Thursday, April 18, 2019

Whetstone Ridge and Sulphur Gulch

Size:  5'x6'x6' tall -- 30 square feet

1. Whetstone Ridge

Whetstone Ridge (1) is a six foot from-the-floor mountain that encloses the helix that moves trains from the staging yard under Ascape up to the West Whetstone Tunnel  portal onto the trestle at Sulphur Gulch (eastbound) or the East Whetstone Tunnel portal  at Professor Plunge (westbound).  Park City attaches to Whetstone Ridge at the left side; Echo Canyon and Ascape engine facilities attach to Whetstone Ridge at the right side.  The front of Whetstone Ridge (2) is adjacent to the aisle entering the railroad.

2 Front Whetstone Ridge
Terrain (See Post 22)

The mountain is constructed by attaching strips of corrugated cardboard together using hot glue to form an armature for the mountain.  Several 1x1 wood posts attached to the benchwork support the top-most part of the ridge.   Vertical cardboard strips are glued to this top ridge and then formed to the shape of the mountain and glued to the benchwork. Horizontal strips are attached to these vertical strips forming a lattice like armature.  The cardboard strips are then covered with cheese cloth painted with diluted white glue to form the terrain of the mountain.  This cardboard armature and cheese cloth are easily modified as the work progresses to form a pleasing terrain for the mountain. The terrain starts at 6 inches above the floor and rises to just over 6 feet above the floor.  The mountain is open at the top, which is not visible to the observer but does allow standing inside the mountain to make repairs on the helix or the scenery on the top of the mountain.

Once the cheese cloth is formed to represent the terrain of the mountain it is painted with a thin mixture of plaster of Paris which forms into a thin shell.  The plaster contains a bit of stucco dye to give it a tan color so that it isn’t stark white.  Once the shell is dry it is covered with a thicker mixture of plaster of Paris.  This material becomes like modeling clay as it dries making it easy to carve.  This stage only lasts for about 15 or 20 minutes before the plaster becomes hard as stone and is very difficult to carve.  The rocks and cliffs are hand carved a small section at a time during this molding period.  Carving tools consist of a small piece of wire brush, several different Xacto knives, some dental picks, and a small paint brush with stiff bristles.  Once the carved plaster is dry it is first spayed with alcohol containing a few drops of India ink. This emphasizes the cracks and ridges in the carved rock.  The whole surface is then colored using diluted (12 to 1) tan latex house paint applied with a spay bottle and allowed to run where it will over the scenery.  When the paint is dry the rocks are brushed with pastel chalks in various earth tones until the rock has a realistic appearance.  The cliffs and rocks are then sprayed with flat lacquer to prevent the chalk from smearing.  Scenery on this railroad is never painted with full strength paint because then the rocks and surface do not look natural. 
Once the terrain is carved, colored foliage is added consisting of small shrubs from Woodland Scenic colored foam, trees from various manufactures, and other scenic details.  Trees are sized to force perspective. The top of the mountain Is covered with small conifer trees with a few aspens.  Lower on the cliffs and closer to the viewer the trees are more to scale.  Around the stream are some deciduous trees and shrubs. Water in the stream and waterfall is Woodland Scenic Easy Water, a plastic substance that melts at a low temperature allowing it to be melted on the stove and then poured in the scenery.  We did encounter one problem, when the hot plastic hits the cold plaster it tends to set up very quickly rather than flowing into place.  The problem was solved by using a hot gun to melt the plaster in place on the scenery causing it to flow.  Rapids are emphasized by painting the plastic with acrylic white paint.

The left side of the mountain contains a tunnel entrance to Park City near where the mountain attaches to the backdrop.  A stream appears to flow from somewhere on top rear of the mountain and makes its way down and toward to top of Katy Falls, a large waterfall falling into Sulphur Gulch, a recess in the cliff in the front of the mountain to the bottom of the benchwork 6 inches above the floor.  The stream itself continue several smaller falls and rapids.  A large scratch built wooden trestle carries the main line in front of this waterfall across Sulphur Gulch to the front side of Whetstone Ridge (Figure 1).

3 West Whetstone Tunnel 

The eastbound main line exits the West Whetstone Tunnel portal (3) immediately onto the trestle .  The trestle is on a curve and a 3 % grade, matching the grade in the helix inside the mountain.  Katy falls is behind the trestle in Sulphur Gulch.
4 Doug's Lake

The mainline crosses at the base of Whetstone Ridge around the front of the mountain (2).  A barbwire fence protects the railroad from cattle grazing on the hill side below the track.  The scenery on this side of Whetstone Ridge contains yellow, red, and orange fall colors to represent autumn weather.  A Doug’s lake (4) is nestled at the base of the ridge behind the Ascape round house.  Some fishermen can be seen trying their luck in the lake. 

