Small N scale layout

Massey Oct 3, 2018

  1. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    Hey there, everybody. So around this time last year I discovered a wonderful charity called Operation North Pole. Google it if you don’t already know about it. Anyway I also discovered that Kato makes N scale replicas of this train and buying one even helps the charity. Win win. This inspired me to build a Xmas themed railfan layout as a replacement for the Xmas tree. Since I’m already 90% finished I won't post all the pics I have of the build unless you all want me to. Here is a cliff notes version at least up to where I’m at now.

    Pink prairie, getting the tracks fitted.

    Building tunnels and mountains.

    “I got a jar of dirt!!” ... ok it’s just a can of dirt colored paint.
    mcattardo, Mo-Pac, SP-Wolf and 7 others like this.
  2. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    I added some sand and talus rock to the river bed, attached the facia and then stopped... I had to study for a test in order to keep my job, and I only had time on the weekends for that very thing... or the trains. I really wanted to finish the layout before Xmas but that didn’t happen. The layout is also sitting on what was going to be my future main layout, but the table wasn’t built very well so I tore it down. The table when I built it didn’t need to be perfect, actually not being perfect suited what I needed better anyway. So I tore the table down, and used the wood for other purposes and stored the layout until a few weeks ago when I started work again

    Bridges over the river and at the edge of the lake.

    Gluing and nailing the facia on. It is mohagany ply. The tie down straps are holding it all together while the glue dries. Yes that is a Lego Creator Horizon Express (x2) on the shelf.

    Some plaster rocks and grass are making the scenery look a bit more realistic.
    Mo-Pac, SP-Wolf, DD99 and 6 others like this.
  3. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    And here we are at the point where I pulled the layout out of storage (it was in the master bathroom on a bathtub we never use). My original plan was to build a custom throttle that would allow independent control of each loop but be in one case. I found a DIY power supply that was up to the task, built a box out of the same ply the facia is out of and... failure... the power supplies get hot in the box and start acting strange. Outside the box they worked for hours flawlessly. At this point I’m a bit fed up with the layout an I just decide to get a DCC unit for it. I found a Digitrax Zephyr for cheap enough, and now I have DCC.

    Here is the failed throttle. Oh well...

    Test placing some of the buildings I have for the layout. 4BC5420B-B204-493B-B6C9-3DBE5EB46E30.jpeg

    Envirotex for the water. This is the edge of a lake. I was going to do this layout in winter and have the lake iced over with ice skaters on it, but I think I’m going to not freeze everything and use this year round.
    Mo-Pac, SP-Wolf, DD99 and 5 others like this.
  4. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    The layout now has its own benchwork. This was built out of parts of the big table from the first few pics. I made a drawer for the Zephyr and a shelf underneath. In the drawer is the programming track. This setup has a UP92 for duplex throttles, and a Digitrax WiFi unit so a smart phone can used as a throttle too. All the DCC components are located in the benchwork, and the power management is located on the layout. The layout can still be used with DC throttles. I’m planning on finishing the benchwork in the same mohagany ply and stain. The trim for the benchwork will also hold a skirt to hide the legs and shelf underneath


    Zephyr in the drawer

    The power managers. They are EB1s from NCE. The EB1 will work in DC AND DCC mode and provide short circuit protection. There is a jumper wire that needs to be replaced with a switch to change the power configuration from independent loops to linked loops. For DCC linked it best. The wires going off to the left are to a plug for DC operations.

    All neatly contained in the benchwork

    The Zephyr and program track all tidied up.
  5. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    So here we are as we stand today. I got some apple trees for the house (they are too tall to put next to the house but don’t look bad at the bottom of the hill). I have finalized the locations of the Xmas tree and buildings. I bought the materials for building the roads (matte board) and sidewalks (basswood) for the buildings. Comments, questions, critiques, rants... or whatever are welcome, just be respectful please. I only get weekends to work on the layout so I usually will post updates on Saturday or Sunday.

    Apple trees

    The city with a big tree

    Another view.
    mcattardo, Mo-Pac, goatfarmer and 8 others like this.
  6. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    I made a video a couple weeks ago (right after doing the Envirotexj of the layout. Here is the link to YouTube, as I couldn’t upload the video here.

