The Casper Layout

Modeling – The Present – The Casper Layout

The top part of this page is a blog of recent activity. Every three months or so, when the page gets too long, I'll move everything into the appropriate link below. Enjoy!

1 October

I mounted the backdrop frames all the way to the Hudson benchwork:

And then cut the backdrop to the right height and mounted it.

3 October

Yesterday I painted the new section of backdrop.

Today I uploaded my October layout construction update to YouTube.

9 October

Work is progressing towards Hudson on the Chicago & Northwestern. October 4th I got the subroadbed in place into Hudson.

Later that evening the roadbed was in place. The pins hold the curves until the glue dries.

By the 7th I had new track down leading into the curve just east of Hudson.

Yesterday I laid the roadbed in Hudson and then marked the track centerlines. Hudson is a very small town - just the mainline and a siding. The siding here will be my first use of code 55 rail. if it works, I'll use all code 55 track for sidings along this line.

Last evening I built the ramp from the mainline roadbed down to the Hudson roadbed. From here on west to Lander all the track will be laid on the thinner cork. I also curved, but didn't yet install, the track leading to the switch that will be installed on the ramp (I've never had a problem with derailments on turnouts on these ramps). Here's a picture of the ramp under construction:

11 October

I got the CNW branchline past the turnout into Hudson yesterday.

Today I test ran a train onto the new track. The track past the frog in the switch (under the flatcar) isn't powered yet - I still have to do the wiring. But I ran the train backwards into Hudson and the track seemed just fine.

In a few days I should have the code 55 track from Walthers, and I'll start laying the siding. I'm really looking forward to trying that small rail!

Here's a medium-resolution photo of the real depot at Hudson from around 1915. As you can see, there are at least three tracks here, but on the layout I'll only have two.

Later this evening I printed out a draft of some pictures I took near Hudson a few days ago, and taped them to the backdrop to get an idea of how it might look. Let me know what you think of the backdrop in these photos:

21 October

I got the code 55 track I ordered, and on the 18th set a piece in Hudson for the station siding, to the left of the mainline in this photo.

I took the panoramic photo to a printer and had them print a few copies on their large-format printer. I had them reverse one left-to-right so three copies would match end-to-end. I got it back on the 18th. Here's what the final copy looks like unrolled on a work table. Total length of each section is about 12 1/2 feet.

This is a view of a section of the backdrops all on the same sheet of paper.

On the 19th I cut one of the backdrops from the other two, and am about to start trimming it.

Here's a comparison of the backdrop I printed at home, just below the one I had done at the printer. The ones I paid to have printed look a lot better!

I set the trimmed out backdrop behind Hudson to see how it would look.

Today I temporarily mounted two backdrops end-to-end on the section above Casper and posed a train in front of it to get a good look before permanently installing the backdrop. Here's a couple of shots:

24 October

I took 1 1/2 inches off the bottom of the backdrops to eliminate the very-out-of-scale elements near the bottom (closest to the camera), then blackened the top edge (white jumps right out at you more than any other color) and temporary mounted all three sections. Here's a few shots of how it looks now.

Train sitting in Hudson:

Just east of Hudson heading towards Riverton (behind the camera on the right):

Train progressing towards Riverton:

Approaching Riverton:

I also took a few short movies of the train leaving Hudson and progressing towards Riverton. After I edit them together and post them to YouTube, I'll add them here.

30 October

Much to my surprise, I'm having a few issues caused by benchwork contraction! A few switches have bowed upwards in the middle. Here's one:

It only took a couple hours to correct the three that were bowed, by trimming a hundredth of an inch or so off the rail ends at the point end of the turnouts.

I've also begun switching all my turnouts from Caboose throws to over-center springs, where you push the points to the desired route with your finger. Here's a couple of turnouts in Casper before I started making the change:

And here they are after:

I'll either color the newly exposed part of the headblock ties and the throwrods, or remove them.

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this is to do. It takes about 15 minutes per turnout, and most of that is spent drilling the holes. The spring is not at all difficult to bend, and close precision is not required. I'll be doing these on or two at a time as the mood strikes. All new turnouts will be done at or before installation.

A couple days ago I added fascia to the CNW from Hudson back towards Riverton - 32 feet worth. I'll remove them one section at a time in a few days to paint them.

Oh yeah! Here's the link to the video of a train against the backdrop:

And today I installed tracks for the icing platform in Casper. Here it's laid out:

Here the tracks are in:

They'll be extended slightly, and the ends will be even. The final platform length will be six feet, which will service about 24 cars at a time.

And here's every reefer on the railroad on the icing tracks. I need to get more reefers on the layout!

1 November

Can you believe it? November already!

