Testing out the flickering LED "lanterns" on my Big Thunder Saloon.
In this installment I'll show how the foundation and front porch were built, detail my techniques for creating realistic log walls, and share a couple tricks for making painted windows and hanging lanterns. Here we go!
A Strong Foundation
I painted the foundation with acrylics using the same techniques and colors I use for rock-work on the layout ( it stands to reason that the foundation would be local sandstone). After that, I started on the front boardwalk and steps. I cut simple risers out of illustration board and then clad the whole thing in strip-wood and coffee stir sticks stained with Minwax Early American and Dark Walnut.
The completed front porch and faux stone foundation.
I built up the rocky hillside with layers of 1/4" thick Foamcore.
When happy with the shape of things, I slathered the Foamcore with Patch & Paint spackle, sculpting some simple rock forms here and there as I went. This is almost exactly how I build terrain on the layout, just in miniature.
A Technique for Making Log WallsThe side and back walls of Big Thunder Saloon are rough-hewn logs. I chose to simulate this using 1/4" round hardwood dowels and a fairly simple painting and texturing technique. Since the dowels are a uniform width, it takes the guess work out of building. Each log represents 12 scale inches of height, making it relatively easy to figure out how many are needed.
The first thing to figure out is what kind of logs are being represented. Even though the TMMC exists in the desert, the higher elevations would be forested with Ponderosa pine. It makes sense that anyone building a log structure would use those.
I used Liquitex Modeling Paste to simulate the craggy bark of Ponderosa Pines. Acrylic modeling paste is basically very thick matte medium and is available from most art suppliers and craft stores.
Once the modeling paste was dry, I notched one end to receive another log by cutting halfway down with a razor saw and carving the middle out with a hobby knife.
Then each log is painted with very dark brown acrylics, Raw Umber in this case.
Once the brown dries, successively lighter colors are dry-brushed over the high spots, leaving the cracks and crevices dark. I used Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna and Unbleached Titanium (a tannish white).
Finally, the "cut" areas of the log are touched up with Unbleached Titanium and Raw Sienna, a good match for raw wood. The completed structure will require 27 logs like this.
Each layer or course of logs is a custom fit. However I did create a simple jig to ensure the notches would line up and be a uniform depth from log to to log. The strip of masking tape on the razor saw shows how deep to notch each log.
I loaded a syringe with the paste mixture and applied it like a bead of caulk to the top of each each course of logs.
The next layer is then pressed into place causing the paste to ooze out a little on each side, simulating the chinking.
Here are the first four courses of logs in place. The white card-stock structure is a hidden back-room holding the speaker, wiring and electronics for the sound and lighting effects. More on that in the next update.
Lanterns and Painted WindowsDisneyland's Big Thunder Saloon has a pair of flickering lanterns flanking either side of the doorway and fancy signs painted on the glass windows. I wanted to recreate both of these details on my model.
I used Avery #18660 Clear Address Labels for the painted windows, creating and then reversing the lettering in Adobe Photoshop. The labels were printed out on a Brother inkjet printer.
After printing, the labels were affixed to the back of clear acrylic glassing which was then cut to the proper size to fit the Grandt Line window castings. Reversing the signs allows them to be viewed through the shiny side of the "glass."
And here they are cemented into place behind the window castings. The butterfly saloon doors were built up with layers of printed textures from a photo of actual saloon doors.
After painting, the masking was removed and the round nub from a Lego was ACC'd to the flattened bulb end. This gave me my lanterns.
Small holes were drilled through the facade to accept the diodes and they were pressed into place. I'll show how the lights were wired and spend some time on the rest of the electronics in the next update.
Well, that should about do it for this update. Thanks for following along!
And speaking of following along, I see we've picked up several new members recently and y'all couldn't be more welcome! Just a reminder, if you enjoy step-by-step articles like the post above you might want to go check out the Railroad Line Forums if you're not already a member. I maintain an active thread on Thunder Mesa in the On30 forum where you can see more daily progress. It is also home to some of the finest modelers in the hobby and I learn something new from them just about every time I log on. Great folks and well worth a visit.
Adios for now!
Click here for part III of this series.