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Author Topic: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated  (Read 13256 times)

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Offline Webbo

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Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« on: February 16, 2015, 09:49:14 am »
Preamble
This thread extends my previous thread ĎCPR Deadwood Ė A layout under constructioní. To make a long story short, Deadwood is my 4th layout and my 3rd and most ambitious in N scale. The previous 2 N scale layouts were dismantled due to moving houses and continents (Canada to Australia twice). Iíve been settled in Canberra since 1987 and in 2006 finally acquired a dedicated train room in my shed built in 2006. Between 1987 and 2006 there was no railway construction due to limited room and job & domestic commitments. This post is a potted history of my current layout and an account of where Iím at presently with it.

Choice of railway
I picked Santa Fe (ATSF) as my first N scale railway. I liked the warbonnet colours of its passenger diesels, the heralds on the sides of their freight cars, and the large choice of locos and rolling stock in what were fairly early days of N scale. On a visit to Canada in 2000, I spied a couple of Kato CP Rail SD40-2s and snapped them up knowing that I would be back into railroading before too long. Thereafter, I would focus on CP Rail and its earlier incantation the Canadian Pacific Railway. The completion of the CPR line across Canada in 1885 was an important factor in bringing the western Canadian provinces into Confederation so itís an iconic railway to me having spent most of my youth in Vancouver.

However, I love trains and model trains from everywhere so have never been fixated on any particular railway. I still run my elderly Santa Fe locos, have a number of British Columbia Railway locos and cars, and even have a few British Railways items. Real life North American freight trains often contain rolling stock from railways all over the continent and this is one of the nice things about modelling them. The following photo shows some of the cars I intend to include in my trains along with one of my first CP Rail locos.

Miscellaneous rolling stock
Miscellaneous rolling stock

My layout presently under construction is intended to represent very loosely the CPR/ CP Rail main line through the semi-arid rugged landscape of south central British Columbia somewhere in the region of Lillooet or Kamloops as I remember this region in my mindís eye. It could just as easily be set in some parts of the western US or in other parts of the world for that matter. The layout will incorporate a modest station for the town of Deadwood along with some of its industrial area. The real Deadwood is a town in South Dakota infamous for gold mining rowdiness in the 19th century and for being the site of Wild Bill Hickokís murder. Iíve just borrowed the name.
 
Plan
My layout plan shown below was shown in my previous post. The layout has been built along the three sides of my train room and measures 3.1 x 3.4 m along its outside edges. The walk through at the bottom has a door to the outside world on the left hand side and there is a door on the bottom right that connects to another room in my shed.

Track plan
Track plan


The layout plan is really very simple and is designed for continuous running of long freight trains along a single track main line. Two passing tracks are provided, one in view and the other behind my fiddle yard. I can have three trains on the go at once (two parked in the passing tracks). The fiddle yard has 7 double ended sidings that Iíll use for storing trains or parts of trains not being run at the time. The left hand leg of the layout is rugged rocky terrain that has two tunnels and two bridges. Iím not really into shunting, but I will have several spurs running into my industrial area. How these are going to be laid out is not yet decided but will include a grain elevator as well as a freight shed at least.

Train room
My train room is the back third of a shed that also contains a storage and workshop rooms. The walls and roof of the shed are Colorbond steel sheet on a steel frame. Canberra gets quite warm in summer and cool in winter so the first task was to line my train room with insulation and panelling. I obtained a quote of $3000 to undertake this task with gyprock panelling, but decided to spend the money on tools and materials and do it myself with wood panelling. This delayed progress, but I now have a work table (Triton Workcentre) with power saw and router attachments that proved to be very handy when constructing my layout frame.

In fitting out my train room, task one was laying carpet tiles on the concrete floor. Task 2 was the construction of an internal wooden frame bolted to the steel frame that would support the panelling and the insulation. Task 3 was the fitting of the panelling and insulation to the walls and ceiling. The challenge here was that the shed walls and the concrete floor were not exactly square with one another. My high school geometry was very handy in sorting this problem out and getting the right cuts. Task 4 was the fitting of a suitable frame round the window and on the two doors. The whole process enabled me to practice a whole lot of carpentry skills which came in handy for the layout itself.
 
