Category: scenery

Rainbow Ridge Update

Work continues on the little mining town of Rainbow Ridge as it evolves alongside the progress at Circle D Ranch. The mainline through town has been ballasted with chick-grit, ground cover has begun to be added in the form of real dirt, and a wood plank grade crossing has been installed next to the depot. The depot itself has been refreshed with new "Rainbow Ridge" signs, and the water tank from Hanging Rock has been relocated here since I felt it better fit this scene. Hanging rock will be getting a new (read: old and worn out) water tank of its own in the not too distant future.

A Quick Stop at Rainbow Ridge

Arriving from Los Feliz Junction through Tunnel #1, an ore train makes a quick stop at Rainbow Ridge to pick up new orders before heading on to Thunder Mesa.


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This post is part of an ongoing attempt to relocate material from Facebook to this website. Unfortunately, Facebook continues to engage in a wide variety of highly unethical practices which I have no desire to support. If you are a fan of my art and/or modeling, please follow them here. I will be posting much more here in the days and weeks ahead, and much, much less on Facebook. Registered users can leave questions and comments on posts so please, join in the conversation!

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Dave

The Little Mining Town of Rainbow Ridge

Rainbow Ridge was the approximately 5/8 scale mining town that once served as the backdrop and marquee for Disneyland's Mine Train thru Natures Wonderland and Pack Mules attractions. The colorful little western buildings were not accessible to the public, but that didn't stop them from fueling my imagination as a kid. The Mine Train closed in 1977 to make way for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but some of the Rainbow Ridge structures were preserved and repurposed for the queue of that attraction.

In December of 2018, I decided to model my own version of Rainbow Ridge on the Thunder Mesa Mining Company layout. The town of Thunder Mesa was already heavily influenced by Rainbow Ridge, but I wanted a version of the town that was more faithful to the 1960's original. This series of posts follows the progress of that project to date.

The first step was to design the structures. I used vintage photos from my collection, and scaled the models up to full 1/4" scale based on known dimensions like the relative sizes of doors and windows. The buildings are designed to be built in shallow relief since they will sit right up against the backdrop.

The next step was to prepare the site. I made some changes to the backdrop and added a new spur track off the mainline. Using the structure plans I had made, I built paper and cardstock mock-ups of all of the structures and arranged them on a foamcore base. Since Thunder Mesa's depot was being replaced by a new Grizzly Flats/Frontierland style station, I also made plans to relocate the original depot to Rainbow Ridge where it would fit in well with the smaller sized buildings.

Some Grandt Line balustrade railing was added to the depot platform to keep little folks from falling into Coyote Canyon, then the lights were hooked up again to bring the depot to life.

With the structure mock-ups, new spur, and depot in place, I had a good feel for how the scene was coming together. Next comes some fully built shallow relief structures to replace those mock-ups. Stay tuned!


The Problem with Facebook
This post is part of an ongoing attempt to relocate material from Facebook to this website. Unfortunately, Facebook continues to engage in a wide variety of highly unethical practices which I have no desire to support. If you are a fan of my art and/or modeling, please follow them here. I will be posting much more here in the days and weeks ahead, and much, much less on Facebook. Registered users can leave questions and comments on posts so please, join in the conversation!

All the best,
Dave

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

In the overhead view, I worked on the creek area to the right of Walt's Barn, adding rocks and ground cover. The second photo shows a new section of split rail fence between the Circle D and Thunder Mesa's mainline, and some new greenery along the creek as well. The next shot is the first train to come through these parts in a long time. Paint, glue and track ballast are tough on electric trains so all of the track needed to be cleaned and fine tuned before trains could run again. The last photo shows the remainder of the ranch property real dirt ground cover, blending the base of Walt's Barn with the rest of the scenery. Now I can finish the stock pens and start thinking about the log cabin that will sit at the base of Thumb Butte.

 

Operating Turnouts

In true narrow gauge fashion, all of the switches on the TMMC are thrown by hand. I extend the switch point ties on the Peco turnouts with scale 6x8s, and use N scale Caboose Ground Throws and a simple wire linkage to move the points. Here is a video of the ground throws in action at the Circle D and Calico sidings.

 

A Work Train Passes the Circle D

Engine #8, R.H. Gurr, heads up a short work train passing the Circle D en route to Thunder Mesa.


The Problem with Facebook
This post is part of an ongoing attempt to relocate material from Facebook to this website. Unfortunately, Facebook continues to engage in a wide variety of highly unethical practices which I have no desire to support. If you are a fan of my art and/or modeling, please follow them here. I will be posting much more here in the days and weeks ahead, and much, much less on Facebook. Registered users can leave questions and comments on posts so please, join in the conversation!

All the best,
Dave

Ranch Gate and a New Bridge at the Circle D

The rough hewn style of the Circle D's new ranch gates is loosely based on a gate that once stood at Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch. The logs were done with dowels, toothpicks for the sawn branches, and Crescent Creek Models Scale Stucco to create the bark texture. The back of the sign has a very small inside joke. Folks at the Circle D also needed a way to get across Coyote Canyon so Thunder Mesa construction crews built them a simple pony truss. The scratchbuilt 40' span is too lightly built for trains, but just fine for horses and wagons.


