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 "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
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
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!