The following are a couple of photos of the room under construction.

Internal framing in layout room
Internal framing in layout room

Insulation and panelling in railway room
Insulation and panelling in railway room


The train room was finished with the installation of a 1 kw reverse cycle air conditioner that can heat or cool the room in a few minutes. Not needed most of the time, but sometimes is essential.

Layout table
The layout is of the dog bone style, but I didnít want to build any more scenery than I needed to and also wanted to place a work table in the interior space. This meant that the layout supporting frame was built to follow approximately the contour of the inside track. The outside of the frame is screwed directly to the train room walls (or really to the wooden frame behind the walls). The horizontal framing both lateral and lengthways are 1 x 4s and the vertical legs are 2 x 4s. The cross frames were spaced at 30 cm and supported 9 mm plywood for the track (3/8Ē). I have no idea whether these dimensions are optimal, but the track support and framework seems to be plenty strong enough.
 
The photo shows the frame looking across from left to right (east to west). The far part of the frame is lower than the rest so my lake could be fitted. The track on the right hand leg of the layout (see plan) is all at one level, but further west from the refinery the outer track rises and the lower track falls until the northwest corner of the layout when the grades reverse. Since the underlying frame was mostly constructed at the one level this required that parts of the cross frames needed to be cut away and others needed to have extensions fitted.  The photo also shows the supports for my upper level track rings which I constructed to allow me to run a G gauge, HO/OO and N scale trains until my main layout is built.

Layout frame
Layout frame

The following photo shows the plywood attached with rails and bridges in place.

Track
Although it is not very prototypical for North America, I am using Peco code 55 track for my layout for its strength and reliability. Points are electrofrogs.  The visible track sits on Trackrite, a foam material that is glued to the baseboard. In my fiddle yard, the track sits on a cork sheet. The track sections in view are glued to the underlay with PVA. Elsewhere the track is pinned. The plan is to ballast the visible track Ė a small section of this has been done. A few of the track joins on the curves are soldered to prevent kinking. Prior to track installation in visible places, I spray painted the rail with Floquilís Railroad Tie Brown.

Baseboard installed
Baseboard installed
Fiddle yard side of layout
Fiddle yard side of layout


Electrics
Iím running DC with my layout, although I can supply DCC current to the track via an MRC Blackbox to run my few sound equipped locomotives. For my simple layout, DC is fine and it does have the advantage that I can run several locomotives on one train with a minimum of fuss. The only disadvantage is that the headlights on the following locomotives canít be turned off.
 
I have 6 drop leads to the power supply. Seems to be enough so far, but time and corrosion will tell if it is in the longer term. At the moment, I have only 5 electrified points Ė 2 at each end of the passing tracks and one for the turnoff into the industrial area. Point direction is indicated by LEDs on a control panel. I have two lighted twin-target searchlight signals at each end of the visible passing track whose colours are wired to the direction the points are switched. Simple I know, but I will get changes in the signal aspects. The signals are Showcase Miniatures and utilise a fibre optic cable carrying light from LEDs mounted below the baseboard to the signal heads. I have also wired in two sets of road crossing signals that are activated by an approaching train. One of these has a set of flashing lights only, but the other has drop gates and a ringing bell as well.
 
Scenery
Constructing my mountains and rock forms is where Iím at right now and has been the biggest challenge and source of misjudgements. Based on reading scenery books, the original plan was to build a plywood wooden frame and use cardboard strips to support a mesh and then a Hydrocal layer. Big mistake #1 for me! The photo shows the wooden scenery framework on the southwestern corner of the layout which is where I started. The trouble is that once the framing is up the options for fiddling with the landform shape become limited.

