Thunder Ridge: A Freelanced Focus on Scenery

Mark Watson Apr 12, 2010

  1. SmittyTV

    SmittyTV TrainBoard Member

    Nice.... And I see your scratch built cars made it to Cali unharmed. Congrats.
  2. D-Rio

    D-Rio TrainBoard Member

    Thats a good idea!

    Looks like yours came out good though.
  3. gregorycarlson

    gregorycarlson TrainBoard Member

    Looks great Mark. I have thought to do the same, casting my own rocks but instead use alginate, which sets quickly (5-6 minutes). From that, cast a master of plaster, foam, urethane or something else that will stand up well.

    Could then make platinum silicone molds from that. I'm guessing this might a bit more expensive (check here), but the molds can be made much more quickly in the field and the final molds will last for a LONG time.

    Just my 2 cents... I'll find out more when it warms up and I can actually cast some rock here in Wisconsin.
  4. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

    The rocks look great, Mark! Keep it coming!
  5. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    I had a scary thought today. Well, it's actually been on the back of my mind for a while now.

    Perhaps Thunder Ridge is too large to complete at this point in time. :eek: :bulgy-eyes:

    Scenery and detailing is my favorite part of building a layout, but on TR there's so much that is still standing in the way. Not to mention after 8 months, the size of the layout compared to the rest of my apartment is kind of frustrating (mostly because other than running trains, progress work has come to a virtual stand still).

    Then I look at threads like The Donner Pass in Z. I start to wonder what would happen if I cut back from a 4x8 layout to a 3x6.

  6. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter


    Just throw one of them cheap plastic painters dropcloth over it for awhile. Try to forget its there. Wont take that long till ya gotta open it back up and get to work.

    Outta sight outta mind ;-)

  7. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    Unfortunately George, Thunder Ridge is a 4x8 layout in my 14x11 studio. Draping a cloth over it would not only prevent me from being able to run trains, but give my apartment a spooky eerie feel with this huge covered object. :p

    In concept, design and completed construction, I believe TR was a great success. I love everything about the layout except the single fact that it's just too much to complete on a college going budget and schedule. :(

    At this time, I think I'm going to begin sketching designs for a smaller, more focused and manageable layout. Spring break is the week of March 20th. Perhaps things will turn around by then and I'll find a way to expedite work on Thunder Ridge. If not, Thunder Ridge will be moved to into storage (thank goodness I have a large closet) and construction will begin on the alternate. :)

    And who knows, maybe when the time comes to bring Thunder Ridge back out of storage, the alternate layout will be to a point that its sale could draw in some petty cash to be used for TR's resurrection! Everyone wins, right?! :p
  8. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    Dont make me get the Ninjas on ya Mark !! :tb-biggrin:

  9. mcjaco

    mcjaco TrainBoard Member

    Time for a Hollow Core Door layout? They're like $20 at Home Depot.
  10. Fredsmi

    Fredsmi TrainBoard Member

    I started to suggest you round the front corners off to give your room more walking area, but I think you already did that??? If not, that would help.

    Also, you could leave it up against the wall and only work on the front when you get a chance. When you are busy, run trains and park a couple in the back without moving it away from the wall. Do this for a while, and you may get the mojo again to ramp back up over the summer, etc. If you can't reach, you could remotely control your turnouts/switches so you don't have to move the table out when you want to park a train.

    I understand how busy school is and would put that first if you think its best for your future (and current square footage). I hate to see this thread stop, but at least you have a big closet. Just my $.02
  11. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter


    You've made such great progress on TR, but I do know, from personal observation, how much room it takes in your sitting room / living room / bedroom / office :tb-wink:. (At least you have a separate kitchen.) My only suggestion is don't make a hasty decision.
  12. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    Well, here's the first design of an alternate layout. A railroad town somewhere in the Sierras.


    The center will be divided by a 5-8 inch tall mountain ridge with the river flowing only 2-3 inches below the track level. This will be much more much manageable than the 32" rock face of Thunder Ridge and I will be able to use the rock castings already in inventory as the smaller rock wall wont demand a larger variety of castings.

    The benchwork 3x6, 1 foot shy in width and 2 feet smaller in length than Thunder Ridge (using the same frame TR now sits on), however the greatly reduced height should also open up the room.

    The passing siding exits the main via Atlas C55 curved turnouts which are also already in inventory, previously reserved for Thunder Ridge. I would still prefer all sidings/stubs to be C40, but may go with C55 all around because of its easy availability from the LHS. It will only be a manually operated turntable as well.

