from
copy type paper. I use a razor knife and       Paper Creek Models including all of the
cut the branch shapes into a semi tree         corrugated metal material. I have
shape. These tree “wallpapers” are             become a big fan of this product after
glued to the backdrop before the               seeing it at the Denver Convention in
foreground trees are planted. The effect       2003. With the correct lighting it views
is very convincing and adds great depth        and photographs as though it were acid
to the scene. I think this is partially true   etched metal. Much, much safer and
because you are using the exact same           easier to apply. I will probably try some
colors for the background as the               of their siding material for future
foreground. The effect is difficult to         background buildings.
discern from the photographs but
greatly enhances the overall effect.            The millpond is constructed of 5/8”
                                               MDF board painted with several
Structures                                     different shades of blue and green
                                               acrylics. The painted surface is then
All of the structures on the Copperhead        coated with multiple layers of gloss
are scratch built using individual pieces      medium. I then airbrush the shoreline
of stripe wood. The mill is a kit-bashed       using a very light tan color. The effect is
version of the Sierra West Twin Mill           very convincing and avoids the messy,
complex. The most notable change is            smelly poured resin method. The pond
how the structures are positioned and          is completely removable allowing easy
that they are all raised up on piles. The      access to the rear of the layout as well
camp shacks are from Campbell. The             as making possible transport easier.
cook shack is scratch built from my own        The joint lines are hidden with the
design. The woodpiles are split from           swampy ground cover that borders the
tiny cedar limbs. The branch tank is           pond. The waterfalls are made using
from Evergreen and the smaller round
                                                                                        5
clear plastic cut into stripes and           Miniatures school bus with wheel
covered with clear silicon sealant. The      trucks. It is currently un-powered but
sealant is drawn down the plastic using      could accommodate a worm gear motor
a short piece of balsa wood. The plastic     in the rear section.
is then cut to length and positioned to
create the effect of falling water. White    Conclusion
acrylic paint can be dry brushed onto
the surface to create highlights. The        The advent of an affordable, high-
secret is to install the strips perfectly    resolution digital camera has
plumb and vertical because water falls       dramatically changed my modeling. I
as a result of gravity unless blown by       use the camera as a study tool to
the wind, which I would not recommend        improve all aspects of my work. Many
trying to model as it looks like a           times I am fooled into thinking a scene
mistake.                                     is complete or well crafted. The camera
                                             never lies about such things. All of the
Locomotive power and rolling                 photos for this article were taken using
stock                                        a Cannon Power-Shot S60 with five
                                             megapexiles and a 5.8-20.7mm lens.
 The Copperhead and Moss Creek               The very small body size allows you to
Logging Company is set in the                position the camera in places that
Northwestern United States between           before were inaccessible.
1915 and 1935. I have not been totally
true to the era but my goal was to            I have greatly enjoyed the three years
capture the feel of a well maintained        it has taken to reach the current level of
but tired equipment. I currently run         completion. My future plans are to add
three shays and one Grandtline box           a module on either end of the
cab on the Copperhead. Two are               Copperhead. One will be a detailed
weathered and kit bashed                     landing area with spar tree and steam
Roundhouse, two truck models. The            donkeys. The second will be the actual
third is a tiny brass model of               town of Copperhead. I envision this as
unidentified origin that I purchased in a    a steeply sloping hillside with a
box in multiple pieces at a flea market. I   multitude of buildings and houses
reassembled and added missing                clinging to the terrain using piles, trees
pieces, painted, weathered and               and anything available to secure them.
detailed it. It is clearly a very high
quality model and runs like a top. There      I hope to have one of these finished in
are no identifying marks that might          time to show in Detroit for the 2005
suggest who manufactured it. I scratch       Convention but as always time never
built the log cars using balsa; styrene,     seems to match my ambition plans.
plastic parts and Grandt line HOn3           Deciding to build a small, highly
Trucks. They are loosely based on the        detailed layout based on a series of
38’ cars used on the WSLC line. I            doodles and sketches has been the
prefer the wheel trucks with the brake       main reason for my continued interest
bars attached. The configuration seems       in this fantastic hobby. So think twice
to produce a more convincing car. I          the next time you start to toss that
have several of the Sierra West work         napkin or envelope sketch it could be
train cars that can be seen on various       the genesis for your next layout!
parts of the layout. I also run several
Alamosa Car Shop flat cars. I have
plans to convert several N scale
docksiders into HOn3 Porters based on
several articles from back issues of
NGSLG. This will add a small scale
loco that will work well with the short
track sections and tight radiuses. The
crew car is a kit bashed Jordan
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