Nearly every element on the layout had some personal meaning, even if only by virtue of
the names I’d chosen. The previously-mentioned building alongside an incline was burned
into my brain slate practically from the time I could drive. On the layout, the scene is on
South Olden Avenue, just as it was once long ago in real life. The adjacent bridge was
carefully recreated from reference photos, right down to the patches of cobblestone and
the water main mounted atop a girder.
Some of the structures—Dick’s Welding and Greene Electric, for instance—were closely
patterned after real-life businesses, and the row homes were carefully researched. For
the sake of expedience, I didn’t do deep dives for every building, but I made sure the
layout as a whole felt authentic.
Union Rubber is a blending of Home Rubber, a landmark business in Trenton, along with any
number of other similar industries. The larger building is a heavily-bashed Cornerstone Vulcan
Manufacturing kit; the smaller building beside it was made from a few pieces from Allied Rail
Rebuilders. All of the windows and doors are custom laser-cut replacements.
The previously-mentioned Greene Electric Company is seen here next to a corner bar on
State Street. All of the urban structures are, of course, DPM bashes, and some bashes
were quite extensive. The high-angle view that follows shows just how unusually
convoluted the Greene Electric building is.
Across the street from the electric business is Capitol Fuel Oil. While it has no concrete
origins, it reflects the style of some of Trenton’s older businesses. The layout’s earlier era
was chosen so I could show things in their heyday or not long afterward. The dealership’s
office is a repurposed burger stand from Will Models; the tanks are from Kibri, embellished
with etched brass details.
The corner bar is an amalgam of many such places, a few of which I’d been known to
frequent. Its neighboring buildings are derived from other quasi-real places. By the way,
the street sign in the second image is actually readable, assuming one used magnification.
And the fire hydrant is an NZT Products detail. Sigh.
When the layout was shown at a small modeling show, the most frequently asked question
was, how did I make the streets? They’re black sheet styrene, sanded until it turned grey,
weathered with chalks, and striped with colored pencils; cracks and tar lines were made
with a Sharpie. As an aside, double-yellow lines might be incorrect for a 50s-era layout.
The second-most frequently asked question was, how did I get Kato Unitrack to look half
decent? The trick involves three steps: paint it, re-ballast it, and bury it in lots and lots
of weeds. It’s a trick I would go on to use frequently.
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