Saturday, May 16, 2009

Field Trip - Neil Thomas's Diamond River in HO

It is always a fun to go on our monthly field trip. We do it once a month on a Saturday morning and Taylor, the club mascot and my daughter, always comes along. She loves trains.
Our visit this week is over to Neil Thomas's house. I've looked forward to this all week and thought I might miss it as my daughter was having some complications from a shot that the doctor gave her on Wednesday. Luckily she is ok and we got to go on the trip.

Neil built a fine layout and decided he didn't like some of the operating aspects of it. So he tore it out and rebuilt it almost overnight. I love the new design!

He was able to reuse most of the lumber and screws, along with the electrical components.

Neil tells us about his plans (dark shirt) while Taylor and I look at all the structures.
Here is one of the main towns with some industry already popping up. The sidings are long and spacious.
Here is a below-level storage area. Neil has decided not to have hidden storage.
His benchwork is pine dimensional lumber.
Bob's brain is cranking "what if" statements and taking it all in as Paul with his new buzz cut asks Neil a question.

The long aisles have track on both sides. This layout is slightly bigger than the previous one.
Here is some more staging of which there is a lot more than before. Neil really knows what he wants now and is building it quickly.
His benchwork is flawless and strong. The aisles are spacious. I can't wait to get an invite to operate on it!
The staging is both the "to" and "from" location.
He's using masonite strips for the roadbed. The right-of-way is slow curving and pleasing to the eye. It is also strong and very quiet.
Here you can see the corner.
The loop helps the train navigate up to the next level.
The DCC system is Digitrax and comes from the previous layout. This panel folds down for easy access.
Some of the roadbed is on homasote.
This is the underneath side of the turnout, constructed of Masonite.
Neil was kind enough to run a train over the roadbed for us...quiet and smooth! He builds excellent trackwork!
Two trains play around the loop.
The Tortoise is mounted on a small square of Masonite and then attached underneath the raodbed.
A lonely cabosse tags along.
While there I met Brad who is building an Atlanta 1940's layout, so we exchanged emails and I'll catch up with him later.

As always, it is fun to visit Neil. He's a perfectionist and is willing to put in the hard work to make things right. I have no doubt that this layout will run flawlessly! Thanks for the field trip, Neil! I always learn a lot from you.

Key Learnings:

  • When in doubt, rip it out.
  • Masonite roadbed is strong, curves well and deadens sound.
  • Masonite facia is not a good choice in the south.
  • You can reuse a lot of materials from an old layout, including the screws. Waste not, want more.
  • Good aisle space is wider aislespace.
  • Putting a light coat of white paint over the used pine boards on the top of the open grid benchwork will wipe out old pencil marks and give you a clean surface to work with.
  • Don't cut Masonite in the train room. Do it outside or in another area as it creates significant amounts of dust.
  • Don't hide staging, but keep it easily accessible.

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