Wednesday, November 28, 2012

008 - Richlawn RR v2 - Rough Draft Main Line

Tonight I spent some time getting the room dimensions corrected.  They were close to right, so we weren't far off.  I drew the doors too small, as well as the windows, so those have all been repaired.

 Here is the corrected drawing, all ready to go.  So far the HVAC system and the power outlets are of no consequence  but we won't forget about them.  The next step is to start roughing in the mainline.  Here we want to consider the needs of the owner.  I know Rick is a master of deep bench scenery, so we want to stay with some of that if we can.  He also needs a continuous run loop, if for nothing else than to show visitors what the layout does.  Rick has the operations bug, and like switching layouts.  Ok...let's draw!

I'm considering a partially double decked layout, but when I'm sketching, I don't consider it.  I just stay one lever.  This is a simple oval type layout with two 26" radius curves on either end.  This leaves the benchwork too deep and the room packed.  Not good.

 By twisting the loop, we can make access in the middle a little better.  Leaves only one window accessible.

 Here is an around the room with a loop/helix that can elevate the railroad.  Not bad, but needs a lift out/duck under and I'm not sure he wants a 66" lift out!

 By shoving the loops to one side of the room, we can get some nice bench for a yard or switching.

Hey...I like this.  Good size loops that could be bigger, walk around access in most areas, nice long bench (double deck?) for switching.

This phase can take weeks, so I'll sketch and put aside, read through some plan books, come back and sketch some more.  Sooner or later the plan will jump out at me.  Meanwhile, should something grab Rick...he can let me know.  More so...I want to know what he DOES NOT like.

Speak up!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

007 - Richlawn RR v2 - Measurement Updates

I got some feedback from Rick:

  • Wall height - 9ft, 3in
  • Door height - 80"
  • Window height - from floor to bottom of window = 26"; window height 60"
  • What wall is the air return on?  How high? - not on wall, but on the ceiling (right of door upon entering)
  • Location of electrical plugs - see attached revised room drawing
  • Light switch vertical and horizontal measurements - see drawing:  11-1/2" from wall & 44" high centered.
  • On the ceiling toward the doors is a square something...what is it?  Return air vent.
  • Location of all air ducts, and which is in bound or out bound - all are on ceiling - see picture attached.

  • Great!  Now I can tidy up the room drawing and we can get down to business!!!

    006 - Richlawn RR v2 - Move In and Measurements

    Rick has moved in to his new abode in Florida.  No snow in any of the pictures, anyway.  Looks like a nice place!  Now that he's in I asked him to give me precise measurements of the room so that I can adjust the drawing, which was made off estimates.  NEVER design a layout on rough measurements.  I also allow for 2" of play in all my drawing, because no room is truly square nor are any walls 100% flat.

    Here are the room dimensions.  They are very close to what I had, but every detail is important.  Note that the double doors are about 1/2" off to the left of center.   When drawing a room, don't just think about around the walls.  A room is a cube, so we need wall height and  the height of windows and doors.  One other thing that I like to mark are walls that can and can't be penetrated with track.  That I already know from a previous drawing, so we are ok there.

     This wall is unobstructed.  Ok, he's moving so there is stuff in the room, but once it is gone, there is nothing blocking the way.  There is a two switch light switch though!  That is a bad place to put one.  We'll have to get measurements for that as it could be right in the way of benchwork.

    I like French doors...very appealing.  But they don't work for a train room.  Double doors take up too much valuable wall space.  Even worse, these open in.  I've asked Rick if we can have them remounted to open into the foyer.  If not, we'll work around them.

     I'm not exactly sure but I think this is the ceiling look toward the back wall.  There is an HVAC air return here, which we don't want to block.  No light fixture yet, which is good.  There is another box in the back corner, but I have no idea what it is.  Have to ask about that.

    The walls on either side of the door are 28.5" wide.  That is a bit tight but we could put a 24" radius curve in that spot.  If the doors open out, we can expand it easily.

    The two windows need to be accessible, but we can run some benchwork in front of them.  A double deck here would wipe them out, so we probably need to keep them single decked.

    I think the room will double as a funeral parlor, judging from the lamp.

    Rick wants to use this room as an office as well, so maybe we can work the desk under the benchwork by the windows so that he can see the nice view.  That means higher benchwork of 50" or more in this area.

