Thursday, April 30, 2009

Scenery Cross Section

We're starting to build the swamp base tomorrow and I wanted to double check my notes and previous designs. I'm going with two layers of foam, the first layer being the sandy, soupy, soggy "trembling earth" and the second layer being island material. Only Billy's island and small sections of Honey Island and the others will be "high swamp".

In this drawing (scale to 1/2 inch - click it to see the full size) you can see the pink foam on the plywood base. The water is a half an inch thick. The pilings are 1 1/2 inches long with a tie on top. Here is a longer cross section with the full piling trestle. The occasional diagonals appear when a piling has quite settled on the bottom and are completely at random. The taller weeds and saw palmettos grow on the low lands. The cypress trees will be everywhere.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another Good Swamp Song

No Train Time

I've not been able to do anything in the train room for several days, and the contest is coming up soon. Tomorrow night I've got to get ready for the Friday night session.

Maybe I can work on the Slaughterhouse this weekend. Busy, busy, busy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Springtime in Gator Country

Mr. Hopkins told the crew to lay off this morning. Its raining...again. It's been raining now for a week and a half. Two members of the right-o-way crew already have reported some of the track pilings floating down the prairie. Some parts of the islands are flooded and there are lots of branches on the tracks. You can see the steam coming off the rails as the warm temperatures start to bake the ties.

Spring is here in South Georgia. Just one notch below Hades on the thermometer. Skeeters are starting to lay eggs and the alligators are going to mound. You can hear the bulls bellowing all night long, making your lantern rattle in shack. Everything is green exceptin' the grey cypress trunks.

Rex and Eugene worked on one of the Porters most of the day. She needed a little TLC. Rex cursed and swore as he continually wiped raindrops from his face, thanks to the leaky tin roof. You can hear the sizzle of the drops as they land on the furnace's vent hood. Eugene had to shoo away a little corn snake that had decided he'd had enough swimming for the day.

Outside its as dark as night as the thick clouds roll over the Okefenokee. Lightning reflects off the black water followed by the low, rolling thunder clap. Water is pooling up in the shop floor.

Coffee is hot, so help yourself.

Planning Friday Night's Work Session

Time to put the yucky pink foam on the layout! Here is the cutting diagram. Click on it to enlarge.

This Friday the team will be doing the following:

  • Discussing the completion of the hammock (the Okefenokee name for a floating island, or the mobile section of the benchwork. Unfortunately my buddies can't help me work on it because I need it for my scenery and civil AP certificates.
  • Laying 3/8th plywood on the right hand wall, cutting it to fit and gluing it with Liquid Nails to the risers, limiting any screw holes that could leak water.
  • Sealing it with paint, making sure to tape off the wall.
  • Planning and pre cutting the foam. I've not nailed the depth of the foam down yet, so this could be hard. Will put down with Liquid Nails Latex Version
  • Plan for central computer placement and wiring
  • Plan for tree night for Bob at my house.
  • Remember to give Bob back his drywall tools
  • Scott to take pictures while we are working this time
  • Discuss best way to build the return loop (outside the room)
Stuff the guys needs to bring:
  • Extra saber saw
  • Wear painting clothes
Stuff I need to appropriate this week:

  • Paint or sealer for the plywood
  • Liquid Nails (check the shop first)
  • Liquid Nails for Projects
  • Sabre saw blades for plywood (check shop first)
  • Paint brushes
  • Healthy snacks and ice
  • Masking tape


Yup, we have timber. Packrat Paul and Coalfinger Ken brought it over late this afternoon. You could tell that they were tired. Glue-Bob called me just before they came to tell me they were on their way. The three of them had been cutting lumber all day.

Paul's truck was filled up to the top with lumber for his layout, which is using a lot! Ken had his in there, too. I'm glad to hear that Ken is expanding his N-scale layout. I've not seen it yet, but hope to soon. They are great guys for going by Lowe's and picking me up four sheets of 3/8ths plywood, C grade and four sheets of 3/4" foam insulation board. We'll be putting this down on the layout Friday night.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Photos From Today's Field Trip to the Richlawn RR

When you enter Rick Wade's very nice train room you see the Richlawn Railroad printed on the glass above the double doors. Wow! Nice touch!

The first thing that grabs you is a large and sprawling city that is detailed to an extremly high level with lights, people and details, details, details.

I love the Louisville & Nashville, mostly because my grandfather retired with 50 years of service from the L&N. Seems Rick likes it, too!

