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!

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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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