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    • August 27, 2018 4:00 AM EDT
      • Kailua, HI
         
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      Saddled with Mountain of a Project

      Well, it is time to put my lava rocks and dirt to use before the latter washes away into the yard!

       

      Oldest Daughter and I did some of that today turning this:

      Into this:

      If I may brag, she did the rock fitting.  I was just the muscle.

      We have some finishing work to do in this area, which gives me time to ponder the next project, connecting our two mountains with a lower saddle.  Like this project, I need some "mass" to make the tunnel complex look less spindly.  When the impatiens come in, this serves a the required visual block.  I wanted to do something a bit bigger to make the mountains as whole look like part of bigger range.

       

      I have to recycle and older photo to give a sense of the space, please forgive me.  Roughly, the saddle has to connect the tunnel masked by the avocado tree (the Dudestep Range) with the mountain on the right (Hell's Mountain).  You can see our tram pulling a long string of minis in that area:

      Primary viewing angles for the Triple O are the lanai, off stage left, and the grill area, off stage right (Find the B'mann 4-6-0 and follow it to the caboose.).   Folks usually go from the lanai to the grill, where we set up a fly, then follow the track around behind Hell's Mountain where we have our rosemary forest.  This gives a not so impressive view of the Dudestep's spindly construction.  It probably only bothers me, but still...

      The plan is to use half hollow tile along the backwall, then shape the front with lava rock.  The issue is the tunnel itself.  I am thinking about using the same technique I used for the Dudestep, namely half hollow tile topped with concrete paving stones then stacked liberally with lava rock and broken concrete, but I want to avoid that spindliness.  Space is also an issue, and I am even wondering if this will work.  The one option I am weighing is using some sort of plastic material, like decking, creating a false front, scoring it to make it look like a wooden portal, and fixing that to the tunnel supports.  Since the back wall is the garden's backwall, I don't think it'll make it too boxy, but I welcome your opinions.

       

      For the life of me, I cannot find the actual planning photos I took, but, for fun, and to give a sense of the space constrictions, I offer the challenge...Make a tunnel that can hold Fort Union and allow 1st Section, Battery B, 2nd US Artillery to drill in safety:

       

       

      I'll have some better planning photos up later this week.  

       

      Start date for this project is probably Labor Day Weekend.

       

      Thanks as always for your help, and have a great week!

       

      Eric

    • August 27, 2018 8:55 PM EDT
      • Streamwood, IL
         
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      Very nice Eric, sounds like a lot of work, but you've got a lot of help from the kids.

       

      Field Artillery, hmmm, any chance you were stationed at Schofield?

    • August 28, 2018 1:00 AM EDT
      • Kailua, HI
         
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      Mike,

      No, I am retired Navy Reserve, but half of my 10+ years of active duty and all of my Reserve units were Pearl Harbor area units.  My knowledge of US Field Artillery come from an interest in the Civil War I picked up along the way, an interest that led to closet full of blue wool, I might add!

       

      Eric

    • August 28, 2018 1:07 AM EDT
      • Kailua, HI
         
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      And now, for some more useful photos...

      The first is an overhead that defines the area for the saddle and future home of Fort Union:

       

      The following shows the "back" of the Dudesteps.  This is where the track curves out of our "forest."  You can see what I mean by "spindliness" of the Dudestep's tunnel complex.  The saddle will hopefully have a lower portal to hid that a bit and to better separate the "back" of the Triple O from the "front."

      I am probably going to proceed on the half hollow tile model with a false front scribed to look like a wooden portal, but I am open to suggestions.  I should mention I do not intend to connect the Dudesteps to the new saddle, as I want access to retrieve the inevitable derailed car, lost toy, or stuck kid.

       

      Thanks!

      Eric

    • August 28, 2018 6:15 AM EDT
      • Chaco, Paraguay
         
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      very interesting.

      but that content smile of your daughter beside "her" rocks made my day.

      ____________________________________

       

      My Chaosplace ->  

    • August 30, 2018 1:27 AM EDT
      • Kailua, HI
         
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      Korm,

      It made my day, too!

       

       

    • August 30, 2018 1:31 AM EDT
      • Kailua, HI
         
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      OK, one thing I am NOT going to do is the "rocks around sprinkler system valve box" method.  Those things are over $40, and ,while solving the issue of the tunnel's core, they would not solve the portal issue.  Also, "elephant trunk" drain pipes do not seem to be available locally, so that is out.   Back to pondering bricks and half hollow tile.  

