New Beginnings

PapaG Mar 1, 2021

  1. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    Getting more work done in preparation for water.

    The pond has its retaining rock work in place, and Four Falls Creek is getting some creekbed installed.

    I think the “water” flowing down these channels is going to be mostly that Water Effects product from Woodland Scenics, with just a little ‘Realistic Water’ to give everything a nice reflective quality.



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  2. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    I have not and don't have enough experience with it to give a qualifying answer. Whatever you use, make sure it's completely waterproof.
     
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  3. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    I applied some turf along the creek just to see what things might look like when I get going in earnest. Once I get my static grass applicator and figure out what I’m going to use for thickets and brambles, this is going to fun!


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  4. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    Okay... I promise! This will be the last series of pics documenting some incremental terrain building progress on my layout. But, I'm kinda' diggin' how things are developing with just the application of a little turf along the creek-bed.

    I don't want to cover every square inch of the scene with turf, so I left empty spaces where I intend to apply some fine and medium turf, and static grass - when I get my applicator - and other forms of ground cover. I also need to preserve some spaces for brambles, shrubs, deadfall, and trees.

    And then, I need to try to camouflage the headwaters of Four Falls Creek. I don't want it to appear that it springs out of a hole in the ground, but at the same time, I don't want to model it running off of the layout either. I think some simple set-dressing will accomplish what I'm hoping to achieve. I put some sticks and twigs there to see how it might look if I resorted to that kind of idea (pic #6). It's not perfect, but I think with the addition of some shrubbery and trees in that area it might be adequately disguised to appear that the creek flows from some point further back.

    I think, for the most part, this is how the creek-bed itself will be finished. There are a couple of places where too much of the creek bank shows, and I'll be covering those areas with the dirt that I've been using, just so the painted surfaces are covered and less visible.





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  5. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    The first of a couple of pours for the pond. The color is a little more 'blue' than I had anticipated, but it'll be fine once I get the other pour(s) completed. The bubbles have been removed since this pic was taken and the surface is pretty smooth. I'm waiting for it to completely cure before moving on to the next pour, and I want to add a little grass and turf to the banks before I add more water to it.

    And, as you can see by the telltale drips on my bench, I sprung a small leak... It seems that no matter how thorough I think I'm being, I always miss a little something. This leak was easily addressed and very little material leaked out.




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  6. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

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    Dang, this is looking great!! (y)

    Love the rock work!
     
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  7. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    Got the final pour into the pond, and got a little 'ditch grass' applied to the banks.

    The pour looks pretty good, even though I did mess it up a little. After the second pour I covered the area with some tinfoil to keep anything from falling into it, but inadvertently stuck a corner of the foil in the pond. I didn't notice until a little later when I went to check on things. I was able to disguise that by simply pouring a little more 'water' into the pond and leveling things out.


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  8. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you Kurt! I think the rock work looks pretty good too!
     
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  9. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    So, I have a question for the group…


    I have sections of track that “could be” secured, but I have other stuff that I need to do that may require the removal of track to accomplish. I really want to move in the direction of getting my track secured and working on ballast and scenery around the track.

    I could continue to work on my mountain, for example, but that doesn't keep the ball moving forward on getting the layout "set".

    So… seeking advice;

    Would you secure what track ‘could be’ secured and leave what may need to be removed unsecured?

    This way I can begin working on scenery in/on/around these sections of secured track while also working on areas that will need to have track removed.


    Or...

    Would you leave all the track unsecured until such time that it can ALL be secured at the same time, and THEN begin working on those scenery needs in/on/around the track?

    TIA!
     
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  10. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    I would go with Option #2. Its Unitrack ! It should stay pretty much flat...and you can run trains ! :D. If it where flex and cork trackbed I would have second thoughts. I ran THERR for months with it just laying there....even on the inclines ! The pros outway the cons. If you decide along the way...like I did...that you want say a siding here or there...its much easier when its not glued down. Scenery can be done later. JMHO...(y)
     
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  11. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Plus, with Unitrack, you can't slide the rail joiners to one side of the rail joint to lift out a section of track anyway.

    That's one of the VERY FEW disadvantages of Unitrack!
     
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  12. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    True....

    Thats why I suggest makin sure your track plan makes you happy before glueing it down...:D

    Although...

