Friday 4 November 2022

Thomson River - 11

 You can't call it the Thomson River bridge if there is no Thomson River flowing under it? There has been much contemplating in my mind on how to tackle the river under the bridge. The slow build over the last three years has left me with research time particularly  how to do the river which I considered the most difficult part. As previously stated the idea is to have the river end up where it should be and not on the floor under the layout. Having checked the one main join between the two aluminium baking trays I was confident that the river pour would go OK.

When the trays were in position and having a look at the work done so far, it seemed like it would never come out well. It was a no turnback stage, the tray was well and truly glued into position and no second chances. You look at the raw aluminium and you think 'How am I going to make this all look pretty?' 

Would crushed concrete work?

Looking for roadbed material, I had some crushed concrete that I placed over the river bed even before I had painted the tray base.I realised that this didn't look right so I took it all up looking for something else. Now every modeller always has a stash of 'things' just awaiting their turn to be called up for layout duty. I have a lot of scenery material scattered around the shed collected over a long period. Luckily it was a trip down the other end I found a jar of small rocks that looked right. Initially I thought the colour appeared too light in colour but it later turned out OK. I thought that when the resin was poured over the rocks it could be coloured and cancel out the light rock colour.

The river work area
I reckon one of the brightest things I did was not to fasten down the bridge too early, thereby giving a clear workspace. The bridge having been built around a U aluminium channel piece was rigid enough to be able to lift the whole 194cm bridge away. This allowed the bridge to also be able to be put back into place to align the piers and get an idea how it would all look eventually.

The river stones are laid out
Luckily I just had enough of the rocks for the river bottom. I was also able to spread some of the smaller rocks Mick Bennie had brought for me amongst them. Just to complicate things a bit more one of the piers was located in the middle of the river. This pier that Roger Johnson 3d printed for me had the large concrete base attached. All the levels of the track versus the river baseboard level had been set around three years ago so I had to work along with what I had. I was able to set the bridge in position and then bring the pier up to its base to work out a final level. As you can see in the above photo there is some timber under the pier to raise it to the correct level. In real life the base is not now visible as the over hundred years of river flow, the bases are buried. Only in very early photos are the bases visible.

The river bottom is glued down
The next step was to glue all the rocks down in the river bottom. This step probably wasn't necessary but to make sure there was no movement it was done. I also thought having seen all the river making videos that it was recommended that part of the base was painted a darker colour to represent depth. It would have been hard to do that if the rocks were still loose, anyway it was not a long process.

Now is the time to add river debris
I mentioned earlier that every step of construction has to be thought out ahead of actually doing things. On most river making videos I have seen the author seems to enjoy putting stuff into the river before the pour. Make sense, but you just have to remember to do it. In this pristine part of the world, one would not expect to find shopping trollies or car tyres littering the Thomson River bottom. Luckily I live three minutes away from the National Park and I was able to sneak in there and come out with a selection of suitable river debris. One thing I did find in the backyard was a great plant root which was also waiting in my 'root selection' container. As you can see in the above photo the root is in place to reduce the visual effect where the river joins the river backdrop. It is certainly not a perfect match but I had to work with what I had. You can also see some of the other twigs and tree material that would litter the river bottom. 

A low level photo of the river
Looking at the photo so far you can see how the scene is progressing along from the raw aluminium stage. I was happy with how it was panning out. When it is all finished it is the bridge that catches the eye and the train on it and not so much what is around it. But that is not to say that the level of work shouldn't be any less. Some parts always turn out better than others. You can also see that other scenery work is taking place down the sides towards the river.

The right hand 'deep side' of the river

As previously mentioned, the dark painting of the river base represents deeper water even though the river level is all the same. It would be possible to actually have varying levels for the river but in the end this works well and saves extra work.

Very uncomfortable to get this shot, I was laying on the rocks!

 Well that is another stage for the river to be completed with just the pour to come. Again I am happy with how it it is going. I will be out looking for a suitable resin to finally make the river reality.


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