    The outer wall appears to be unobstructed.  Good!  We have two great walls to work with.  There is one wall outlet here, but I'm not sure where the other ones are.  We'll need to map them.

    Good, square corner.  This might also be where the railroad could grow into the adjacent craft room.  My first drawings had this as partial staging of trains on a long then shelf in the other room.

    There appears to be another air duct on the ceiling...but not sure where it is.  I learned from my friend Mike that you want to make sure you know where your airflow is (especially in Florida) because:

    1.  You don't want to roast or freeze
    2.  In bound ducts dump dust and dirt on your layout

    Rick, what I need from you:

    1. Wall height
    2. Door height
    3. Window height
    4. What wall is the air return on?  How high?
    5. Location of electrical plugs
    6. Light switch vertical and horizontal measurements
    7. On the ceiling toward the doors is a square something...what is it?
    8. Location of all air ducts

    010 The Augusta Railway - Tin Roof Valence

    I'd like to thank my friend and Blog follower Bill Davis for finding a prototype for the idea of putting fake tin roofing material up for a valence!  The layout pictures below are taken on Bill's friend Doug Ramos's On3 layout.  Now this is one awesome layout!

    The rust shades that he used on the metal are more like Colorado rust...mine will be more silver with rust streaks, common in the south.  But what a nice and unique look...and it really adds to Doug's mining operation feel.

    Photos taken by Bill Davis. Click on photo to enlarge.

    Model Railroaders are always good about using color around their layout fronts, but not so much with texture.  Normally you see a one color hard board valence.  Not only does Doug's valence add color and keep your eye focused, but it significantly adds "feel" to the layout.  When you walk in the room you KNOW this is a Colorado mining layout!

    As the valence follows the benchwork line, the changes make it look like the roof line of a building.  He has framed it all around and heavily supported it, which I don't think I'll need to do.

     Here is a good shot of the back side with the supports.

    Now, down on the fascia he has hand grips mounted.  This is another great idea as it serves as a bumper post for hits to the layout, and it gives "sticky finger" visitors a place to put their hands.  Brilliant.

    This layout is absolutely amazing!  Look at that rock and bridge work!

    You can feel the dry, dusty mountain here as the dig out the ore.  Great model work, Doug Ramos!  Bill Davis, thanks so much for sharing!

    Monday, November 26, 2012

    009 The Augusta Railway - A Little Light Work

    Super Thayne 13 The Viking came over to visit!  It was great to see him and I like working on the railroad with him.  It was very impromptu, but we got a lot done.  One thing I've learned is that construction goes much more quickly and correctly with two people.  Especially when you aren't exactly sure of what to do...which was the case here.

    That's Thayne with the screw gun...and he doesn't like having his picture taken.  Unfortunately when you play trains with me you wind up in the blog.  Our first problem was mounting the wood frame.  The frame will hold the lights up and the valence as well.  This box is a sheetrock covering for a HVAC duct system.  There is a little wood on the edges so that is where we figured we'd screw the boards.  Thayne pointed out that if you screwed into the duct would hold the screw, but the constant heating and cooling would cause the screw to back out and it will make the ductwork make banging noises.  Great points!  I never thought of that.

    Together we put a frame of 1 x 3 pine up and around where the valence will go.  The chop saw makes quick and nice angles, so the work went quickly.  Two of us were needed to hold the long boards in place while they were being countersunk and screwed.  Yes, I did some of the knock it off with the jokes.  Thayne is always glad to help and jumps right it....which is great!

     No board was needed at this end, just the front and the back.   All went nicely, but it did get hot quickly in the basement with both of us working, so we cracked the window.  Odd for this time of the year (November) in Utah, where I usually have two feet of snow in the window well.  The frame goes just to the edge.  On this I'll put another 1 x 3 board for mounting the fake corrugated metal sheets.

    The layout tapers at one end. so we carefully installed the angled pieces to follow the benchwork line.  Perfect!  It would have taken me eight hours to do all this alone.

    Next we cut two more boards and toenailed them into the frame.  These boards will hold up the light fixture.  The two bulb T-8 48" fixture doesn't weigh much, so this is more than sufficient.

