"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 September 2005. In May of 2016, I finally got the layout to a point where I declared it "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.

Progress Report: 12/24/08

Here are the seven new mine cars, all assembled to a certain extent. The next step is to add a few details like the support bars and the seats. Then it's off to the paint shop for a few shiny coats of Boyd Smoothster Yellow. Then the cars will get their electrified wheel sets (except for the last car-shown in the tunnel-; that car is removable).

My goal for my winter break is to get the entire Rainbow Ridge area cleaned up and fully "sceneiked" which includes building a new load platform to accommodate the new cars, rebuild all the buildings to better scale, proportions, and details (I made those 4 years ago!), and the hill behind it should get some work to make it realistic.

Progress Report: 12/15/08

he new prototype car for the new fleet of "Mark IV" mine cars has been completed. The parts for the car have been molded in silicone, and I should start some castings pretty soon. Eventually I'll have a 6 car train where every car is identical! I use to scratch build every car, and that resulted in somewhat accurate cars that were slightly different from one another!

With the smaller car, I can fit more cars at the station, so I'll be able to have an accurate train of 6 cars (technically, that is somewhat accurate, since there were 6 cars on the mine train when it opened in 1956. However, there were seven cars for Nature's Wonderland, so I'll have to make an extra car that can be detached easily, even if the train doesn't entirely fit in the station; to make it totally accurate.)

This photo shows how off I was all these years scale-wise ( I built three generations of these cars at that size!)


Progress Report: 12/17/08

I've started casting mine car parts. While it looks like a lot of unassembled cars, out of the 11 castings, only about 6 are satisfactory.

The hardest parts to cast are the "steel frames", because the brackets are so tiny and fragile, they'll either break or resin won't get in the mold at all.

For those of you unfamiliar with the anatomy of the mine car, the wheels are mounted onto a rigid steel frame. This frame has 6 brackets, 3 on each side that bolt onto the wooden part of the car, which the main body where the passengers sit. While the prototype has its wheels on the steel frame, mine are actually standard HO scale wheel truck that snap onto the bottom floor of the car; the steel frame is just for show, but it's an important detail.

Progress Report: 11/28/08

It has now been a week since I applied the Mod Podge, and its starting to clear up. There are still some white areas which indicate thicker areas, which should be clear in probably less than another week.

I should be starting on the "Mark IV" mine cars pretty soon, so I could finally get a full train. Then I can determine if I need to re-do the desert.

Progress Report: 11/28/08

No, I'm not modeling Nature's Wonderland in the winter with a frozen river! For water, I'm using a material called Mod Podge, which you can get at just about any craft store. When applied, it is completely white. As it dries it becomes clear and glossy. When this shot was taken, it was a few days after it was poured, since you can see some clear areas. It'll probably take about a week for it to become completely clear.

Progress Report: 10/29/08

NWRR #1 is finally complete except for the whistle. This is the most accurate that anyone that I know of has gotten to modeling this difficult in such a small scale off a stock model. You can see the running boards that aren't suppose to be there, but there is a reason why they are. I think its a good "railroady" compromise. The goal for this rebuild is to make the top removable for what ever reason. So if I have a problem or need to oil the motor, the boiler and cab can come off with ease. Also for the first time, the train actually has a operator!

The wires you see sticking out the bottom (sorry for my bad show) will soon connect to ALL the cars that will supply extra pick-up power (thats a lot of pick-up points; 24! ) that will allow for a lot smoother operation, let alone the 90 degree cross.

Yellow is really hard to match. I printed about 20 versions of the tender graphic to get it to match well. Its all trial and error when it comes to doing decals this way. The sand dome graphic was easy since I still had the decal graphics files in the computer and the red paint for my G scale Kimball so I was to get it in one print (they use the same paint and the same color red in the graphics).

Progress Report: 10/27/08

Work has been going on on the locomotive and train. I can't do much on the rest of the layout until I get a full, completed train (That would be a new station platform, possibly redo of the desert, etc.)

A shot of the engine, under construction, you can see where the new scratchbuilt cab will be mounted.

Sides of the new cab, built from scratch. An idea for a new thread could be on model construction techniques, such as here the left cab piece is made of strip styrene, while the part on the right, is made from sheet styrene.

