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Left over scenery items, spare space, and left over insulation foam,
becomes the basis for a tropical themed HO scale micro layout.
With the left over bamboo, palm trees, and agave plants purchased for my Brazilian Micro Layout,
and a fairly large amount of XPS insulation foam also left over from my Brazilian Micro Layout,
it seemed like a good idea to build another micro pizza layout.
This second micro pizza layout has been in the early planning for quite some time
(ie. just thinking very vaguely about it and wondering what scale and gauge and theme to use on it)
with the Petra Pizza layout positioned on legs,
with a new 600mm x 600mm baseboard under those legs around June 2020.
With the provision for this second pizza layout,
that flat space became a place where many varied items found themselves.
Items like scenery and foliage, tools, wood, etc.
Now I have started construction of this tropical pizza,
by adding the XPS insulation foam to the existing base under the legs.
After I had done this, I had to decide on a track plan.
I didn’t want this pizza layout to be just a plain circle of track like the Petra Pizza,
so I made various track plans in GIMP to give me an idea of the possibilities.
Possible track plans.
So far, I haven’t settled on any of the plans above.
Although I am leaning heavily towards a plan somewhere between plans 4 and 5 above.
Plans 4 and 5 are somewhat inspired by the late Carl Arendt’s ‘Square Foot Estate’ G scale layout.
I figured that if 1 square foot can work for G scale, the 4 square feet should work for HO scale!
The plan so far is to make the layout depict part of a small western Pacific tropical island nation,
where bamboo and agave are grown and exported.
The railway itself will be HO scale, standard gauge like all my other layouts,
and will be operated with Australian outline ready to run equipment
(eg, small ex-NSWGR X200 series 2 axle switcher/shunter and 2 axle open wagons).
What's the idea behind #2? only shuttling back + forth?
Or will this include a grade?
I have always been fascinated by micro layouts....
Maybe some day....
I was thinking the track in plan 2 would all be at the same height.
Basically, that plan would be like a back and forth shuttle,
with the spur to give some extra operating / shunting interest.
Terraforming is the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying something,
to make it more Earth-like, usually to make it habitable by Earth-like life.
It is something that to date has never been done in the real world,
but the concept abounds in science fiction and has done for many years.
A model railway builder engages in a sort-of terraforming when he or she builds a layout.
Especially when when the goal is to make the layout as realistic and Earth-like as possible.
Over the last few weeks I have been engaging in “terraforming” the scenery,
on the HO scale Tropical Pizza micro Layout I have been building.
Before I could do that I had to settle on a track plan.
This is the track plan I finally chose:
The layout started with a blank flat XPS foam surface on top of the wooden base and frame,
and has progressed to having hills, gullies, and other elevation changes, as well as all track laid.
The end result has provided a good base for the next step,
adding ground cover, foliage, buildings, etc.
Here are some photos of the layout as its construction progressed:
You may have noticed a different sleeper/tie spacing between the sector-plate track
(in the quarter circle section in the photos) and the other sections of track.
That is because I removed quite a few sleeper/ties and re-spaced the remaining ones,
to be further apart to give the impression of a lightly built railway.
But as the sector track is basically a section of sectional track,
and I needed the rigidness provided by the piece of sectional track,
so its sleepers/ties were not adjusted.
I tested what rolling-stock and motive power would fit on the sector-plate,
and found that a OO scale Ruston & Hornsby 48DS and two 22' British outline wagons fit.
As they fitted (just), I decided to purchase two HO scale 4-wheel NSWGR S trucks,
which are 18 scale feet long.
This should give me enough room to have a loco such as an X200 NSWGR shunter/switcher,
and two S trucks or trucks of equivalent length on the sector-plate.
I have also been giving some thought to which structures to have on the layout.
There will be a port in one section, and at the other extremity of the layout
(on the opposite side of the hill that runs roughly down the middle of the layout)
I am planning a warehouse with a bamboo plantation nearby.
Something like this.
The building in the above photo might be a bit big for the layout,
and probably doesn’t really fit the theme of the layout,
but it gives the general idea of what I am planning.
I may try scratchbuilding a more rustic warehouse or freight platform,
to better fit the space.
I am also considering the idea of having a passenger train on the layout
(maybe for tourists to the island)
so I may add two small passenger depots to cater for that train.
I have sort of settled on the general idea for the layout now, too.
It will represent a fictional Western Pacific small island nation,
whose main industries are tourism, and bamboo and agave production for export.
But how to justify a standard gauge railway,
when virtually all small island railways are narrow gauge?
The railway on the island is standard gauge,
as the standard gauge railways in Australia, one of the nearest developed countries,
were replacing or decommissioning their older motive power and rolling-stock,
creating a huge glut of those items.
So those railways were considering all offers for purchase, or even giving items away,
which was attractive to the strapped-for-cash small island nation the layout represents.
