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Designing a layout or diorama 1:1

Over a period of about twelve months I had designed and half built three new layouts, with each one if completed, to be displayed at local and interstate model railroad exhibitions. The main criteria for all these designs was that they operate automatically or with the minimum of input and the must feature tall trees and log loading facilities. I would much prefer to be building and demonstrating model building to the visiting public than operating trains. But none of them seemed to work and I couldn't put my finger on what I was doing wrong. It seemed the more time I spent at the drawing board (a computer screen) the more the layout didn't work. What to do?

In the meantime, while I was building layouts that didnít work, I had been making the trees you see in the photographs. Thirty was the maximum that I could make with the amount of branch material I had on hand. This material is seasonal and I couldn't get anymore for 8 months - so thirty was what I had to work with. As well, I had completed three bunk houses, two offices, two donkey engines and one portable log loader. I also had several trestle decks from one of the abandoned attempts and 10 feet of forest back scene.

What to do? I was running out of ideas and I had to have a display layout to show at an upcoming exhibition

I had fitted the trees with headless nails in the bottom of the trunks so they could be stood up in holes I drilled in an old door that I used as a spare bench in my workshop, with the intention of adding the final layer of green flock and a spray of water/glue to hold all the foliage on. This is especially important if the layout is to be moved to an d from exhibitions.  Having completed this final task on the trees, I was standing back admiring the trees when I thought I might start adding the structures to see how they looked with the trees. I then started to move the trees around into a forest scene and to add

     the buildings. This was starting to take on the appearance of a layout, so I grabbed some track I had and laid it into the scene, along with a curved trestle, as can be seen above. Finally, I stood the back scene up behind the scene. Low and behold, I had designed a layout on the spot in a one to one scale, and it worked perfectly. It was exactly what I wanted and filled all the requirements I needed for this layout /diorama. And as a  bonus, I had almost everything on hand to start. Finally, I then drew a line around what I had laid out, which became the outer edge of the layout, as can be seen photo above.

I used this mock up to transfer measurements, buildings, track and tree locations to the actual layout, which can be below.

The completed "CANNIBAL CREEK" layout / diorama

The small panels along the facia are information boards