Summer Shunting Shelf Project

MC Fujiwara Aug 12, 2011

  1. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    My nine-year-old daughter & I are building an N-scale shelf switching layout for the summer. Even though layout design is one of my trades, my daughter brushed aside my ideas & jumped on Byron Henderson’s “Alameda Belt Line”: a 1’ x 6’ shelf designed to fold in half for portability.

    She does have good taste: the design includes a long runaround to facilitate switching an oil company, wharf, team track, and a large fruit canning industry, with off-layout traffic transferring by carfloat and an interchange with the Southern Pacific line.

    She also likes the local: Alameda, near Oakland, California, is a short car ride away from us, so it looks like she’s picked up on Dad’s San Francisco Bay Area pride, too.

    I redrew the design for Atlas Code 55 track & for the Fast Tracks templates I use to hand lay turnouts, added one more siding to service a brewery (Dad gets thirsty), and renamed the industries for fun or based on local lore:

    [​IMG]

    Having moved on average once a year for the past 11 years, we wanted to keep the hinged design for portability, but we also wanted to have structures on the layout. My brilliant brainstorm (if I do say so myself), was to insert a 3” piece between two sets of hinges and a 3” backdrop / vertical support on the far left of the layout: now, instead of pancaking, the shelf wraps into a box with a 3” gap between sections, an interior space for structures & scenery.

    [cont.]
     
  2. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Benchwork

    The shelves are ½” MDF cut from one 2’x4’ piece. The three sections are not of equal width: the left (“base”) section is 12”x36”, the center is 11 ½”x3”, and the right is 11”x36”. This allows the permanent attachment of 4”-tall strips of 1/8” masonite (cut from scraps salvaged off a previous layout, but could come from a single 2’x4’ sheet).

    Here’s the basic benchwork, stretched out:

    [​IMG]

    There are 1” MDF strips under each section edge, with four adjustable 7/8” furniture feet at each corner of each 3’ section.

    Spray-painted the backdrop flat dark grey primer, and the boards Krylon ultra-flat khaki.

    I constructed a 6”x7” box out of scrap masonite & MDF to house the DC power pack:

    [​IMG]

    A roof with detailed parts will fit over it for photography. A masonite front cover with DCC terminal can also be screwed on to the box.

    The Oil Tanks are 4” & 2” ABS caps. The large tank, at 2 1/2” high, will be permanently attached to the layout. The two smaller tanks are removable, and serve the dual function to cover the front two pairs of hinges:

    [​IMG]

    A removable power house will cover the back pair of hinges. Those three structures should be the only non-permanent buildings on the layout: all others are flats, low relief, or positioned to not get hit by the backboard or any other structure.

    I laid a small section of track over both joints, and then cut the rails when the gorillaglue cured. The Dedeco ultra thin blade cuts as thin as a jeweler’s saw (or seems like it!), and having the hinges on top actually lifts the track up, preventing any crimping or squishing of rails.

    I installed a handle on the bottom of the right section, and a latch on the left, so:

    [​IMG]

    When folded up, it’s a 1’x3’x4” box that’s easily carried.

    You can see the bus wire that runs the length of the bottom & through the end-strip supports. Feeder wires are connected with suitcase connectors. Should I want to mount this as a shelf, I will need to place foam (like for weather-proofing windows) on the brackets to take up the wire space & still support the boards.

    [cont.]
     
  3. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Track

    One of the goals for this layout is to do as much ourselves as we can, or at least use up much of the train stuff I’ve accumulated over the past couple years. We’re using Atlas C55 flex track and building our own turnouts using ME C55 rail on PC board ties. We use Fast Tracks printable templates as guides, but adjust to our needs. Given the close position of many turnouts, I tried to build as many as fixtures as I could:

    [​IMG]

    The addition of the brewery required a crossing (between two turnouts) that started curving immediately after, so got to try out building a crossing for the first time:

    [​IMG]

    Turned out pretty well. Did it rather quick with a lot of eyeballing (& NMRA gauging). I’ll build a better one next time.

    In a great moment in father/daughter bonding history (no CA involved!)(except the state we live in!), I taught her how to use a soldering iron to build turnout:

    [​IMG]

    For the first couple we used the jig I’ve had collecting dust for a couple years. Then she had to test it out with a truck:

    [​IMG]

    So now she knows how things are glued or soldered together, about hard & soft metals, and why not to touch the soldering iron tip, even if it’s to show your daughter why not to touch the soldering iron tip.


    [cont.]
     
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  4. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Track (pt.2)

    We gorillaglued the pc board ties of the turnout fixtures to the MDF base for added stability, but used caulk for the flex. Having no foam in which to push T-pins, we used canned veggies to weigh down the track while curing.

    Drilled feeder holds, soldered to rails & used suitcase connectors underneath, and then took the SP NW2 for a spin:

    [​IMG]

    There it’s on the wharf deck we built out of pcboard ties and 1/32” x 3/64” basswood strips. After that photo, we painted the pcboard ties to match the stained wood.

    A thin layer of Magic Water coated the thin strip off the wharf as well as filled in the carfloat quay. After we install the permanent carfloat, we’ll use Modge Podge to create wave / ripple effects.

    And the most incredibly exciting part of N-Scale model railroading: tie replacement!

