Thursday, 23 July 2015

Adding theatre stage effects

I believe it was legendary model railroader John Allen who first said, "a model railroad is a stage, and the trains are the actors." So when considering that Philden will appear as a stage to viewers, I suddenly had the words of the Pink Panther ringing in my ears, "exit, stage left even." Good theater is just as much smoke and mirrors as it is good acting. So how would I make my trains appear that they are coming and going on a layout as small as 6 x 1 foot? The answer was simple. By using mirrors.

Voila! Suddenly I have double 82's waiting in the goods shed road.

I bought a packet of 8 cm x 5 cm mosaic glass tiles from my local Bunnings store for around $5 and found that gluing 2 of them flush against the backdrop at the station end, or dead end, of my layout was a simple way of fooling the eye into thinking that the tracks actually continued on through the backdrop. The mirror will later be framed by a pedestrian over-bridge that will confine the view to only what is underneath.

Adding mirrors to the inside of the mouse-hole door that when opened will later lead to staging.

The other end of my layout that is now known as the mouse-hole end, has an opening door with a painted black interior to conceal the view when closed. By marking out the mouse-hole on the inside of the opening door and applying the same craft glue to fix 2 more mirrored tiles hard up against the track, it now also tricks the viewer into thinking that the tracks continue further beyond the backdrop. This end of my layout will see the tracks disappear beneath a spindly timber road overpass which was once so typical of many country New South Wales railway scenes. When the door is closed, the mirror will be confined to being viewed only beneath the road overpass, making it look like the tracks continue beyond the confines of a stage. When the door is open, the mouse-hole will lead to a small staging yard that will give my layout a true, "exit stage right even" escape that would make even the Pink Panther proud.

Not 2 but 1 V/line wagon sitting on the number 1 road against the concealed, and now mirrored, mouse-hole door.

Adding mirrors was a project that cost less than six bucks and took only 20 minutes of my time including drying time for the glue. But the end result, even without my overpasses to disguise the mirror edges yielded a pleasing result. As for the whole smoke and mirrors theme of the theater? Try and remember that this layout once complete will be completely enclosed in clear perspex. I still have colour-changeable lighting to add in my effort to simulate a true sunrise-sunset effect. So a small smoke machine to simulate heavy fog within the fish-tank layout is not entirely out of the question. Wouldn't that make operating fun?

See also; That first operating session

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Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil