It's another beautiful morning in Thunder Mesa Country as engine #4, the Earl Vilmer, heads for Geyser Gulch and points beyond.
The Calico Section
Benchwork for the new Calico section of the layout is now complete and, with that, the layout has officially grown beyond its original "mini" status into a larger around the walls pike.
The leg/support assembly is built from clear pine and MDF; painted Krylon flat black. The box-girder layout section attaches to the top L-girders with 6 screws. Swiveling casters make it easy to roll out from the wall.
Old and new layout sections are leveled and then joined together with 1/4" bolts/wing-nuts. Strong and secure, but east to disassemble if need be.
The TMMC was originally planned and built without any thought of a backdrop, but now that things are growing out along the walls of the room the obvious need for some kind of backdrop has reared its head. I have built backdrops before for other layouts, mostly from Masonite, with seams carefully taped, mudded and sanded to give an unbroken sky view. Two problems arise from this method, the first is that the final structure is not in anyway moveable (let alone portable), and the second is that those carefully hidden seams almost always split as the Masonite expands and contracts with the inevitable radical swings in Arizona's humidity (it's not aways a dry heat). I'd really like to avoid both of those problems this time around.
My imperfect solution will be to build the backdrop in sections, with each removable piece matched to a section of layout. They will all be painted to blend together but, unfortunately, some seams in the sky will be unavoidable. The good news is that the seams are barely noticeable durning regular operations, and can easily be Photoshopped out in pictures. Stay tuned for more on this as the backdrop plans develop.
I love coming up with simple and effective mechanisms for animations and operating functions on the layout. Some modelers jump straight to electric motors, servos and complex electronics to get things done, but I have found that the simplest solution is often the best and most reliable.
Operating Ore Dump
I wanted an operating ore dump to use with my Bachmann side-dump ore cars at the Big Thunder Mill in Thunder Mesa. The dump itself is a wooden grate cut into the platform where a below ground bin is located to collect the ore. The fiction here is that a conveyer belt inside the mill moves the ore to the upper levels where it can then be fed into the stamps and processed.
Here's a quick video showing the simple mechanism for dumping the cars:
Hidden Wye Switch
Deep inside Rainbow Caverns is a hidden wye. Taking the right leg completes a loop back to Thunder Mesa and allows continuous running, while the left leg allows trains to continue on the main line. Switches inside tunnels can be problematic so I came up with a simple push-rod mechanism to remotely operate the switch.
The completed foam "sandwich" holding the pushrod in place. When the scenery is complete the end of the rod will be disguised as a rock. The track has now been completed through this section and the mechanism works flawlessly.
Okay, that's all for this time. I'm hoping to have more regular updates from now on, probably once a week on Mondays as work progresses. Thanks for stopping by!