Posts Tagged ‘Mines of Xenon’

Mines of Xenon scenery and rock work

The next step is to knock out most of the scenery. I finished the big mountain that contains the mine the same way I did the diorama. I stacked the 2 inch extruded foam and cut it to shape to allow for the three tracks that go through the mountain. Again, I didn’t smoothe the edges, but left it rough cut to suggest a terrain like a quarry.

Mines of Xenon Sculptamold makes bed channel and terrain

I dug out the slime pit and stream, then sealed the bottom with patching plaster to give some texture and hide the plywood grain. Then I covered it with Sculpamold to smooth the banks to give some texture. I glued down some small rocks (“talus”) to simulate the rocky planet surface. The extruded foam has score marks every 16 inches, so I covered those with plaster as well. The whole thing was painted Peking Orange and then weathered and blended with various ruddy shades from rattle cans. I even created a bit of a cave on top in case there happens to be a spider robot that needs a place to hide!

Inside the mountains of the Mines of Xenon model railroad. Some final clearance work and painting still needs to be done.

The bottom of the stream was painted various shades of green starting with bright on the outer edges and then blending towards black in the center. I’ll add some reeds and debris in the next step.

Mines of Xenon scenery and sub-terrain turbo station under construction

I needed a little more room at the end where the turbo station is under a hill, so I extended the passenger (white) track another couple of inches. Two inches is a lot of room when you’re making an underground tunnel! I also deconstructed the Turbo Train power section and moved the connector parts under the layout and fed power to the track with standard feeder wires. The result looks much better.

Mines of Xenon work vehicles from Matchbox Jurassic Park 5-pack

And I got some new work vehicles suitable for the environment. Jurassic Park? Who cares! Fun!

Next we’ll finish detailing the slime pond and creek bed and pour the resin.

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Work has begun in earnest on filling the swamp. I had already coated the bottom with joint compound, sanded and painted it. Light green on the outside, blending to a black in the middle represent depth.

I had also fashioned a couple of industrial pipes from PVC and a prescription pill bottle and added toxic drainage. A how-to video by Wyloch can be see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S07hHjXgd60

Now it was time to add some detail to the area. I cut a dollar-store toy dinosaur in half for the “swamp monster” emerging from the pool of blech at the waterline. Paintbrush bristles and Noch static grass were glued in to represent whatever type of wild reed grows on Xenon 3. I also added part of toy dinosaur skeleton tail.

Next I poured the resin. About 20oz of both resin and hardener were enough to lay down a layer of about 1/4″ inch thick. I let it cure and harden at least 48 hours.

Next comes the magic. The resin dries incredibly clear. Every fault from the plaster and paint can be clearly seen.  The resin, as poured, needs some texture and color variation to get the light to play and bounce. This can be achieved by adding some acrylic paint to the resin pour, but it was too late for that now (note to self: add some color to the resin next time. Fluorescent or glow in the dark?)

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I remembered technique of making water of nothing but coats of Mod Podge by long time Model Railroader Magazine contributor Dave Frary. The effect is stunning and explained on Dave’s Youtube page here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnOE-qWhGVs

Even though the effect of building up the coast of Mod Podge is amazing, the bottom layer of paint also counts for a lot as well. Again, a lesson for the main layout, but now time to start laying down the layers. As the video states, blotching is key. Thicker layers are better, but tend to cause air bubbles, which destroy the effect.

This is a fun task where you can get a little help from your assistant. You can do at least 1 coat a day, two for the thinner ones.

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On the backside of the diorama, which is the underground sub station, I started placing in the various elements, The platform and bulkhead are basically finished. I tested coloring the ties white to differentiate the passenger line. I made some other pieces out of sci fi gaming textures from the Internet. I still need to add some details to get a grungy, sci-fi, post apocalyptic feel, as well as a futuristic train or locomotive, low level lighting, and passengers on the platform.

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Over on the main layout, it is time to start laying track. I have put in place the cornerstone pieces (basically the switches) which will key the placement of the rest of the track. There will 5 electrical blocks (standard DC block wiring), so I mocked in some curves and identified where the feeders will need to be.

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I drilled the holes and will start laying the track for real next week. Soon trains will be running on the Mines of Xenon!

 

20170705_180832Yes, OK, so it is Xenon 3, not Mars, but we are having a practice go at a making foreign world. I used the left over 2×4′ section to start making up a diorama that will resemble the final Mines of Xenon train layout.

I wanted to get some practice using the extruded foam (XPS), shaping it, painting it and working with it in general. Also wanted a trial run at the slime pit swamp. That will give us some training using the planned resin as a medium for making the swamp. We’ll work on the color scheme and scale.

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Eventually, on the diorama, we’ll also build an industrial building to scale and map out the mine structure, as well as textures for raw materials. But that is still to come.

On the main layout, I think I’ve decided on a track plan. I wanted lots of features, but when in doubt, keep it simple. The Tyco Turbo Train runs on (magnetic) steel track, but had some trouble traversing turnouts since it essentially a slot car mechanism. (Have I said it is lots of fun, though?). So I made a simple loop to go around the perimeter of the benchwork.

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The mining branch is another independent loop with a passing siding on one end through the mountain. That allows for an empties/loads operating sequence. There are also two spurs which lead to the barracks and freight depot. All curves are 18″, number 4 turnouts, code 100 rail, with 5 block sections.

I’m not happy with the support, so first thing is to shore that up with a benchwork frame made of 1×4″ dimensional lumber. We’ll do that in parallel as we continue to work on the diorama.

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