Chris Shelton’s HO Marklin Swiss Layout

Chris Shelton began an interest in trains at an early age. He had his first introduction to European models in Z scale and chose Swiss motive power because of the colorful locomotives and the variety of rolling stock. He then began collecting books and literature on the Swiss railways.

This is his modeling project in the making…


January 1st  2011


“As I have moved forward with the completion of the superstructure and its fabrication I have begun to investigate the appropriate medium for the coating to which I can carve out the stone work. In short I think a flexible joint compound that is used for drywalling will be my choice. It should have good adherence to the wood and be easy to carve. Two things which will be an aid in the success of the project. I will detail this process as I go along.” 

“So as you can see from the progressive photos above there was a process to work thru. I learned that for an arch to stand it’s base has to be basically square, so how do you build a curved viaduct? The arch has to be the same on the inside radius of the curve as the outside radius, but the outside of the curve is longer than the inside. As I understood it the difference is made up in the base such that the base gets wider towards the rear or wider part of the curved viaduct. So you end up with a series of square boxes connected on the inside radius. I copied my road bed and then cut out the new road bed to fit the series of boxes to make the curve. After this was done I just cut out the individual arches, bearing in mind that the rear or outside arches are the same but have longer wings to connect each box at the outside radius. I wish I could draw this as I know my words may not communicate the right ideas. After this was done 1×3 pine boards were screwed on to build the piers around. Then using 1/4 inch basswood the facia was cut to fit over the piers to build up the bases.”

“Once the wood superstructure was completed the next thing to do was proceed with coating the viaduct with joint compound. The product that was used  I bought at Lowes, it was the type that is pink until it dries and then turns white. Before the Joint Compound (JC) was applied I sanded the bridge with 180 sand paper to provide some tooth for the JC to adhere to.”

“After the JC had dried for several days it was time to begin to carve out the stone work and I knew that would be a monotonous task. Surprisingly it went well, sometimes faster and at other times much slower. I fabricated a small device to trace pencil lines on the bridge where it has a course of stone around the arch so it would be straight and even. The horizontal course were measured out using an HO Scale ruler so as to keep things level. I would literally measure out courses at random thickness between 1 foot and 6 inches. Then using a straight edge and a dental pick scribe out the mortar lines. After the horizontal course were done I just connected the vertical mortar lines randomly but keep them plumb.”



January 31st 2011


“Generally I am prone to try different techniques to get the results needed. I do not do enough modeling to have a set technique with known results. At the onset of the coloring process the goal was for the viaduct to have the look of the new improved look of the Landwasser viaduct after the RhB had “cleaned” it up. Seems that the Prototype is a UNESCO landmark and needed a good scrubbing and some maintenance. As a result of this it now has the granite color back instead of the dirty aged look. When I tried to replicate this “New” look it became apparent that I did not have the proper technique for the desired results. After some work I decided to make it my own and go with the old worn look.?

“This has been a fun project that has taken some, actually much time to complete but it has been worth the effort. This really makes the room for me. The viaduct is one of the first things you notice when you walk into the room and it just had to be the way I wanted it. So in this case with my lighting the gray tones just did not work and I have deviated from the Prototype. That is what I call artistic leeway.”



December 22nd 2012


“The year 2012 has just been a blur, and for many reasons. Take a moment and take a deep breath, I am not going to describe any of the reasons. Whew, that was a close one. This is only to focus on the layout, things accomplished, things planned and things in the works.”

“So, things that have been accomplished in 2012 were basically making some videos and posting to my you tube channel and finishing plans for the mountain top scenes and bike race. I was able to complete the Preda station kit from Enrico Pirovino from Switzerland. Pictures to follow later. They say that when you have an event like a layout tour it propels you to get things accomplished, it’s true. Just put some date on the calendar and when it begins to get close you get moving and make decisions about things that were dragging. Give it a try sometime, plan a tour for a Saturday and see what happens.”

“The station Preda kit was a booger to get completed. First with german instructions and then there was the issue of some of the pages with the patterns for the cuts were not in the correct scale adjustments, so I had to make guesses at correct sizing, however my guesses were pretty good. The station kit turned out a very nice model. It helped that I had taken pictures of the station during my visit a few years ago.”

“The summer months were pretty dark in the layout room with the lights hardly coming on for any work. When fall arrived there was planning for what to do with the big mountain sitting in the back of the room.”

“Contemplating what to do just drives me crazy, so I began in earnest to move things along. Bike race with a King of The Mountains station on the road with lots of spectators and activity at the Inn/Stubli. Green pastures and flowering meadows with lots of open expanse to give visual appeal. Walking trail from the village up to the Inn/Stubli. Small stand of trees between mountain edge and the Inn for visual appeal and some photo opps. Hand built fences with hand strung wire for the cow pastures with a few other activities of life on a farm. Subtle lighting around the Inn and the house for realistic night lighting.”



January 2nd 2013


On a Path, Down by the River

“The valley has been a long time in the making, partly due to my procrastination and partly due to the need to wait for the top of the mountain to get almost complete to keep debris from falling down on the scene. I can think of nothing worse than cleaning up an area already finished due to my own making, that’s frustrating.

The valley and the Viaduct are a key area in the layout room so it needed to be done with care to have the proper look that I was requiring of the area. The only problem with the area is the location, I did not plan for a wide enough aisle way to allow traffic to flow in and out when people to come visit so it can get tight at times. Better planning next time.

There was really only a very preliminary vision for the project. I knew I wanted to have a forested area, pathway, hiking hut, people having a picnic and people walking on the pathway. The most difficult part of the greening up process was the technique to use to create a forest floor that looked real and dimensional. So I decided to use a mixture of products from Silflor and Heki as the basis and mix in some scratch built trees and ground cover materials. I used back ground trees from JTT Trees to fill in and give some depth. Below are the progressive shots so you can see the process.


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