When I first started visualising what "Gunnedah and Beyond" would look like back in 2008, a lot of the final details were not locked in place, but one thing that I always wanted to achieve was the "shadow box" effect, created by utilising black fascia panels with the lighting mounted neatly behind them, so that with the room lights off, the focus is completely on the layout.
Fast forward to May 2016, and whilst the layout is a long way from "completed", the last build session saw the middle and lower fascia panels mounted completely around the layout, as well as given a couple of coats of satin black paint.
Anyone who has built a layout, can probably relate to the fact that certain parts of the build are more enjoyable than others, some parts take a fair degree of time and effort but upon completion are merely another task that needed to be done that doesn't really give you a sense of achievement or satisfaction, however, other parts of the build are definitely the glory jobs, where upon completion you step back and just go "wow"!
Getting all of the fascia panels mounted and painted, definitely falls into the category of glory job, not because it was necessarily easy or enjoyable, but because when completed, the reward is huge.
With the room lights turned off, and the layout lights turned on, the achieved effect is exactly what I had pictured in my mind all those years ago. With the satin black cabinetry underneath the layout, then the matching satin black fascia panels of the layout, it creates an almost seamless transition, and the two levels of the layout with their individual LED lighting appear to almost float between the layers of black.
Okay, I might be getting a little carried away with my description, but it is merely an indication of the satisfaction and happiness that this whole thing is coming together and is actually happening.
As a prelude to the next part of the build, we temporarily laid out about twelve metres of track and connected up the NCE Pro Cab, and then put a couple of locos and some rolling stock on the track to do some "testing"!
My mate, who has been responsible for the physical aspects of the build, and who openly stated at the beginning of the project that he was not a "model train" person, is now well and truly across the appeal of this hobby. The tipping point was hearing the first sound equipped locomotive, a Trainorama 48 class, go through its start-up sequence, the diesel motor cranking into life and then sitting there idling away, and then as the throttle was opened up, hearing the engine notching up and the loco slowly building speed, and then as it was brought to a stop, hearing the engine note decrease and then the brake squeel as it stopped simply blew him away.
Needless to say, over the past week the 48 class with a small mixed goods, and the Garratt with its rake of four-wheel wagons have done quite a few trips up and down the line, all in the name of testing of course!
Anyway, the following photos will illustrate where things are at, and once again my little scenic module was simply placed in front of the Garratt to give a little foreground detail instead of the plain foam module surface, if nothing else it helps to give an idea of how the appropriately coloured and textured foreground scenery will blend with the back scene when it is all done. Also a couple of videos of the first train to move on the layout, even if it is on temporarily laid track.