Author Topic: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout  (Read 15179 times)

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M.C. Fujiwara

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Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« on: August 13, 2011, 01:41:34 AM »
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I've post parts of my construction progress on other threads, but I'd like to "open shop" / hang my shingle here because, well, this place rocks.  Please feel free to make any comments, criticisms, a$$hat snide asides, etc.  I'm very interested in hearing how I can improve my modeling (without breast implants ;) ).  It's a bit to dump at once, so cheers to whomever actually reads all the way through it (and these are the highlight!)

Since earlier this year I've been working on a table-top 23"x41" N-scale layout based on the cannery industry along the Columbia River (Oregon) in the early 1900s. 

The layout started as a "chunk" from an old layout that screamed "don't chuck me out!" as I was staring at it in the garage. I have a specific future layout in mind, and so I thought this "chainsaw" would allow me the opportunity to develop certain skills: handlaying curved & three-way turnout fixtures, scratchbuilding structures such as mines, canneries, wooden truss bridges, ore unloading docks, various pines, etc.

Funny how the temp layouts soon become time- & skill-sucks on their own! The layout that was supposed to be done in a couple of months is now, after 9-10 months, almost 1/2 way done!

So bear with me as I post the construction highlights of the last year.

Here's the original piece recovered from the previous layout:



It already had that section of foam knocked out, but it seemed to scream "waterfront!"

And here's the layout design [or, the latest version] I came up for it:



 Was thinking "table-top", so included adjustable feet on the corners.

Planning on DCC, though everything wired for DC as well (a few sidings / spurs).

Initial layer of foam, supports for the fascia, roadbed:

 



 Notice the space created for the NCE DCC panel.  The wiring all goes along the channel cut out of the bottom of the foam.  16AWG bus wire, with 22AWG feeders.  There's also a separate bus for all the lamps / LEDs that will (eventually) illuminate the structures.

And then piling on the layers of foam for the mountains, assisted by by 9-year-old daughter:



 [Initially thought I'd have a storage track inside the mountain (thus the cut), but quickly abandoned that idea]

Cork roadbed, attached with caulk.

[cont.]

M.C. Fujiwara
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M.C. Fujiwara

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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2011, 01:44:28 AM »
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Although freelanced, wanted to have a few Columbia River signature scenes in there.

The Cannery:



The river-side trackage & tunnel:



Given the tight space, I handlayed the curved turnouts in fixtures of multiple turnouts:



 That's about a 9" radius at its tightest.

 And used "great stuff" to foam the mountains together:



[Great for simulating nuclear waste disasters!]

I would not use Great Stuff again: caulk, though it takes longer, is easier (after drying) to work with. Great Stuff is way more airy & files / shapes significantly different from the foam.  It also takes paint differently.

[cont.]

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M.C. Fujiwara

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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2011, 01:48:48 AM »
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Had to handlay a 3-way turnout, and had to figure out how to power at least one of the frogs:



[the slide switches are gorillaglued under the styrene bases & stick up through the throwbars]
[later I figured out how to make a styrene "cradle" underneath for the slide switch to snuggle into so all tension isn't only on the glue]

I'm now in the process of going back and rebuilding all my turnouts with slide switches to power the frogs.

Built up the harbor area with a basswood retaining wall:



 And carved a stone retaining wall / bridge abutment directly out of the pink foam:

 

Scratch built the approach trestle & howe truss bridge from basswood:


 
Basswood.  For my "protolance" plan I took an old HO "A-frame" plan from a mid-90's MR, shrunk it down and trippled it: fit perfect!

[cont.]
M.C. Fujiwara
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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2011, 02:20:09 AM »
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Here's the finished structure (minus fire barrels and the code 40 guard rails) installed:







Also scratched a small ore/coal unloading dock:



Those are Randy Gustafson's fab V&T ore cars lookin' good on the dock.

Still need a crane / hoist & lots o' clutter on there.

Started scenicking in the gorge:



Plaster rock molds, paint, dirt, ground foam, & pine trees.

There's no backdrop or board used as a scenic divider: the mountains in the middle (5-6 layers of 2"foam plus 3"-5" pine trees do the trick!)

[cont.]
« Last Edit: August 14, 2011, 07:25:40 PM by M.C. Fujiwara »
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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2011, 02:56:55 AM »
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[Doesn't seem to like me posting pictures any more. Blew up my last ones, too.  Will try again tomorrow]
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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2011, 07:23:20 PM »
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The trees are Ace twine fiber between Michael's floral wire twirled in a drill, spray painted grimy black, & then hairsprayed with WS "conifer". You can still see the twisted trunks, but I need 300+, so only the outer trees will get real trunks in the end.

Started scenicing the main mountain / scenic divider:



 And then got my daughter into making trees:



 I figure she can make 5,000+ before she "earns" her driver's license!

Ballasted with cinders, then poured some tinted Magic Water:



 Needed a couple of thin pours to plug up all the leaks!

But turned out fine.

Magic Water leaked (a wee bit) through blue-tape dam:



 [cont.]
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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2011, 07:36:25 PM »
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Then Modge Podge Gloss (with one layer of matte at the bottom) created the moving river effect:



Started building up some fab 20T coal / ore car kits from Republic Locomotive Works (have to modify a bit, as the kits are Nn3, but work great on N when done):



But, after reaming out the bolster pin hole, don't push too hard down on the pin:



Fixable, or will become part of mine scene as discarded car.

Trees, more trees, polyfiber, groundfoam, more trees, static grass, some chopped moss for texture & more trees:



 Still need many more textures (at the very least mix up some different static grasses): bushes, some sand or gravel, weeds, etc.

