Thursday, August 9, 2018

Benchwork Getting Closer

The upper level benchwork is now about 95% complete.

The only major components pending at this point are the lift bridges to be placed and that's more a case of assembling and testing versus having to make sawdust fly.

I've got to paint before roadbed and then track goes down, but that's quick work that can be done during an evening window.

Mostly finished product.

This high POV shot is taken from the doorway.
I need to remember to blank the door blinds as all that light makes this angle a challenge.

And we will finish up on the other side of the railroad; this is approaching the Hamilton Control Point.
Note the backdrop curve.

As always, more shots at the website gallery.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Roadbed Progress

As I've mentioned, I am cutting pieces of cork out of a roll of the floor under-layment product.

Once down on the layout, I run the belt sander (with a 120 grit belt) over it to give me a better working surface as well as take care of any imperfections or un-smoothness between pieces.

To show how this goes, a couple of shots as I work towards Doswell.

Higher POV shot
Note the bevels showing so that when ballast gets applied, no hard edges protrude.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Website Updates

Fixed some menus, a couple of typos and reworked a couple of sections.

Take a look at the about page; there is a link to the track plans that are used for the build process.

Quick August Update

In the last few months, the railroad has not been much of a priority, which goes double for updating the blog and website.

I'm going to do some clean up on the site this week.

I'm also going to post a couple of new content blog entries as well.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Brass, Part V

This is a small interim update as I've received a few pieces over the last few months that haven't met the lens yet, as there has been a lack of daylight and daylight hours.

Now that days are getting longer, a couple of quick items in this post and then a snap or three.

Purchased some of the "Brass Buyers Guide" issues from Railpub as I thought taking a trip through that history would be neat. I'm a mix of amused, face palmed and sorry I wasn't an adult in the 80's.

Traded emails with Chuck @ UTI as he's doing a run of 10-6 Pullmans, including some RF&P and N&W models. He's running the smooth side cars. I hope to convince him to run some fluted side cars as the ACL had a bunch as did RF&P. if you are interested. He did mention that more Amtrak units probably won't be forthcoming as the plating process has a high waste rate; something around 50%. Ouch!

I put reservations in via for a two, one painted and one not. UTI also has a DOD caboose project going and is apparently talking about making the NS Heritage locos.

The Heritage stuff is a bit of a big wha?? to me as they've been done in plastic, multiple times. Figure a $1000 price point, per model, and I wonder - why?

Anyway, I'll close with some pictures of steam locos I've scored off of ebay.

I know, I know, Sante Fe??
Coming to an excursion train near you. :)
Box could be better, but it's what is inside that counts.
Note the ATC gear between the air pump shields.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Workbench Addition

Like many model railroaders and other hobbyist, I do a fair amount of work on my workbench and in the course of that, I solder.

Soldering makes fumes of course, and they are not good for you, on top of the fact that it makes it that much harder to know when your better half has baked cookies or similar delights.

Starting track work builds again made me realize just how nasty solder smoke is and I resolved to do something about it.

I've got a nice little iron, a Hakko 888 so when I when looking for something to handle the smoke, Hakko was on my list.

I ended up with a FA-400 which you can setup as in the picture, or rotate it and place face down so you get a higher suction from the vents at the bottom of it

Activated replaceable charcoal filter and less than $100 on Amazon, delivered. I bought some spare filters while I was at it.

With this running, soldering is great - no smell, no fumes to inhale. It's really helped me re-find the pleasure in building track at the bench.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Main Line Crossovers

Many of the cross overs for Version 2 are Number 10. Version 1 was all number 8's and a couple of those are being re-used for certain places, but as we are trying to capture the spirit of big time main line railroading, big # turnovers seem to be called for here.

I pieced together a jig and point tool from Fast Tracks over the years for number 10. At the time, they only sold a standard jig, not a cross over jig like I have for 8s.

Remembering a bit of my process from building the #8s last time, I figured using the printed templates to help me cut rail to length would be a good idea. It would also help me get the spacing from frog to point, as having a problem there can make your component turnouts nonparallel, which is a big downer on a crossover.

