From armchair to benchwork!

rsn48 Feb 18, 2003

  1. rsn48

    rsn48 TrainBoard Member

    I know you're out there. Yeah you, and you, and you with the potato chip hanging off your lip and coke sitting beside I know you're not working on your layout as much as you hoped to. Well what I am proposing is a layout party for a 6 week period - a layout design self help group.

    The purpose of the group is to encourage others to get out of their armchair and do some more work on the layout. And also to motivate you (and me) to do more work on our layout. I am hoping we can get a small group (but no one will be rejected) of people who will be committed to posting their work on the layout from the following week. This means for 6 weeks you are committed to posting once a week (or more – several did). We will of course congratulate those who work on their layout, and encourage those who haven't.


    1. Brief description of your layout to present, with what you want to accomplish in the next 6 weeks (don't make it grandiose is my recommendation).

    2. A brief description of what you hope to accomplish in the next week.

    3. A commitment to posting once a week describing what you have or have not done. It is important to report if you have "fallen off the wagon (not worked on the layout" so that we can see all are human here, and that we can encourage you). You can include pictures, problems you have encountered, get bragging rights around the cooler, etc. I’m looking for you to walk the walk, as well as talk the talk.

    4. A commitment to not fudging your reply so that you look better than you are really doing. By joining this group, you are acknowledging already that you haven't worked on the layout as much as you know you should have. The idea here is for us to have some fun and act as an electronic round robin self help group. When I have others coming over to my home to help me build, I am more efficient because I have to plan and prepare, then work when they arrive. Well, this is the IRRG (the Internet Round Robin Group), we may not be able to physically help you out, but we can support you and your efforts.

    Many had a good time with this format. It was not uncommon to hear people say they had gotten more work done on their layout, in the short time we ran the thread, than they had in long time. Many posted pictures, asked questions, helped others, moaned about their problems, and encouraged others through theirs. I am including the threads to the last two layout parties if you want to check out what happened and what is expected out of you. I host this at in the “Layout Design” forum; I am the moderator there. I have found it is easier to keep track of one longer thread there than in some other forums. Also trainboard has free Image hosting (picture hosting) so you might want to take advantage of that forum. You have to join the trainboard to participate, but it is free.

    Lonely Hearts Club Band;f=33;t=000106

    High Balling the layout
  2. rsn48

    rsn48 TrainBoard Member

    I will start this thread so that others of you can get an idea of what I am after.

    My six week goal is to get track laid in my lower reversing loop section. And to ah... um...ah... lol! finish the backrop that I had pledged to finish in the last 6 week layout party. Fortunately there isn't that much left to do.

    So my goal for next week, is to finish 95 % of all backdrop requirements.

    My layout is a double decked, but eventually probably triple decked layout (for staging) in N scale, modeling contemporary CP Rail and a mythical subsidiary of Montana Rail Link - the Eastern British Columbia Rail Link (EBC Rail Link).

    [ 18. February 2003, 18:17: Message edited by: rsn48 ]
  3. rray

    rray Staff Member

    I'm game. I have one more module that needs to be converted to code 55 rail. It also has a couple sharp bends in the trackwork that require different locations of my switch machines. A major pain to do because they are on the upper level of the module so access is obstructed and further hassle because my electronics are all on the underside of this module.

    Thats my goal, and I'm sticking to it...I still have not finished my goal from the Lonely Hearts thread last year! :D

    UNION_PACIFIC_STEVE TrainBoard Member

    I guess i'll join in. ive been kind of lazy on my layout lately.

    In 6 weeks i want to get some more scenery done, (a corner of my layout, and my gravel loading area)
    paint my un ballasted track
    complete the scenery i have already started
    and hopefully finnish laying all my tracks.
    track laying requires the purchase of track, so i hope i have the $ [​IMG]
  5. darthdave

    darthdave TrainBoard Member

    Hi, my 2nd post on the boards. I would like to take part in this if possible. I started my layout over a year first it was HO because thats the size I had as a kid. I soon realized that the kind of layout I wanted, my basement did not have the size to support I ripped up what I began, packed up my Ho gear and started from scratch with N. I started my N layout last Feb..worked hard the first 2 months, and have slacked off big time. Mainly due to some technical problems I faced with laying track, wiring, etc. I hope to get some pics up soon of what I have done and look forward to any help these boards can provide me. [​IMG]
  6. Comet

    Comet E-Mail Bounces

    Welcome to Trainboard's great to have you on board. You're gonna love it here!

    Glad to hear you restarted your layout. Hope you'll keep us all updated on your progress and post those pics. We need that inspiration at times too.

