Friday, October 31, 2014

The Never Mine: Part II ~ Happy Haunted Halloween Edition

Grim Grinning Ghosts Come Out to Socialize with the Addition of a Haunted Mine Tunnel!


Click here for part I

Welcome foolish mortals, to the Never Mine! Happy Halloween!

Just beware of hitchhiking ghosts!


At the end of September I described building the shaft house and head-frame of the spooky, abandoned Never Mine. In today's post I'll detail construction of the mine tunnel base, including the addition of a happy haunt who only comes out after dark. Then we'll finish up the scene with a tailings pile, timber crib retaining wall, and all of the final landscaping details. Follow along with the photos and captions to see how it all went together.

The base for the Never Mine was carved from two layers of 1" thick Balsa Foam laminated together with wood glue. Most of the carving was done with #2 and #11 hobby knives and a hard, 5H pencil. A random stone foundation for the shaft house was integrated into the carving. Here I'm test fitting the top beam of the timber framing for the mine adit. 

For my happy haunt, I cut some 1mm clear acrylic sheet to size and fogged the surface with fine sandpaper. Then the outline of the ghost was painted from behind with thick black acrylic paint. The acrylic sheet was cemented into place and all of the edges blended with spackle. 

A hunk of Baxter's Butte was cut away and a simple power bus made from two strips of thin brass sheet was glued in place.  Accessory power from a 9v transformer feeds this bus and all wiring leads from the model were soldered on to it. Special care was taken to keep track of the positive bus as LED lights are polarity specific and will not function if the positive diode receives a negative charge. Here a 5mm green LED has been soldered into place to illuminate the ghost.

A quick check to make sure everything would fit and work properly.

The carving was painted with acrylics to match existing rock-work on the layout and the mine adit was finished with scale 8' x 8' beams and 1" x 12' planks stained with a shoe dye and alcohol mixture. The boards were distressed and broken to look as if they have been there for some time. The nail holes were added with a sharp 5H pencil.

Here is the entire assembly installed on the layout and the lights turned on. The shaft house has a single blue LED and the hoisting shed has a flickering amber LED as described in part I.

The carved base was glued down and blended into the existing scenery with Sculptamold. The mine structures above merely sit in place and can be easily removed if required. A short length of Micro Engineering code 55 N scale bridge track was added to represent O scale 18" gauge mine car tracks emerging from the tunnel.

I had originally planned to build an abandoned ore tipple to go with the Never Mine but later decided that such an imposing trackside structure would detract from the tiny mine above. Instead I opted for a timber crib retaining wall and tailings dump - a very common site around old mines. The first step was to rough in the dump pile with EPF (pink foam).

Here the tailings dump has been smoothed out and blended into the cliffside with Sculptamold. It was then given just a quick coat of Raw Sienna since this base will be entirely covered by scenery materials.

A couple of rickety, broken old ladders were scratch-built from strip-wood to provide a way up to the mine - albeit a hazardous one. It's nothing but fun to build details like this.

The timber crib retaining wall was built in place from 3/16" diameter dowels, stained and distressed to resemble old timbers. Here I'm backfilling behind the cribbing with small rocks and dirt from Sedona, AZ. This was later cemented in place with diluted white glue.

The slope of the tailings pile was textured with Polyblend sanded grout. It was mixed in a paper cup with a small amount of water to form a thick paste and then stippled on with a cheap paintbrush.

The grout was allowed to dry for a couple of days and then it was stained with thin washes of acrylic paints to represent colorful minerals, and to blend it with the surrounding scenery.

Another layer of fine rocks and dirt was sifted over the tailings pile and cemented into place with diluted white glue. Then more rocks, bushes, cacti, weeds, broken boards and other miscellaneous bits of debris were cemented in place to finish up the scene.

Cacti, bushes and other details near the shaft house foundations. You'd have to be pretty brave to climb those ladders!

The boarded-up mine entrance. The ghost is invisible during they day and only appears when the structure lighting is turned on for night operations.

Overall view if the tailings pile. The weedy overgrown look contributes to the story of a mine that has been abandoned for some time.


With the completion of the Never Mine, just about all of the scenery is now finished on this side of Big Thunder Creek. I'm sure that a few more details will be added here and there, but I was happy to get the haunted mine finished just in time for Halloween. I had considered adding a sound module to this project but decided it would be a little too much with the sounds of the creek, mill and town right next door. Hope you've all enjoyed the tale of the Never Mine and following along with the build. As always, any questions or comments are more than welcome below. More to come real soon. In the meantime, here's a video showing the lighting effects and documenting the Never Mine build. Adios for now!


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