    Great!  One of four lights is now in place.  I won't begin the wiring until they are all done.  We did this on Sunday when I could cut wood.  It is hard to use the saw when the kids are going to bed early during the week, so not sure when we'll finish the other lights.  The rest of it will go quickly, I'm sure.

    Comments?  Ideas?   Please share with the class!

    008 The Augusta Railway - Operations

    I've decided to add some operations interest to the layout.

    Cattle raising was starting to boom in Augusta in 1947, and I've got tons of cattle car rolling stock.  So I thought that when cotton production was low, we'd work at shipping cattle.  I have a slaughterhouse model that I'm working on, but it is too big for this layout, so cattle will be shipped off line.

    The dock is certainly not built for a heavy locomotive, so we are going to require the use of a "handle" or a cut of flat cars that helps the locomotive "reach" cars on the dock.  No loco can tresspass on the dock.  This means for extra work when switching this area.  I've lengthened the caboose track so that it can hold a caboose and two 40' flat cars.

    Right now the only rolling stock I'm missing is a caboose.  Have to keep an eye out for one!

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    007 The Augusta Railway - Lights & Valence

    I want the railroad to feel like it is in the deep South.  In order to give it more of that feel, you have to start OUTSIDE of the track plan.  In our case, the front facade of the layout will be the first thing that viewers will encounter.  The basement is large enough that people can stand back from it and get a picture in their mind of the whole let's give it some Southern flavor.

    When I think of cotton production I think of corrugated tin buildings for cotton gins, burlap wrapped bales of cotton, old wooden signs saying "cotton exchange" and incredible summer heat and humidity.  We will NOT be modeling heat and humidity...though I do have a fireplace in the basement.

    Here is the basement wall where the layout will go.  The room is completely finished and very nice.  Nothing needs to be done except to move the furniture to the opposing corner.  Naturally my wife has ALREADY put some Christmas wrap and supplies along this wall, and this photo is not 24 hours old yet.  Females MUST take over everything.

    This is a photo of the area above the layout.  The ceiling drops here as it is a cover for the HVAC duct work.  The lighting and valence will have to attach here.  Last check showed that this is all wood construction, so we should be ok if we keep the screws short.

    The valence will be a tin roof type construction.  Using plastic corrugated roof panels from Home Depot or Loew's, we'll cut sections approximately 20" long and paint them silver on both sides.  Then we'll "rust" them using spray paint.  Over the center of the rusted (and possibly staggered cut) "tin" I'll mount a red oxide painted sign saying "Cotton Exchange" with the letters in gold.  

    Here is the kind of look and feel that I want.  This is a photo of the cotton gin I plan to build.  The rich rust and metal just scream "cotton gin!"   The valence will follow the whole length of the railroad.

    For the fascia, I'm thinking burlap.  My complaint with fascia is that often it is just flat and painted.  Very seldom do I see an fascia with some texture.  So I thought we'd mount hardboard covered with burlap to give it a look and feel of a cotton bale, along with some sound deadening quality.  I sound deadened one small layout using packing "peanuts" held in place by a layer of burlap under the railroad and it was VERY quite.  We may do that again on this layout.

    Burlap also has a smell all to its own.  That unique smell would reflect what you would smell on the dock at the canal in Augusta.

    Under the layout, most folks use a skirt of some kind.   When I think railroad, I think crates and packaging stuff.   Why not make removable crate facades and have them attached with Velcro for easy removal?

    With addresses and markings stenciled on, this would give a great "working railroad" feel to the layout.  So when you see the layout and approach it, you're thinking "this is a busy place!"

    Your thoughts???

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

    006 The Augusta Railway - Supplies and Changes

    I had some gift cards left over so I went with the family and bought the light fixtures that I needed, some wire, a light switch and some 1 x 3 lumber.  The lumber is for supporting the lights on the "ceiling" area, which I'll explain later with photos.

    I'm still tinkering with the track plan.  I changed the left edge to an even 1 foot to make it easier.  I put in the tunnel to hide the return loop/staging track.  This track will serve as the Southern RR's staging until I come up with something better.  I put in one road, though I have need for more of them.  Most like a canal road.  All of the industries and structures have now been named.