A course in computer graphics is paying off well, since I've been redoing the tender art in Photoshop (Adobe Illustrator would be better for this) from the ground up, since J. Keeline's photo of the tender is not quite suitable for printable (even though I've used it before on older tenders. It is good reference though). It still needs some more work.

Progress Report: 9/4/08

As mentioned before, these are the metal strips in question:

They will become the running boards on the engine. Here is what I have devised; a piece of thin metal (yes, cut from a soda can!) wraps around the boiler and has two styrene running boards on each side. Pins slide through the running board and through the metal strips on the engine. This allows a structure that is thin and can hold its shape, stay in place and be easy to remove for what ever mechanical problems.

Progress Report: 7/31/08

I have recently acquired another 0-4-0 which will be converted into another NWRR. However, after the disassemble, the main frame that holds the motor is difficult to get off. Not risking breaking the new porter, I'm leaving it on, and that means that the metal supports for saddle tank with still be in place. To disguise those, I'll make those into running boards. Sure, those are prototypical to the real thing, but its a compromise that makes somewhat makes sense.

Progress Report: 7/30/08

So it looks like I may be working backwards in the future. After having problems with the 90 degree cross level cross in the Living Desert, I'm considering removing it. My little porters never seem to have enough power to get across the cross with half their power contacts cut off when one set of wheels rolls onto the plastic part of the cross when running at crawling speeds. The only solution is to remove the cross, and re-grade the entire desert which includes ripping up the track right down to the masonite foundation. Then I have to create a new graded sub-roadbed so the track can pass over itself. Though, in such small space, the grades may be pretty tough for the little porter, but we will see when I give myself the green light to do. An ambitious project just got more ambitious!

Progress Report: 6/22/08

Some more work in rainbow caverns:

After looking at some old aerial shots of NWRR, I just realized that the DLRR passed right by the old ride, something that I should include in my layout! However, I don't have room for a track, nor an O scale DLRR locomotive/cars. I guess it will be in the backdrop! Looks like another DLRR Art piece also doubling as a background is on the way! I'm thinking of having the Marsh in its original livery (with "white wall tires"!) pulling the Retlaw cars to be depicted in the background.

Progress Report: 6/18/08

Here is the "new" N.W.R.R. #1, fresh out of the shop. It still needs some more work, like the sand dome details, steam dome in the cab, and the whistle/cord.

Heres what I did to get rid of that pesky saddle tank that is driving everyone that has this Bachmann model crazy:

I took off the saddle tank (duh!). I then made a new smokebox front that was bigger than diameter than the original, and then I glued it right on to the original smokebox. Next, I grinded off the metal strips on both sides of the motor that support the saddle tank, this created a more narrow boiler. Then I wrapped a piece of thin styrene around the motor and glued it to the grinded down strips to create the new boiler. Lastly, I added all the details (Smokestack, sand dome, bell, new headlight, sandpipes, injector pipes). You will need to construct a new cab, or modify the current one, if you want it to fit around the new boiler. In this case I just made the area in the current cab that fits around the boiler a bit bigger. The engine does lose some traction power with out the weight of the saddle tank, but this little porter isn't pulling any long freight trains either, so that was OK.

Here is the first finished area of the layout, a new river of "Mod Podge" has been made, lined with rocks, and tall grass made from fake fur.

After reviewing some drawings of the prototype train, I discovered that I made my cars and tender too big! Even after three generations of mine cars on my layout I didn't catch that! So a new fleet of Mark IV mine cars are planned, which will be smaller leaving more room, so a full six or seven car train is possible

Progress Report: 6/16/08

Here is the new trestle in Bear Country, with NWRR number one pausing on it. For those of you wondering what the On30 0-4-0 Porter looks like on the inside, there you go. The engine is currently under going a major rebuild that will make it more accurate to the prototype, and that includes getting rid of the saddle tank.

Heres a look inside the Rainbow Caverns, it is nearly complete, the water features need a coat of Mod Podge (which is what I now use for water). The more I look at it now, I think I may need to restrict the color palette to just cool colors, especially on the stalagmites/stalactites, They seem a little distracting.

Long exposure shot with the train passing by.

Progress Report: 4/6/08

Not too much progress, but here are some pictures of the train and Cascade Peak.