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T O P I C    R E V I E W
AaronV Posted - 01/15/2016 : 4:25:50 PM
Starting a thread to document and share my progress on the construction of a small HO scale layout. Progress has been slow to date, but I hope to make 2016 the year I kick layout construction into a higher gear.

The layout is a small continuous loop with some spurs and a short branch line. It is 5 feet long and 3 feet 10 inches wide. The layout size was determined by the maximum footprint that could fit in the back of a vehicle that I previously owned. I hope to someday take the layout to shows, if it reaches a point of scenic and operational completion that I am happy with.

This is the first layout I have ever built, so I have an awful lot to learn.

The layout theme is a protofreelance Maine Central branch in northern Maine in the early 1950s. A short branch line represents the fictional Penobscot Timber & Stone, a standard-gauge Maine logging and quarrying railroad.

To date, I have completed some benchwork, laid most of the roadbed, and am getting ready to lay track.

In my initial posts, I plan on sharing the trackplan, describing some of the protofreelance history I developed for the layout, and describing construction to date, which included construction of portable tabletop benchwork (legs not yet constructed) almost entirely out of foamcore.

I've been a Railroad Line Forums lurker for at least several years, and have learned so much and been inspired so much by the forums already. I'm excited to become a more active participant and start to share what I am working on.

Comments and feedback welcome!

AaronV
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
AaronV Posted - 04/16/2018 : 10:56:18 AM

Foamcore temporary bridge with load of 40 lbs

While I had weights out for some tracklaying, I decided to test the strength of my temporary foamcore bridges. Here I've placed 40 pounds of weight on the middle of one of the bridges. I can't see even a millimeter of deflection of the track or bridge. I'm happy with its strength so far. Of course hopefully it will be torn out one day and replaced with a timber trestle.




Aaron V.
AaronV Posted - 04/16/2018 : 10:28:36 AM

Continuing with track laying

Catching up with some photos from early February. Continued to lay track. Finishing the last spur in Caribou Landing, and continued to extend the Penobscot Timber & Stone backwoods branch line.







Aaron V.
jbvb Posted - 03/26/2018 : 11:03:31 PM
Solder blobs may indicate 1) solder is too thick (I use .032" or finer rosin core), 2) the 'lead-free' solder generally available doesn't melt or flow as easily as 63% tin/37% lead (requires some care to use safely), joints aren't clean/fluxed (I apply Tix liquid flux to rail joints before soldering). Melted ties usually indicate 1) the iron isn't powerful enough to heat only the joint quickly (40W or above - I use a 100W gun) or 2) stuff on the rail/lack of flux is preventing the solder from flowing where it needs to go as soon as it melts. But 4-axle diesels and 40-foot freight cars usually tolerate minor kinks and gauge variations well.

[edit] Looking around, I found that pure tin solders melt at ~450F where 63/37 tin/lead melts at ~360F. So that will definitely affect the tie melting problem.

DC for one train at a time requires almost exactly the same wiring as DCC, just without the DCC master unit and programming track.
Michael Hohn Posted - 03/26/2018 : 9:30:50 PM
Aaron,

Youíre well on your way now. Sounds llike youíre learning a lot on your journey.

My first layout 25 years ago was built for running a couple of trains with DC. Even for that small layout wiring was a lot of work. My current layout is simple with about 70í mainline but now I have DCC. Instead of all that wiring I spend my time building structures and rolling stock.

Mike
AaronV Posted - 03/26/2018 : 12:02:47 PM

First powered run!





After letting the track adhesive cure / dry overnight and soldering the first pair of feeder wires, on the first day of February I ran a locomotive for the first time on my layout. After so many years of armchair modeling, reading books and magazines, collecting kits, and planning and designing...but not having a layout or running trains...this was a milestone.

Part of my motivation for this thread is to share with others that might be in the same situation...wanting a layout but feeling very limited in space and budget. This layout provides me a continuous run and some switching, while being lightweight and is stored vertically against a wall when not in use.

The locomotive is a used Bachmann Spectrum 44-tonner I acquired at a discount at a train show years ago. Right now it's in its Great Northern factory paint, but someday I will repaint and reletter it for the Maine Central's 44 tonners.

