Finishing Touches

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A few final details for the signature scene of The Hills Line, the Iowa Interstate’s deck-girder bridge over the Iowa River and surrounding area in Iowa City.

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My favorite material for modeling scrub and weeds is poly-fiber fill. I’ll take a small patch and dust it with Woodland Scenics Blended Turf, then seal and attach it using hairspray. Larger clumps make great undergrowth…

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…but it can also be thinned and stretched to replicate vines, such as on the fence surrounding the Madison Street potable water tank.

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Proving that they truly are the universal weatherer, I added some rust and other grimy colors to the bridge abutments using PanPastels. I had done some weathering when I first constructed the piers, but realized they were still too clean when compared to the prototype.

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The piers and abutments have been tagged over the years, an unfortunate aspect of modern railroading. While not able, or wanting, to completely replicate it, I did include some pre-made graffiti decals along the base of the bridge.

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For the switch stands, I went with the cast models that came with my Micro Engineering turnouts. While the style of stand is correct for the prototype, the targets aren’t exactly accurate. This is one area where good enough will have to be good enough.

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To make up for my shortcomings with the targets, my friend Pat with Texas Rail Models supplied me with a set of their custom-etched backsaver turnout throws, which perfectly replicates the style used on the industrial spur. After adding a quick coat of yellow paint, the throws were glued to the ME switch stands.

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