by BGTwinDad
, a photo by BGTwinDad on Flickr.

This weekend, the Twins (well, mostly TwinBoy) and I made some trees for the Wye diorama that I’ve been putting together.

I’m not sure if I’ve posted about this diorama yet. It’s a small (10″ deep x 24″ wide) diorama that is the tail of a wye that crosses a creek and a road. I’ve been using it to practice scenery techniques for the main layout, and also as part of a “party” on

We used the Woodland Scenics Forest Canopy starter kit, fall colors edition. It is – like most of their starter kits – a mixed bag. The natural plant sprigs that are included to make the trees work OK, but they are very brittle, mashed flat and very flat-topped.

They look pretty natural from down low, like the photo above, or as true canopy (shot from above, say), but need considerable work to get to look like a real tree because all of the foliage is in a narrow band (vertically) at the top of the sprig.

Still, particularly for a low shot that doesn’t show the whole tree, they work well, and the smaller pieces make convincing bushes.The use of actual natural plant material, dried, makes for a pretty good bark look to the stalks, which is good.

The instructions show how smaller sprigs can be glued to the larger ones to fill out the tree shape, and sprigs can even be taped together using florists wrap as well – though obviously one would need to paint or texture to recover the natural trunk appearance.

What do you think?  Do they look nice?

The CH&FR Goes DCC!

Well, as you may have guessed by the two recent decoder install posts, the CH&FR Railroad has finally acquired a DCC system… the Digitrax Zephyr Xtra!

I’ll blog a bit more about the whys and wherefores behind the selection later, but for now, I’m producing a series of videos on my initial experiences.  So pop some popcorn, sit back and enjoy!

Part 1: Unboxing and Inspection


Part 2: Installation and First Run


Part 3: Very Basic Programming


Part 4: Running Two Trains with the Recall Stack



CH&FR Under New Management, Announces New Acquisition and Logo

Dateline: 1 April 2011 Chestnut Hill, WV

The Chestnut Hill & Frost River Railroad announced today that the Frost family has turned over full control of the company to its newest Chairman and CEO, Robert J. “Bobby Joe” Davis. also of Frost River, KY.  The Frost Family has divested itself of all ownership of the company, but declined comment, citing privacy concerns.

Chairman Davis wasted no time in announcing the CH&FR’s newest acquisition, with the financial backing of a certain well-coiffed real estate tycoon who wishes to remain anonymous.  This morning, papers were filed completing a hostile takeover of the Union Pacific Railroad.

Davis was quoted as saying “I wanted to solidify the CH&FR’s position as the oldest continuing operation railroad in the nation.  We’ve been a close second ever since the Chestnut Hill Railroad was founded on January 1, 1863.  Now, we’re the oldest.”  On condition of anonymity, the financial backer stated, “I just couldn’t let that Buffett guy have one up on me.  He has the BNSF, now I have the CH&FR.”

When questioned about the financial wisdom of such a highly leveraged takeover of a railroad that doesn’t even connect to CH&FR trackage rights, Davis retorted, “Sure, we could have joined up with CSX or Norfolk Southern, but then we still wouldn’t be the oldest!”.

Davis also revealed the new logo for the newly named “BJ Davis Pacific Railroad” and announced that work to repaint the UP’s roster of nearly nine thousand locomotives into the CH&FR blue and tan would begin immediately.  The former UP will now be known as the RJ Davis Pacific (or “RJDP”) Railroad.

One anonymous source pointed out that this unusual turn of events seemed to unfold rapidly after a mysterious stranger and a wooden crate passed through town on an old boxcar and was a guest at the weekly poker game at the Frost family home.  Representatives of the Frost family declined comment.