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This is where we are going, but it took me a few tries to get there.











Rix Products makes a great overpass. Many layouts have them, they are truly ubiquitous. The more I saw them, the more I became sure I wanted one. I purchased one of their 50's style overpass kits and put it in my project box. I needed one about 3 feet long which meant that I'd need several kits. As I continued to evolve my city scenes, more overpasses went on my todo list. All told, I needed about 12 feet of them. at about 20 bucks a foot, the price kinda started to worry me and I put the project off.

I had an open house last August and had a place where I really wanted an overpass. One of the pre-open house tasks was to install new valences. Among the scrap masonite (hard board to you youngsters) was a piece about 4 inches wide and about 3 feet long, just precisely the size and shape of what I expected for my overpass needs. I whacked off a couple of 1x4X4 blocks and presto, there was my overpass conceptual model.

Yep, with a little imagination, and it was the look the scene needed. I grabbed a ruler and measured the width of the Rix road bed, adjusted the fence on my band saw and had a 3.5 inch x 3 foot overpass. A shot of shake and shoot gray and it looked pretty good. A quick look in the junk box and I found a couple of 1 foot pieces of broom stick. A few feet of 1 x 1 and some yellow glue and I had a set of piers that looked ok. I took 4 of the old style Rix railings, grabbed my silicone caulk and the thing started to look like something.

So for the next couple of months, I had an overpass. I was pretty proud of it, but I knew it was a far cry from what I wanted. Then I started looking at other peoples overpasses, taking pictures of them, really examining what people do. Everyone except Howard Zane seemed to be content with the Rix product. At Christmas, my daughter's boy friend (a fellow model railroader, it does not get better than that) said I should put an overpass across my yard on my peninsula. A quick measure and that bridge would be 5 feet long. I always kept coming back to the Rix product, and finally decided that the Rix would not only be expensive, but would also take some work to get it straight.

Back to the scrap masonite pile and I found a 6 ft piece about the right size. Set the bandsaw, and I'm in business again. But this one was so long it was really floppy and hard to keep straight, so I set the band saw fence to 3/8 " and ripped some long ribs (girders). A little glue and I had a straight overpass that looked much better than the version 1 but since I used the smooth on only one side kind of masonite, the ends looked ragged and I made a few other little mistakes. And I learned that cutting masonite with my 10" band saw was murder on the blade. Talk about crooked! How can you get crooked with a fence? Chew the set off the teeth on the blade and watch it wander is how. I decided to make this one a modern bridge and glued a piece of simple molding on each side of the bridge. This was the right set of concepts, but the look, well you can see for your self in the picture that it is ugly, only a mother could love it.

And the broomstick piers did not look right at all. The Rix design is adjustable to deal with the inevitable uneven surface. I looked around the materials drawer and found a piece of 1/2" dowel, grabbed some of the 1x1 I had cut up when I had the table saw out and headed for the drill press. I grabbed my new 1/2" forestner bit and went to work on the 1x1. Soon I had some better looking and fully adjustable piers.

A little gray paint and victory. Boy this sucker is looking good. No, sorry, the piers just don't look good. Version 2 was a real disappointment, neither the railings nor the piers looked right and the masonite was a crooked disaster.

Back to the scrap pile an there it was, a nice piece of smooth on both sides hardboard (masonite for us old guys). This time I went into the garage to dig out the table saw. What a difference! Smooth, straight and clean. I cut enough parts to build about 15' of bridges all straight and smooth. A little yellow glue and some clamps and now it is starting to look right.

For the piers, I decided a 1x2 would look better on the base than the 1x1. By now, I had found my dowel jig and headed for the drill press. I replaced the forestner bit for a regular 1/2 twist and whacked out the holes in a few minutes. The forestner bit would clog and have to be cleaned 3 or 4 times for each hole, a real pain in the neck, and the holes were, well holes.

   

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