09 Backdrops Signals Scenery by Verryl V Fosnight Jr
Verryl V Fosnight Jr's Gallery
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  1. Verryl V Fosnight Jr's Gallery
  2. Wyoming Division HO Operation LayoutWyoming Division HO Operation Layout
  3. 09 Backdrops Signals Scenery09 Backdrops Signals Scenery
These backdrops behind Ogden were my first backdrop signals done by the local high school art teacher as a summer job. He needed an air brush one day so I let him use my brand new Iwata Dual Action top of the lline unit. I came back a few days later and it had not been cleaned, and neither had the sink in the shop--the whole place was a mess. I went off on him, but that was before I had written and published my book "Recovery from Anger Addiction," and he quit. Today I would have not raged at him, but I would have fired him. They were pretty good, but the sense of distance is not there.
This is the back of the last backdrop behind Ogden. This is also Ogden and is looking west away from the Watsatch Mountains. The stucture is Swift Packing and the 5 tracks in front of it are its yard as well as the yard for the Ogden Stock Yard. The next two tracks are departure tracks, and can be considered part of staging to the right of the photo. The two tracks that straddle the square steel support posts are one of the two Ogden Icing docks. We hope to disguise the posts as elevators or other parts... 
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of the icing platform. the left hand 5 tracks are definitely part of staging, the 5th area of Main Staging. They are stub tracks where 5 full trains including locos and cabooses can be stored. These tracks are called "North Platte (Nebraska)." Trains leave toward the right of the photo and go back thrfough the main staging area and up the small helix emerging into the east side of Cheyenne and on through Cheyenne onto the layout.
This is where the photo backdrops start in west Cheyenne on the upper level. This is an actual photo of the Indian Village Motor Lodge on US Highway 30. My family owned this 38 unit motel starting in 1952. It looked out on the UP AD tracks as is shown with the 4 lane city street of Lincoln Avenue (US 30 was known as the Lincoln Highway. Across the dirt street to the left (west) was Crow Creek which I played in in Jr. High. The filling station is a nice touch, but it never was there, at least before 1956... 
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when we sold the motel and moved to southern California in April when I was in 9th grade and barely 14 years old. The large mole hole gives space for an operator on the lower level to work Downtown Ogden, SP territory with 13 industries to switch. UP-SP share an interchange track and yard there.
This is an elevated long view of the photgo backdrop as it starts up toward Sherman Hill. The terrain is high plains with a 1.55% grade from here all the way up to the summit 35 miles distant. The model grade is 2.00% from here, where the plywood top is cut to bend it up, and constant to the summit. The Speer Wye SW of Cheyenne can be seen in the foreground. The City Coal and Ice was built by Raymond Kukulski and donated to the layout. The shed building in the left foreground is the Cheyenne Stock Yard barn, and is normally on the dark cork beside the dark red stock car pushed by the two SW units. The Blue complex is the Wycon Chemical Corp. fertilizer plant which is now Dyno Noble which makes explosives.
More of the prairie and sky basckdrops west of Cheyenne. A ice ranch with horses is to the left. This is a better view of Wycom Chemical. Note the hatches to reach the track from the aisle below. as it goes up Sherman hill. I widened this bench to give some space between Track 1 and 2 against the backdrop and Track 3 on the near side of the bench.
Proceeding up Sherman Hill the terrain changes gradually with more rock outcroppings visible. The beginning of the spline roadbed can be seen to the left center just past the building's east support post. There is some huge steel girders in this building, big enough to support the mezzanine which hangs from two jokes dropped down from the roof beam. This roof beam is 1/3 of the way along the building's 75 foot length. You can see how we stepped up the bench to make head room from the covered aisle beneath the far part of the bench. The aisle has a stoop under portion from here to the right end of the covered aisle.
On up Sherman Hill with Granite Quarry on the left. The small Granite yard between the tracks and the backdrop. The y ard has Tortoise switch machines that control the turnouts, and these are controlled by the electrical switch panel set into the fascia. The 4 small circles are 1" diameter holes in the panel with short pieces of PVC tube glued on the back face. A slot in the wall of the tube holds a rocker switch that runs the Tortoise machines. In the foreground can be seen Track #3 with the Harriman Siding at Harriman, Wyoming.
