Sunday, October 2, 2011


Well, you probably have noticed that I've gone quite a while without a post.  I am usually able to squeeze a quick update in, but the past month has been extremely busy.  Thanks for the concerned emails, but everything is ok and I have actually done some model railroading, however, I have been working quite a bit lately and haven't had the energy left for my typical late-night blogging.    Things will probably continue to be busy for me until December, but I will try to do a little better.

Usually after a Steel Mill Modeler's Meet I hit the scratchbuilding hard.  This year is a little different as I left the meet inspired as always, but also with a sense of urgency in regards to the actual physical plant of my railroad.  Next years meet will be held here in South Jersey and I am involved in a lot of the planning. I also expect my layout to be on the tour list so, for the past month, and for the immediate future, the focus is on getting my bench work, soffit and fascias finished, track laid, and wiring semi-completed.  I would say the final trackwork plan is about 95% complete, at least in my mind, with only a few areas left with some thinking involved.   That being said, I need to get the track down, wired, and switch machines up - a big task.  Not to mention so basic scenery and maybe finish a structure or two by next September.   So as you will see from the photos, the work of late, involves these sort of tasks.

Inside of partially finished control panel for "PORT".  A DCC Specialities PSX circuit breaker board and track feeder terminal strips.
These control panels were originally much larger, however,  operating with smaller panels elsewhere I realized that I could fit what I needed in a smaller package, leaving additional space on the fascia for card-card holders,...etc.  Fortunately I was able to throw the old panels on the chop saw and turn one into two by some creative cutting and the addition of a single new side.  The cuts also created a opening in the back for wires to be routed through.

Black Fascia in "PORT" area - note control panel on far left, followed by card card holder, DCC jack, and DCC controller and holder.   A New York Central FM unit sits on the paved commodities pier.

I'm also trying to start adding some landforms as I'm sick of looking at plywood.  I don't use any one method, but rather a mix dependent on what appears to be the easiest .    You can see in the next photo a mix of foam, and plaster.  The "plaster" is actually Structolite, a plaster basecoat that works well for landforms - it has perlite mixed in that makes it light but also harder than straight plaster or hydrocal.  It is very cheap, available in 50 or 60lb bags from masonry suppliers.   I use hot-glued cardboard strips and plaster cloth for the base and then trowel on structolite on top.

Structolite over plaster cloth and cardboard strips
If you just looked at the above photo you will notice three turnouts.  All three are controlled by Caboose ground throws.  My original plan was to use Tortice machines for everything, but the cost for that would just get out of control.   However, I also realized that for most of my layout there will be a lot of overhead piping and other fragile structures that would get in the way of an operator reaching for a ground throw.  Therefore, all turnouts need to be controlled from the fascia, either by ground throw or control panel switch.  For the ground throws I mount a small block of wood on the fascia and build a linkage from piano wire and a 3/32 plastic tube, connecting the turnout to the throw, mounted on the block.  These tubes get buried either by hardshell scenery as above or by notching the tube into the homesote or foam.  As I mount the throws perpendicular to the turnouts, sometimes the tubes will even cross each other - the the throw for the right turnout above is actually to the left of the throw for the center turnout.

Even getting this work done, I still occasionally get the itch for building - I threw together a classic Atlas Signal Tower kit and added some lighting to it too.  This tower will control the wye area in the Lower Works, undoubtedly the busiest section of trackwork on the layout.

LW TOWER, maybe

Finally -  RIP Griffen Pipe Foundry, Florence, NJ -  only the cupolas remain, but not for too much longer.

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