Yard Art Notes–Head on collision!

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I’ve added another bit of whimsy to my front yard, the “head on” wreck of the west-bound Fast Mail and the east-bound Morning Freight at the old abandoned truss bridge.

Creating these static vignettes in my front yard have been how I’ve kept my hand in the hobby since taking down my Garden layout when the back yard was conceded to the family dogs (keeping them out of the layout was a constant losing battle).

Click to enlarge, use back button to returnOver a year ago I salvaged my trust bridge from the scrap yard and set it up as yard-art in my front yard just off the patio.

Having enjoyed the wreck of the Soggy Bottom Express and gotten a number of positive comments on same, I decided that the bridge needed some “action” as well. The first step was to lay some track. I used Bachmann indoor track as it rusts readily giving a nice abandoned look.

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Ransacking my junk boxes I found a number of suitable cars and engines for this type of crafting.

Since the display is in the front yard, you don’t really want to use expensive engines and rolling stock since there is always the possibility of theft or vandalism. Fortunately I’ve not experienced either but for this project I only pulled out stuff from yard sales or giveaway sale stuff from the junk box.

Ah, the junk box; occasionally you come across the cheapie Christmas Train sets with plastic wheels and plastic track on deep discount in July at a retailer or for even less at a garage sale. I have picked up a number of odd scale, weird color, one-off type stuff over the years to use as parts and pieces. Most are missing something or other but for a “set it up” and “leave it” display, the cheaper the better. Should weather and sun take too great a toll on any one car it can easily be swapped out for another junk box treasure.

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The first draft of the scene was more of a proof-of-concept than anything else. I wanted to see if I could create the feel of a head-on crash and the accordion folding of the trailing cars. My limitation was the height of the truss bridge as I did not want to damage the top supports. This caused the up angles to be a bit less than I wanted but over all the effect was acceptable.


With the proof of concept done, I wanted to add some punch to the display and a whiplash of cars going airborne was just the ticket.

More challenging than propping engines and cars at a given angle, this effect required cars to practically “float” in space. A heavy gauge bendable wire was just the ticket.

At first each flying car required several wire legs to provide sufficient support, especially in the wind or rain. But eventually, I found that drilling a small hole in every car in each corner eliminated water accumulation and I finally came up with a methodology whereby each car only required one heavy gauge wire support. As you can see in the pictures here I painted the supports black. That worked out quite well for the props for the engines and the cars on the bridge proper but I think I should have left them unpainted for the flying cars. Let me know what you think.

Please leave comments or suggestions and let me know about your projects!

(Originally posted 4/17/2016)

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