Construction Progress

(click small images to view full-size images)


06/04/2012 - Still painting trucks and couplers. Also built 5 more hoppers for the show train and made resistor wheelsets for them. One more kit to build, some loads to order, and about six more cars need their trucks and couplers painted. Then a good wheel cleaning and everything will be ready to go. I also updated my program/test track to make it switchable between the PR3 for general decoder work and the ESU Lokprogrammer to configure Loksound decoders. Both devices are now mounted to the program track baseboard, and connect to the track via a DPDT center-off toggle so that only one device is connected at a time.

Business end, with LokProgrammer on left, PR3 on right, and selector switch in the middle

Opposite end, markings on the labels are NMRA recommended weights based on car length.


05/13/2012 - Yesterday I was up in Hamburg helping the RCT&HS Modular with building an additional rolling rack for new modules. Today I worked more on painting trucks and couplers. Most of my show train now has the trucks painted Grimy Black, the couplers Rust, and the air hoses Tarnished Black. Still have about a half dozen to do, plus I just ordered a few more hoppers to build. Also still need to tip the 'glad hand' with silver to finish off the painting. I also cut a piece of the Micro-Mark roof material to see how that would work as a roof instead of building the bits from styrene to do the hopper conversions. It looks like this is going to be a winner, and greatly simplify the job.

Coupler and air hose painted

Micro-Mark roof material instead of styrene roof


05/06/2012 - Well, the dog ate one of the hoppers, so the project is slightly on hold. I decided to start prepping my cars for the upcoming train show. They already had the wheels painted and resistors installed, now I wanted to go back and paint the trucks Grimy Black and paint the couplers. It was a nice day out today so I sat at the table on the porch and started painting. First, the trucks have to be taken off, then the wheelsets removes. They I paint the trucks. While that was drying, I painted additional wheelsets and worked on the couplers. Here is a before and after shot (not the same car). I only got to the rust part, didn't paint the air hose or 'glad hand' yet. Lot more cars to go through, luckily I have almost 2 months. Plus I had a new helper today - this little guy came right up on the porch and sniffed around for a while, and posed for some pictures. Potential new recruit to the hobby.

Before trucks and couplers were painted

After the trucks and couplers were painted

I had a new helper today


04/07/2012 - More hopper work. I managed to get the roof on one. The original article says the roof was added and then trimmed to size, so that's what I did. The first pics show the untrimmed version and the later ones show it after I trimmed and sanded the edges. It was almost a disaster, the process of trimming the excess popped loose the joints so I had to reglue everything. It's not perfect, and an even bigger problem was the light scoring I did down the middle to bend the roof into place (per the article) came apart in a few places. The roofwalk will hide this though. #2 and #3 should be a little better now that I figured this out.

Roof panel installed

Roof panel from the side

Roof panel from the bottom

Roof panel after trimming and sanding

Side shot of the roof after trimming and sanding


3/31/2012 - More progress on the hoppers. The discharge gates are now finished - a piece of HO 2x8 styrene glued in the channels so it sticks out a little on each side. Hard to see with phone camera pictures. I checked the weight and like most open hoppers, they are under NMRA recommended weight. However these will get roofs installed - so I glued some pennies inside each car to bring the weight up. It's still a little short but I didn't include the roof, hatches, roofwalks, or grabs since none of those parts is ready. I also cut and installed the end pieces for the roof. I tried making a template piece out of thicker styrene but I ended up using that only to make the first one, and then copied that one. If I make more I really need a device like a Chopper. Next step,the roof.

Pennies inside, and roof end pieces

Better view of the roof ends


3/26/2012 - I know, over a year since the last update. Between work and train show preps, not a lot of time to work on the layout. Too many projects going at once, and none of them are getting done. However, that hasn't stopped me from starting another one - building some class LOa covered hoppers, just like the prototype Reading did - by adding roofs to USRA 55 ton open hoppers. So far I have the basic chassis built, and the first part of the gates installed.

