Thunder Ridge: A Freelanced Focus on Scenery

Mark Watson Apr 12, 2010

  1. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Greetings all, I am once again on the path to building a new layout. This thread will showcase my progress. :)
    [Quick Navigation]
    Final Design - Page 4 #31
    Construction Begins - Page 5 #49
    Track Work Begins - Page 6 #59
    Hand Laid Turnouts! - Page 7 #68
    Elevations - Page 9 #90
    How NOT to Cover Cardboard Lattice - Page 11 #108
    A Better Way to Lay Terrain - Page 13 #121
    Code 40 Turnouts - Page 15 #148
    FOAM TERRAIN!!! - Page 16 #153

    Foam Terrain 95% Shaped - Page 20 #193
    First Tree Made - Page 22 #218
    More Trees - Page 23 #225
    Rock Work - Page 24 #237
    Coloring First Rocks - Page 26 #255
    Film Archive Found - Page 28 #273
    Earth Tone Applied! - Page 28 #278
    Better Rock Coloring - Page 29 #283
    Aerial/Valley Photos - Page 30 #297
    New Crossover - Page 31 #302
    Dip in the Main - Page 31 #308
    McKibben Comes to Life - Page 32 #314
    Grade Crossings - Page 32 #319
    First Layout Visitor! - Page 35 #348
    Exploring a Detour - Page 37 #365
    Back on Track! - Page 39 #389
    New Projects - Page 40#392
    How to Rebuild A Curved Turnout - Page 40 #399
    New Crossover Installed - Page 41 #407
    Figuring Out Frog Power - Page 42 #413
    Slide Switch Ground Throws - Page 43 #422
    JACALAR Visits Thunder Ridge! - Page 44 #433

    Thunder Ridge was so named shortly after it's construction because of the thunder like sound which echoed across the river valley as trains, particularly trains pulled by steam locomotives, passed.

    The focus on this one is purely to create photographic scenery on the Ridge side (bottom), while the other side (top) remains fluid in design at this point. I have no intention to include any operational elements, though depending on the further development of the top side, I might like to include a few industrial spurs for their advantage of scenic elements and storage capacity.

    This layout will be built with C55 flex (probably ME) at a minimum 14" radius with easements into all curves. Inside loop runs clockwise, outside loop runs counter clockwise. Along the top side, all main line track will remain level and if any sidings are added they will be dropped below the mainline. The track running along Thunder Ridge rises approx 1-1.5 inches above the off-set route. The elevation difference will be split between the two lines to minimize grading (Inside route rises .5 inches, outside route drops .5 inches).
    [​IMG]

    I almost forgot, layout dimension is 40x90 inches. It will be built upon 3 30x40 foam core art boards.

    Last but not least, I made this short previz video to demonstrate the look I hope to achieve on Thunder Ridge.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6J3JPCLpvw

    Questions, comments and suggestions will be greatly appreciated. :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 21, 2011
  2. vashnar

    vashnar TrainBoard Member

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    Looks good, Mark. Nice and small, and uncomplicated so you'll get to all that photography fast :)

    Brian
     
  3. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    Interesting concept, especially if the photography thing interests you.

    Dong a few things like this also would seem to be good for practicing scenery techniques, or for folks with limited space (though that's still nearly 8 feet long!).

    I'm thinking of doing a series of small vignette pieces to work out some scenic views as I plan my "big layout". And to try out some scenery techniques I'm considering.

    I look forward to the updates on this!

    What software did you use for the video?
     
  4. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Mark - looks like a lot of great photo opportunities, Can't wait to see progress pictures.

    I think you should plan some level of buildings on the back (upper) side, since those are as important to photos as out in the country.
     
  5. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Any need for a crossover in the back so trains could change from one track to another? Good engine break-in layout, too.
     
  6. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the comments everyone.

    TwinDad, I used Maya for the previz. I feel compelled to state I threw it together in about 30 minutes, otherwise it would look much much better.

    Here's version 2 with some urban action on the topside. I was afraid I'd get carried away if I attempted something more than a crossover. Oh well. :p

    For the most part this was designed to use each stub as a storage track for cars not running roundy on the main. It should still work so that swapping out the roundy train will require a minimum of switching moves.

    Comments? Suggestions?

    [​IMG]
     
  7. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I like it. Are you going to try to have different types of scenery around the mountain and river canyon, for different geographic "feel", or just keep it relatively continuous (albeit, normal compression)?
     
  8. Train Kid

    Train Kid TrainBoard Member

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    That little video was awesome.

    Not familiar with that concept. But, very cool and interesting.
     
  9. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I like it, too. Nice storage layout.
     
  10. tony22

    tony22 TrainBoard Member

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    Mark, when I was living on Long Island I happened to be part of a HO club which had a fellow member who also was a fan of more realistic track to space ratios. He was an incredible scenery and structure modeler, and felt that he could do more in a given scene view with only one or two tracks winding through a scene than others could do with the usual assortment of track, turnouts, and industries. Frankly I was very impressed with what he could do. I think you're right on the same page and the look of the layout suggests you'll have some great realism.

    Now, if you could give us all a tutorial on how you made that video I'd vote to give you a Trainboard award! :tb-biggrin:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2010
  11. bnsf971

    bnsf971 TrainBoard Member

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    I like this one. You could extend the view block/mountain on the right to where the inner track can squeeze past a rocky wall, with a small "hump" or cut between the two tracks, tapering off to a small mound at the edge of the river.
     
  12. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    I'm going to keep the scenery the same all the way around. I'm still undecided on the exact geographic location. I've only traveled the California Zephyr, but I want to do more research the Cascades and Pacific Coast lines before I make a decision.

