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Barry Ten

Gulf, Atlanta & Eastern - into the second decade

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Over the weekend I've begun to add foliage to the hills behind the terminal and develop some more scenery around the new factory. I used lots of Woodland Scenics foliage clusters as they provide a good effect of dense woodland.

 

post-6720-0-32679000-1390168917.jpg

 

I've now finished adding all the removable scenery over the storage yards, with the second camera tucked away behind the Atlas factory. This one only offers a restricted view of all six roads but in conjunction with the other one, it's enough to provide foolproof coverage provided you know that a given train will fit a given road. In the event of a derailment, it's very easy to remove all the modules but I must admit that fiddling with trackwork is a bit trickier due to the restricted headroom under the top boards.

 

post-6720-0-32261900-1390168934.jpg

 

That factory really needs painting and weathering but I've some more details to add to it first, so it'll have to wait.

 

post-6720-0-07581100-1390168952.jpg

 

Now that the terminal is looking semi-finished, I'm almost done with the main part of the layout, which begs the question of what's going to happen on the peninsula. The plans I've shown indicate that the peninsula contains a stub-ended yard as well as a high-level industrial spur, but I must admit I've been having impure thoughts about possibly re-aligning the mainline to run out onto the peninsula itself, with a turnback curve at the end. This would allow for a more realistic double-ended yard which would also have more capacity, and it would also solve a few other things I'm a bit bothered by. In addition, it would take the mainline run from about 72 to 84 feet. But it's a big commitment as it involves taking up some trackwork, moving a control panel and a few other not-fun jobs. It would be the first time I've gone back on myself since I started the layout in 2008, something I've tried not to do in order to keep moving forward. On the other hand, I've sort of reached the end of the initial plan, so it would be natural to start revisiting areas I'm less happy with.

 

Anyway, plenty to think about...

 

Cheers, and thanks for reading.

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Woodland Scenics have been getting a lot of business from me lately... here's more work on the hillside behind the terminal, which is starting to come together:

 

post-6720-0-83930000-1390482610.jpg

 

Quite a complicated bit of trackwork here, which needs careful work not to make it look too contrived. We've got the rear loop of the mainline running under the hill, the foreground mainline sweeping through the scene, a loop off the foreground mainline which connects to the rear to form a reversing loop, and on top of that, the high level branch line which has to run directly over the rear mainline and reversing loop.

 

post-6720-0-32643000-1390482738.jpg

 

I couldn't see any way of making this complex arrangement work convincingly, so I decided it needed to be screened from view as much as possible. To that end, the high level branch runs into a tunnel, while the connection between the mainline and the reversing loop will be hidden by a building, situated in the empty space between the back of the roundhouse and the trackwork. I've ordered a Walthers car shop which is tall enough to do the job and not too large to fit into the available area.

 

Here's the same area with part of the hill removed to access the high level branch:

 

post-6720-0-02944800-1390482851.jpg

 

Finally, here's where the branch dives into a tunnel. I went with wooden retaining walls here, as a change from the concrete elsewhere, to suggest a more rustic feel. The clearances are also much tighter, so excess height cars won't be allowed onto the branch.

 

post-6720-0-75701600-1390482998.jpg

 

I picked up the Western Maryland loco at Warley. It doesn't fit into my Georgia theme but I love the fireball livery. It's got to be one of my favorite steam era schemes, along with Maine Central - which would be even more out of place!

 

Cheers and thanks for reading.

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Great progress extending the mainline must be pretty tempting. I also couldn't resist one of those Bachmann 2-8-0s, bought it to donate the chassis to a PRR H10 project but will end up keeping it as. Even bought a H0 version to run on a friends layout.

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Yet another "must have" book. Cannot agree more.

 

Best, Pete. 

Aw, shucks....

 

Thanks!

 

Marty

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Enjoying your blog, by the way, Marty  - great to see some of the thought processes going on.

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Aw, shucks....

 

Thanks!

 

Marty

No need for modesty, Marty. Concise, detailed, well written books on railroad modelling are a novelty.

Can you list your available publications or provide a link to them?

 

Best, Pete.

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Enjoying your blog, by the way, Marty  - great to see some of the thought processes going on.

Thanks for the kind words. I made a commitment to myself when I started it that I was going to show the good, bad, and ugly of building of a layout. Not only the things that work out, but perhaps more importantly addressing those that didn't work as planned. It's been a lot of fun.