    With any sectional track you cant slide a railjoiner past the rail joint either...JS :whistle:
     
  13. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

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    History has taught me that no matter what option you choose, you should have taken the other. I usually secure ALL of my track before even starting scenery (that way I can make sure that there are no problems with the track or feeders), but that ship has sailed for your layout.
     
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  14. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    HAHAHAHAH!! I, too, am resigned to the inevitability of making bad decisions... :D

    Given the input I've received here, and as mtntrainman suggested, securing the track only after I've exhausted the need to remove any of it may be the best course of action for me now.

    I've tested track up to this point, and have discovered a couple of problems that need to be solved. I still see a clear path to testing my layout before securing track, and your input has clarified for me that the best path right now is to finish my water features, as these are the two areas where I have to have track removed in order to perform the necessary work, then rigorously test the layout before burying my wiring for feeders and turnout control. This also feeds into the need to start/finish my control panel so all functions can be tested in parallel instead of in series.

    But, your wise counsel notwithstanding, I'm sure the fates will provide plenty of opportunity for me to regret this decision, lol! I'll be sure to document my misery when the time comes ;)

    Thanks Jeff!
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021
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  15. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you MTM! I think you've helped to clarify how I should proceed from here. Ballast and track-side scenery will have to wait until I have exhausted any reason to have to remove track... at least in the immediate term.

    Thank you for weighing in!
     
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  16. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    On most sectional track products that do not include attached roadbed, you can detach a few extra ties from the rails on one side of the joint, allowing the joiner to slide entirely to one side of the joint. At least until the track is ballasted...

    But once the track is ballasted, it's pretty much set in concrete.
     
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  17. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    So, let me ask this question in regard to the removal of Unitrack once it's been set.

    Would I be advantaged by creating blocks that are separated by track that ISN'T connected by rail joiners and the rails are simply aligned with one another where the sections butt together - with feeders at the appropriate places - so I can lift those sections off the layout as might be necessary at some future date? Understanding that when I say "lift" those sections out, I realize that ballasted track isn't going to be simply "lifted" out. And if I do that, should each block then have its own circuit protection?

    As things are right now, I have feeders going to a single point in each oval, and planned on setting feeders on the ends of each spur. Should I consider a more comprehensive approach to establishing blocks and installing feeders for them?

    Bear in mind, that I'm on a 32"X80" HCD and I have, probably, less than 35 linear feet of track on the layout.

    Here's a simple line drawing of my layout... if establishing 'blocks' as I've described is a good idea (with rails simply aligned rather than using insulated joiners) how would one go about dissecting the layout to do that, and what considerations should I be aware of to understand why the layout should be dissected in that particular way?

    CORRECTION: THE CONFIG OF THE TURNOUTS AT THE TOP OF THE LINE DRAWING ARE DRAWN INCORRECTLY. THE CORRECT CONFIG FOR THAT SECTION IS AS SHOWN IN THE PIC. SORRY FOR THE INACCURACY.

    TIA!


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    Last edited: Jun 12, 2021
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  18. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    George, I think you have to ask yourself why you might want to remove the track.

    For renovations, or repairs, or what?

    If for renovations, you might think about where those would likely occur, and not glue those track sections down securely. It is also easier to remove a 180 degree curve (multiple curve sections) together, than a single curved piece, since both ends of a 180 degree curve point in the same direction.

    Have you thought about this as a modular layout? One that you could expand, or replace modules as time goes on?

    Do you want to add additional ballast on the outside of the roadbed? If so, that will glue it down anyway.

    For repairs, IME, Unitrack is pretty dog-gone bulletproof. The only real issues might be not having enough feeders (think redundancy, in addition to adequacy).

    You also need to ask yourself; how long do you want this layout to last? Will you want to build a new one in 5 or 10 years anyway?

    Now about power feeders...

    I would add more feeders. I don't know where you placed the one per loop, but I'd start with adding additional ones opposite those (i.e. half-way around the loop from the original ones.) If you want to add more, split the distance between those, or maybe adjust and do three per loop, evenly distributed. Terminal unijoiners are slightly less expensive, and more versatile than the powered track pieces (terminal unijoiners can apply power in turns, and other places (see below).

    Regarding power to the spurs, Unitrack switches are power routing, which means that the deselected route is unpowered. But only one rail is unpowered. The outside two rails are continuous end to end and not switched electrically. Only the inside rails (in the V of the Y) are ever unpowered. So you can use a single pair of terminal unijoiners to power those to rails, and you're done. Just pay attention to the polarity!

