ref·use (rĕf′yo͞os)
n. Items or material discarded or rejected as useless or worthless

In reviewing old photos of the IAIS Grimes Line, one constant that stands out is how clean the right-of-way was. In reality, railroads are filthy, disgusting, and dangerous locales covered with trash and garbage generated both by the act of railroading, and also the result of railroading.

I can somewhat justify the clean appearance of the Grimes Line due to the nature of its location and customer base, but The Hills Line is a much more gritty operation. So this time I’m working on adding more junk in areas.


The obvious candidate for clutter is City Carton Recycling in Iowa City. Since bails of recycled paper are often left stacked next to the loading docks by the receiving warehouse, the spur is often littered with errant pieces of litter. The question became how to best simulate the bundles.


A call for help to the community of model railroading turned up two major resources. The first was John Parker, whose magnificent BNSF Fall River Division includes the Sage Recycle Center. John uses plain copy paper run through a cross-cut shredder. While I have a document shredder, it’s only straight cut. A few moments with a pair of scissors completed the job.


Further help came from Lonnie Bathurst of St. Louis RPM fame. Lonnie graciously offered to mail me a piece of square plastic tubing to help form the bundles. The paper pieces are wedged and tamped inside, then covered with diluted matte medium and allowed to dry.


The result is a more than adequate representation of recycled paper bundles for City Carton. I’ll need to make several dozen to complete the scene, along with a few scraps tossed to the wind around and over the spur track.

One thought on “Refuse

  1. The ingeniousness of model railroaders never ceases to amaze me. I made metal bales for my metal recycling center using crumpled aluminum foil wrapped around pieces of square styrene strip. Got that idea from another modeler.

    Liked by 2 people

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