    Mo-Pac, SecretWeapon and D-Rio like this.
  7. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    PERFECT!!!!! You sir have done well! I bought my ONP set (light blue) last year so it's a year newer than your set. Kato makes a new set every year. Always wanted one and since part of the purchase goes to charity, like you said, win-win. I also got the 3 car expansion so I can keep everything in the traditional Kato bookcase.

    Here's something you might want to consider. Get a 6-pack of the Kato passenger car lighting kit. Make sure it's the newer version with LEDs instead of incandescent bulb. I installed them in the passenger cars the they really come alive when I run my set at train shows during the holidays. Kids and adults alike love it!

    Finally, I know you went DCC with the Zephyr but I'm not sure if you have added a decoder yet to the loco. If not, get the TCS decoder. TCS has one specially made for this loco so that when you go reverse, the headlight goes off and the trailing red marker lights come on. And if you really want to be anal ( :) ), get the $20 Kato decoder and install it in the last cab car. With that decoder, it also switches between headlights and red marker lights for the cab control car depending on direction of travel.
    Kurt Moose likes this.
  8. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

    Great job on building this, and so quickly too!!

    DD99 likes this.
  9. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    If you look you will see I have both the 2015 and the 2016 ONP trains and I have already ordered the 2017 set. I love Kato’s book cases. DCC is installed in the locos, I took pics of that and could make a thread on installing decoders in the average modern kato locomotive. My decoder was a Digitrax model and it doesn’t have the lighting correct but I’m not too picky here. I think I will try the TCS decoder next time.
  10. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member


    This post is all at once, but a year in the making. I’m hoping to have it “finished” by this Xmas.
    Kurt Moose likes this.
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Your layout at present is very good start point. I can see that you already understand many scenic concepts. And comprehend the basic principle, which is "have fun!" (y):D
    Massey likes this.
  12. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    Thank you for the kind words. I have been modeling trains now for 15 years, and before that Scale RC boats, 1:24th scale cars, model ships, Star Trek starships and many other things. I prefer models that move over completely static. And yes always have fun, life is too short to worry or be serious all the time.
    Onizukachan and Kurt Moose like this.
  13. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    Very nice diorama!
  14. Nimo

    Nimo TrainBoard Member

    very well done indeed! That's a good start and a nice diorama to start with the hobby. Looking forward to more!
  15. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author TrainBoard Member

    Nice work!

    My wife saw the North Pole Express at the Greater Toronto Train Show and was intrigued by it. I wonder if one of them is on the "to buy" list this year.
  16. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    I have been pretty busy lately and haven’t got much done on the layout. Tonight I was able to get the matte board cut out for the city streets, the sidewalks made for the buildings that didn’t have any. My next step is to paint the roads a road color and glue it in place. Good news, is I got my 2017 Operation North Pole train set this weekend, and it’s already on the rails doing its thing.

    32DB439F-4048-4EC5-9D0D-F1985FB5EB45.jpeg 87FA8DCB-7382-49E2-99B3-8F51086609A2.jpeg
  17. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    Ok so I finally got some free time to work on the layout. The white roads were getting on my nerves so I painted them. I started with a light grey for the asphalt but it didn’t look right. I then found “pavement” color and went with that.


    Here is the contrast between the pavement and pewter grey. It looks like I need a happy medium, but I went with the full pavement color, figuring I can lighten up with chalks or a wash.


    Here are the fresh paved roads and the buildings back in place.

    I also built the bridge that leads into the town.
    Mo-Pac likes this.
  18. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    Ok, I’m at the end of this weekends work. I got quite at bit done. In all honesty this is the first time I built roads in any scale. I got some fresh asphalt, fresh paint and next I’m going to weather it, paint the sidewalks and the crossing ramp and bridge. Lemme know how I did for the roads.

    2808B70D-776A-4CB9-9BA4-3B9D7F7B79C1.jpeg C069BF60-34ED-4BB1-BE18-44D00E382817.jpeg
    Mo-Pac and goatfarmer like this.
  19. Espeeman

    Espeeman TrainBoard Member

    I LOVE this layout!!! Excellent work!
  20. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

    I have to second that statement! Really nice

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