En Garde!  It Is Time to Fence!

One of the great challenges in modeling railways is the wire fencing that went along the right of way.  I have seen various methods used and they were very successful.  One is creating a loom, weaving thread and dabbing glue on the joints.  Another is taking old fibre glass window screen and carefully cutting out some of the screening to come up with the openings of a fence.  I tried soldering fine jewelers’ wire on a fixture I had improvised and after about an hour and a half, came up with about nine inches.  I felt that these methods were way too time consuming and labour intensive so I decided to draw up fence sections in a Cad program and have them etched in 0.010” nickel silver.  I used a drawing of a GTR wire fence found in the Engineering Plans book that CNR put out about fifty years ago.  I think they put out a data sheet books as well but I was not able to obtain them.  The drawing had a Canadian and US version.  I used the Canadian one.

I also found a drawing for a wire farm fence gate in the same book.  I liked the one to be used in Ontario so I drew up that one.

Fortunately, the drawings were 3/8” to the foot so it was easy to measure and draw them up.  The etchings were done on 0.010” nickel silver sheet.  The ‘wire’ was drawn to a scale inch but once etched; it worked out to about 0.010” which is less than 3/4” of a scale inch wide.  It is acceptable to me because that is less than the widths of the other methods I have seen.  I could have used a thinner sheet and made the wire thinner but I believe that it would not be robust enough to handle.  Ten of the strips are 14 7/16” long and the other where the gate is 11 7/16” long.

Complete Frame with the Etched Fencing and Gate

The etchings are held in place on the frame with 1/32” tabs.  The fences are easily cut out using the Xuron Professional Photo-Etch Scissors.  I make certain to leave the tabs on the ends of the fence sections because the tabs are what are used to connect the strips together end to end.

I cut out one of the lengths to get an idea of what it would look like against the scenery.  It was too shiny so I decided to airbrush the rest of the frets with Floquil Cement paint which gave it a galvanized look.  Any flat light grey would work as well since Floquil paint is no longer available.  It dulled the finish down nicely.

A Fence Section

Dulled Down With Concrete Paint

The next step was to make the fence posts and attach them.  According to the drawing, the fence posts were 6” in diameter.  I discovered some short wooden skewers that were 6 scale inches in diameter so I set up my Chopper and made posts about 8 scale feet long.  Then I used Hunterline Driftwood stain to stain them.  The posts had to be spaced 20’ apart.  I made a fixture for spacing the fence posts and gluing the fence on top.

The Post Fixture

Before I glued the posts on, I soldered the ends of three sections together, using the left end tabs to connect to the un-tabbed right ends.  I used the fixture as a base to help and soldered them from behind using a pencil type soldering iron.  This made the fence groups about 42” long and was about as much as I could gingerly handle.

Fence Sections

Fence Sections Soldered Together to Form a Group

Next I glued on the posts.  I found that Gorilla Thick ACC worked the best.  I dabbed it on the post or fence and held the fence down on the post while the glue cured careful to keep fingers out of the way.  Sometimes the paint did wear off and I touched it up once installed on layout.

Fence Groups Waiting to be Planted by the East Tracks

Before I planted a posted fence group, I would place a new unposted group’s end next to the end of the one that was to be planted to find the place where the new group’s first post would go and installed the first post for the new group.  Using the fixture, I would install the rest of the posts as far along as I could.  This was done repeatedly for all groups.  That way I was sure that I could continue my 20’ spacing.

Planting the fence groups was a bit of a learning process.  Actually this has all been a learning process.  First I tried to use the fixture to measure out where holes would be drilled in the scenery base but it was not flexible enough.  So, I laid down the fence group (posts installed) and used the ends of the posts to locate where the holes had to go.  I drilled out the holes using a pin vice with a 3/32” drill.

Locating Where Post Holes Will Go

As each new group was installed, I soldered its ends to the preceding group, carefully leaning over where Owen Sound is going to be.  It was not too hard.  This has been done to join all the other groups.  If you look closely in the next picture, you will see where a piece of the fence is slightly bent away from the joint.  This is four columns to the left of the right post, fourth segment down.  That is where the joint is.

The Joints Soldered Together

I still have a bit more to go to finish off Park Head.  Those fence groups are done but I need to build more trees before planting those groups.

Fencing Along the Service Road, West Siding and Wiarton Main at Park Head

When I designed this method (and I am pretty sure I am not the first), I was not too certain if it would work.  Thus, I did not get a lot made and may have to get more done.  Unfortunately, this was etched 5 years ago and prices are sure to have gone up.  This stuff wasn’t cheap however it has worked well enough for me.  And I have kept my sanity for the most part.

The next steps will be the making and addition of telephone poles.  Also, adding weeds and shrubs between the fence and the track.  After that…Owen Sound can finally have its track laid!


2 thoughts on “En Garde!  It Is Time to Fence!

  1. That’s really nice work, Andy.
    I think the financial cost of etching has to be balanced against the other costs of time, singed fingers and frustration of doing it all by hand.


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