Monday, September 19, 2016

Another Layout Design Tweak......

OK....the benchwork is now completed and with that brings the final update to the track plan. Or at least the mainline branch, including the swinging gate to complete the "around the walls" continuous run.

Benchwork as completed looking from south to north.

Benchwork looking from north to south.

Just finished up the swinging gate, very similar to the one model railroader did on their video series, "Rehab My Railroad" on Chuck Sable's layout. The plywood tops are all on, legs braced and squared up..

The 'dock' where the swinging gate locks into.

The swinging gate in the down position.

Swinging gate in the 'ready mode' for running trains.

Now I can turn my attention to transferring some sort of track plan to the plywood. At this point I will most likely be running a single line around the room, passing thru the scenery only once. There will be various small towns/whistle stops along the route...including Harte Siding/Charleswood, Sanford, Brunkild, Sperling and possibly Carman.

The peninsula will be designed around either a cement plant or potash plant. This will be down the road aways though. For now, my main priority will be to get the circuit around the walls done and start running some trains.   :)

Also have a few model kits in the works, still in box. All three will be kit bashed and modified to a lesser or greater degree so as to fit the parameters of my layout. They will not be built as per stated names on the box cover. As Tony Koester liked to say, "There is another model hidden in the box"

A few kits to start.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mining The Ballast Quarry

So it looks like I will now have well over 140 feet of main line track, not counting yards and spurs and sidings and what have you's....hmmmm.....and have you priced out Woodland Scenics ballast these days? Or any similar manufactured ballast?  Wow...going to cost me an arm and a half a leg to ballast what I have (or will have)... and to to top it all off, Fred from Warehouse Hobbies says it way too big for anything prototypical.  Ok...what to do?

Harte Siding.

On one of many trips to visit the master (Fred)...on the subject of ballast I was offered an alternative solution.  Fred points out the window in the general direction of the road and curb in particular and says.."There, it's free and you can have all you want. "

Of course what Fred was pointing to was all the curbside sand and gravel from a winters worth of sanding and salting from the City of Winnipeg. He asked what I was modelling and he said that stuff would be perfect, as well as a healthy heaping pail of sand from Grand Beach.

The sand (ballast) pile.

Why buy the pre packaged stuff, when you can get your own for free and sized the way you want? Don't have to ask me twice, I'm in.

Some initial screenings.

Over the summer months I have been mining the "quarry" for various shades of ballast. And so far, it's all free. Just a little work on my part in the great what's not to like?
I have some sand that was leftover from a concrete project. Very much like play box sand in consistency and colour.  Also from a leftover project was some road gravel...yep..that will work.
My kids live in the city and low and behold there was some sand/gravel from snow removal days kicking around. Yes...a couple of shovels of that please.

A little finer still.

A few different sizes of window screens and a little sifting and I had exactly the colour and texture of "ballast" that I required for my layout. Because I am modelling older rail lines and sidings...the ballast I required was very light in colour and small stone size....think CEMR rail line between Winnipeg and Sanford, Mb. No granite there, looks very much like roadside gravel.

Different colour shadings of ballast.

The only caveat here, being that you should sterilize the ballast prior to putting it on the layout. Fred recommends placing a thin layer on a cookie sheet and heating in a 225 F oven for 20 minutes and that should kill any little critters that may want to take up residence on the railroad layout.  We have a two ovens at our place and 3 racks in each. Loading up 6 cookie sheets at a time gets the sterilizing done in jig time.

The leftovers from the screening..should be able to use this somewhere on the layout.

So there you go....the colour and size of ballast that I require, and for the most part free. Beats the commercial stuff in price and quality. If you need some, grab it soon before freeze up and snowfall.

Monday, September 12, 2016

New Track Plan

Wow, what a beautiful change in the weather. Todays high was 14C.  My kind of weather. Now maybe I can return to the stratosphere of the barn loft and continue with some model railroad tinkering.

One change that I made over the last few weeks was to upgrade the electrical service coming out to the shop. I needed to install some more circuits around the shop for various tools and was running out of power and breaker space. We now have 200 amp dedicated service to the shop, not split off from the house as it was in the past. Manitoba Hydro had a special deal for customers if you upgraded from 200 to 400 amp service. Basically the increased service power was a minimal cost to me, of course you pay a little extra per month going from 200 to 400 service, but this now gives me oodles of power for my intended uses. And now I can run some more circuits upstairs for lighting etc etc. in the railroad room.  :)

New 400 amp, power distribution centre.
Been going back and forth over track plans and what not. This latest incarnation will incorporate continuous  as well as utilizing a lift out or swing down.

Latest sketch of benchwork footprint.

I guess at some point you have to call it good and start building some benchwork or this thing will never get off the ground. Must have studied a bazillion different track plans and read about all the pros and cons of the myriad layouts. Initially I wanted nothing to do with a lift out or swing away or whatever you want to call them. But because my entry to the room is from outside the layout, as opposed to stairs coming up the middle, the only feasible way to achieve continuous running using the full parameters of the room was to go with a lift out.

Probably 75 percent of the benchwork was cobbled together last season and another day with the woodworking tools should have the benchwork done and braced.