Grabbed a piece of homasote off the scrap pile and marked out some centerlines. I put my spacing at 2", 2.5", 3", 3.5" and 4" as I've got places where I have crossovers at those various distances. The main line is either 2" or 2.5", but many of industrial or siding spots have a greater spacing to stress their secondary nature.

 Of course, in the time it's taken me to start of this 2nd version of the railroad, Fast Tracks has made a #10 cross over jig available and made a #12 jig. Oh boy..

You can see some of the other spacings marked from this angle.
At this point, I've built 3 #10 crossovers, sold the plain jig and point tool on ebay, and have just about pulled the trigger on a cross over jig, so once I remember, expect a quick update on the finished trackwork, and the new jig, when I get it.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Roadbed Progress Update

Roadbed has made it to the 2nd turn back curve that caps the end of the peninsula closest to the stairs.

O. Winston Chase was on hand to capture a couple of photos.

Not sure what the photographer was attempting to capture here
Hmm. Apparently, you have to be a bit taller than me to make a good over the shoulder shot. Who knew?
Well, trust me, cork is down so we will be prepared for track.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Content Coming

Been busing with railroad stuff during the weekends and family stuff all other times. Have some travel coming up so expect some content getting queued up

Monday, February 26, 2018

Staging Ladder Build Start

Now that I've finished up getting track inbound to the north end staging yard, next step is to build the ladder for this side of it.

The ladder will be put together using the fast tracks jigs to give me skeletons of turnouts to solder into the correct place to give me the 2.5" track spacing that I'm using here.

The ladder is a compound #6 design for 9 tracks.

First shot is a quick overall look, but due to the height of the yard, it isn't a great angle to see any detail.

Here's a look down the inside ladder.
Note the capping of the ladder with a RH to give me a lead to some stub end storage tracks.
Now, a center, high angle view to give a look at the overall design.

Shot from the tripod on the benchwork; also using a 11-16 wide angle lens so this skews the perspective a bit.
Here's a bit of a better angle.

These pictures don't show it, but I've already started to layout the rail components I need and hopefully I will get a non-rainy, non-sick day (rained today and both kids are sick with norovirus. Sounds as fun as it is..) to start getting the joints prepared so I can start piecing this together.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Another tool for the toolbox or How to speed up your handlaying

One of the downsides about handlaying is that it can be a bit slow. Results can be outstanding, but it takes time.

You might remember that set of 3 curved turnouts I had for the staging yard on version 1. "handlaying track or what confidence can get you" is the post about it. (That was in September of 2014, BTW...)

That took an entire Saturday that that did not include getting ties down so it could be installed.

So, take it from me that shaping points and frogs manually with a file is time consuming and even when you use the filing jig, after you have the point filed down, you need to clean it up with either a jeweler's file or a sanding stick or a sanding block or some combination of all three to have a usable product.

I normally use a bastard file, then a long single cut file to form these rails so the tools you need aren't exotic by any means, but again it takes time.

I was discussing some build experiences with a fellow modeler a couple of years back now, and he mentioned that he started using a bench top belt sander to speed his build progress. I found that idea intriguing and filed it away for future reference.

During a Christmas sale, I bought one of the cheap Harbor Freight 1" x 30" bench top belt sanders. It is a very basic machine, but at $50 before a 20% coupon, I could take a flyer on it and if I found that it really helped, I could then research and purchase something at a higher quality point from Dewalt or Delta or whatever without slowing down my build progress as 10 scale miles doesn't exactly build itself.

I finally got it out of the box this last week and had a sunny afternoon to give it a try.


I had a set of points shaped and only needing a quick pass with a sanding block in less than 2 minutes.

I setup the camera and hit the timer to give me a 20 second delay before starting and then click off 9 pictures. The delay between pictures is around 5 seconds (not set-able on my entry level Nikon, I've found).

1 and Begin!

9 and done!

Really looking forward to getting a stock of points and frogs built up so I can be ready for hand laying as the layout progresses.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

About that turnback curve

As I mentioned in the work session recap, we found where the turnback curve where it heads back in, wasn't laid out correctly.

The radius was a bit variable and was much sharper than the 40" radius that was planned.