    Thanks for the support Tony. I'm actually trying to follow the examples set by our very own Caleb Austin. His results have probably been the most inspiring to both finishing some scenery on my current layout and my plans for this coming layout.

    I'll have to think about that tutorial. It's taken me several years to accumulate the knowledge myself. :)



    I plan to use a scenic cliff to extend right up to the track while keeping the view block fairly central. That way I can use the real estate in between for even more scenery. See my next post... :)
     
  13. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Here's some more previz work. I've placed my virtual Daylight in the scene as well but dont be fooled by it's size. The model is scaled closer to that of Z scale than N. [​IMG] (If I could afford the Daylight in Z, I'd probably go that route, but unfortunately, I cant...

    Anyways, here's a shot of Thunder Ridge, the vision.
    [​IMG]


    Another thing I'll be doing is incorporating a scenic fascia.

    Check out how much more of the picture plane is covered by using a scenic fascia vs the plain fascia from above... a valuable gain in scenery with zero sacrifice of real estate!
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    I adjusted my Previz to show the correct scale of the Daylight. Makes everything look a lot smaller doesn't it? :( This is incredibly useful as now I know I want to raise the cliffs higher and drop the valley lower. What I have in mind is more like 1 foot of mountains above the rails.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Triplex

    Triplex TrainBoard Member

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    I love this idea, but so rarely see it used.
     
  16. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Here is the most recent version. The minor changes simply reorient the crossovers on the outside/inside mains to accommodate right side running. I am now able to access the inside line and the industry stubs in a single back up move from the outside.
    [​IMG]


    As far as scenery goes, I found the exact location that I've had in my mind all along. The Durango and Silverton's famous cliff side! In a nut shell, that IS Thunder Ridge exactly as I conceived it and I simply didn't know it until yesterday! :D

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  17. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    ooooh! pretty! Can't wait to see it come together.
     
  18. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Well, no luck getting rid of my current layout, which needs to happen before I can start building Thunder Ridge. (View my ad on TrainStore)


    The two bridges are about the only item Id be able to salvage for re-sale. I wont be using Unitrack again, and with the turnouts all modified and ballasted in place, re-sale on those will hardly be worth the effort. Same goes for the rest painted and ballasted Unitrack.

    I cant wait to start on Thunder Ridge though! And I think I need to start soon, otherwise I keep telling myself, "I can get away with 3 more inches here." "Well if I can fit 3 more inches there, I could add 6 more inches here" "Heck, I might as well make it 4x8" :p
     
  19. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    The philosophical (if not modeling) question gets to be on in a real situation, why it simply isn't simple double track. But there's a lot of situations like that out there, and they all contribute to more modeling / scenic opportunity if you pursue them.

    1) Two different railroads in the same crowded corridor - like Milwaukee and NP in Cle Elum, WA - Opposite sides of the same river. But what that gives you is different construction standards, ballast color, signals, bridges, and equipment, for what 'would be' two separate railroads. Since this is primarily photographic, may as well take use of it. The contrasts can be VERY distinct, and you can run two different railroads. The first railroad usually got the better, cheaper side of the river.

    2) First line / later second line - same railroad. Happened all the time. I think Erie Railroad, with the second main track added in the 1920's across PA and Ohio and with everything they could do to reduce grades and curvature, including flyovers over the original track. The 'new line' will almost always have the big cuts, the straight track, newer and heavier bridges, and lower grades. Both tracks will likely stay in, and may be used as Eastbound / Westbound. ATSF did it all across New Mexico and Arizona, sometimes the two single tracks are separated by nearly a mile. They then took the better track and made it for the heavier traffic, resulting in the infamous left-hand running. That's how they ended up with so many cantilever signals. Stuff still happens today - see Abo Canyon on the BNSF where they are struggling with the second track.

    3) Competing lines later absorbed by the same line, but still look like separate lines.... Kinda between 1 and 2. Erie / EL has one in my area - 10 miles of track between Jamestown and Waterboro NY, built about 300 feet apart, sometimes right beside each other - they were two separate railroads at construction in the 1870's (Atlantic & Great Western, Buffalo & Southwestern) and absorbed into Erie about 1890. Run as double track on the timetable but inexplicably different alignments, with different bridge abutments, bridge designs, etc. Came together tight at Kennedy, NY (two sides of the same wood depot) then split apart again. Also distinct vertical elevation differences. But to the end, they looked different (ex-B&SW had 100-lb jointed, Erie had 115-welded) Erie and Lackawanna across New York bounced back and forth post-merger on which line(s) they kept running.

    If you want to be a purist in the concept, the only question that affects the design 'now' is if you want to widen out the tracks at the top to have the 'two different railroads' concept carried out there, with an interchange, rather than crossovers, depending. Its a fine plan at any rate, but you can have fun with the 'why are there two separated tracks?' deal even more.
     
  20. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Very interesting scenarios Randy! I'm definitly going to have to include one of those situations in the back story of this layout. Since I run all sorts of road names, trackage through the river valley will likely be closest to situation 1, two lines, two railroads. I especially like the idea of varying the color of ballast and other track side details. I already planned on using two different bridges as well (as can be seen in the previz).

    Having the top side resemble an interchange of two roads also sounds like it can present much more interesting elements, though at the moment, I cant think of where I would even begin to design such an interchange of that sort. I will say, I've been less and less enthused at the idea of the passenger station dead center running along the edge of the layout anyways. Anyone have suggestions on how to elaborate an interchange there?
     

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