Monday, August 5, 2013

Hydrocal Ain't As Easy As I Remembered!

So, I have my cardboard webbing set up to build a geographic feature. I mix up some Hydrocal per instruction.  I dip paper towels.  And I place the paper towels on the cardboard webbing.  It's a little frustrating; the Hydrocal is too thick and it's seizing up very quickly.  When I'm done I leave it alone for a few hours.  Returning I find that the paper towels are still wet and the Hydrocal is crumbly and sandy.

Angry with myself I tore out the whole wall, mushy cardboard webbing and all.  I built a new web and tried again, this time making the mixture less thick to start with.  Still, it seized up very quickly, wouldn't harden, and became crumbly.  Luckily, I had put only a few Hydrocal-soaked towels onto the webbing as a test of the new batch, not wanting to risk losing more time and cardboard.

A visit to my friendly hobby store cleared up my confusion.  Hydrocal goes bad.  Well .. duh!  Should have figured that out myself.

By the way, don't use those tri-fold industrial paper towels I mentioned in an earlier entry.  These just fell apart on me.  I quickly grabbed a roll of kitchen paper towels and these were a lot stronger.

The next problem I ran up against is making it generally smooth.  My hills are somewhat steep, but I didn't think that would cause much of a problem.  Regardless, what I ended up with were very craggy hills.

You can tell in this shot (above) how steep I made the hills, wanting to conserve as much space as I could for the cattle ranch I plan for this module.  You also may be able to see some of the relief in the photo.

This shot shows how I turned the corner (background) and you can see some of the cardboard lattice work.  The piece of cardboard in the foreground is coated with wax paper so that the Hydrocal will not stick to the cardboard.  When finished, I'll remove the staples holding that section and pull it away.  This will expose the inside of the hill, but that should not be a problem since the modules on each side will have similar hills of that will create the appearance of a complete hill.  Of course the hill actually will be split so that the modules can .....

...... lift up or down to make access easier during the build, and store away up high if necessary (note module 3 four feet further up the rails than the other modules).

You also can see in the previous photo on the right a section of articulated styrofoam.  This is where the mainline will go, unseen for much of the journey, around the entire layout.  I had glued the tracks down but had screwed up with the wiring so I had to tear up the tracks and re-string the wires.

To be honest, I didn't think the hills looked that great, and so I put the project aside for a month while I did other things.  When I got back to it, I decided that I would color the hills first just to see if I could make them work.  Didn't want to tear out the entire thing, after all.  That's when things began to change.

More next time.

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