The Boston Line in N scale

daniel_leavitt2000 May 14, 2012

  1. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

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    Hey Everyone!

    This thread will document the single largest construction project I have ever attempted. This will probably take years to complete. I decided to document the entire layout building process from start to finish. If this interests you, please read on!

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    I have been a member here for several years, as well as on the former Atlas Forum and currently very active over at The Railwire. Model trains have been part of my life since I was about 7. In fact, I remember my first Model Railroader given to me by my mother when I got hurt falling off my bike. The issue featured John Coot’s famous home layout. That article left an impression on me. I don’t remember much from when I was 7, but I remember reading that issue until the thing fell apart.

    I converted to N scale at 11, and after several small layout and downright awful kit-bashing attempts, shelved model trains for much of high school. In college, my interest in model trains picked up again, as I found it relaxing to weather cars between classes. That dorm room will forever smell like Dull-Cote. In 2001, I started accumulating equipment for a large layout I had dreamed of since childhood: a layout that modeled all my favorite places from Worcester to Boston Massachusetts during the height of Conrail in the late 1990’s.

    The boxes piled up, but I really have not done any serious modeling aside from small projects. The thought of doing a shelf layout was a bit unappealing because I just wanted something more, bigger, wonderful. I was (and still remain) a member of the Bay State Model Railroad Museum, but meeting nights and work always seemed to conflict. By the time I married Joy in 2007, I had an entire storage room at my mother’s house full of model trains.

    Joy and I purchased out first house in 2008. The place has plenty of room for us, and a rather large (about 900 square feet) basement. The basement was partially finished, so I thought I could finish the rest and start on the dream layout. Money and flooding soon proved to be insurmountable obstacles.


    A Change of Fortune
    Water has been a constant problem. Even the finished area has flooded and during a major storm in March 2010, the stream behind the house flooded and the basement took about 6-8 inches of water. While I could store some trains in plastic containers on platforms, there is no way a layout would last in that type of environment.

    Until earlier this year, the finances required to waterproof the basement was strictly out of the question. Since that time we have inherited some money and, with one of our cars getting paid off latter this year, I expect to have about $2-3000 available to me for room and layout construction.

    Lets take a look at the basement now:
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    This shot is taken from the stairs looking forward (south) into the finished area of the basement. This area measures 15 feet square. The door opens into a storage area under the front porch. You can see the boiler pipes in blue. Floor to ceiling is about 7 feet. The trains pictured are only about 1/5 my collection.

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    I am standing by the scarecrow looking north, to the rear of the house. All the finished walls you see will need to go due to mildue and sub-par construction. This area will open up into the rear...

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    Water damage and deteriorating concrete are two major issues holding up layout construction.
     
  2. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG]
    Looking north through the doorway into the rest of the basement. At one point this area was finished - about 40 years ago. I am told a former owner used to make donuts down here. Yuk.

    The oil tank is right in the way if I were to make an around the wall layout. That will need to be moved and the kitchen sink needs to go as well. All remaining windows will be blocked up.

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    Looking west from the oil tank, we see the northern half of the basement. This area measures about 15 x 34 feet.

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    Looking east we see the oil tank in the way of things. On the left you can just make out the walk-out basement door. On the right is the chimney covered in plaster next to the water heater.

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    Looking South from the same position, we see the utility area of the basement. This area roughly measures 15x15 feet. I plan on moving the oil tank here, and walling the area off to create a giant utility and storage closet.
     
  3. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

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    Waterproofing 101

    Because of the high water table, we needed a very good pump and drainage system. We got an estimate from a few local contractors and ended up deciding on Basement Technologies after being referred by a friend. The system will include a flushable interior French drain system with a ¾ horsepower sump pump and battery backup. The system has a full lifetime warrantee against leaks and cost us about $8300. They also agreed to fix the bad concrete areas as part of the work.

    We went with an internal system over an exterior solution because the driveway butts up against the house and the stream next to our house is literally 20 feet away. If we attempted to move water from the outside, we would be pumping the stream directly. We were also concerned with earth settling and causing fractures in the foundation.

    The system is being put in on Wed, and I need to start demo on the finished areas of the basement for the contractors to access the interior footings where the drains will be placed. So far, all trains have been packed and placed in the porch storage area. On Tuesday, I plan on taking the Sawsall to the drywall. This will not be the full demo, but only partial. Full demo will start in a month or two.
     
  4. Avel

    Avel TrainBoard Member

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    Looking forward to your updates over the years.
     
  5. Trevor D. CSX Crr fan

    Trevor D. CSX Crr fan TrainBoard Member

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    Hope everything goes A O K with the basement Daniel. Just remember to leave enough space if the oil tank ever needs to be removed later on! Can't wait to see those C30-7As attacking the hill!

    Trevor D.
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    A lot to do there. Too bad the crew from "This Old House" isn't available!
     
  7. Philip H

    Philip H TrainBoard Member

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    Daniel,
    We have an internal french drain and pump in our basement, and it keeps it dry save for a small patch of "weep" that comes up through the floor right in front of the boiler! Hydrostatic pressure is a SOB sometimes. Our system discharges to the driveway side of the house, but I am thinking about having rerouted our the other side to help water the grass.
     