Here is a fantastic really large timber trestle that will be completed and installed on the layout very soon.

The roundhouse's turntable has been removed with the aid of jack hammers and the newer engine servicing facility is seeing diesels on a daily basis. In the background you hear the sounds of the shop with lathes, drills, hammers and other tools.

Here the L&N rumbles by the busy town...

Rick's scenery is plaster over cardboard in most places, and the large mountains are preformed with wire fencing.

The etched brass wrought iron fencing is spectacular and every detail is in the right place.

That's Rick to the left with the coffee, Coalfinger Ken and Packrat Paul.

The Rexall Drug Store has a lot of new business now that they have put in the fancy lighted sign.

Rick was kind enough to open up his layout to the group on a Saturday morning in the first of what we believe is going to be a regular monthly field trip. Neil Thomas's Diamond River Layout is next and that's him to the right taking a picture.

Here you can see the distant mountains that are about an inch off the wall in the back. This gives them tremendous depth. Added to that is the N-scale scene that towers over the HO scale town in the valley. Rick is a master of forced perspective.

While there is a lot completed, there is more to go. The popsicle sticks support an acetate "fence" to keep errant locomotives from taking the short trip to the repair shop. Apparently these were put in one brass locomotive too late. Great idea! Especially for hidden track.

Here you can see the crash fence a little more clearly.

Thanks Rick!


My good friend Packrat Paul has volunteered to bring me four sheets of plywood and four sheets of 1" thick foam insulation board. He's got a very big truck, which is a major asset in my book. Train night is at my house next week, so we'll begin construction of the table top.

This Month's Field Trip

Each month the NCIOG is going field trip. We think it is the best way to learn about model railroading, mainly through invading their layout and baraging them with questions. My kind of fun.

Today we marched over to Rick Wade's Richlawn Railroad, which can be see on Youtube at Rick has a deep layout designed for breathtaking scenery. We enjoyed a cup of coffee and a lot of good fun as we asked questions. You can take a ride in his camera car as well!

Rick is certainly a scenery guy and it jumps out at you the minute you walk in the door. His highly detailed and well balanced city is fantastic and I took a lot of pictures which I'll post soon. The benchwork is deep and makes the mountains in the background (along with their forced perspective engineering) seem like they are miles away.

He has a lot of finished scenery and still more to go. The layout runs well with two trains running behind each other and never failing. Rick's using Digitrax like most of the group.

Some key takeaways:

  • Deep scenery is better scenery
  • You can fasten your layout skirt to the layout using inexpensive clothes pins attached to the back of the facia.
  • Brining the mountains off the backdrop adds a large amount of depth to the layout.
  • Mountains are not 100% green and some dead spots make them look very realistic.
  • Detailing the inside of a tunnel portal really improves the appearance
  • Great care must be taken in planning for the use of camera cars on the layout with regards to scenery.
  • Always carry a camera and a note pad, or a recording device, so that you can make notes on what you see.
  • Using clear acetate sheets and popsicle sticks you can build an easy barricade along an unscenicked right-of-way in order to keep trains from taking the short trip to the repair shop, and even in hidden trackage areas.
  • Work on key scenery items off the layout. Build scenes on transportable modules and do the detail work on the workbench, then install on the benchwork.
  • The entrance to the layout room counts! First impressions make all the difference. Put a key focal point right in front of the door.
  • Sound affects are really nice and add a lot to the scene to make it lively. Having them fade out as the session moves along is helpful to prevent "burn out" on the noise.

Next month we visit Neil Thomas's Diamond River

The Fire

My friend Bob McIntyre of the Piedmont Division had a fire in his home the other day. The house is a totally loss, but he and his wife Connie and the cat got out safely. Bob has just recently beat cancer again, so he's had the afflications of Job.

Bob's train layout was large and complex. A great work of art! I'm sad to see it go, as it was mostly gutted.

We're offering to help him in any way we can and to support him getting back into the hobby, but it will be a while I'm sure.

Meanwhile, I'm going to learn from him and get everything in the basement recorded!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Night On The ONRR

I love train night! I live for it, in fact. Every train night with the NCIOG (North County Interchange Operating Group) I learn more and push myself more.

Tonight was Bob the Builder's night. The Ontario Northland is really slick. Bob is allergic to scenery, but he's about out of track to lay so its the next step in the progression. Wade was there tonight and he's a good scenery guy, so he and I began to plan and design.

