Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Not too bullish on the peninsula backdrop..."

The peninsula backdrop was built according to plan and all went smoothly. I was especially proud of the bullnose end I achieved with the use of a ripped length of 2" PVC. But something was not right in little Jimmy's railroad land.

I had fancied the opportunity to see both sides of the layout from the end of the 'blob,' especially to see multiple angles, which would otherwise be very limited on the balance of my narrow shelf design. I wondered if seeing an expanse of the layout from one point might maximize the viewer's overall layout experience, and even suggest a layout larger than its reality.

The backdrop was framed with the traditional 1" x 2" on 24" centers. It extended 4' out from the wall @ 90 degrees and then splayed off at an angle of about 15 degrees for another 8'. It is only anchored at the wall and bench work.

The 1/8" tempered hardboard was attached with counter sunk
 drywall screws, allowing a 6" opening at the top for air
circulation. The end was fabricated by slicing a piece of 2"
PVC and slipping it over a chamfered 1" x 2" at the end
to mate with the hardboard.
It's hit or miss with me for countersinking screws, but this
is an example of the finest two I have ever achieved.
Hallelujah! Just right and ready for tape and spackle.
Spackled, sanded, primed and painted. The backdrop is good to go... I suppose.
Here's a view from the new entry looking back at the angled backdrop.

But whatever this bullnose backdrop was selling, I wasn't buying. I even went on one of my preferred websites, the Proto Layouts Group, to ask about this. If memory serves me, never a safe proposition, I believe there were multiple viewpoints and a very definite and resounding, "Who really knows?" mixed with a few, "I'm not really sures."

I do specifically recall the esteemed Andy Sperandeo saying that it was easier to photograph on this type than something like a teardrop or balloon. But Tom Patterson of CW&E fame, and Joe Atkinson of the IAIS, provided some photo evidence of their backdrop treatments. Each effectively forced the visitor to discover the layout gradually as they walked around the respective peninsulas.

I was going to noodle with this. Tomorrow, we'll see where it brings me. See you then, and keep those cards and letters coming.


The question of how a backdrop 'expands' the layout experience is...
A) Strictly a philosophical one open to interpretation and debate.
B) Clearly a practical one based on rationality and pragmatism.
C) Stop it. You're starting to freak me out with this 'thoughtful' stuff.


  1. I'm glad to see I'm not the only model railroader out there skinning my knuckles with experiments gone, er, well not quite as planned.
    I discovered your blog on one of the Yahoo groups and now am a loyal reader. I enjoy the style of your posts and your concluding rhetorical questions.
    Please come visit my blog at and see what's happening in my basement--little different scope and focus, but much the same spirit, I'll think you'll find.
    Looking forward to your next post!

  2. Looks like you plugged that doorway back up, Jim! You worked so hard on opening that up, earlier this week! Change of heart? :-)

    And, I am reading (and enjoying) your posts, every day!

  3. Steve - Thanks for the kind words... I'll need some time to really look over your blog... looks neat... couldn't help but notice your Italian adventure... we rode that train from Florence to Venice a few years back... and like your son, our daughter is currently studying over there in Milan... I assume it's OK to list your blog on my list, right? - Jim

  4. Chuck - I suspect that your clever sense of observation has led you astray... if you are referring to the first photo, that was taken prior to any thought of a new entry... I just used that photo to show the original construction... way to keep me on my toes though, but don't you have a freight house to finish detailing? - Jim

  5. Done! On to the next project....