Work Continues

This month work is progressing on the WVR, a little slower due to the nicer weather outdoors, though. I just finished installing five turnouts and the associated decoders and servos a couple of weeks ago. The four that are on order for the main line through the yard on the south side along with another 25 pieces of flex track will allow me to connect the main line as a continuous loop.

Last week I assembled the last eleven turnout decoders that I have circuit boards for. Looks like I’ll need to order some more raw material as I’ll need some more of these. I also need to modify my design for the semaphore decoders to accommodate two servos for the double head semaphores I will be installing on the entry to the four passing sidings from each direction.

Work has begun on the scenery for the non-helix (nolix?) on the west end. I have tried a couple of variations in the past – plaster of paris directly on aluminum window screen carved into rock shapes and paper towels dipped in hydrocal over cardboard strips with hydrocal shell and hydrocal rock castings. I’ve found the hydrocal sets up very quickly and creates a strong shell.

This time I am using screen over plywood spines along with some expanded foam in places for the supporting structure. I am using plaster cloth over this and then plaster of paris rock molds and shell with some hand carved features. I like the longer working time and the ability to carve and shape plaster of paris, even after it is set. I also think plaster of paris takes a wash better as it is more porous. I am starting from the inside and working outward with this process.

I used a mold from Woodland Scenics to cast some tunnel walls and I’ll use Woodland Scenics random stone portals here. I am adding the support structure and the facia as well. Due to the large amount of hidden track on this side of the nolix, I am also cutting some access holes in the facia. Hot melt glue seems to hold the screen wire pretty well.

My first experience with the plaster cloth has gone very well. It’s a little more expense, but faster and way less messy. I have some of the cloth from several sources, so far I am impressed with the Scenery Express product. It is noticeably heavier and one layer of this material is as strong or stronger than two layers of the other two types I’ve tried thus far.

There will be a lot of rock work in this portion of the layout with several steep rock faces and a multi-level waterfall which will cascade down ending at the front of the benchwork. I watched a Luke Towan and a Woodland Scenics YouTube episode and got a little carried away here, but I’m going to give it my best effort. I’ve decided to dive in here and get this area done so I can put the bridges and track back in. First step was to remove the bridges so I can have access without destroying everything. I’ve modified and glued the main fall area and am working on screening the mountainsides and developing the creek bed. It looks a little messy right now.

The double tunnel portal is in place, this is a Chooch product and matches the bridge piers already in place. I’ll finish the screen work and start covering this with plaster cloth. It should start looking better soon.

More to come…

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