"Howdy Folks! Welcome to the little mining town of Rainbow Ridge, the gateway to Nature's Wonderland"

This is my documentation of my miniature re-creation of the long-gone Disneyland attraction: Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland. This is a selectively compressed model railroad, in On30 scale at 5' X 7.5' that has been in progress since 2005; even after almost 10 years of work, it's still not finished.

I started the layout when I was a sophomore in high school with basic skills and over the years the layout has been improved and reworked in drastic ways to match my ever improving model making skills. In fact, since I started rebuilding the sections to better quality and standards, I've actually created a whole new layout, piece by piece.

This is a stand-by basis project without a deadline, so it tends to hit the back-burner a lot due to other things with higher priorities. But whenever I can, I'll give an update when there is something worth talking about. All of my updates since day one are here, which include photos, videos, and plenty of rambling notes and descriptions.




January 2012 Update

For the first time in the layout's history, something new has appeared that has never existed (and will never need to be redone!): the dinosaur bones.


Using a handful of reference photos, I sculpted the "the sun-bleached bones of an ancient animal" from scratch out of sculpey. Unfortunately, there weren't any suitable toys or models of T-Rex bones that were the right scale, or if they were, the right quality or accuracy. As with anything on this entire project, starting from the ground up was necessary.  Since there were some angles missing that would have been helpful, I researched T-rex bones in general and found proper reference for a few aspects. Of course, there were some discrepancies between modern day research and what the sculptors in the early 60's knew about dinosaurs. Keeping with the era, I stuck with what was in the ride for this project.

Also for the first time, the part of the layout where the bones will go is being developed pass the initial paper mache layer. The last time this section of was touched was three years ago, and that yellowed paper towel foundation was ripped out.


You can see the mess of wired and cables right under this spot. As with new installations, everything is done on a piece of masonite, worked on comfortably at my desk and then fixed into place when scenic work is done. 


Here's the bones on the foam rockwork and the hillside with the first pass of celluclay. This is a test fit, and once all the adjustments are made, the next step is to paint and apply scenery. 


Above is the entire vignette ready for primer and below is the first paint and scenery pass.


Once put in it's final resting place (no pun intended) final washes were applied to the bones and the edges were blended into the nearby scenery. 


Once the scene was installed and the edges blended, scenery work began to "bleed" into other nearby areas, even as much as jumping to the other side of the tracks at the watering hole. 

This small "water feature" in the back section of the desert was first installed almost exactly two years ago when I was experimenting with different kinds of ways of representing water. The method I used was a piece of clear plastic over a sunken hole to represent the water surface. 


As with anything built on the layout over two years back, it was looking rather tired and needed a quality update. 

Lately I've been experimenting with the common model railroad water material: Envirotex Lite. This two part resin cures to a hard, shiny surface and can be layered to create that impressive illusion of depth. After some tests on a few scrap pieces, I decided that this was the material of choice for not just the watering hole, but also all the waterways for Bear Country, Beaver Valley, and even the Rivers of America. 

This watering hole is the first application on the layout to use Envirotex Lite, and refinements will come after this for other sections. 


Since this material is self-leveling, rather than actually pouring the resin right on the model--where I'm unsure of it's slanting--I did the new watering hole on separate piece. The above photo shows the first layer of Envirotex in a foam basin, which will be installed once all the layers are poured and cured. 

The old watering hole was ripped out and the new one was put in once all three layers were poured and cured. 


The bottom left photo shows the new piece placed into position and the bordering areas blended in. Rather than having a glassy smooth surface, mod podge was applied to add a little ripple to the water (and hide the dust).


As soon as that dried, the new watering hole is complete!


It looks even better when viewed from a lower angle!


More than 40 pieces of miniature cacti are ready to be installed. The Woodland Scenics "Scene-A-Rama" kit cacti were given extra treatments like the proper color and highlights before being planted.


I have to say, this area made quite a transformation over the last few weeks. It has never looked better and it further amps me up to keep going on other sections. 


This whole back section, from the dinosaur bones to the faux spur tunnel--the area of attention for the last 3 months--is the result of a lot of new and restored work. Hopefully it will never need another facelift again!


For kicks, here's the same area as it was 2 years, 6 months ago, and as it is now from the same angle, with a total refresh.



Quite a difference, huh?