Replacing and Scratch-building a Viaduct (i.e.: destruction)

In the midst of more projects than I doubt I will be able to get to during my Christmas vacation (which includes re-doing the 'city' end of the layout, finishing up another skyscraper scratch-build, re-wiring all my track power wiring, and hopefully getting to the point where I can lay down the trolley/tram tracks in the 'city area' so I can start installing buildings! Whew!) I'm also in the middle of another major redesign / reconfiguration of my layout.  This concerns the replacement of my single-track Kato Viaduct curve (on the opposite end of the layout from the previously mentioned re-configuration of my 'city') which has been a really uninteresting and boring area of the layout.

When I went to look at all the photos of my layout to for a shot which would demonstrate just how uninteresting this curve was...I couldn't find any!  That just goes to show you....if I don't take pictures of it, its probably a pretty good candidate for replacement!  Well, here's one shot that barely shows how it looked......

This started me thinking.  There is probably some truth to this idea that if you don't take photos (or view your layout from a certain spot, etc....), it indicates a sort of 'black hole' of interest.   My belief now is that there should be specific 'focal points' spread around the layout.  This is harder than it sounds because our grand designs on paper can often turn out less interesting in reality and its only after having 'lived' with something for some time (meaning, my layout), that those things that just don't work become more apparant (and more distracting!).

Additionally, the Kato curve viaducts were a problem from the beginning as my longer (164mm) European coaches would not make it through the curves without the coaches rubbing against the inside side walls (more here).  A brutish solution was to grind down the inside side walls.  It worked, but it didn't look pretty.  I also became less enamored with the appearance of the viaduct itself.  While probably more appropriate for an urban line, this curve is actually on the less metropolitan side of my layout and didn't look very good.  I also was using a combination of 282 and 315mm radius curves with a long straight section in the middle.  Not a very appealing set up.

Two things happened at about the same time that inspired me to solve the problems I was having with what looked like a really interesting solution: the first was the availability of the new Tomix (single track) super-elevated curves, and the second was an article in the Trix club magazine on how to build the Lower Meienreussbrücke viaduct bridge.  Putting them both together seemed like a cool thing to do.

So here's the last shot I took of the Kato viaduct before removing (hey, I knew I was taking it out at this point! Sort of an obituary picture if you will!):

And here is the first step of my 'after'; showing the plywood base of the viaduct with 1x2" 'supports' for the bridge pillars.  I used the Tomix pieces as a template for cutting the plywood and added two 1x2 boards as foundations about 10" apart.  I also had to build a sort of 'extension' onto this end of the layout to accomodate the longer radius of the Tomix curves (391mm):

As I mentioned above, my inspiration was from Trix magazine which promised the link to the plans, but the provided link and other searches resulted in no promised pdf file being found!  Therefore, I had to improvise and eyeball the photos of the bridge and do my best imitation of its dimensions and design  (which was going to be necessary anyway given the curve of my bridget versus the near-straight of the prototype).

Oh yes, I don't own a compass so I had to jury rig and improvise to get my arches looking correct.  My 'sheathing ' material was again my go-to material of 1/8" 'sintra', which I've talked about before.  This material is great for this type of project.  For one, it can be cut and scored with a knife easily (therefore, no band saw needed!); secondly, given its density and material, it can be 'formed' a bit with pressure to add detail and dimension (a bit like adding a pattern to leather in fact); it bends easily (unlike other plastics or acrylics), but won't crack or break like foam core board (and its also a lot stronger and more durable) and can be assembled with CA or a glue gun with ease.

So, below is (yes) a frying pan lid being used as the template for the main arch on the sintra:

For the support arches, I used the 2" radius (which was almost perfect) from a spray can lid:

And then a few scores on the pattern....

And one side of the viaduct is cut out and ready for a test fitting:

After both sides of the bridge were complete, I attached them to the frame with some temporary screws to make sure everything is in the correct alignment....

And then after quick coat of primer the bridge is placed on the layout for a test fitting with the Tomix curves and the surrounding elements:

All in all, this is going really well.  To say I am excited to see my first train run across this structure on the wider, super-elevated curved track is an understatement.  I've still got a lot of finish to do...including the tedious job of installing the styrene between both sides of the facade to give it a 'solid' viaduct look, clean-up, detailing, install hand-rails, and final painting and weathering.....  Yep a lot more to do! More updates as I make some progress!

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