The Problem with Facebook
This post is part of an ongoing attempt to relocate material from Facebook to this website. Unfortunately, Facebook continues to engage in a wide variety of highly unethical practices which I have no desire to support. If you are a fan of my art and/or modeling, please follow them here. I will be posting much more here in the days and weeks ahead, and much, much less on Facebook. Registered users can leave questions and comments on posts so please, join in the conversation!

All the best,
Dave

Minnie Moo Comes to the Circle D

Uh oh, looks like the Circle D's dairy cow has gotten out into the weeds again. This prize holstein was recently shipped in special, all the way from Minnesota. Her markings are a little unusual and the ranch hands have named her Minnie Moo. Meanwhile, Sam the Eagle surveys his domain from the top of Thumb Butte. Looks like it's a favorite perch of his. As night falls, the lights come on in Walt's Barn. Old Elias must be up working late on one of his projects.


The Problem with Facebook
This post is part of an ongoing attempt to relocate material from Facebook to this website. Unfortunately, Facebook continues to engage in a wide variety of highly unethical practices which I have no desire to support. If you are a fan of my art and/or modeling, please follow them here. I will be posting much more here in the days and weeks ahead, and much, much less on Facebook. Registered users can leave questions and comments on posts so please, join in the conversation!

All the best,
Dave

New Fence at the Circle D

Circle D Ranch got a new section of fence today, along with ballast for the tracks and a start on the ground cover and landscaping. The fence is what's known as an Arkansas Split Rail, but they are also very common in Colorado and Utah. I've always wanted to model one. The ground cover is sandy soil from around Moab, UT and will dry a couple of shades lighter than what is shown here where it is still wet with diluted white glue. Meanwhile, Thunder Mesa's horticulture department is just getting started on the landscaping.


The Problem with Facebook
This post is part of an ongoing attempt to relocate material from Facebook to this website. Unfortunately, Facebook continues to engage in a wide variety of highly unethical practices which I have no desire to support. If you are a fan of my art and/or modeling, please follow them here. I will be posting much more here in the days and weeks ahead, and much, much less on Facebook. Registered users can leave questions and comments on posts so please, join in the conversation!

All the best,
Dave

Scenic Painting for Circle D Ranch

Today I finished the scenic painting for Circle D Ranch. This was all done with about 4 different acrylic tube colors. In the overhead view, Homestead Arch and Picnic Table Rock or on the left, Thumb Butte is at bottom rising above Coyote Canyon. The creek will tumble down into the canyon and its source next to the barn will be hidden in some cottonwood trees. Part of the rockwork project for Circle D Ranch involved finishing the tunnel through Mt Yensid. In the world of Thunder Mesa, this is Tunnel #1, southbound from Los Feliz Junction. Just out of frame to the right is the next stop at Rainbow Ridge. In reality, this is where trains enter the layout from hidden staging behind the backdrop. Both the tunnel portal and liner were scratchbuilt from scale lumber and illustration board. The distant views showing Circle D in the background illustrate how I used lighter, more neutral shades in this new scenery to contrast with the red rocks in the foreground and enhance the appearance of distance. Next comes real rocks, dirt, and other details.


The Problem with Facebook
This post is part of an ongoing attempt to relocate material from Facebook to this website. Unfortunately, Facebook continues to engage in a wide variety of highly unethical practices which I have no desire to support. If you are a fan of my art and/or modeling, please follow them here. I will be posting much more here in the days and weeks ahead, and much, much less on Facebook. Registered users can leave questions and comments on posts so please, join in the conversation!

All the best,
Dave

Welcome to Circle D Ranch

I've been in the mood for a change of scenery lately, so over the weekend I decided to move Calico Mountain a little farther down the line. That opened up this corner of the layout for a small ranch scene - something that's been missing on the layout up until now. Southern Utah has many little ranches and old family homesteads tucked back up in box canyons and that provided some inspiration for this new scene. There will be a log cabin, a corral and a permanent home for my model of Walt's Barn. Inspiration also comes from the now defunct Big Thunder Ranch and the area will take its name from the home for Disneyland's horses: Circle D Ranch. This is the rough Sculptamold phase here and I hope to get some paint on this tomorrow.


The Problem with Facebook
This post is part of an ongoing attempt to relocate material from Facebook to this website. Unfortunately, Facebook continues to engage in a wide variety of highly unethical practices which I have no desire to support. If you are a fan of my art and/or modeling, please follow them here. I will be posting much more here in the days and weeks ahead, and much, much less on Facebook. Registered users can leave questions and comments on posts so please, join in the conversation!