 

Regards,

 

Marty

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No need for modesty, Marty. Concise, detailed, well written books on railroad modelling are a novelty.

Can you list your available publications or provide a link to them?

 

Best, Pete.

Thanks Pete.

 

Only two books in print at the moment - the aforementioned Locomotive Servicing book and "N Scale Railroading, An Introduction to the Hobby." The first volume featured the Carolina Central project layout, the second edition features some significant updates to the original, most notably the larger (and I think more interesting) Androscoggin Central. Both are published by Kalmbach.

I have been one of a series of rotating columnists (well, we don't actually rotate, but the columns do....) for a column called "Getting Real" in Model Railroad Hobbyist. My fellow columnists include Tony Thompson, Mike Rose, Jack Burgess, and Nick Muff.

I have been working on and off on a couple of ebooks - one on scenery techniques and the other on freight car modeling, but neither of those projects are ready for prime time. When the time comes I assume they'll come out under the MRH or Kalmbach brands, but I'm not sure which!

 

Marty

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Hi Al, I really like that high level branch coming out of the tunnel!  The wooden retaining walls look really good already. Are they available from the trade? I don't suppose there was ever anything like that on British railways.

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Hi Al, I really like that high level branch coming out of the tunnel!  The wooden retaining walls look really good already. Are they available from the trade? I don't suppose there was ever anything like that on British railways.

 

Hi Mikkel - they are Woodland Scenics plaster mouldings:

 

http://www.nscaleamericantrains.co.uk/en/147-kits-gypsum-hydrocal

 

I wouldn't know if anything similar had ever been seen in the UK - on the face of it they look too rustic but I'm sure someone will know. Perhaps in Scotland or on the Welsh or Cornish mineral lines?

 

I used stains and weathering powders to treat the castings, but as you can see from the concrete ones, my technique's a bit and miss as I seem to end up with pale patches. Perhaps I should read the instructions...

 

post-6720-0-96005000-1390602890.jpg

 

Incidentally, I made a mistake the first time I used the concrete retaining walls which is that you're meant to cut off one side piece for each section of wall, if you're joining them together. That way there should only be one upright between the sections, not two. By the time I realised I had enough done enough wall that I decided to carry on doing them in the same way, for the sake of consistency. It also means you get a bit more length out of a pack. I'm sure the same is true of the wooden ones.

 

While I'm here, FT units pause at the coaling tower:

 

post-6720-0-71545400-1390602993.jpg

 

cheers!

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Thanks Pete.

 

Only two books in print at the moment - the aforementioned Locomotive Servicing book and "N Scale Railroading, An Introduction to the Hobby." The first volume featured the Carolina Central project layout, the second edition features some significant updates to the original, most notably the larger (and I think more interesting) Androscoggin Central. Both are published by Kalmbach.

 

 

 

I have the Carolina Central one - it was a very good primer for getting into N.

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I think the concrete retaining wall looks great Barry. The uneven painting/weathering really adds to it.

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Department of boring but necessary jobs: spent this afternoon relocating a control panel about 12 inches. It doesn't sound much, but I had to disconnect and resolder six point switches, while carefully labelling each one so that they went back in the right way round. Took all afternoon! Once I'd done six, though, I'd created enough slack in the wiring that I could sucessfully shift the control panel to the right a bit. This was necessary to create space to allow the mainline to swing out onto the peninsula, as otherwise the control panel would have been tucked away out of sight and therefore hard to operate.

 

Not my most exciting update, but there you go...

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The layout's seen some major work in the last couple of months. After much indecision, I finally committed to the idea of the mainline swinging out onto the planned peninsula, rather than just a yard or industrial district. I knew that this would involve tearing up some existing track and scenery, but the pros seemed to outweigh the cons by quite a margin. However, I wanted to go about it in a way that minimised alterations to the trackwork as far as possible, and also allowed for the shortest downtime in terms of my ability to run trains. In the end, the mainline was out of commission for one evening, and then I was back up and running.

 

I started planning for the peninsula back in the Autumn, by building four Ikea Billy bookcases which would form the support structure and also soak up a lot of layout room clutter. I couldn't believe how many boxes these things swallowed. I liked them so much I added doors to two of the units, the ones facing the door into the layout room.

 

The peninsula module was built using an old baseboard that last saw service under my 4mm layout based in Holland. I stripped off the top of the board, turned the frame upside down, and then cut/added bits until it had the right shape. I then nailed on a new chipboard top and finally added pink foam on top of that, using a level sub-frame to bring things into precise alignment with the rest of the layout. I had quite a lot of the white foam left over from a B&Q self-assembly shed so I used that here and there to avoid wasting a good sheet of the pink stuff.

 

The detachable part of the peninsula is about 5'5 and fixes onto a stump projecting out from the main layout. I can't get the whole thing into view with my camera, but here's the rough idea. I'll tidy up the wiring once I've finished doing all the trackage.

 

post-6720-0-56660700-1393450966.jpg

 

The main now swings off its original alignment, onto the peninsula, and then runs through a passenger station and yard, arranged in parallel. The passenger station has two through roads, spaced wider than the yard tracks, while the yard has a double-ended arrival/departure road and another three single-ended classification tracks. I didn't really "plan" it, just played around with Peco track until I had something that sort of worked. There's a separate lead from the loco terminal, which means engines can come and go without blocking the main, and it can also serve as a switching lead with the same benefits. I also found room for a caboose track, which will be double-ended when completed. I had a lot of fun wiring the double-slip, but to my surprise it worked first time.

 

Here are the inevitable FT units swinging off the old alignment onto the peninsula. The track on the left is the lead to the loco terminal. A road bridge will span the tracks at the point where the white retaining walls are. I think an interlocking tower would look good between the two tracks here.

 

post-6720-0-52102000-1393451251.jpg

 

After passing through the depot, the main becomes single track again, swings back around the end of the peninsula, and then heads back to rejoin the old alignment. I kept a single track section following the old course, which allows trains to bypass the peninsula completely if needed, as well as offering access to the reversing loop. The single track vanishes into a tunnel portal which is much less contrived than the old scheme where I tried to do the same with the original double-tracked alignment.

 

Finally, here are the RS3's coming off the old alignment in the other direction. Got to love these Atlas RS3. They are so amazingly slow running, I accidentally "stopped" them in the yard at speed step 1, not zero. About an hour later, they were half way around the layout, creeping along at a barely perceptible crawl.

 

post-6720-0-58192100-1393451382.jpg

 

I've had to lose the spur off the high-level branch, as there wasn't room for it, but if you'd read back through my postings, you'll notice that I already had some second thoughts about the spur, but wasn't able to bite the bullet and remove it. It's done now, though. Obviously that'll take away some of the switching options on the branch, but the extra play value of the yard should compensate, I think. Fortunately I've been able to salvage all the lifted trackwork, including the turnout serving the spur.

 

That's it for now - thanks for reading.

 

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Nice work - that seems to have added a lot to the layout and I can't wait to see the scenery get developed - were you intending to have a backscene along the centre of the peninsula to divide into two scenes (as often seen on US layouts) , or just have an "open plan" town?

Edited by Supaned
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Nice work - that seems to have added a lot to the layout and I can't wait to see the scenery get developed - were you intending to have a backscene along the centre of the peninsula to divide into two scenes (as often seen on US layouts) , or just have an "open plan" town?

 

I considered a backscene, but reckoned it would make the room feel a bit too cramped as it would effectively block my view of one half of the room from the other. My plan is to have a high ridge down the middle of the peninsula instead, but not as high as a backscene would have done. I thought about an open-plan town but decided against it. As you can probably tell from the main picture, the mainline loops back to within inches of itself on the neck of the peninsula but I want it to feel as if it's several miles away.

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The dividing backscene idea does seem to get used a lot on the US layouts in Model Railroader etc , and presumably when operating a multi-crew layout helps keep folks apart. 

 

I reckon that ridge that's currently cut square could be extended down to divide the two sides of the main line loops if nothing else - maybe even another tunnel for the non-station side?

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I considered a backscene, but reckoned it would make the room feel a bit too cramped as it would effectively block my view of one half of the room from the other. My plan is to have a high ridge down the middle of the peninsula instead, but not as high as a backscene would have done. I thought about an open-plan town but decided against it. As you can probably tell from the main picture, the mainline loops back to within inches of itself on the neck of the peninsula but I want it to feel as if it's several miles away.

 

 I've found the backscene almost makes the layout look larger. I realize that seems somewhat counterintuitive!

One thing you try for fun is to take an overall picture of the room from a typical vantage point and then "paint" in a sky blue divider on the computer to get a sense of what it would look like. I was toying with not including a backdrop on a peninsula on my previous layout, and instead relying on the "tall ridge" approach.  I did the computer backdrop thing (and with my abysmal Photoshop skills - if I could do it, anyone could!). The finished image, which I would post here if I could figure out how to post pictures from this computer!) was nothing to look at, but did convince me the backdrop would make the scene seem larger. I can confirm that was indeed the case once I built it.

Edited by CVSNE
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The dividing backscene idea does seem to get used a lot on the US layouts in Model Railroader etc , and presumably when operating a multi-crew layout helps keep folks apart. 

 

I reckon that ridge that's currently cut square could be extended down to divide the two sides of the main line loops if nothing else - maybe even another tunnel for the non-station side?

 

 

You're right in that I intend to extend the ridge as it currently stands. There will definitely have to be a tunnel on the other side, as otherwise the ridge would get very tall and narrow - improbably so - and would risk drawing more attention to itself than the areas of track it's trying to separate. There'll also be a second tunnel to conceal the turnback curve, which is at the 11" ruling radius of the layout.

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 I've found the backscene almost makes the layout look larger. I realize that seems somewhat counterintuitive!

One thing you try for fun is to take an overall picture of the room from a typical vantage point and then "paint" in a sky blue divider on the computer to get a sense of what it would look like. I was toying with not including a backdrop on a peninsula on my previous layout, and instead relying on the "tall ridge" approach.  I did the computer backdrop thing (and with my abysmal Photoshop skills - if I could do it, anyone could!). The finished image, which I would post here if I could figure out how to post pictures from this computer!) was nothing to look at, but did convince me the backdrop would make the scene seem larger. I can confirm that was indeed the case once I built it.

 

That all makes perfect sense, and it's definitely worth considering. Another thing that counts against the backscene in my situation is that it would hinder access to the storage yards, in that it would have to cut across them at ninety degrees, since they run along the top of the "T" formed by the peninsula and the main layout. That's not necessarily a deal breaker, but I think I'll go with the tall ridge for now and then maybe come back to the backscene idea at some point in the future. If nothing else, this recent bout of work has cured me of any fear of ripping up and redoing areas of the layout - which is good!

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That all makes perfect sense, and it's definitely worth considering. Another thing that counts against the backscene in my situation is that it would hinder access to the storage yards, in that it would have to cut across them at ninety degrees, since they run along the top of the "T" formed by the peninsula and the main layout. That's not necessarily a deal breaker, but I think I'll go with the tall ridge for now and then maybe come back to the backscene idea at some point in the future. If nothing else, this recent bout of work has cured me of any fear of ripping up and redoing areas of the layout - which is good!

Barry,

 

Your post inspired a blog post - complete with the photos from my old layout -

http://centralvermontrailway.blogspot.com/2014/02/does-backdrop-make-scene-seem-larger.html

Edited by CVSNE
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What are the road vehicles? There seems to be a dearth of 1950/60s road vehicles available over here, particularly cars and I would also like a school bus. Visiting the States in May/June and will be on the look out for model shops.

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What are the road vehicles? There seems to be a dearth of 1950/60s road vehicles available over here, particularly cars and I would also like a school bus. Visiting the States in May/June and will be on the look out for model shops.

 

 

The cars are mostly metal bodied models by Classic Metal Works. They come in packs of two and they do a decent range of periods and styles for the fifties and later. I never seem to have enough of them, though. I've also got one or two Woodland Scenics cameos around the place - cop stopping speeding motorist and so on - but as far as I know, those ones are generic models rather than being based on specific makes of car. Not that it bothers me, anyway. I think the trucks are by Athearn, for the most part. They are exquisitely done, down to the side mirrors. I'm sure someone does a school bus.

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Yes, CMW for prototypes from the '40s or '50s, Woodland Scenics for semi-generics (different enough that they don't have to license them). Other options are GHQ or Showcase Miniatures for white metal kits, and you can often find Road Apples/Lineside Models resin kits (varying quality). Athearn does some trucks/cabs based on the Mack B or R or the Ford C. I don't know of a good school bus (the Pirate Models resin one is way overscale), but CMW and Wheels of Time each do a city bus and Athearn has the Flxble Clipper. 

 

Adrian

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