    On the double crossover, only the two outermost rails are ever conductive end to end. All of the inner rails are isolated in the middle with gaps, no matter which way the switches are thrown. Again here, a single pair of terminal unijoiners (one set) is enough to take care of those two inner rail ends at one end.

    The four inner rails (both ends) of single crossovers may or may not be conductive, depending on how the switches are thrown (I don't know whether they power route or not.) And again here, a single pair of terminal unijoiners will take care of one end.

    But for these crossovers, the tracks may already be fed near either end (or both), so extra terminal unijoiners may not be needed, or only needed for one end, not both.

    You might also ask yourself why you might want the unselected stub route of a switch to be powered. If you parked an engine there with a DCC sound decoder installed, would you want it to be able to still "idle" audibly while sitting on the unselected stub? Are there movements you want to be able to make on both routes at the same time? These are some of the reasons to power the unselected routes, and by only using one terminal unijoiner per switch, it is more economical to do so.

    However, in many cases, leaving the unselected stub unpowered is not an issue, especially if only freight cars are ever parked there. The built-in power routing will enable an engine to leave or retrieve cars on the stub just fine.

    Now, some minor suggested tweaks to your track plan:

    I would spread out the single crossovers, not put them back to back. This allows you to park a train between them, and run the locomotive around it to the other end, without orbiting the layout. Otherwise, you may as well use double crossovers instead of the pairs of singles, since doubles are cheaper than two single crossovers (albeit less prototypical).

    I would also swap the two crossovers at the top. This means, coming from the outer curved track, you have the option of crossing over to the inner track, or continuing on the outer track. So you'd want to park trains (or cuts of cars) on the outer track between the crossovers, because either track on the curve can get to the inner straight track to get around a parked train or cut of cars. Conversely, you can also park a train or cut of cars on the inner tracks of the curves, and always get around them.

    You should also move the double crossover between the two single crossovers on the mainline.

    Both industries have switches pointing in the same (track) direction. This is convenient, but perhaps boring, leading you to always run trains in one direction, such that both are easier, trailing-point spurs to work. Then what do you need a double track mainline for?

    If one of the industrial spurs was reversed, it would provide one trailing point spur and one facing point spur, which leads to more challenging moves, and adding operational interest, if subtracting efficiency. Note that reversing one spur means the two spurs may tend to get into each other's real-estate. You have some room to lengthen the inner loop to avoid this if necessary.

    Ok, I'm through playing with your layout... for now! Seriously, do what you want.
     
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  19. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    Andy,
    As always, you give me more to chew on than I thought I might receive in reply!

    Let me try to answer some of those questions in order...

    Q: George, I think you have to ask yourself why you might want to remove the track.
    A: Repair, primarily, was on my mind. I don't see myself renovating this layout or modifying it in the future. The 'why' of that will be in a response to another of your questions.

    Q: Have you thought about this as a modular layout? One that you could expand, or replace modules as time goes on?
    A: No... My intent was to always use this as a learning experience/training exercise. I have a music room in my upstairs that I'm considering renovating into a train room. At that time I intend to build a "U" shaped D&RGW layout that will model elements of that line from Denver to Salt Lake City. My research and collecting of images to that end is ongoing.

    Q: You also need to ask yourself; how long do you want this layout to last? Will you want to build a new one in 5 or 10 years anyway?
    A: When I'm done, this will be a gift to my grandsons, currently 8 and 9 y/o's. So, I want it to be something that will challenge them from an operational perspective, but not overwhelm them with options. But, I also want it to be as robust and bulletproof as I can make it. So, the plan is that I will begin the D&RGW as soon as I've completed this and delivered it to it's new home in my son's garage, lol!

    Q: Then what do you need a double track mainline for?
    A: Lol! I don't... really... The track plan that I used as inspiration (see attached) was something that I simply stretched, and then added some additional switches to in order to create a complete 'third' outer oval. The thinking was that I could work the inner oval with my switcher, while freight and passenger services could use the two outer ovals without interruption. Really, I just wanted to take advantage of the opportunities to run multiple locos that DCC provides. And, the visual of two trains moving in tandem along parallel lines, or in opposite directions, is something that I just love looking at, lol!

    On the subject of using dbl-crossovers in lieu of single crossovers... I considered that. Unfortunately, I considered it late in the process and after certain elements had already been modeled. The single biggest problem for me to modify this is that the distance between two parallel tracks attached to a dbl-crossover is narrower than the distance between two parallel tracks being serviced by two opposing single-crossovers.

