The Summit Ridge Railroad

The quiet years

There it sat.

Once the layout was out of the living room and stuffed into a corner of my office it sat unused. I would turn on the village lights and run a train around the oval for an hour or so every few months but other than that it just sat. I was busy with other aspects of our life and it just wasn’t the same working on it without my wife sitting there with me. There was no further development of the layout.

It did not even return to the living room for Christmas. We just turned it on in the office for a few days. This then was the plight of the SRRR through the 2012 and 2013 Christmas seasons.

A building boom

In April of 2014, I found I had some free time from other activities and, for some reason, a bit of an itch to do some model railroading. The SRRR came out of the corner into the middle of the room so that I could move around it easily.

One problem was that it was a half-and-half layout. Half of it was Christmas Village and half was model railroad. Half was winter and half was something else. It was never designed for operations yet it was the only model railroad I had access to. Both the SRRR and I needed focus.

Even though the buildings are toy-like and smallish (more like 1/55 instead of 1/48) I liked the “feel” of the layout. It brought back fond memories. Also, it was supposed to be a Christmas Village with a train. Everything I read about winter layouts however discouraged me. I did not want to have it turn gray and need constant cleaning.

I decided it was early in the Christmas season, maybe Black Friday, in a temperate climate so Christmas decorations would be up but little to no snow. I leave it to the viewer why the pond is frozen. With a snow mat I could cover a small portion of the park area for the sledder and the snow man and leave the rest like early fall.

I worked in spurts, but I worked on the layout. I ordered some of the new Bachmann 18 foot cars, I sprinkled on real dirt from our yard and secured it with matte medium and alcohol, I sculptamolded the post office area and added a brick parking area, I added some Woodland Scenics ground foam in various shades and bits of ground cover from various sources.

The post office area and part of the staging area

The post office area and part of the staging area

I removed one of the buildings that never quite looked right and moved the pie shop onto the main street. The area from the pie shop was designated for a proposed freight depot.

New real estate

New real estate

I painted the track with Woodland Scenics track marker pens and ballasted with Woodland Scenics medium gray blend ballast.

The track after paint and ballast

The track after paint and ballast

I built a parking area next to the passenger depot.

The parking area added by the depot

The parking area added by the depot

I added some trees up on the ridge-line. I attempted to replicate trees off in the distance but instead they just looked like what they were, clumps of ground foam stuck on wires. They did not last too long.

A failed attempt at trees on the ridgeline

A failed attempt at trees on the ridgeline

I added a first layer of ground cover to the “mountain”.

Detail of the "mountain" with a first layer of ground cover

Detail of the “mountain” with a first layer of ground cover

The next step I fretted over for a long time. I needed to blend the skating pond into the park area but how to make it look right? I ultimately gave up and just blended it in the best I could.

The pond aka the skating rink

The pond aka the skating rink

Then I added grade crossings for the road that I made from basswood strips dipped in Minwax Dark Walnut stain.

The timber crossing for the depot spur and an Athearn Model A

The timber crossing for the depot spur and an Athearn Model A

One over-riding idea was that it should have that Christmas Village flavor. Lived in but clean and kempt. It should have some weeds and such but never too much. Here is the layout after a frenzied week of activity.

An overview of the layout in mid-April 2014 - before adding the grade crossings

An overview of the layout in mid-April 2014 – before adding the grade crossings

A view down the mainline.

View down the mainline.

View down the mainline.