Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Detail on Staging Concept

So I wanted to throw up a little bit more on what my line of thinking was when I wrote the post this morning. Here's how I envision the staging/transition between decks working:

as you can see, staging will run against the back of the level all the way around. In the configuration I have above, I can get 4, 200"+ tracks, good enough to slot 8 trains, leaving the 5th one free for loop running. In the upper right, just after the yard throat would begin the 4" climb up. With the length of run, the grade there will be about 1.6%. On the peninsula, I can average about the same, but because some areas will hold a yard/switching functions, the grades will top out at 2.0% in some places. This will get the line along the left wall at 4" where the yard complex will begin. The line will be level the rest of the way around the walls to the helix.

One good thing is that when I built the benchwork for most of the layout, I had 15" depths on the bottom level around the walls. This will now allow me to basically do 12" scenes with some space behind to run these ramps or provide some reach in and/or peaking space if I desire.

Hold the Phone - Finding Inspiration at 1 AM

I was looking through some updates of other layouts and MRP after MNF last night and had an ahah moment so ignore everything I've said in my last few posts. I've been inspired by Shaun and his layout and staging loop. I was at the point over the last few days I was ready to just tear everything down and look at building something quick, easy and cheap. Looking at Shaun's layout, I was contemplating dropping to a single level around the walls with center peninsula and a lift-out and staging underneath. Well, in trying not to upset my wife and dismantle everything I've done, I've figured out I don't need the lift-out and can still have the multi-level layout. I just need to reverse the bottom part of the G shape of the layout, like this plan I had drawn up for a single level layout:

I'll add a 3rd loop to the inside of the helix that will be used strictly to connect staging yards going down, like the staging yard on Model Railroader's MR&T on each level, 4" or so below the primary trackwork and entered on the left-bottom. This arrangement will actually allow me to close off the layout room from the workshop/woodshop side of the basement. I'm going to play some with the entrance/exit of the helix to make sure the curvature and arrange doesn't look too funky since the staging loop will be the inside track.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Staging Decision

So after much playing around with the space, I've decided I'm going to go with the stub ended L-shaped staging.

Unfortunately, this inverts the direction of traffic flow so I'm going to have to readjust the design slightly or just build the yard and figure out everything else. The deciding factor was the last few days of moving some furniture pieces from the workshop on the other side up the basement stairs (which come down right into that corner). I had also had to take a door and my ladder down and up the stairs. With the refrigerator at the bottom of the stairs, I need as much space as possible in that corner to be able to swing and adjust. Having just the mockup of the helix base there made me realize that I'd have the real possibility of always knocking into it. With the staging, I'll have more room. Of course, I had thought of tearing down everything I had build and going with a simpler plan, something like I had read in MRH and the gentleman is building here. I'm not ready to go to that extreme, yet, but it is something I thought about.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

I'm at the completion of one of my home projects and nearing the time for outside help to come in to finish off the other (read plumbing) so I turned my attention back to the basement this past weekend. I cleaned up the entire workshop side of the basement, moving anything and everything layout related to the layout side. Then I started to look at what I had built already for the layout. Over the last few weeks, I've had to turn off the water to the house a few times. This has lead me to realize that the helix placement next to the water meter and fridge may not be the wisest choice. Part of that is the way the helix base was built:

As you can see, it's pretty square. Playing with the base some, using the standard L-girder and cross braces I used elsewhere on the layout benchwork will probably give me more room and definitely will be a higher base. Also, I've had to carry some things up and down the stairs that were a little cumbersome and realized making the corner with something sitting next to the fridge is going to be very difficult. All of this was enough to get me thinking of possible layout arrangements. Some are minor tweaks to what I have been looking at, some are rip everything down and start over. I've come to more or less 3 differing varieties to look at.

The first is a helix on each end of the layout lines, with staging being on the opposite wall then the classification yard on the 2nd level.


  • Utilizes all current benchwork
  • Passthrough/visible staging allows continuous running
  • Could also do staging above each other with one track connected for continuous running
  • Still have helix next to water meter
  • Have to build two helices
  • Room can't be "enclosed" due to 2nd helix
The second variation I had come up with was a helix on one end and stub-ended staging on the corner by the water meter.