    That's not slacking off....that's a pause to do additional research, right?
    :D :D :D

    Good luck,

    [ 18. February 2003, 15:39: Message edited by: wabash_one ]
  7. AKrrnut

    AKrrnut TrainBoard Member

    Time for me to find some, well, time :D and get moving on the railroad again. I want to scratchbuild a bridge from the yard to the middle connecting track. I've finally got all the supplies I need (I hope) and I just need some warmer temps in the basement and some cooperation from the kids so I can get moving!

    This bridge is going to be a combination deck/plate girder bridge, built on a curve (which is why I can't use a commercial kit). It's a rather tight radius (~20") but it's on a smaller switching layout that I started seven years ago, but didn't set up until we moved to a bigger house in a smaller state (awfully hard to find a bigger state than Alaska :cool: ).

    In addition, I'm helping to build an N scale railroad to be installed in the local Dairy Queen restaurant. We've got a deadline of Memorial Day to have it completely scenicked and running. Last night we just about finished the benchwork and subroadbed; next Monday eve. we should start laying track. Lots of buildings to get done, some scratchbuilt, though most of those will be added later.


    [ 18. February 2003, 15:46: Message edited by: AKrrnut ]
  8. mdrzycimski

    mdrzycimski TrainBoard Supporter

    I'm in!!

    I am currently building an N-scale layout in my garage. Now, with warmer temps coming, I should be able to get out there and do some work.

    I am at the track laying stage using Atlas code 55 flex. I am handlaying some turnouts (I was going to hand lay them all but got frustrated with the slow progress). I have recently ordered 10 turnouts and am waiting for them to arrive.

    My next goal is to add a slide switch to each turnout to manually throw the points and route power to the frog. Then actually start laying some track.

    Until next week!
  9. Harron

    Harron TrainBoard Supporter

    I'll join in this time around I think. I have been working on two Ntrak modules (out of a 5 piece set) slowly for about a year now. From the end of the semester in December until mid-August I am out on co-op and living at home, which gives me a chance to set up my modules and get back to work.

    Prior to Christmas, I have completed the modules operationally and displayed them in two shows. Now it is time for scenery. Just this weekend I ballasted a large portion of the track (need some more prototype info for the other areas, since I am modeling a real location), so I'm kinda stuck there.

    End of 6 weeks, well, let's see. Finish up any remaining trackwork problems (working on the joint between the modules), finish the basic scenery on the modules and finish painting the benchwork & backdrops. Oh yeah, and make a stand for my Zephyr on the back of the modules.

    This week: Finish trackwork problems on the joint.

    [ 18. February 2003, 16:46: Message edited by: Harron ]
  10. rsn48

    rsn48 TrainBoard Member

    Welcome to trainboard and the layout round robin self help group. If you are having problems of any kind with your layout, you will get help here. There are a number of very experienced modeller's in the forum who can help you out.
  11. David Chong

    David Chong E-Mail Bounces

    Great idea! I'll try to make this interesting...

    I have just started building my first layout in 20 years. As a child I ran HO scale, and just last November I started collecting N scale to build my first laout as an adult.

    I designed a 4' x 12' garage layout, getting some great input from the LDSIG message group. However, as the thought of actually breaking ground on that project made me nervous, I opted instead to start with a humble 3' x 5' layout that would allow me to get back into the hobby quickly, affordably (or thereabouts...), and without too much heartache.

    My reasoning was that I would be too afraid to make mistakes on the "big" layout, whereas the interim, smaller layout allows me to try the new techniques I've heard about as an adult. Furthermore, it is much easier to get the "courage" up to work on the smaller layout, as I feel like I can make meaningful progress in an afternoon.

    In line with the spirit of this group, I roped a friend into getting moving on his layout, as well. He's in an apartment, but he has been given the right of way in a second bedroom. We built our 3x5 frames side by side in my garage, and work on the layouts once a week. There is no greater motivater than being accountable to a second person, and I am glad for my partner. We've planned our layouts so that they can connect at a three-track yard, adding to the operational possibilities.

    My layout is a point-to-point, but with a "cheat track" that allows continuous operation connecting the endpoints. The journey starts in the shared yard in the lower right, goes left across the long side of the layout, then turns right 170 degrees to double back through the center of the layout on a banked 10 inch radius curve. Here, a 30-inch siding branches off into a two-track refinery siding, and a stockyard on the other end of the siding. The track ascends on this run down the table, to the tune of 2%.

    After the siding, the main curves back again around the right side of the table. It ends up going right to left again, now an inch and a half elevated above the yard, and about 6 inches away from it. Another siding splits off, this one going to a farmer's coop and a mine on opposide sides.

    One last switchback bridges the initial track coming out of the yard, and then begins descending down the far side of the table, left to right. A small town here with a siding and a team track sits at about the same elevation as the inside mainline, but graded in the opposite direction. This is technically the end of the line, but the mainline does continue through, cuts around the right side of the table, and connects back to the original mainline beside the yard on the near side of the table.

