The Electric Company

“We’re gonna light up the dark of night like the brightest day in a whole new way”
-Joe Raposo/Children’s Television Workshop-

The formal owner of the prototype Hills Line is the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway, a subsidiary of Alliant Energy. Considering its history as an electric interurban, the ownership makes sense. And considering its history, it also makes sense that there would be numerous substations located along the right-of-way.


The most visible option, and therefore most likely candidate for inclusion on The Hills Line, is the MidAmerican Energy Substation along South Capitol Street in Iowa City. While space limitations will prevent me from modeling the busbars and switchyard on the west side of Capitol Street, and the infamous concave alteration to the area around the IAIS deck-girder bridge made me adjust the relative positioning of the rest of the substation, I’m still able to include a representation of the remaining components.


The substation itself was built from a Walthers Northern Light and Power Substation kit. I built it more or less stock, but did not assemble the parts on the included base so I could adjust the spacing and arrangement to fit my space. The completed kit was painted with Rust-Oleum Aluminum spray paint and lightly weathered.


Space for the pad was marked out on the layout, then covered with limestone paver sand to model the gravel base. Diluted Matte Medium was misted on top and allowed to dry overnight.


Substations generally do an excellent job of keeping weeds and other undergrowth out of the base, so I kept the area covered when adding static grass. The surrounding field follows my usual methods for modeling scrub and brush.


The security fence was constructed using the posts from the Walthers kit, but with stiffer piano wire substituted for the rather flimsy and short lengths included with the package. The fence itself was made from fine mesh screen wire, again painted Rust-Oleum Aluminum. Barbed wire was made from sewing thread and attached using superglue.


I ultimately decided not to model any of the transmission wires into or around the complex. Mostly for space reasons, but also because I felt it would feel strange to have a completely-wired substation feeding nothing. Electrical lines are best left through the courtesy of The Electric Company!*

*= have fun getting that song out of your head


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