  • Utilizes all current benchwork except for shelf in corner of staging
  • Gives full access to water meter
  • Maximizes staging capacity with up to 9 or 10 tracks on each level
  • Room can't be "enclosed" due to 2nd helix
  • No longer have ability for continuous running
The third one is the "tear everything down" one. It follows along with the age old looping design to climb between decks. In this one, I have put in looped staging based on emails and reading about various layouts, particularly Bruce Faulkner's

  • Looped staging allows for continuous running
  • Water meter corner is clear which could allow area to be used for storage or perhaps a small workbench
  • Room could be completely enclosed
  • Would require the full dismantling of 80% of the current benchwork built
  • Tighter aisle due to width needed for looping peninsula
So now that you've read down this far, I'll say that I'm really leaning to the towards the second one but I will say the 3rd looks like a really fun challenge. I do think I've talked myself out of the double helix or even the looped staging going into that corner. Please give me any thoughts or suggestions you can think of seeing these 3 arrangements or even slight variations of them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Getting Motivated

It's always good to find something to re-energize yourself in this hobby. This past weekend I attended the NJ Division's meet which was only a town or two over from me. While I missed one of the clinics due to finishing up some house stuff, I was able to catch another and peruse some of the offerings at the swap tables and just take in the whole atmosphere of the local meet as it was my first time attending one. I then had the opportunity to take my wife and daughter around to two of the layouts open afterwards, to show them, one, this is what I'd like to do in the basement, but also to show them where I go that one day a month. Thankfully, the guys at that layout didn't say "Who are you? I've never met you" because that could've been awkward. I also went to two other layouts as well after I took them both home for my daughters nap.

I remember last year coming back from the Mid-East Region's Convention in Princeton having the same motivation and getting a lot of the benchwork for the layout up. I had hoped to go to this years in convention to get the same motivation and see a couple of great layouts, but unfortunately my  trip to North Carolina will have to be reserved for this upcoming weekend and a technology conference.

While I had been very motivated last year and put up lots of benchwork, it's been quite a bit of waffling since then. I've probably put up and taken down more supporting benchwork than most people who build multiple layouts have, but then again, I guess I can consider what I've done the past year my "chainsaw" layouts, I just didn't have any track to take up too. The other thing I paid attention to was during these visits was use of space. Two of the layouts were in finished basements that were very well done, while the other two weren't, they were just in basements. One of these was a little more partitioned then the other, but again, I didn't feel the aesthetics were any less in those than  the other two when looking at and examining the layout themselves. And since I operate on one of the layouts regularly that's in an unfinished basement, you again don't notice the lack of finished ceiling and such too much when running the railroad.

So what does all this have to do with anything? Well, I've been back down in the basement, cleaning things up, making some measurements to see if potential changes could fit, etc. It also motivated to get moving on the bathroom and bedroom I was stuck in before as I'm almost done the bedroom and the bathroom has a ceiling again and one wall. Doing a little bit here and there, I'm hopeful all of that can be completed in the next few weeks and then in October I can get back to the layout since time will be short come January for me.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene, Ruts, and Getting Back in the Saddle

What an eventful week it's been. First, an earthquake in central Virginia for which I felt the affects in my house in NJ and even had some cracked drywall tape joints. Then Irene comes of the coast and while I was prepared, thankfully, at least my house, nothing of consequence occurred except for me draining the pool then when I turned it on last night I forgot it was on backwash. I did remember about 10 minutes later, but I just dumped more water into my yard and my neighbor's. I hope others have come out of it in just as good shape, although I know New England has a lot more damage than I think anyone anticipated.

So we're closing in on the end of the summer and the state of affairs for the layout are pretty much where they started the summer at, a lot of empty benchwork staring at me every time I go into the basement. DIY projects around the house and a temperamental 2 year old have really taken the energy I had going into Memorial Day out of me. I know most would chalk it up to it being the summer and doing things outside, etc., but that isn't me. I can't stand being outside in the summer. I have a pool and have barely used it. I don't even like doing any yard work during the summer (a necessity, but I root for droughts so I don't have to mow). So I couldn't put my finger on it. I know, there were/are the bathroom and bedroom projects going on, but even then, when I would be waiting on things to dry or whatever with those, I had zero desire to go to the layout area.

Last weekend I helped my neighbor move some things in and out of his finished basement. While doing that, it hit me why I have no desire to go into the basement, the space, in cleanliness and appearance, are very unappealing to me. Part of this is the "bleed" of  staging into what was to be my workshop/storage area. After reexamining how my neighbor divided up his basement, I realized I need to do the same between the layout area and the storage/workshop section, similar to his separation between finished area and storage/utilities. Friday, while putting in a new sump with backup in just confirmed this need. I could barely move around. I had built two shelves on the wall I constructed between support posts for staging, but had to move all the tubs of junk I had there over and never put them back. The other thing that I kept looking at and realized after cutting the backdrops is not separating a cutting area from staging is going to result in dust all over those shelves, well, at least a lot more than the unfinished space that houses the layout anyways.

