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Berlin Branch Bridge

It's easy, when up to your eyeballs in prototype modeling, to forget how fun modeling itself can be. Sure, all the required research is fun and it's amazing when a scene comes close to replicating the real thing, but sometimes that process can be a bit overwhelming. And when your skills aren't (yet) up to the task to recreating all the prototype detail you've discovered, it can be stressful.

That's the "downside" (if there really is one) to having too much information. Conversely, one of the consolations of not having enough info is that you're more free to do what "looks right" - and just enjoy the modeling process itself. Case in point: the bridge over the Mattabessett River (aka Little River) on the East Berlin branch of the Valley Line.


On the prototype, and on my layout, it marks the entrance to the old East Berlin station area and the final customer on the branch - Stanley Chemical Co. (paint manufacturer).

That's the old freight house in the background.
The best thing though is that it looks mighty close to this MicroEngineering through girder bridge kit:

Micro Engineering 50' Thru Girder Bridge Single Track -- Model Train Bridge -- HO Scale -- #75520

So I got myself one, read up a little on the 'net to make sure there weren't any surprises/notes for building it properly (there weren't - the instructions are very straightforward), and got to work. I'll let the photos tell the story (with a little help from the captions...)

Ah, new kit parts - all cleaned of flash and waiting for assembly. Such promise!

This was one of the trickiest steps - attaching the bracing to the sides, while keeping everything true - aided by some squares and fast-acting Tenax.

Cross braces installed, which makes the whole assembly much more rigid.

Then the longitudinal braces - these go under where the rails go and fit in between the cross braces. It's a little tricky to line everything up, but taking your time will yield a satisfactory result. Otherwise, don't worry - this is all obscured somewhat by the bridge track itself.

The strips representing the riveted stock have to be glued onto the top of the girders - but first the tops of the girders need to be rid of any "bevel" resulting from the molding process. Taping sandpaper to glass plate and rubbing back and forth will get things nice and flat.

Not totally necessary, but NWSL's Chopper is very handy for making perfectly true cuts - helpful for fitting strip ends together. If you can't get the ends to fit satisfactorily snugly, you can always fill in with a little putty.

NOW it's starting to look like a bridge! I'm fitting the bridge track here to mark what ties need to be removed in order to settle it down properly. And note that I did not curve the top corners at the ends of the bridge, in keeping with the prototype.

And here's the bridge track with the ties removed.

And put in place. You can see where the track has to be modified in order to sit down amongst the cross pieces.

The "wood" tie end bracing is styrene, but the ties themselves are delrin. The instructions recommend Walthers Goo to attach the bracing to the ties, but I find that too messy (stringy) so used contact cement instead, applied with a microbrush.

Just apply to the tie ends as above - trim to length once set.

And here it is all done, except for guardrails and weathering.



I'll use this photo of the Shailerville bridge guardrails as my guide for when I place the Berlin bridge on the layout.

And here it is, lightly weathered, and temporarily placed where it'l go on the layout.
This was a really fun project that didn't take too long (a few evenings?) and is just the type of project to help keep up your modeling mojo. Now "all I have to do is" put the Mattabessett/Little River underneath it - and finish the Berlin Branch....
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