Chapter 4: Accio Prospectus!

Now that I’ve established how the Burnesyd Magical Muggle Railway came to be conceived, it’s time to actually talk about what it will be.  I suppose the best place to start that would be in describing the basic conceptual and structural requirements that I’ve determined are necessary.  It’s great to have a wonderful idea, but some guidelines are always necessary and these will guide how I plot and construct the diorama.

Project Requirements

  • Seasonal – Unlike many model train setups larger than a lay-off-the-rack set, the Railway will only be constructed and in use for (at most) two-three months.  Ideally, this would be assembled in the early weeks of November and disassembled in mid-January.  My concept would be something you might have seen in department store windows in larger cities, where they set them up and took them down, exclusively for the Christmas holiday.
  • Portable / Storable – Since it will only be in use for less than a third of the year, we of course will need to put it away the rest of the year.  That means it needs to be constructed with that in mind.  Any landscape or crafted components either should be made in a sturdy fashion or in a way that protects them.  It must also be small and light enough to move and have a ready means to limit how much space packed it requires.
  • Modular / Expandable – While this project will be working with a very specific, static track layout, I need to also make accommodations to expand or reduce the size of the display to make it flexible in the case of changing exhibition environments or to accommodate for alternate layouts.  This also means that the construction of the display should be separate enough for me to complete each part of it separately -in order- rather than having to do all of it at the same time.
  • Accommodate a traditional Christmas tree stand with presents – As a seasonal display and as part of the initial reasons for its conceptualization and creation, this display must incorporate -in some way- a traditional medium-sized Christmas tree and allow for room for presents.  Presents must be able to be placed, display and accessed on Christmas morning without difficulty and in a way that does not hinder operation of the train.
  • Low-effort Set-up / Pack-up – I’ll be working with Lionel FastTrack, which makes track work less work-intensive but the entire setup of the display should take less than two hours.  Ideally, there should be a minimum of individual parts to store, assemble and disassemble.
  • Limited Footprint – Clearly, available living space is always at a premium in terms of consideration.  I must ensure that the display will fit in the desired area (our living room) and does not negatively impact the available living space or make the room feel crowded.  With O gauge train and track, this will be a considerable challenge.
  • Protect components and limit wear – An an extension of both the portability and modularity of the display, as well as the ease of construction and disassembly, I want to ensure that the finished display is rugged enough and need only minor repair and only after an extended period of time.
  • Be marginally ‘pet-proof’ and ‘kid-proof’ – The finished project should be able to withstand minor interactions with pets and small children, as both are a factor in our home.  As an additionally consideration as part of this, the track should integrate some form of protection and storage for the train while assembled.  This will keep the train itself out of the way and safer from small hands and paws.

Projected Components
Those constitute the base requirements for the project, the general guidelines that will determine what gets constructed and how it will need to be constructed and integrated into the while of the display.  Having established those guidelines, I can now explain what I am anticipating being key components within the display as a whole.  To start with, the current conceptual track layout will be a large oval bent at a 90 degree angle, with a crossover loop at the bend.  This loop will be large enough to encircle the actual Christmas tree.   My plans are to have two separate displays incorporating the end of both loops in the track: Hogwarts Castle and London.

Hogwarts Castle
The larger project of the two, Hogwarts Castle will actual be a combination of an illumination 3-dimension bisection of the castle on a fabricated mountain that incorporates a tunnel in the back.  The mountaintop will have a simulated pathway down to Hogsmeade and Hogsmeade Station on the other side of the track.   Additionally, there will be other featured areas, perhaps including:

  • Hogwarts Castle facade illumination
  • Hogsmeade Station illumination
  • The Black Lake w/animated First Year boats and Durmstrang Institute galleon
  • Hogwarts Castle Ground w/ animated ‘writhing’ Whomping Willow, Hagrid’s Cottage and Shrieking Shack, plus personalities.
  • Quidditch Pitch w/ animated game
  • Hogwarts Conservatory w/ Blu-Tooth speaker and/or playing recording for Christmas music -only on when train set is on.
  • The Burrow illumination
  • The Quibbler / Lovegood Tower illumination

London
This would be the smaller of the two displays.  It would incorporate Kings Cross Station and Platform 9 & 3/4’s and Diagon Alley.  King’s Cross Station would fulfill the same role as the mountain tunnel under the Hogwarts Castle facade, as a means of ‘storing’ the train while not in active use.  King’s Cross Station will be a relatively basic construction in front of a London cityscape backdrop.  Diagon Alley will be the in roughly the same position relative to Hogsmeade and ideally will feature the more well known shops, such as Gringotts Wizarding Bank, Olivander’s, the Leaky Cauldron, Flourish & Blotts, and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.  While this section of the display will be considerably more static and purely decorative, I do intended to have some special features:

  • King’s Cross Station illumination
  • Diagon Alley illumination / animation
  • Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes animation
  • 12 Grimmauld Place ilumination / animation
  • Malfoy Manor illumination / animation

So, that is the project as it has been conceptualized so far.  While much will change between now and completion, this is what the display will be working towards.   There’s of course a lot of planning to do, which I’ll be sharing as it occurs.  Additionally, over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be featuring a look at the base train set and at the anticipated track layout.  I’ll also begin integrating some vlogs into the site as well.  Once all of the groundwork and research is done, I’ll begin work on the project, sharing my work along the way.  I hope that you will enjoy being along for the trip!

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