The View Block
The middle of the layout is a peninsula with the mainline running along the perimeter. Even with the relatively high benchwork one could see across the entire layout, which destroyed any pretense of a much larger railroad.
I knew even as I designed the track plan that I would need a view block. I just didn't know how I would construct it. And I still didn't have a design for the view block even after I completed the bench work and nearly all the trackage.
Another advantage of the view block would be the availability to two more surfaces on which to mount shallow relief structures.
I started with some cardboard sections just to test the height required. I settled on about ten inches, which would block the view of most people not on the roster of an NBA team. Because the benchwork was an open grid design it would be easy to insert vertical supports for the view block from the underside of the layout, making them stronger that surface-mounted supports.
The final design consisted of 1" x 4" vertical supports with 1" x 4" bases. Three view block assemblies made from quarter inch tempered Masonite panels would be dropped in over the vertical supports. Each assembly had a partial frame made from 1" x 2" boards with a full tongue-and-grove end section that allowed the assemblies to interlock.
I started by gluing Masonite panel side to the partial frame pieces and then clamping this to the vertical supports. Once the glue dried I repeated this with the other panel. When this was dried I removed the section from the vertical supports to screw the panels to the frame pieces. Screws on the surface of the assemblies were countersunk and covered with a spackling compound.
The view block assemblies were test fitted and then primed twice, painted twice with sky blue paint and installed on the layout. One side received mountain and hill scenery that was painted-on using recorded paint formulas matching the existing backdrops. The total length of the view block is just shy of fifteen feet.
The pictures below show much of what is described. After installation I was able to install twenty-one shallow relief structures against the view block. Most of these structures were either full size structures cut down to the appropriate depth or scratch-built.
What would I do differently? Probably I would install the view block earlier, just after installing the track but before scenery and structures. This would have made the process a little easier but not by much.
|Vertical Supports Mounted To Benchwork|
|Gluing The Frame Pieces To The View Block|
|View Block Before Scenery Paint|