Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Willamette River Railway - Spline Roadbed at Paul's

Thayne and I have been kicking around names for the layout.  After throwing around a few, we both kind of like the Willamette River Railway.  We'll use it for a while and see if it sticks.

As promised, here are the pictures of Packrat Paul's fine spline roadbed.

Here is only a very small view of Paul's monster mushroom style layout.  You can see the smooth flowing lines of the roadbed.  This is its big advantage.

Here is a close up of the spline roadbed.  There are eight strips that make up the set.  Each is glued to the other with yellow glue, fuzzy side to fuzzy side or slick side to slick side.  Note the drywall screw that is secured through a pre-drilled hole.  The track next to it will be laid on the roadbed with latex caulk.  Paul uses a brown color caulk.

This photo shows the underside of the roadbed along with a feeder wire.  This material is easy to drill but long term cutting of Masonite will quickly dull drills and saws.  Note the 1x4" riser.  I agree with Paul in that it is a bit wide.

Here you can see the smooth lines and gentle grades of this cut over trackage.  It looks as nice as it operates.

The outer most strips are the ballast profile strips, which are composed of a single strip cut in half at a 45 degree angle.  This gives a nice shoulder and a place to fasten scenery just below.  Note that Masonite hardboard does not take screws or staples very well.

Here you can see the roadbed under construction.  This is a narrow gauge line, hence less boards.

The spline can be split so it will make way for a turnout.  Let's see what the roadbed looks like under the turnout!

Here you can see the splines separating to form the split for a turnout.  The flat edges were made with a belt sander.

The close up reveals how each board is nested into the other.  There are two pre-drilled holes for screws that hold the roadbed to the riser.

See how gentle and smooth each layer of the roadbed looks?  This is fantastic!

 Want to put in a bridge over a stream?  No problem!  Just make a "U" shaped plate out of plywood, glue and screw it into both sides of the roadbed, then gut out the middle!  This is actually a pit for a mineral elevator.

When you come to a flat area, like this mine section, Paul slices the board in to, then runs just one spline board through the middle.  The roadbed spline is the same height as cork roadbed.

 This photo shows a 1x4 inch riser with three screws holding it straight, and the power line attached to the side.  Paul says he'd use a 1x3 instead next time.

 Here is another shot of the spline.  There is a large bridge span to the left.  The spline is rugged but easy to shape.

Thanks Paul for letting me shoot your fine layout and run a train!


  1. Looks really nice! Paul Thanks For Your info and the pictures. The layout looks Awesome!

  2. Scott,

    Good job on the pictures and description (as usual!) I'm enjoying watching Thayne's layout take shape.


  3. Hey everyone. I have not got much done on the layout this week. This is our busy season at work. Scott I was Thinking I have some pictures of how I made my legs as well as many pictures of the benchwork from the start to where we are now, I even took a pic of the empty room after I removed the old window, m
    Maybe we can post some of them as part of the project? Hows that new computer?? Thayne.

  4. Yes, please send me any and all pictures you have, and take lots of them going forward. One, it helps others and you do fantastic woodwork! Second, it is a great way to record what you've done, and sooner or later you'll want to remember what you did. I often take photos of wiring so that I remember what went where. Lots of pix!


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