Thunder Mesa Blog

Foam Rock Scenery for Gruesome Gulch – GGRR Part 5

 

It’s alive! Spooky rock formations sculpted from extruded polystyrene foam (XPF) help to set the scene on my On30 Gruesome Gulch mini-layout. In part 5 of this series, I demonstrate techniques for carving and finishing lightweight XPF foam to create realistic looking rock formations.

Thanks for watching, amigos!
Dave

Foam Benchwork and Laying Track on Gruesome Gulch – GGRR Part 4

 

It’s time to finish the benchwork and get some trains running on my On30 Gruesome Gulch mini-layout! In this installment, I build both benchwork and roadbed from layers of lightweight extruded polystyrene foam (XPF), then lay down some On30 flextrack on the upper and lower loops. Some tips on soldering track connections with a butane torch too, and a little track cleaning to keep everything running smoothly. More to come!

Thanks for watching, amigos!
Dave

Recreating the Big Thunder “Blasting Ahead” Sign

 

Join me as I recreate a trackside sign from Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland in 1:1 scale! Disney fans will recognize this one from near the dynamite chomping goat as you crest the second lift hill. I use some basic hand tools and faux-finish painting techniques to recreate this prop from the park for the walls of Thunder Mesa Studio.

Thanks for watching!
Dave

Thunder Cam: Circle D Ranch

 

Howdy Folks! I’m documenting every scene on the layout in these short “Thunder Cam” videos. Each one features Thunder Mesa trains passing through scenes on a typical day (or night) of operations. Supplemental music and sounds have been added where appropriate, but all else is as it might appear on a visit to the layout. As new scenes are finished on the layout, these rail fan style videos will act as supplements to the builds and projects. The ultimate goal is to chronicle the entire layout over time.

This episode features a busy day at Circle D Ranch, home of Elias Homage the railroad’s president. A short stock special delivers some very special cargo to the ranch today in the form of a spirited palomino stallion.

Dave

On30 Excursion Cars for Gruesome Gulch – GGRR Part 3

 

My Gruesome Gulch mini-layout will need a train of excursion cars for victims - er - guests to ride those haunted rails. In this episode, I build the first car for my ghost train: a 19' excursion coach that utilizes laser cut parts and bits and pieces from a classic HO Roundhouse kit. More to come!

Thanks for watching, amigos! Dave

A Newspaper Office for Gruesome Gulch – GGRR Part 2

 

I know that the structures for my haunted Gruesome Gulch project railroad will probably take longer than anything else, so in this build video, I get a head start on them with the Gruesome Gulch Epitaph newspaper office. Designing and building this small structure helped me get a handle on the esthetics and feel of the entire layout - even before any track was laid! I get to pull out all the stops on this one, really pushing the caricatured architecture and then weathering things to look right at home in a ghost town!

Thanks for watching, amigos!
Dave

Old West “Pine Box” Caskets in O Scale

 

Here’s a quick little build that goes nicely with the Gruesome Gulch layout I recently announced – a set of old west style “pine box” caskets! I couldn’t find the coffins I wanted as detail parts for my projects, so I decided to design and laser cut my own. As a bonus, these will soon be available in kit form from Crescent Creek Models.

Thanks for watching, amigos!
Dave

Welcome to Gruesome Gulch

 

New project! Join me as I kick off a new, small, portable On30 layout project with a haunted ghost town theme! The Gruesome Gulch Railroad is a pure flight of fancy, where ghost trains travel from an abandoned western mining town to the haunted underworld realm of Cadaver Caverns. I was inspired to build a small themed layout of my own after visiting some amazing mini-layouts built by friends. I’m a huge fan of spooky season, so I’ve set myself the goal of finishing most of this by Halloween this year! That means I’ll be dividing my time between this project and the Thunder Mesa layout over the next few months. Should be fun!

Thanks for watching, amigos!
Dave

Model Making Quick Tip: Drawing Track Plans

 

I am often asked how I draw my track plans, so here it is! In this quick Tip I demonstrate my tried and true methods for drawing model railroad track plans using good old pencil and paper. No fancy software required! I discuss planning for grades, easements, clearances and trackside details. Your drawing doesn’t need to be fancy to get the job done, just as accurate as you can make it.

Thanks for watching, amigos!
Dave