[cont.]
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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2011, 07:40:09 PM »
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JV models watertower, new weathered Ten-Wheeler:



 For the BMann Ten Wheeler, I reamed out a little more space in the front and installed MT905 Z couplers:





They just slide right in, and look moocho better. I also swapped out the stock tender (with it's "dual decoder") for a Spectrum Small USRA tender with a DZ125 decoder:



 The smaller tender looks better (IMHO) and the DZ125 performs much better, especially at slower speeds.

[cont.]

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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2011, 07:51:14 PM »
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Building a 18-ton Climax from a "Kato Kritter" chassis and one of Randgust's fab resin Climax kits:



It's a good thing I got two Kritters when I did, as I pretty much destroyed the first: playing too much with the contact strips & cutting away too much to install a decoder under the chassis. At least now I know what to do!

Firewatch trail scene over tunnel:



Looks like Vern forgot something down at the town (hint: he's only got 1/2 of the "pack horse").

Daughter doing switching ops before I started ripping out some turnouts to power the frogs with slide switches:



 Here's installing the new fixture (straight & curved turnouts built as one, each with slide switch under styrene base to power the frogs):



Given that I'm using smaller, earlier steam, powering the frogs turned out to be the smart way to go.
(Will never go back to dead frogs again!)

[cont.]

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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2011, 08:00:21 PM »
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Right now I'm building a single-engine shed with blacksmith shop:



Will have lit roaring forge & interior lamps when done.

On site:



Still need cedar shingles, forge, machinery & lamps.

At X2011 in Sacto found a groovy old Kato (C50) that somebody tricked out into a D&RG steamer, though still with whack tender:



Put in a DZ125 decoder. Runs groovy. Will swap in an Atlas mogul or other tender soon (3-axle tender not happy with tight turns!)

Otherwise, here's how we're looking so far:



Not sure if I can embed a video, but here's a short video of dubious camerawork but it does give some sense of the layout as a whole. Well, the waterfront side, at least:


Still need a lot more trees! (and a firewatch on top, and a cannery, and a coalbin, and a mine, and.........)

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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2011, 08:04:51 PM »
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Since the layout is so small, I'm trying to take the time with the details.

And I really need to get a decent camera and an extra light for photography.
My ancient Japanese pocket-size is about to give up the ghost, and right now my "photography lighting" is just opening the garage door:





 And here's without the garage door open:



So hopefully new camera & spot light soon.

Having the cannery will help with the composition as well as giving the trains something to do!

[cont.]
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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2011, 08:10:39 PM »
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New Camera!  Woot!

Not much work on the layout: been staining some shingles (roofing) for the engine shed, got some WS foliage clusterclumps and started planting some non-pine trees (FINALLY!) at the lower levels. (You can still see some T-pins holding them up as the glue dries). Still need moocho more of all kinds of trees, but it's nice to see some variety & more textures showing up.

I also moved my layout to a small piece of benchwork against the garage wall: need the workbench space for the "summer shunting shelf project" my daughter & I are working on, and it has better lighting for photos.

And the big news: new camera!
One I can actually control the focus, aperture & shutter speed on!

So while the first shot is handheld & full auto, the rest are long exposures with (FINALLY!) some depth of field. Yeay!
And since my tripod is at my parents' house (until tomorrow), these were taken with the camera sitting on the layout or another table.









 

[That last one is to get a sense of how small this little layout is: I keep forgetting myself!]

Ok for first shots: can't wait to figure out the camera & get the tripod (and maybe a halogen spotlight).
Time to stay focused!

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M.C. Fujiwara

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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2011, 08:14:48 PM »
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 Picked up the tripod today, waited until there was some good sunshine filtering through the garage door (was overcast this morning), and then went more nuts with my new camera. I love aperture adjustments, shutter speeds, depth of field, tripods, and the 2 second timer that allows me to press the shutter button without rocking the whole thing.

So bear with me here. You've seen this stuff before, just not almost all in focus!

Ten-Wheeler (still minus traction tires) pulling 20 ton coal cars across the bridge:



The late-freight pulls into Mt. Coffin at Twilight (hmmm... that sounds like a good idea for a book):



20 ton coal cars dumping their load:




4-6-0 pulling a slow freight of Swift cars over the Columbia River:




Movin' out!




Thanks for bearing with me as I go a bit bonkers with my new camera.

I promise to only post pictures of additions / progress from now on.

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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2011, 08:17:20 PM »
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Been experimenting with coloring cedar shingles.

Before I glue them to the single-engine shed & blacksmith shop (next to water tower in previous post), I wanted to try them out on another structure, which left the only other one on my layout so far (& my first styrene scratchbuild): the coal unloading dock shed / office.

I had already printed out shinglish patterns on regular paper & glued it to the styrene subroofing:



Which looked ok, but flat.  I added the stained shingles to one side:



Took an exacto knife blade & slipped it under the rows to pry up a little 3-D.  Looks alrighty.  Might need a little bit of powder or drybrushing (or anything else people suggest).

And a pict showing the team track.  A small freight house will go where the truck is whenever I get around to building it:



And this top-down view shows where the cannery will go.



Really need to mock that up to get a sense of space.

Thanks for looking.

« Last Edit: August 14, 2011, 08:19:28 PM by M.C. Fujiwara »
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Re: Mt. Coffin & Columbia River - 23"x41" layout
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2011, 06:25:59 PM »
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MC, just wow man! Thanks for sharing, it's looking really good!  ;D
Sawyer Berry
Clemson University graduate, c/o 2018