How hard can it be? I’ve seen countless people stack layers of extruded polystyrene to rough in the contours of their layouts. Yeah, yeah, I figured out that the inside corners of the steps dictate the slope, not the edges that will get smoothed off. It looks easy! Well, to quote Michelangelo, “I am still learning.”
As with everything else to do with prototype modelling, there is an added complication – the prototype. In an urban setting, this is especially difficult as we need level pads on which to park buildings, most of whose dimensions I am only estimating from photographs.
After a bit of pondering, I figured out that the place to start is the roads. These, at least are relatively known quantities. My sister and I went out in the rain and measured Pembroke Street a few years ago, and so, I had a good idea of the grades involved there. From the same field trip, I also had the dimensions of both the remaining buildings, and I made pads that were level with the road at the appropriate locations for those structures.
The station presented a special challenge. I know the dimensions, and it seems that it was set parallel to the road, rather than to the tracks. I believe that is because it was built atop the old power house. In order to figure all these angles to create a level pad for it, I had to cut the platform out.
From there, it was a matter of estimating. I made liberal use of 1/4″ and 1/2″ foam core to get building pads at the right levels, and cut 1″ blue extruded foam to fill in everywhere else.
I had expected to glue all these blocks of foam together before going on, and if I were building a freelance scene, I might do that. I even went and bought the glue (No-more Nails for insulation panels). However, I now realize that I need to mock up the buildings and see how they look first. Only then will I know if the pads are in the right places, and the right sizes.