Basic chassis, you can see the filed-down hoppers

Better shot of the filed down hopper bays

First part to represent the discharge gates installed


2/20/2011 - Yes, nearly a month since the last update. A couple of Tuesday work sessions got canceled due to weather and working, and the first weekend in February I was at the Timonium train show with the RCT&HS. I've been collecting materials and tools to start scenery, it's reached that point. Something I dread. I've been experimenting with painting the rails and ballasting. It took a couple of evenings but I have a short section between Trexlertown and Alburtis painted with one coat of rust and then ballasted. It still needs a follow up of grimy black. I find painting the rails to be rather tedious, so I don't do much at a time - when you start to get annoyed is when you start rushing and messing things up so I do a little bit at a time and come back later. It may take a while to get all the way around - plus I do have a couple of sections of track to lay yet.

FT 252 on the newly ballasted track

Front 3/4 view of 252

Someone snuck in a turntable and turned the locos.


01/28/2011 - Another Tuesday night work session, a second coat of brown paint was applied to the areas already painted by Ken. David applied his expertise to installing the rest of the switch machines. Trains are running reliably around the entire main. There's only a little track left, and a few feeders to wire up. Then it's on to fascia, mounting the Singlet controls, and then on to scenery. It's starting to look like a railroad finally.

Brown prairie, not pink any more!

Coming into Alburtis,Trexlertown in the distance

GP-7 628 leads train near Chapmans

FA-1 305 now leads the train coming into Trexlertown


01/22/2011 - Last Tuesday's work session was canceled due to weather. I started painting the pink foam with a base coat of cheap brown paint (pictures soon). So I could paint it all, I finished the roadbed for the siding in Alburtis and for the passing siding in Alburtis. The foam is now all painted with the first coat (bright pink sort of shows through, so I will apply a second coat - barely used any noticeable amount for the first coat, and I have a whole gallon of this stuff), except for the south end of Chapmans and Fogelsville. want to at least lay out the siding for the cement plant, even if I don't build the peninsula right away. With at least part of the lead in, I will be able to shove cars destined for the cement plan in there for operational purposes.

01/11/2011 - Tuesday night work session. Snow coming, so I ended up working alone tonight. Got the main line finished all the way around through Alburtis, and the first train ran on a continuous loop around the room! FINALLY!

First train around the loop comes off the rear bridge and through Alburtis

Same train viewed from the inside of the layout

First train comes off the door bridge into the left half of Alburtis

First train comes through Alburtis past turnout for implement dealer siding

First train leaving the left half of Alburtis, seen from the right half

First train leaves Alburtis and heads into Trexlertown


01/09/2011 - Got some more track in place. All turnouts for the main part of the layout are now in place. The first section of track connecting Chapmans to Alburtis over the rear filler piece is now in place. I also cleaned up the wiring around the DCC shelf and tagged each pair of wires.

Track from Alburtis around to continuous run connection in Chapmans

View of track on rear filler bridge from the Chapmans side

Passing siding turnout in Alburtis, with turnout for equipment dealer and Trexlertown track in background

Trexlertown track looking towards Alburtis

Main bus wires around DCC shelf



01/04/2011 - Tuesday work night. I was working out the track layout for the final connection across the door bridge. David took on the thankless job of fitting replacement ties under the joints starting in Chapmans, and Ken kept busy drilling holes and running the bus line for the left half of the staging yard and the mainline section from the Trexlertown/Alburtis border to the middle of Chapmans.

01/02/2011 - First update of the new year. Both filler pieces are now in place. Roadbed is down for the turnouts in Alburtis plus on the rear filler section. Getting ever so close to that first train to circle the room on a continuous run.

Roadbed for turnouts placed in the Alburtis section

Roadbed on the rear filler piece. In the background is my workbench

View of Alburtis/rear filler from doorway


Filler piece across doorway. It's only 6" wide so I left the sides high as a fence

View of the doorway filler attachment to the narrow Alburtis section



View of the attachment of the other side of the doorway filler section



Turnout linkage using a J arm. There's a brass tube through the foam at the pivot point.



Servo mounted for the special turnout linkage - the servo end is the same as any other turnout, since there is a rotational aspect to the motion as well as side to side.


12/27/2010 - Not many updates lately. Not much has been happening. I've been spending some time working on some undecorated Atlas RS-3s and attempting to paint handrails and such. Nothing much photo-worthy. However, I did get the last two benchwork sections anchored to the wall an the first filler piece built and installed. This is the one that goes between the staging/Chapmans section and the first Alburtis section, separating the main layout area from my workbench area. Another thing which I did not get any pictures of yet is the modified turnout linkage for one of the yard turnouts, since the throwbar ended up too close to a cross brace of the benchwork to mount the servo in the usual manner.

This is the section on the bottom of the plan next to the door. Missed the stud the first time.

This is the narrow section just above the door, against the angled wall.


End of the filler section against the angled section. The brackets are leftover cutoffs from the legs.

End of the filler section against the staging/Chapmans side. This is tightly wedged by the supports but not actually fastened tightly.

Top side of the filler section. Back to the left is my work area. Only a single layer of foam was used, raised sides act as guardrails.



12/05/2010 - Yard tracks all in place! One turnout ended up right over a cross brace which will require a slightly more complex linkage, but I think I have it all figured out. Managed to cut the power bus too, while connecting the feeders for the new track. All soldered back together though. It's just been one of those weekends. On the bright side, I managed to get a bunch of pictures whole the work was in progress, and I also finished the feed mill siding for Trexlertown.

Roadbed in place, waiting for caulk to dry

View of the roadbed in place from opposite end

Caulk is dry, pushpins removed, time to lay some track!

Track in place with pushpins, waiting for caulk to dry

View of track from opposite end.

Overall view of Chapmans side of layout

Yard tracks ready to go

Yard from opposite side

Trexlertown feed mill siding


12/03/2010 - Did a bunch of prep work like installing frog wires on turnouts and making more terminal joiners so I am ready to go over the weekend. Plan to complete the yard, the feed mill siding, and maybe continue on a bit towards the Alburtis section. Speaking of frog wires, not one of my locos so much as blinks a headlight going over the unpowered frogs. So I have not bothered hooking up and of the relays I bought. I KNOW if I had left the frog wires off though, I'd have power issues and wish I had put those wires in.

11/30/2010 - Tuesday work session. Got 6 servos installed at various locations under the layout (thanks David!) and roadbed in for the Trexlertown feed mill siding.

11/27/2010 - Last fixed benchwork sections almost complete. The side near the door wall is now complete and in position. Between the previous end of the benchwork (1 foot wide) and this last section (18 inches wide) is a 2 foot long and 1 foot wide section with no leg,s, it's just held up by the others. Being long and narrow, if I do use a lift out section to span the entry area, I will probably need to anchor this last 18 inch section to the wall with a shelf bracket or a corner brace as there is a bit too much play to keep a liftout securely in place. The 4 foot long by 1 foot wide section for the angled wall is almost done, I still need to attach the leg braces, but I ran out of nuts and bolts. It too will likely need to be attached to the wall as even with the legs fully braced, it's just too tall and narrow to be stable. The legs don't flex - the whole thing tips. It's either that or duck under.

New end section, door to right

Another view of the new sections

Last section, for angled wall. Still needs leg braces

First piece of fascia installed

Two trains, on on main, one on Chapmans Yard lead



11/21/2010 - Still more benchwork construction. One piece of fascia up. Fixed up some old cars and locos I got to add to the roster.

11/16/2010 - Not much to report, just working on the final 3 sections of benchwork, which looks pretty much like the sections already shown in previous updates. These will be the last fixed sections of benchwork - next I will need to build two liftout sections for access to the room and the work area. One will be easy - 3 feet of two parallel straight tracks. It will have to be cut at an angle where it meets the fixed benchwork on one side, but all I have to do for that is set my saw to the correct angle and it's done. The other one though, is two tracks on a curve.

11/10/2010 - Here are pictures of the front and back of the temporary control panel.


11/09/2010 - Hooked up some more mainline feeders, installed the siding for Fogelsville, and hooked up the second Singlet and servo. Built a temporary panel from a piece of cardboard until the fascia gets installed, pictures to come. Now I can actually switch cars to a siding.

