Archive for April, 2012

Out of the Closet
I had an incredibly productive day today. I’ve wanted to make the layout more mobile so I could take it places, starting with our church school this summer. I would build a frame of 1×4’s and have it sit on saw horses. The horses would contribute to the industrial look.

A couple of problems. My carpentry skills are nill and so are my power tools. To add to the challenge, the plywood the layout is on was dimensioned to fit in my spare bed room closet. After I got it almost installed, I found out that the closet wasn’t square at the corners. Not a problem for operating in situ, but one would like the hand crafted bench work to be the highest possible quality to take on the road.

But hey, I went for it. I used modified methods described in the video by World’s Greatest Hobby, as well as this guy on YouTube at ModelRailroadTV. I bought the screws and bit for countersinking drywall screws, but I went with finishing nails instead. Let’s see if it lasts. I have faith in Gorilla Glue.

It turns out I didn’t do too bad considering I didn’t have a power saw. Some of the edges of the table top hang over less than 1/8″, about the width of the saw blade. Its not a problem at all for right now – only if I wish to add another module and butt the ends together. I can plane those down.

Ended up being a Saturday project  – maybe about 4 hours. Minus the time to fetch the materials, which I had already gathered.

Well, the glue is drying so we’ll see what it looks like tomorrow, including pics. Now, on to the open road!


I wanted a mix of industries that would merit a mix of rolling stock – box cars, tankers, flats, gondolas, and my all-time favorite, covered hoppers. I don’t know why, I just love the profile of an ACF center flow. They were frequent on the tracks around where I grew up.

I wasn’t too worried about strictly conforming to Timesaver capacities. There are 7 spurs in the configuration. The four on the west (left) side of the layout would each serve a different industry. The three on the east would serve a single, large company. Here is what I came up with:

A food manufacturing company (Silvan Food Co.) – receives various raw materials and ships end products, most in box cars.

A garden tool company (Ames) – receives flats and boxes of wood and other supplies, ships end product in boxes.

A wharehouse/shipping compnay (National Transfer & Storage) – can receive just about any solid product. Maybe some of those new fangled coil cars, maybe even an intermodal now an then (not enough room?). Ships out by truck.

A RIP track – can recieve any type of car! Don’t quite have enough room for a full repair shed, so this will be a bit of a “junk lot” – lots of modeling and traffic potential.

At the other end we’ll have a chemical and plastics plant (Dupont) to receive those covered hoppers. Also chemicals in tank cars and end product in box cars (or pellets could be the end product so the covered hoppers come in empty and leave with loads).

The trackplan is already laid out, so the footprint of each industry will be determined by space, and made mostly from ready-available kits, with maybe some bashing or altering as needed.

Silvan Food Co – Kitbash from multiple Belvedere Hotels based on an Art Curren article in the 1980’s. Space is limited, so I will probably end up doing more of a freelance kitbash.

Ames – Walthers Heritage Furniture background building build pretty much as a stock kit.

National Transfer & Storage – A bashed George Roberts Printing from Walthers. Altered to fit the space. Basically, I just squared everything off. I would have needed to cut the large wall of the kit to fit the space for the back wall. It is such a nice big peice of wall stock, I figured I could use it somewhere else on the layout. I took a photo of the wall which faces the viewer and scaled to size and printed it on my work color printer. I glued that onto foam core to produce the back wall. I could have easily just have had a white piece of foam core, which I have done on some other buildings.

RIP track – made up of a yard office from a repurposed caboose, maybe a crane and/or a dock. Lots of bits and pieces lying around.

Dupont – haven’t really started yet, but a heavy industry in disrepair with lots of angles, tubes, towers, tanks, and such. Once track each for chemical unloading, pellet unloading, box car loading/unloading. Probably built with foam core and bits and pieces left over from other buildings. Still letting my imagination cook on this.

I’ll take a look at some of the other buildings in the scenery section.

Since the layout is in a closet, the backdrop was simple – at least to design! I didn’t have much choice. Walls surround 3 ½ sides of the layout with an opening in the middle of the front for the hinged closet doors. This is an unaltered part of the house structure so the backdrop is actually dry wall painted blue. I wasn’t picky about the blue – I had about a quart left over from painting a bedroom. I think it turned out pretty good.

Forming the backdrop is a combination of photos and building flats. These are layered in combination with full 3-D models to produce a density worthy of a crowded urban area. Each subsequent layout forces your eye to stop and focus at different depths, taking time and thus reinforcing the concept of depth to your brain. Standard forced perspective and selective compression techniques were used.

The photo backgrounds are various ones I found on the internet and printed on a color printer at work. Home printers produce good enough quality, but the one at my work was cheaper because of the ink. The skylines are of several different cities, but they ended up matching quite well. I had a lot fun searching on the internet for the different photos to use.

I attached the printer paper to the wall with … Scotch tape. Keep it simple and have fun!

Look for more details in an upcoming post on scenery.

I love Robert Smaus’s wiring for his Port of Los Angeles layout. Something to the effect of “Two wires to the tracks. That’s it. It took me about two minutes.” I’m in the same camp. With such a small layout, I would most probably only be running one engine at a time. Also, I’m not ready to go the DCC route because of the cost. I have a bunch of DC equipment so the choice is easy. After initial wire up to get trains running, I did go ahead and divide the layout into blocks so I could have two on the layout at one time. An Atlas Connector did the trick with standard common rail wiring to break things into 3 blocks. A second cab can be easily added.

Since this won’t be part of a club layout (I didn’t build to any common spec and there is only a single mainline), I didn’t have to conform to any standard so I kept it simple. If I expand in the future, I plan on using some sort of modular wiring scheme with multi pin connectors between the modules. For now this is easy enough and meets all my goals.