Thursday, January 7, 2016

Down By the Old Mill Stream - 1

I'm working on the last section of "open country" on the layout - essentially it's the narrow shelf along the wall just south of Randolph. 
At one point, I was planning to add a really long girder bridge on tall piers, but I have at least two other places on the layout that will require such bridges, and frankly wanted something a little different. 
A water-powered mill seemed to offer a nice scenic setting and a chance to include some additional water features. 
Inspiration for this scene came from two places - the Historic American Buildings Survey web site - specifically this listing for Ben Thresher's Mill. The other source of inspiration was from the N scale Androscoggin Central  RR layout I built for the second edition of N Scale Railroading (a book I wrote for Kalmbach). That little layout included a scene with a mill building and falls. Although that was a brick mill building I liked the scene enough that I wanted to include it - or something similar - on this railroad. 
The mill building is an under-construction pre-production kit for the Ben Thresher's mill. Incorporating a water-powered mill into a scene is a bit of a chicken/egg process. You have to have some of the building done before starting the scenery, but you can't get too far along on the building since you have to plant it into the scenery. Essentially, the structure is such a part of the landscape that it's essentially a hill or rock or some other scenic feature…hopefully with square walls! 
I plan to walk through this project in a series of blog posts (it's actually further along than shown in these photos, meaning it will hopefully be easier to update) so if the building suddenly disappears from the scene it doesn't mean I've changed my mind - I've simply moved it out of way!
Before: The scene included a roughed-in stream with the water surface simply painted flat black. I'm glad I didn't spend too much time on the water back when I built the scene, as in the end I found I had to reroute the waterway. I also needed to raise the height of one end of the stream to create a small retention pond area and provide the needed vertical drop for the waterfall. I briefly considered placing the mill building on the aisle side of the river (below left), but that meant the building was too close to the edge of the layout - I wanted this to be set back into the scene. 
After putting the mill building in different positions, I managed to lock down the final position of the structure and mill falls  Putting the mill building alongside the "rough draft" stream meant the structure ended up too close to the front edge of the layout and the falls were simply too narrow to look right.
So I removed more of the riverbank (you can see the pencil line showing the section I removed in the photo above) in order to get rid of the sharp bend in the stream. 
Here's the one-piece foundation
 for the mill building embedded in the ground.

With the stream rerouted and some new foam hills added to build up the river banks, the scene is starting to shape up (above). 
More updates to follow. 


Matthieu Lachance said...

When I was a kid, my brother and I built several working water mill models on a small stream next to our house. We would sift through books to find suitable images. I find your scene to be extremely well proportioned. Most of the time, mill scenes are caricature of the real thing, but you nailed it perfectly. The choiche of the building and the river width will make this a true signature scene! Looking forward!

DoogC said...

Marty, I'm curious who the manufacturer is for the Ben Thresher Mill kit? It is a good looking iteration of the prototype and adds great interest to the scene.