24 inch tall backdrop on east slope of Sherman Hill Cheyenne to Laramie. The Granite Quarry is to the left. This UP quarry has been supplying rock and ballast to the railroad since 1869. The pink fascia signs tell where and how to report train positions by an internal 16 phone system to the Dispatcher who sits on the mezzanine and keeps the Train Sheet. For this photo I have temporarily taped up a single mast signal with twin 3 aspect heads guarding the westbound (west is to the left) entrance to... 
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the Track #3 Harriman siding. The electrical switch panel controls Tortoise machines for Granite in the distance, but since the siding turnout is near the front of the bench we prefer hand thrown turnouts, and use Caboose Hobbies switch machines where ever they can be reached. A splice in the outside strip or spline of the spline roadbed is shown here.
This two head, 3 aspect each head signal is temporarily stuck on the Harriman Cutoff at the east end of the siding. The siding is required for this is only one of two sections of single track on the layout. The 186 feet of hidden track of the OSL is the other, and it has two sidings. All 3 sidings are required because these two tracks are bi-directional. Note the spline roadbed custom cut from 1/4" thick cork floor underlayment bought in 4 foot x 50 foot long rolls.
Nice detail on signals bought from Richard Piccuilla (contact at his Yahoo Group customsignalsystems. The signals are ABS (normally green, yellow if 2nd block ahead is occupied, permissive red if immediate block ahead is occupied. We run per Rule 251D (double track) with Track Warrants and ABS for safety. Occupancy is by current detection by cpOD boards (Center Point Occupancy Detection made by RailroadControl Systems) and logic by a Ramden board designed and supplied by Dennis Drury who guided the installation.
Over all view of Granite Quarry behind tracks 1 and 2 (with a yard). The Harriman cutoff (Track #3) is on the near edge of the bench The Harriman coal tower is just out of the picture to the left. The turnout off the siding for the coal tower is just in the photo.
The Harriman, Wyming coal tower is shown off the Track #3 siding here. Across the way is the Sherman Hill summit (at about the roof and mezzanine support beam around which the backdrop wraps. The mezzanine is not supported by any posts in the building middle; it is suspended by its ends and two 5 1/2" x 10" yokes hanging down from the huge roof beam. Its weight and 75 foot span necessitates the large size of the two side wall-roof beams.
Detail of fine rock formations on Sherman Hill from actual photos. Photo of Model by Chuck Hakkarine during the First Winter Invitational in February, 2014.
This backdrop was made from an actual photo of the Sherman Hill area. Note the snow fences which are about 7 feet tall in the real thing.
This is an overall view of 1/4 of the Wyoming Division. If all of the lower level were visible, I could claim it was 1/2 of the layout. The yellow mezzanine spans the 75 foot length of the building with stairs at either end. It is 7 feet wide, so affords a good view of the upper level except directly below. Cheyenne is on the bench running across the far end of the photo; Sherman Hill climbs up the far left bench, and Tracks 1 And 2 go down the west side of the Hill into Laramie (torn up by Allen's reworking). Hanna is at the far right. The Sherman Hill unique pink granite rock formations are at the summit on the far edge of the photo, and Track #3 separates from #1 and #2 to go under the Harriman Wyoming coal tower at mid bench.
Detail photo of the photo backdrop high plains just north (UP west) of Laramie on the way to Medicine Bow, prime ranching country of Wyoming.
Same just west (geographic north) of Laramie. This is one 3 foot section of a planned 18 foot ice dock. Our trains are 17 feet long plus locos, tender and caboose, and we run PFE Specials often with 30 reefers. The Laramie ice dock and yard tracks have been torn out by Allen to widen the bench and make the Laramie yard more workable (ice dock longer to avoid breaking a 30 car PFE train in two parts to ice. See next few photos.
This shows the photo backdrop just west of Laramie during the Laramie yard track reconfiguration. The previous photo showed Laramie in its as designed configuration. Allen added 4 inches to the bench width and extended the arrival tracks to the yard at the cost of shrinking the trackage for the stock yard. He also was able to make full train length tracks on both sides of the ice dock so two trains could be iced at once without fowling up entrance to the Laramie yard, which is one of the 4 main yards on the Wyoming Division. This photw was taken at the beginning of his work.
View from Laramie's yard east end with roundhouse and turntable and coal tower. This is the reconfigured and widened Laramie yard prior to the backdrops being completed over Laramie. We did not "design" any yard; we merely scaled the real things down and crammed as much as it on our benches as possible. The reconfiguration was done because we tried to make the Laramie stock yard too large for the model. The real one is very large, but we realized that in 1957 there were no unit stock trains even in... 
