Apr 23, 2012
Is there any sort of standard plan for reversing loops? Or are they all completely free-form?
Well, the keystone section has the Free-moN standard endplate (12" wide min., 6" tall), but the rest are just 4" tall to reduce space.
The main follows the 22" radius curve minimum, but other than that, you can do what you want (it's FREE-moN ):
So now the staging loop sections occupy my newly-cleared workbench.
When we glued down the cork, we didn't lay the glue across the joints but about an inch away from each side (I almost learned the hard way by almost gluing together the two sections of my Shoofly module!).
So when I got home, I just lifted up the ends of each cork section and soaked those with wood glue.
Much easier to wipe up the overflow when the sections are separated!
Then filled in some spaces with spackle:
It's nice to have it in 3' sections: fits on the workbench & fits in the car!
(hopefully with all the other modules, too!)
[Unfortunately, my car is smaller than the one in the garage!]
Sanded down the outer track cork to create the grade down to ply:
For the long staging yard, I had just sanded & sanded until smooth and my hand was cramped beyond recognition.
This time I tried the forming tool for the "rough cuts", and it worked like magic.
I clamped the sections together when sanding the top & sides of the mainline cork across the gaps to prevent any dips.
I also learned from the staging yard that it's a good idea to paint the ply early: seals the wood & makes all processes easier (especially if you're laying turnouts directly on ply, which I realized later that I'm not here).
But as I went to paint the sections, I realized that if I painted everything, I'd lose the track center pencilmarks we made with a trammel yesterday.
So I just painted "outside" the track sections:
And that's why there's a section of unpainted ply next to one side of the cork.
But once I lay the track and paint it, the ply under it will get painted too.
So all's well that ends well!
Thanks for looking.
Here's a close-up of the nifty leg set-up Scott built:
He glued a 90 deg triangle block of wood to the middle cross-brace, and the drove the bolt through that to hold the single "L-girder" leg on.
Strong, firm, fabulous.
I Gorilla Glued the bolt & washer to the cross-brace so we can slide the leg on and then use one hand to tighten the wing nut.
Today I installed the backdrop:
0.06" styrene bought from Tap Plastics in an 8"x8' sheet, then trimmed with scissors to create hills.
(foam & spackle will fill in the space between the styrene and the mainline cork)
While the whole section was put together and clamped, I wrapped and clamped the styrene around the inside, then used about a whole tube of Walthers Goo and some screws to keep it in place.
That gap is where a road is going to go, perhaps with a front-side mirror across the gap.
I'd like to say it's cleverly positioned, but that's where the 8' of sheet ended, and the other piece of styrene I had leftover from the shelf layout backdrop only made it that from from the other side [D'oh!]
So it goes.
After installing it, I went back and cut the styrene vertically to separate the sections:
0.06" is a little flimsy, but once the foam and spackle is glued in place it'll be a solid scenery structure.
While the garage door was open, I carried the whole shebang outside and sprayed the layout-side of the styrene with grey primer and the inside of the module the same flat black as the fascia:
All the styrene will be covered with scenery (probably), so I just didn't want any white showing through any trees / bushes / etc.
Got the PC board ties in the mail from Steve, but I don't have enough to lay all the track across all the gaps until another shipment arrives from Fast Tracks (next week?), so I'll probably be building the other set of curved turnouts and start gluing in the foam.
Thanks for looking.
Looks good. Following closely.
I love the smaller more manageable sections that make up the entire module.
You and your N-land Pacific Free-moN compatriots have been a source of constant inspiration!
I plan on trying to build some endplates for these sections to ease transport and protect the scenery (always an issue with modules), but we'll see.
As I'm waiting for some shipments of PC board ties and Bullfrogs from Fast Tracks, I decided to start in on the scenery by laying down the foam.
Caulk takes days to cure, so slobbering that on now when there's some time makes for a no-brainer.
(some have commented on how fast I work: part of that is, working at home, I can pop out to the garage for 5-10 minutes and do some jobs that take time to dry/cure, but a lot of it is just planning which jobs take longer than others and doing those first)
So I ripped chunks of foam off a dearly-departed layout and just stacked them up along the styrene backdrop:
The clamp is to ensure the foam stays square (and squares) the styrene.
I left overhang on each side of the sections so I can sand down to get a close fit when fitted together.
(Yes, I could have cut even, smooth, one-piece sections from a fresh piece of foam, but I used what I have, and, really, in the end, it won't matter. I hope.)
Here's all the sections:
And they'll sit there curing for a couple-four of days, while I build the second of the two-curved-turnout set.
Does the foam look bulky and gross?
But have faith!
Over 50% of that foam will be rasped away into the gentle slopes of the Sierra Nevada Foothills.
I think I still have some rock castings left over, too, that will become exposed sections of hill and cuts.
Three weeks until the show, but it will all work out!
And now I'd like to take a moment to pay respects to the final section of a dearly-departed layout.
One section became my Mt. Coffin & Columbia River layout.
Another section gave up it's foam to become the BFG's cave for my daughter's 4th grade book project.
All of the wiring found its way into all of my later layout projects.
One section of benchwork support is my workbench, and another was the support for the Mt. Coffin layout for the past year.
All the turnouts I built for it gave me the skills to do the multiple-curved-turnout fixtures for Mt. Coffin and now the Free-moN modules.
The last section has sacrificed its foam for the staging/turnback loop module.
And now, here's all that's left of the Dogeared & Broken Spine RR, the urban switching layout that was to last me a good 5 years until a "life event" forced a move:
A couple more chunks of foam to give, and then into the Chainsaw it goes.
(as in "RIP another chunk of foam off that so we can get this layout built!")
Thanks for looking.
I've found my new Super (Glue) Hero!
I've been using regular Gorilla Glue to affix PC board ties to module / section ends.
The benefit is super-tight bond and no worries using the soldering iron (CA & epoxy pops with heat).
The drawback is the long cure time and the foamy-foamy expansion.
And, when clamping, sometimes you clamp too much:
[You can see the PC board ties I clamped INTO the cork under the ones I Gorilla Super Glued afterwards] [That was a first!]
But the Gorilla Super Glue has all the benefits of regular GG but cures in less than a minute without the foaming:
I was able to put down all the PC board ties for all the sections in an hour, instead of gluing, clamping, waiting, waiting...
So tomorrow I can start laying track!
Especially since I finished building the two-right-hand-curved-turnout fixture, so all trackwork is ready to go:
The super-long throwbars are because I realized during our last build party, that I couldn't put both Bullfrogs directly under between the points of both turnouts: they'd be in each other's way!
But by spreading the throwbars out, and flipping one Bullfrog around, I can mount them pretty close together.
The final throwbars won't be as long: I'm just waiting for the Bullfrogs to show up in the mail to I can get the spacing right.
That won't stop me from laying track tomorrow!
Will solder all the flex together first, and then wrap each course around the whole module at once to ensure smooth curves.
Wife & kids will be gone to Japanese school in the City all day, so should be a fabulously Free-moNy day!
Thanks for looking.
Marathon build weekend!
Started with pink foam blocks on empty benchwork,
Finished with shaped scenery forms and running trains!
Spent a couple hours Saturday filling the garage with pink snow as I cut, formed and sanded the backdrop hills, then glued on some rock castings:
I worked on each section individually, and then fit neighboring sections together to get smooth transitions.
Eventually it'll look like the Sierra Nevada foothills in eastern California.
There'll be a small town with a depot on the right at the short straight section.
Maybe a farm with cows on the other side.
Otherwise, rocks, grass & a lot of trees (gotta start making some oaks again!)
Just to add a little variation, carved out the continuation of a wash on the front side:
Burned the sander off!
Actually went too deep and broke through the ply, but some styrene superglued underneath patched it up.
When I put everything together, I slipped strips of 0.02" styrene between the sections to add some cut room on the tracks laid over:
Adds only a little space and doesn't throw off the curves, but makes for better cuts in the end.
Soldered four sections of C55 flextrack together, pre-curved them, and then started laying track down with caulk and soldering across the gaps:
For how I lay track across seciton ends, see my "How to make Beautiful Butt Joints" video.
Four sections of flex fit nicely from straight section around to straight section.
Running the flat car on the left around before soldering ensured smooth curves.
The turnout fixtures are also caulked in, with the wye soldered to the modular end.
After laying down & soldering all the curves (and cutting the joints in case of an earthquake or bump), I connected the curves to the the turnouts through the straight sections:
All railjoiners are soldered.
This is what happens when you get ahead of yourself and cut the rails before you solder them!
To be fair (as an excuse), it was a long day and that was the last section to be connected.
Just held it with tweezers and soldered it:
Turned out fine.
Also attached the PSX-AR auto-reverse / circuit breaker to the side of the keystone module:
The center will be busy with Bullfrogs when those show up later this week (I hope).
Free-moN standards call for 12 gauge wire between modules (that's the blue & orange), but we used 16 gauge speaker (70's shag carpet brown-yellow) wire for the sections because that's what we had, and it's enough for this space.
So the main bus will go from the terminal strips, into & out of the PSX-AR, and then out to the sections.
Everything above the wye's point rails, including it's frog, are on the reversing section.
So with all track laid & wired & tested:
it was time to run some trains!
Moved the loop down to one end of the garage & connected the Effett Staging Yard with instert, and that took up the rest of the garage:
Reason I made the staging yard as long as possible was to see how the max-long train would work going around the loop.
Turns out 20-car trains (about 8 feet) go around great.
The main is 22" radius curves, with the passing sidings at 23.5" and 25".
There was very little "chasing the tail" (being able to see the loco on one side and caboose on the other), though the dips in the backdrops helped give peeks of the train's progress.
The 50" railheight helps a lot too.
And, of course, there's a (less-than-5-minute) video:
Even was able to back the 2-10-2 with all 20 cars through the turnouts without problems.
Best part: got everything broken down & put away & vacuumed before the wife & kids came home from karate!
So now I can file the rails flush with the section ends, and then get to work on the fun part: scenery!
Paint track & hills & rocks, lay down dirt & basic ground cover, ballast, & start adding grass, shrubs and trees.
But most of that I can do a section at a time (need to, so the glue doesn't stick the sections together!).
But at the very least, Silicon Valley Free-moN has another return loop and staging / passing module.
And that rocks!
Thanks for looking.
Looks great, MC! You had a busy weekend.
Much unglamorous but necessary work today:
--slipped in a kabillion replacement ties
--painted track (grimy black)
--painted/stained rock castings (watered-down Big Jug O' Stain with some slate, stone & concrete added)
--painted landforms ($3 mistint latex)
--sprinkled dirt on wet paint
The photographic evidence reveals a dirty mess:
All the dirt won't stick to the paint, so I'm hoping a whirlwind doesn't rip through the garage before tomorrow, when I can lay down other shades of dirt, talus, some ground foam, maybe even some static grass.
I'm still debating between spring & summer (anyone know how to make manzanita?)
Also gotta start making some oaks! (at about an hour a tree...)
Anyway, I know it looks pretty blah right now, but patience, young grasshoppers...
Thanks for looking.
MC looking good. When & where is the next show?
Hopefully we'll be rockin' at the Great Train Expo in Santa Clara Sept. 15-16.
But we're "pending"--apparently the dude doesn't confirm floor space until about 2 weeks before the show
But that's what we're shootin' for.
Hope to see you there!
We just got our confirm... The BAZ BoyZ Z space is 30' x 40'. We hope to see your Free-moN modules there too!
Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 2
MC- that looks great! I especially love how it looks attached to the staging, as well as your tips for nice flush butts of the track sections, awesome stuff!
We have been dealing with him for a few years now and yes he confirms just shy of the 11th hour at times. You guys have some great stuff, so don't worry. I am sure he will make room for you.
great work MC !!!
Wow, what a project! You're doing a great job, MC.
It's been fun!
And another marathon build weekend, in which I:
--laid down basic ground cover (dirt, ground foams, fine-sifted gravel, etc.) and talus
--added cinders around the edges of tracks (will stick out a little when I ballast)
--installed three grade crossings out of spare ties
--applied static grasses
--added bushes and tufts
--made & installed over 20 dedicuous trees
--made & installed over 20 pine trees
--made & installed 4 oak trees
--scratch built a farmhouse, a warehouse, a stucco & spanish tile depot / freighthouse, and three false storefronts
--touched up painting the turnouts and staining the replacement ties under the points
--ballasted 3-out-of-5 sections of the module
Would have finished ballasting but the module had been standing in the garage all weekend, and my wife had the silly notion of wanting to park her car in there tonight!
So except for the ballasting and a few more trees to hide some partial buildings, I think this one is pretty much good to go!
(Well, until the Bullfrogs show up, and then I can install those)
On with the pictures!
(There's quite a few, so bare with me).
Basic ground cover & cinders:
Those were the deciduous, and here's the pines:
And let's twist again, like we did last summer...
Not sure if making 4 oaks at a time speeds anything up except the carpal tunnel...