The key to starting the scenery is the layout scenic divider. It is structural and will hold up scenery, so it has to be installed. We came up with a clever way of mounting it over the staging tracks using an L-girder system. I think it will work great!

I always learn so much. Packrat Paul was working on mechanical turnout linkages. He spent a great deal of time getting an education tonight and I look forward to downloading his knowledge so that I can use it on the swamp.

Ken got his knickname tonight! Poor guy was staining ties with a shoe polish/alcohol mix and accidentally bumped the fascia. Ink went all over him, the layout and the floor. We're calling him Coalfinger after the dark, stained hands he now owns.

Steve-bay is really kickin' butt with track laying! He spent the evening hand laying the yard trackage. He does really nice work. The psychologist is going to visit him later next week to see if his condition improves.

Meanwhile, Bob the Builder kept avoiding the scenery team until finally we cornered him and made him go cut some boards. I've volunteered to have a tree making party for him at my house and that might kick start him a little more.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Limited Edition Swamp Cup

LOL...I took my daughter out on Father/Daughter day and we went to a place where we could paint our own pottery. I painted a coffee cup with swamp things on it and it turned out great! I'm going to make some more them soon. They aren't cheap, but they are highly unique!

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Visit To Mecca...

I can't believe it. I finally got the chance, and I took it. All my life I wanted to go to Promontory Point to see where the golden spike was driven. So this week, after I'd wrapped up a meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, I drove to this magical place.

Now, if you know your history, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific met on May 10, 1869 to complete the first transcontinental railroad.

I stood on the laurel wood tie (a replacement) and looked around me. The area is as desolate as it was when they built the railroad. Plains with rolling hills of grass and rock surrounded me on all sides. The rain drizzled down on me as I was the only one standing there.

While there I learned a few important things...

1. The railroads missed intersection with each other by 250 miles.
2. The golden spike was driven at Promontory SUMMIT, not Promontory Point which is much further south of the site.
3. None of the original gold or silver spikes is at the museum and most are at Standford University.
4. The golden spike was never really driven. It was of 17 carat gold and was too soft to take a hit.
5. Both dignitaries, one from each railroad, took turns driving spikes and both missed.
6. The Jupiter and the 119 locomotives are both recreations, made in the 1970's.

What a fun place! There isn't much there so you REALLY need to be a train nut to go. The best part was going to the engine house. You have to ask for permission to go and they gladly send you on your way with a permit. I was able to corner Ranger W. Daubert and spent a wonderful time learning about American locomotives from him. He is great!!!

What fun!

Monday, April 13, 2009

I found a swamp layout!

It just so happens that an Australian modeler has built a section of a Louisianna swamp that looks fantastic! I don't know who he is yet, but I'm running it down so that I can squeeze him for every piece of information I can!

There is a movie on the page, too. Just check out the end of the movie

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Afternoon In The Shop

My daughter has strep throat, so most of our normal Easter plans were cancelled as I missed church this morning in order to sit in a doctor's office. Luckily its not too bad. But that means...she is in bed watching movies and I can work in the shop!

Today I finally got around to painting. The airbrush needed some work, so I've been putting it off. Today I disasembled my Paashe VLS airbrush completely and cleaned it inside and out. Then I downloaded the VLS PDF manual and began debugging the parts. The needle (VLN 1, 3 or 5) has to be replaced and some other parts are worn, so its a trip to the train shop for me this week. I got it working well enough to paint the back walls, though and I'll proceed until I can lay in a supply of change parts.

Using Floquil SP Lark Dark Grey, I painted all the inside walls of the Slaughterhouse and the backs of all the windows. I've used black like many people do for the inside, but black has a tendency to catch your eye and I've found that dark gray is more of a "shadow" color and more natural to the eye. It took a while to get so much plastic painted so I watched "A Fistful of Dollars" while I paited. I keep forgetting to put on old clothes on paint day so I ruined another shirt. I'm out of paint so I added it to my shopping list along with the parts. The ultrasonic cleaner does a great job on cleaning the brush.

The next project while the paint was drying was to work on the benchwork. I've cordoned off a section of the layout that is a bit over 60 square feet. This is because I want to claim its construction for my NMRA AP program and my friends aren't allowed to help me. This is completely backward from the spirit of the hobby, but it is what it is. I constructed the gurney.