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season; only a few stock cars could be found on any one train at most. So in making the stock yard smaller, there was more room for AD tracks and the longer ice dock to avoid doubling trains into the classification tracks The yard wraps around a bench end, and the Laramie Tie Treating Plant is adjacent to the yard. Further east is Monolith Redi-Mix.
This is the modified Laramie yard with condensed stub track (edge of bench left) for stock track, and full train length icing tracks (widest gap to left of split ladders. Monolith Redi-Mix cement is on the east end of Laramie just outside of town after the tie treating plant. The route up Sherman Hill from Laramie to the summit (east bound) is left hand running, just like the prototype.
West end of Laramie Yard. Part of the Ice dock is misplaced in front of the backdrop to allow work on backdrop; it should be in the wide space between the tracks. The Laramie yard is nearly 50 feet long, and one of 4 major yards (Cheyenne, Laramie, Green River, and Ogden).
Leaving Laramie and on to Rock River just to the left of the photo. The summer prairie color has some green but is pretty prairie dry. Wyoming gets only about 12 inches of moisture a year, and most of it is snow, so summers are dry.
Just past Medicine Bow toward Hanna, which ramshackle town is shown here. Masonite strip is old US Highway 30, the Lincoln Highway, the world's first transcontinental highway. It was started privately by a wealthy Lincoln motor car dealer in 1912 by Indiana entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher. Formally dedicated October 31, 1913, the Lincoln Highway ran coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City west to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally through 13 states. It became the backbone of the early US highway system. It followed the origianl UP tracks of the Transcontinental Railroad. I-80 now uses nearly the identical route to the Ames boys knew what they were doing
Between Medicine Bow and Hanna (left is west on the Wyoming Division).
With Laramie on the right of the aisle and Hanna on the left and Medicine Bow on the far left we move out across the great plains and that wonderful blue sky with cumulus clouds. Locos are changed at Laramie for lighter power across the level bowl of Wyoming between the Laramie Mountains (the start of the Rockies where Sherman Hill is) and the Watsatch Mountains (beyond Green River toward Evanston). Helpers are also dropped off at Laramie (after Sherman Hill west bound Cheyenne to Laramie), and blocks... 
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and cars are switched for either Cheyenne-on-to-Nebraska, or Denver bypassing Cheyenne via the Harriman Cutoff (Track #3--Cheyenne west to Laramie). The arch at the bottom supports the beginning of the OSL Hidden track to Portland, a separate staging yard.
Hanna and Hanna coal marshaling yard. We model 3 mines, and the Hanna coal job entails being the coal agent (going around the layout as far as Cheyenne to inventory the empty hoppers to be replaced with loads), making up the train with the required number of loaded hoppers, delivering them, either setting the correct number to replace the MT's on spots or leaving them with a YM to do this. Finally, the operator drags the empties back to the mines or Hanna yard. So the job is a coal agent, YM (Hanna), and road crew--fun! The mines are behind the view block to the far left connected to the yard.
Hanna backdrop, Hanna depot, and the Hanna yard which extends to the left to the 4 x 8 foot mine area.
Details of Hanna depot and backdrop.
This taken from the next aisle from the photo subjects show those subjects, the 3 Hanna coal mines on the end cap of the Hanna bench, and the mains cutting inside that coal field past the Sinclair Refinery that borders Rawlins. The refinery yard has a loading, unloading and storage track and a stub supply track along the mains 1 and 2 plus an alternate main to relieve congestion through the refinery area Rawlins. Beyond the Hanna mines the blue and white buildings of Wycon Chemical plant on the first... 
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bench sticks up. Some of the blank Laramie backdrop yet to be covered can be see peeping over the refinery. This illustrates a little mentioned advantage to a mushroom design. You cannot see any tracks beyond your bench. You can only see east and west down your own tracks (and further beyond your own tracks if you turn around and look at the next bench behind you. And of course you can't see the lower level, whose aisle is at the bottom of the space between your own bench and the next one.
The Hanna coal mines (3 modeled). This would make a fine 4 x 8 foot sheet of plywood layout. Wycon Chemical is in the distance on another bench. The Sinclair Refinery is to the left as tracks in front of a detailed backdrop. The fascia map for Rawlins and Sinclair Oil is yellow. The buff line or schematic drawing shows all the locations on the layout. Yes, Wamsutter is on it. The low hanging mezzanine (red iron oxide color) makes it hard to photograph anything like all of even the upper level of the mushroom layout. The mezzanine head room here from the building floor is 96", but it is only 79 inches above the 17" risers needed for the mushroom design. However, one can only walk under it on one aisle, because it runs over the central bench.
