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BVIII: Froton


(pronounced: FRO' tun)

Updated 03/15/12

Froton is short for "Frog Town,"  so named because when the house's foundation was up but the basement floor hadn't been poured yet, we found -- and portaged to the outdoors again -- dozens of frogs in this area.  Froton was the second area of the BVrr I added scenery to.

Click here to see the final track configuration and Froton's industries (at the bottom of the page).

Entryway The first step was to add the Masonite fascia board alongside the track.  The tunnel opening at the far end of the picture is the Froton/LaPointe Peninsula. Plans for this area of the layout called for a river running alongside the tracks (the horizontal Masonite forms the sub-surface).  I was amazed that just adding the fascia board made this portion of the layout look 100% better.  (October, 2000)
Andersen peninsula Here's a closer shot of the end of the peninsula, after the hillside and tunnel portal had been added.  That's my "Andersen Windows" complex mounted into the layout -- a board-by-board scratchbuilt structure I built in 1979 from plans in the September 1976 issue of Model Railroader.  On the extreme right you can see the fascia board cut for the stream.  The red/white balls are manual turnout controls.  The town of LaPointe is just on the other side of the backdrop.  (November, 2000)
A Tale of Four Ridges
For some reason, I had a heck of a time getting the topography right on the next part of the scenery.  I literally built and rebuilt one ridge (or part of it) four times!  (December, 2000)
scenery scenery
Here's a closeup of the track plan, showing the camera angle on all these shots.  The blue area will be the river.  On the right, the first attempt at a ridge, with three holes already ripped into it.  I thought it was too tall and didn't like the angle.  
scenery scenery
So I re-did the plaster.  I was about 2 minutes away from adding ground cover, but it still didn't seem right.   So I ripped the whole thing out.
scenery scenery
This is cardboard lattice, which holds up the plaster-soaked paper towels.  And that's plastic wrap taped to the backdrop to protect it from my mess.  So how was Ridge #3? 


Still not right.  Once again, the Nasty Hammer (with me attached) popped a few holes into tre angle problems.  On the right, ridge #4,  the last one.  It's hard to see the  differences in these pictures, but rest assured, they loomed large to me.  This is one of the reasons I prefer Linn Westcott's "Hardshell Scenery" method (paper towels dunked in Hydrocal  plaster, draped over crumpled newspaper or cardboard lattice) -- it's extremely easy to re-do parts of the scenery.  Over and over and over...
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Here it is two months later, in February 2000.  The trees along the ridge are only "half-trees"  mounted to a piece of cardboard that's leaning against the backdrop.


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Back near the Andersen plant, I experimented with a technique I'd read about and always wanted to try: using a mirror to add depth beyond the backdrop.  The road (which passes under the tree archway) appears to curve around and out of sight.  In reality, it curves into the backdrop and ends at the mirror -- which reflects the road and makes it appear to continue.  The pencil in the righthand shot shows exactly where the mirror is.  The effect, which I've read about for years, is pretty impressive in person.
scenery By mid-January 2001 I'd finally poured the river, using about 1/2 gallon of two-part EnviroTex.  I added some swimming kids and learned to make Aspen trees from peppergrass (thanks to a great article in the May 1995 issue of Model Railroader).  This stand of Aspens, which is next to the backdrop, contains only 6 full trees; the rest are just trunks and clumps of peppergrass.
scenery Here's an overview of the deep end of the river.  The Andersen plant is just outside this picture, in the upper left corner.  Compare this to the "before" picture at the right (repeated from above). scenery
scenery There's an area of Froton that's always bothered me -- the area between the passing siding and the Andersen spur, next to the road (indicated by the arrow).  For months I had a locomotive sanding tower there... just to have something in that area!  Then I received the September 2001 NMRA Bulletin, the October 2001 Model Railroader, and the September 2001 Railroad Model Craftsman.  Each had photos of a prize-winning gas station modeled by Sam Swanson from plans in the December 1996 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.  It was perfect for this spot.  (October 2001)
scenery So, using some scribed wood siding, styrene roof material, and Grandt windows, I scratchbuilt "Igot's Gas" station.  I added some '50s gas pumps, a Classic Metal Works '53 Ford Victoria, and adapted some plastic figures to complete the scene. There are 3 guys all huddled around the open hood of the brand new car, plus a set of legs poking out from underneath.  In the distance, the station's dog barks his head off at the shiny new machine.  It's a real show-stopping scene in an area that's only 2/3 of a square foot.
scenery Here's a closeup of the gas station building itself.  I got the signs and door thermometer from a website advertising full-size porcelain gas station signs.  Thanks for the inspiration, Sam!
scenery Out behind the gas station sits an old 1925 Ford Roadster up on blocks.  Someday old Igot will get around to fixing it up.  (October 2002)
scenery Froton was fairly well finished when I was working on Glen Oaks in October of 2005.  However, after I built the small flagstop depot for Glen Oaks I thought it'd be neat to have an even smaller passenger shelter Froton.  I found plans for this one in the October 1988 issue of Model Railroader magazine and scratchbuilt it.  It's located on the edge of the siding turnout at the north end of town, just next to Andersen Windows.  Next stop, LaPointe!  (October 2005) 

Froton's trackplan and industries


scenery The Andersen Window plant was scratchbuilt board-by-board in 1979 from plans for "Charlie Wyman's Mill" in the September 1976 Model Railroader.  It's so-named because at the time I was the junior copywriter for the Andersen Windows account.  I envision this to be perhaps what Andersen would have been had they not been so successful, nor made such a great product.  On the BVrr, this industry ships wood windows and patio doors.
scenery B. Chubb Inc. manufactures "Operational Hardware" and was scratchbuilt in the late '70s from the "8-Ball Locomotive Works" plans published in the October 1970 Railroad Model Craftsman.  It's named after Bruce Chubb, the man who (literally) wrote the book on model railroad operations -- a book that opened up a whole new avenue of enjoyment of this hobby for me.  It's fitting, then, that B. Chubb is the hardest industry on the BVrr to switch, since the Andersen side of the turnout will only hold one car and loco, and requires first clearing out all cars at Andersen and the Creamery. 
scenery The Farmers Gilt Edge Creamery is a completely scratchbuilt model based on the real creamery by the same name in Owatonna, Minnesota.  I wrote up the construction of this structure for an article that was published in the May 2003 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.  The structure earned 103 points in an NMRA Merit Award judging. The building which formerly occupied this space on the layout, The Froton Creamery, has been renamed and relocated elsewhere on the layout.



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