Scandal at Maple Valley – Episode 29: Bones

Sixteen months doesn’t really seem like a long time. One summer, one Halloween, one Thanksgiving, one Christmas. The new year is not so new and will soon join the list of forgotten others.

For close friends of Sylvia Meisner, months have been years. One day Maple Valley folks were happy, greeting each other, opening their shops, welcoming visitors. The next, mystery and sadness took over.

Sylvia’s neighbors have taken care of her house and yard. Questions remain about items found in the home.

Sheriff Pete Terkinberry has endured calls for his firing by the likes of Quintin O’Dillmotte and others. Mayor Alvin Thrashborn supports his friend, Pete. They meet periodically to discuss any new information about the disappearance. There hasn’t been much to talk about in recent months.

Everything changed this morning. A water main break in Newtown required emergency excavation so workers could repair the damage. As work began, digging revealed bones under the leaking pipes. Sheriff Terkinberry was contacted and he called in a forensic team.

News spread faster than Marvella Vilcher’s hives. Quintin called Pete and asked if he should order a special coffin for the remains. After all, services at O’Dillmotte’s Funeral Parlor, “Where We Lay You Down Easy”, are only $129.00. Quintin makes the coffins himself. The sheriff declined the offer.

In a situation like this, and any other time answers are hard to find, folks are always willing to provide information they know nothing about. Folks in Maple Valley like things neat and tidy. Questions make everyone uncomfortable.

Shorty and Hannah Cloverton at the Ya’ll Sit Cafe are sure Sylvia, or what is left of her, has been found.

Burch Mazzlif is certain the bones are those of a cow his grandfather buried in Newtown eighty-five years ago. The cow escaped from the family farm in Maple Valley in 1930 and died in Newtown. Rather than carting the cow back to the village, he buried it, illegally, in Newtown.

Reverend Shermer of the Maple Valley Church is preparing for a memorial service. He called Olenia Durgasmon, chairperson of the memorial dinner committee, who called Bethanne Szetzen, who called Urliva Boots, Letha Arthgoss, and Wilerma Mitts. Olenia assured Brother Shermer all the details would be covered. The memorial dinner committee would provide a lovely meal in honor of Sylvia Meisner.

“Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves,” Shermer told Olenia.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“We don’t know that Sylvia has been found, yet,” he answered.

After ending the call with the good reverend, Olenia called Bethanne, who called Urliva, Letha, and Wilerma, and told them the dinner was off because Sylvia has not been found.

“Why did Reverend Shermer call the committee if Sylvia hasn’t been found?” Wilerma asked.

“I don’t know,” Urliva answerd.

“Seems like he should have been sure before calling the committee into action,” Olenia said.

“I’m going to call Kurson Dwiller and report this,” Urliva said.

“Good idea. We can’t have this kind of indecision giving orders to the memorial dinner committee,” Olenia said.

With dedicated folks like members of the memorial dinner committee, it’s no wonder Maple Valley has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kertok County, or any other county.

Adding People to the Maple Valley Model Railroad

I ordered a package of one hundred HO scale people. Having never purchased so many figures at the same time before, I didn’t realize there would be so many duplicates. No worries, I just made sure I didn’t place a bunch of the same ones in a small area.

The second mistake I made was gluing a small piece of clear plastic to each of the figures so I could stand them temporarily. I inadvertantly created a whole bunch more work for myself because when I decided it was time to place the people permanently, I had to remove the pedestals. I was lucky they came off pretty easily.

I still have a lot of scenery detailing to do, so I have probably created even more work for myself by gluing the figures in place. So far, I think the crowd scenes look pretty good.

Several workers together near interlocking tower.

Work on a watermain is underway after a break near the Newark interlocking tower. In the process of digging up the pipes, the workers discovered something surprising. Discussions continue about next steps that should be taken.

Delivering the mail is an important job in Maple Valley. Frank Kirtsalvy has been walking the route, providing mail service to the happy residents of Maple Valley for twenty-nine years. Frank walks alone on First Street toward Main. Nearing the end of his day, he always tops it off with coffee at the Ya’ll Sit Cafe, and the good folks at the cafe are always glad to see him.

Mailman walking in front of houses, cars on the street.

