Creating a hill

After laying the track, and connecting the wires, the track is functional, but it looks like a alien landscape with the surrounding scenery being perfectly flat and pink. It’s time to start creating the foundation for the module’s scenery.

The first thing I want to do is to create the land forms, especially a hill in the back right hand corner of the module where there is a bunch of open space. I have a good amount of left over foam, so I am using that for the base of the hill.

Test fitting a stack of foam to see how it will fit on the back corner of the module.

I cut out three pieces of foam, each progressively smaller than the other. The goal is to laminate three layers of foam together using a foam safe adhesive caulk. After stacking the foam and applying the caulk, I placed on top of the stack of foam a bunch of heavy books as weight. I left the books on top of the foam a couple of days and let the adhesive cure.

After reading a number of articles about craving foam, I found a couple of tools that I had laying around the house that would aid in my quest. I don’t have an hot wire cutting tool and had to make due with knives. My tools of choice where an extra long curved #26 X-Acto blade, a short curved blade, and a hand held saw with a fine toothed blade. The curved edge of the blade makes it easer to cut through the foam with out tearing it up. On the plus side, I didn’t have to worry about the fumes created by the wire cutter in an enclosed space.

As I carved the hill, I tried to keep in mind what the shape of the hill that I as after. At first I cut off large pieces, and then did progressively smaller cuts as I got closer to the shape that I wanted. To deal with is the mess and bits of foam as I carved, I used a lid from a document archive box that had a nice lip to capture most of the larger chunks that I carved off. I kept a vacuum near by to keep it the small pieces under control. When I got close to what I wanted, I sanded the hill to even out most of the irregularities.

Foam safe adhesive applied to the bottom of the hill. Use as much as you can. If some oozes from the bottom of the hill, just wipe it off with a damp paper towel.

It was now time to attach the hill to the module. I applied a liberal amount of foam safe adhesive to the bottom of the hill. The I didn’t want to have to worry about the hill separating from the module. I couldn’t easily stack books on the hill like I did before since it was a nice rounded shape. I instead opted to use a combination of clamps, wood, and a container of interior drywall screws as weights. To help keep the sides of the hill tight agains the top of the module, I used a number of pens set in an angle. I let the whole monstrosity set for a couple of days to cure. Between the clamps, weights, and pins, the hill was now firmly attached to the module.