Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Basement Layout: Making Progress

While I'm not exactly as far along as I would have liked by now, I'm still enjoying working on the layout. I've been busy lately with making track plan changes and starting to lay some track and cork down. Now I just need to get out and buy enough track and turnouts to complete the mainline loop. That is my primary goal right now. Once I'm at that point, I can at least have some trains running again and then decided what to do next from there.

One thing I'd like to show here is what I am doing with the cork to differentiate between the main line and the sidings/yard area. Rather than using standard HO scale cork for everything, I've decided to go with N scale cork for the sidings/spurs and in the yard areas. This should give me a bit more of a prototypical look with the main line sitting just a bit higher than everything else.  

After I bought a few pieces of cork to get started, I realized that to make a 3 foot long section in N scale thickness, I can just take a third strip of N scale cork and put them all together. This turned out to be almost exactly the same width as the regular HO size, so I think I will go with this, at least for the lower sections of track that aren't grouped close together. For those areas, primarily the yard, I will probably have to go with sheet cork. 

Here is a look at how the three pieces of standard N scale cork line up with HO scale.

Comparison of three pieces of N scale cork and two pieces of HO scale cork.
I've also been working on some other small projects, one of which is figuring out what to do for the roads I need on my layout. I want something that looks good, but can be made from readily available materials. That led me to doing a quick YouTube search and I came across a great video from Gknos modeltrains. This video shows how roads can be made from simple foamcore poster board. I've been trying it out and have to say I like the results so far.

Messing around with some foamcore poster board to create roads and sidewalks.
For the main road section in the center, it is just a 3" wide strip of foamcore board with the paper removed from both sides and painted with some grey acrylic paint. The sidewalks are the same, only they are sitting up on a piece of thin foam sheet. This did a nice job of simulating the sidewalk being at curb height. The seams in the sidewalk were done by cutting slightly into the top surface with my xacto knife. Now it just needs some striping and weathering.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Basement Layout: First Turnout and Another Track Plan Change

Things are coming along nicely with this project so far. I'm going at a pace that I'm comfortable with and fits well within my spending budget and available free time. So far I've really enjoyed the process and I'm looking forward to learning as much as I can as progress is made. 

This past weekend I made a trip to the local hobby shop and picked up my first turnout. I bought an Atlas Super-Track 83 #6 left hand to get started with the siding that will connect to the scrap and lumber yard spurs. I decided to go with #6's anywhere possible to hopefully avoid derailment issues down the line and also have a more prototypical look. 

A look at my new Atlas turnout.
While my track is far from permanent at this point, I've got this new turnout test fit and ready to be installed. It was pretty simple in that I just had to remove the end ties and cut some flex track to line up properly with the diverging route. I'm happy with the look and functionality of it so far after some preliminary run by's with my new Bachmann GP40 and a few of my Intermountain D&M boxcars. 

Now, as far as the track plan change, this came about after doing the test runs over the turnout. Once I marked the centerline for the main that runs along the edge of the table, I laid down the cork along it then added the track. It turned out to be way too close to the edge for me, so I've decided to eliminate one of the yard storage track and shift everything a bit so I can have another inch of room between the edge of the track and the edge of the table. 

Revised track plan.
I also changed the industrial area a bit so there are now only two spurs: one for the scrap yard and one for the lumber yard. I was hoping to squeeze in three different industries, but I felt like it would be too cramped so I will just go with the two for now. Plus, this makes for one less turnout in that area so that's a few extra bucks I can spend elsewhere.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Side Project: Toy Train Table Update

Well, I have another project I can cross off my to do list. I'm really happy with the way this one turned out. Its actually been done for a few weeks now, but I'm just getting around to taking pictures of the finished product. My son loves it and has been playing with it every day so there is a bit of wear and tear already. 

The finished toy train table.
We've been slowly adding to my son's collection of wooden locomotives as he's been really into the whole Thomas & Friends thing lately. He loves both the toys and the movies. I couldn't be happier because Thomas is what got me into trains when I was about his age so its nice to continue with and enjoy it together. 

So far we've got him the Thomas engine along with Trevor (right) and Gator (center). There are just so many of these things out there and actually pretty expensive for what they are. I'm hoping to add a few more along with some additional rolling stock so he can have some nice looking trains to run around the table.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Prototype Pic of the Day #23

LSRC #304 | Image courtesy of Jim Guest via
Its been a while since I've posted one of these, so now seemed like a good time to do so. Today's picture is another one featuring the Lake State Railway. This photo was taken at the Thunder Bay River bridge in Alpena, MI near the LSRC yard. I really like the new paint scheme the LSRC has for these two and a few other locomotives. Hopefully they will be available as models from one of the manufacturer's one of these days.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Basement Layout: Revised Track Plan

Just as I thought I might do, I've gone ahead and redesigned some of my track plan again. This isn't as much of an overhaul as last time, it was more fine tuning that anything. There were some areas that I wasn't a huge fan of, so they had to be tweaked sligthly. I'm still at the point where I don't have all the track bought, so I can easily get away with making these changes. I just hope I don't need to make many more.

Here is the revised track plan:

Revised track plan in SCARM
The biggest difference here is the yard. I decided I did not want the yard tracks running at an angle to the edge of the table, so I moved them outboard of the main line (blue track) and made them parallel to the edge of the table. I also moved the turntable and roundhouse to the opposite end of the layout as this just seemed to flow a bit better.

I tried to make these changes with some minor operations in mind. I don't plan on anything too elaborate, but I would like my railroad to serve at least some purpose. That's why I still left the main line as a loop so I can just let trains run if I want. I know that's not completely prototypical, but it's my railroad and it works with this being my first layout.