Monday, March 30, 2020

Backdrop Addition

While I was reenforcing the ends of the removable layout sections which allow for maintenance of the furnace and water heater, I decided it was also a good time to add the backdrop.

Originally I planned to use 16" Aluminum Flashing for the entire length of the scenic portions of the removable sections, however I found the flashing difficult if not dangerous to work with. For example when cutting open the roll I underestimated how compressed it was and had it spring through my hands unwinding itself like a coiled spring. Thankfully nothing got sliced as now is certainly not the time to be going to the hospital.

After that incident I donned some work gloves and set to work. One backdrop piece would be attached to the large section with the bridge. The other piece would be attached to the layout supports and remain in place if maintenance needed to be done.

Unfortunately after attaching the flashing to the large bridge module with screws my son Brendan and I both agreed it looked terrible, too wavy and rippled. The back side of the removable section is very curvy which also made things difficult aside from handling the aluminum sheeting.

So on to plan B. I switched to styrene instead of the aluminum flashing, it's much easier to handle and certainly less sharp.  Instead of screwing the styrene in place I used Loctite Power Grab and glued it the styrene in place. This time things went much more smoothly.

After the glue set the section was removed from the layout again and a piece of aluminum screwed to the back to act as a sort of heat shield from the water heater's exhaust pipe.

The next part of the backdrop would have to be aluminum as it would come in close proximity to the furnace exhaust. Luckily other than a cut out around the exhaust, the rest was simple.

Two coats of Behr's Serene Sky blue paint and the new backdrop was complete.

Nickel Plate Road SD-9 #358 tries out the newly improved sections.


  1. Where are you getting large sheets of styrene? Online or local. I think I'm wanting to go this route. Great work!

    1. Try your local plastics supplier/warehouse, they should have 4x8 sheets of styrene for around $25. I went to Piedmont Plastics in Akron to get mine. Styrene is the way to go for backdrops, so easy to handle, cut (score and snap) and paint.