Here's a view of the overall layout at this point. You can see I'm using DC. Working on saving money for a first DCC system but not in a hurry on that. This layout will be wired very simply, for solo operations with one train at a time, though I may wire a few separate blocks so I can park locomotives on some of the sidings and isolate them.




Aaron V.

AaronV Posted - 03/26/2018 : 11:41:06 AM
Breaking the rules...

I soldered a few of the rail joints. But I'm new to soldering. Even with practice on scrap pieces of track, a lot of my soldered rail joints were turning out poorly - gobs of solder all over, melted ties even when trying to use heat sinks, etc. I got a few good joints, but I didn't solder all of the joints, even on curves, that most layout builders probably would. Mainly I'm relying on the caulk and rail joiners to hold the track in place at the joints. In the end, I concluded my poorly soldered joints would cause more derailments and aesthetic detraction than they would help.

We'll see if I come to regret this, but so far it hasn't caused me any issues. After a couple months and a lot of moving the layout around, everything is still OK. I soldered one pair of track feeder wires and on a small layout that has provided a good power supply so far, though I do plan to 2 or 3 more track feeds around the layout in the future.

I was worried I'd get a lot of kinking at some of the joints in and around curves, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. Some of the joints have a slight visual kink (that actually looks somewhat prototypical in my mind) but operationally hasn't caused any trouble so far. Perhaps it's because the radii are already sharp and I operate short wheelbase locos and rolling stock at low to moderate speeds...just like my imagined prototype, my trains are creeping through the backwoods of Maine as opposed to racing through the woods.

Aaron V.
AaronV Posted - 03/26/2018 : 11:28:58 AM
Golden spike time on the continuous loop...

On the last day of January, I finished laying track for the outer loop. I really liked using acrylic caulk to lay flextrack, sectional track and commercial turnouts. (But this being my first layout, I haven't tried any other tracklaying methods).




And below I've placed my first draft of Chesuncook Marine Supply in its place on the waterfront of Caribou Landing. This is a structure I'm trying to make using primarily cardstock, with graphics designed in GIMP. Elsewhere on RR Line Forums I have a thread on that structure, though it hasn't been updated in a while.




Aaron V.


David Clark Posted - 03/13/2018 : 4:26:52 PM
Yay!! Track!
Cheers,
Dave
Cowboybilly Posted - 03/13/2018 : 3:51:22 PM
nice will follow the progress
Tyson Rayles Posted - 03/13/2018 : 08:30:13 AM
"In hindsight, filling these gaps with plaster makes for some unevenness, even after sanding."

Next time try lightweight spackling compound, it doesn't harden. I also use Elmer's white glue to fix the track down because you can mist it with warm water and pull it back up later if you want to rework it.
AaronV Posted - 03/12/2018 : 10:01:38 PM

Here is a proud moment: the first piece of rolling stock to sit on the new rails. I procrastinated for many years on building any sort of layout, because I was sure that whatever I tried could never measure up to the layouts I saw being built in the magazines and online. So it was gratifying to roll a freight car over the very first track I have ever put down, even if powered by the old 0-5-0 hand switcher.

The honors went to a 1980s-era Wisconsin Central gondola. Why this car, on a 1950s era backwoods Maine layout? Well, I briefly worked for Wisconsin Central as a college student, and a family member had given me this car to commemorate my time there, so I have some sentimental attachment to it.







Aaron V.

AaronV Posted - 03/12/2018 : 9:39:20 PM
Tracklaying begins...

After the layout sat dormant for over a year after laying and painting the roadbed, I began to lay track in late January of this year. It felt great to start laying track. I procrastinated on this step for so long, partly out of a fear that I didnít know what I was doing and would do a horrible job. Finally, I reasoned with myself that running trains on a layout with mediocre track was better than no layout at all. I could always rip out track and redo it later.

I used mostly Atlas Code 83 flextrack, sectional track and number 4 turnouts. Some Shinohara flextrack is mixed in, and the last turnout I put in, on the branchline side, is a used #5 Shinohara turnout someone had given to me. After reading magazine articles and books on various tracklaying methods, I decided to try securing the track to the roadbed with acrylic latex caulk.






