A Chainlink Fence
Acts As A Scenery Divider

A chainlink fence provides separation
model railroad chainlink fence

There was a siding in North Point on my Utopia Northern Railroad that was several inches in front of an industrial backdrop scene. The siding was used for Alliance Refinery tank cars. A loading platform had not yet been installed but was planned for the site. However, I needed a way to separate the foreground scene from the backdrop. 

A chainlink fence in front of the track seemed to be a good idea.

I had bought a chainlink fence kit from Alloy Forms some years ago. It has precut metal fencing to be cut to fit. I followed the instructions in a general way with a few exceptions.

As I had to build the fence in place on the layout instead of at my workbench (which would have been far easier), I drilled holes a scale 10 feet apart in a length of flat brass that I could use as a template to locate the holes for the posts.

The installation was into foam board so I couldn't use Goo as it would attack the foam (from experience!). Instead I used Liqui-silk cement. It's similar to Ambroid cement. To secure the fencing to the posts I applied Canadian Hobbycraft's gap-filling Insta-cure ACC glue with a straight pin.

Clothespin clamp while glue sets
clothespin clamp

I used the jaws of wooden clothespins to hold the fencing material in place until the glue dried. To offset the weight of the clamps I positioned some metal squares against the fence to hold it upright. 

The following day I dry brushed some rust on the fence and added Woodland Scenics clump foliage and some weeds along the fence and in front of the backdrop to further enhance the separation effect.

Clothespins holding the chainlink fence during glueing
installation of chainlink fence

The kit also supplied some wire that could be made to simulate barbed wire by spraying it with adhesive and sprinkling on metal filings or fine foliage. 

I omitted this step because I didn't want metal filings ending up in the track and I couldn't spray around the backdrop easily. A chainlink fence makes an effective barrier screen in front of the backdrop. It makes the scene more three-dimensional.

Gate end of the fence after installation
chainlink fencing

Tips

Bill Payne of our NMR Club told me he constructed a chainlink fence using some fine mesh window screen. 

  • His trick was to cut the screen on the diagonal to get the diamond pattern effect.

I've heard of others using their wife's old nylon stockings. Spraying with dullcoat could help the material keep a more metal-like shape. The Alloy Forms kit instructions also recommended spraying the fencing material using an aerosol can or an airbrush to avoid the paint filling in the mesh.

I like the idea of using a fence. It also disguises the joint between the bottom of the backdrop and the foreground scene. I later built a wooden fence along the next section of the industrial scene.

Chainlink Fence Scenic Update

One of my summer projects between golf games was to add some chainlink fences along both sides of the upper and lower tracks on the swing gate that serves as an entrance into the layout. I've always been worried that one of my operators (and probably me) would ignore the slow order for crossing the bridge and inadvertently put a train ove the edge onto the concrete basement floor. This could happen if the ends of the rails aren't properly aligned before crossing over the bridge. I used a plastic kit for a chainlink fence and predrilled holes 8 feet apart apart for the holes. Into these holes I inserted a hollow styrene tube to hold the poles. This allows the fence poles to be removed if necessary. It was awkward to install the fencing that is something like bridal veil. I could have done it at the workbench but I was concerned I wouldn't be able to keep the proper spacing so I opted to install it in place using super glue for a fast set. It was difficult to control the glue and I ended up with a messy fence that appears to have seen better days! Where I had serious glue blobs I concealed  them with Woodland Scenics clump foliage and some long grass. I don't know if the chainlink fencing would stop a locomotive from a long tumble but I think the fences would keep a string of train cars from plunging to the floor. My operators walk with their trains so they should be able to do an emergency stop if a car is derailed. Of course, if the swing bridge is left open nothing will stop the train from having a serious accident. I have a microswitch installed to cut power.

Chainlink fencing on the swing gate
NB: the track ends are not aligned fully in the photo.
chainlink fencing on swing gate

Side view of chainlink fencing on the swing gate
track fences on swing gate

Here's another view of both track levels photographed from the side.


Looking along the upper track southbound
model railroad chainlink fences beside track

This next photo is looking along the upper level track. The city of Utopia is in the background.


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