…the stars were bright, Fernando…
DB Says: Despite the encroachment of gray hair onto a once fertile dome, I’m a bit young to remember the ABBA craze. But that doesn’t matter because we all know their songs - you could say they’re as popular now as ever. The same could be said for layouts that run around rooms above doors, they’re also as popular as they ever were, which is to say, not at all.
So you may be wondering, dear reader, why a moderately sane person is still flirting with such madness.
Mainly, because it’s the only way I can fit a decent length of track into a fairly small room that has far too many useful doors, windows and wardrobes in it to be an ideal trainroom. As for the viewing problem, I have to admit that Moana, which I’ve fallen in love with over the past 5 years, is only going to work when viewed from standing on a chair. Same with the staging yard, although as I’ve said before, I’m not going to be spending much time in there shuffling identical looking coal trains about.
Luckily however, the midland line (which apparently is now called ‘The Coal Route’™) has your veritable boatload of other scenes that ‘work’ from a low viewpoint – especially the viaducts and clifftop running between Staircase and Cragieburn.
Right, I’m sick of defending my stupidity to you both. Once I have a bee in my bonnet it isn’t going away until it stings me - so lets make some stuff.
This layout is going to be a modular layout (or more properly, 'sectional', I suppose). This way it can move if need be and could be re-assembled at the first USA NZ120 convention or other exhibitions. Most importantly, it will be in parts so the bits can be brought down to a more sensible height to be worked on. This is important, because scenicking it while standing on a stool is going to get old real fast, ergo things are going to have to be light and portable.
As for material, big 8x2 sheets of pink insulation foam are light, strong, seem to do well across ranges of heat and humidity, and they're easy to work with. A public service announcement: MR rag recommends the use of the pink or blue stuff rather than the white bubbly polystyrene which is quite flammable. I bought 2 inch thick slabs for bases and some one inch stuff for backdrops and other bits. A little cutting and gluing later, we have the result as seen in the above picture.
Or from a more accessible height, since foam layouts are so easily moved around:
The plan here (the tracks and other items are just plopped into place to see how things will look) is to make Moana with my favourite curve at the near end, swamp and lake at left, with the station behind it against the backdrop, the trains disappearing under the overbridge to the staging yard. There will be a slight hill where the glue gun is so the viewer will look down into that scene rather than sneaking a look from too close to the hole in the backdrop that leads to the staging yard. In case you are wondering why the main backscene continues beyond that point into the staging yard, its to give strength to the main foam base, which site on only two wall brackets. If you weren't, sorry for wasting a few more seconds of your day.Lets look at a couple of prototype pics to clarify the the intention. Firstly, here's a view (above) from a similar position to the Pink Elephant above. The station building is way in the background.Next, here's a view from almost the same spot, looking the other way - i.e the left half of the module, looking straight across the curve to the backdrop. The trees at left hide the join with the next module. The flax-filled swamp is behind the tracks and will run up to the backdrop to avoid any nasty lake-joins at that spot. Note that the track is on a slight embankment, which I might pump up a few mm to make the train more visible from standing-on-carpet level at this spot.
Lastly, the above pic is an overall shot of the other end of Moana (as seen from above the staging yard) taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and vertically compressed in Photoshop, so the train is missing a few slices. I've marked the relevant features on it and there will be a test in the morning. Not sure whether that made things any clearer at all...