    The constraint to changing this now is that a significant amount of redesign would have to take place in regard to the location of my bridges... the supports for which have already been set. The upside, if I had done this, is that the total number of turnout controllers required could have been reduced, the complexity of having to throw two turnouts (one to 'pitch' and one to 'catch') to move between one oval and an adjacent oval could have been simplified, and commercially available 'double wide' tunnel portals could have been used for the two lines entering/exiting the tunnel, as I will now be scratch building something for that as the overall dimension from the outer edge of one line to the outer edge of the adjacent line going into the tunnel is greater than a commercially available dbl-wide portal. I'm really mad at myself that I didn't consider that option before I had committed certain design elements in favor of the use of single crossovers. This is a matter that will be going into the 'lessons learned' file!

    As for your observation re: the relocation of certain turnouts, and the relocation of other turnouts in relation to the dbl-crossover, I'm going to experiment with those ideas. I think I can make some improvement here without too much bloodletting... even if I achieve some improvement on only one side of the layout, that could be an improvement worth the effort.

    I'm curious regarding your input on another matter. On the subject of the wiring for power to the track and power to the turnouts, I've seen modelers drill holes and pull those wires to the underside of the benchwork, and I've seen modelers who carve trenches into the foam to lay their wiring in to bring it to their control panel, and then cover that with scenic materials. Do you have any advice re: these options?

    Lastly, your comment re: the two crossovers at the top. I looked at a pic of my layout and I see that I reversed the direction of those turnouts in my drawing. The drawing is wrong, but the layout, I believe, is designed as you're suggesting... see the added pic.

    Andy... as always... you are a valued resource to me and I appreciate your input... you are welcome to play with my layout as much and as often as you like. ;) I will be reading and rereading this post many times as I work on the San Gabriel line, the namesake of my oldest grandson, and look forward to sharing the completed project with the folks here who have helped me along.



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    Last edited: Jun 12, 2021
  20. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    I've seen that original layout before, and liked it, but it has a couple of nasty S-curves in the interior... Hopefully you've addressed them. Both can be readily addressed without altering the layout significantly. You should try to avoid S-curves between less than R491 radii, or R781/R381. Those are roughly equivalent to transitioning from straight directly to R249. Coupled short engines and cars are more tolerant of S-curves than long ones.

    WRT wiring, I generally favor drilling holes and running wire on the bottom.

    It's much easier to mess with them that way, including moving the track or switches to which those wires connect. If you "trench and cover" on the topside, you'll likely disturb scenery or trackage all along the wire route. Of course that means you should make sure you have all your wiring in place and tested before you start with scenery. But what if you decide to add signals or wiring for the switches, or something else later? The main advantage is that the wiring is all done from the topside, without having to get under the layout on your back, or tilt the layout up without bending it.

    When using foam on a flat, continuous support (like a sheet of plywood or an HCD), you have some options:

    You can just let the foam base set on top of the wiring (assuming you have curb board around the wooden base), but that may get uneven (especially if you use the standard Kato wiring connectors). It depends on how thick the foam board is.

    You could cut some small recesses on the underside of the foam to clear the connectors and perhaps the wiring. but doing that much work between the HCD/plywood and foam board is not easy.

    Or you could just drill the holes down through the foam and the HCD, and run wire on the bottom side of the HCD/plywood. Not sure how well tape or staples would hold the wiring long term... And of course the wiring is exposed underneath, so moving the layout becomes riskier, as does shoving boxes, etc. around underneath the layout, should they snag a wire. Of course, you could have a lower level, removable deck that protects the wiring, and gives you a shelf underneath to support command stations and other gear, stow throttles, etc. However, if it attaches to the legs, and you need to remove the legs to transport it, then you lose that wiring protection while moving it...

    I'm planning my next layout now, and I had planned on foam over HCD, and wiring under the HCD.

    Or I could build a wooden frame with spaced, wooden cross-girders to support the foam, but the majority of the foam would be exposed underneath. This is, of course, the traditional method (with foam or other material above for terrain). I would then work on the wiring from underneath, just like most layouts do. The layout could be tipped up for working on the wiring, or I could just lay on my back underneath it (an automotive creeper might be handy, but I have carpet in that room.) One of my other hobbies is woodworking, and I now have equipment to do all that.

    If it sounds like I don't have a solid, best answer, it's because I don't!
     
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