The Val Ease Central Railroad ©

Taking Z Scale to the Public Around the World
(Text and photos © Copyright Jeffrey MacHan)

Last Spike: The Legend of the “Line Walker”

The Legend of the
The "Line Walker" rolls his way into legend.
My overalls stuck to me like fly paper, my gloves felt more like sponges than safety gear and the cloud of flies circling my head would normally have me running for cover but not quite yet. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the amazing scene unfolding or unrolling above. Jerry, the assistant gang foreman was lying spread-eagled across the telegraph wires twenty feet above.

Only Jerry could come up with such a stunt, maybe to avoid cutting brush or climbing rotten poles along the line. Then again most of the crew would agree that he was pretty much crazy even on his good days. Considering the heat, the humidity and the size, the number and the voraciousness of biting flies this time of year, rolling along the wire up in the breeze didn’t seem like such a bad idea after all.

Whatever the reason, there he was laughing as he rolled his lanky frame from one pole to the next, magically supported by the apparently not-so-fragile copper telegraph wires strung along the VECRR main line. No doubt, Jerry’s act of inspired insanity would become the tale of the lineman who could “walk” on the wires. Truly this was the stuff of legends!

The key to the scene is the use of EZ-Line fine grey elastic filament to simulate the telegraph wires. EZ-Line is almost unbreakable and will stretch and return to its original length. The wire was easily glued along the crossarms of the pole line using a tiny drop of tacky glue applied with the end of a round toothpick, one of my favorite modelling tools! EZ-Line has been in place on the VECRR for more than a year and has survived with flying colors the abuse that only a portable layout can provide. The line doesn’t appear to dry out and shrink as nylon elastic thread does (learned from previous experience).

EZ-Line is from Berkshire Lines and comes in Fine, Medium and Coarse thicknesses in grey, white and black. In addition to very realistic telegraph wires I can think of many uses for this stuff including simulated piping and non-operating but scale thickness catenary wires.

Remember: don’t look for perfection, perfect the look.

Note: This scene is one of several miniadventures that I plan to add to the Val Ease Central during the next few months. I’ll share the most embarassing tales with you since they are based on my personal experiences while working summers as a gang lineman. Now if I can only remember where I put those “Z” scale bears!