Sputtering start to a new layout

Stephane Savard May 24, 2018

  1. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Done! I used the eraser off the end of a pencil, then the alcohol in that one length of track in the video. I used the same locomotive, and was able to run it back and forth over the entire length several times without stalling or cutting out. It did stall one one end at first, but realized there was a bit of eraser stuck between the points. I even got it inching along the entire length at half the speed shown in the video.

    Then I ran it through the #6 turnouts, crossing my fingers... perfect! No more stalling!

    Thank you very much for the advise! This was bugging me quite a lot, especially now that I have no more time to work on it for the next few weeks.

    I'll start reading about the various track cleaning products out there.
     
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  2. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, hope you figure out the locomotive and track problem. Best of luck!
     
  3. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett TrainBoard Member

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    Stephanie, I found that a bright boy works best for cleaning track and turnouts with alcohol after the track has been cleaned. Never use sandpaper, it will scratch the rails and produce corrosion.

    Joe
     
  4. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Well, in the past week I've been finally back to work, and that means I've also been in good enough shape to work on the layout. So this is a sort of major update since the last time!

    The electrical problems were solved with some track cleaning, and so I started working on the main line. I first needed to transfer my track plan to the foam, and my solution was to simply lay the full size printed plan onto the table and use a pin to mark the track center lines at roughly every centimeter. It was long, but with some good music playing in the background, it was a nice easy task to slowly ease my way back onto working on the table. Also, since I went to the trouble of creating easements on just about every curve in the track planning software, I figured this would make it easiest to get the right curves back onto the table.

    Unfortunately, the small holes in the foam are not very visible in the photos (if at all!) but suffice it to say that all the cork you see in the following pictures follow these pin holes.


    IMG_20181022_173416752.JPG
    Here we see where I'm laying down the first half of the Midwest n-scale cork - since it's laid down in halves, it's very easy to follow the track center line. I first pin down the individual parts and try to fit the turnout sections as best I can. I initially thought I'd have to use sheets of cork to cut out the turnouts, but discarded this idea real quick because the sheet cork I have, bought an a home improvement store, is a different thickness. However, it's just as easy to cut the trackbed to merge into each other at the turnouts.

    IMG_20181023_161938390.JPG

    I used the same latex caulk to glue down the cork road bed, nothing too special here. However, I did panic a little bit when the caulk caused most of the pin holes to disappear! With a strong light nearby however, I was able to find them again, and from then on I used a pin to scratch a line on either side of the cork when it was temporarily pinned down to the foam. Then, when applying the white latex caulk, the lines still stay visible.

    One thing I found annoying about the Midwest n-scale cork road bed is that when I separate the two halves from each other, the beveled edge is really rough on one of the lengths. I solved this by nailing a paint stirring stick to a piece of wood I had left over from building the table to create a neat little trackbed sanding jig.

    IMG_20181023_170307190.JPG

    IMG_20181023_171621459.JPG

    Using a sanding block (sandpaper spray glued to another piece of scrap wood), I can very quickly sand the bevel right back into the piece of track bed. In the above picture we can see how awful the edge can be, and the result of sanding it down. I also put the sanded shreds into a little pot. Might be useful later on since I did read in a book on scenery where the author mixed in some ground cork bits into his paint to give extra texture to his rock faces. The pictures in the book were sure impressive!
     
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  5. NScaleKen

    NScaleKen Permanently dispatched

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    that ground cork looks excellent for a freshly turned farm field, among other things. definite keeper material it will be great for some sort of scenery texture.
     
  6. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Not quick down updating for tonight...

    IMG_20181025_162526434.JPG

    A closeup of how the cork roadbed can be fitted for turnouts. One neat trick is that I can fill in the middle parts of forks by putting in the track bed upside down (i.e. bevel to bevel). The same principle is used on the piece of cork I added for the remote attached to the Atlas turnout... this is just a piece of upside down cork which I then beveled using that little jig.

    Note that I would have preferred hidden switch machines, but I couldn't stomach the cost on the 17 remote switches on my layout plan. I'd find a way to paint them or hide them to some extent.

    IMG_20181025_160805373.JPG

    And finally, all the cork for "phase 1" of the track installed and glued down. The cork currently ends at the river crossing, and on the other side, I will need to start climbing an incline for "phase 2". Basically, as can be seen in easier posts, my track plan is basically two reverse loops connected by a single line. I'm currently only concentrating on the first reverse loop (ends just before the river crossing).

    To deal with the different thicknesses of cork track bed and sheets, I just used a sanding block to get them equal.
     
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  7. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Not done yet! I also got some track laid down...

    IMG_20181026_180108358.JPG

    IMG_20181026_175630920.JPG

    I started by positioning and pinning down the first curved turnout, and measuring the amount of flex track I would need between it and the next turnout (in the yard). This required soldering two pieces of track together. Based on tips I found online, I soldered the tracks when straightened out (not curved), and with the sliding rail on the inside of the curve. I then pinned the flex track in position and cut the excess rail from both ends. At this point, I unpinned the flex track, glued the curved turnout into place (latex caulk), soldered the flex track to the turnout, and then glued the flex track to the cork. I wasn't going to solder any of the turnouts to flex track, but had to make an exception for the curved turnouts, because well, curves.

