Monday, November 11, 2019

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Bridge 3 is the first to get track

The final bridge built ended up being the first bridge to get track installed, cut and go through the test remove process.

Note, something this large on the floor is a bit of a hazard.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Walkway Changes or when planning isn't good enough

The railroad has minimum 36" aisleways except for one area where the helix footprint encroaches the walkway, narrowing it to about 30".

When compared to other areas with 48" of clearance, a study to improve this area was in order.

After some measuring and test fitting of the helix, it was decided that 6" and change would be able to be cut away.

We set the long fence up and ran the circular saw. Results as follows.

Cut everything at once to eliminate any potential overhang
All done:
Opened up the area nicely.
A few more pictures can be found on the gallery at

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Doswell Track Layout

I needed to build a small ladder in Doswell to connect the interchange tracks with the wye and through track for the branch, as well as the industry spot I need in the corner.

After a couple of layout tests using a mix of number 6 and number 8 options, I settled on a all number 6.

I have two right hand back to back that go into the diverging of a left hand.

The final layout being used to cut rail.
After assembly; just needs throw bars and ties.
This area is pretty close to complete so look for some additional pictures in a future update.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Roadbed for Doswell

As the 3rd bridge was in place, I could complete roadbed in Doswell.

Weight down as the glue dries

Final result.
And roadbed has landed on the other side too.
Additional pictures are available at

Friday, November 1, 2019

Staging Ladder Done

I've finished building and installing the yard ladder that closes up staging for the upper level. On this one, the ladder is somewhat a compound design, but a good bulk of the turnouts are right handers, putting the hand throws right against the aisle, which should make operations easy.

Had some nice light and took a snap that I'll share with you here. Posting to the blog is always delayed so there are feeders already in place and the Caboose ground throws are as well when this shot doesn't show either.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Tortoise Install at North Doswell

I've started to install Tortoises around the layout, as I've found that my work crews don't like doing it. As it's a very fiddly thing that requires contortions, I can understand why.

I started a North Doswell at the cross over there, and moved towards Doswell proper, which is railroad south.

The eagle eyed among us will note the back support notch to fit the left side tortoise.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Final Bridge

The final bridge was going to be the most challenging, as it needed to be at an angle for both sides.

The previous paradigms served us well, as we used the 1x4 stringers under 5/8" plywood supporting the homasote.

Once assembled, the bridge got 2 coats of oil based Kilz to seal before color was applied.

Test fit

Bridge Line Up
A bunch more pictures can be found in the bridge gallery at

Sunday, October 27, 2019

October Work Session

The largest work crew ever was on the railroad in October.

Significant progress was made and the railroad is rapidly approaching upper level completion.

So much work was done that I was only able to take a few pictures so enjoy these couple of snaps.

William is showing that he can lay track even in small scales.
John, using his eye like an experienced track hand.
Dick did absolute yeoman service on the soldering iron.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Why I belt sand my cork

As most readers of the blog know and certainly the work crew knows, that I use cork flooring underlayment as roadbed vs the Midwest product.

The underlayment is cheaper and can be cut appropriately, giving you wide areas for track without having to build up turnout areas and other special work support, piece by piece.

It is a big rough off the roll, so I do run a belt sander with a 120 belt over it before track goes down, after I knock off the square corners with a rasp.

Sometimes, more sanding than standard is called for.

Note the gap on the left
A bit of a hump..

Saturday, October 5, 2019

More Helix work

Since we were putting homasote under the helix, but the helix is made of 1/8 inch MDF, that left us a bit of a curb to bring the roadbed and track over.

As trains don't like climbing up a curb, we had to come up with another option.

How about insetting the MDF?

We were going to try it with chisels and a utility knife, but then decided to consider power tools so this would get done before the sun cooled.

A buddy had loaned me his router to let me clean up a couple of other places on the railroad, so we took a test plunge with it on homasote. We learned that routing homasote makes a tremendous amount of dust, so you must run a vacuum around the same time and be prepared to continue to vacuum up stuff after the router is off. (Even better would be trying it outside, BTW, but I've killed a bunch of grass doing that..)

But it worked.

As we needed a sloped inset, a test fit and measurement was called for.

Getting ready to route.
 Next helix update will show the end result.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

First LCC board mounted

I have a long post that has been in a draft form for months about LCC so eventually, look for that to appear on the blog and also be posted on the main site.

Until then, here's a shot of the first LCC DevKit node placed on the layout.

Of course, a Tortoise is nearby...

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Block Detection Board, Version 1

Many folks know that I'm a bit handy with circuit design and board layout and try to make stuff easier on me and my fellow model railroaders.

As I've got a lot of screw terminal blocks from the Digitrax adapters I made years ago, I had to think of another way to use them up.

This is version 1. Version 2 is going to integrate the DCC block detector circuitry.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Roadbed Redux

Working the area around the 3rd bridge, which is the Doswell Wye area, found that either I mis-measured or the roadbed crew was a bit over eager during installation as the roadbed as installed would cause the curves on both sides of Doswell to be out of wack.

So, out comes the oscillating tool with the scraper blade and up comes the cork.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Warning, Helix Approaching

Before construction of the 2nd bridge, we realized that we would need to know how the tracks leaving the helix would interact with the track on the upper level.

We started to measure and eventually came to the conclusion that the benchwork that supported the helix would need to be lowered by a bit.

First step was to take the plywood subroadbed off and then lower and level the structure.