    So far I have track down on the yard, and the roadbed is laid up the first run, including the siding and refinery tracks. I am using masonite for roadbed, cut with a jig saw. I form the roadbed slope with plaster. A second sheet of masonite with 1/2" flanges is used under elevated track for stiffness, and to give me something to stick the plaster roadbed slope to. I saw the need for the flanges a little late, causing me to go back and stick secondary flanges on my initial grade. I'm good now!

    This week, I want to get the track down on that second run of track. I am still pondering the roadbed for the refinery tracks. Unline the mainline, I basically only want the rails to be sticking up above the roadbed - there will be no slope up to the roadbed crown, just flat, graded ground. Should I use plaster to bring the ground level up to the tops of the ties? what should the transition look like from graded industry track to raised roadbed?

    Do we have a place to post pics?

  12. David Chong

    David Chong E-Mail Bounces

    Darthdave, can you tell us what kind of problems you were facing with wiring and track? I am sure people here could help.

    FWIW, my personal experience getting back into laying track and wiring was that I was in danger of getting stuck. I had heard so much about the "right" ways of laying track or wiring that I was afraid of doing it wrong, which made me hold off doing anything at all. I kept putting it off, thinking I would "get to it" when I had the time to really sit down and do it "right". Well, I never, ever felt like I have that kind of time, so it just kept getting put off.

    One day I took stock of my progress, realized I was so worried about doing something wrong that I was doing nothing at all, and changed my threshhold for how much I was willing to "wing it". Mind you, I am still doing careful planning and research, but at some point I decided I just had to throw down some glue, solder some rails, and get some track down.

    It helped immeasurably! I did make some mistakes, but they were easily fixed, and the simple act of getting something done - even done wrong - spurred me into working on the layout, either to get it right, or to complement and build upon what I'd done correctly.

    I may have completely missed the mark, of course - Dave, let us know what's holding you back!

    Kind Regards,
  13. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

    I'd like to join in. I have been procrastinating rewiring my layout. My layout was designed for block wiring... 3 power packs with about 7 major electrical blocks. Being an electrical engineer, I took license and thus shortcuts that ... well.. I KNOW BETTER. Thus we know why doctors shouldnt treat thier own family!! [​IMG]

    Late last July I bit the bullet and purchased a Digitrax System. I swore to myself that I would rewire, simplify things, and increase some wire sizes to fully eliminate voltage drop.

    My layout is a 5X23 dogbone, that is my "freelance" gig on the C&O Railway.

    This fall I procrastinated due to ... college football, then came Christmas.. of course the bowl season, and this winter I have been hanging out at my work bench tuning up old peices of rolling stock and building a few kits that have been hanging around since dirt.

    This thread and 6 week challenge/support thing is a good idea.

    Yeah.. like someone said above.. "I'm game"

    I will post at a minimum of once/week and swear on my momma's breath I wont fudge any progress. ;)

    This week, I will purchase some flat goods to make a new simplified control panel to hang on the front facia of my layout. NOW.. back to my armchair to give this thing some SERIOUS thought! [​IMG]

    [ 18. February 2003, 22:36: Message edited by: Kitbash ]
  14. rsn48

    rsn48 TrainBoard Member

    To David and all,
    I find the very best motivator is to have a friend over and round robin our layouts. Just having my friend "Graham" over, means I usually have to do some prep before he arrives. When he comes, he and I usually end up doing about two hours of work, straight through. So that when it is all said and done, that one night of visiting from him is worth about 6 to 8 hours of layout work.

    I also have found that when I did my last two layout parties, since I was hosting, I was driven to try and accomplish what I said I would do. In the last party, I didn't get it all done, but I don't have much left to do. I think you all will find this thread to be a pleasant kick in the butt to move you forward. I have found these layout parties to be the second best motivator to get work done.

    Unfortunately many of us aren't like the guy who goes down to the basement to work on his layout the same time every week for the same amount of hours. This guy is a real beaver and gets a lot accomplished. Often I am too like the hare that dilly dallied when I should have been working, while the turtle pulls ahead. So I'm glad all of you are joining.

    I am not a picture type (money going into the layout) but by all means if you have pics, please post them. And if the pics are of something in the past you have done, but want to show them, by all means do that to.
  15. nycfan

    nycfan E-Mail Bounces

    Here Goes!

    I have been generally a lurker on these forums for about a year. I saw Rick's call to arms here earlier today, and thought 'What a neat idea!'... and then forgot about it.

    I saw it again just now over on the Atlas forum, and decided that if I'm ever going to get anything done, I'm going to need the (peer) pressure afforded by a weekly report.

    I have designed an N scale layout (loosely) based on the NYC yard at Lyons, NY in 1956. This layout will occupy about one-third of the room I built some years ago for my train layout. Operation of the layout will really only include interchanging cars from the east and west staging to/from the south staging.

