Current Modeling Efforts
July 28 2018
Today is a red-letter day on the layout. The first pieces of track have been laid!
The backdrop was installed and painted last week, then the foam was positioned and glued down to the benchwork using Locktite construction adhesive:
Then a couple of days ago I dug out all my home-made switches and inventoried them. This is most of them. There's a mix of code 70 and code 83 #6 switches, plus two or three code 83 #8 switches, which I probably will not use on this layout:
Then yesterday I picked up a couple boxes of Midwest cork roadbed (one HO, one N for the yards) and laid out the mainline track centerline in Casper, off which the entire yard will be positioned (sorry about the focus - the phone has a tendency to lock onto the closest items, rather than the center of the photo):
Using that same Locktite construction adhesive, I put down the first few pieces of cork. I'm going to use a different caulk from this point I think - the gray construction adhesive is thick and hard to spread. It does seem to hold really good, though:
And the afternoon I placed the first pieces of flextrack on the cork! I used Dap Alex 230 caulk, which was much easier to spread than the Locktite. I hope I bought clear, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I got white. No big deal - when I paint the track the caulk will get covered too:
July 15 2018
Benchwork is well underway, with two of the three Casper yard sections ready for subroadbed.
It's taken this long to get the benchwork up because we were on a family trip out west for a week. After standing next to the benchwork I think it's too high, so I'm going to lower it about 6 inches. Then I'll get the final section for Casper built and install the backdrop in this area. Then it will finally be on to tracklaying!
July 3 2018
Construction has finally really begun!
A few days ago we marked up the benchwork outline on the floor with masking tape, and added labels for major features and locations:
Then we started adding 1x2 stringers to the studs to support the backdrop. We test fit the first section of backdrop, which I had saved from the old layout from ten years ago. It will need repainting, but I'm glad I'll be able to re-use the materials.
And yesterday we built the first L-Girder bench which will support the grids. It still needs to have feet attached:
June 27 2018
Over the last five weeks I've added to the ceiling panels, "finishing" additional areas. I also installed the LED panels.
After looking at the panels for a couple of weeks, I've decided to use them throughout the basement. I ordered four more, which arrived about ten days ago. That will keep me going for awhile.
The last several days I've been cleaning the train room in preparation for starting layout construction. Except for one or two panels, the ceiling over the Casper yard sections is complete. Tomorrow I'll lay out the benchwork outlines on the floor with masking tape, to give a better sense of layout proportions and free space for aisleways. Then the Casper sub-base L-girders will go up, and construction of Casper will begin in earnest.
May 23 2018
We moved back to Merchantville NJ in early May. I've been doing a little bit of prep work prior to starting construction of the layout. That's consisted mostly of non-modeling activities, like unpacking, rescuing the yard from years of tenant neglect (ongoing, but the lawn has at least been mowed a couple times now) and so on. I did find a bit of time to unpack some of my kits - structures and rolling stock - and put them back onto shelves.
I've also been studying lighting and other upgrades to the train room. Some, like lowering the floor, I've deemed as impractical due to projected cost, but I did order a couple of 1'x4' LED panels for evaluation (supplier is pathetically slow at delivery), and replaced a bunch of burned out fluorescent bulbs with brighter and more energy-efficient LED bulbs (why don't tenants replace light bulbs?!).
Today I took the first step in actual layout construction. I bought some lumber at Home Despot that I'll use to build the L-girder supporting framework. Cost: about $150.00.
February 15 2018
There was still some question about whether I would be moving back to the Cove Road house or not. That has been resolved. In late April / early May I will be moving back. The basic track plan displayed below is a go.
January 7 2018
It looks like I haven't been doing anything, but I have. While I wait to retire and move, I've been transferring more of the data from my old website to this one. Now you can find some of the construction progress chronology from the ole Cove Road layout on the site, and I'm continuing to add more. Soon I'll add construction methods, then begin chronicling the Allendale SC layout. I do a bit each day.