    Had a great workout this morning.  Dead Lift and Bench Press required adding more weight. Starting tomorrow I've got to improve my diet.  I'm hoping that messing with trains again will help give me the added umph to get me to improve even more.  At least, the lumber was MUCH lighter than the last time I bought some!  The more muscles...the less blood sugar.  Just in case you think I'm vain or something.  Not out picking up girls it is strictly medicinal.

    Friday, November 23, 2012

    005 The Augusta Railway - Layout Lighting

    Because of how the layout is going to be installed, the lighting must come first.  I've decided to go inexpensive and use twin tube fluorescent strip lights with high quality, high Kelvin bulbs.  This has worked well for me before and requires a minimum of cost and labor for installation.

    I'll need four light assemblies, each 49" long.  This should work fine...but I'm open to comments.


    004 The Augusta Railway - Superintendent Approved!

    After a VERY bitter fight with the Superintendent I finally have approval for building the railroad.  Before we got married I made sure that we had an agreement that the basement belonged to Scott, and everything else house-wise belonged to the wife.  Like all wives, they HAVE to be greedy and feel like they should take everything from you.  Well, I wasn't going to let this happen.  Never let your wife have even the smallest part of the basement because it is just like giving small parts of France to Hitler.  They just want more.  So, after threats of divorce and making sure that I know that she resembles her mother...I have approval and funding for the Augusta Railway.

    Click On Drawing to Enlarge

    Here is the plan so far.  I've test run it on Third Plan It a few times and like it so far.  There are a couple of problems but nothing major, and it completes most of four of my AP requirements.  

    Essentially the operations are the same as the Dixie Central.  Its all about cotton in the late 1940's.  The boll weevil has hit, and post war demand for cotton is high.  This small railroad based loosely on Augusta, GA, is about a short line moving cotton around in the area.  The cotton exchange in Augusta was second only in importance and size to Memphis' exchange.  There is a large textile mill here, and the docks along the Augusta Canal.

    More to come!

    003 The Augusta Railway - Checking NMRA Achievement Program

    I've been working on the NMRA's achievement program for 31 years.  Yup...31.  I've build countless layouts and designed even more...but never finished the program.  So, once again I'm going to work on a layout that will help knock that out.  My friend Mark Evans just became Master Model Railroader that is a great motivator, especially since I know that Mark is always there to help.

    So let's check the sketch of the Augusta Railway...see if it meets the standards for the certifications.

    Civil:  I'm modeling HO, so we'll need 50 feet of opertaional track.  A quick check using the Third Plan It tool says we have 73'.  That's good!  I can actually trim some of the track back if I can.  It is looking a bit too saturated.  We need six examples of trackwork from the list.  On the layout we have:

    • A passing siding
    • A spur
    • A simple ladder yard
    • A reversing loop
    • Superelevation
    • Service pit track
    For examples of scratchbuilt track we'll have a turnout, gantlet or three way turnout (not on drawing yet) and a crossover (not on drawing yet).

    Electrical:  Construct a layout with at least:
    • Gaps and blocks for DCC - got it
    • One mainline passing siding
    • Reversing loop
    • One yard with a minimum of three tracks and a switching lead independent of the main line.
    • Storage for two locos
    • Power supply with protective devices (Using DCC system)
    Wire a turnout, crossover and a 3-way turnout
    I'll pick three accessories to wire up later...there are plenty of options.

    Scenery: Construct at least 32 feet of HO scale scenery.  Layout is over 32 sq feet.

    So far this small layout will cover everything that I let's do a finished plan.

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

    002 The Augusta Railway - Sketching a New Line

    My basement area is still the same, but this time I want to use less of it.  If things go well, I can always expand into the rest of the room, but for now we will leave some workout space and some area for the kids to play video games on the 60" tv.

    Above is my first sketch of what the new Augusta Railway could be.  Augusta, Georgia is a sweltering hot cotton town located on the Savannah River.  It was a major port for collecting cotton and barging it down to Savannah to be loaded for export.  I'm going to take the original plan for the Dixie Central and make it a local railroad, just in the Augusta area.  We'll farm cotton, gin it, and either make textiles from it or ship it overseas.  We'll also bring in Egyptian cotton and make it into textiles.  Other cotton products such as cottonseed oil, fertilizer and seeds for cattle food will be exchanged.  There will be an interchange with the Southern Railway so that goods can be exchanged off railroad.