      It looks like it is going to rain this weekend, so I can blame that for the project's delay.

      - Eric

    • September 2, 2018 8:05 PM EDT
      • Kailua, HI
         
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      Update:

       

      Following the advice of the late Tom Trigg to "Get outside and get dirty," Oldest Son, Kid-zilla, and I looked to test fit some things.  There is a point where pencil and measuring tape just won't work.

       

      First, I thought I'd share another design constraint besides safety of Battery B.  Kid-zilla aptly demonstrated the minimum weight loading:

      On a more serious note, I want to minimize the use of hollow tile and concrete, as those square edges can be tough to hide.  Naturally, my rocks are just...too...small...to span the tracks and just to thick to allow positioning between the tracks.  These rocks are also salvaged items, which adds some placement opportunities and challenges. Some of the concrete provides smooth(ish) surfaces if oriented one way and visual blights if oriented another.  The test fitting tried to maximize the former and minimize the latter:

       

      The LGB "bobber" caboose is our tallest piece of rolling stock, so it is a good test car.  Yes, the rock fell on it.  Kid-zilla moved into the shot in pursuit of the caboose, and I am glad he pushed the rock to his right.  Lesson learned, and neither he nor the caboose suffered injury.

       

      You can see from the other photo, though, that I am probably going to have to use about 6 pieces of half hollow tile, 1-2 along the retaining wall, 2 about where the bulldozer is, and two just starboard of the bulldozer.  I'll have to mount these on bricks to raise them in line with those on the retaining wall.  This will make a nice, square base for the concrete tiles that'll roof it.   We've gotten pretty good at scoring concrete to look like "cuts," and we found concrete rubble mixed with concrete is effective in patching holes.  The trickier part, as with the "Dudesteps," will be blending those concrete caps into the mountain and leaving enough of a mini retaining wall to hold soil for plants.  I may choose to leave the top of this saddle bare...all that artillery drill, you know.

      Finally, I thought I'd close with a reminder of the value of another pair of eyes.  I had a particularly large, concreted, and painted chunk of rock I though useless absent chisel work.  Oldest Son saw a bandit camp, had me hoist it in position, and the results are below:

      I actually like that band of blue in there...Maybe a copper vein?  At any rate, we will concrete this rock in place, as it also added to that sense of "the train turns for a purpose beyond running out of garden" and helped to visually integrate the scene by isolating it from the yard.

       

      Tuesday is my hollowtile, bricks, and concrete run!  Until then, Happy Labor Day and Aloha!

       

      - Eric

       

       

    • September 2, 2018 9:52 PM EDT
      • Peoria, NW of Phoenix, Arizona
         
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      Eric we are having the same struggles, I am trying to integrate a tunnel that kind of ends abruptly and make it look normal and am having very little luck right now, looks like you are having good success , maybe I need to have kidzilla come and help me !! Good job and keep the updates coming 

      This post was edited by Pete Lassen at September 2, 2018 9:54 PM EDT
      ____________________________________

       

      Butt Modeler #2

       

       

    • September 6, 2018 1:30 AM EDT
      • Kailua, HI
         
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      Pete,

      Some of the issue is an "own goal."  I made a decision in initial planning, thinking two separate loops would be simpler than using reversing loops.   This really took up space I never thought I would "need" later for sidings, landscaping, buildings, etc.  The other part was the allocation of resources.  Shockingly, on an island made from volcanic action, lava rock is EXPENSIVE!  Rather than making two mountains, the Dudesteps and Hell's Mountain, I should have use all the material to make one big one.  Live an learn...Part of the fun of this hobby as we complete our fifth year of participation are the "real" engineering and economic choices and then learning to accept or modify the consequences.  But I digress into things philosophical...

      I purchased the concrete "core" last night, taking advantage of being at Lowe's at 2030 (local) to actually stack it all up in the aisle way.  We will use construction adhesive to fix caps to blocks as we did before, but not before making sure our biggest locomotive, the LGB Mogul Nuernberg (Long story on the name...), can pass pulling a combine, coach and caboose with room to spare.  I have observed from multiple sources the "biggest" piece of rollingstock tends to be the "biggest...at this moment" so I'd rather err on the side of caution.  My skills with the saw are limited, but a bad portal is easier to correct than a concrete and lava stone tunnel!