Wooden scenery framework
Wooden scenery framework

A much better option proved to be to use Styrofoam to support the scenery. I started with using the foam packing material from TV sets, refrigerators etc. that I managed to scrounge then realised that  stacked pieces of cut foam sheeting was cheap enough and that it really wasnít worth the effort to get the packing material to fit. Both types of Styrofoam scenery support are shown in the second picture. Although the wooden frame is still there, it proved to be unnecessary and a nuisance. The Styrofoam foam is strong, lightweight and also allows for easy modification to scenery form after it has been installed. Bits can be dug out or glued on to adjust the scenery once it is in place.

Styrofoam scenery framework
Styrofoam scenery framework
 
The part of the layout behind the bridge in the photo above has a rocky ravine running through it. Since this area happens to be one of the most difficult to reach parts of the layout, I built this part of the scenery as a liftout section. See following photo.

Scenery liftout section
Scenery liftout section

The foam is covered with plaster cloth obtained from an art supplies outfit and then this has a layer of Sculptamold applied to the top. I had a go with Hydrocal, a lightweight strong plaster, but this was enormously messy stuff to work with. Besides with the foam underneath, I had a nice strong base so strength really wasnít needed in the covering material. Sculptamold is brilliant stuff. Sets a bit more slowly than plaster, so it can be shaped into rocks etc. before it dries. It is also lighter and more flexible than plaster. Downsides are that once dry, it canít be sculpted and it takes pigment in a different way than plaster.

Problems with colouring the scenery turned out to be my second source of problems. I started off by using Woodland Scenics pigments dabbed with a foam applicator using their leopard spotting technique to colour the rocks. Looked terrific on the Hydrocal, but the absorption properties of the Sculptamold are more uneven than the plaster and things looked pretty ugly. Then tried painting the Sculptamold with acrylic paint. Disaster! The acrylic sealed the Scuptamold making it impossible to add other tints afterwards. Finally, I adopted a hybrid technique, by splotching on the two secondary pigments with the foam applicator followed by an overspray of the main tint using an air brush. The pigments were Woodland Scenics black (secondary), stone grey (secondary), and slate grey (primary).
 
Progress to date
Presently, Iím building the scenery from the bottom left hand side and working around in a clockwise direction towards the industrial area. Iím into the rocky terrain at the moment and progress is slow. The following photos show where Iím at the moment. The bit that is coloured and grassed still needs bushes and trees to be added. Sculpting the rocks has turned out to be the hardest part of all. The bridges have just been put in place temporarily for the photo. Once I finish the scenery to the north of the lake, the lake will be filled and bridges permanently installed. Then, I can trains right round my layout once again.

Scenery looking south
Scenery looking south

Scenery looking north
Scenery looking north


Offline petercharlesfagg

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2015, 10:14:43 am »
Thankyou, it looks both simple and adventurous!

It must be wonderful to have somewhere that is dedicated to your layout instead of fitting it into existing rooms. 

The scope for your enjoyment is enormous with those lovely sweeping curves, plenty of storage tracks and of course your brilliant scenery skills!

Thankyou for sharing these initial stages, it looks as if we all have a treat in store for later!

Regards, Peter.
Each can do but little, BUT if each did that little, ALL would be done!

Life is like a new sewer pipe, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it!

A day without laughter is a day wasted!

ScottyStitch

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2015, 10:15:23 am »
Excellent first post, looking forward to more!

 :thankyousign:

Offline Bealman

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2015, 10:32:40 am »
Living not far from you, I am very interested in your insulation of the "tin" shed, as Aussies  call them.

My own layout lives in a brick garage attached  to house, but summer heat is always a problem.

I desperately  require a garden shed to build an electronics workshop but have put off getting a metal one in favour of a wooden one, thinking I might avoid the lining and insulation and just putting aircon in.

As you can probably  tell, a builder I ain't.   :uneasy:

Lokk forward to future reports! The scenery does indeed look great.  :thumbsup:

George
« Last Edit: February 16, 2015, 04:07:12 pm by Bealman »
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline scotsoft

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2015, 10:40:39 am »
I am so jealous of the space you have there plus what you have built so far looks brilliant  :NGaugersRule:

I look forward to seeing your layout progress and hopefully one day watch a video of some trains running round  ;)

cheers John.