So with that, I started looking at things. First, I realized I need to start using the attic for storage so we need to bite the bullet and get pull down stairs. We have one of those little dinky gopher-hole access hatches to the attic right now so we'll be looking at installing attic stairs over the next month or two. This will free up space in an alcove in the basement where bilco doors used to be that can be used for other storage and/or tools. Things like Christmas decorations and the like can be shoved up there and only brought out during the traditional December fight to get them up. Also, as our parents slowly retire/decrease the work they do, they start cleaning things up. This results in something coming into our home every visit. A box here, a bag there, a tub the next time. Next thing I know, I've got all the stuff I secretly hoped they'd just leave in their basement in mine. That'll go upstairs too and free up space.

Second, the staging area needed to be separated somehow from the area where there would be storage and my woodworking tools like the tablesaw or mitre saw. The big question for me was how to do that and still keep trains up to the length I wanted. I knew right off the bat I'd have to construct more walls in the basement. No biggie, except for the lack of any room right now. I also figured I'd follow my neighbors lead and put a wall up around the last post prior to the stairs. This would give me a nice corner to place drywall or wall covering against to act as a dust block. I played around with various designs, like a lift bridge in front of a door and some other things, but quickly came to the conclusion that, because of my HVAC ducts, I need the door closest to the outside wall on that side which meant no lift-out. So I played around and came up with a L-shaped staging design that left room to walk around it to get to the door to the workshop, access to the crawl space entrance and the alcove of storage. If done right, it could also have a dispatcher or small workbench and storage shelves under it as well. The result "room" for the workshop/storage/utilities area would be big enough to have a workbench and house the various tools and shelving units I already have with room to maneuver.

After coming up with the needs and solutions of the other halve, I then spent the down time with Irene flushing out the rest of the layout design. I put in the industries on the second level and rearranged a few things to make them flow better on the first. I've updated the Design page to reflect these changes and labeled the towns/switching areas. Moving forward, I'm going to try and dedicate myself to 15 minutes a night doing something, anything to move the layout going forward. With another little-one on the way, it's imperative to get progress going, otherwise, I can see myself not doing anything down there for the quite foreseeable future. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Still Here But Stuck in a Bathroom and Bedroom

Just a quick update. I'm still here but as the summer has gone, I"ve been doing lots of DIY housework which has allowed me zero time in the basement to work on the layout. I took almost 3 weeks of vacation over the summer thinking I could get all the things I"m doing around the house done in 2 of them and spend the other 1 relaxing and working on the layout. Needless to say, I should've taken 4 to get all the stuff done around the house! Anyways, I probably won't start on the layout again until late August or Labor Day weekend. The good news is, during my downtime from demolition on the bathroom and bedroom and the subsequent building up of insulation and drywall, I've gotten a decent revamp of the plan to make it simpler yet still operationally interesting. Hopefully when I get back to the layout, I can have a much better vision of where I want the layout to go so I can start putting down some track.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Layout Plan Update

I've updated the Layout Plan. I've decided the first level is going to be my industrial level, much like the current West Virginia Secondary is heavily laden with industry west of Dickinson yard, mostly chemical plants represented by the ones at Belle and Nitro. I also put a Brewery at South Charleston because, well, we all need a brewery on the layout. In addition, there's a small TV yard at the edge of Dickinson Yard and the town of Kanawha Junction is to represent Nitro and Gauley Bridge with the major industry representing the Silicon Metal Smelter in Alloy. I've decided the top level will have maybe one more larger industry, like a paper mill, and the rest will be mountain climbing and a coal loadout or two (and perhaps a few branches coming in as well. As I finish up a number of house projects, I'll get to tinkering with that plan and post it as well as maybe getting downstairs and finishing up the backdrop construction.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Nice Diversion

Every now and then someone on a mailing list or forum I subscribe to posts a design challenge. Chris Abbott, co-host of Model Rail Radio, put out a design challenge to its mailing list earlier this month on coming up with a design using the same square footage of a 4x8 sheet of plywood, but not necessarily just the square sheet. I took up the challenge and made a few quick decisions. I thought back to a thread on  The Railwire Forums where a poster was looking at some layouts and mentioned he saw a raffle layout made by making a few cuts on a sheet of plywood. I do not recall who made the layout but I believe it was a division of the NMRA as part of a fundraiser. It was called the Coal River Branch RR. Here is the drawing and completed layout as posted on The Railwire:

