Building Mountains

I finally finished all of the track laying, track wiring, and turnout controls. I still need to finish wiring my signals, dwarf lights, and end stop lights but I decided to start on my mountains over the holidays.

I planned on building a wood structure to support the shell, cover it with chicken wire, cover that with mortar soaked sheets and then build up mortar to finish. I did this because it is a large mountain (actually two) and I need to access the trains beneath.

I built the wooden structure to mimic mountains but we added and changed as it progressed. I then added the portals which I purchased from Bridge Masters (www.bridge-masters.com).  I am leaving the back of the mountain for access. I also plan on having plants (dwarf trees and cover) on part of the mountain to model a real mountain.

The Holidays were great because most of my children were home and they all helped out.


img_0627I had previously this fall put 4×4 posts cemented into the ground and build up the mountain structure.  We added side supports and then installed the chicken wire for the large mountain.  We stapled the chicken wire to the wood support and tried to create mountain caverns, peaks and other features as best we could with the chicken wire. We then started on a small section on the large mountaintop to add the mortar. We mixed the mortar to gravy consistency   Cut sheets in strips. Then soaked the sheets in the mortar and laid them on the chicken wire. We found by soaking the sheets in water first they absorbed the mortar better. After some experimentation we found that larger sheets worked better. The larger sheets bunched up at places but applying another layer of mortar made it look more like mountains.

It probably will take 3 coats of mortar to get the mountain to look like a mountain but we will have to experiment.  I am also building a waterfall and river from the mountain.  Same process just using mortar to create the bed overlayed on chicken wire and mortar soaked sheets.

I have also built in the ability to install a ski lift from the base to the top of the mountain.  I had to create smaller hills in front of the mountain and I have the ski lift following the side of the river.  I also plan on sculpting the river to wind around rocks and other mountain features.  The ski lift will come later but if I didn’t design it into the mountain, it would be a lot harder to install later.  I also built in places for structures on top of the mountain, like a mountain chalet or a ski hut for the future.

For the waterfall, I am planning on installing color LEDs behind the water.  Waterproof LED strips are very reasonable and come with some great controls.  Hopefully I will get the Niagra Falls look when completed.  The water fall will have to be adjusted based on trial and error.  Once I get the first coat on the waterfall and river, I will try the water feature and see what needs to be adjusted.  I want a nice drop for the water but little to no splashing on the track..

Another feature of the mountain will be trestles and bridges on the track in front.  The trestles will come right up to the tunnel entrance on the one side and will be will hopefully really set off the mountain and the river.  The trestles and bridges are being made up by Bridge Masters for me now and I will install before I put the final features on the mountain to make sure everything fits in.

I also plan on installing either a flour mill or lumber mill powered by a water wheel around the river.  This will be another future enhancement.  I like to plan out the future enhancements and build them into the layout where possible otherwise it is a lot harder to add these kinds of features later on.

Still a long way to go but making progress !

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