    The remaining two thirds of the room I will hopefully (eventually) use to model the NYC Pennsylvania Division from Lyons to Corning,NY and the roughly parallel PRR Elmira Branch from Watkins Glen to Sodus Point, NY. This part of the layout is not designed yet.

    I will post layout diagrams, and pix of my completed work here next week. So far, I have completed Lighting installation including a valence, and 3 flourescent shop lights. I bought some of the wood last week, and am ready to start benchwork construction.

    My six week goal is to be installing track in the yard. The project sequence is:

    1. Install benchwork. The room preleveled. Marks around the walls.

    2. Install power and control wiring in the benchwork. Easier to do before plywood is applied.

    3. Install plywood subroadbed in yard areas, so that it can be removed for installing track.

    4. Cut and install masonite spline roadbed for non-yard areas of layout.

    5. Glue sheet cork over entire area.

    6. transcribe track plan on to cork.

    7. remove plywood from benchwork to install turnouts and switch machines at yard ends. Much easier to do on the workbench!

    8. I think that's quite enough!

    My goal for this week, is to get the benchwork installed in the layout room, and post the pix and diagrams to the forum.

    Thanks for this opportunity
  16. rsn48

    rsn48 TrainBoard Member

    I don't want to thwart enthusiasm at all, but you goals look like... well... a lot. I think you will get more pleasure out of completing what you hope to accomplish rather than feel wanting because you realize latter that you bit off more than you can chew.

    I know with my layout, aspects of it looked easy until I started building. Another accurate way to describe layout building is never ending problem solving.

    How about just points one and two. That will keep your hands full.
  17. RidgeRunner

    RidgeRunner TrainBoard Member

    I sorta fell by the wayside halfway thru the past one of these threads, maybe I'll be able to keep up now.

    I have a 1x6 foot N scale switching layout representing a fictional town at the end of a C&O branchline. By the design, it has a double ended siding for use in switching, a turntable since it is the end of the line, a small coal tipple, a siding with a general store/building supply store, and a retail coal dealer. Another siding serves as a team track.

    Planned structures include a C&O style depot, a board-by-board coal tipple, a wood building supply store, a house, a ME gas station, and misc stuff like the bridges, turntable, and engine service facilities.

    In the next six weeks, I'd like to have the scenery (blue foam) shaped and ready for smoothing and ground cover, and to have the majority of track in place.

    This week: Get all the blue foam up to track level glued in place, and have it ready for turnout motor installation.
  18. Peter Short

    Peter Short New Member

    I'm new to this board, and I've done some posts on the Atlas forum as Burlingtonroute. I am creating a semi Minnesota based layout loosely based on what is now the Dakota Minnesota and Easter that runs from Winona due west to the SD Border. By version is set in the 70's when the line was still owned by the CNW. My version is going to be somewhat busier, and also will host several other railroads running through on trackage rights such as CBQ:), Soo, maybe a little Rock Island, maybe even BN if I allow that to happen in my world. so we can pick up with my post on this to the Atlas forum....
    I got a head start off the armchair last week.
    I had moved back in November and included in that was a 2*8' switching layout, built with Butt Joint construction. I finally got around to re assembling it last week and rediscovered all the mistakes I had made in my carpentry :mad: [​IMG] such as slightly uneven lengths and less than straight cuts. And this type of construction is totally unforgiving in this regard. That coupled with the find of Linn Westcotts Buidling Model Railroad Benchwork at the library got the gears rolling for a rebuild of the layout.
    This was my opportunity to play with L girder construction, and so far I have built my leg assemblies and the L Girders are built. Hopefully in the next night or two I can attach the girders to the legs and finish the bracing and lay the joists. I am going to reuse my old plywood tops of 1/2" plywood, but i will be adding a 3" layer of foam so i can have more contour to the land.
    I am hoping to get the track relaid by the end of the week and try out my freshly outshopped Digitrax system. :D
  19. Harron

    Harron TrainBoard Supporter

    For those of you who want to post pictures, they need to be somewhere online. So if you have your own site, great. If not, you can join RailImages for free (big button on the top right of the page) and upload them to there, then put them in your posts.
  20. candorambler

    candorambler New Member

    Ok here goes.. put the blinky "newby" by my name as this is my second post here..(don't know where my first went) This is what I need ..motivation, my wife tells me I spend too much time with the computer in my lap so I accept the challange!

    I model in N-scale, am a member of an NTrak club and own 3 modules but they are static in the trailer. I have a U-shaped, 16'x12.5' around the wall 'layout?' down the stairs. :rolleyes: I have no plan! I have just laid track. I need real motivation. What I want to accomplish in this first week is 1. finalize a plan, name the layout, and watch trains....
    Hope this works..thanks guys for the kick in the pants..

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