Category: structures

Dave Builds the Last Chance Gas kit in HO Scale

Join me for a step-by-step build of Crescent Creek Models HO scale Last Chance Gas kit! I helped to develop this kit with my business partner Jake Johnson, and we’re both really proud of how it came out. The kit is based on a 1930s era Conoco station from Peñasco, New Mexico, but could easily represent a rural gas station anywhere along the highways and backroads America.

Last Chance Gas in HO scale: https://thundermesa.studio/product/last-chance-gas-ho-scale/
Last Chance Gas in S scale: https://thundermesa.studio/product/last-chance-gas-s-scale/

Thanks for tuning in, amigos!
Dave

A Fireworks Wagon for Thunder Mesa

 

Come along as I build an O scale Fireworks Wagon based on artwork from Disneyland! Using kitbashed parts and cg texture/printed paper modeling techniques, I build a 19th century fireworks wagon to compliment Thunder Mesa's digitally projected fireworks show. I hope you enjoy this step-by-step "how to." Patreon subscribers can download the custom artwork created for this project.

Thanks for tuning in, amigos!
Dave

A Visit to Olson & Furlow’s Place

 

Let's pay a visit to Olson & Furlow's place, my scratchbuilt structure inspired by the modeling of John Olson and Malcolm Furlow. We'll take a look back at how the building was originally assembled, then retrofit the interior with new details and LED lighting. Should be fun!

Thanks for tuning in, amigos!
Dave

Evolution of a Scene: Zocalo Plaza

 

Zocalo Plaza represents the “Old Spanish” section of town on the On30 Thunder Mesa layout. It’s a quaint village of adobe structures from Tom York’s “Frijole Flats” sketchbook, and anchored by stately Mission San Lorenzo. This scene is unique in that most of the structures, figures, and details started out on a friend’s layout before being relocated. They were all part of Verne Niner’s award winning San Lorenzo diorama and I am very happy to have Verne’s work live on as part of Thunder Mesa. This video shows the evolution of Zocala Plaza, from Verne’s diorama to a finished scene integrated into the layout.

The Helengon Mine Story

 

Saddle up fer Helengon, Amigos! It's the Helengon Mine Story this week as I explain the structures and operations in this wild and wooly corner of the Thunder Mesa On30 layout.

The Helengon Mine was created as a focal point during development of the Hanging Rock scene. It's made up of a head frame and hoist house on the cliffs above, Helengon Tunnel, and the Helengon Mine office built right into the cliffside. The name, "Helengon," is a tribute to John Allen's HOn3 Devil's Gulch & Helengon, and his name appears on the office wall as General Manager. The office is built up against a timber retaining wall, and is actually a model of a new scenic element that appeared along Big Thunder Trail at Disneyland when that entire area was remodeled during the Star Wars Galaxy's Edge construction. The Indiana Jones dog house is another Disneyland Easter Egg added just for fun. A paper model plan of the dog house can be downloaded for free here.

The head frame was based on drawings from the Mining and Engineering Journal of 1902, and the hoist house was freelanced to fit. Helengon Tunnel and its On3o spur is actually a relic from an earlier version of the Thunder Mesa track plan when a reverse loop was considered for this end of the layout. The loop was abandoned but the track through the Mesa remained, reimagined as Helengon Tunnel; a drift into the cliffside just big enough to set out some On30 ore cars in. Locomotives do not enter far beyond the tunnel entrance due to clearance issues and the risk of asphyxiation.

Just next door to Helengon Tunnel is Olson & Furlow's place. A saloon, store, and bawdy house all in one that somehow survives as the only commercial structure in this outlaw ridden burg. But more on that in a future post!


Thanks for following along, amigos. Registered users can leave questions and comments below so, please, join in the conversation!

All the best,
Dave

Last Chance Gas Now Available in S Scale!

The Wait is Over!

Our popular Last Chance Gas kit is now available in S scale!

Available now in limited supply, our first Signature Line kit in S Scale: Last Chance Gas! Based on a prototype Conoco station that stood in Peñasco, NM, this kit recreates the glory days of the great American road. Designed by master model maker, Jake Johnson, Last Chance Gas features tons of charm and detail in a compact footprint.

  • Featuring exclusive, custom designed 3-D printed gas pumps and additional laser cut details for the S scale version!
  • Precision laser cut parts
  • Over a dozen white metal and 3-D printed details
  • Colorful sign sheets with vintage advertising and 3 oil company options: Conoco, Texaco, or Frijolene
  • Full color illustrated instructions by Dave Meek
  • Footprint approximately 3.4″ x 4.95″ not including pump island

Crescent Creek Models Signature Line kits are the best of the best we have to offer, and we are thrilled to bring this latest kit to the discerning S scale modeler! Our Signature Line kits are assembled in small batches so supplies are limited. Don't miss out!

