Friday, July 23, 2010

Laying Treckbed Complete

Last weekend I purchased my 5 turnouts, as well as a 60 degree crossing from PM in Calgary, along with a bit more track and a few other items. I now have almost all of my track other then the turn table and a few pieces that aren’t part of the main lines. Now that I have my exact measurement and can see exactly how the track is going to sit, I completed the rest of the roadbed for the front staging area as well as the lead to the future turn table.

Completed front staging trackbedCompleted foam trackbed

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wooden Trestle

After a week, I finally completed my trestle. I built it using ¼” and 3/8” square doweling rod purchased from canadian tire. I first traced on a large sheet of paper the track curve, as well as the location of the tracks that would pass below. From this, I determined the measurements as well as the location of each pier. I built the deck of the trestle directly onto the drawing that I had made, using this as an exact guide for placing the pieces. This was, in my mind, the best way to keep everything accurate. The piers had to be on a sharp angle due to the two tracks passing below, so extra support had to be given to the trestle deck in some areas. I finished the piers with 1/16" cross supports, as well as a bed for the 18" radius track to sit on. Even thought this is not the most prototypical trestle, it still looks good on the layout and fits the track perfectly.

Unpainted wooden train trestleUnpainted wooden train trestle

New unpainted wooden train trestle

By this time I have placed all of my track bed with the exception of the front staging area. I just want to be sure of my turn out positions before I glue anything down permanently. You can finally get a good idea of how everything is going to look in the end.

Almost completed roadbed with new trestleCompleted railbed on left half of layout

Unpainted wooden train trestle

Canada Day Long Weekend - Part IV

On my last day off, I added the trackbed for the upper mountain tunnel lines. The outer track is part of the main oval line, which will descend down to the front staging area, and the second climbs from the mid-section up to the raised area at the rear of the layout. This line and the main line descent run together in one tunnel portal. You can also notice that the track below these lines is now laid. I completed this so I wouldnt have to work arond the upper sections of track in the future.

Foam trackbed installation using thumb tacksFoam trackbed installation using thumb tacks

This wraps up my Canada Day long weekend. My plan for the following week will be to get a good start on the large wooden trestle.

Canada Day Long Weekend - Part III

On Saturday, the third day of my long weekend, I decided to tackle the bridge that will carry both the main line and figure-eight line of track in the rear section of the layout. For this, I purchased a set of pier girders, as well as a warren truss bridge kit. With a little modification, I attached two bridge girders together using a 3rd girder. When these were dry, I attached bridge sides of the warren truss kit to the girder deck. Once all together, I used a few scrap pieces of plastic to add a little support to the trusses. The final look and design looks pretty good. I then placed the bridge onto my layout and fit foam supports on each end. I then finished with butting road bed right up to the bridge deck.

Warren truss bridge kitWarren truss bridge kit

Below you can see the new bridge on the back of the layout. It will still need to be painted to appear more prototypical, but this will happen at a later date. Also pictured below is the extension that I had to add to the left curve of the main line (under the 15 pound weight). This extension was the result of a measuring mistake I made early in my original planning. Thankfully this was an easy fix. Trackbed was also added at this time to both tracks at the rear of the layout.

Warren truss bridge installedCompressing foam ramps with weights

Railbed installation about half complete

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Canada Day Long Weekend - Part II

The next section that I wanted to complete was the stretch of track that would travel down from the trestle, below the main line, and loop back into the front switching are. This section will be part of a tunnel in the future, so I decided to complete it now before I did too much work on the tracks above it. The foam roadbed was the first step after planning the track path. Once again, I used thumb tacks to hold the roadbed in place while the glue dried.

Left tunnel foam trackbed installationFoam trackbed installation

At this time I also installed the segment of roadbed for the section that will travel from the front staging area, around the lake area and up onto the mid-section of the layout. This will cross the part of track that descends from the trestle at a 60 degree angle.

Trackbed installation60 degree rail crossing construction

Construction of track on right half of layout

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Canada Day Long Weekend - Part I

With July 1st this year being on a Thursday, my work decided to shut down for IT upgrades on Friday as well, giving me a nice, long 4 day long weekend – plenty of time to make some serious progress on my model.

I first fixed my original ramps on the left side of my layout which I shaved these down and placed different sized risers underneath to make them much more level and smooth. I also laid track bed down on the right side for the section leading up to the future trestle (below, right).

