Being that it's been a over a month since the last update, I thought I give a very quick one (with no pictures) just show that I haven't disappeared.
Unfortunately, the layout has been halted a number of times due to the college work load and other projects that have priorities (with more on the way). So the layout has sat untouched collecting dust.
After finishing a big concept model that I've been wanting to get done for a long time I'm finally getting back to the layout and getting some stuff done. I'm going really slowly now, as I want to get things done properly and not make any mistakes that I would have to fix again. Although I was planning on doing track work for Cascade Peak, and giving it it's major rebuild, I decided to change gears and get the Rainbow Ridge track installed. This included determining the grade and the tilt for the plywood base for the entire town (the tilt actually hardly noticeable, which is great) and locking it down. Track was tacked down for the load area, which includes the main line and turnouts with a spur line. All wiring for the area was done, so this was a big step to do.
The next thing I'll probably work on is checking the track around Cascade Peak, to make sure it's the right grade level and if I need to make any adjustments or replacements. At this time, Cascade Peak will go under the knife where I'll add and replace more details that will make it more accurate and interesting. Then I'll move into Bear Country which is taking a lot of time to plan out. I haven't determined how I'm going to do animated jumping fish, so I'm leaving them out at the moment, but not out of mind; I could add them in later, so I'm planning on making some removable areas so it's not a big rebuild when I decided to put them in. Same with the Battling Elk, planning them out, but not putting in the animation just yet (I might even have one motor power all the bears, fish and elk, so that will take a lot of careful planning.
Speaking of Bear Country, one of the aspects that has been bothering me is the water. For years I've been using a gloss medium called "Mod Podge" for my water and typically I'll build it up in layers until I get a nice depth effect. Well, that isn't such a good idea, I've been leaving objects on this "water" and they create an imprint that is almost permanent. And when the dust settles on this, it's almost impossible to clean. I've decided to look at other options. In the back of the Desert, I made a pond that is shaped like any other real pond, with a recessed area. Then I took a piece of clear plastic to represent the water surface and laid it over the bottom of the pond. On top of that, I brushed on a thin layer of Mod Podge, and the end result is a very realistic pond which has depth, and since the Mod Podge is thin, it's less susceptible to imprints and dust.
I'm planning on using this technique for Bear Country lake and the Beaver Valley creek. The depth will only be an 1/8", but if I only seal the plastic around the edge, that makes it much easier to take it out and add the jumping fish if I figure that out (again, planning ahead). So once Cascade Peak is done, that's where I'll go.
Although the layout is far from finished and progress is slow, progress is progress.