This is a big project, and I'll be spreading it out over several updates. In this first part, I want to concentrate on the cutting and carving techniques used on the pink extruded polystyrene foam board (EPF). This insulation board is lightweight, relatively inexpensive, and has been used by model railroaders for many years as a scenery base. While building some rockwork for Rainbow Caverns, I hit on a new technique (new to me) for carving rock textures into the foam using a sanding bit in a Dremel rotary tool. I was so pleased with the results that I decided to use the same method on the deep canyon sections of the layout too. It's a little labor intensive, but really no more so than my previous method of stacking foam layers and texturing with Sculptamold. I've got a ton of rockwork to do, so whatever method I choose is going to take awhile, but these EPF canyon walls will end up weighing much less than the equivalent amount of plaster or Sculptamold. An important consideration if I should ever have to move the layout.
Overall view of the Calico and Horse Thief Canyon sections as scenery work begins. All of that space between track level and the bottom of the benchwork will be filled with EPF rockwork.
The Slot CanyonDown below the bridges at Hanging Rock is a deep, serpentine defile known to the locals as Horse Thief Canyon. It's a classic Southwestern "slot" canyon, much narrower than it is wide; the kind often found worming back into the sandstone cliffs of Thunder Mesa country. This particular slot canyon is about 72 scale feet deep but only averages about 12' wide. A perfect hideout for horse thieves and rustlers - as long as it isn't flash flood season.
Slot Canyon near Page, AZ. This is kind of the look I'm after with Horse Thief Canyon.
When complete, the canyon will seem to go on forever since it will be impossible to see the end due to built-in view blocks. At night, the flickering glow of an outlaw camp will be visible just around the bend.
To wrap things up for this installment, here's a step-by-step how-to video on my EPF cutting and carving techniques.
Thanks for tuning in, amigos. Next time up we'll do some painting and finishing of the rockwork in Horse Thief Canyon. Adios for now!