2021 Update

Big change for this year, my wife and I have decided to retire, or at least semi-retire, anyway. We will continue to work a few hours a week until we are no longer needed or until we no longer want to, whichever happens first. I especially like not going to work on Mondays!

So now I have more time to work on the layout, which I have been. I also got a DLP resin printer for Xmas which has been keeping me busy as well. I’m really impressed with the fine detail on the parts I’ve been able to make so far as a novice. All but the conductor were made on my Qidi Tech Shadow5.5 S printer. I modeled everything but the bear and deer using Blender, a free form design package which is available at no cost. The animals were found on Thingiverse.

I have also found a CAD design package called FreeCAD online, it’s free, hence the name. I used Seimens NX CAD software in my other life as a mold designer and it’s not a big jump to go to FreeCAD. It’s a little clunky but quite powerful. Here is an actuator I designed for opening a sliding door on a feedmill that I’m working on. The involute spur gear and rack were designed using an available gear module. I’m using a servo to drive this gear.

It does work, however the jury is still out on how well this material will stand up. I will use an Arduino to control the opening of the door as well as lighting. The application is similar to my turnout control modules, a turnout signal will be received through the loconet bus to operate the door and the lighting. I also have the JMRI fast clock signals available to operate by time of day.

Here is an operating switch stand consisting of the five components below plus a .02″ piece of music wire. The flat piece (actuator) slides in the larger piece (base) with the T-slot and actuates the round piece with a post which rides in the slot in the actuator converting linear motion to rotary motion. The lug on the actuator fits into an existing hole on the Peco switch throw. There is a .04″ pin fitted into the base which rides in the notch in the actuator to limit the travel.

Once the ballast is added, this should blend into the scene well.


In my spare time, I’ve been busy making trees, planting static grass, and painting backdrops. I decided I did not like the look of the backdrop I’d painted previously, so out came the sky blue paint and I started over. Here is the area behind the waterfall. After repainting the mountain scene and tree line, I added some puffball trees along the back. I then added some foliage chunks here and there to improve the look. Not sure I’m a fan of puffball trees.

Next, I added trees, starting at the back with some very small pines made from toothpicks and furnace filter with fine ground foam and small deciduous made from super tree material. I increased the size of the trees coming forward to force perspective and give the look of distance. I plan to add a small cabin back on the hill to help the perspective.

Here is where the river goes off to the left into the backdrop. Although this is difficult to see in normal viewing, I think it came out pretty well.

Here is a tree made using a Woodland Scenics armature with small bits of super tree glued on. This was covered with coarse ground foam followed by Super Leaf material. I painted the armature dark brown and then dry brushed with some gray. It’s about 50-60 feet tall in HO scale. A lot of work, but I think it came out well.

This is an area on the Helix that is not really a helix, finally all the static grass is in place and I started placing trees. I ran out, so I need to get busy and make some more.

Below shows the layers used to create the scenery. Screen to make the basic shape, with one layer of plaster cloth, and then a thin layer of plaster of Paris. I then painted the shell with brown latex paint and while wet added a layer of brown grout mixed with scenic express fine dirt which is further fixed with some scenic cement. Over this goes the static grass. I used 2, 4, and 7 mm light and medium green starting with the 2 and 4 mixed at the back and then progressing to 4 and 7mm mixed to the front. On the “distant” hills, I used just 2mm.

One more area to show is the feed mill and grocery. This scene is not complete, of course. I’ll need to finish the road and parking areas in the foreground, once these are done, I’ll repaint the road in the background to blend in.

Well, I guess I better go make more trees now.

5 thoughts on “2021 Update

  1. Great update, thanks for sharing! That resin printer is really good, I 3D print using a regular plastic printer, and no matter how much detail I crank out of it I don’t think it will ever be as good as resin. If you’re looking for a small business for retirement, you could design your own model RR items and print them, and then sell them on Etsy or Ebay.

    1. Thanks, looks like we’re both at about the same stage in our layouts. I’ve sometimes thought I’d bitten off more than I could chew, but then I realize I have much more time now to spend on the layout. Keep up the good work!

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