Completing my first layout: Lessons I Learned

SHarrison Jul 21, 2012

  1. SHarrison

    SHarrison TrainBoard Member

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    Wanted to share some photos of my first railroad (27" x 33").

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    To see more shots, you can visit this album.

    Here's what I learned:

    1. Information is great; too much information stops you in your tracks.
    Thanks to my husband and the folks on this board, I've a plethora of advice to help me complete my project. But, it's really overwhelming at times.
    To help get it straight in my mind, I used 2 soft-bound books from Model Railroader:
    "Beginner's Guide to N Scale Model Railroading" and
    "Basic Scenery for Model Railroaders".

    2. You're going to make mistakes, forgive yourself.
    Sometimes your happy mistakes look fabulous!

    3. I still don't get electricity.

    4. Devil's in the details -- and you pay a lot for details.
    But, boy, does it make a difference if you like realism. Keep the Optivisor handy.

    5. Flextrak is great, but it only bends so far.

    6. If you impulse buy, you're going to pay far more than you bargained for.
    I bought cool stuff I didn't really need, but wanted -- because it looked cool. But, now I'm running out of room with no way to display or use my cool stuff without putting in a lot more cash.
    Unfortunately, I also bought stuff I needed that didn't work well for the application (i.e., short-radius, plastic-frog turnouts). [See #2 above]

    7. Great running locos make you look like you know what you're doing.
    Unfortunately, the era I chose doesn't have a lot of options for engines that run well. Hopefully, the new 4-4-0 releases from Atlas will be more forgiving than the Bachmann.

    8. Small layouts pack a lot of punch.
    It's hard for me to sustain interest if things languish on my workbench. So, the smaller layout made it possible to complete a task (more "hobby", less "work") and concentrate on "the look" with fewer frustrations.

    Thanks, guys, I might try a shelf layout next.
    Sally
    (modelling 1850s American railroad with my husband, Shawn)
     

    Attached Files:

  2. ns737

    ns737 TrainBoard Supporter

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    HI I have no words to do you justis. I love the trees and rocks. you are up there with master modelers.
     
  3. SHarrison

    SHarrison TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the kind words.

    I formed the trees from 10 years of collected trainshow raw materials, so I had a variety -- and I used every bit of it! The rocks are a couple of plaster molds stuck on foam insulation board covered with a generous helping of foam putty (or, was it lightweight hydrocal?). Hey, I tried it all. With today's materials, you really can't go wrong. Just be sure to have some reference photos.
     
  4. HOexplorer

    HOexplorer TrainBoard Supporter

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    Very nice. Very good modeling of an era we don't see enough of in this hobby. Jim
     
  5. SHarrison

    SHarrison TrainBoard Member

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    What drew me to this was the history and the gamble. My husband, Shawn, said it was a niche that could present a lot of modeling possibilities -- and a lot of frustrations due to the lack of loco and rolling stock choice.
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The important part IS that you learned. Moving forward, anything done next will be much easier. If you had some fun along the way, then you have achieved the ultimate goal.
     
  7. SHarrison

    SHarrison TrainBoard Member

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    Given the time it took for me to accomplish this small railroad (2 years off and on), I may have to "rediscover" (!) a number of things I should've recorded with a photo log.
     
  8. gregamer

    gregamer TrainBoard Supporter

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    Great work. You put a lot into the details.
     
  9. Jim Reising

    Jim Reising TrainBoard Member

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    Sally,
    Congratulations on building an excellent layout! Very nicely done, especially given your chosen era.
     
  10. SHarrison

    SHarrison TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, Jim. I'd love to have company -- care to try your hand at modelling pre-Civil War? The more, the merrier.
     
  11. SHarrison

    SHarrison TrainBoard Member

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    I owe a lot to my husband for prodding me to actually model with an artist's eye.
     
  12. SHarrison

    SHarrison TrainBoard Member

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    Yeah, it's amazing how drybrushing can bring out texture on metal and plastic parts.

    As for the landscaping, working wet-on-wet worked wonders. It made me rather nervous because you don't have a great deal of control of how colors will mix -- sorta like nature itself!

    Plus, the specialty items really helped. I used Panamint wood beam trucks, Badger bits (Australia) spoked wheels, and Micron Art horse-drawn wagons.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 21, 2012
  13. lapcotransit

    lapcotransit TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sally,
    Congratulations on finishing the layout and posting photos! You've inspired me to get out to the Hobby Lobby and buy some more tie wood for my Antebellum demonstration layout (aka the panamint models play plank). Your drybrushing and landscape blending style lends itself well to N scale, techniques common in military and minitures modeling that seldom cross over to model railroading. How are the Badger bits wheels working out? Expect some 3D print spoked wheels soon and more B&O-specific equipment.

    Eric Cox
    http://www.shapeways.com/shops/panamintmodels
     
  14. SHarrison

    SHarrison TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, Eric, for making all the little touches that make modeling a pleasure.

    Shawn encouraged me to paint gaming miniatures and landscape a static diorama as practice -- hence, the paint technique crossover. Plus, I did some theatre set painting in a past life.

    The Badger Bit spoked wheels look terrific, but I only had the 36" -- not the recommended 33" for the T01b wood beam (B&O 1850s). However, the 36" Badgers did fit the live spring (B&O 1830 - 1855) and wood beam freight (1850 - 1870s) just fine, but I need to shim the car bolsters to accommodate. [Might raise the car to an unnatural height?]

    Looking forward to seeing what other clever items you may have in the works (a B&O pot hopper, perhaps?)

    Sally
    (modelling 1850s American railroad with my husband, Shawn)
     
  15. Fotheringill

    Fotheringill Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sally-

    That sure doesn't look like a first railroad to me. It is really top notch.

    "...3. I still don't get electricity...." I never did and it looks like I never will, but we do the best we can with what we have.

    As to lessons you learned, this poster is, if not the king, the crown prince of Lesssons Learned. Just look at my signature. The folks around here made the suggestion of naming my line as such and I proudly did. My complete lack of ept has certainly made my railroad an ongoing learning experience, starting with solder dripping down onto my chest when doing that thing we both don't understand to the other night in laying out a long sweeping curved cork roadbed perfectly. gluing and pinning it down, having it dry and then seeing that it wasn't quite right. I got a bit lazy and laid down a third strip of roadbed in its proper location.

    BTW- A spot of horse manure here and there would be nice (or not so nice) depending on the viewer. If you need some, I can send it. Around here the general opinion is that I have an overabundance.
     
  16. tigers1960

    tigers1960 TrainBoard Member

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    G'day from Australia....WOW....Looks incredible...I'm trying to do a contemporary BNSF non prototypical layout but this 'olden days' look is
    just fantastic....congratulations......Cheers tigers1960...(Rod)..
     
  17. SHarrison

    SHarrison TrainBoard Member

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    @ Fotheringill

    Ow! Solder on the chest -- now that's manly!

    I agree, good track work makes the choo-choo go round. My first try at pinning/gluing down track was okay, until I found out I used the wrong code <AARGH!>.

    As for the horse manure, well, guess I could whip out the Superglue gel and place a few strategic piles. No need to send the real stuff -- I'm sure I could collect some from around here, just got to find the shovel.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 22, 2012
  18. SHarrison

    SHarrison TrainBoard Member

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    @tigers 1960:

    Howdy from Texas and thanks. Although there may be telephone poles and interstate, a lot of the U.S. countryside looks the same as it did in the 1860s. So, it would be safe to say you could model the present BNSF and still remain true to the natural beauty that surrounds the line.
     
  19. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    Very nice layout! Superb details and weathering.

    I especially enjoyed canal boat and lock. When I worked in NVA I rode the C&O Canal many times and visited Civil War sites. You have captured the era well.

    "3. I still don't get electricity."

    Well, for that era this is probably more feature than bug. No CTC, track circuits or interlockings here.
     
  20. David K. Smith

    David K. Smith TrainBoard Supporter

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    For a first layout, I'd say you have a natural gift. You have achieved better results on your first effort than many others do after years of practice. I hope that you stick with it and keep modeling. Very soon your peers will be the masters of the hobby, and you will be instructing others how to do it.
     

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