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of the bridge (carefully rusted by in- serting it into the ground for six months–I have a stash of these in the back yard) again with various brackets and supports were scabbed onto the side of both the bridge and trestle.

Modeling lessons I have learned more than a few things building this bridge and submit them for your consideration. Soldering can provide significant scenic effects not achievable through other means such as the tie rods on this bridge. However, one should first practice on throwaway components. There are no shortcuts to cleaning, fluxing and tinning material prior to the final connection.

from their tank farms to the pier. At first this was done with tanks placed on narrow gauge flatcars. It quickly be- came apparent that pipelines were far more efficient, and the first of several oil lines were added to the bridge cross- ing of San Luis Creek. Crude oil is very thick and viscous, so it is heated to make it flow. However the exposed iron of the pipes tended to let the oil quickly cool, potentially causing clogging, so insulation jackets were added, usually made of asbestos covered with a thin aluminum or tin sheet held in place with banding. Such was the case with the Avila Bridge. Therefore, 4″×8″ tie extensions were added about every eight feet to support the new oil line. I simulated the jacketed line by using ¹⁄₈″ diameter aluminum tubing scribed every 20 feet to represent the banded joints. In one spot the line was cut and a smaller copper tube installed to repre- sent a place where the outer jacketing had been destroyed. Drawings derived from the photographs are included in this article. The track was placed on the trestle and bridge and pinned in place with ¼″ long model railroad spikes.

Detailing and weathering Prior to final installation of the track structure, historic photographs were examined to determine the character of the beach, the size and color of the watercourse and the nature of repair and maintenance efforts to the bridge over its 55-year lifespan to the era modeled. It became very evident that the creek was constantly wandering


within its channel and the sand was littered with debris. The bridge struc- ture evidenced repairs and strengthen- ing, as well. Wooden cross bracing had been placed between the caissons to keep them vertical, rip-rap and angled wood bracing had been added to main- tain the western wood retaining wall, new piling had been added to replace those that had rotted or been broken, and, finally, there was flood debris along the beach.

The repairs and new work noted above were simulated by sizing the new wood pieces in comparison to the known dimensions

of the existing

bridge. To model the creek and beach terrain, formers for the desired topog- raphy were made and fastened to the original model base. Similar formers were cut from foam sheet and placed adjacent to the pile bents. With these in place, newspaper was wadded up and filled in the intervening spaces. This was followed with a couple layers of plaster cloth to provide the final landforms, then sand and dirt was ap- plied over plaster cloth which had pre- viously been painted with a sand-col- ored latex paint. Rip-rap and rocks exposed by wave action were also added at this time and everything was bonded in place using the traditional “wet” water and diluted white glue method. Water was formed using three suc- cessive pours of tinted resin. The last one was teased into small waves with a hair dryer blowing hot air just as the resin began to set up. Finally, small signs, an extra pipeline on the outside

Study actual photographs for the scene you are building for details and construction techniques that will take your project beyond the ordinary. This effort is especially true for determining landform erosion, structural damage, and repairs required to maintain the structure as it ages. Structural practices of an era help to date your model and create realistic ef- fects. The visual effect of this bridge em- phasizes that it was built in an era prior to the ready availability of steel compo- nents in a rural area by a railroad with limited finances. It is not a Southern Pacific common standard, for example. Weathering and finishes come in small increments and are created by water, air and the sun over time. This means that it is very realistic to put on small washes to build up the weather- ing colors and patterns. In this case piles vary from one another and rust patterns have texture as well as color. Prefabrication of a model’s compo- nents goes a long way toward making a complex project possible. It speeds up the assembly process because all the cutting may be done at the same time, and the distressing of wood done in a couple of processes. Finally, the assem- bly of subcomponents reduces handling and improves accuracy in fitting the parts together. The use of jigs helps enormously. I find the use of wood for wood parts, brass for iron parts and real sand and dirt go a long way to cre- ating a more convincing model and scene. Take your time, relax and enjoy the emergence of a unique and special model as it comes alive from the raw materials on your workbench.

References Best, Gerald: Ships and Narrow Gauge Rails. Howell-North; Berkeley, California 1964. Westcott and Johnson: The Pacific Coast Railway. Benchmark Publica- tions Ltd. Los Altos, CA.


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