Expanded foam ramp installationFirst completed sections of track

Expanded foam ramp

The second approach to the trestle is also constructed at this time. This unfortunately is going to be the most challenging part of the layout as far as track goes, as the total grade here is about 8% and isn’t very prototypical. This however, is a risk that just needs to be taken for the sake of the rest of the layout. I’m sure it will all work out in the end. Notice in the background that I am using Bachman E-Z Snap-Track to plan and grade around the lake. This track works great as a moveable template and grade planner when working with 18” radius curves.

Using snap tack as a template for trackbedExpanded foam ramp installation

Laying Trackbed

Over the last month or so I have been building the ramps to allow the tracks to go from one level to the next. I purchased some ¾” sheets of Styrofoam and used this for each of the ramps. It took several attempts to get a few of them right, as it is very difficult to get a perfectly even and level transition from one level, onto the Styrofoam, then onto the next level. I’m sure there are other techniques and products available to make this process much easier, but I’m determined to use what I have!

The first ramp completed successfully is the right curve of the main line oval. After hours of trying to get everything just right, it was time to lay down the very first section of track bed. I glued down one half at a time in about 20” lengths. I used WeldBond multi-purpose glue and thumb tacks to temporarily hold the track bed in place.

Foam roadbed installationFoam trackbed installation using thumb tacks

Foam roadbed installation using thumb tacks

Once the track bed was dry, I loosely placed 22” radius track (as per plan) to make sure everything fit, which it did.

Foam trackbed installation with trackFoam roadbed installation with track

Cookie-Cutter Benchwork - Kind Of

The main benchwork elevations are complete! To get the actual sections to match my original planned elevation sections (which I marked out earlier on the table), I first took large sheets of news print and laid them out to cover the entire sections. The paper was thin enough that I could see the lines I drew beneath it, and thus traced the sections onto the paper. I then cut the sections out and re-traced them onto a new sheet of plywood. Using a jigsaw, I cut the sections out, which all then matched perfectly on the table. I then attached the different elevation sections on top of scrap wood risers, which were cut to certain widths depending on the height I needed the section to be.

Benchwork track and terrain levelsBenchwork track risers

Benchwork track and terrain levels

You can see that the majority of the layout is raised to a certain degree, with really only the very front section on the base level. The back section is raised 3 ½” to allow for a double-mountain tunnel, as well as a bridge and trestle. The left half of the layout is raised 1 ½” and acts as an elevated half way point for the descending track from the trestle and the climbing track from the lake/swamp area. The top right area has a raised section leading to the start of the future trestle.

Left benchwork track risersRight benchwork track risers

Friday, July 16, 2010

Planning With Track Templates

Once my base table was completed, I re-applied the Atlas track templates back onto the table so I had a good approximation of how my final track was going to fit.

Atlas track templateAtlas track template on new benchwork

I then cut my side and back scenery walls to a size that seemed appropriate for what I was trying to accomplish. At this point I still am not exactly sure what I am going to use for a back drop, however I left plenty of surface area if required later. I then simply screwed the pieces onto the sides of my bench, using metal bracers where the panels joined together.

Atlas track templateAtlas track templates

After the side and back panels were attached, I used the track templates to plan the different elevations that were going to be required for the layout, as there were several hills and ramps. I visualized the different elevations I wanted and marked them out directly onto the table (as pictured below). These sections would later be cut out on a separate piece of plywood and attached with risers to their specific heights.

Atlas track templates


After 2 weeks of planning, measuring, cutting, and measuring again, the main bench is finally completed. The bench is actually two 4x4 tables which bolt together with removable legs and frame. This allows it to be broken down for removal from the basement (which is going to be a painful task if it is to ever happen). Because of proper planning and attention to detail, the table is very strong and stable, which makes a very good working table.

4 by 8 benchworkBenchwork underside and supports
Model train benchwork
Model train benchwork

4 x 8 Layout

After clearing out a good portion of my tiny basement, I moved down my future table top, cut into 4 section (to fit down the stairs). I then copied and cut out Atlas track templates (extremely helpful) and laid them out on the plywood. With this, I could see almost exactly how the track would eventually lay out and knew that my computer-designed track layout would translate well to actual size (even though small adjustments did have to be made several months down the road).

Atlas track template on 4 x 8 plywood

The Beginning

Construction began back in February, so I have a little bit of catching up to do (about 6 months of it). Over the next several days I will post my progress from February 15th right up till now. After that, I will post often so things are always recent. I have already updated my pages listed above, so please check them out for a bit of background information.