$95.00

Building a Stone Based Water Tank

 

This week we have a how-to video describing the build of Thunder Mesa's stone based water tank. I describe the techniques and materials used to create realistic random stone walls, and reveal my secret for perfect graphics on model structures. To go further in depth, he's a gallery of photos from the build as it came together step by step.

The tank base was carved from Balsa Foam II, and then painted with acrylics. Mortar between the stones is spackling compound pressed into the cracks. The doors and wooden trim were stained a warm gray, then dabbed sparingly with rubber cement. These pieces were then painted and the rubber cement rubbed away to create the look of old, peeling paint. The lone window is a modified Grandt Line casting, and the old fashioned rippled glass effect was created by painting Woodland Scenics Realistic water on the back of the acrylic glazing and then drying it quickly with a hair dryer.

The tank and bands are printed paper. I created the entire tank as a graphic in Adobe Photoshop, including the herald, water stains and weathering, and then printed it out on heavy matte inkjet paper. It was then wrapped around a scratchbuilt cylinder and the tank bands were cut from a second printout and applied individually for a 3-D look. White metal tank band fasteners and spout hardware from Wiseman Model Services complete the look. The spout yoke, water depth gauge, and roof hatch were scratchbuilt from scale wood and paper. The paper shingles are from Bar Mills and the roof finial is the head of a dress pin painted copper.

A 5mm yellow LED was added to the hollowed out interior for illumination, and the entire structure weathered with powdered chalks before being installed on the layout. Dimensions are called out at the end of the video if you would like to build a similar tank for yourself.


Thanks for following along, amigos. Registered users can leave questions and comments below so, please, join in the conversation!

All the best,
Dave

The Little Mining Town of Rainbow Ridge (So Far)

 

Howdy, folks! Welcome to the little mining town of Rainbow Ridge, the latest boomtown under construction along the Thunder Mesa line. Here's an inside look at the planning and construction of the town to date, and insights into the addition of Walt's Barn and Circle D Ranch. Rainbow Ridge was the jumping off point for the fabled Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland at Disneyland, and I'm excited to be adding my own version of the Thunder Mesa layout There's lots more to do in these parts, so stay tuned for future updates on this developing area.


Thanks for following along, amigos. Registered users can leave questions and comments below so, please, join in the conversation!

All the best,
Dave

The Haunted Undertaker’s Shop Revisited

 

As featured in the recent Ghost Story video, Atencio, Crump & Gracey's Undertaker Shop features a built-in Pepper's Ghost illusion. Take a look as I revisit this structure and explain how it was built and how it works!

A Tribute to the Haunted Mansion

The Thunder Mesa Undertaker's Shop was built as part of the original Boot Hill scene on the layout. When that scene expanded with the addition of a Crescent Creek Models Old West Gallows, the structure was relocated across the tracks, giving guests a better view of the ghosts in the attic during nighttime operations. From the beginning, the structure was conceived as a tribute to Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, and the name, "Atencio, Crump & Gracey," refers to some of the Imagineers (less Marc Davis) most responsible for the attraction, namely, X Atencio, Rolly Crump, and Yale Gracey.

I designed the structure in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, with the signs and entire front wall created with realistic wood photo textures, printed on inkjet paper, and then laminated to Illustration board. This is still the best technique I've found for re-creating complex graphics and signs on building surfaces. The rest of the structure was built from 1/16" illustration board, scribed, and then painted with watercolors to match the printed front wall with a look of old, whitewashed wood.

The brick chimney was hand-carved from Balsa-Foam II, while the door, window, roof trim, and smokejack castings are from Grandt Line. I used Berkshire Valley fish-scale shingles for the roof, and the front and side porches are decked with distressed and stained coffee stir sticks.

The entire bottom floor of the structure is taken up by the ghost mechanism. This consists of a low RPM dc motor with rotating drum attached. The drum was made from a piece of mailing tube, painted flat black, and then decorated with several ghosts, painted on with UV reactive (Blacklight) paint. As the drum rotates, the ghosts are illuminated by a 5mm UV LED and reflected onto a piece of clear plexiglass set at a 45% angle directly above. When viewed through the upstairs window, the mechanism is invisible, and the transparent ghosts appear to be flying upwards. A removable interior set, decorated with Haunted Mansion details, serves as a background for this ghostly apparition.

All of this happens at the press of a button on the layout fascia, and is accompanied by a custom-mixed spooky soundtrack played on an ITT products sound module. The soundtrack itself is available as a free MP3 download  and is ideal for Halloween parties and haunted houses of your own.

The Haunted Undertaker's Shop is always popular with guests during nighttime operations, adding a spooky accent to the outskirts of Thunder Mesa town. Happy Halloween!


Thanks for following along, amigos. Registered users can leave questions and comments below so, please, join in the conversation!

All the best,
Dave