Well another project is nearing completion. The Captains Flat ore loader has now been given a home and the mini diorama is all but finished. I say "almost complete" but of course as we all know, there are always details to be added and to magnify that point, the issues are certainly highlighted when you point a camera at the subject and have photos that clearly show the known deficiencies, but... they also tend to show up the unknown as well. The camera never lies.... is certainly an apt saying in our hobby.
While I am happy with the overall "feel" of the diorama there are some things that I am finding hard to reconcile in my mind. The most obvious is just how barren the surrounding landscape is. This certainly mirrors the actual prototype location in latter years...but it seems even more stark when modelling such a small portion of the area. The ore and the mining operation has rendered the soil almost sterile and as I think I have stated in an earlier post, the lack of any real vegetation is still evident today some 50 odd years since mining activity ceased. I guess that is why the actual structure and the rail infrastructure needs to be as accurately reproduced (as my skills will allow) as there is not much else to share centre stage in this project.
To recap...the actual loader is manufactured from laser etched and cut basswood. The cladding is proprietary corrugated card. The rails are code 75 nickel silver ( ex flex track ) with copper clad sleepers placed at regular intervals to maintain correct gauge. The rails are pre weathered before laying. To "hand lay" track I follow the above method and then run a bead of contact adhesive along the bottom of each rail and leave it to go tacky. I then position the track over pre-laid, ballasted and weathered basswood sleepers and then run along each rail head with a hot soldering iron which tends to remelt the glue and allow adhesion to the sleepers. I am not sure where or when I came across this method and I am not even sure whether it is a popular method to hand lay track...but I find that it gives a brilliant bond. The other item that needed to be custom manufactured was the wagon weighbridge platform and I was able to portray these items utilising laser cut styrene with an etched pattern to simulate the cast deck and details.
The scenery is the foam underlay covered in plaster bandage method with an earth coloured plaster slurry over the substrate. I have then added sieved earth dust collected from adjacent to the "real" Captains Flat loader. To tie it all together I utilise a neutral set of colours and with the aid of an airbrush, set about highlighting the various shades and shadows that are apparent in the prototype scenery....(well I try anyway). The grass is just common or garden static grass with added "tufts" in various shapes and lengths.
So...what next?....The road to the loader ramp needs to be completed. A couple of modified dump trucks will be added as well as a number of minor detail items such as a 44 gallon drum next to the weighbridge deck and a few pieces of scrap timber and the like. I have yet to add the communication tube and chimney to the weighbridge office. The one detail item I still need to research is the actual ore. While my research material shows many black and white photographs of the loader in use...they do not adequately spell out the appearance and more importantly the colour of the ore/slurry mix. I have a few photos of the mined ore and have added one of these photos to illustrate this post but I am not sure whether this is an adequate sample to prompt a decision. I have made some calls to locals from the area and hopefully something will turn up. I feel that is important to get this aspect right as the ore would have littered the area around the loader and would form the basis for any S truck loads to be completed...
And so with this project approaching completion...my mind is wondering what to attack next???