Casper Progress – 2021 – October through December

Casper Construction Progress Part 4 – 2021 – October through December

3 October 2021

Well, I discovered that my BLI Consolidation, which I acquired new at the North Platte, Nebraska train show in April, has some sort of problem. It behaves very oddly! I put together and posted a short video on YouTube that shows what's going on...

I contacted BLI Tech Support, and they also reviewed my video. I was told that the behavior of the loco was certainly not normal, and they provided me with an RMA number to return the unit for repair. It will go out tomorrow or Tuesday.

Meanwhile, other work continues. With the completion of "cornfield corner," it was finally time to move Casper into its permanent spot in the corner. I stapled felt strips along the benchwork stringers that will contact the room walls, to prevent damaging the surface of the wall.

With that done, I rolled Casper into position.

Wow! That sure leaves a lot of open space in the room, doesn't it?
Not to worry - I already have plans for all that empty space!

After positioning Casper, I replaced all the casters with new feet. I would have left the casters in place, but there was no height adjustment on them, and with a slightly uneven floor, that would have meant the track in Casper would have undulations in it. That would result in cars rolling out of their spots - not a good thing! So off came the casters, and on went adjustable feet.

Finally, after well over a year of work, I can finally extend the benchwork around the room. I wasted no time in getting started, and built the bench work for Powder River and Shobon off the "west" end of Casper's benchwork. I even got the mounting strips for the backdrop installed behind the Powder River area.

Today I uploaded my latest layout construction video to my YouTube channel.

9 October 2021

I installed a new section of skyboard behind the new Powder River benchwork. It took some doing to splice it in with the Casper section:

But in the end I got it installed. I patched and smoothed the splices and refreshed the paint. The paint is still wet in this shot.

Then I started installing new subroadbed. Here a chunk of 1 1/2" foam is glued to the new benchwork, and has been weighted down until the caulk dries.

Yesterday I added another section of foam. I'm using left over pieces of insulation from when we finished the basement, which is why the sections are a bit on the small side.

And yesterday afternoon, after the caulk had a few hours to set up, I started installing new mainline roadbed.

Here's something of an aerial view of the new roadbed. You can see where the mainline used to curve back around behind the roundhouse when Casper yard was under construction on version 4 of the layout in New Jersey.

20 October 2021

Back on the ninth of October, I continued installing new subroadbed for Powder River.

Then I installed new roadbed, including part of the siding for the stock pens.

Then we went on vacation for over a week. On the 19th, after we got back, I began installing new track. Here I'm getting ready to solder a couple pieces of flex track together for the curve out of Casper.

The track has been soldered and installed.

If you look close you might be able to see the superelevation of this curve. Just under the can closest to the camera are a couple of insulated rail joiners. Casper will be on its own DCC booster.

Today I removed the cans from the new track, wired it up and tested it. Here's one of the Casper switchers running on the new track with a boxcar in tow.

23 October 2021

A couple days ago, a friend from the Casper train club, brought three locos over that he weathered for me. One of them was this 2-10-2 Santa Fe. I added a general coat of dark brown weathering chalk to kill any remaining sheen, and this is the result.

This is a Proto 2000 Heritage unit. Nate does really good work! He enjoys weathering motive power, though his personal preference is diesels (well, nobody's perfect!). His prices for doing this are very reasonable. He can be reached at

I ran out of turnouts, so I had to build a new one for the Powder River siding. Here it is installed, with the mainline extending a couple feet past.

Today I started extending the subroadbed past Powder River and through the curve towards Shobon. At the end of Powder River I'm transitioning from foam to 1/2" plywood.

That PVC pipe is the drain line from the sump pump. I'm going to reroute it farther back into the corner and the backdrop will curve around in front of it, hiding it from view on both this level and in Riverton above.

28 October 2021

Work has continued on the line west from Casper. I completed the transition from foam to plywood by hot gluing the plywood to a notch in the foam, with the first riser for the plywood adjacent to stabilize the connection.

Here's a train heading around the curve out of Casper towards Powder River.

