Sunday, December 6, 2015

009 Mammoth Cave RR - Layer Cake with Pink Frosting

I snuck down to the basement for about 30 minutes in hopes of getting some quiet time.  Its Sunday, which means the wife likes to yell at the kids all evening.  Its kind of a hobby.  Even the dog is noticeably missing.

We need to start building terrain.  We're going to use the layer cake method where we put on layers of foam to get the desired effect.  The second layer is significantly higher, so we'll use 2" foam.

Using some white paperboard, I'll make a tracing template for the next foam cut.

I lay out the paperboard on the layout and tape it to the side to keep it from rolling up.  A sheetrock square helps me to cut a straight edge with a knife.

After laying the track circle down on the paper and tracing it with a brown marker (for track) I then cut out the canyon part.

I tape the template down to the canyon and to all the sides to keep it from moving.

Using a red Sharpie (why didn't you guys tell me I had been spelling it wrong for years!) I marked all the cut lines for the foam.  I always cut the foam a little big, then trim it to size later with a smaller hot wire cutter or a rasp.

Be sure to mark the "keeper" pieces and the trash pieces.

Once the template is cut, I transfer the cut lines to the foam stock with a red Sharpie.  I'll go back and touch up the lines that were interrupted with the tape.

I cut out the foam layer with the heavy duty hot cutter.   Here is what it looks like.  Notice it is very close to the track line.  Later we'll trim it down and round it off.

The canyon is getting deeper.  A quick hit with a heat gun will smooth this out.

As you can see the top of the locomotive is higher than the foam.  All good until we hit the tunnel!

Later I'll add another stack of foam.   Its quiet upstairs.  Time to sneak by them and get a sandwich.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

008 Mammoth Cave RR - Gorge Time

Once the trains start running, the kids become very interested.  They were upstairs playing until they heard the train.  Luckily, Taylor (age 10 now) is good with the camera, so she took all the pictures while I worked.

I traced the train track on the foam then drew in the second level trackage.  I'm getting ready to cut out the gorge and put on the second tier of foam.

I've been photo bombed by Katie, now five years old and sporting a lollipop.

The camera person just can't be left out, so she shot a selfie, also with a lollipop.

You can see from the drawing that there is a river and a gorge that runs along the center of the layout.  The cave is further back near the tunnel portals.

Using different color Sharpee markers I drew the canyon and the river, as well as all the structures.

The Digitrax unit is on a shelf below the layout, but isn't fastened down yet, so I have to be careful when moving the layout around.

I removed the soldered track and set it over on the Navajo Mining Railway while I work on the scenery.

Everything is drawn on the first level, so now is the time to cut.

I'm using a heat knife that I bought some years ago from Harbor Freight.  It is my second as they don't last long.

This is a slow and boring process.  Luckily the girls keep me entertained.

I pitch the blade at a slight angle to mimic the sides of the canyon.

Once the section is cut (about 15 minutes) then I remove the inside of the canyon and keep for later use as scenery material.

Here is the lower part of the gorge.  Imagine a small pond in the middle with two small waterfalls and lots of large Kentucky rocks on both sides.  Better start making ferns!  I can't wait to show the NMRA guys the Southern scenery.  Everyone here models the Utah rock scenery, which is amazing, but EVERY layout has it.  Thought I'd do something different.

Once the inside part is removed you can see that we have some depth here.  There will be a nice bridge spanning this cravass.

There!  Next we'll make the second level which will be much more difficult and will require a lot of cutting.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

007 Mammoth Cave RR - Running Trains!

I hooked up the Digitrax DCC system to the layout using just two feeder wires.  Let's give her a go!

The locomotive is a bit rusty and needs some work, but its been running for an hour now with no problems or derailments.  The two heavy 20' cars are tracking well out of the box.

What fun to finally have some trains running in my basement again.