I started on the Caribou Landing side of the layout, where there are a number of turnouts and a crossing in close proximity. The trackwork in this area has a tighter fit and less room for on-the-fly adjustments. I did a lot of test-fitting, cutting ends of turnout and track to fit with a Xuron rail nippers. I also trimmed off ties with an X-acto knife to make room for rail joiners at the end of each track piece. When I was satisfied that a group of track sections was cut to the right lengths and properly fit together, I used a caulk gun to apply beads of acrylic latex caulk to the roadbed. As I laid more track, I got a better feel for how much caulk to put down. Too much caulk and it would squeeze up a lot between the ties later; too little caulk and I wondered about its long-term grip. I then spread out the caulk with a putty knife, gently aligned the track pieces on top of it, and pressed the track into the caulk. Usually the track was then pinned down with thumbtacks or track nails, or weighted down, while the caulk cured...although the caulk immediately gripped the track well, and pins or weights may not even have been necessary in some spots.

Here are some more photos of the initial tracklaying.










Make sure not to spread caulk under the moving switch points of a turnout. There seems to be more than enough grip with caulk under the rest of the turnout and adjacent track.

Aaron V.

AaronV Posted - 02/12/2018 : 2:11:23 PM
After gluing the roadbed and letting it dry, I painted it with some cheap gray acrylic craft paint. I also filled in some seams and gaps where roadbed sections joined at turnouts and so forth. I filled the seams with some patching plaster I had on hand. When the patching plaster dried, I sanded some high and rough spots and then painted that gray also.

This picture shows the roadbed after painting but before any gaps have been filled.




Here the seams and gaps have been filled:




This is what it looked like after the patching plaster was painted, with the same gray acrylic craft paint I used to paint the rest of the roadbed.



In hindsight, filling these gaps with plaster makes for some unevenness, even after sanding. When tracklaying later, Iíve noticed these areas are ďharderĒ and compress less than the areas over just the trackbed. Nothing too bad, but if I were to do it again, I might experiment with a different filler material, cut the bevels off the trackbed so edges could butt with much less gap, or just accept the seams and gaps and see how it looks after ballasting and weathering.

Here is an overview of the layout after this step.




Aaron

quartergauger48 Posted - 02/06/2018 : 2:43:44 PM
quote:
Originally posted by AaronV

A forumite PM'ed me asking for the 18-inch radius templates. I couldn't figure out how to attach an image or file to a PM so I'm posting it here.




My original autocad file and pdf was to real model scale(1 inch on the computer would print to 1 inch on paper) With resizing the pixels, the scale on this jpg is off, but with the 1-inch scale bar on the image, you may be able to play with your print scale and get it to print out on paper to the right scale again.
Otherwise you can PM me an email address and I can send you a to-scale pdf and/or AutoCAD file.

Aaron





Thanks very much Aron'. PM sent'.
AaronV Posted - 02/06/2018 : 2:24:00 PM
In this picture, Iím laying the last piece of roadbed for the Maine Central line (the outer loop). The open area in the right foreground, just inside the curve, will be a bog or swamp in the Maine woods. The last piece of roadbed is on a flat piece of foamcore (I believe with some bracing underneath) that bridges the edge of this bog.




One benefit of a small layout with this light benchwork is that I can lay it out on the kitchen table for a work session. In fact, the layout is stored in the basement, but I carried it up a flight of stairs (only one person needed) to work upstairs. The weight is not a problem to carry with one person. The size is manageable, but if the dimensions were any larger, it would be a bit awkward to maneuver through doors and around corners and through the stairs. It definitely has to be tilted vertically or diagonally for these moves. Iíll have to be more careful of bumps and corners when I have track, terrain and trees on it. Iím debating building some sort of lightweight cover (say out of cardboard) that would protect trees and terrain from lightweight impacts when being moved or in storage (the layout will hang on a wall, and the cover would also protect it from dust). The structures will all be removable.

Aaron


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