    You can see a faint outline of a rather large industry on the double stub in the center. As of now, that industry remains undecided. The short stub above it is a team track where local produce/goods will be delivered and the long stub on the right is for passenger service and large deliveries. Coal, water and yard office are in the center with an open area behind for a touch of negative space.

    I'm going to consider all possibilities up until March 20th, at which point Thunder Ridge will be either left in complete operation or moved into storage to make way for a little sibling. I'd love to hear all thoughts, ideas, suggestions, warnings, ect. to help aid my decision.

    Right now though, the meter is leaning about 70% for moving TR into storage.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2011
  13. Train Kid

    Train Kid TrainBoard Member

    All that work down the drain Mark? I guess you know what you want but your layout was looking great...good luck with the rebuild!
  14. Tracy McKibben

    Tracy McKibben TrainBoard Member

    All I can offer is "been there, done that, I feel your pain"...
  15. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    It's a nice plan, and the mountain side will still lend itself to good rail-fanning. Most of the photos don't really need the huge drop of TR, of course. You might want to come through a tunnel on the right side, so the entry to the mountains is more dramatic.

    Will TR store nicely in that closet? I would hate to see the work you have done lost.
  16. Cameron_Talley

    Cameron_Talley TrainBoard Member

    Since you've mentioned that you're a roundy-round guy, will you be happy with just one loop of track, I.E. one train running around the whole time?
  17. JoeW

    JoeW TrainBoard Supporter

    Hi Mark
    If you decide to put the layout in storage it would be nice if you could do a kind of photographic closing over view. Since a layout is never really complete until you end it. It would be nice to see where you end up with it just before you put it away. I think you did a nice job Thanks for posting about the layout.
  18. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

    I totally feel you: looking at a layout that's been occupying your living space with you, and every time you look at the whole thing you think of all the work you need to do on it, your brain adding up all the time and money that it'll take to get there.

    I think, though, that this might happen no matter the size of the layout: I feel the same way as you, and my layout is only 23" x 41"! I'm talking about the work & progress aspect, of course: I don't have a 4'x8' board living with me in my bedroom (just a 5'2" broad, which is a MUCH bigger time and money commitment;) ).

    And the excitement of planning, imagineering and building a new layout is a tremendously persuasive force, which, sometimes, you just have to give into.

    Some thoughts on Thunder Ridge:
    --at the beginning of the project you said one of your goals was to build a layout for photographic purposes. You've designed and built a layout with amazing photograpic potential, taking full advatage of n-scale's size vs scenery ratio. Instead of looking at the whole layout, mentally break it down into 10-12 scenes. Then you could focus on one at a time: you'd be able to complete each scene in a reasonable amount of time & money, and you'd have an accomplished area to play around with the camera while you work on the next scene.
    [I do this on my little 23"x41" layout: just this dock area for now, or just this gorge area for now, and it helps me focus and not get overwhelmed by ALL the stuff I have to do for the WHOLE layout.]
    --layouts have a momentum of their own, it seems. I fear that once you put TR in the cryogenic closet, the only time it'll come out will be to be dismantled (probably when you move). Even if you do work on, finish, and sell the 3'x6' layout, by that time your interests and focus will have changed, and TR probably won't meet your needs. Or, at the very least, you'll have gained much more experience and will want to put that to use in a new layout.

    But, perhaps your needs & wants have already changed, and so the 3'x6' will satisfy you. If you do start on the smaller layout, I strongly recommend putting in a long siding / runaround on the mountain side. It will mimic a double main for photography purposes, but more important it can allow for another train on the layout: either passing, or as semi-visible staging when operating the town side.
    [The biggest mistake I made with designing my 23"x41" layout was to have only one runaround / siding: should have put one on the back / mine side as well. So I made sure to include it on the design of the layout my daughter and I are going to build together]

    And, unless you need to turn trains all the way around, I'd suggest a partial turntable (not sure what they're called, but they pivot about 30 degrees, or 3-4 tracks worth). Doesn't take up as much space, which is at a premium on the town side.

    I second the tunnel idea for the right side (would help frame both sides, especially the engine servicing area).

    Thanks for sharing all your TR stuff, and hope it continues, though I know you'll do amazing stuff no matter the layout!
    Good luck!
  19. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    No, not down the drain completely. I wouldn't even consider an alternate if I didn't have the option of storing TR until a later date. [​IMG]

    Thanks for the encouragement though. :)
  20. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    That's true! Are my thoughts similar to the factors you had when deciding to downsize?

    Hows the new HO layout coming anyways? :D

    +10% for building the alternate.

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