by Jay Ducharme
(All text and images copyright Jay Ducharme 2018.)
The next step was to sand down the elevation change. I had a belt sander with 36 grit paper. I had never sanded Homasote before. I figured it would grind down similar to wood. But I was wrong. Fortunately I wore a mask, goggles and hearing protection. Dust was flying everywhere. It was as if I had torn open a stuffed animal and dumped all the contents onto the floor. Piles of fluff were everywhere. The belt kept getting clogged. The Homasote did sand down relatively smoothly, but what a mess!
The section that required a different approach was the stretch of grass below kiddieland. There was a pretty severe drop-off, unlike the abutting areas that were sloped up to the midway. I don't recall the actual dimension, but the drop-off was probably twelve feet. The Homasote was a half-inch thick, so I'd be able to recreate only an 8 foot drop (sort of the reverse of my coaster problem). Since I wanted a sharp cliff face, I used a hammer and chisel to sculpt out that area. That took about a half-hour, and the result was a bit sloppy. The Homasote didn't peel up evenly. But the drop-off itself was fairly convincing.
I also needed to sand down the area where I joined the two pieces of Homasote together. One section was slightly higher than another. After another hour or so, I had made progress on sculpting in the slope. The next day I finished it up and used spackling paste to smooth out the rough areas.
Also that next day, I had a breakthrough: while I was tediously hunting through eBay searching for something to use for the coaster structure, I found a vendor that was selling 1/2 inch wide ladders, 8 inches long. Since the coaster height would never get past 4 inches, that would give me at least eight sections of track per package. The vendor had ten available at $4.80 each, and I bought him out. I tracked down the actual company that made them, Horizon Creation 3D, which specialized in war gaming accessories. I was able to purchase the rest of the pieces there (at nearly double the eBay price). So for about $130, I had all the pieces I assumed I would need with which to build the Mountain Flyer! What I hadn't noticed, though, was that Horizon listed the pieces as being 15 mm wide (which translated to about 7/16"). And later I would discover that they were indeed 15 mm.
I bought four quarts of acrylic artist's paint at a craft store: white, red, yellow and blue. That way I could make whatever colors I'd need. I also bought some enamel model paint for when I 3D-printed the rides. Before I began painting, I needed to put spackling over the erroneous footer holes of the roller coaster. When that dried, I created a new jig with the proper 1/2 inch spacing. Then I repunched all of the outside footers. Then I primed the bare wood frame and lip that rimmed the entire model. I planned to eventually paint it grey to match the pavement area.
I also wanted a sense of how much of the grassy areas I would be able to cover with trees. I searched eBay again, and found packs of 20 assorted H0 plastic trees for cheap. So I bought 10 packs, giving me 200 trees. Even though there was a lot of open forested area on either side of the coaster, that many trees would allow me to create fairly dense foliage, meaning I wouldn't have to worry about making the "grass" look real. While H0 would seem to be too large for this model, the trees would actually work out well. The highest hill on the roller coaster would be about 4 inches. There were trees along the Mountain Flyer's course that hung down over the track. The H0 trees were about 3 inches high, so I was hoping they'd work well for that purpose. If I needed smaller trees I could always cut them down a bit. For smaller foliage, I already had a supply of colored lychen from my model railroad stock, and those would make decent hedges for the golf course area.
I began painting the pavement areas, mixing a sort of greyish color and slightly watering it down to thin it out. I didn't want to obscure the markings for any ride positions. As it turned out, even the watered-down paint was too dense. But it covered well and looked good. So I painted around the ride footprints. Since I'd be 3D-printing the rides, I could set the entire piece down over the unpainted area. There were a few rides I couldn't do that with, though: the Tempest, Scrambler and Flying Jets. Those sat directly on the pavement. So in those cases, I used a Sharpie to outline the ride's circumference. When I painted over it, the Sharpie bled through.
Once the pavement was done I mixed up some green paint, tinting it with a bit more yellow than blue, and covered all of the grassy areas. I wasn't concerned with painting over the lines of the coaster, since I already had punched all the holes for the footers. I found that the spacking tended to quickly suck up the paint. So I had to apply more paint to those areas.
Next, I used the green paint to fill in the greens of the mini-golf course, a slow process with a small brush. When that was completed, I then used white paint to fill in all the concrete surrounding the greens. I mixed in other colors to make a sort of light cream and used that for the other concrete areas in the park, particularly the track of the Cutie Caddy.
The last bit of painting was the track bed for the miniature railway. I still wasn't sure how I was going to create the look of the track, but as a base I painted a greyish strip over the entire course. So after a full day of painting, the layout was done.
The next day, I went back over some spots I missed. I also added some texture to the train route. The center of the route was always blackened with soot and oil, so I tried to recreate that. I still wasn't sure how I was going to add the rails and ties. I also painted the concrete pad that held the Sky Ride station. I added the guide rail on the Cutie Caddie track, simply penciling it in. Next to it I added the sidewalk that approached the Clambake Pavilion from the parking lot. Then I cut a tiny piece of wood to simulate the entrance and exit ramp for the Ferris wheel. I glued it in place. When it dried, I'd paint it grey like the pavement (which was its actual color).
I happened to find a coil of stiff but thin steel wire in my basement. I was wondering how to make the numerous railings and fences that surrounded most of the rides; that wire would probably do the trick. A few days earlier I purchased a pack of thin bamboo skewers, which would work well for the vertical posts holding the railings.