An overview after the roadbed and homasote were removed.
You can see where the benchwork/roadbed was a miss here:

Inside is 40" radius, outside is 42.5"
After some additional measure, new homasote was cut and placed. I also took this opportunity to place the homasote onto the industrial spur behind the main line.

Dirt brown going down before I put glue cork down.
Was able to put cork down a few hours after the paint had dried to the touch.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Work Session Recap

I had a work session on last Saturday (the 10th). I was joined by Dick M who joined the Terminal's track gang for an afternoon.

Track was started between the Milford and North Doswell Control Points. We ran track over the completed roadbed, headed north.

Pictures are a mix from the self timer and my budding miniature photog.

Your intrepid small shooter found the supervisor asleep:

Working around the first turn back corner. This is a shot with the timer with the camera on a tripod on top of the benchwork opposite where we are working.

When we got track around this side, we realized that the curves weren't laid out correctly and checking with a radius gauge revealed the benchwork missed the target. I took it as an action item to rework this area.

Additional pictures inside the main site gallery:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Track Layout

Trying to keep a layout build to plan can be a bit of a challenge.

One of the tools I use to help me is track templates. On version 1, I cut out a cardboard template in a couple of common radii that I used.

On version 2, that doesn't really work since I've got a couple of turns way bigger than I can make out of a poster board.

I went with the sweep sticks from Fast Tracks and ordered multiple sets for radii that are used often and a single set for a radius that might be used once.

Laying out the curves inside the two peninsulas
Doing good work with the self timer.
Additional pictures on the main site gallery:

Friday, February 16, 2018

Another day, another delay and another change

My track laying methodology has been:

  • Mark center lines or other roadbed path marks
  • Lay cork roadbed via gluing down
  • Sand any cork ramps down
  • Sand top of cork to ensure good transitions
  • Install track

Most folks probably remember the access hole I cut in the drywall to get track to the north end staging yard.

As seen here

I tried to layout the track so I could start laying out the roadbed and staging yard ladder. I figured that starting on the ladder would allow me to rehone my turn out building skills in a spot where it doesn't have to be pretty, just functional.

Step 1 was getting the track arrangement through the way right.

I printed out the track plan in 1 to 1 scale and got it taped together.

The planned 33" radius curve didn't fit. A 30" radius curve wouldn't fit either.

Queue the head scratching and out comes the tape measure. Turns out I had mis-measured during benchwork and hole building so I didn't have the clearances I needed.

Out came the drywall saw for a fix.

Note the 110V cable
After some additional trial track placements, I had something that worked.

 I put the cut drywall piece back in and proceeded to get it mudded.

NMRA Gauge to help provide scale

Ready for a bit of paint.

 More pictures inside the website gallery:

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Updated the theme colors a bit

Decided that I didn't like the orange anymore.

More content coming soon.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Roadbed and Track Layout

I picked a place between the Milford and North Doswell CPs to begin laying out my center lines and putting down cork.

I did this since it was a fairly simple area, from a track layout perspective, and it was also where I could lay track quickly since the crossovers and turnouts in this area were covered by what was recovered from version 1.

Note the split cork used here.

Not great quality - should have bumped the ISO and used the tripod, but these were quick snaps anyway..
I've hit some of this with a 120 grit belt in the belt sander (Santa brought me one for Christmas) so I get a nice working surface for track work that hopefully won't have any big time vertical bumps that cause problems later.

Probably hard to tell, but here's the delineation between sanded and not.

Do note the sanded ramp down to homasote level for the industrial spot here.

First industry track. Once the cork goes down, I come back and quickly hit it with the belt sander to make it smooth for flex.
Down and around.

Note the work area for track way back there.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Staging Prep - Getting Ready for Track

Got homasote put down onto the staging yard late December and needed to get it more finished than just plain gray.

Painting the surface would hopefully provide a better background to rail cars against, as well as find parts that might have fallen off.

I was just going to go for the standard dirt brown color but then thought better about it, so plain Kilz white it went.

Self Timers are great when you mostly work solo

Wet Paint!
Used the remainder of the can I had opened so I'll have to get my hands on another can before I start painting the backdrops for the main level, but that is a task for another day.

More photos are in the gallery on