I've started painting the fascia. Here's part of it:

The color is Bronze Green, same as the train room trim color.

7 November

On November 3rd I posted my latest layout update on YouTube. This one was a bit longer than they usually are.

In the few days since then, I wired the icing tracks, installed a few more over-center springs into turnouts, and assembled another reefer kit. I'll need a lot more reefers in the future!

Today I started with real scenery on the Lander line! First I prepped the area by putting painter's tape over the track and wax paper over the backdrop.

Then I mixed up a batch of Celluclay and colored it to about what the ground looks like in the area. Yeah, I know this is a bit too yellow, but I had nothing on hand to gray it out.

This is the first glob of "ground" I've done on a layout of my own in about 35 years!

After about half an hour I finished with that first batch of Celluclay. Here are the results. Note the ruts I tried to cut into the ground to the left of the track. This should represent the dried-in ruts left by a truck running over the muddy ground adjacent to the tracks when all is said and done. We'll see how this looks when its dry.

12 November

After a few days of not much work on the trains (we're in the middle of refinishing the rest of the basement), I got back to them a bit today. I started work on the icing platform. This kit used to be produced by CMA, but now it's made by Tichy Train Group.

There are 56 identical part sprues, each of which has half a platform support structure on it. All combined, they'll build 28 supports.

Here's a shot of a prototype Burlington icing platform. They didn't have roofs...

...so I'm altering the kit to leave off the roof by removing the upper roof support frame.

One support down, 27 to go! I left the vertical supports and the very end of the truss on the supports to act as lightposts like you saw on the prototype photo.

After completing four supports, I test fitted them into a platform section to see how they look.

18 November

Things have been progressing slowly the last few days, but they are progressing.

I finished the structural assembly for the first two icing platform sections and set it on the layout:

A couple days ago I almost placed an order with Tichy for the second platform kit I'll need to finish the whole thing, but I held off since I'd already placed a sizeable order from Walthers about a week ago. Have to space those purchases out a bit, you know.

I'm glad I did hold off, because last night I was looking for some rope lights and opened the box where I thought they were. Instead I found some more structures kits, and inside was a second Tichy icing platform kit! I bought it at a train show some years ago and forgot all about it! Here's the two boxes right next to each other. Identical except for package graphics and manufacturer.

I've also been working on the scenery between Riverton and Hudson on and off. Here's the basic Celluclay ground as it is today - a bit over halfway along the wall behind Casper.

21 November

I got the multi-use spur that goes past the icing platform installed in Casper yard. It serves the team track, Schultz Walter Grocery wholesalers, maybe Natrona Transfer, Storage and Fuel, and also has an ice drop for the platform.

When I mentioned on the Model Railroader forums a few weeks ago that I needed more reefers for the icing track, one of the members sent me four reefers he had no use for! They arrived today.

And here's three of the four, with new sprung trucks, in place on the layout. The fourth one, the REA expresser reefer, needs the couplers reinstalled. I'll do that in a day or two.

23 November

I completed the first ice platform kit structure assembly:

And set it in place on the layout to see how it looked.

I also finished installing the last spur on this end of the yard (except for wiring, which will be done in a day or two).

All the industries on this spur were real businesses in Casper in the late 1930's. They include, working from the switch outwards to the end, Natrona Transfer, Storage and Fuel (interesting combination, isn't it?),

A "team track" loading / unloading platform,

A delivery sport for ice for the ice house (there was a second ice house in the yard where ice was stored, then apparently delivered here as needed for reefer loading),

and finally, Shultz Walker Company Grocers.

After I did this, I realized the big empty space between the Grocers and the ice house would make a perfect spot for outdoor pipe storage for Rocky Mountain Drilling Company, so I've relocated the Grocer to another spur and reassigned this to spot to the drilling company.

On 4 November, 2019, my wife and I moved into our new house in Casper Wyoming. I was back home!

I had an unfinished basement comparable in size to the one I left behind in Merchantville. Here are a couple shots from out house hunting trip in October:

Even before we moved, I was fiddling around with ideas for track plans (or course). But I didn't do very much except daydream, because we had a lot to do on our house in Merchantville to get it ready to sell.

Once we moved to Casper and settled in a bit, I did have time to start messing around with track plans. Lots of time, because I needed to finish the train room before I started building this fifth version of the CB&Q in Wyoming.

I did produce an update video in December, chronicling the track planning process to that point, introducing the new layout space, and giving a brief recap of the previous four versions of the layout:

The basement was pretty cluttered. We put nearly all the stuff we brought with us that didn't have a specific home right in - you guess it - the train room:

Click the buttons below to look at the construction of the second Cove Road layout, or to go on to the last version the layout, in Casper Wyoming.