11/06/2010 - Built a shelf to hold my DCC equipment and installed it. I had the shelf itself built before, see below. I made the hangers and installed it under the layout finally. Also hooked up my first servo and Tam Valley Singlet controller.

Shelf brackets ready to install

Right-hand bracket installed under layout

Left-hand bracket installed under layout

Shelf in place on brackets

Another view of the shelf in place

Servo in Motrak mount under the layout


11/03/2010 - Spent some time organizing cars and locos, and last weekend was the train show in Timonium MD. I was there with the RCT&HS modular layout. I've added decoders to a couple of locos, and finished off the optional details on the GP-7 and S-1. Loco pictures on the roster page. With additional locos ready to go and some more track, servos, and controllers acquired it's time to get back to tracklaying.

10/17/2010 - Been busy, installed track around the curve and into Trexlertown, added roadbed and track for the siding at Fogelsville, and started on the roadbed for the yard lead at Chapmans. I took a couple of pictures during roadbed installation to show the sequence - caulk, put down one side of the roadbed, pin it in place, install second half, and pin that. Have to hold off on track, I'm out of flex, have to pick some more up this weekend. I also did a few other minor things like make a short Loconet cable to connect the DB150 to the PM42 on the DCC shelf, and I temporarily fastened a UP5 to the benchwork so I can plug my throttles in and not drag the Zephyr across the floor.

First I draw in the centerline, then put down a thin layer of caulk

Next, the first piece of roadbed is put in place lined up with the centerline

Then the roadbed is pinned in place to keep it from moving until the caulk sets

Finally, the second piece of cork is butted to the first and pinned down

End of the line, for now, in Trexlertown

North end of Trexlertown just above the switch

Roadbed for siding in Fogelsville

Fogelsville siding from the opposite direction


10/12/2010 - installed roadbed to continue the main onto the narrow side. Also restocked the supply of joiners with wires attached. EVERY rail joiner on the layout has feeders (except insulated ones, of course). Never had a power problem on the previous layout, even after painting the rails, so I am continuing the same technique here.


10/10/2010 - added the foam to the corner. Couple of days for the glue to dry and I will be able to continue on with the main.

First layer of foam

Second layer of foam


10/09/2010 - Soldered some feeders to the bus and test ran my T-1. No issues at all on the 24" radius curve, even at warp speed and with the drawbar in the 'close coupling' hole. I'm satisfied.

Main behind Chapmans. Staging on left.

Main behind cement plant

T-1 2111 on curve


10/07/2010 - Drilled holes for the bus wire and snaked it into place. Twisted a couple of feeders on and hooked it up - the first train has run on the main in the area behind Chapmans and where the cement plant will go. New trick of doing one small thing per night seems to be working, I made more progress in the past few days than two months previously. Pictures will be coming, not all updates will be text only.

10/06/2010 - Finished the main behind Chapmans. The main is now complete on the top and right side of the plan. I also ran the bus wires for the right-hand half of the layout. That will connect to section 2 of the PM42. The left-hand half of the main will be section 1. Section 3 is Chapmans yard and the cement plant, and section 4 is staging.

10/02/2010 - Chugging along. Slight modification made to the track plan (see Track Plan page). Spent some time and organized everything. I also started doing a bit of round-robin with a fellow modeler who lives a few blocks away. This will force me to move faster and have something ready to work on for our Tuesday evening sessions. I did take some pictures, a couple views of the room now that it's been organized, a shot of the benchwork to fill in the odd corner, some pictures of my new storage cabinets, and a picture of one of my GP7's, I found a yellow paint marker a bought a long time ago and gave it a try for painting the handrails. It seems to be working, I'm going to let the paint dry and see how it really turns out before going back and finishing it.

Overall room view from alcove area.

Overall room view from doorway.