All the best,
Dave

Modeling Canyon Country Scenery with Foam

Building the Diorama

The one question I am asked more than any other is, "How do you model your rocks?" I've done a couple of videos that explain my methods in detail, and this one, originally created for Joey Riccard's Trackside Scenery YouTube Channel is among the best. I've re-edited my segment of that video to make things a bit clearer, and added it to my own ongoing series of "How To" videos.

The Lone Rock diorama featured in this video began with an email from Joey Ricard. He asked if I might be interested in contributing to an upcoming video about modeling rocks and I was happy to agree. Joey's videos are always fun and informative, focusing on both tried-and-true and new-and-innovative techniques. Just my kind of project. Most of the build is covered in the resulting video, so this post focuses on a few additional details that may have been glossed over.

The 12" x 24" diorama started with a simple frame of 1" x 2" MDF and three layers of 1.5" white polystyrene bead-board. Some 1" thick gold polyurethane foam (Balsa Foam) was roughly shaped to form a single, towering butte. 1/2" plywood was cut to shape for track sub-roadbed and glued in place atop the foam. The white foam was shaped with a hot-wire cutter, and a small stone culvert made from Balsa Foam was created to bridge the gully. I used Loctite Power Grab construction adhesive to glue everything together.

The butte was carved from hard density Balsa Foam. This is a commercial version of the same gold urethane carving foam used by Walt Disney Imagineering and Hollywood special effects model builders. It's available through better stocked art and craft dealers.

A short section of the 1/2" plywood sub-roadbed was cut away and a chunk of 1" thick Balsa Foam was used to form a small stone culvert. The arch was created with sandpaper wrapped around a small bottle, and the stones were carved with a hard 5H pencil.

Using photos of rocks from Monument Valley, Moab and Sedona, Lone Rock Butte was carved from Balsa Foam using mostly a #2 hobby knife. The butte was then glued to the base with Loctite Powergrab adhesive. Four bamboo skewers between the butte and the base add additional strength.

Sculptamold was used to blend the butte into the base and to form an embankment along the sub-roadbed right of way. A soft, wet brush was used to smooth the Sculptamold and blend it with the different foams.

Since there would be scenery below it, the stone culvert was finished early and installed flush with the sub-roadbed. It was painted with acrylics and the mortar lines were filled with spackling paste. Midwest HO scale cork roadbed was glued down with yellow carpenter's glue, then just about everything on the diorama was given a base coat of golden-tan flat latex house paint. When that was dry, a length of Peco On30 flextrack was cemented in place with Powergrab adhesive.

As described in the video, a wash of diluted India ink was sprayed onto the butte to darken cracks and crevices before final painting was done. Inexpensive craft acrylics were used to complete the paint job. Colors like raw sienna, red oxide, burnt umber and unbleached titanium were applied wet into wet, working from darker to lighter tones.

I masked off the diorama and painted the track flat black with some Krylon spray paint. Next the ties were painted with a light tan acrylic. I used Apple Barrel "Khaki." Then the rails were painted with rust colored chalks suspended in 70% isopropyl alcohol. The final step was to give everything a good dusting with black and dark brown chalks. There's no power going to this track so I didn't bother to clean the paint off of the railhead. On powered track I'd use a Bright Boy or paint thinner to clean the railhead after painting.

The basic ground cover is Polyblend Sanded Grout. I mixed it up with a little water to form a thick paste and then just stippled it on with a cheep paintbrush (don't use a good brush for this! You'll never use it again). The erosion lines were pressed in with a pencil. The grout does a good job of representing soil while also filling and smoothing any remaining gaps in the foam base. This color is called "Sandstone," appropriately enough, and it dries a couple of shades lighter than it goes on. The wet grout generally stays where you put it but I also wet it down with a misting of diluted matte medium to lock it in place.

Once the grout had set overnight, the final coloring was done with light washes of acrylics to blend and unify the grout layer with the rock carving.

 

Real dirt and rocks were sprinkled on and then glued in place with white glue and diluted matte medium. Then the track was ballasted with local sandstone, held in place with more diluted matte medium.

Woodland Scenics "Field Grass" was used to make clumps of desert grasses and weeds, held in place with dabs of Aleene's Tacky Glue. Any loose fibers were later cleaned up with a shop vac. Then a few more bushes and desert plants were added to finish the diorama. The juniper bushes are Super Trees from Scenic Express covered in Noch dark green foliage. Clumps of gray sage were made with Woodland Scenics medium green bushes, lightly sprayed with gray primer. The prickly-pear cacti are castings from Pegasus Models.

Building the Lone Rock diorama was a quick, fun and rewarding project. Even if you don't have room for a full layout, I encourage anyone to try their hand at a small diorama like this. It can be finished in a week or so, and it's a great way to learn new techniques or to experiment with scenery ideas.

The Lone Rock Diorama was completed back in early 2016 and was later featured on the cover of Railroad Hobbyist Magazine. Today, it is being incorporated into a new HO layout I'm building at the studio called the Rio Lobo & Western and there'll be more on that in a future post. But that's it for this time. Thanks for checking in, amigos. Adios for now!