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updated / added: March 7, 2017

HO Scale Desert Style Diorama - Cajon Pass with Mormon Rocks
size 4 x 0,6 m (13 x 2 feet) built by Werner Meer, Switzerland
This Diorama was part of a huge 17 m long (56 feet) HO layout formerly located at the American Layoutcenter Adliswil.
It is on display in my US Railroad Shop Kilchberg.


Part 1: Before touching anything
just scroll down to see all 9 photos


Part 2: Rebuilding started on 2/03/17
just scroll down to see all 40 photos


Part 3: New Landscaping started on 2/26/17
just scroll down to see all 40 photos


Part 4: New Landscaping with Vegetation is finished on 3/03/17
just scroll down to see all 47 photos


Part 5: Santa Fe All the Way - passing the Mormon Rocks (Cajon Pass) on 3/03/17
just scroll down to see all 21 photos


Part 6: Modern Times - Union Pacific and Werner Enterprises in Action on 3/03/17
just scroll down to see all 61 photos


The story behind it: Franco Rossi and Roland Scherler have built an HO modular layout for the 3rd CV. For the 4th CV, Peter Dossenbach and Werner Meer each have built 3 elements with a total length of 5 m, thus complementing the Rossi / Scherler system to a length of 10 m. But in 2003 the ALCA had to leave the attick in the school house. As part of the large layout was distributed to various interested parties, the 3 modules of the then-built by Werner Meer were available. The 2 modules, each with a length of 2 m and a width of 0,6 m, were built as a three-track test track in the US Railroad Shop. The modules built in 1986 urgently needed a new facelift. Thus, WM and Melinda decided to revive the Mojave Desert in Cajon Pass with the Mormon Rocks. We had gathered from the construction of our own HO-layout between 2008 and 2015 desert experience. The entire landscape has been reworked and has received matching sand, bushes, blooming Yuccas and Joshua Trees. In addition, a dirt road with a lookout platform was built on the right side. Photos of the layout:
Vorgeschichte: Franco Rossi und Roland Scherler haben für die 3rd CV eine HO-Modulanlage gebaut. Für die 4th CV haben Peter Dossenbach und Werner Meer jeweils 3 Elemente mit total 5 m Länge gebaut und damit die Anlage von Rossi/Scherler auf 10 m Länge ergänzt. Doch im Jahr 2003 musste das ALCA die Winde im Schulhaus verlassen. Da Teile der grossen Anlage an versch. Interessnten verteilt wurde, standen die damals gebauten 3 Module von Werner Meer zur Verfügung. Die 2 Module zu je 2 m Länge und 0,6 m Breite wurden im US-Railroad-Shop als 3-gleisige Teststrecke aufgebaut. Die 1986 erbauten Module haben dringend ein neues Facelift gebraucht. Somit hat sich WM und Melinda entschieden, das Mojave Desert mit den Mormon Rocks zu neuem Leben zu erwecken. Wir hatten ja vom Bau der HO-Anlage zw. 2008 und 2015 Wüstenerfahrung gesammelt. Die gesamte Landschaft wurde neue überarbeitet und hat passenden Sand, Büsche und Joshua Trees erhalten. Zudem wurde auf der rechten Seite noch eine Naturstrasse mit einer Aussichtsplattform erstellt.

Total 218 photos, taken from 2/03/17 to 3/03/17 (just click on the 3-digit number for bigger size photos)
As usual, I am taking a huge amount of photos from a scene to show a lot of different views.

Part 1

Part 1: The way how this diorama was looking in my shop and was used as a test track for the last 14 years
right side - 059
left side with Mormon Rocks - 063
 Here we can see the joint of both 2 m long modules - 060
Main Track 1 goes thru the tunnel, Main Track 2 goes thru the cut and Main Track 3 is in front.
(MT 1 and 2 are having an uphill grade of 1,5 % and MT 3 is level) - 062
068  -              Once in a while, the diorama was used for display of rolling stock             -   064
Backdrop are photos of the real Mormon Rocks along Highway 138 - 065
overview of the whole 4 m long diorama (tunnel and cut in the middle) - 071