A couple days ago I built and installed the first benchwork section for the Wind River Canyon / Thermopolis peninsula.

Here's the overall benchwork plan for the WRC / Thermopolis peninsula. The picture above is the rightmost section - the 89" long one in the diagram.

And today I installed the Powder River siding. It's long enough to hold eight stock cars. That'll make for a decent-sized set of stock pens, and will provide a small but not overly-diminutive stock train.

9 November 2021

In late October I extended the subroadbed past the Shobon switch.

By November 3rd I had the CB&Q and CNW subroadbed built past Shobon and into the curves leading into the Wind River Canyon. Roadbed was also laid.

Also on the 3rd I uploaded my latest layout update onto youtube.

By the fifth I built the Shobon turnout and laid the curve leading into it.

Over the last few days I built the rest of the Wind River Canyon / Thermopolis benchwork.

All that's left is to add cross bracing to a few of the legs.

12 November 2021

I made pretty good progress on extending the CNW line on the Wind River Canyon peninsula.

That grade seemed pretty steep, but according to my Micro Mark digital level, it was spot on...

The steepness of the grade still bothered me, though. As I was relaxing just before bedtime, I decided to check the track plan elevation against the build. Sure enough, the roadbed was rising much faster than my plan said it should be. At first I was thinking the level was bad, but then I looked closer. The level defaults to degrees of slope, not percent! That two degree slope equated to nearly a 3 1/2 grade! So I spent a few hours regrading the entire line out of Shobon. This looks better:

With the grade corrected to about two percent, this is what the level reads in degrees:

And here's the percent grade I had when I was misreading the level as percent rather than degrees:
That's a pretty steep grade! Glad I caught it when I did.

Yesterday I cut roadbed and installed it on the completed sections of subroadbed.


18 November 2021

Work on the Wind River Canyon / Thermopolis peninsula continues.

By the 14th  I had the subroadbed installed for the CNW line to Riverton through the turnback curve at the end of the peninsula. Cork roadbed wasn't far behind:

The next day the subroadbed was installed past the turnback curve.

On the 16th the Peco Code 70 flextrack I ordered arrived, and on the 16th and 17th I laid some track on the CNW line past Shobon.

Once the track is around the curve and out of sight past Shobon, I switch to Atlas Code 100 flextrack, which I have an overabundance of (we're talking about eight scale miles of it!). No need to use the expensive new track when I have a ton of old but clearly serviceable track to use.

Here's the Shobon turnout. The diverging route is where I laid the new Peco track.

Here's the transition from the Peco code 70 to the Atlas code 100. The Atlas track is on the left.
This kind of transition is actually very easy to do. I put an Atlas code 83/100 rail joiner on the Atlas track, with half extending out, as you normally would. Then I cut through the upper part of the joiners with a Dremel and flatten the extended end with a pair of pliers. Then I simply line up the top and inside of each rail separately and solder it in place. Trains run over the transition just fine!

I added feeders to the new track and ran a test train. Here's the first train past Shobon on the way to Lander.

The Consolidation had no trouble hauling the short train (four cars plus caboose) up the 1 3/4% grade. Once a bit more track is in I'll have to run some tests to see how many cars can be reliably pulled up the grade by the two CNW locos I have. Five to six car trains plus caboose is the plan - the line to Lander was never very heavily traveled, except maybe during the apple harvest in Lander.
I know the track looks a little squiggly, but the camera's perspective make it look worse than it really is. I'm not too worried about it since all this track will be hidden. That's why I'm using nails to lay the Atlas track rather than caulk.

I laid track into the turnback curve today, and got started working out the alignment for the Burlington line in the canyon that will be visible (the CNW line will be hidden behind cliffs and rock faces on this side of the peninsula, and hidden behind the backdrop on the Thermopolis side).

23 November 2021

By the 19th the Burlington line subroadbed was well underway into Wind River Canyon.

The next day roadbed was laid.

On the 21st track was in.


Yesterday I ran the first train into the Canyon on the newest track.

Then I made a short video - "First Trains Through Shobon" - and posted it on Youtube.