Online newportnobby

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2015, 10:54:14 am »
An excellent history of the build :thumbsup:
The mind boggles as to how many trees you'll be planting :goggleeyes:
Like others, a vid of trains running through the scenery is eagerly awaited.

Offline Malc

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2015, 11:43:32 am »
Looks really good. The cliff face leading to the tunnel, and the hillside look impressive. I will follow this thread with interest.
I'm not sure if life is passing me by, or trying to run me over.

Offline Webbo

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2015, 11:20:56 pm »
Thanks all for your supportive comments.

Yes, I am lucky to have a room to build it all in, but it has been a long time coming. If I had been aware of the possibilities in building mini layouts such as the many great examples I've seen on this forum, I would have had a go at one of them while I was waiting for a room. It seems to me that the shorter wheelbase UK or European outline would have been a better choice than North American on a small layout with tight curves.

Lots of trees (pines) is what I'm planning for even though the layout will not represent the forested mountains of British Columbia closer to the coast.

George, wasn't sure whether 'tin' shed is part of the vernacular in the UK and elsewhere. Certainly what I have is a tin shed in Oz speak.  With respect to the merits of tin vs wood sheds, I would guess that buying a standard tin shed would be cheaper than building a wood shed, but wood would be easier than tin to line. Lining the shed certainly looks better, but you can buy a very large amount of air conditioning power for the cost of insulation installation. I'm not a carpenter either, but with some appropriate tools I found I could cut a straight line and a right angle. Lining the shed was a great learning experience and fun. Happy to discuss your shed issues off thread.

Ian 

Offline 47033

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2015, 03:34:35 am »
Fantastic.  Your scenery work is excellent you must be delighted with it so far.

Jamie

Offline Lawrence

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2015, 01:29:48 pm »
Top work Ian  :thumbsup: keep us posted on the progress

Offline danielb

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2015, 02:17:56 pm »
Looking good, I'll be following this one for sure! :)

Offline Herr_style

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2015, 06:49:08 am »
Nice to see it coming together, especially seeing your wheat cars behind two big CP Rail diesels. Are all your locos CP?

Dave

Offline Webbo

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2015, 07:47:38 am »
Dave, Not all my locos are CP Rail by a long way - maybe a third. The largest number is CP Rail (relatively modern 70s to present), some Canadian Pacific Railway (up to mid 70s say), a couple of Pacific Great Eastern, several British Columbia Railway, some old Santa Fe steamers as well as a Kato SF PA/PB, a recently released Kato Union Pacific 4-8-4 (has become my favourite), 2 British Railways steamers (A4 + B1) and a BR class 55 diesel. I have enough rolling stock to go behind all this lot, but I have more diversity than I need. I now have a policy of not adding to my stock of locos and rolling stock.  If I buy something, something  I own has to go through EBay generally.

Ian

Offline OwL

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2015, 01:33:42 pm »
From what I've seen of your pictures so far your layout looks impressive. Keep us posted with developments.
All the best........


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Offline Webbo

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Re: Deadwood layout - unabridged and illustrated
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2015, 07:14:12 am »
Here is the Deadwood layout as it is today. Some progress has been made since my first post on this. Basically, the left hand side of the layout is now well on its way to completion. The rocks to the north of the lake have been completed and painted, some trees and bushes have been plants (but lots to go), and the lake bed has been coloured. The plan is to pour a layer of Woodland Scenics Realistic Water over the bed, but at present it is a convenient place to lean when I'm stretching towards the back of the layout. At the moment, the bridge over the lake is a rendition of the old Tay Bridge post 1879. It'll be assembled permanently when the lake gets 'filled'.

Here is a photo of my almost completed scenery on the left hand side of the layout. The train is a 27 car grain train which has decided to stop where the bridge is out.

 
Almost completed scenery 7 April 2015
Almost completed scenery 7 April 2015

Here is a short video clip showing the train driver's view of a trip through my completed scenery. The tunnel section does eventually end.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNCVsPXKMv0


« Last Edit: June 18, 2016, 09:30:35 am by Webbo, Reason: Would like thumbnail on video to appear »

 

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