      The other issue is avoiding that abrupt end look. I think the lava rocks with their irregular shapes will be the key here. The choice will determine the placement of the "core" up and down the tracks; however, the limited lateral space between the 4 lines of tracks will be the determining factor in stone choice.  If the trains cannot fit, the look of the mountain / tunnel complex will be irrelevant. Oldest Daughter seems to have a better eye for aesthetics, so hopefully she will lend to!

      The goal is to get the "core" glued in place by the end of the weekend.  We have two hurricanes in-bound, and, while neither is expected to hit, I'd rather not buy the "Quickcrete" and expose it to the humidity.  I've learned the hard way that "Quickcrete" is use / lose item when the humidity climbs!

      As for Kid-zilla, Pete, your possession of a "train railroad" makes you an instant target...I mean "friend!"  Be careful what you wish for...We have family in Arizona!

       

      Aloha,

      Eric

    • September 6, 2018 9:26 AM EDT
      • Post Falls, Idaho
         
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      Eric I love your little RR. It shows how much can be done in a smaller space (which is the problem I have). But what I really love is seeing all the kids helping out. I got into mine far to late in my children's live for them to care much about it. You are raising the next generation of model RRers.

      ____________________________________
    • September 13, 2018 1:45 AM EDT
      • Kailua, HI
         
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      Devon,

       

      A belated acknowledgement of your post.  Making this a family project was a "going in" condition.  There will be time later for more delicate work!  Oldest Daughter already talks about "her" garden railroad someday, so score!  As for the rest, as I have said elsewhere, the goal is to get them outside and get them creating. So far, so good...

      Back to the project.  I did get an opportunity to tinker last weekend.  A rare window opened without help, which was actually good as the rocks are a bit heavy, and I really needed time to think.

      I began by sinking some bricks into my garden to serve as  my lateral guide between the various tracks.  I place a couple extra so I could slide the half hollow tile back and forth and experiment with different stones.  Again, my goals are to add mass and to diminish that sense of spindliness.  You can see the results below (to include a broken slab of concrete.  Ooops.):

      As you can see, I opted to slide the core towards the tunnel complex of the Dudestep Range.  There is space in the lower left corner of the lower picture to pile stones to connect the new mountain to Hell's Mountain, off stage left.  Should have room for a road, too, for the troopers and artillerymen of Ft. Union.  After settling on that, I removed the extra bricks, leveled the remaining ones with the garden wall on the right, and called it a day.

      The next day was supposed to be the day I / we glued the hollow tiles to  their brick feet and the unbroken caps to the hollow tile.  I hooked Nuernberg, an LGB 2018D, to a work train, and the photos below show the importance of a trial run before making things permanent!

      This required another layer of bricks, which should leave room for Nuernberg to pass.

      At this point, I heard Kid-zilla, so it was time to disassemble my mountain core (too tempting of thing to leave in place half done), run trains, and troubleshoot a dead spot on Deadman's Curve where our road dogbones into a pinch point.  Kid-zilla happily tested my troubleshooting by turning off power at random intervals...

      Additional bricks and a new slab are on hand, so we should get that core glued in place this weekend.  Weather permitting, we may begin the concrete and stone placement, too.  There will be progress.

      I am still debating how best to address that abrupt end of the mountain.  I am inclined to use a piece of artificial fence boards I found that has wood grain, takes a Dremel, and takes India ink.  I can cut out some rectangles, scribe it like lumber, and glue it on.  We'll see.  Even a poor "wooden" portal will look better than this!

      In closing, to all those in Florence's path, stay safe!  Our prayers are with you!

       

      Aloha,

      Eric

    • September 13, 2018 6:30 PM EDT
      • Deer Park, Washington
         
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      Eric Mueller said:

      Mike,

      No, I am retired Navy Reserve, but half of my 10+ years of active duty and all of my Reserve units were Pearl Harbor area units.  My knowledge of US Field Artillery come from an interest in the Civil War I picked up along the way, an interest that led to closet full of blue wool, I might add!

       

      Eric

      Artillery lends dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl.

      ____________________________________

      Not only does my mind wander, sometimes it walks off completely.

       

      Some people try to turn back their odometers.  Not me.  I want people to know why I look this way.  I've traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren't paved.  Will Rogers.

    • September 13, 2018 8:59 PM EDT
      • Post Count ,PA ,
         
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      Eric Mueller said: Making this a family project was a "going in" condition.  There will be time later for more delicate work!  Oldest Daughter already talks about "her" garden railroad someday, so score!

