Saturday, September 2, 2023

Brique Citadelle - Part 1

Brique Citadelle used to be a major brick maker in Quebec until its spectacular demise at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. Engulfed in several multi million dollars lawsuit regarding catastrophic quality control that led so several building enveloppe failures, the company which roots went back to the late 19th century, sank like a rock at the bottom of the proverbial pond.

While all that happened when I was was an elementary school kid, I can still clearly recall the intricate structures that made the plant. Each Saturday noon, we would take the industrial road behind  the plant to reach a well-known snack bar after visiting my grandparents living in Villeneuve or shopping in town. The brick and corrugated steel structures were covered in a reddish clay powder that gave an eerie Martian look to the compound. By the mid-1990s, it was in serious disrepair and everything was demolished, leaving piles of rubbles and concrete pads that would endure well into the mid 2000s. I recall the concrete floor was once used by a bike driving school as their formation center.

When the neighboring cement plant went down a few years after Brique Citadelle demise, projects started to emerge. Redeveloping are became a thing and the old industrial remnants were removed and soil decontaminated. At the time our layout is set, Brique Citadelle was nothing more that an abandonned fields with growing vegetation, dirt roads and piles of gravels and discarded demolition bricks. That's exactly what I wanted to replicate: a demolished and long gone industrial structure.

It all started with a coat of universal mud, aka Celluclay mixed with interior latex paint. A thin coat, about 1/16'' to 1/8'' was apply on which I poured sifted sand, various small rocks and scale bricks I once bought from Eastern Europe for that very purpose. They were available in all scales, including HO. They are generally used for military dioramas and are made from clay, which gives them a very realistic texture.

Most bricks were pushed into the mud with my fingers to show they had been mix with the ground and ran over by trucks for years. Others were simply left as piles on the surface. A light sprinkling of limestone powder was applied to merge the bricks with the surrounding. They look quite shiny and new and will require some weathering at a later date.

Before everything had dried, I started to apply some static grass by hand as I usually do, followed by crushed dead leaves and ground foam. I tried to overdo it it, leaving enough bare ground visible to suggested trucks and heavy equipment are frequent visitors.

When the background scene was done, I move my attention to the foreground where I started scenery last week. I didn't like it because I ran out of my regular static grass. Using different colors and jute rope to achieve the same blend was a foolish errand. Hence why we ordered the old stuff during the week.

There is still a lot of work to do with this scene, including trees, ground weathering and small details such as relay boxes and bushes. However, I'm quite happy of how it turned out. More grass will be applied on siding tracks to tie up this scene with the cement plant, but that's a footnote as far as I'm concerned.

A few unexpected results of this new scenery is it makes the mainline look longer and the lighter shade of ground makes it more luminous, two thing that works in our favour. I can't wait to finish the road and continue this work.

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