Being somewhat strapped-for-cash, the small island nation,
may also resort to fashioning some rolling-stock of it’s own, to fit specific purposes.
It's a FIRST ! for me ! ...
... a DOUBLE DECKER micro !!
I like it !
Double Decker C O O L !
If 'basement empires' can be double or even triple decked,
I figured micros could too!
My two 4x1 feet switching layouts (Box Street and Pier 39)
are also double-decked, in a custom built bookcase.
So for me the concept of double-decked micros is not entirely new to me.
Since the last post about my Tropical Pizza layout,
technically probably not really a “pizza” layout, as it doesn’t have a continuous loop of track,
I have been doing a lot of scenery work on it and completed the very simple wiring.
The progress had been slow for quite a while, but in the last week or so,
I have made a concerted effort to get as much scenery done on this layout as possible.
Scenery work over the last week or so has progressed steadily,
and now the scenery is very much enhanced,
and can even be used for photography in most parts of the layout.
I have added foliage, bushes, grass, a concrete port wall, various wooden retaining walls,
larger tropical looking plants, and part of a bamboo plantation.
I have also added ‘character’ items, such as some bamboo sitting on racks,
cars, an abandoned and rusted ute, and general clutter.
I also ordered and received the motive power for the layout.
An NSWGR (New South Wales Government Railways) X200 Class 4 wheel rail tractor,
by IDR Models. website
My wife called it “cute”!
I think the purchasing of the motive power,
was really the motivation for getting the scenery as close to complete as possible,
so I can actually put the layout in situ under my Petra Pizza layout,
and start operating it.
Here are some photos of the rail tractor,
and two 4 wheel open wagons, also of NSWGR origin,
on the layout.
There is still some scenery work to do,
and I have ordered a pack of 27 HO scale palm trees of various sizes,
whose delivery I eagerly await.
I had been wondering what control system the layout will have.
The rail tractor I purchased is DCC ready, but instead of adding a decoder to it,
I wired a decoder into the wiring under the layout, and set the decoder address to 21
(the rail tractor has the number “210”, so 21 is fairly easy to remember).
Instead of buying a decoder and then risk it not working on the layout for some reason,
I removed the decoder from a locomotive that I never use.
This layout would be strictly a single loco railway,
so there is really no need to have a decoder in the loco.
Having a decoder wired into the layout,
will mean I can control it using the same DCC system as my Box Street, Pier 39 and Petra Pizza layouts,
instead of having to connect a DC controller,
independent of the DCC system used for the other mentioned layouts.
DCC decoder wired in under the layout.
After I wired the decoder in, I did a quick test using a H&M DC controller,
to see if the decoder would work with DC (it did),
and then I temporarily attached my DCC system to the layout,
and tested the layout on Channel-21 (it worked too).
Somehow I hear the theme of "Adventures in Paradise" lilting in the background...
(For the youngsters amongst us who've never heard of "Adventure in Paradise",
that was a B&W TV show made around a schooner trading in the South Seas,
"based on" some stories by author James A Michener)
Go to https://youtu.be/tgYDzoSgRXY for a listen.
Or maybe a song, something about a '3 hour cruise' of the SS Minnow that turns soar,
with a certain bumbling side-kick, captain millionaire, movie star and professor?
Tropical palm and fern trees and some people,
add more life to a verdant tropical island HO scale micro layout.
Since the last blog post about my Tropical Pizza layout,
I have received and added tropical trees to the layout.
I also found some HO size people to add to the layout,
adding some much need human population.
As a point of reference,
here is the layout scenery before the trees and people were added.
And here are the same views after the trees were added.
The addition of the trees has made a marked difference in the over all effect.
I guess that’s what happens when around 20 trees are added to such a small layout.
But adding people has also added interest to the layout,
providing glimpses of life on the island.
From the old lady waiting for the next passenger train,
to a cleaner trying in vain to keep the harbour area clean,
to the man trying to convince of the size of the fish that ‘got away’.
To finish off this post, here are some photos of the island’s palm and fern forests.
The $18 spent on the trees in the above photos was money well spent!
A few of the left over palm trees were also used on my
'Brazilian Themed' Micro Layout - 1:87 Scale as well.
In the time since the trees were added,
I have also worked out a train sheet, with a few freight and some passenger trains,
depending on the day of the week being operated.
Operating the layout is quite complicated, as siding space is limited,
and freight cars all have to be loaded or unloaded at the harbour,
which means a lot of shunting is involved.
I am quite happy with this little layout.
It has been a joy to build, and it is fun to operate.
Warm weather and interesting little locomotives,
looks like a winning plan to me.
Looking at that question about plan 2,
it kind of begs to be a corner module on a micro-module layout.
Now that you mention it, it does, doesn't it?
Your mention is the first time I realised,
that plan 2 could also be used as a corner module on a larger layout.
|James Stanford wrote:
Am always happy to lead someone to a rabbit hole,
then run away and abandon them to their fate.