I wasn't going to build it until last, but I realized that I really needed to build its nesting fram AFTER I build the gurney, not before. After buying some 1x3 poplar stock lumber, I made the frame. Actually, I had a big mess on my hands because the 1x3 poplar lumber is really 3/4" x 2 1/2". Bastards. Why don't they label it that way! So the plywood I cut wouldn't work with it. This forced me to buy some more which caused an argument with the hog that was at the cash register. Jerk. Oh well.

This is about where the gurney will line up with the layout.

I wanted to make sure the gurney was strong and didn't warp or change shape, so I made it a little stronger than I woulr have normally. The poplar is nice would and notches well. It is also very light so I can easily lift this section by myself. It still needs a top cover of plywood.

That's all for today. Next time I head to the Homeless Despot, I'll carry a tape measure.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The AP Program

I'm getting fired up to complete the NMRA's AP Program. I've got several of them already and just need a few more to finish. I hate paperwork, so it has been something I really just ahven't enjoyed, but with a layout going on I can easily complete the requirements. A long time ago I had listed the things that I wanted to do to finish Master Builder - Cars. So here is what I'm planning to finish by the November contest in 2009. I'm already entering a model in this June's program, so I'll finish it before I get started.

1. Master Builder - Cars.

A. You must build eight operable scale models of railroad cars:

Build the following in On30 Freelanced Hebard Cypress:

1. Logging Flat Car – loaded with large log

2. Gondola Slab Car – loaded

3. Gondola Slab Car – loaded

4. Box Car – standard with interior

5. Box Car – standard with interior

6. Tank Car – old style

7. Combine Passenger Car – regular (Argent)

8. Combine Passenger Car – Jim Crowe (Argent)

1. There must be at least four different types of cars represented in the total of eight. One of these must be a passenger car.

Four different types are logging flat 1, gondola 2, box 2, tank 1, combine 2 = total 8

2. Each of the eight models must be super detailed with either commercial parts or scratch built parts (for extra points).

Each will be scratch build and detailed entirely using resin casting techniques. All cars will work off the same frame. The trucks will be scratch built as well as the couplers for extra credit. For my own purposes each will be cast for mass production, then detailed. Yosemite Valley prototypes will be used.

3. In addition to being super detailed, at least four of the eight models must be scratch built. The term "scratch built" implies that the modeler has done all of the necessary layout and fabrication that produce the final dimensions, appearance, and operating qualities of the model.

Each will be scratch build and detailed entirely using resin casting techniques. Wheels and axles may be the only kit item. Decals will be custom made.

4. The following parts are specifically excluded from the scratch built requirement:

1. Wheels - buy

2. Couplers – make link and pin

3. Light bulbs & electronics. - none

4. Trucks. – scratchbuild frames

5. Brake fittings. – scratchbuild

6. Marker lights & drumheads. - none

7. Paint, decals, etc. - ok

8. Basic shapes of wood, plastic, metal, etc. -ok

B. You must earn a score of at least 87-1/2 points on four of the eight models in either an NMRA sponsored contest or in AP Merit Award judging.

All eight models will be submitted for judging at a contest. Getting points for flat cars is tough because they are considered more easily built, so I’ll only make one of them. The base frame, however, will supply the platform for all of the other cars. The other hard area is 30” prototypes, which there are few. I’ll have to use similar styles of cars and back them up with drawings and photos. I’ll make a hand drawing of each one.

C. You must submit a Statement of Qualification (The SOQ forms are also available from your Regional AP Manager ) which includes the following:

· An attachment giving a detailed description of each of the eight models, including:

o Identification of all scratch built features

o All commercial components used

o Materials used in building the model

o If the model is a kit, whose kit is it?

· Verification of the Merit Awards (photocopies of the certificates)

· Photos of the model are helpful, though not required.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Gurney Has Been Designed!

Ok, I finally sat down at the computer and finished designing the gurney. The wheels are not in the drawing, but the rest is planned.

It will be on four heavy casters. The side boards that connect with the layout will be made out of cabinet grade poplar.

I also decided to do the fascia in fake alligator hide. What fun!

Slaughterhouse #5 Now Serving Cargo Vessels

There were slaughterhouses on the Calumet's Cal-Sag Channel! In fact, this is part of the reason it has gotten so polluted. So we'll be filling up vessels with ice and beef for export.

Lumber for the Slaughterhouse

I just re-ordered the lumber for Slaughterhouse #5. The hobby shop trashed my order, so I just sent it back in. Also, I just found out that the NMRA Southeastern Region Convention is having a Rails to Sails special contest, so I thought I might add a pier to my Slaughterhouse.