Of course, I had a bit of help, which I always appreciate.

One to drill and one to fasten makes the work goes fast.
Bryce rolling brown down.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Staging Closing Ladder In Progress

Working on the closing staging ladder. All #6s and mostly RHs. This isn't a compound ladder as everything is built off the straight ladder, but it is still 9 turnouts to be built.

Lots of time spent at the benchtop belt sander, let me tell you..

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Bridge 3 Moving Right Along

I've got to find more in progress shots, but here's a few from putting homasote down on it.

Bridge at an angle

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Bridge 1 Roadbed

Have cork down on the first bridge.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

2nd Bridge Start

As I've mentioned, I need 3 different bridges in place to complete the layout benchwork for the upper level.

The 2nd bridge spans the entryway into the room so it was the next to be tackled.

Initial build with yellow highlights placed.
The needed span was pretty long at around 80", but as it was straight, this was the next one to tackle. As we had rebuild the landing zones previously, the only additional thing to do was to put the yellow caution paint in place.

And yes, it is yellow on both sides.
Dad convinced me it needed more contrast to be more obviously apparent that it was installed, so some black paint was found and applied.

Shot from the stairs - this is a very nice visual when you come down the stairs.

More shots on the main gallery site:

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Benchwork Bridge #1

During the planning phase, a few walkways were identified as possible areas of use for the layout if an appropriate bridging solution could be identified, constructed and used.

The shortest bridge would span the back door to the yard. This is a standard 36" exterior door, that opens from the left to the right.

As there is area on either side of the door that benchwork can be permanently installed, it was decided that we would test our process here first.

In casting around for a way to anchor the ends in a removable way, the engineering shops at the Western Maryland Moseley Division (WMMD) were consulted. Their answer was to use a door hinge as it would serve the dual purposes of alignment and removal.

We decided that we would just aim for a simple, lift in and out style bridge.

As the track curves in this area, we needed to make the bridge wider on one side.

A landing block was afixed to the benchwork to give a reference and stop point to the plywood that acts as subroadbed as well as give us a place to mount the hinge. A piece of 3" wide, 3/4" plywood was used as horizontal stiffener by mounting it vertically under the subroadbed.

West side, showing the hinge used to an anchor point.

East side; this area is only 4 inches wide.

Finished product. Note the horizontal stiffener.

After the install and test fitting, the entire assembly was painted with oil based paint to seal it against any humidity changes so it won't become larger or smaller and no longer fit.

A further update will show how roadbed and track have been installed.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Upper (North) Staging - Closing Ladder

As most readers know, I handlay my turnouts, ladders, crossovers and the like. I use the Fast Tracks jigs, tools and templates to produce consistent and solid running results.

As I laid flex track around the staging yard, I got to the point where I needed to construct the yard ladder to close the yard off.

As originally designed, it was going to be a compound ladder (meaning I would have two main branches, with a mix of left and right hand turnouts), like its opposite number already is.

Before I went down that path, I figured to use the templates to put some physical controls up to see if there was any alternatives that would work to the compound layout.
An overview of an option found during layout

This somewhat track level shot shows that I didn't have it laid out as straight as I thought; but the benchwork wasn't 100% square either.

What shook out was a couple of alternatives from the compound arrangement.

Alternative with a standard ladder arrangement.

I ended up selecting the option with the ladder built next to the aisle way edge, to make it as easy as possible to work.

Next time, I will share some shots of the yadder build in progress.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Curving Backdrops

After having some success with curving backdrops on the upper level, I decided to continue the process on the lower level.

I'm using 1/8" masonite for the backdrops. I am not doing anything like wetting or kerfing to make it fit certain radii; just letting it flop.

The current progress (as of September 2019) is much further than these shots show, but I wanted to show the progression in a somewhat step by step format.

This is at the end of the center aisle.
With some temporary support in place.
2nd Son is just the right height to help fasten everything in.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Last Post in April, yikes!

Wow, didn't realize I was slipping so much on updates. Thankfully, the railroad itself has seen lots of progress.

I have set December as my first test session target so we are rapidly getting there.

I will publish a couple of updates in the next week or so to bring the readers of the site and blog up to speed.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Curved Backdrops

I've decided that I like curved backdrops enough to spend the time on installing them.

Here's an in progress shot of one on the first peninsula. This has already been mounted by now, but the pictures haven't caught up.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Staging Snapshot

Came downstairs and thought the sun was doing well by highlighting the status in staging.

Tools of the trade displayed

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Rebuilding or The best laid plans of mice and men

I read, many years ago, that writing a novel wasn't that hard, but all the editing and rewriting you did before you were satisfied to call something a first draft was the hard part.

I suggest they should try building a model railroad.

Regular RTRR associates will remember that the plan is for a bridge to carry trackage over the main room entrance. This links the 2nd pathway with the staging area.

The original plan was 3 tracks. It was modified to 2 during previous stages.

Recent measuring, testing and reflection showed that 3 tracks were needed. The hole in the wall had been cut for only two and the landing area on the opposite side of the doorway had been sized to land a 4" wide piece of lumber that would just carry 2 tracks.

I borrowed a Sawzall and went to work.

Had to remove and rebuild the landing area as well.

Shows were the paint ran down the wall..
New landing area; now 16" wide and you can see its opposite number in the back on this view.

Reclaimed the homasote to use here.

Just need to paint now.
A couple additional pictures can be found at the main site here.