    [​IMG]

    The PC board ties are slimmer than Atlas flex or even the ties Fast Tracks sells, so I slip 1/32” x 3/64” basswood strips (after a dip in my “Big Jug O’ Stain”) under the turnouts. Tedious. Luckily, “family bonding” also includes a Chopper II, thin strips of white glue between rails, tweezers, and my daughter sharing the joys of tie replacement:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Busy hands are happy hands!

    [cont.]
     
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  5. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    PAINTING

    We masked off everything but the track, made sure the turnout points were covered, and then, working in thirds, we sprayed the rails with Floquil Grimy Black, scraped the railtops with bits of wood, and then brightboyed the heck out of it:

    [​IMG]

    It was such a sunny, hot day that by the time we pulled off the masking, the paint was dry!

    [​IMG]

    Right now, we’re going back and touching up the points & the ties around them with Grimy Black & a small brush.

    That’s it for now.

    Next on the agenda:
    --building & installing the carfloat
    --building, painting & installing the long “Bella Fonte” fruit cannery flats along the back left
    --build the power-pack roof-cap
    --start figuring out streets & ground cover
    --keep practicing running those trains & shunting those cars!

    Thanks for slogging though a bunch of posts & pictures.
    Hope to have more before school starts in a couple weeks.
    Cheers!
     
  6. wmcbride

    wmcbride TrainBoard Member

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    Such a fun and creative layout/project such as this is why I have always loved N scale and appreciated the creativity of N scalers.

    Looking forward to more.
     
  7. PW&NJ

    PW&NJ TrainBoard Member

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    Now that rocks! Great idea using the removable buildings to hide the hinges. And I especially dig the car float (hey, wouldn't a boxcab look great pulling cars off of that?). :tb-wink:
     
  8. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    I can't take credit for the removable buildings or the carfloat: both are part of Byron Henderson's original design.
    Though his pancaked flat, so the entire industry had to be removed.
    The plus to that, though, is that you could have several different interchangable industries (all have same footprint), thus creating a new layout each time!

    His plan had the carfloat off the end (an extension).
    I toyed with the idea of having that as another hinged section that folded back, but decided on moving the carfloat onto the right section instead.

    Also thought about putting a weigh scale / gauntlet track between the carfloat & the "main", but I'd like for my daughter & I to finish this year ;)

    I'm not sure the Alameda Belt Line or SP had boxcabs in the late 40s on Alameda.
    It sure would look cool, but where would I ever get a boxcab? ;)

    Hmmmm......
     
  9. JSL

    JSL TrainBoard Member

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    Very nice MC. Great to see your kids involved with "your" hobby. Excellent work. Keep the updates coming.

    JSL
     
  10. gregamer

    gregamer TrainBoard Supporter

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    Wow. I'm jealous. Awesome layout!
     
  11. Vaccam

    Vaccam TrainBoard Member

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    Real nice MC! It's funny how on some threads you can tell you want to subscribe to them with in the first few sentences. This is definitely one of those.
    Michael
     
  12. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Funny, I say the same thing when I see your modules.
    Cool beans!
    Cheers!
     
  13. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks!
    I'm really enjoying seeing your progress on your "new" layout.
    Looks great!
    More picts!
     
  14. dave n

    dave n TrainBoard Supporter

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    you are the zen master of complex scratchbuilt turnouts - awesome work once again
     
  15. ZiggySpaz

    ZiggySpaz TrainBoard Member

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    MC...great switching layout...excellent execution...beautiful hand-made turnouts...and stellar quality time with your daughter who's already showing wonderful modeling prowess! That is just fantastic!
     
  16. jsoflo

    jsoflo TrainBoard Member

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    What a fantastic layout, what a fantastic family activity, a combo of great craftsmanship and family warmth, I have enjoyed following this progress!
    My best,
    jan
     
  17. sharriso

    sharriso TrainBoard Member

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    Brilliant! Couldn't find anything better than Awesome in my thesaurus. Maybe awe-inspiring. I will follow this thread -- just what we are looking for.
     
  18. K's Engine & Steam Repair

    K's Engine & Steam Repair TrainBoard Member

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    Very nice I like how your daughter gets involved that is soo cool. You don't see that too often.
     
  19. PW&NJ

    PW&NJ TrainBoard Member

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    "I laughed and I cried. Much better than Cats. I will see it again and again" :thumbs_up::thumbs_up:

    (but seriously, still digging this, can't wait to see it completed)
     
  20. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks!
    I do alright, now & zen. ;)

    So we started putting together the "Bella Fonte Cannery" (based on the Del Monte facility on Alameda).
    Bashing two Gripp's Luggages into a 25" long flat:

    [​IMG]

    My daughter sprayed it "Red Oxide" primer.
    It will have an awning & concrete dock in time.
    It's just resting there: we'll wash it & weather it soon.
    You can see the original here.

    Also started playing around with background photos:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    (I like that last pict cause it looks like a ufo is about to beam the NW2 up)

    Then end corner will have a chainlink gate to the Alameda Naval Air Station (or maybe the Navel Err Station), so I tried putting a photo at the end.
    The cannery is about 3/4" short of the backdrop, so I tried putting a photo of a shrunk factory behind it.

    Will probably play around with other photos, but any ideas are appreciated.
     
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