With school starting back up in the next week (AHH!!) I though I'd get a big chunk of Nature's Wonderland worked on before the week is out. Before I know it, my free time won't be much soon.
The biggest part of the project for the week is the redo of the Living Desert and Rainbow Caverns. This started with a complete tear out of the areas last Thursday.
As I stared at the rubble after demolition, I felt like Tony Baxter tearing down the old Fantasyland in '83 and thinking "what have I done!?".
I soon pressed on, forgetting about the old desert, which wasn't much at all; just a bunch of painted yellowed newpaper paper mache (this is original stuff; from 4 years ago) and some mediocre balancing rocks.
I didn't miss the caverns either; A bunch of over-painted stalagmites and water features that can be significantly updated and done better. Also, the non-removable roof was a major design flaw, something that is a requirement in the future. I also want to change the layout of the water features, making it look more like the real thing; more specifically, like this shot:
I cleaned up, and got ready for re-grading the track.
Now I no longer have that annoying 90 degree cross! This allows for a smoother ride (for the miniature people of course!), a possibility for a two train operation, and its more accurate to the real thing.
Most of the Desert track loop stayed, the only brand new sections are the grade from the trestle to the top of the new tunnel, and from the bottom of the Balancing Rock Canyon, and through Rainbow Caverns to Rainbow Ridge.
Just for kicks, here's the same angle, but from December of 2005:
Both of those shots were taken from the top of Cascade Peak (quite a good tripod if you ask me!)
Despite the new and steeper grades, the train chugs up the hills without a problem, which was a major concern for me. In addition to that, the train now runs a lot smoother, thanks to the extra electrical contacts in the trailing mine cars. (I only electrified two cars even though I was planning on 6 cars to pick up power; I changed that once the two worked well and discovering that installing pick up shoes is a lot of work!)
For the next week, I will be creating the new rock formations and land forms, but mainly starting on a foundation of popsicle sticks, aluminum foil, paper mache, and celuclay. I will soon be back to where I was before the tear-out.
Hey, if Walt can redo his desert in 1960, why can't I, right?
This time, I took more time in researching and figuring out where everything goes (something I didn't do when I first built the layout) It may not look like much, but here is my plan of action at this point.
(The yellow represents the new sections of track, the red represents the old/current track)
In other, more "constructive", news, the new fleet of mine cars are complete, and I am pleased by how they came out.
At the time these shots were taken, the coupler pockets on the cars were not painted, neither were the drawbars.
A close up of one of them: