BarstowRick's H&P Layout Restoration

BarstowRick Sep 15, 2020 at 7:15 PM

  1. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Say welcome back to the N Scale, Howland and Pacific Model Railroad.

    A mountain railroad built to fit in a 10X10 Metal Shed in Big Bear Lake, California. Now residing In Nampa, Idaho.

    Present condition? We. Who is we? New friends. Have the helix-ii portion of the layout back up-on it's new legs and feet.

    I spent last week thinking of some catch phrase I could use to start this thread off with. You can pick one.

    1. The Monster Layout Resurrection
    2. Spaghetti Bowl Returns

    3. My favorite to date is: The Folded Over Pretzel-ed Dog Bone. Now in restoration. Thanks Steve H. for the handy catch phrase.

    Well, this is fun but I'm guessing you want to see some pictures.


    The mess? Show me a layout that doesn't start off this way, grin! I had to wait for my son-in-law to put new flooring down before I could move the layout in. That took longer then I had hoped for but wasn't the only delay.

    Left of the picture: Your looking at the hidden staging yard, yard ladder.

    Did I hear someone ask to see underneath the layout? Okay.

    There is an access hole in the middle. I used to be able to get me and my stomach up through it. Oh the shape of things.


    Here you can see how I bundled the wires for the various Blocks and Switch Machines. You can also see how the legs went in and how they are framed. The other end is the trouble maker and I'll show you that in the next picture.


    This is a layout that grew and then got chopped up to fit in my Tran Shed in Big Bear Lake, Ca. You are looking at the older end or chopped up-end of the original layout. It was never really framed for legs and has been an ongoing problem since the chop-down. Today, Some cutting and fitting and it's as good as new.

    You'll see here 14 gauge wire used to connect my Analog DC and DCC power sources to Cut Off Switches or DPDT electrical toggle switches and then out again to the control panels. I operate Cab A and Cab B for all my track-blocks. No Common Wire, although I have a good friend John A. who has a layout that does. It runs amazingly well. Hopefully Model Railroader will get off their tosh and get it published. Me? I'm just not so lucky and my experience with Common Wire/Rail has been negative. One other feature: I can switch over Cab B to DCC. Not recommended but do able.

    That's a start in what i hope is the right direction.

    Your comments, observations are always welcome.

    Now to get the other section which is a longer piece at 9.5 feet long. It will require three sets of legs.

    Don't tell me I'm an Old Man, just because I'm slowly evolving into one, sigh!

    Isn't this fun?
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020 at 7:24 PM
  2. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Background: Would you like some background as to how this layout evolved and what the hell I was thinking? Sometimes I wonder the same thing. "What was I thinking?" I'll get into what I was wanting to accomplish in a later post.

    Some of you in Southern California, might remember an event we held. Some of you came up to Big Bear Lake to visit the H&P along with the other layouts in the Big Bear Valley. We had a Open House or Self Guided Model Railroad Layout Tour. Quite a number showed up to see a Train Layout in a Metal Shed. Which experience has taught me is not a good idea. But, it worked for me, while I resided there.

    The Train Shed.
    1a-Train Shed.jpg

    I miss those shade trees as this was the perfect place to sit outside and enjoy some munchies from Taco Bell. A cooler place to be, even on the hotter days in Big Bear Country.

    Inside the train shed during construction.
    1d-Interior Of Train Shed-Where Layout Splits.jpg

    This will give you some idea on the type of layout construction I used. Open Grid and Cantilever. You might also notice how I reinforced the metal shed for those snow events. It held four feet of snow with no problems or sagging. My mobile home wasn't so lucky.

    A rough draft-plan. Yep, it's rough. The Lower Deck.
    I wasn't into the computer drafting and not sure it was available back then. Nice what you and I can do today.

    1b-HP R&R Track Plan-Lower DeckRev.jpg

    The Top Deck.
    1c-HP R&R Track Plan-Top Deck Rev.jpg
    Like all things changes did occur.

    How about some pictures showing the train equipment running around once the track work was in? Seriously, you want to see that. Okay.

    Dry Gulch Bridge
    4b-F3'sSilhouetteDry GulchBridge.JPG

    ATSF F7's 30+Car Train On Dry Gulch Bridge .jpg

    Didn't remember/realize that I had that many reefers. I've been buying up extras as the railroad budget would allow.

    One more shot: Turntable. Atlas, although not my favorite and was eventually shipped off as you see it...well...that's another story for a different time and place. A Cornerstone Turntable, is scheduled to go in. Capable of handing a Big Boy. Won't that be fun!!

    Roundhouse Overview & Equipment Stored.JPG

    Yes...sigh... there is a Bachmann 4-8-4 sitting in there. Three of them if your counting. The worst for wear and tear.

    That's about as good an introduction as you are going to get. From here on out I will report the progress to the layout as it comes to life in Nampa, ID.

    Thanks for checking in to see what all the hoopla is all about.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020 at 8:15 PM

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

    Hey Rick, it is great to see the layout is finally making a comeback! (y)(y)(y) I'm looking forward to following your progress as you bring her back to life.
    BarstowRick likes this.
  4. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    What was I thinking?

    The N Scale Layout I built for my dad arrived at my house in about the same condition as my dad did. Dad was on his last legs and the layout didn't have any. Sound familiar?

    The Train Shed was almost built and I was reinforcing it for snow load purposes. To my dismay I discovered the roof leaked. Long story. Off to Butcher Block, a lumber and hardware store. Two 10 foot sheets of 5 ply-plywood, rolled tar paper/rolled roofing paper, lot's of Liquid Nails glue and end of leaks. You could walk across the top and it held the snow as already said earlier. Good we now have a place for his layout but it didn't fit.

    Now what about this layout? Scrap it and start over? Not in your life. My dad and I had what we wanted. We were actually looking for a way to enlarge the working yard. It was a single main line with three sidings for train meets. Operated on Cab A and Cab B, DPDT wiring. We could run 20 to 30 car freight trains with two to three engines on the front. There was a yard at the bottom and one at the top. The helix-ii you saw above was part of that layout. It was clear we didn't have room in the mobile home and it was going to have to go outside in the Train Shed.

    The railroad bosses/suits declared it was cut back time. Sigh! Literally.

    So I set down and made up a list. At first the list was more about what we didn't want. A negative approach to things but made for a good jumping off place. So that list went into the trash as we started to seriously consider what we wanted.

    1. A Mountain Railroad. No flat-lander railroading for us. Now we are both desert rats but don't think for a minute that Barstow, Ca is flat. Not a chance in hades. Which you can't see on a clear day but you can feel the heat.

    2. Working yards. Not one but two and even three if we can squeeze them in. Squeeze was going to become the key word in this game.

    3. Turntable. Although we had an Atlas one on the lalyout. Cornerstone had come out with a new one and we had our eyes on it. Maybe it was Heljan at the time but we had our eyes on it.

    4. Bridges. Not one, not two, but lot's of them.

    5. Train Stations and one wasn't going to get it done. We had three on his layout and wanted to maintain status-co. We had four complete passenger trains although funky looking as the really fine stuff from Kato hadn't showed-up yet. Thank goodness for ConCor and Rivarossi for their full length passenger cars. Not always correct but close enough.

    6. Freight yards. No stub end for us, we wanted run-through yards and...okay... some stub ends for industrial switching.

    7. Tunnels, which wouldn't be a problem.

    8. Helex-ii: Despite all the negativity about helix's by some of our more illustrious-pod casters, alleged train leaders in model the railroading world...we wanted our share of helix's. I mean how do you get up and down. You know from the top to the bottom and vice-versa. However, the "Yeah But" department at work. We wanted to see the trains pull up and through the helix. No straight up and down, over the top of helix for us.

    9. Wide curves. We were both tired of the tight radius curves on his layout. Cursing them. 9 3/4" curves wasn't going to cut it. We set as a boundary 15" radius curves in the yards and 20" to 24" radius curves on the mainline. Does that sound familiar? It should. Hint HO curves.

    10. Switches (Not Turnouts) and lot's of them. Once again you could find us cursing out the Atlas #4 switches. It was agreed #6 switches will be the minimum. Kato and Peco "Switches," would be our choice to fill such an order.

    The grades we established as no more then a 2.5%, 2.0% preferred. Some are a little steeper just under 3%.

    We didn't build our layout it to please anyone else or everyone else but ourselves. Once upon a time I was a people pleaser and that worked for me in the Funeral Business and Hospital Circles, I found employment. Just not on the H&P layout.

    DCC would be nice and later I would add it to the layout. However, way out of our, well let's put it this way, the railroads budget to convert to DCC. 100 plus motors/diseasels and 20 locomotives. Not in my life time. I think I out grew that count in my search for other styles and types of pulling power.

    Final focus: We established some rules. It's your railroad you make the rules, you set the standard, and you determine how to operate it. This is Rule #1, in some circles. The rule we adopted. "Having Fun," is a close second.

    Whew! That's a big order now can we fill the bill?

    Regarding the helix-ii. Here's a picture that illustrates what we were after.

    Trains On The Helix.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020 at 2:39 AM
  5. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

    4. BarstowRick's N scale layout is the cat's meow. :):D:LOL::ROFLMAO:
    BarstowRick likes this.
  6. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Point 353, the feline friends I have running all over the place think the cork roadbed is the cat's meow. Aiiyiiyii !!
  7. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Anticipating a question as to my nick. I earned two Nick Names in my life time.

    "BarstowRick" given to me by Victorvile A.Bowen. This occurred over on a different website. There was so many Rick's out there it was getting harder to determine who or which Rick was participating on the various Train Websites. Before distinctive Avatar's. Even the name Rich would end up being confused with Rick.

    Just so you know. I'm a Barstowite from inception oop's that should be conception. You can take it from there. Went to a party with my dad and came home with my mom. A stinky proposition.

    A. Bowen, a Victorville, Highschool Teacher, landed me with the nick BarstowRick, not Barstool Rick. I resent the last one but have been known to answer to it. I don't drink anything that is intoxicating, not after what I saw on the highways and byways. A sad story for much later.

    I decided to run with BarstowRick. I liked it and it described how I felt about Barstow. The hottest, hot spot for watching trains, I can think of. I figured no one would/could mess up and mistake me for someone else.

    Another nick, more local to Big Bear Country. "More Track Rick", as given to me by Big Bear SteveH. Another moniker I like. Does that ring true as seen in the pictures I provided?

    I've been looking all day. I thought I had pictures of our original layout. Not in digital form and my scanner isn't up and running. Maybe another time. Film! I did make a VCR tape where you can watch trains running. Some of the worst equipment. Bmann ABBA sets of Santa Fe, Union Pacific and Southern Pacific F types. The F stands for what you might be thinking it stands for. Beat themselves to death running around the layout. Short lives.

    What do you use to pull passenger trains, back then? I mean did SD60's pull D&RGW passenger trains? That's all we had then. I laughed when I saw the D&RGW train he made up with a SD type on the nose. He showed me a SD type in a Trains Wig Wag and told me to quit laughing at him.

    Today, he would be able to run a nice set of ABBA F3's D&RGW in the four stripe to pull the D&RGW passenger trains. Not then. It was a fun layout with hours of interesting railroading. If I had the room to reproduce it and the budget, I would. For now it will be missed.

    Okay, I'm going to go back to work. I need to make the "L" shape legs for the next section. That is if the smoke ever clears.

    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020 at 3:44 AM
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  8. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    The smoke hasn't cleared. I say gritting my teeth and sneering a-lot. It is worse then any day prior. So, I'm not able to get out on my own back yard veranda and work on cutting the wood and/or put the legs together for the second section of the layout. Not without sneezing incessantly. Wonder if all that mucous would work as glue?

    Thinking there should be a lawsuit toward those who let the forests get in this shape. For messing with our air quality in states like Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. This isn't fun. Bad enough we are "Isolating" hoping to avoid the Chinese Virus. "Quarantine," is not what we've been doing and should only be applied to those who have the Chinese Virus. They should be Quarantined. In the meantime we who don't have it should be voluntarily "Isolating," where possible. Just once I'd like to see the media get it right. Grumble, grumble, grumble...

    Okay, I've vented but don't think for a minute I'm not tolerating this wonderful event, (Sarcasm should be noted) very well.

    I need to move the mess you can see on the floor in the first picture out to a not so train shed. This will be a work and storage shed. That knows no difference in the weather. Hot in the summer and cold in the winter. No insulation. Not like the Train Shed, in Big Bear Country.

    Which incidentally, according to friends I left behind in Big Bear Country, is covered with smoke from several fires one of which is approaching Big Bear Lake. They managed to get a fire break in completely around Big Bear and the question is will it hold the fire?

    Yes, you guessed it, I miss Big Bear in a Big Way.

    Thanks for all the likes and verbal support. A shout out of thanks, right back at you.
    BNSF FAN and mtntrainman like this.
  9. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    Ah Geeeeeeezzzzzzzzzzzz...Ricks putting his layout back together ? This will be imteresting !! I will be sure to have lots of :coffee::coffee::coffee::coffee::coffee::coffee::coffee::coffee::coffee: when I read this thread ! :LOL::LOL::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
    Kurt Moose, BNSF FAN and BarstowRick like this.
  10. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    A lot of Coffee, well played.

    LOL it will take a lot of Dr. Pepper to get me through it.

    The best part of all of this. I'm finally doing something... I enjoy doing.

    The fun hasn't started yet.
    Kurt Moose, BNSF FAN, SP-Wolf and 2 others like this.
  11. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    This one is for George, mtntrainman. With the homeless shelter'd - train layout. The take it anywhere you can drive it N Scale Train Layout.

    Get that cup of Coffee, George. This will put you to sleep. Grin!

    One of the challenges of re-modeling or restoring a layout is how do you put in the jointed rail? Carefully is the obvious answer. My answer will be a challenge for me never mind you.

    I studied with my Dad an REA Agent or you could safely say Rail. How the track was laid on the real railroads. I noticed that most joints were seldom directly across from each other. At switches perhaps but that was about it.

    Okay George, wake up. Time for another sip of coffee. You won't mind if I open a can of Diet Dr. Pepper. My go to source for go juice.

    What I never saw was a gap in the ties or rails joined directly across from each other. I saw it on numerous private and club train layouts but not on the real deal. And by the way George solved this problem by using Kato's Unitrack and you won't find any gaps in the ties on his Mountain Railroad. What you will find is the rails joining together directly across from each other. You can't avoid that with sectional track.

    See, I told you to wake up.

    Flex track can be compared to welded rail. My Rail Joints when using flex track are over lapped or offset. I use Atlas Flex track, code 80. A bit large but I have older equipment with the deep pizza cutter flanges. Scheduled for replacement but at what cost?

    You can see how I joined the rails and how I did that in the next two pictures. Before you find it and howl to the moon about it. One of the solder joints needs to be cleaned up. Not pretty.

    I found that it is best to put the sliding rail to the outside of the curve. You will find others who practice just the opposite but are also having to re-align or gauge their wheel sets. Seriously!

    New Camera 010.jpg

    You can see an almost three inch overlap.

    New Camera 009.jpg

    I should probably mention, the green slider switches you see at the bottom of the last picture. These have disappeared. I think they found their way out the door via E-pay. I was using them for the turntable and they were used as single pole single throw. These are usually used with Atlas's Common Wire Cab A and Cab B. On my HO train layout many moons ago, I used them very early on for just that and...well...what a flop or should I say an ugly failure. Make no mistake it was wired in correctly.

    With the common: The performance of my trains running in opposite directions was/were less then desirable. Halting, stuttering and in one case a engine sitting in the yard managed to creep over to a live track and smoked the motor. I had to replace the motor. Thought I had installed a working smoke generator. So, they are gone and before the move to Idaho, I was working on a new control panel for the turntable.

    Okay, back to work. Doesn't look good... Hurrumph... the smoke hasn't lifted. I may try a dust mask and see if I can get some things done today. Starting to irritate the throat and lungs. Uncomfortable !!

    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020 at 6:51 PM
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  12. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    I do like the offset...especially on curves. Learned that the hard way back in the day when I used flextrack. (y)
    BNSF FAN and BarstowRick like this.
  13. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Thanks George. I do like what you've done with your layout. You won't have near the derailment problems I can have.
    mtntrainman likes this.
  14. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    I used to offset my HO scale railroads just like that. Since being in N scale I have only used Kato Unitrak but I have also only been able to build small layouts so Unitrak is the most cost effective. Later on I will build an empire but for now...

    Your trackwork looks great. I cant wait to see what this looks like when "Finished"
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  15. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Me Too and Thank-You !!

    Again, another day of smoke and a possible cold front which might bring some relief with clouds and some rain. But we won't be seeing an end to the smoke any time soon. They are saying the smoke will be here through next week.

    I'm thinking I'll get busy with something/anything. Okay, then what?

    SO!! I looked at this next picture and it re-ignited in me the desire to get rid of those awful looking, although functional Rapido Couplers. If Lionel can have working knuckle coupler then why can't we have them. Check the picture out for yourself. Union Pacific SD9's passing a DD40X, train meet.

    OverheadView SD9's Next To DD40 OK Clearance.JPG

    Not much in the way of clearance on this bridge. I will re-align the track on the bridge to allow for larger based locomotives. No sideswiping. Something I could do now. Hummm !!

    I've turned to my 3 X 6 foot work desk I bought after getting here. Sounds like the same desk George, received.

    My computer center is in a nook in the front room, right next to the laundry closet. Laundry the front room? No way, yes way!!. Aiiyiiyii !!! Fun to listen to your washer and dryer while trying to watch TV.

    Depending on my stock of couplers and passenger trucks. It will depend on how long they last. I want to remove the older as in hold-over Rapido couplers and replace them with Micro-Trains. You know those working knuckle couplers on my motors/diseasels (sp intended) and locomotives. Then there's the Streamline and Heavy Weight passenger cars. I have a GN Streamline passenger train that needs MTL "Lite Weight" truck replacements. I also have a Heavy Weight mail train that needs MTL three axle "Heavy Weight," passenger car trucks. Although, MTL miss-labeled them as "Light Weight" . Really MTL??? What are you thinking?


    You can accuse me of splitting hairs. Lightweight versus Lite Weight. Am I missing something? According to Merriam/Webster it's used interchangeably.

    Heavy Weight cars were known for such because they were indeed heavy. Also, known as Standard, Clerestory and Old time or Old Style. I was taught by Rails they are Standard/Heavyweights. The truly lite weight cars were proudly spoken of as Streamline Passenger Cars. Many styles and builders contributed to the Streamliners. Pullman, Budd and more. The Streamliners for sure were lighter, does that mean lit up? Oh boy!

    I'm geared up mentally to work on getting my layout back on it's feet. That is priority around here.

    Well, this kept me busy for the day. Camera needs batteries and we are down to the Kelly Clarkson Show on TV. Next up News and all the lies that go with it. Sigh! Is this supposed to be the fun part?

    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020 at 12:42 AM
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  16. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

    Ah, the dreaded or should I say cursed "Partially Assembled" 1018 passenger trucks. Have fun Rick!
  17. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    I may end up cursing them in the end but for now they are better then anything else I've been able to find.
    Thanks for the comeback and likes. Nice to have you participating here.
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  18. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Regarding Micro-Trains: I look back and need to say this. It's not my intent to put down the fine folk at Micro-Trains. What they've brought to the N Scale came at the right time and set the standard for other creative hobbyist. The knuckle couplers, trucks and wheel-sets and those fine Heavy Weight/Standard passenger cars. Freight cars more like the ones on the 1X1 foot scale. Amazing Stuff.

    Considering the fire and destruction. Sorry, to hear what the fine folks at Micro-Trains are going through. The monies raised to help them get re-established grabs at my heart strings. The best I can do is purchase their products and support them the best way I can. Let's hope there is a sense of normality at some point in the future.

    Let's hope they can get these forest fires under control. Then we need to look at preventive action to clean-up the brush in the forests.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2020 at 12:14 AM
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  19. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

    Hopefully no one took my comment as a knock to M/T. I love 'em. It's just I for the life of me, I can never get that coupler attached to the truck on the 1018's. I so wish M/T sold them with that part pre assembled. That my friend Rick is why I dread that particular coupler. I sure hope you have a good experience with them so you can laugh at my frustration. :)
    BarstowRick likes this.
  20. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    BNSF Fan, Honestly! There are some things that are flat frustrating or mundane as I work my way through various projects in model railroading. Wiring is the most mundane but I love the results and what it gives me at the end of the day.

    I didn't take your comment as a knock towards Micro-Trains but rather a reality check. I will be attempting to body mount knuckle couplers on most of my passenger cars. This should end any frustrations as you aforementioned and add some more.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2020 at 5:57 PM

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