Monday, November 30, 2015

006 Mammoth Cave RR - Track Gang at Work

I moved the layout into the bigger basement room to be warm by the fireplace and to have more elbow room.  Aside from 107 interruptions by Wicked Witch of the West, I am getting some work done.

Each section of the track is being carefully trimmed and filed to fit.  I'm starting with code 70 rail joiners for code 83 track as they fit a little tighter.

Aside from the soldering iron, these are the tools I'm mostly using for the trackwork.

Today I started using the code 70 rail joiners but they were just too tight, even when trying to open them on the widening tool.  Can't afford to have my hands gouged, so I switched back to the loose code 83 joiners.

My mobile tool bench has everything I need for track work and it can roll around the layout with me.  The light is the most helpful to my eyes as seeing tiny things even with glasses is tough.

I"m using Rick Wade's gifted weights that are so handy!  They hold the track in place while I solder.

I've decided since I don't have the turnout I need and can't afford a replacement, I'll just do without.  We have a simple loop of track now.

 The loop of track is done!  You know what comes next???

Sunday, November 29, 2015

005 Mammoth Cave RR - Foam! Foam on the Range!


Oh give me a home,
And a truckload of foam!
And track and some turnouts to lay.
Then seldom you'll see,
A much happier me!
And I'll be in the basement all day!

The Foam Fairy gave me a present!  I was very sad that I was going to have to go to Home Depot and spend about $100 on foam sheets for the layout as I was out of stock.  Then the Foam Fairy, without provocation, called me the other day and said he had tons of foam and would I like some.  I couldn't say yes fast enough!  Thank you my friend Steve Moore of K.I.S.S Method here in Salt Lake.  He had a big supply and gave me enough to build the layout.  If you aren't familiar with his products, check them out  I have all his planning templates and use them frequently.

After clearing out the family card table in the basement I laid the layout on the larger piece of foam.

Using a Sharpee, I outlined the layout for a cutting diagram.  With a very sharp razor knife I scored and broke the foam.

With the layout mounted I test fit the foam and it fits great.  It is very hard to cut foam with a straight edge.

Using an old piece of HO track I test fit the curves.  The drywall square and orange Sharpee marker laid in the straight sections of track on the lower level.  Little Katie was listening to Michael Jackson songs and I was dancing, which is very hard to do when you are laying track.

I test fit the straight track and then began forming the curves.  They are very tight at ten and a half inch radius, but the trains handle them well.  Gotta love On30!

@$%!@#$%@!!!!   I thought I had a LEFT HAND turnout but every On30 turnout in the box was a RIGHT HAND.  That sucks.  I IM's my buddy Jim Wanlass at Jamestown Trains to see if he had one laying around.  He didn't but he offered to build me one from scratch.  What a great offer, but I need to get the track down tomorrow, so I had to pass.  When I got through crying I just grabbed an HO scale #4 and put it down until I can get a Peco or ME turnout to fill in.

I cut and fit and filed and fit.  Pieces are being prepared.  This could take a long time as you have to have the track on a display layout run ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY.  There are no shortcuts.  We'll do some more on the track tomorrow.  Want to get a running loop going!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

004 Mammoth Cave RR - Benchwork The Sequel

Let's take a look at some things I did on the benchwork...

While the benchwork is all painted flat black, I did paint optic orange where the legs go.  This makes it easier to see when the layout is covered in scenery, and helps keep me from mounting anything to these areas.  This is Testor's Orange.

Here you can see it better when I lift the frame.

The corner round molding is about 2 1/2" long, just short of the three inch height of the board.  Its glued in but no other fasteners are required.

Here is the interlocking "waffle grid" on the outside beam.  It is sanded flush.

The legs come in just short of the top of the layout so that they won't interfere with the foam surface.  Does that sound like experience?

With most every joint glued and reinforced the layout is very strong and still lightweight.

Here is the valley "depression" for the river or lake.

This front board can be removed to make the canyon even deeper (negative benchwork) if I so choose.

 This board can be cut or removed completely, then replaced by a profile cut plywood board if the canyon goes below the benchwork.  It may not happen, but its good to have the option.

I drilled to 1/2" wire holes in the table.  Not straight, but they will never be seen.

Here is the support for the layout.  The layout is lifted slightly so you can see where it goes.

The frame sits all the way across the beam for a good sturdy fit.  I'll then clamp them together with a strong clamp with the layout is on display.

The benchwork is level and straight, but the camera guy is a bit off center.  Ask his friends, they will tell you the same.

The cross beam has been cut out to handle the canyon.  It can't be removed as the layout rests on this beam.

I did put a piece of track down because I'm excited to get to work.  Business has been VERY stressful, and I've been away from the trains for a while.  Its cold outside, so this is the way I'll relax until Margarita season.

I'm going to use 2" foam for the base and the second layer.  It is heavier than you think, so I'll surgically remove some inner foam and scrape out some underneath to drop a few pounds.

The test caboose will always be present.  It is taller than most of my cars, and wider, has bad wheels and has been dropped a few times.  If it runs on the layout, the layout is perfect!

Ok, now we go to Home Depot and get some foam...

Thursday, November 26, 2015

003 Mammoth Cave RR - Benchwork

Its cold, so its time to go back to the basement.  After a serious bought with viral meningitis, I'm finally back to doing some trains and NMRA work.

Light and sturdy are the two words you need to remember when building a portable layout.  If it is not durable, it won't last.  If it is not light, you'll hate moving it and will eventually damage it when it gets dropped.  Here you see a simple framework of 2x2 legs, 3" plywood supports, and 1x2 bracing.  Cheap and sturdy while weighing only about 6 pounds.

I've added a shelf that is screwed in.  This whole unit fits in my minivan, so it doesn't have to be assembled when you get to the show.  To test it I'll take it to one of the next NMRA events so that I know how its going to travel before I put the scenery on.

Here is the layout frame, made with the 3" plywood strips that Blaine Holbrook and I cut on his table saw.  On the right you'll see the "dip" where the river/lake area will be.  The layout just rests on the 3" plywood supports, and the leg extensions keep it from moving.  Is is very stable.

I am painting all the framework black.  It gives it a much more professional finish, hides imperfections, and helps protect the wood from scenery materials.  The legs all have adjustable feet on them.

Here you can see the depressed area.  There will be two large trestles here going over this part of the canyon.  The lower board (click on the photo to enlarge) is to support the edge and protect it from damage if dropped.

The waffle construction is not my usual Luan plywood, because I can't find it here in Utah.  So I used thin plywood.  Each of the boards is  notched to accommodate the crossing board.  This is a VERY strong way to build a layout, and the whole top section weighs less than five pounds.  Each joint is glued and there is a small piece of corner round glued in to reinforce the joint to protect from "racking."

Notice that the scenery area on the left is longer over the benchwork than the right.  There will be little weight here and possibly some "negative" or "less than zero" scenery that drops below the benwork.  Extending this area allows 100% flexibility in construction.

After painting was complete, the layout was assembled in my shop.  Not a lot of room, but plenty to finish the detail work with all my tools close by.  One of the best things about portable layouts is that you can move them to a better place to work, like the fireplace in my basement!

Stay tuned as we progress.  I may not post daily or even weekly, but I will keep you up to date.  Next is to install a sheet of 2" foam, and the first loop of track.