Here is what I ordered today...


Quantity: 2
Product: 2x8 scale lumber
Scale/Price/Options: HO-scale-24 ($ 2.95ea.)

Quantity: 6
Product: 4x8 scale lumber
Scale/Price/Options: HO-scale-24 ($ 2.95ea.)

Quantity: 3
Product: 8x8 scale lumber
Scale/Price/Options: HO-scale-24 ($ 2.95ea.)

Model Jim Crowe Models

I've been very reluctant to model some of the Jim Crow items that I'd like to. The Hebard Cyrpess Company had camp houses for both races, as well as cars. All of it was segregated. Foolish and racist, yes, but a historical fact none the less.

Should I model these and be bold? Or just forget about it?

Would you be offended if you came over an saw them? Or would you see it as a historical truth?

Your opinion much appreciated! Post your comments below.

For Hydrocal Plaster...

This is my long time supplier of hydrocal and ultracal plaster here in the Atlanta, GA area...

5076 Peachtree Rd.

Atlanta, Georgia 30341
Phone: 770-451-2105
Fax: 770-455-7012

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mr. Hopkins - Superintendent of the Waycross & Southern Railroad

John May Hopkins was educated at Thomasville in a branch school affiliated

with the Georgia State University, and after completing his course in that

institution, engaged in the study of law and subsequently was admitted to the

bar. Although thus qualified, Mr. Hopkins practiced but a short time, having

become interested in another direction. He was in charge of a survey party that

explored the Okefenokee swamp and made surveys and estimated the amount,

condition and quality of timber. After completing this survey he went to

northern Michigan to gain a practical knowledge of the lumber business, entering

the employ of Charles Hebard & Sons, lumber company, at their plant in Ba-raga

county, Michigan, and remained there until 1908, when he returned to Georgia to

establish the plant of The Hebard Cypress Company, at Hebardville, two miles

from Waycross, in Ware county, and here installed one of the most complete

plants of the kind in the whole country. This is a stupendous enterprise, 750

men being constantly employed, and the mills having a capacity of 125,000 feet

of lumber per day of ten hours. Of this plant Mr. Hopkins is the general

superintendent, and additionally he is general superintendent of the Waycross &

Southern Railroad.

History of Logging In the Swamp - Hebard Cypress Company & South Georgia Cypress

Here is some of the Hebard Cypress Company's rolling stock:

Ware County, ca. 1913-1919. The "One spot" (second largest engine) ran alternate with the "Seven Spot" (largest engine) on the main line from Hebardville to Hopkins. Both engines were too large to run on the piling track that ran onto Billy's Island."--from field notes

Ware County, ca. 1910. Hebard Cypress Mill at Hebardville.

Ware, ca. 1920s. Employees of boarding house (Hebard Boarding House) and guests on Billy's Island.

Dougherty, ca. 1903-1910. Logs loaded so they could be transported by rail to the Red Cypress Lumber Company. Note the size of the logs compared to the size of the men in the photograph.

Screven County, ca. 1910. Group of men shown with 1,924 foot long cypress tree which was cut in Screven County.

Dougherty County, ca. 1903-1910. Red Cypress Lumber Company workers pictured with huge logs they have cut from this timber forest. The piece of machinery in the foreground may be a portable sawmill used in the cutting process. The logs were loaded in order to be transported by rail to the plant.

The Midnight Special

Our spring break plans were trashed yesterday so my wife gave me the night off! Hooray! So at 6:00 in the evening and during dinner, I start calling the crew to see who can come over. Bob and Paul were available so we started working on the benchwork again.

I put the coffee pot on, baked some cookies and headed to my sawdust covered paradise. Paul came in and we immediately started talking about his really cool layout under construction. He was telling me how the East Broad Top might be loaning his railroad some hoppers. Being an EBT fan I was all ears.

Bob came over shortly after and we began on the right hand side of the layout. We finished the cantilevers (two of them) and the joist, which were already cut by Steve and Ken the worknight before. We decided to put the first cantilever at the weak point which is also the narrow point of the layout, then the second one in the middle of the nine foot L-girder.

