Rainbow Ridge continues to take shape and the rough forms give way to finer details. At this point, knowing those finer details now are critical, as going back to fix any mistakes would be a headache and bothersome to fix later. This is the second time Rainbow Ridge has been redone and I plan on not scheduling any rehabs in the future!
This section of the layout is being planned very meticulously from the ground-up, most notably for this month was the wiring for all the lighting. As mentioned in last month's update, the lighting for Rainbow Ridge will have a special difference compared to the rest of the layout. That difference being the flicker effect, generated by some custom circuits utilizing tea light flickering LEDs.
Unfortunately, these circuits require a LOT of extra wiring, as parallel wiring wouldn't work for randomly flickering lights. Each light needs it's own wire running to one of 16 flickering LEDs. They can share the same ground wire. For example, the Load/Unload area for Rainbow Ridge requires 7 flickering lights. In traditional parallel wiring, I would only need two wires if they were constantly lit, or all on the same flicker circuit. Since I want each light to have a unique flicker for a more realistic appearance I'm running 8 wires to the Load/Unload to drive the lighting.
This results in a couple bundles of wiring being fed up, around, and under Rainbow Ridge. Putting in that amount of wiring in now while in this state of construction certainly will make construction much smoother than putting it in later.
While the wiring infrastructure was installed, I finally developed the lights themselves.
While I would have loved to just buy perfectly scaled ready-to-go On30 1800's lanterns, like everything else on the layout, they have to be scratchbuilt. Looking at photos and even existing lights around Big Thunder at the park, I was able to figure out a way to make fairly decent looking lights with scrap material.
The process starts with feeding the wire leads through a piece of .125 square styrene tubing to serve as the post. To give the bulb a slightly more bulbous shape, I applied a drop of super glue, while the bulb was spinning in my drill, for equal distribution. Next I flattened a #6 lock washer and glued that to the top to form the "hat". For the top section I cut a piece of brass tubing. I could have used styrene, but I wanted the metal parts to absorb the heat from the bulb away from the glue. The support arms on the far right light in the photo were formed from a standard office staple.
Next a coat of black paint completed the light.
And heres a test fit on the platform.
The platform itself is the masonite base that was cut in the December update. To create a scaled down wooden appearance, a sheet of styrene wood planking was spray adhesive'ed on. I made sure to keep the plank direction pointing towards the track, as with the real thing.
To make styrene look like wood, countless paint tests were created. Many refinements later, I developed a quick, easy, and very realistic way to make plastic look like timber--using only three colors.
When I get onto the deck sections on the other sider of the tracks, I'll do a tutorial on this paint technique.
When the main section of the platform was complete, The two Load and Unload ramps were made, as separate pieces and attached.
The Unload was a little trickier to do, since the ground was sloped, leading down to Mineral Hall. Before adding the ramp, the masonite ground was put in and the joints filled and sanded.
Here's the unload ramp, given a coat of primer. Unfortunately, despite going slow and careful with each step, I goofed with the main platform, creating an indentation where the two pieces meet. Rather than a continuous curve, there's an inward dent. Luckily, since there is a planter right in front, I'll hid this mistake with a decent size shrub and won't have to redo it. Even with my accuracy and quality anal-ness, sometimes it's not a big deal to let something like this go.
An interesting fun fact: This ramp was later removed and replaced with a section of stair in later years on the real attraction. This was presumably done to increase seating for Casa de Fritos.
Here's a sample railing made of strip styrene. The only revision to be made is the middle horizontal beams, which were made thinner, despite being scale accurate, for aesthetic balance.
That'll do for now. As mentioned early, if more is done for March, it'll be added. "So long!"