  8. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'll be following closely and wish you the best! If you want any pics of the Needham Line I'll be happy to help.

    Will it focus mostly on freight or passenger or ?
     
  9. ken G Price

    ken G Price TrainBoard Member

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    Good start.
    I find it weird though that a county or municipality would allow a fuel oil tank to be installed in a basement.
    Can one say BOOM!
     
  10. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

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    Trevor, I sure hope everything goes as planned, but I know this is going to be a massive job getting that basement in shape. My plans are only to model as far west as Worcester. This is a natural terminus, with an intermodal terminal, three different freight interchanges and the iconic Worcester Union Station. The station will be the crown jewel pf the layout and a focal point for everyone entering the layout room.

    Steve, I probably will be modeling parts of the Needham line, as there was freight traffic in the late 90's. Bay Colony ran there as late as 2003 when I was working at the old Filene's Basement on Highland. It was a funky run, especially in Dover where the tracks don't really fit the town. I also want to model parts of Walpole Junction, the Saxonville Branch, Northboro Branch the Guilford flyover in Worcester, P&W trackage in Worcester, and the entire Grafton and Upton, modeled foot for foot.
     
  11. gregamer

    gregamer TrainBoard Supporter

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    Looks like you've got lot's of room for a pretty awesome layout. I hope the waterproofing works, I've never had a basement, so I hadn't even considered something like that. Looking forward to seeing your progress.
     
  12. SecretWeapon

    SecretWeapon TrainBoard Member

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    Good luck with the pumps!:cool:
     
  13. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

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    OK, today I needed to do a little prep work so the contractor could access the foundation walls. What better way to bring destruction to the house than let my little brother over! It only took us about an hour to expose the concrete wall behind the drywall. Those metal studs were very annoying.

    And in the best low light, shakey-cam/bigfoot spotting style:
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    Check out that vintage 60's false brick! Yeah thats going too.

    The best part is the remaining walls will be easy to pull once we get a dumpster in. I estimate a full teardown will only take about a day at this point with a little help.

    We also knocked out that damn sink:
    [​IMG]

    Tomorrow: waterproofing!
     
  14. Jeff B

    Jeff B TrainBoard Member

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    I wish you much good fortune in your endeavor. I too aspire to have a large layout one day{I have an 8x10 now}. I will be following this thread looking forward to your progress.Best of luck Daniel.
    Jeff
     
  15. JoeS

    JoeS TrainBoard Member

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    Ken home heating fuel oil does not explode. It just burns and is most homes basements that have it. I wondered the same the first time I lived in a house with oil heat.

    By the way Daniel great to see you are getting this started. Been on all the boards over the last 15 years or so and always respected your work and opinions.
     
  16. ken G Price

    ken G Price TrainBoard Member

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    Yeah, now that you mention it I remember about it not exploding. Though I would not be happy if there was a fire and it did ruptured.
    Out here they have to be outside. Next to the house is ok though.
    May there be no surprises with the basement work.
    I'm sure you are looking forward to the day it will be ready for the layout.
    Oh, and have fun!
     
  17. carnellm

    carnellm TrainBoard Member

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    Wish I was close, I would help. I love a good destruction party!!
     
  18. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

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    The waterproofing guys came today and started cutting into the cement. It turns out a previous owner tried to cure the flooding issues by adding another layer of cement to the floor. This is what it looked like at noon:
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    They should have stopped at the tank, then finished the job when it was moved. I will need to talk to them tomorrow about this.
     
  19. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

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    OK, here is the new pump system in place:
    [​IMG]

    Next up:
    1. Move oil tank.
    2. Have Basement Tech return and finish the water tract along the wall where the tank used to be.
    3. Hire 15-20 yard dumpster
    4. Contractor will fill windows; fix a few problems in the concrete (along with fixing the front porch).
    5. Demo party!

    Now I need to use the dumpster for both demo and the contractor, so those will happen in pretty short order. I hope to have a demo party with a few friends somewhere around June 9th.

    And after that:
    I need a plumber to move some pipes up into the joists.
    I need an electrician to move wires into the joists and fix the electrical panel.
    Look what I am working with now:
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    [​IMG]

    And after all of that cleanup work, I can finally submit plans to the building inspector, throw up the studs insulation and wiring, and get it inspected.
     
  20. daniel_leavitt2000

    daniel_leavitt2000 TrainBoard Member

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    Quick update:
    Dumpster is in and I started to move debris out of the basement. The "finished" portion of the basement has been largly torn out and I am kind of amazed the place has not burned down. The previous owner ran wires BETWEEN the metal studs and the concrete, pinching them in place. There were outlets that had wires exposed with the junction just a twisted pair of wires with only one side insulated to avoid a short. Oh, and they CUT THROUGH A JOIST to install the drain for the tub. Yes, thats right. They put a metal tub resting on a disconected joist.

    I noticed the areas where they laid the drainage gutter is damp/weeping in areas that were not damp before. I'm not sure if this is because the cement they used has not been sealed, the drainage is not flowing downhill into the the sump pump or some other problem. Worse, we have not had any rain in well over a week so I am very nervous what will happen when it does rain.

    Its frustrating to think I just spent $8500 on waterproofing and the basement may still be too wet.
    I am very tired and not looking forward to a fight with the contractor. At least there is a warentee in place.
     

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