Lone Rock Moves to the Thunder Mesa Riverfront

TMMC Update - August 5, 2017

The 12x24" Lone Rock Diorama was built in January of 2015 to demonstrate scenery techniques and to act as a platform for photographing rolling stock models outdoors. It appeared in Joey Ricard's Trackside Scenery video on how to realistically model rocks, and in Verne Niner's cover shot for the April, 2015 issue of Model Railroader Hobbyist Magazine. That's a fairly illustrious history, but since moving the TMMC to its new home in Jerome, the old diorama has been sitting in a corner just gathering dust. After exploring several different scenarios for working it into the larger layout, I finally decided to remove its short stretch of On30 track and add the remainder of the diorama to the new riverfront scene.


The Lone Rock Diorama was never designed to function and the track had no power. It was built mainly to demonstrate rock carving techniques in urethane foam. It was a fun, quick project, and I'm very happy with the way it turned out. But it's time to move on and recycle this chunk of scenery into the larger layout.


With the decision made, disassembly of the diorama was quick and relatively painless. I popped the foam off of the 1x2" base, removed the track and roadbed, pried out the short stone bridge (to be reused at a new location), and then used a hotwire tool to cut away the parts that wouldn't fit the river scene. All in all, I was able to salvage about 90% of it.


From most viewing angles, Lone Rock will now obscure the point where the river meets the backdrop, giving the illusion that it disappears around a bend in the canyon. Once it was glued into position with Loctite Powergrab, I cut and contoured pieces of pink EPF foam to blend it with the rest of the riverbank.


With the butte in place, I turned my attention back to the near bank and finished roughing in the road with foam, cradstock and plaster cloth. I don't use a lot of plaster on the layout, but plaster cloth is perfect for creating the contours of a dirt road like this and blending it with the foam.


Ordinarily, the next step would be to blend the carved foam layers together with Sculptamold. However since I'm expecting guests for today's Open Studio & Train Day, I decided to go ahead and give the riverbed and rocky shoreline a base coat of latex paint. Much of this will be covered in the next step but it gives things a more finished look for now.


The paint colors used were leftover from the backdrop and the final river color will be a bit different. In the meantime, I'm digging the photo opportunities that this new River Unit will present, and the miles and miles of depth it will add to scenes like this one.

Ok Amigos! That's going to do it for this week. Now I've got to head up and sweep the studio to prepare for today's Open Studio & Train Day event! I hope to see some of you there today, but if you can't make it, just remember that I do it just about every month on the first Saturday. Adios for now!

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