It’s been a while since the last blog post, but that does not mean there have been no layout improvements. After spending quite a bit of time on improvements to my various other micro layouts over the previous year, I thought it was time to improve the look of the Pier 39 layout. The Pier 39 layout has been operational for a few years now, but little had been done to improve how it looked apart from the fairly basic primary scenery elements like ballasting, transhipment ‘concrete’ areas, and some clutter such as crates, pallets, and the like.

A recent (Dec 2021) photo of the Pier 39 layout before the recent improvements.

Over the last few months I have been busy making improvements to the Pier 39 layout. One thing that became apparent during my concentrating on the Pier 39 layout’s scenery is the course-ness of the area between the various tracks. This would cause a potential hazard to the 1:87 denizens who have to walk in the areas between the tracks or alongside some cars to do what train crews do. So I added some fine sand between the various tracks, with the odd weed poking through the sand for added scenic interest. I feel this change alone made a huge difference to the scenery.

Finer gravel between the tracks for better train crew safety.

Another thing I wanted to do was improve the background. As much as a light sky blue is pleasant enough to look at, it lacked a certain look of completeness and visual interest. I added a small low relief industrial office / workshop type building that I had stored away (which I think was on my previous Blue Island module), half hidden by the long fuel tank along the back. Then I added some more foliage in front of the building and tank to complete the scene.

Small low relief industrial office / workshop building

After that I also added some flat containers to the backscene behind the COFC / TOFC / bulk goods tranship area. The flat containers are container printouts printed on laser photo paper then glued to some stiff cardboard and then glued to the backscene. I tried to layer these printouts so that it looks like the scene is deeper than it actually is.

Containers added to the backscene behind the COFC / TOFC / bulk goods tranship area.

One of the sections of the layout that has caused me some angst is the 2 track traverser – it looked too much like a plain 2 track traverser! So I decided to give it the scenery treatment to try and disguise the fact that it was a traverser, or at least make it look more like an actual prototype traverser. To do this I added a raised concrete platform area between the 2 tracks, and then added trimmed coffee stirrers between the rails of the 2 tracks and on the front of the traverser. It looks a lot more like it ‘belongs’ in the scene now.

Trying to disguise the traverser.

In the area where the traverser is, I was dissatisfied with the backscene there. So I added a raised area behind the traverser, added some Superquick stone paper so that it looked like a stone wall, including some arches at the bottom that are partially hidden by the traverser. I had to be careful how I made this background scene, as if I didn’t do it properly the traverser would not have lined up properly for some track positions. I painted the top of the raised area to represent concrete. Then I pondered what to add on top of it. I was thinking I would add some more flat containers to this raised area, but in the end I felt that would mean too many containers and not enough scenic variety. After a fair amount of pondering, and testing buildings I had in storage to see what might enhance the scene, I decided I would butcher a Lima freight house I had in storage to make it a low relief building. This Lima building was utilised as a yard office on my Dolton Industry Park module which was dismantled a number of years ago. Now it has a new home, in a minimised format as a low relief building.

Backscene enhancements behind the traverser.
Pier 39’s GE44 on the traverser.
The layout after the above mentioned changes were completed.

There is still some work to do on the layout, but what has been done recently is a good start towards making it much more visually interesting.


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