December 17 2017
Here's the new version of Laurel, rotated 90 degrees clockwise:
And here's the Casper yard:
December 2 2017
I've been really busy developing a trackplan for the new space. I went through a few different benchwork configurations and finally came up with what you see here.
While the yard at Laurel is more or less finalized, the one at Casper is just a placeholder at this point. It will be optimized over the next few weeks for longer classification tracks and ease of use.
November 12 2017
So after a few days of reflection, I realize I'm not really happy with the plan I posted below. The mainline only has four passing sidings along its entire length, including the one in the division point yard in Casper. Probably not enough to make operations consistently interesting - not enough variability with train schedules.
Also, I really want the sugar factory in Worland, plus some industries from other towns to make the train consists more variable.
Also, the layout just didn't seem to be very efficient, in terms of getting sufficient railroading into the space. I've seen track plans using half the floor space that pack in twice the railroading, without looking like an explosion at a spaghetti factory.
So... I decided to start over with a new clean sheet design.
I took the existing plan and deleted everything except the room configuration. I added the breaker panel and gas meter (annoyingly situated on the far wall from the entry door - typical, right?), then added associated clearance areas to get to those spots.
THEN I started laying out benchwork. I already knew what my operating concept was, my minimum radius, and that sort of stuff. I just needed to configure the benchwork to support that.
So I came up with this:
November 8 2017
I've been busy!
I have the basic planning complete for my new layout in Merchantville, NJ. It's a two-deck plan, with the upper deck being relatively small (but long).
Here's the lower deck:
Now that I have basic plan designed, I'm going to sit on it for a week or two and see if it still seems okay afterwards. There will no doubt be some tweaks, but if it still seems good I'll figure I have a solid starting point for construction.
November 4, 2017
As of right now, I'm waiting for retirement early next year.
It looks like we'll be moving back to my house in Merchantville, NJ, where the Cove Road layout was partially constructed before my move to South Carolina over seven years ago. How long we'll be there is up in the air right now, but for purposes of starting a new layout after retirement, I'm planning for it to be permanent.
There is no room at all for modeling in this tiny house in South Carolina, and updates to the house are taking a great deal of time. So what little time I have available is being spent on planning a new layout in the Cove Road basement. This will be the same footprint as the old layout.
I'm sticking with the basic approach I started many years ago, though I'll reduce the scope rather significantly, I think. I'm not going to have a four-track helix this time, and will most likely have only a single-deck layout, or at most a very abbreviated second deck.
Here's the beginnings - the Northern Pacific lines. Laurel is somewhat larger than it was on the old Cove Road layout, particularly the engine terminal area. The turntable has grown from 90' to 130' to handle the Challengers that ran on this part of the NP. There are also more stalls to the roundhouse, which itself is larger for the same reason as the turntable. While the number of yard tracks is the same as before, the're a few feet longer thanks to the elimination of the Behemoth Helix. I may try to fit in one or two more yard tracks when construction actually commences.
You can see that I've consolidated both ends of the line into a single staging yard. Building two was probably a bit of overkill, and ate up time and resources I could have better spent elsewhere. I may add an additional track or two to staging, space permitting, to be able to easily handle more trains.
Over the next few months I'll plan out the rest of the layout. Early up will be deciding which features in the CB&Q mainline to keep and which to discard (that won't be an easy job), and also try to figure out which connecting branches can go (Lusk is an early "favorite" for elimination). I'll post elements of the track plan here as I get them developed.
I'm also considering how best to finish the basement prior to railroad construction. I'm seriously considering lowering the floor about a foot to match the new basement floor depth. The lowest parts of the old basement ceiling are just low enough that my hair (what little of it there is left) just brushes the main beams when I walk under them. I'd like a bit more clearance than that.
Also, the basement floor occasionally gets wet (every 3-4 years, based on past experience). If I install a good french drain and sump, that will be a problem of the past, based on experience with the new section of the basement.