Truth be told, I’ve been living a double life when it comes to The Hills Line. For more than a year, I was developing separate areas on the layout concurrently for two separate publications. The first was for my personal methods of distribution, which include this website along with my numerous social media outlets.
The second was for The Hills Line with James McNab on Model Railroader Video Plus. The nature of my professional relationship with Kalmbach necessitated that I not repeat myself between these two outlets, although some overlap was inevitable. Fortunately, enough time has passed that I can now share overviews of the scenes I developed for the MRVP series. You’ll have to watch the episodes for all the specifics.
The first area fully developed was US Highway 6 in Iowa City. While I didn’t include the construction of the thoroughfare for MRVP, instead covering my methods in previous entries on this site, Episode 5 detailed the construction of similar highways and byways in the area.
Episode 6 expanded on this scene, including the construction and operation of the flashing crossers and detection circuits. Since Highway 6 is one of only two modeled grade crossings with flashers on the layout, it was an obvious candidate for inclusion in the series. I’m especially proud of how the highway guardrails turned out in the scene.
Episodes 7 & 8 were a two-part miniseries that dealt specifically with my scenic techniques. The methods were applied to the Iowa River and associated flood plain just south of Iowa City. In about a three square-foot area, I was able to demonstrate every facet of scenery design and construction, which made for clear and concise storytelling.
I’ve previously mentioned how I hoped the lattice-truss bridge could serve as a secondary signature scene for the railroad. With the scenery complete, that expectation has fortunately proven to be correct.
Ralston Creek was the sole subject of Episode 11, which brought all the concepts and philosophies presented throughout the series to conclusion. Much like the Iowa River scene, Ralston Creek gave me the opportunity to take an area from bare benchwork to scenic showcase. However this episode include details about my methods for photo backdrops, especially how layered scenery design creates the Endless Horizon effect.
Ultimately serving two masters was great motivation to continue to work on the railroad, since deadlines were an ever-present reality. Hopefully I can continue to share the design and development of these scenes, and many other still to finish, here on The Hills Line.