 Part 2

Part 2: Rebuilding started on February 3, 2017
When originally built, the color of the ground cover . . . - 187 . . . did not really satisfy as it was too greenish - 188
another problem was the almost none vegetation . . . - 189 . . . and therefore, it really needed a major upgrade - 190
Never nice to work with this kind of styro foam - 193 192
Between main tack 1 and 2, I had to remove the higher part for better access to re-rail a model for testing. On these old modules, I just used the white styro foam which is not the best material for sanding down (as you can see). Afterwards, it was painted light beige. The color I used is from Woodland Scenics "Concrete ST1454" out of their Road System (Top Coat). It dries with a dull finish
after sanding it down, I painted the blank surface - 195 194
2/03/17 Old vegetation was scrachted down and . . - 196 . . . removed before starting to over paint everything - 197
Now, I overpainted the whole surface with the light beige color (left side incl. the bridges area).
2/07/17 First layer of paint - 198 It looks much better and is matching the backdrop - 199
200 The 3 bridges were untouched as they fit in the scene - 201
At that time I could not continue painting because. . . - 202 . . . I had to reorder "concrete" paint from Woodland Scenics - 203
204 205
These old trees did not look nice anymore - 206 Therefore, everything has been removed - 207
Next step: I started to apply sand over the painted surface. I used a fine light beige sand.
209 210
211 212
The rest after the bridges needs to be painted - 213 214
The tunnel section can be removed for access. For connecting the 2 modules (especially the tracks) it was much easier that way-
2/07/17 - 216 217
2/08/17: The next day, the whole left section is with sand all over. In other words, it would be ready for landscaping the vegetation.
 220 221
222 228
On the tunnel section, old bushes and trees on the right side have been stripped down.
223 here we can see the division between the 2 modules - 224
225 227
The removable tunnel section has been stripped off the old bushes. Afterwards, it will be painted and will get a cover of sand - 229
231                                                                      232                                                                                   233
Let me explain the combination of a tunnel near the Mormon Rocks. Of course, in real Cajon Pass there was no tunnel near Highway 138 and the Mormon Rocks. There were 2 tunnels at Alray toward Summit (both have been daylighted during the 3rd Main Track Construction in 2007 and 2008. See more infos about it here:
My idea to build 2 straight and 1 curved modules with 3 tracks gave just more variaty with a short tunnel and a cut between MT-1 and MT-2. It sure did never refelect the correct situation in Cajon Pass. I just used for the background the Mormon Rocks formation along Highway 138.

 Part 3 A (2/26/17)

Part 3: 2/26/17 - The Left side up to the tunnel got grass tufts (made by Herpa)
2/26/17: How different it looks with the first grass tufts. Later on, Melinda will plant some bushes. - 237
238 239
241 240
Between the cut and the lower section at right, I decided to add a dirt road. So, I cut off the top section (hill crest) and added pink styro foam to build up the road bed and also some addtional rocks on both sides. This "pink" material is much better for cutting and sanding. Once everything is shaped well, it will be covered with plaster. I use Woodlans Scenics Road System "Smooth It" ST1452 plaster. It is a high qaulity material which does not crack after trying. It can be easy sanded smooth. Afterwards, it will be painted light beige and finally get a layer with sand.
Construction site for the new dirt road going uphill to the new observation platform. - 246
248 249
250 Did anyone note? There is a mirror at the right end !!  -  251
The basic landscaping structure was not changed, . . - 254 . . . just new color and sand and vegetation - 255
253 252
256 261
The great cut of Main Track 2 - 262 260
258 still a long way to go as it needs hill structures on both sides - 264
last photo of 2/26/17: middle section with cut and tunnel behind - 259

 Part 3 B (3/01/17)

3/01/17: The right side with the dirt road and the observation deck is ready for landscaping
Ground cover is all the way light beige sand which I found in a local "Coop Bau and Hobby Center". It has the right color and the sand is fine enough for HO scale scenery. I used a 50/50 mix of white glue and water and was appling it with a brush and puoring the sand over it, step by step. You cannot make too much at once otherwise the glue will start to dry and the sand will not hold on the ground.
3/01/17: It looks as this dirt road and the platform would have been here for a long time !! - 265
267 269
suddenly, the digital camera decided to . . . - 271 . . . change the white balance value w/o asking me - 270
279 no, there is no other tunnel in the distance, but a mirror - 273
280 286
there are no railings around the platform, yet - 278 276
well, once again the camera was going crazy - 285 277
288 it looks like the road continues - 289
In real life, this dirt road is USFS 2N89 coming from Lone Pine Canyon Road and going to Sullivans Curve - 282