Maple Valley River is a beautiful place for swimming, fishing, and canoeing. Today, the clear water is disturbed only by a couple of water craft while several swimmers watch from the shore. The Maple Valley Trestle moorings provide a great place for fish to hide from those skilled in fishing.

Main Street is always busy with shoppers and visitors to Maple Valley. Shorty and Hannah Cloverton at the Ya’ll Sit Cafe are constantly serving customers with terrific food and hospitality. Pete Terkinberry does a great job keeping Maple Valley a safe community for visitors and residents. Quintin O’Dillmotte, the man in the blue suit walking behind Pete, is on his way to another funeral.

Small shed, workers, control tower near tracks.

There is always a lot of work to do, keeping a railroad in safe operating condition. These men are working together near an important turnout on the mainline to Maple Valley.

Ballasting on the Maple Valley Model Railroad is almost complete. I still have some work to do around turnouts, but most of the layout ballast is ready for gluing. I plan to use the tried and true method of applying wet-water made with dish soap, and diluted white glue solution, applied with a squeeze bottle.

Several buildings on street along track, people working, cars.

I love this scene along the mainline to Maple Valley. Visitors to the village ride The Old General from Newark.

In the weeks and months ahead I plan to add more trees, telephone poles with wire, and operating street and building lights. I will begin working on signal operations soon.

The Maple Valley Model Railroad is looking good!

Scratch-Build a Two-Story Trackside Structure in HO Scale

Two story balsa Maple Valley Supply Co building h finished.

This is the Maple Valley Supply Company. It sits on the line that brings passengers from Midtown to Maple Valley on The Old General. The two-story structure is scratch-built in balsa. The windows and doors are plastic models purchased at a model railroad swap meet.

I drew plans for the structure on card stock. I built each of the walls by cutting, gluing and pinning balsa pieces on the wax-paper covered plans.

I love the way the framing looks on the wall interiors.

The gables and the front wall are two stories tall. The back wall is off-set by a scale 12 inches, so the walls were built separately. The end rooms are single story.

Balsa two story building without roof.
Two story balsa structure.

The siding pieces are cut from 1/32″ balsa sheeting. Since I have stud framing, it is easy to cut and glue individual lengths of siding for a more authentic appearance. Each siding piece is 3mm tall. Some modelers stain the balsa before gluing, but I choose to paint the finished structure.

Balsa building with roof trusses and decking.

I build roof trusses and individually glue them to the walls. I admit it’s difficult to build a bunch of balsa trusses that are exactly the same, but I get pretty close. As my middle school band teacher used to say, “It’s close enough for jazz.”

When the roof truss glue is dry, I apply individual planks the same way I attach the wall siding. My roof planks are all the same length. I don’t apply any covering other than paint.

The loading dock on the front of Maple Valley Supply Company is approximately 3 scale feet high and 4 feet deep with a ramp at the end. There is a double door on the far end and a single door in the center. The small storage room on the end has two small windows and a door.

Side view of balsa Maple Valley Supply Co outside town of Maple Valley.

I use acrylic paint diluted with water and mixed with a small amount of matte medium. With a little more scenery work to do around the structure, I think the Maple Valley Supply Company is ready for business.

Scandal at Maple Valley – Episode 27: The Pancake-Off Fiasco

So much has happened in Maple Valley it’s difficult to know where to start.

Here we are in the dog days of summer, and Maple Valley School is already preparing for the first day of the new year. Students can’t wait to get back in the class room.

We are obviously well into the tourist season, and so far, the numbers have been good to Maple Valley businesses. Karpin Nickwall at Nickwall’s Genuine Maple Valley Candy has reported sales surpassing last season by 7%.

Hupgern’s Dairy has completely sold out of their famous homemade cheese curd ice cream twice. The next most favorite flavor is oyster on the half-cone. Marv Hupgern makes all the ice cream at the store and visitors can watch him.

The Founder’s Day celebration was a huge success. The Old General performed beautifully. Visitors can’t get enough of the General whether they’re watching or riding. I can’t either. I’ve been able to sit at the throttle twice and it never gets old.

The featured band was Hank Rider and the Saddlehorns. It always amazes me that my neighbors in Maple Valley know the words to all these country songs.