       

      Can I get an AMEN!

       

       

       

       

      This post has been edited by ROOSTER: Cause he's not Baptist

    • September 13, 2018 10:29 PM EDT
      • Burke, Virginia
         
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      Very cool.  Did a bit of vacation in Hawaii - my Dad was stationed at Schofield Barracks when I was at "school" (USMA) and he took me on a tour of the island in an OH-58.  Plus he got a cottage for me and my bride at Fort Derussy in 1973 on Wai-ki-ki beach.  As an 06, he was able to get much better accomodations than I could as an 01. 

      So neat that all the kids are involved - making memories!   Wow - what a project!  Looks great!

      ____________________________________

      Bruce

      http://jbrr.com/

       

    • September 14, 2018 1:42 PM EDT
      • Ormond Beach, Fl. 32174
         
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      Eric, it's coming along nicely and believe you almost got it licked, Bill

    • September 14, 2018 9:56 PM EDT
      • Kailua, HI
         
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      Thanks, Bill!  Of course, Kid-zilla moved all my carefully leveled foundation bricks...

    • September 15, 2018 12:13 PM EDT
      • Ormond Beach, Fl. 32174
         
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      He's just keeping you on your toes, LOL

    • September 18, 2018 3:40 AM EDT
      • Kailua, HI
         
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      Bruce,

       

      You'll be sad to know the cottages at Ft. DeRussy are gone.  In there place is the Hale Koa.  We have availed ourselves of the Barking Sands on Kaua'i and Kilauea Military Rec Center on Hawaii.  Great deals, but no OH-58...

       

      Meanwhile, back in the 'burbs, we continued our project.  I reset the bricks, got out the glue, and we got down to work, as Oldest Son demonstrates:

      He needed some help with the glue gun, but we got half the core in place before I realized half my material was still safe in my Ford FOCUS with CINCHOUSE on the other side of the island.  We were out of glue anyway, so construction stopped and running trains began, to include some additional fault chasing on what we now call "Deadman's Curve," a point just off stage front of this picture.  The weather was gorgeous, the beverage cold, and the pizza hot.  Could've been worse.  Naturally, Kid-zilla stepped in to op-test the "bridge:"

      I only just now noted the shears.  Wonder what plant no longer graces the Triple O...

      Sunday, turned to finish the core.  Kid-zilla gently tested everything with his preferred tool:

      In the pictures below, you can see two construction flaws I am hoping will not lead to catastrophic collapse later.  On the left, you'll note a gap between the capstone and the brick.  I pumped this full of glue, and I am hoping for the best.  On the right, despite checking and rechecking with levels, I still have a slight incline rising from the centerline to the left.

       

       

      Hopefully, nothing is mission kill.  We will proceed as though all is well.

      This weekend, we will paint the inside with some dark latex color I found on the discard rack at the hardware store, and I may try to test fit some boulders.  The other challenge I want to think about is that overhang.  I think it might be cool to incorporate it into the scene rather than chisel it off.  I was thinking of a large fillet with expanding foam I could shape and cover with concrete when we score the exposed vertical wall to look like a cut.  The other design element I have to consider is whether to leave the top as a "mesa" or to build a lip to fill with soil for plants, leaving a base for Ft. Union and the garrison when we take it out.  All of these things deserve a pause.  Once the concrete goes down, there are no corrections, only adaptations!

      Oh, and trains ran beautifully through Deadman's Curve...Instead, our B'mann 4-6-0 North Star decided to derail every third loop on the switch at leading to a passing siding in Haluku'ilio once I sat down with dinner and beverage.  This puts a dent in my haunted hairpin turn theory.

      Oh, I should mention (cue shameless bragging) that Oldest Daughter and Neighbor Girl Who Thinks She Lives Here took the leftover glue to make a retaining wall from small stones along a line of cinder blocks still exposed after we raised a portion of the inner loop.  The girls chose the rocks for shape, size, and texture, placed them, then filled the gaps with gravel This was an "initiative project" of Oldest Daughter's own design and undertaking, so you will excuse me for being pretty proud of the results:

       

      Have a wonderful week!

      Aloha,

      Eric

       

      This post was edited by Eric Mueller at September 18, 2018 11:23 AM EDT
    • September 18, 2018 6:04 AM EDT
      • Missouri
         
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      That sure sounds a lot like a day in the life of a garden railroading family

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