N scale 4x8

skipgear Jan 28, 2007

  1. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the compliments. Too bad I don't get to keep it. It is great practice for my layout. I am learning some new techniques as I go.

    I am really anti-straight track. I guess it comes from being a road racer at heart, ovals and drag strips don't cut it. I see so many layouts that are a straight line parallel to the edge of the layout, a 90 degree or 180 degree turn and more straight track. At least in my area, I don't think I have seen a piece of rail straight for more than a half mile at a time. Most everything is a large gentle radius. Even the local CSX yard is a giant arc of about 20 tracks.

    I got ambitious when I came home from work tonight and finished roughing in the landscaping for the existing half of the moutain and then laid track on the cork. I ran a Spectrum Consolidation up the hill for a test and it was fine up the 3% grade through the 9 3/4" twisties. It pulled 6 cars up without a sweat which is more than enough to handle the logging camp that will be at the top. The curves make a nice scene coming up the hill.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2007
  2. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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    Pictures of the mountain tunnel and hidden staging taking shape.

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  3. BALOU LINE

    BALOU LINE TrainBoard Member

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    :thumbs_up: Looks like you've left great access to the hidden tracks. That is a critical element that a beginner would have over looked. I'm sure the party you are building this for will be very happy with the end result.
     
  4. FriscoCharlie

    FriscoCharlie Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Very interesting. Keep the photos coming as you progress.

    Charlie
     
  5. Fotheringill

    Fotheringill Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    That is the neatest pink foam I have seen yet. You are my hero.
     
  6. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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    More progress this weekend. Not as much as I would have liked though. I planned on having the mountain roughed in and the logging track laid. I lost saturday to working on both my wifes and my car, so Sunday evening is all I had available.

    I did get the back side of the mountain roughed in. The glue is drying tonight so hopefully I can shape it after work tomorrow. I had to get out my New River Mining kit and do some quick sub assembly to make the landscape fit the building for the hidden staging tunnel.

    I also learned that I should not have been in such a hurry to get the top on the staging tunnel this week. I forgot to paint the interior flat black. Fortunately I left ample access that it wasn't too bad to paint. Only a few black paint spots on my knuckles and forearms from squeezing in to reach the back spots.

    I did some off-layout work earlier this week also in the form of a tunnel portal for the other side of the layout. Commercially available double track portals aren't wide enough for the combination of my track spacing and a curved tunnel entrance so I had to come up with my own. I forgot to take pictures of the portal tonight so I will create a topic about it later. I came up with a very interesting technique that I will be able to use to build many other things including structures and cars.

    Here are the shots for the week:

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    As far as the foam neatness...I have a bandsaw and belt sander that you can see in the background of some of my shots. The foam is shaped as much as possible with these tools before I glue it down. This saves much grinding and also guesswork when proceeding to the next layer.
     
  7. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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  8. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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    A couple of overview shots to show overall progess.

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    I started this project March 3rd. I figured 1 1/2 to 2 months to complete, it looks like I am pretty close to on schedule. All the track minus one siding is laid and the scenery is all roughed in. Now comes the chore, wiring the power, turnout controls and setting up the control panel.
     
  9. okane

    okane TrainBoard Supporter

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    Tony

    That sir is some very nice work, please keep the pictures coming.
     
  10. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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    Easter kept the weekend progress at a stand still. I did manage to build the New River Mine for the staging entrance between trips to the relatives houses. The storms and rain today kept me inside and working on the layout. All but one of the feeder wires has been added. Most of the turnout wiring has been dropped under the layout and the rain caused the grass to start growing. I also tried my hand at rock casting. A Woodland Scenics starter kit, an extra carton of Hydrocal and an extra mold later and the layout has rocks. Below are shots of today progress.

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    A closeup of my first rock castings. It's not as easy as it should be but not as hard as it looks. It took a lot of fiddling to get the castings to look somewhat natural. I think they could be better but I finally got them to blend together so they didn't look like their original molds too much.
     
  11. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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    Shots of the coal mine that will hide the entrance to hidden staging for empties in / loads out scenario.

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    It's not planted yet. I used parts from the truck loading facility to make the mine entrance on the side of the mountain. That left a hole in the front for the chute that lead from the tipple to the truck loader. That hole turned into an equipment lift with a few pieces of styrene T-beams. Once it is closer to being planted, I also need to cut the support towers to fit.
     