Benchwork to support corner connection

Track/Benchwork Cabinet

Electrical Cabinet

GP-7 handrail painting


08/02/2010 - Almost 5 months, but I have done quite a bit. Just lazy about taking pictures. The most recent thing I did was build my DCC main distribution board. This is going to be mounted under the layout and it holds my DB150 booster, MF615 power supply, PM42 4-section breaker, and possibly an additional power supply for lighting and incidentals. I also built a test/programming track with a pair of Kadee couple gauges at each end plus a Digitrax PR3 connected to the track for programming. I have pictures but none of them came out clearly so I have to take new ones. The benchwork is also progressing, the entire side along the sloping ceiling has been built and the staging tracks have been completed to the turnout at the edge. I also started on the main line, and have the first section of the one foot wide part of the benchwork built. I did a little thinking and figured out how to tie it to the existing benchwork without making crazy angle cuts in either the plywood or foam - I will built a trapezoidal piece of benchwork to fill in the gap and tie things together.


03/13/2010 - Yes, a long time between updates. I'm all moved in, and construction has started (see track plan page). Two sections of benchwork have been built, and today I put down some track and roadbed. The first place I started ins the staging yard, which will be hidden behind a removable backdrop. Clearance is tight overhead so it's hard to site down the track, so I decided I would get this more difficult portion out of the way first. Here are some photos of what I did today.


07/05/2009 - Almost 2 months since the previous update. But next month I will be moving to a larger apartment with room for a full room-size layout. Once I'm moved in and have accurate dimensions, I will start working on a new track plan. This time I hope to include most features of the C&F Branch. In the meantime, I've been acquiring some locos and cars, and I purchased a set of Fast Tracks turnout jigs to work on building my own turnouts. I finally finished my first complete turnout, and amazingly enough, a truck with Proto2000 metal wheels will roll through either route with no clicks or bounces over the frog. I haven't attached it to the QuickSticks wood ties yet.


03/08/2009 - I know, a LONG time since the last update. I've been acquiring rolling stock kits and seeing what tidbits I can pick up at train shows. Also trying to develop a workable track plan. But finally some progress. Picked up a couple of 2x4 luan 'handy panels' and a couple of 2x8x2" pink extruded foam. Both modules have been built and connected together, and I installed the luan. Next step is trimming the foam (it's slightly over 2' wide..darnit) and attaching the bottom piece to the luan. Pictures to come - I took a couple but they are still in my camera.

12/21/2008 - Yes - I tend to work slowly. Today I built a Locobuffer II using Hans Deloof's circuit board. But at least I took pictures of the progress as I was soldering it all together.

Locobuffer PCB component side

Locobuffer circuit board, component side

Locobuffer PCB solder side

Locobuffer circuit board, solder side

Locobuffer and part

Locobuffer board and parts

Locobuffer connectors installed

Locobuffer with connectors installed

Locobuffer IC sockets installed

Locobuffer with IC sockets installed

Locobuffer resistors installed

Locobuffer with resistors installed

Locobuffer resistors installed before trimming

What a mess! Don't forget to trim those leads

Locobuffer resistors installed after trimming

Ah, much better!

Locobuffer with more components

Capacitors and diodes have been installed.

Completed Locobuffer

Completed Locobuffer, less chips.

Cat in Christmas Tree

Bonus pic of special live tree ornament



12/07/2008 - Made some legs for the modules. Took a tip from the Jan. 2009 issue of Model Railroader and made the legs like they made them for the Beer Line modules - L shaped with a short chunk of 2x2 at the bottom to provide a place for the leg leveler. Given that none of the wonderful "home improvement' stores around here sell anything resembling a straight 2x2, this works out very well. Instead of the usual T-nut and bold, I found these felt-bottomed pieces. They come with a plastic T-nut and have about 1" of threads on top to allow for adjustment. Since my floors are all hardwood, this should be good protection against scratches.

Picture of layout leg with adjuster

Closeup of Leg Bottom

Another view of layout leg

View of the 'inside' of leg


11/30/2008 - Wow, finally back into it and construction has started. I built the first 2x4 module which will be part of an overall 8x12 L shaped switching layout. Here are some pictures of the module, with my test track stuck on top for a reference. The tops will be two layers of 2" thick extruded foam insulation. I still have to add the diagonal braces for the legs on this one.

Module Picture 1

Overall view of module

Module Picture 2

Another view of the module frame

Module Picture 3

Module frame from the other side

Bowser Hopper

Bonus shot of Bowser hopper.