By far, the most requested song of the night was, “I’ll Bet You Three Biscuits!” Other great hits were, “Don’t Waste My Lard”, “Fry That Fish One More Time”, “Boot Fuzz Whiskey”, “She Loves Me For My Grits”, “I Can’t Help It If My Horse Likes Beer”, and finally, “You Ain’t Better Than My Ma”. It was a fantastic show that lasted well beyond ten o’clock.

The Annual Pancake-Off is a favorite event for residents and visitors. This year, the pancake-off played a more significant role because the funds raised were donated to the cause of finding Sylvia Meisner.

The event is a competition between all those who believe their pancakes are the best. Large griddles are set up on the front porches of the contestants and folks can go from porch to porch to sample the pancakes.

Shorty Cloverton always expects to win but never does. Clem Bittlefin is the champion, three years running. His batter is a secret even Mara, Clem’s wife, doesn’t know.

This year’s contest became something of a fiasco when Mayor Thrashborn and Sheriff Terkinberry, two of the four contest judges, got into a heated discussion that seemed to have nothing to do with pancakes. Those who were close by said they were arguing about a phone call. That’s all anyone knows. The mayor walked away from the sheriff and the contest. It was embarrassing.

After the pancake-off was over, when asked about the confrontation, Pete Terkinberry said it was nobody’s business. That answer seemed out of character for a man so well respected as the sheriff.

The prize for the fifteenth annual Maple Valley Founder’s Day Celebration Pancake-Off, to everyone’s surprise, was awarded to Ver and Vee Burthrap for their Jalapeño Surprise Buttermilk Pancakes. Photos were taken and will appear on the front page of the Kertok County Advertiser.

As a result of the pancake-off being used as a fund raiser, three thousand seven hundred and five dollars was added to the Find Sylvia Meisner Fund.

A hearty “Thank You!” to all who participated in and donated to the Founder’s Day Celebration Pancake-Off.

Scandal at Maple Valley – Episode 25: Finding Sylvia Meisner

Everyone loves a parade, and the good folks in Maple Valley are no exception. When news quickly reached everyone that Sheriff Pete Terkinberry would soon patrol the three streets of town in a new squad car, excited anticipation of a parade swept like a wind-blown grass fire.

From one end of town to the other, neighbors gathered in the streets to watch the sheriff drive by in his new car. They waved, shouted, laughed, and a few cried. The dream of Maple Valley having its own police car finally came true.

The patrol car isn’t new. The Maple Valley council purchased it from the Chicago Police Department. It only has 61,000 miles on it, so folks here believe it was a good investment. Sheriff Pete is happier than anyone else. He’s been patrolling in his own car since he took office fourteen years ago when his father, Sheriff Wilton Chase Terkinberry passed away after thirty-four years as Sheriff of Terkot County.

Folks in Maple Valley are happy with any reason to have a parade. Believe it or not, last summer there was a parade because Hazel Wiklaten’s spaniel, Gertrude, had twelve healthy puppies. They were loaded into the bed of Berton Pilshur’s old pickup truck and before he reached the end of First Street, crowds of people stood on their porches waving as the twelve grand marshalls rolled by.

That parade went a long way to support rumors that Berton has eyes for Hazel. His wife Nellie passed away eight years ago. Hazel has been alone since her husband, Maxil Ned Wiklaten III, went on to his barn in the sky nine years ago. A year after Nellie died, neighbors saw Berton talking to Hazel over the fence. There’s been talk ever since.

With the arrival of the new police car, there seems to be more determination to find Sylvia Meisner. Certainly, with this fine new used patrol car, there won’t be any reason why answers to this year long mystery can’t be found. Sylvia is sure to come home now.

It’s good that the arguing over the cost of sending the sheriff and mayor to Chicago to pick up the new police car has ended. The vote to send the two officials was a tie. Since the mayor holds a higher office, he said his vote carried more weight, thereby causing the motion to pass. Well, that brought some of the folks attending the meeting to their feet. A few walked out. Nothing unusual for Maple Valley council meetings.

Using Balsa Wood to Scratch Build Structures for Model Railroads

Lap desk, cutting board, protractor, scale ruler, and balsa pieces.

