On18 City Bridge

Safe Harbor Statement

I am not an engineer. The following is what I call “Imagineering” .. I am just having fun reading from books dating from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s and applying what I can to my modeling. I like this .. trying to understand what these books are trying to tell me. To me this can be as enjoyable as the actual modeling. If you, reading this, ARE an engineer .. or mathematician … or have knowledge on the subject then be nice, reply back to the appropriate page and point out errors. I will look at what you have to say and if convinced will update the text appropriately. It’s all in fun after all.

The Cut
Blocking in scenery

Blocking in scenery

Here’s a photo of the area where the cut would be made. I was putting the Clever Models’ Brick Mercantile together and had put it in place to get an idea of how it would look.

It was at this time that I realized that the On18 track you see above and behind the building really compresses the view .. crowding any structures from behind. I was trying to figure where the heck a road would come from to run up to the loading door on the Mercantile building. That rock wall behind would force it into a tight turn .. made me uneasy thinking about it. It came to me .. an Epiphany no less .. that if I had a cut here .. with the track carried on a trestle .. then I could put a photo backdrop behind and virtually carry the scene into the background.

Photo Backdrop
First attempt

First attempt

So .. I ripped out a section of roadbed/rock wall. Now .. I needed to find the right photo for that.

I found a colorized photo on Shorpy titled ‘Steamboat Annie‘. While it looks across a river, the town is a lot like I want. I saved it, loaded into Paint Shop Pro, grabbed three buildings from Trimble 3D Warehouse, loaded them into Sketchup, rotated to align with the buildings in the photo, exported a 2d image, and brought them into Paint Shop Pro, resized as necessary and composited a new scene and then uploaded the photo to block posters .. where it gets converted to a series of .pdf – printed, cut, pasted, cropped and positioned behind the new cut.

(I covered this process in depth in DIY Backdrop)

TownBackdrop_1000Good thing I didn’t hurt my arm patting myself on the back from the first try at a city backdrop. I took another look or two and realized that I needed to come down further .. and besides the buildings I inserted via Sketchup were at the wrong angle. Tried again .. and again .. and ended up with this version.

This time I sliced the original Shorpy panorama by copying the last third .. enlarging it and moving it under the left side. That building on the lower right by the way is a Sketchup model. The biggest problem I ran into was that the Shorpy pic is taken across a river .. complete with riverboats tied up at the dock.

Still another problem in that I needed to extend some buildings left and right a bit .. which while I can find other Shorpy pics that will work they are all black and white. The one I used here was colorized .. so I needed to do that myself (see the thread on DIY Backdrop)

Second try

Second try

I printed the thing off and then taped it to the wall to get an idea how it was going. I still needed to extend left and right but all-in-all I was happy with how it was going.


I added a set of buildings to the left side. This was a piece of a photo from Cleveland in 1908 titled “Upward Mobility“. It is in Black & White so I had to colorize it but that wasn’t that difficult. On the right I went to Sketchup to create what I needed.
abutmentsCut around the buildings and propped it in place for a photo. I am going to hold off on gluing it to the wall – need to put in the abutments and lay track first .. since the backdrop city is paper I need to do all the messy work first.

The red arrows point to approximately where the abutments will go.

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