Saturday 4 December 2021

The Ground at the Scrap Metal Recycler

3 weeks ago, I posted this same picture (below) featuring my pair of GTW GP38-2's switching at MidWest Plastics.  What was interesting to me though was that 2 readers, Ken and DandH, left comments focusing on the metal recycler industry in the foreground.

Both felt that the ground surrounding the pile was too neat and square. Well, in all honesty, they weren't wrong.  Note how "squared off" the scrap pile appears. 

I searched for and found a small plastic bag that I had with just a little bit more of the metal chips that I could scatter about this industry to try to make the place a little less tidy.

I sprinkled the little bit that I had all along the base of the pile to sort of soften the piles' edges, and all along both sides of the track.  I then added the rest of the material in between the rails as well.

Since the material is actual ferrous metal, and the electric motors in our model engines have magnets, I though I'd better make darn sure the metal was glued down well.  Really well.  Which brings us to this next photo...
All of that white area in the photo above is diluted white glue covering the metal chips that I had spread around. I first sprayed the area with diluted isopropyl alcohol so that the diluted glue would flow easily among the metal shavings. I know, it looks brutal at this stage.  I was a little concerned that maybe I overdid things a bit with the white glue, but I don't really think it will be a problem.

The glue is almost completely dry after sitting overnight, and we can see where the metal has been spread all along the ground.

My next step was to brush and airbrush a variety of rust colours along the track.  I wanted to try to give the appearance that rust had run off the metal onto the ground.  Here's the rust colours that I used.

Here's a closer look at the the ground  and track within the recycler yard.

So, with everything dried and the rails cleaned off, it was time to test the spur track to see if I had created any electrical issues, as well as check if any of the metal scraps were impeding locomotives or freight cars as they make their way along the spur.

SD40 3415 happened to be handy, so here it comes to check the spur for any operating trouble.

All was good when 3415 ran in and out of the spur a few times, so two gondolas have been spotted into the industry and been loaded.
I think the area has a higher realism to it now.  So thanks to Ken, DandH, and to Brian too for giving me those metal chips in the first place.


  1. Wow, what a difference. Looks great Jim.

    1. Thanks Ken. There's a smaller pile of "non-ferrous" scrap down at the far end of the site, just outside of the pictures. I have some more of that type of material, so I'll try to do an upgrade on that area soon as well.

  2. That is a nice job you did there. It is a fine line to walk. I read recently a story where the D&H sent an inspector to a scrap yard to observe working safety conditions for train crews who had to spot cars. It was so bad that the D&H threatened to refuse service until the scrap metal area was cleaned up. I think your model looks better.

    But in the end... as long as YOU like it, that is what matters!

  3. What a great improvement! It really raises the believability level. It definitely looks like a lot of industry tracks that I've seen.

  4. Thanks DandH and Steve. It's really not so much that I walked a fine line, but more that I ran out of the material that I used. Thanks so much for the positive feedback. I really do appreciate it.