30 November 2021

This past week has seen work continuing on the Wind River Canyon peninsula.

Here, on 26 November, I'm pulling buss wires into the peninsula for the Burlington tracks.

I also finished the subroadbed for the Burlington turnback curve that leads out of the canyon and into Thermopolis.

I laid additional Burlington track almost up to the turnback curve, where I stopped. I'll need to superelevate the curve, so I have to extend the subroadbed past the curve into Thermopolis. Right now I'm ruminating on what the trackage in Thermopolis will look like. I might take a trip up to the city museum there in a few days to look for ideas.

Here my soda train holding the new trackage in the Canyon in place while the caulk dries.

Buss wires have all been run into the south entrance to the canyon now. The red and green wires are for the Burlington power district, while the black and white wires are for the CNW district. I still have to extend the CNW buss wires past this point into the peninsula.

On the 28th I finished installing roadbed on the CNW turnback curve, and yesterday I installed the track. I use my camera tripod to support the loose end of the flextrack while I solder the stick to the previous section.

Then I ran a train up from Casper to the new end of track.

Today I finished installing the buss wires in the peninsula, and added feeders to the track that's been laid.

19 December 2021

I was under the weather for a bit early in December, but I did manage to post my December layout update video on YouTube.

I finished installing a wowsound decoder and motherboard kit in my Bachmann 10-Wheeler. No photo of it yet, though...

The CNW line subroadbed through the Wind River Canyon Peninsula has been nearly complete for several weeks now. I finished detailing out the Riverton benchwork plan in order to complete the connection into Riverton (I did most of the design months ago, but had to work out the connection at the east end of the town down into the peninsula).

Over the last few days I installed most of the Riverton benchwork, and the line leading up to it from the canyon peninsula.

Here the wall-mounted stringer is in place:

The west end of Riverton hangs out in empty space. There's no easy way to support that corner of the benchwork. I didn't want a support post coming up from the lower deck, so I went with a threaded rod to suspend it from above. Not ideal, but the best I could come up with under the circumstances.

Here' a better view of the rod, taking from near the ceiling. There's still one piece of framing missing - the board that tapers from the wide section to the narrow section beyond. That will go in during the next week or so.

As of yesterday I had the the subroadbed installed all the way to the far wall, where the second level will appear out of the top of the Wind River Canyon mountains. I had to adjust the grade a bit at the far end of the climb, but that was expected.

And here's another near-the-ceiling shot of the new Riverton benchwork and the end of the CNW climb to the upper level (far right).

23 December 2021

Inching towards completion of the Riverton benchwork. This is a couple of 2X6's screwed together and cut to match the taper along part of the Riverton benchwork. It was cut to shape using a table saw.

And here's the block installed.

And here's the benchwork basically complete, with the subroadbed / top in place. All that's left is to screw it down to the framework and add a couple of splices underneath. Then I'll be ready to lay track.

28 December 2021

I glued down the cork sheet for Riverton a couple days ago.

Then I laid out the track arrangement on it.

Today I got the track from Casper laid up to the siding switch in Riverton. Now I need to build the switches.

I also started installing the guards for the CNW track inside the Wind River Canyon mountains. If I have a derailment, I don't want the equipment falling the five to six feet to the floor!

This is the first guard. I still have to test it for clearance with a passenger car.

31 December 2021

In early December I set the goal to have the CNW line connected through to Hudson by the end of the year.

Today I made it!

There isn't much of anything at Riverton except the turnouts for the siding, but the line connects through Riverton to the track that's been in place for a while above Casper yard, and it all works.

Here's a few shots of a train making its way all the way from Casper to Hudson.

The CNW train awaiting departure from Casper.

A "pilot" view of the tracks as we head out of Casper.

Here's a view from the pilot as we head up the grade in the Wind River Canyon peninsula. Not much of a view, but nothing will tumble to the floor in the event of a derailment on this hidden trackage.

Another view of the train inside the fences on the peninsula.

The pilot view as we enter Riverton.

And the view as enter Hudson.

And our train in Hudson.

The wiring is jury-rigged right now. Over the next few days it will be properly installed.