    Here's another little series of photos showing the installation of curved turnout and flex track at the other end of the table...

    IMG_20181030_095819205.JPG

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    Notice that card I put under the flex track? Well, I don't know if it's strictly necessary, but I noticed that PECO turnouts have slight thicker ties than atlas flex track. To make sure that the solder joint is lever, I would use the card to bring both to the same level.

    I also learned how to replace the missing ties that need to be cut off because of the rail joiners. I just trim off the excess plastic bits with sprue cutters and then sand/grind away some the plastic to allow space for the rail joiners. I gets old fast.

    We can also see my tools of choice for laying down the latex caulk.
     
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  8. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    And finally, enough for tonight, it's getting late. I leave you with what the layout looks like at this moment...

    IMG_20181104_171639778.JPG

    My next task will be to wire up the new track, and wire up the remote switches. After that, we'll see if I try tackling the second layer of track, up an incline and above the existing tracks.
     
  9. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

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    Looks good. I suspect that you'll find you like the manual turnout throws. They'll give you more of a feel of actually railroading than remote turnouts will.
     
  10. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    I do really like the manual ground throws! I went with the remotes only on the main line sidings and on the staging area in the back. The table in three and a half feet deep, and although I can move the table easily and I can reach the furthest track (table is lower than average), I figured it would be easier with the remotes.
     
  11. NScaleKen

    NScaleKen Permanently dispatched

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    The other night I ran my yard with the power off, just pushed the switchers and flipped switches manually. it was extremely fun, it felt more connected and less demanding. It just felt more peaceful and less stressful, and made me part of the layout instead of just flipping switches to see what happens.
     
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  12. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Time for another small update, not that there's much to show. I spent a major amount of time wiring feeders to the new track. I'm not exactly adding a feeder to every piece of track, but it's close! I try to hit every piece of track between turnouts. So far I have 33 feeders, and I spent a lot of time just organizing the bottom of the layout so it wouldn't look like a forest of wires. I was originally mounting the terminal blocks right under the table, but then changed my mind and started mounting them to the 1x6 horizontal crosspieces. It's cleaner, and less change of drilling through one of them when I add future feeders.

    IMG_20181125_182037667.JPG

    I was then going to start wiring the remote turnouts and making a control panel, but now I want to leave that until later when all the turnouts are installed.

    Instead, I decided to continue with the mainline, and more specifically, the incline to the second "level". I must have spent an hour or two just pondering exactly how I'd do that, and to what height. I did have a general plan that I built on the computer, but that didn't actually have any elevations on it. Just rough estimates of track length and an understanding that I would use a 3% grade.

    IMG_20181125_180954618.JPG

    I used a Woodland Scenics 3% incline set for well, the incline. The end elevation is 4" and should give me enough clearance to build the tunnels, rivers and what I need for the industries. It's still very slow going because while the inclines are glued down, now I'm trying to plan exactly how I will make the scenery removable to easily access the tunnels underneath. I'll likely use a number of techniques I've seen in the books I've read.
     
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  13. vince p

    vince p TrainBoard Member

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    Nice progress there Stephane.
     
  14. astrotrain

    astrotrain TrainBoard Member

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    I used the Woodland scenic incline set as well. Great product. Plus it can be used for many other things. Looking good.
     
  15. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Progress has ground down to a trickle for a variety of reasons, but still moving forward!

    Since the incline to the industrial zone is complete (see previous posts), I decided to start building up the foam for that elevated industrial zone. Calling it this because this is where the three main industries will live - the coal mine, a chemical plant of some sort, and a heavy machinery construction plant.

    IMG_20181201_171143842.JPG

    I glued this down with 3M Super 77 spray, which is why I used the newspaper, that spray goes everywhere! In tests it appeared to be one of the easiest glues to use for the foam. I've had annoying problems with the expanding Great Stuff foam, where the foam is lifted up a few millimeters. Here, I want the plateau to be exactly 4" high.

    And this is where everything ground to a halt. See, the idea is that the track that goes behind this plateau are all in tunnels. I was measuring and preparing a plan of how to attack this with removable terrain when I finally realized that I would need to ballast rail into the entrance of the tunnels - at least the non-removable parts of the tunnels, and also finish the walls inside those same tunnels! yikes! I wasn't ready for this.

    So I started reviewing my scenery books on building stone walls, painting and ballasting, and buying some necessary components (paint, ballast, tunnel portals, etc).

    That's when problem number two happened. See, I built the track plan on a computer using XTrkCAD. It's really great, and I got really good at it. But one problem is that its really difficult to judge distances and spacings.

    I ended up with too little space between tracks at the tunnel entrances. The first such entrance is near the yard...

    IMG_20181202_202617215.JPG

    The green sharpie lines on the foam was the rough sketch of where the rock walls are supposed to go. Well, here we are, the yard lead ends up inside the rock face!