  12. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Skip,

    Excellent work and the coal mine makes and excellent view block for the staging yard
     
  13. alleydude

    alleydude TrainBoard Member

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    Outstanding! Can't wait to see more!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2007
  14. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    You and I could get along famously.....
    My layout is about 95% curves.. One right after another.....:shade:
    You have made amazing progress! WOW! The coal mine really looks sharp, and thehidden staging is realy well-hidden from view. Well done!:thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:
     
  15. Triplex

    Triplex TrainBoard Member

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    Nice "fiddling"!
     
  16. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you for the compliments. Now a question for all....

    The mountain cut that runs along the track on the coal mine side is supposed to be shale. Anybody have a good idea how to replicate shale on a hillside?

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    Something like the cut in the background of this shot.
     
  17. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

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    Skipgear,
    Wow, what smooth hills you've made. I was always wondering about cutting foam with a band and/or jig saw. I have a small hand sander and tried on my mountains to smooth the out but wasn't happy with the results (maybe I should try a slightly larger sander) You are making one beautiful layout.
    You work in a hobby store? Your customers are going to benefit from your knowledge from the constrution of your own layout, I hope you're showing them photos of what you're building.
     
  18. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

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    Bernard,
    Most of the sanding and shaping after gluing up is done with a loose piece of 80 grit sandpaper and small cross cut saw for large chunks. After it is roughed in with the saw and 80 grit, I have a few foam sanding blocks that I use to knock off the rough surface that the 80 grit leaves behind.

    I use light weight spackling to fill in voids and to fill joints between the layers. I try to at least skim coat everything with spackle just to fill the textrue of the foam a bit. I do everything I can to hide the fact that the layout is made of layers of foam. It doesn't have to be perfect though, it is amazing what ground cover covers and a little texture to the surface helps things look more natural.
     
  19. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Tony, shale is a horizontal strata of sediments deposited over the centuries. Occasionally it is slightly folded due to upheavals from below. The vertical lines you see in your photo are from rock drills used to blast the cut, not a natural formation. The layers of different colors are due to the various deposits, i.e. trees, swamps, seashells, etc.

    That said, make your shale formations by troweling the plaster horizontally as it hardens. Then streak it with different shades of light and dark greys, but always horizontally. Remember one other thing, there are no two sedimentary formations that are alike, and none of them are what modelers call "Perfect".

    Have fun!
     
  20. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Modeling a shale hillside on your layout...
    I've never tried it before so I'm not speaking from experience, just guessing what might be worth a try.

    The picture looks like the rock was scored with a giant hair brush. Could you use plaster (or spackling compound or wallboard joint compound for slower drying time) and repeatedly score it with a hair brush or scrub brush...or maybe even a comb or the edge of a piece of fine metal screen? I'm guessing the bristles of a brush may produce a more natural variation in the lines than the comb or screen which might be too uniform.

    I grew up near a shale hillside about 2/3 the height of the hillside in the picture. As I recall, from the distance of a few yards, the shale was millions of horizontal layers on top of each other, but when you got very close, you could see that there were also vertical lines. If you looked at the hillside from the bluff on the other side of the creek (fifty yards?), it was just a grayish-tan hillside with hardly any visible horizontal lines, except closer to the bottom, and the lines were more visible due to color rather than actual striations in the face of the hillside.
    The hillside colors varied through the year as a function of how much ground water was present...tans from a pale yellow-ish tan like a 2x4 when it was driest, to a light brown like the rolls of brown paper towels in a towel dispenser when there was a little moisture, or the combination gray/tan you see in the cardboard on the back of a pad of 8.5x11 paper, if the ground was a little wetter. During rains, the hillside might vary from a pale tan-ish-gray to charcoal gray (wetter was darker), and days after the rainstorm, the ground water would keep seeping through in some (darker, grayer) spots in the lower part of the hillside after the top of the hillside was already dry (and was a lighter, paler yellow/tan).

    The transition from shale to ground cover was fairly abrupt, like in the picture. I suspect ground cover grew where the hillside was flat enough to accumulate a coating of dirt/topsoil, and the shale was visible where the slope was too steep (over 45 degrees) and too smoothed by erosion for anything to stick to.
    The hillside went directly into a creek, so there wasn't anything growing at the base and only small rocks and shale flakes were there (and mud too, IIRC...).

    FWIW, the picture looks like the hillside was a cut made for the RR, so the angle of a naturally occuring shale face on a hillside may be steeper than the face through an engineered cut. Hmmm...if it is a very old cut, then perhaps some of the terraced or flattest areas have accumulated enough dirt/topsoil to support some vegetation.
     

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