5 Professor Plunge

The right side of Whetstone Ridge contains two tunnel entrances.  One is the East Whetstone Tunnel portal that returns the main line to the helix inside the mountain and down to the staging yard under the Ascape Engine Terminal, station, and classification yard.  The East Whetstone Tunnel portal is in a large cirque in the mountain known as Professor Plunge (Figure 3).  Beyond the cirque the Park City branch line enters the Park City tunnel.  This right side of the Whetstone Ridge forms the backdrop for the Ascape Engine Terminal. 


The large wood trestle at Sulphur Gulch is scratch built.  A clear piece of 1 x4 pine was cut into ¼ inch strips on my radial arm saw and then cut into scale size lumber of the sizes require by the trestle using a small 4 in table saw with a carbide blade.  The tunnel portals are Woodland Scenic products. An under-track girder bridge crosses Professor Plunge behind the Ascape roundhouse. 


Whetstone Ridge is lit by LED track lights mounted in the ceiling. 


The cliffs toward the top of Whetstone Ridge are red in color created by mixing a bit of red acrylic in the tan house paint mixture before spaying the upper cliffs.  The pastel chalks used to color the rocks also tended toward the reds.  Behind the waterfall the cliffs are grayer in color representing more hard stone found in lower strata in the mountain, also accomplished by adding a bit of blue acrylic paint to our base spray and emphasizing the grayer chalks in coloring the cliffs.  The result is a very realistic looking mountain and water feature.

Description of Completed Railroad

The AT&SG Railroad mainline is a big loop on two levels.  Eastbound trains leave the staging yard to the helix and exit the helix via the West Whetstone Tunnel portal at Sulphur Gulch, the lowest elevation on the railroad loop. They return to the helix and staging yard via Echo Canyon, the highest elevation on the railroad loop, to the East Whetstone Tunnel at Professor Plunge.  Westbound trains leave the staging yard to the helix and exit the helix via the East Whetstone Tunnel portal at Professor Plunge to Echo Canyon and return to the helix and staging via the West Whetstone Tunnel portal across the trestle at Sulphur Gulch.  There are three branch lines:  The Spring Canyon Coal branch begins at the Spring Canyon junction on the main line just in front-of and below Tennsion; the Tennsion branch loop begins at the west end of the Sage Junction siding and returns to the main just west of the Sage siding; the Park City branch begins at the east end of the Echo siding.

East bound trains enter the loop as they leave the West Whetstone tunnel on to the trestle at Sulphur Gulch in Whetstone Ridge (1). The helix and trestle are a 3 % grade.  The track levels out past the Ascape Engine Terminal (2), Ascape yard (3), Burgess Beef (4) and Farmer’s Grain (5).  It remains level across the truss bridge at Left-Hand Fork (6) and the Hidden Meadow (6) passing siding past the mining town of Clear Lake (7) but then begins a climb in Shaw’s canyon (8) below Roger’s Meadow and the Clear Lake Mine (9) around the end of the peninsula in front of and just below the industrial area on the Tennsion branch (9).  The track passes through the backdrop at the Spring Canyon (10) coal tipple and then levels out again at the Sage (11) passing siding, which is above the mining town of Clear Lake.  As it leaves the Sage siding it climbs again across the trestle above Hidden Meadow and the steel bridge over Left Hand Fork and climbs up past Craig’s logging camp (12) to the Echo Canyon (13) siding above Ascape.  As it leaves the Echo Canyon siding it descends through the East Whetstone Tunnel back to the 3 % down grade of the helix back to the staging yard.  The Park City branch line leaves Echo Canyon via the Park City Tunnel and proceeds past Whetstone Ridge to Park City (14).

The scenery of the Ascape Tennsion & Sulphur Gulch Railroad consists of a series of integrated scenes which will be described and illustrated below.  The Staging Yard is under Ascape and Echo Canyon and does not include scenery.  The numbers in the previous paragraphs identify each of the scenes that will be described in subsequent posts:  Whetstone Ridge (1), Ascape Engine Terminal (2), Ascape Yard (3),  Burgess Beef (4), Farmer’s Grain (5), Left Hand Fork (6), Clear Lake (7), Shaw’s Canyon (8), Clear lake Mine (9), Spring Canyon (10), Sage (11), Craig’s Logging Camp (12), Echo Canyon (13), Park City (14).