These both require cutting an angle that is steeper than the 50 degree limit of my chop saw. I'm not aware of a better way to do it so we were unsafely holding it and cutting by using teamwork. Later in the evening Bob was cutting a short piece by himself as Paul and I looked on. Little did we know that this 2x2 piece has a serious knot inside that was invisible to the naked eye. It went off like a gun shot and the saw through the piece at me like a bullet. It crashed about a foot away from my face and into the sheetrock. I staggered and caught my fall as I landed in the next room. I kindly excused myself, changed my underwear, and went back to work. I do wear safety glasses for just such projectiles. Needless to say it made me jumpy the rest of the night. Later in the evening the guys broke a small profile board and I hit the dirt, much to their delight.

Since the L-girders were pitched at an angle and not parrellel to the wall, we had to notch the 2x2 uprights to make them fit. We carefully measured, cut way the excess with a chiesel, test fit the piece, noticed it was upside down, and began the process again. I laughed way to much last night, amidst dodging flying lumber.

After finishing the left side, we grabbed a cookie and a fresh cup of Joe and headed to the left side. We completed another six feet of bench and then retired to the talking table.

The rolling table module which we are now calling "the gurney" has still not been finalized. The guys brought up some great ideas and I had a few as well. Still, nothing struck my fancy. Paul came up with an excellent idea of making a mock up so I grabbed to eight foot boards and Bob dropped in a 34" cross piece and we pretended we had the module. Paul and I moved it around and we really began to understand that it was huge! Nine feet won't work and neither will 34" wide, so it either has to be 8' x 32" or two pieces. I'm really not liking the option, so I'll think about it more this evening. I might need to change the trackwork, but the track is EXACTLY like the Billy's Island trackage and it will break my heart to move it around.

At midnight we decided to pack it up and walked back into the train room to gather our jackets when Bob got the itch to put up a simulated fascia board just to see how the layout would look. I had some 4" pieces of luan plywood scrap, so we screwed them in place and the layout is going to look GREAT!

It's great to have good friends that will drop what they are doing and come play. Steve, we missed you but we know you work long hours.

I've gotten a lot of requests to start the Swamp Stories again. These are coming from the guys on the On30 Conspiracy from several years ago when the swamp modules were being constructed. I think I'll crank them up or at least post some old ones. At the time I was constructing some scenic test modules for the swamp. Here is a picture of one section with a crossing and piling bridge. It was destroyed when the "water" I poured reacted with the sealing paint on the foam and devoured the module.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bob The Builder's Reply...

Scott, just thinking out loud:

1) why are we doing this, i.e. objective:
  • provide space to access the layout up to the wall due to it's depth > 30" reach.
  • be able to work on part of then layout away from the layout room entrance.
  • be able to transport part of the layout off site.
  • a fun and challenging thing to do.
2) How to do it:
  • make one or two rolling on casters module sections.
  • join with self aligning technique.
  • make joints away from turnouts and the less possible track sections.
  • max width of 35", preferably 34" wide.
  • max length of 6 feet.
3) Brainstorming ideas:
  • as drawn but instead of 9' long make one 6' and one 3'. Join where there are only 2 straight tracks
  • make two removable sections, one 6' long as drawn from the centre of room area and the other 6' in to the corner. Split at exactly between the two single cross-overs.
  • make two removable sections totaling 10'. One 4' long as drawn from the center of room area and the other another 16" towards the corner till the long joint contacts the wall for a length of 6'. Split at just to the end of the turnout on the inner line.
  • self align vertically with a ledge and horizontally with self aligning dowels.

My thoughts...

LOL - "fun and challenging" wasn't anything that I planned! I'm for simply and by the book! While two sections would do the trick, that is a lot of alignment work that I really don't want to fool with.

Tip: Take the time to analyze the task ahead. What are your goals and objectives? What alternative ways do you have to solving the problem? What ideas do your friends have? Then, which idea best solves your problem and does it the most simple or cost effective way (or matches YOUR skill set the best?) Great work, Bob!

I'm going to go to the basement tomorrow and take some measurements.
Maybe we can change the track configuration a little and make the module 8 feet in length instead of 9 or 10.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Door Jam Damn

Somehow, someway, I drew the door incorrectly on the plan! How @$$#!$ stupid! The door is 36" and somehow I made it 46". I've fixed the plan.

Thanks to Bob the Builder for showing me the error of my ways...

So, if the rolling table is going to fit through the door, she has to be 34" max.

Oh much space do I have OUTSIDE of the door? It may not come out.


The Rolling Table - More Design Work

My friend Bob the Builder has requested a drawing of the trackwork and the benchwork together over the table area.