This is the Rock River and Medicine Bow area cut off in the previous photo. Highway US 30 can be seen as the tan unfinished Masonite. We make the land forms from foam supported cardboard strips. They are then covered with Brandon Enterprises Geodesic Foam. Some areas are easier to build up using layers of the pink insulation foam which hot glues nicely without melting. Allen is working on his Laramie yard modification.
Wamsutter, Wyoming, as in where the Hell is Wamsutter? On our model iI has a stock yard (shown) and a depot and team track to the left. It is at one end of the 20 foot Harriman Siding (center siding). Those are throughout Wyoming on UP's Wyoming Division. Also visible on the fascia is a map of Wamsutter (there is a map of each yard on the layout pasted to the fascia), a pink OS sign, and a compass star sign that shows N-S-E-W directions on the model (west is always left), and a list of the next 3 stops... 
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in each E and W direction. So that is where Wamsutter is. Between Creston (E) and Table Rock (W). Aren't you glad you asked? Seriously, in modeling a location as unfamiliar as Wyoming, I try to give operators every bit of help to get around the layout as I can. The 6 x 6" cross section wire tray hinged doors are shown on the front of the bench. All non-soldered electrical joints are in side these wire trays. It was a joy to install the signals and not have to crawl under any bench.
Ariel view (well, I was obviously standing on a ladder) of Frontier Refinery in Cheyenne before I finished the piping on the pipe trays around and through the area. The track in the bottom is the loading track, and those behind the refinery are service stubs and tracks to the double track small helix down to staging. The third track going to the helix is a turning loop for passenger trains to avoid the need to break a consist.
Ariel view (well, I was obviously standing on a ladder) of Frontier Refinery in Cheyenne before I finished the piping on the pipe trays around and through the area. The track in the bottom is the loading track, and those behind the refinery are service stubs and tracks to the double track small helix down to staging. The third track going to the helix is a turning loop for passenger trains to avoid the need to break a consist.
Frontier is a combination of kits (2 on the left and the building), and scratch built crackling towers and other units (yellow). Many household and office trash items were used--Cocl-Cola bottler caps, electrical cable shielding, computer parts, most of which were modified with PVC pipe fittings and pipe, and polystyrene sheet parts. The 24 inch steel scale is not one of the whimsical parts of the model. You can gauge the scale of the refinery by it.
Details of the track schematic and the yard at Granger. There is a yard map for all yards, and several of the schematics around the layout on the fascias. Since I am building the layout for operations, it is important to post these and other such signs to help operators get oriented and to stay oriented as to where places are in Wyoming.
More fascia signs. I feel a railroad that has guests in to operate on it absolutely needs frequent signs on the fascia to identify places, define tasks of road crews, map out yards as a guide as to how the yard should be operated (remember UP designed my yards--I only scaled them way down--I trust UP knew what they were doing. My job is to understand why a yard is designed the way UP did it. Other signs should be caution signs (don't miss that junction signs), and compass stars to remind which way is east and which is west.
More fascia signs to guide operators. Pink tells road crew where to OS (call in to Dispatcher so he can put your train On Sheet--record it s time and progress), how to OS the first time, and how to OS thereafter. With all these fascia signs an operator does not need an apron to hold a stack of maps, charts, and directions. They are right there in front of him when he needs the information.
Another OS sign in hard to miss hot pink, and a warning sign in red to take the OSL here (preferred route). But if you miss it 20 feet down the line there is a second red warning "last chance for the OSL" sign. These are about 4 x 8 1/2 inches.
Composite of Laramie I made to check track plan as drawn vs actual build. Composite is 3 side 95 degree 11 mm lens shots stitched together. As you can see the yard is big. The measuring tape used as a scale reference was stretched to it limit, 25 feet. The case of the tape is black with a yellow locking button on it, and is located just to the right of the first seam from the left.
This is the same composite reversed and inverted that I made to aid me in checking the 3rdPlanIt program drawn map for Laramie POSTED ON THE LARAMIE TIE TREATING PLANT SIDE OF THE YARD i.e., the bottom of the left panel of the composite. The upside down Monolith Redi Mix panels can be see in duplicate because of forshortening of this extreme lens. The drawn map to be posted on the end of the bench on that far aisle had to be flipped end for end and turned upside down to match the view of the layout as seen from the Tie Treating Plant/Monolith side of the bench.
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