    IMG_20181202_202934175.JPG

    Above is the second tunnel entrance. The red marks indicate where I had planned the tunnel portals. I had less than 4mm to put the end of the tunnel portal. So what did I do? I went back to XTrkCAD, loaded my track plan and redesigned the curves. Here's how this turned out:

    First we have the east entrances...

    IMG_20181209_141922191.JPG

    I now have enough space to build up a stone wall between the portals. We can see the white filler where the old track used to be.

    IMG_20181209_142043451.JPG

    And here we have the portals at the end of the table, now with enough space to fit the tunnel portals.

    At this point, I'm back to building up the foam for the tunnels and the plateau.
     
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  16. NScaleKen

    NScaleKen Permanently dispatched

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    Its not just you, 3d modelling is known for not producing the expected results when applied to product design of all kinds, models that focus on working out different details are used to make all kinds of products from toys to buildings. The two basic types are 'works like' and 'looks like' models. In the design world they are called prototype models but that would get confusing here so I just call them scale models or models. Its really common for CAD digital virtual models of things to not explain scale and volume of the object in the real world to designers fully, mock ups and scale models are used in all industries before manufacturing begins. For others using this software I would suggest laying out the track in simple painters masking tape after designing it in CAD to check the spacing. Car designers do orthographics of concept vehicles height and length in tape on a wall at some point after sketching and modeling in software, and add in human figures in tape outlines to get a sense of scale, they take the thoughts it gives them back to sketching and modeling in software with a better sense of scale. Super cheap and simple. It is really helpful to view a 1:1 scale representation of whatever one is making/building.
     
  17. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Working on the tunnels.

    IMG_20181227_172441628.JPG

    I cut some blue foam into rough 3/8" thick sheets and built up the walls of the tunnels using my longest cars to make sure clearances were respected. Currently, those walls are 2 inches tall. Over this I'll be putting in another two layers of 1" think foam sheets for a total of four inches of height. The entire back of the table and the gap at the bottom of the photo will be open to allow access to the tracks inside those tunnels.

    But before I lay down the covering foam, I first need to ballast the track and ground, and find some way of finishing the tunnel walls. I was hoping to texture them somehow before painting. At first I though I could use plastic sheets textured with cut stone, but that will be too expensive. now I think I may just apply plaster cloth, smooth it out, and then paint that with a selection of very dark grays. Is there a way to imprint a texture into the plaster as it's drying? I'll make a test section of tunnel to try it out and see what it looks!
     

    Attached Files:

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  18. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    Wow, very meticulously planned. What did you use to affix the cork roadbed to the Sytrofoam?
     
  19. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Chops! It doesn't feel planned, or rather not meticulously! At this point, with the exception of the track plan made on the computer, I feel like I'm just winging it, and making the decisions at the last minute. For example, the tunnels shown in the previous posts. I hadn't planned on using 3/8" thick sheets of blue foam to built up the tunnel walls until I just started experimenting with that. I just wasn't liking how using large chunks of styrofoam was turning out!

    However, to answer your question, I use DAP Acrylic Latex Caulk Plus Silicone. It's super cheap, and dries quickly (likely because I use only a very thin amount).

    IMG_20190112_123202400.JPG

    I just use a putty knife and lay it down thin, and pin the cork in place on top of that. Within 30-45 minutes, you can start laying rail on top. And it holds it well. If you see my previous posts, you may notice I have to tear up some track to redo two curves. While it's possible to rip it up, some of the foam will go with it (I used a putty knife to cut if off the foam). Note that I also use the same stuff to glue the track to the cork.

    Might notice that there's hardboard sticking up behind the tunnels? That's what I've been up to lately. I was only planning (heh heh!) to attach a fascia to the table much much later, but I realized that building up the foam was making it difficult for later planning the fascia - a gap was going to exist between it and the foam.

    IMG_20190112_093944769.JPG

    So I went ahead, bought a few sheets of 1/8" of 2x4 hardboard, and installed it around the table. Currently it's much too high in front, but that's the next step, I want to cut it down in place to the real height and the curve of the hills I want to put around the table. I also need to cut the access holes to the tunnels and staging areas. I used small 3" wide panels of hardboard to reinforce the seams between the individual fascia panels, and some quarter round sticks for the 90 degree bends at the back of the table. For the 45 degree angles, I heavily scored some hardboard down the middle with a blade, wet the hardboard, and cracked the board down to a 45 degree angle, before gluing them down in place. This still leaves the board in one piece. It was the sturdiest way I could figure out how to reinforce those annoying 45 degree corners! After trimming the fascia, I figure I'll paint it immediately to protect it, before continuing on building up the tunnels.

    In the meantime, I've done a little bit of testing on small "dioramas". First was a little test to see how to finish the walls of the tunnels (plaster cloth and paint colour):

    IMG_20190112_123439768.JPG

    Then a small test of plaster cloth as a landscaping tool and how to ballast track:

    IMG_20181230_171120483.JPG

    I figure a little bit of practice before trying on the real layout doesn't hurt!
     
  20. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    I really like this layout a lot. Looking forward to more updates. Nice work too.
     

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