The Pocket Knife Layout

Many years ago I was working on a layout design for a friend of mine that wanted to put a layout in the garage that could move out of the way when the cars needed to come in. I designed a "pocket knife" layout which has a section that folds into itself like a pocket knife. It has some good points and bad points, but would work very well for it purpose.

One of my thoughts was that the Okefenokee Railroad could make use of this technology, but shot it down after deciding the hinge part would be too difficult to construct. Here is a drawing...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

More benchwork...

Working solo this afternoon I gave the basement a good cleaning and got rid of all the sawdust. I put the tools away and moved some things around a bit so that we could work better. I'm a safety nut and have all my fingers to prove that being a safety nut is a good thing.

Then, I went back to work on the layout and put in another L-girder. For some reason five guys can do it a lot faster than one. It's at least a two man job.

After that I cooked London Broil and took a hot shower. That's it for me today. Tomorrow I'm painting the Slaughterhouse.

The Rolling Table

In order for the town of Billy's Island to look right, it has to be deep. In fact, a lot of the scenery is much deeper than the norm because of the scenery effects that I want to achieve. Scenery has been given a second place in model railroading lately as operations have become more important. I'm of the opinion that scenery makes the layout.

But deep scenery creates a problem. Just how to you work on it when you can't reach it? To solve this problem Bob, myself and the rest of the gang came up with the rolling table concept. The idea is that a section of the benchwork is mobile and can be moved out of the way in order to reach hard to get spots and for super detailing. The front area of Billy's Island, about 30" deep of it as well as 9 feet long will be removeable, meaning it will be on a rolling table. The table will be just wide enough to get through the door so that it can be taken out of the room. Heck, we can even take it to train shows! This area will have a concentration of structures and will need to be highly detailed so I can even move it to my workbench.

My first thought was to use my "pen knife layout" idea and fix it so that it dropped and folded up under the layout. Later I went to a hinged pull-out section. All of those blocked the path at one time or another to the back of the layout. Bob suggested a rolling table and I liked the idea. We can unhook it and move it back in the train room to work, or take it completely out of the room. Using his screw/solder/rail alignment system and the dowel locking system we can get very good alignment. We all cut up some track plans and tested the idea and believe it to be a winner.

It is not much different from a modular system, but it has to be VERY precise. There are six tracks that must line up perfectly. Actually, I'm more excited about taking it to train shows to exhibit. What fun!

So on to the design part. I'm a bit torn between L-girder and joist construction, and just plain old box grid. The fit between benchwork and module must be exact. I've already determined that the face plates that will hold the dowels will be oak or other hard wood. We ran into problems with the 2009 Raffle Layout trying to dowel the plywood. Just doesn't work well.

I'm throwing my sketches up here so the guys can review them and give me ideas.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Benchwork Party!

We had a good crew tonight and got a lot done on the layout. Attendees were Keith, Paul, Steve, Ken and myself.

We were able to get the drop ceiling channel installed all around the room. Since we had already measured key points during a previous session, all we had to do was snap a chalk line along the wall and screw up the channels. Well, not "screw up" but screw...well, you know what I mean.

Keith talked me out of legs and into cantilevered benchwork in order to make cleaning the floor (and replacing the temporary carpet with plush, thick, padded Berber) more easy. I'm glad I agreed as I think it will be a major improvement. While I had planned to do this on an earlier design, I decided to use legs when I increased the benchwork to three feet deep. The angle supports underneath are very strong and hold the weight quite well. Now I can vacuum the floor with anything being in the way.

We started at the back of the room by placing an L-girder across the back at 28" from the wall, where the previous L-girder resided. Steve and Ken were playing sawmill all night and cut all the lumber for us. Each joist had to be custom cut, a 3/4" hole drilled one foot from the back and the front corner of the joint knocked off. I do this because I have cut or bruised my head innumerable times.

Each L-girder and joist were carefully watched for levelness as we are going to pour lots of synthetic water on the surface and don't want it to flow away. We took our time and made sure each piece was level and strong.

We worked our way around the room until 11:00 pm, then said our goodbyes. I always hate when the guys leave, and enjoyed sitting in the basement for another 30 minutes looking at the wonderful progress on the railroad. Thanks guys!

Tip: a small card table makes a great central point for storing tools while working on the layout. It helps keep the layout room clean and free of hazards as well as making it easier to find your tools. Remember to clean up for 5 minutes every night!