 Part 4

Part 4:  Landscaping with vegetation is finished
Lots of grass tufts have been "planted" and Melinda made all the little bushes with a lot of patience. On top, a few blooming Yuccas and some Joshua Trees completed the Mojave Desert Scene. At the end I can tell, I am very pleased with the result and it came to a new level.
3/03/17: Right side with new access road to the overlook - 290
292 again, the mirror makes the scene endless (at right) - 291
the observation platform got some railings . .  - 293 . . . and all railfans are secured, now - 294
295 These 2 Joshua Trees made by Denis Herm (Germany) - 296
297 nice overview on both sides from the platform - 298
California Highway Patrol is always using this overlook - 299 300
302 here is again the illusion with the mirror - 303
304 305
307 308
309 310
a Joshua Tree and blooming Yuccas - 311 the digital camera changed the white balance w/o asking - 312
314 313
316 315
317 on top of the tunnel - 319
318 320
signal and Johsua Tree near the bridges - 322 321
323 325
327 there is also a Joshua Tree near the bridges - 326
foreground and background fit together - 337 336
339 341
342 333
328 several blooming Yuccas ary typical for Cajon Pass - 331
there are some Joshuas on both sides of Hwy 138 in reality - 330 329
With some bushes, tufts and a Joshua, the tunnel area looks much more realistic. - 335 The color of the rocks are a perfect match to the Mormon Rocks on the backdrop - 334

 Part 5

Part 5: All the Way - Santa Fe Streamliner rolling over Cajon Pass passing the Mormon Rocks.
The backdrop are photos of the real Mormon Rocks (along Hwy 138) which I took back in the early 80's
3/03/17: ALCO PA1 A/B/B made by Life Like Proto 2000 and Passenger Cars made by Walthers - 344
346 365
351 353
345 362
360 364
349 350
363 352
367 359
358 357
CA Hwy Patrol is always having an eye on what is going on - 356 End of Santa Fe Train - 355

 Part 6

Part 6: Modern Times - Union Pacifc and Werner Enterprises in Action
Modern Times - Union Pacifc with 64' Reefers and Werner Enterprises with Trailers and Containers (Werner Global Logistics)
First, we are making a Tour along the diorama from left to right (4 m or 13 feet), following the Werner Enterprises Train.
3/03/17: All Werner Enterprises Equipment (Diesel Loco, Trailers and Containers) on MT 3 - 421
385 386
387 388
389 390
391 392
393 394
Now, making the second Tour showing the UP train on MT-2 from every angle (incl. the Werner Train on MT-3 and the Tank Train on MT-1).
371 370
372 373
376 375
384 382
396 410
381 415
379 Trinity 64' Reefers by BLMA - 406
377 378
401 419
UP EMD SD70M (w/flared radiators) by Athearn Genesis - 408 Werner Diesel = GE AMD103 made by Athearn (blue Box) - 409
430 431
428 This loco was custom painted by Ferdinand Rat - 427
407 On MT-1 is a Tank Train - 420
434 439
432 433
416 395
435 436
426 398
Werner 53' Reefer Trailer by Athearn - 417 TTX 57' All Purpose Spine Cars (3-unit) by Athearn -  411
Werner 53' Standard Trailer by Athearn - 412 399
Werner Global 53' Containers custom made . . - 413 . . . by Pitsch Allneider - 404
TTX 53' NSC Well Cars (3-unit) by Walthers Mainline - 414 425
TTX 48' Well Car by Walthers - 405 The railfans are using the new overlook above - 424
Werner 53' Trailers made by Bowser - 400 Werner '53 Standard Trailer by Athearn - 423
UP Ford Pickup Truck by River Point Minis - 402 BNSF Ford Expedition by River Point Minis - 403


December 2017 / February 2018 / June 2018 - Changes at the rear of our Shop - check our "new look"

In June 2018 our Shop got new windows. Therefore, we made some modifications at the rear side. The Mormon Rocks modules and Hill 582 have been moved. We got new Mojave Desert Modules and moved Show Cases and Book Cabinets.

updated: June 27, 2018
elevated overview of remodeled rear - 340 Take a look - click here our new desert diorama center - 355

all photos copyright by Werner Meer

HO Scale 1:87
Mojave Desert Layout
Werner Enterprises Terminal
and Cajon Pass
by Werner Meer


updated: 2/19/17
City of Percyville - 1244 See all 23 Pages - click here Werner Enterprises Terminal - 1180


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