My Maple Valley Short Line Model Railroad is looking really good, if I do say so myself. In previous posts I wrote about making printed buildings with cardstock and balsa. I have many of them. I decided to try scratch building.

The first thing required is a dedicated work space. Mine is a lap-desk and a piece of foam where I can measure, draw, cut, pin, and glue while binge-watching “The Mentalist.”

I used my scale ruler to measure some of the structures on my model railroad to be sure my plans for new buildings are accurate. I use the ruler and a protractor to draw pencil outlines on cardstock.

I like all the printed buildings I have, but they don’t look as convincing in mountainous areas surrounded by pine trees. I need small rustic cabins.

On the HO scale ruler, 3.5 mm equals one foot, so the 10 mark on the ruler is approximately ten feet. I cut the stud pieces at 9 so that when glued to the top and bottom plates, the wall is a scale 10 feet. I cut all the balsa pieces first.

Balsa wood is very light and easy to work with. Art supply stores and hobby shops have great supplies of balsa wood in many different sizes, making it easy to create terrific structures.

I pin the wall plates to the drawing on edge, then glue the first and last studs to the plates and allow them to dry. Placing pins on an angle from both sides of the scale 2 x 4 holds it in place.

Two wall frames and two wall outlines in pencil drawn on cardstock.

This cabin has longer walls so I glued a middle stud in place to be sure the plates stay true while the glue is drying.

Four wall frames and two trusses, pinned and glued.

When the outer frames are dry, I then begin gluing the remaining studs in place. I make my windows 3 x 5, doors are 3 x 7 on the HO scale ruler. When all the studs are dry, I glue the window and door upper and lower frames in place.

My roof trusses are a “trial-and-error” exercize. After gluing trusses on a small cabin frame, I decided it looked goofy so I cut the roof off and started over. A lower pitch looks better on a small structure.

I decided to try using overlap siding because I like the way it looks. I cut strips from very thin balsa sheets. Starting at the bottom of the wall, I glued each one in place, overlapping the next piece above it. To frame the windows, I glued short pieces from the wall ends and between the windows. I left a small edge of the frame to allow window trim to be added later.

To create finished corners, on opposite walls the siding pieces are 3mm longer at each end. This also allows for much stronger gluing surfaces.

Two sizes of balsa cabins showing inside stud assemblies.

These are my first two attempts at making scratch-built balsa cabins. I really like the way the walls look on the inside. The siding looks great, but doing the overlap is a lot of work. These will look terrific nestled into the pines on my model railroad.

This is the small cabin with the second roof attempt. The lower pitch is much better. I used the same process to make roof trusses as with the walls. I measured, drew the outline on card stock, cut the pieces with the appropriate angles for the pitch, then pinned and glued the scale 2 x 4s in place.

Obviously, the glued pieces are stuck to the cardstock after the glue dries. I use an X-acto knife to carefully cut the balsa pieces away from the cardstock.

Scratch building is a learning curve. On this cabin I used flat siding. It was much easier to frame the windows and allow plenty of space for trim pieces. I started these walls by placing a vertical board on the ends and then measured between them for the siding.

I cut the gables out of balsa flat stock then made grooves indicating wood slats using a small piece of basswood.

Sharp 1:87 scale workshop painted dull gray inside and out, ready for roofing.

This will be a workshop in Maple Valley. I used vertical slat siding glued to the balsa wall frames. After gluing the three solid walls together, I added the roof support beams and the front post with the angle pieces.

Trimming the windows was actually easier than it looks. I painted very small pieces of balsa with white acrylic. I put a little glue along the window frame, then held the painted strip in place and cut the end off. For the window pane I cut a piece of balsa and glued it on the inside of the window frame.

As my work continues on the Maple Valley Short Line Model Railroad, I am convinced more scratch built cabins will be perfect for blending in among the pines. These little cabins are sturdy and good looking. I have a little more painting to do, and I have several more structures under construction on my laptop workbench.

I don’t consider myself a master modeler by any stretch. Learning is the key to model railroading that provides years of enjoyment. Before the days of the internet, modelers had to rely on hobby magazines, and there are still many good ones. Today, with YouTube and innumerable websites, model railroaders of all scales can find help with any project.

Why go to all the trouble of scratch building? There is something very satisfying about making my own buildings, one small piece of balsa at a time.