Building the Hitop Part 15…

In this last installment, I’ll cover quite a few of the small details that make a model railroad more realistic and prototypical. These small details add flavor and character to any layout. Included can be vehicles, people, signage, animals, power lines, etc., etc. All these I’ll cover here.

First, I wanted a feel for Appalachian America, so that narrows the field as far as some details go. One consideration is the time period or era that you’re modeling. For example, my layout is based on the time frame from 1968 at the time of the PC merger to about 1975, so modern cars would be out, as well as modern billboards and signs. You also wouldn’t find a Conoco gas station in the middle of West Virginia either, so all this should be taken into consideration when searching for those vehicles, figures, signs, structures, etc. Of course this applies to rolling stock as well.

I picked figures and animals that I felt would represent the era and working class people of the area I model, and think I’ve done a good job. Most of my figures are from Preiser, as they in my opinion are better detailed and painted. I have quite a few dogs and cats on the layout, either in yards, or on the porches of the company houses. A few photos here of an example of both the animals and people:

You’ll notice in the above photos as well the period vehicles, which fit into my time frame. No modern vehicles here! Also notice the rusted car in the first photo, something you might see anywhere in this era. The car is a Woodland Scenics product. Most of my vehicles are from Classic Metal, with a few from Athearn plus WS thrown in. Finally, note the General Store, and the period soda machine on the front porch, plus the proprietor in his white apron, and the produce set up on the left side on tables. Little details like this set the time frame and era for your layout! From what I mentioned before about correct structures and vehicles as well for your area modeled, see the photo below of a SOHIO tanker truck delivering diesel fuel to Dickinson yard. SOHIO or Standard Oil Of Ohio would have been in the area I model:

2017-04-08 14.14.38-1

Another photo of the railroaders over at the yard office in Dickinson yard. This was the era before safety vests, so none seen here on these guys:

2014-01-19 15.45.41

Other little details such as freight on platforms, trash barrels, mailboxes, crates, etc all lend that air of detail on a layout. Most of my other detail parts such as these come from Woodland Scenics and JL Innovative. I particularly like these as they come pre-painted. Even on my platform at the Armitage Furniture Co, you’ll see a box of a recently constructed chair ready for shipment, plus recently delivered barrels of paints and stains. On my Kanawha Valley Feed and Seed you’ll find barrels and bags of seed and various feeds. Some photos here:

Note in the photos above the other small details that add life and authenticity to a layout, such as the dumpsters, especially the one by the Armitage Furniture Co filled with scrap wood, spilled paint and cardboard. Also note in the photo of the store/post office the lady to the right in the yard of one of the company houses hanging her laundry on the line.

Finally, the last to date scenery/detail item I finished was stringing power lines along the front and back of the layout using EZ-Line from Berkshire Junction, using their green thread. This I must add was a tedious but rewarding job when finished. Just be sure to leave a tad bit of sagging in those lines when you thread them! A very nice product to have, so look for this on their website. Here are several photos of an overview of the power lines in the Hitop area, showing other details as well:

Again, add those details! Do the research for what was found in the era and area that you model. It took me some time to do so to find the correct details, figures, vehicles, etc. for my time period, but the research was to me as much fun as actually setting everything down on the layout. One final note: all the figures with the exception of two or three were placed on the layout using the tacky glue by Woodland Scenics, so they could be moved if wanted. The exceptions were permanently glued down, as these particular figures I knew didn’t ever need to be moved.

This concludes the series on building the Hitop. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series, and if something included helps you build that layout, or helps you find a product, then I’ve done my job!

5 thoughts on “Building the Hitop Part 15…

  1. Steve, it sure is nice to see another modeler who takes the time to detail his scenes. I really enjoy your work and blog. Keep it up! Thanks for sharing your layout with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Steve, I’ve been following your site for some time and every time I see a new photo a question pops up in my mind (going to try making the Virginian also, but as a Donner Pass theme). For awhile I’ve been stumpted on how long a consist on your layout is, eg. What is the length of your Columbus – Dickinsen runs versus how many can you squeeze up to Morris Fork? Once again, great job! -Andy


    1. Thanks Andy! My mainline runs are usually ten or twelve cars, I can fit seven plus caboose and locomotive up in the siding at Morris Fork, more than that number on the main up there. Hope this helps….:)


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