    Believe it or not, my first pass at the sketch of the layout came out pretty well.  I've got to check it for operations and for NMRA Achievement Program certifications, but it fits the area pretty well.  While I won't have the room for a continuous run, it provides as much run space as a 4 x 8 layout.

    I'll keep sketching today...see what I come up with.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    001 The Augusta Railway - A New Start!

    There is nothing more dangerous than giving me a week off from work.  Normally used to 60-80 hours a week of running factories, the sudden stop from endless amounts of information and decision making doesn't work for my brain.  It must keep crunching, thinking, designing and planning.

    So here we go again.  My last three home layouts barely saw the completion of the benchwork.  The first one, The Dixie Central, was not the right size for our new house, so it is now gone.  The next layout, The Wasatch & Jordon Valley didn't make it past the drawing board.  The most recent layout, The Utah Night Shift was just getting some track when I started having trouble with my vision, and wound up finding out I have diabetes.

    My health has improved a little, but I'm finding out that I can't just quit building models.  I've got to find a way around the issues while I'm waiting for my eyesight to stabilize.  Working out daily, trying to eat right, taking my medication...all of this has to start working sooner or later.  What I've discovered lately is that I don't HAVE to build an award winning is my normal desire.  All I have to do is have some trains running to make me happy. We can do that, even with eye problems.

    When I found out about the disease, I kinda had my own little pitty party.  I backed away from friends and the hobby while I tried to spend time figuring out meds, eating, exercising and the like.  What I didn't realize is that trains and my train buddies are part of what makes life worth living.  So while I was getting physically healthier...I have been getting emotionally less healthy.  Time to balance it back out again.  I need trains!

    A quick survey of my shop, which I've been cleaning up the past few days shows that I have three options for a new layout:

    1.  A 1940's southern US layout in HO.  I have tons of track, DCC steam with sound, enough rolling stock and pre-built buildings to construct a layout.  Thus, I won't need to invest much in it to make it happen.

    2.  A modern day layout in HO.  I have the track, DCC locos with sound and tons of rolling stock.  No structures though.

    3.  An On30 steam layout.  Again, lots of track, DCC locos and more than enough rolling stock.  I also have some structures and I like building in O.

    Since scratchbuilding is a ways off, I think it best to go with a 1940's Southern Steam layout.  All I need is lumber, and many of the structures are already assembled.  Building models is where I'm having the most trouble.

    Thus - welcome the new August Railway!!!

    Congratulations to my good friend Mark Evans, who is now Master Model Railroader #500!  An amazing feet, and I'm glad he got the great number 500.  Good job Mark!  It is also an inspiration to get me going again.  

    So, I'm back....

    Not full steam...but we are going to build a layout this winter...and actually finish one for a change!

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    005 - Richlawn RR v2 - Photos of Kevin Klettke's Layout

    For a little more inspiration, Rick got Kevin Klettke's permission to post these overview photos of the layout.  These photos give a great overall view of the room and its layout.  For more photos, videos and detail on Kevin's awesome layout, visit  Click on the photo to enlarge.

    004 - Richlawn RR v2 - Falls City Brewing Company

    Rick is interested in the Falls City Brewery in Louisville, KY.  For some reason I think I've actually seen it in person, but I can't remember.  Let's go take a look.  Got to love internet!

    FCB was built in 1905 and the Louisville operation lasted until 1978.  We are going to model the 1950's to 1960's time period, so that fits.  The proper name during the time frame is Falls City Brewing Company, and is named after a rocky outcrop "falls" on the Ohio river in Louisville.

    The are noted for producing Billy Beer in the 1970's, a beer named after President Jimmy Carter's beer swilling brother.

    The brewery had a small ice house attached to it, and they sold ice to locals.

     Here is the brewery in the 1930's.  No small operation!  This thing is huge!  It was kicking out 75,000 barrels.
     Here is a back street shot with an overpass.

     Another shot of the full brewery.  I'm starting to get a feel for this.  I like it!  She will be the focal point of the layout for sure.

     Here is the building, no longer a brwery.

     Back side of the building in modern times.

     This is the ice plant.  During prohibition the company held on by selling ice an soda pop.

    Here is the company headquarters, now a dentists. Office. 

    This is a great facility to model!