The overall plan is nice, but it has some rally tight curves. For my solution to Chris' challenge, I really didn't want too many grades or any over-under portions for each of construction. I used the same cutting diagram for the 4x8 sheet as shown below as the base of the design:
Of course, me being in N-scale, the layout design was done in it. It has a minimum radius of 14" which is only in the passing siding of the lower blob. All other curves are 15" or greater. All turnouts are #5 based on the FastTrack PDF dimensions. The major industry is a paper mill in the top blob with a brewery in the bottom one. Some other smaller warehouses and a team track are scattered throughout the rest of the layout on the ends of the sidings. Some influences I used (stole?) were:
So, since you've scrolled down this far, I guess I should post a picture of the drawing.

As you can see, you'd most likely need to have the back against a wall but access to each side. The overall size of the layout is 8x7 so a room of 11x11 would be a good fit, giving some aisle space around the edges.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Layout Progress - May 16, 2011

I realized I hadn't put up a new post in a while. Mostly that's because I haven't done a ton of work and I waffled somewhat, almost to the point of taking down the two decks and going with a single one. Luckily, I have a wise wife that said just build on what you got, stop over-thinking. So the progress that has been made so far is centered around backdrops. I cut up a bunch of pieces of hardboard (note to self, have Lowes/HD do this next time since it's very dusty) of various sizes and kind-of slotted them in around the layout. My dad then came over and helped put up a couple of them. Unfortunately, we over bent one and it snapped in our hands and another "dented" while attached. A third one is still up and going strong, but I'm probably going to take it down and go with putting the hardboard into the corners square and using aluminum flashing to round the corners. Here are some photos of the pieces sitting in place awaiting to be mounted to the benchwork.

I'm hoping I can get back into the basement over the next few weeks and get the backdrop up as well as do some more benchwork (more on that in another post).

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Layout Progress - March 27, 2011

I didn't get much more in the way of construction done on the layout, however, after talking with a few guys who have built multi-deck layouts, I decided to paint/prime the 2nd level. I was told that this would help in the lighting of the lower deck by reflecting the light back down. I spent the last few days of the week and some time this weekend priming the second level. Here are some photos:

There are just 2 layers of primer on the plywood but I think that should be good enough. If I had to do it over again, I'd probably prime prior to putting the 2nd level structure up. I also tweaked the 1st level layout design. Here's an updated plan:

I removed the power plant and put in a chemical facility. I also started to cut the hardboard for the backdrop. I'm hopeful to get that done over the course of this week and the upcoming weekend.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Layout Plan Updated

I've updated the Layout Plan, calling it version 1.0 (everything's been a 0.X up until now). Take a look at the Layout Plan page.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Layout Progress - March 14, 2011

This past weekend marked a milestone in this layout's building: the completion of all major benchwork. I finally built the helix base, something I've put off until plans were much more finalized.

The base is just 2x4s with the center space being 24"x24", just large enough to pop-up in. The bottom is about 30" off the floor so it'll be a crawl into, but hopefully after construction those instances will be few and far between. I then connected the center peninsula with the wall-mounted benchwork on this side of the layout:

I hadn't posted a picture before of it, but here are two pictures of the new section of benchwork for the psuedo-nolix/loop/straight climb area for transition between decks:

I'm debating on whether or not to paint the frame of the second level white. I've heard that helps to reflect light for the bottom level. I'm just not sure I want to put the effort in if it's only a minimal gain. If anyone has experience, good or bad with this, let me know. After that, it'll be running the bus wires for each level and cutting up the hardboard I bought for the backdrops.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Staging Compromise

Sometimes the ideas are right there in front of you but you just need someone to give it to you straight. And there's nothing better than getting that from someone who's well versed in pseudo-prototype route creation in an IM session around midnight. After some much needed refocusing, I came through my series of IMs with Ed that the line I'm representing would really only have enough traffic to support the line itself and would not have the quantity of "run-through" traffic I was trying to build staging for. For me, this meant my manifests would be 1 from each direction to terminate/originate on layout. If an extra is needed, I'll have an extra track in staging to use during operating sessions. I also looked at the other "special" type of trains like TOFC/COFC, coal, multi-levels, etc. I came to the conclusion that only one each of TOFC/COFC, multi-levls, and a grain train (due to the importance of agriculture in areas my layout's line would go through) in both directions would be needed. As for coal trains, I have areas for 4 trains so I figured the empties for this should be accounted for off-line, unless I have an online customer like a power plant. For the makeup of the train, I was thinking of something like this:

Direction Start End
East 6 6
West 6 6
On Layout 8 8

For more detail on the break down, I have a Google docs spreadsheet. What this lead me to was developing a 6 track staging yard with a 7th track for extras or continuous running. Here is what I came up with:

Each of the stub ended tracks is between 110" and 104" and there are three that are continuous that are obviously longer. Mirroring this on the top and bottom levels will give me the 6 staging tracks plus 1 extra to meet the operational needs. Also, like my post yesterday, I decided to do the run around the layout again. Here was that breakdown:
  • Overall Time to travel staging to staging: 12 minutes, 5 seconds
  • Percent time on actual operating layout areas: 93%
  • Percent time in the loop area: 27%
  • Percent time to stage train: 7%
So the on-layout time to run across the layout from staging to staging is similar to the mid-run helix plan, this one has all but the time it takes to stage the train at the end of the run on the actual layout. Now all I need to do is connect the turnback loop climb with each staging yard and I should be good. Oh, and my next "progress" update will have some exciting developments I think.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

So I've reached the point in my benchwork construction that I really need to have a firm plan/vision of where I want to go with the layout when it comes to things like staging, transition between decks, etc. To this end, I had developed what I call a simplified plan, which is linked to on the Design page of this site.The one thing I kept looking at there was that the helix took up quite a bit of real estate and a good portion of a run across the layout. As a result, I started playing around with some other types of designs, looking at ways I could climb between the decks and still get a decent length of run and avoid the helix in the middle of the run. I actually found my inspiration in Tony Koester's Allegheny Midland and a layout it inspired, John Saxon's Cedar Valley Short Lines. It was actually the flow of John's peninsula that led me to look at how I could achieve the same transition between levels on my layout and also have some interesting switching opportunities and separation of the lines. Here was the plan I came up with for this transition:

As you can see the two levels enter from the left with the lower level closest to the table edge and the upper closest to the backdrop/stud wall. Only one loop is used and placing the transition between levels closest to the backdrop, I was able to get the switching opportunities without sacrificing the 18" minimum radius I'm trying to keep on the layout. The total length of the mainline (blue track) on this section is at 612" or 51'. Having to rise about 12", if all other elevations are kept where I think they should be, would result in an average grade of just under 2%, not too steep of a grade and is comparable to that of the helix. Of course, I could increase grades here and there to give more variety, but you get the general idea. The other result of doing this type of design would be to move staging below the lower level and use a helix to go to and from staging. The thought I had was that this would allow a greater, visible, "on-layout" run over the helix mid-run plan I linked to above.

To confirm this view, through the power of running trains in XTrackCad, I ran an engine at 30 scale mph from the probable starting area in staging to the probable finishing area in staging for each plan. I did a straight run through, no switching or stopping in the yard or waiting on opposing trains. If the results had come out clear one way or the other, you'd be reading about the finishing of benchwork instead of reading a post on what do I do now? Here are the results of the Helix mid-run plan:

  • Overall Time to travel staging to staging: 13 minutes, 10 seconds
  • Percent Time on actual operating layout areas: 63%
  • Percent Time in Helix between levels: 32%
  • Percent Time staging train: 5%
So about 1/3 of the time spent on the layout is spent climbing between decks in the helix. As a result, the other plan has to be better, right? Well, not exactly:
  • Overall Time to travel staging to staging: 23 minutes
  • Percent time on actual operating layout areas: 51%
  • Percent time in loops area: 15% (note, this is included as a direct comparison to the helix above)
  • Percent time in Helix going in and out of staging: 48%
  • Percent time to stage train: 1%
So the overall run across the layout has increased, but that is misleading. The time from exit staging to enter staging was approximately 12 minutes, 30 seconds for the helix mid-run plan and 11 minutes, 50 seconds for the loop/helix to staging plan. That was not the type of run across the layout I was going for, as it moves the time someone has their train hidden from roughly 4 minutes on the mid-run plan (solely in the helix transition) versus 11 1/2 minutes for the helix into and out of staging. What I guess this is trying to tell me is I'm really SOL'd no matter which way I want to go or try to find a way to have the loop and open staging, perhaps using the area I keep using for the helix. If anyone else looking at the planes I've posted over the past year here or these two ideas now have thoughts or guiding questions, please, by all means, throw them out there. I'm at the point now in my benchwork, I need to construct the helix base and tie the floating peninsula to the wall benchwork so this is something  I really do need to get a handle on as I don't want to bring stuff back down again.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Layout Progress - February 17, 2011

Call this the one step forward, two steps back update. As you may have noticed, I haven't updated the site on progress much this year. Quite frankly, it was from a lack of anything substantial to report. For some reason, after the holidays and all the family stuff was over, I was not motivated to go down into the basement to work on the layout, even though I was so close to being ready to lay subroadbed. It kept gnawing at me on why this was the case. This past weekend I finally faced the music on why, the layout was too large for myself and too large for what the family needs from the basement.

Our house does not have a garage and the only additional storage available to me, at this moment, is a shed that's already filled with outdoor items. As winter took hold, some of the outside things that should be kept inside and out of the elements made their way downstairs. At first, these things were put off to the side or stuffed in a corner. After putting up Christmas lights, they were moved around to various other parts of the basement. As I started work on redoing the staging area, all of this extra stuff in addition to what was already down there, kept getting in the way. I realized I spent more time moving things around then actually building anything. I also realized that even though the drawn up plan said I'd have enough space for my table and miter saws to actually use, I found I didn't. So with that, I took my cordless drill and disassembled the two peninsulas/free-standing sections that allowed the layout to grow to far side of our basement. As you can see, the "left peninsula" and long area by the stairs are no more.

So this also meant a refocus on the layout plan. I honestly used someone's plan as the basis for my new design as they were kind enough to send it to me when I asked. I also took bits and pieces of other plans I've seen elsewhere, including Model Railroaders' current series of Bay Junction for the junction town for the mine branch as well as borrowing something Tony Koester did for his Allegheny Midland with the Coal Fork Extension by having the branches "continue" past their on-layout tipples, effectively double the number of mine runs possible. I've updated the Design page with the latest plan which I'll work towards. I am tinkering with a slight modification in that instead of staging being out in the open and using a helix to transition between decks, staging would be on a shelf below the layout and the transition between decks would be through a series of on layout loops over a "peninsula" created against the wall with the support posts (left-side of the design). So now it's onwards with some reconstruction to connect the remaining peninsula with the helix base, complete the helix base and then on to starting to run some main wires and going from there.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Layout Progress - January 23, 2011

Happy New Year everyone! It's been over a month since my last post and while there were a few steps back, progress has been made on the benchwork construction. After having a few people comment on the closeness of the tops of my peninsula supports to my HVAC, I trimmed the tops of the 10 supports closest to the ducts. I then started to rebuild those sections. After really looking at my staging plan, I decided to redo it and just go with looped staging down the dead-end peninsula on the other side of the basement. Here's the plan so far:
As a result of this, I rebuilt four supports to account for the 18"/19" of support needed for the throat area of the staging yard. With the holidays and such, it took me a little bit of time to do all this rebuilding. I had also been putting up the front bracing across the layout. I've made pretty good progress and really only have the areas I took down to rebuild to put the bracing on. The other item I have left to do is the supports for the staging loop on the middle wall side (bottom right in the picture above). 

I've also started taking off the top joist on my peninsula supports. I started looking at the vertical separation and realized I was at about 11 1/2" between the middle joist and the top joist. I believe I had originally come up with these separations when I thought I would be putting staging on top of the layout and didn't want to risk limited space between the top joist and the ceiling. As I looked and started to mock some things up, height wise, I realized that that is probably not going to be a good separation, especially for a mountainous railroad. So, after looking at some other layouts and photos I took of multi-deck layouts, I realized I didn't need a "permanent" valence, so I started taking the joists down.  I'm already like the small section I did. I may leave the valence on around the walls, however, since I'm unsure if my C bracket will be as strong if I make it an inverted L-bracket. Well, here are pics of the 5 main aisle-ways.
Right-side aisle with yard area on the right.
Front aisle. You can see the valence posts gone.

Non-staging dead-end aisle.

Left aisle

Staging aisle
For the rest of this week and this upcoming weekend, my goal is to get the front bracing up and done, including the supports for the turn-back loops. I'm hoping I can find a truck to borrow and get some decent weather so that I can get plywood and start on subroadbed or hardboard for the backdrops for this coming weekend.


Welcome to the my Conrail Model Railroad site. I will document the research, design, construction and operations of my N-scale model railroad based on Conrail's Ft. Wayne Line in Ohio.

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