Friday, August 29, 2008

Step 3 - Tunnel work

It has been a little while since I've been able to work on this layout of mine, and today almost didn't happen either. This is due mostly to the fact that I still haven't figured out the "pulley problem." The system I designed isn't stable enough to hold the base and the ropes were cutting into the layout (all of which you can read about in my previous post). Well, I came up with a new plan, with Pamela's help of course, and it didn't work as well either. In the end, Pamela convinced me to forget about the pulleys and work on the layout for a while. Quite good advice!

So, I got back to the layout. The next step in building the layout is laying out the track bed. This wasn't exactly the most easy of steps, though from the instructions you'd think this was a piece of cake. It wasn't. The first thing I had to do was put the track back on and pin it down and make sure it was tight and a car could roll across it without problems. This took a while. After that, I was instructed to draw the outline of the track on the plastered parts, which are in the tunnel areas. Having accomplished that, I took the track pieces on the plaster off the layout and got ready to put the track bed down. The "track bed" is black foam-rubber that lays under the track. The instructions are gloriously simple and say, "lay the track bed down and glue it down." That sounds simple enough, right? Yeah, not so much. After some trial and error, I figured out that to make the corners, I had to cut the track bed at intervals and then cut the appropriate angles to line it up. After that, it was quite simple. So, now it's drying and tomorrow I will try out the ballast and some "scenic cement" work.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Well, everything waaaaaas going well....

So, I should have known things were going too well, especially given my involvement with the designing and building of the project. So, you may recall that I had the grand idea of a pulley system for storage of this behemoth of a project. Well, it worked, kind of...
Unfortunately, as you can see from the next picture, it has a small flaw. Ok, so it's not a small flaw; the entire plan was flawed. The angle of the ropes cuts right into the model. Obviously, that is a less than ideal outcome. So next weekend I get the privilege of redesigning the pulley system and then tearing out the current system for the new one. Good times! Maybe I'll even get to work on my train layout!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Step 2 - The Layout "Rises"

I only had an hour to work on the beast (as I've come to affectionately refer to it) this evening. Work got in the way; what a pain!

Anyway, the next step was to take the track that I had so carefully lain out and pull it apart in large sections and set those aside. Next I took out the 2" risers and laid them out on the base according to the track layout. These will form the base of the track for the first layer. At first I thought I was reading wrong because I thought, "shouldn't the first layer be on the base?" But I soon saw the genius of their plan.

The whole first level will be two inches above the base so you can form rock walls, streams, etc, without carving into the actual base which is only 1/4" thick anyway. That is really smart and will make the layout look much more realistic instead of carving something in as an afterthought. So I got the risers all placed and pinned in. Tomorrow I will glue them down to the base with foam glue. Obviously, Woodland Scenics suggested "Woodland Scenics' Foam Tacks" to pin the risers into place while the glue sets, but I used Pamela's sewing pins and they worked great. They even came a handy tomato which I'm sure the "Woodland Scenics" ones would not have included!

Happy Trails!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Step 1 - Building the base

So, I order the kit and it showed up on Friday. It was about 30 times bigger than I had imagined. You see, the aspect of this "project" I haven't discussed yet is the size. The layout is 4'x 8'. Yes I wrote that correctly four feet wide by eight feet long. 32 square feet. It's huge. Being that big, we knew we couldn't build it in any room in the house so it would have to be in the garage, but we've gotten so used to having a garage and parking in it that something had to done. So I came up with a plan. I designed a pulley system that raises the whole layout up to the ceiling when it's not in use. Yes, I designed it. Not only did I design it, I built it yesterday. I built the wood base and frame and the pulley system. See:

Having accomplished building the base, I set out on the pulley system. Doing that was really fun. It was mentally challenging as well as physically. Those of you that know me well know I'm not the most "handy" person in the world. "Handsy" yes. "Handy" no. So it was with some pride that I finished the first stage of my monster model railroad project.

Phase two began this afternoon as I began build the layout. The Woodland Scenics kit is really well done. It comes with nearly everything you need to build and it incorporates all kinds of different types of techniques and products that are designed to save hours of time. I was really disappointed, however when I opened the boxes today and found that some of the items were broken. A few of the foam boards were broken and some of the plaster "masonry work" were chipped and broken. I will call Woodland Scenics tomorrow and let them know. I will let you know what comes of that. The first steps were to layout the foam base, glue the four pieces together and then layout the track to ensure all the pieces are present and get a feel for the actual layout. All of that went very well. As you should be able to see. Cheeto thought the whole process was very interesting and hung around most of the day, though I have to say he was rather less than helpful. I did promise him that when the layout is all done I will let him walk all over it pretending to be a giant "godzilla" cat! Should be a fun day at the Shane home.

I've decided that I'm going to start a new blog to document the actual details of this whole project. That way I don't bore anyone who doesn't care about the techniques used to build trees for model train layouts. I will put the link up as I create it. Let me know what you think of my crazy new adventure.

My new all consuming hobby

Ok, so some of you (meaning the two of you that actually read this) know that I have a really bad habit of getting excited about a new hobby and jumping in all the way. I say "bad" habit because this usually involves a great deal of time and more often than not, a great deal of money. But as I've often said, "there are certainly worse things I could be doing with my time." That's how I pacify Pamela's exasperation (her word, not mine). Anyway, so for about a year now, I have been becoming more and more interested in model railroading. Some may recall my first attempt last Christmas with my "train village." I think it was a rather valiant attempt.

Since then, I have become more and more interested (Pamela says obsessed...) in the hobby and as such have learned a ton. Technically, I've learned a ton because all I've been able to do is study seeing as I haven't really had the funds necessary to go all out on a real layout. Did I mention it's expensive? It is. Much more expensive than I could have ever imagined, but more on that subject later. So I've been studying, a lot, and after we moved here to Washington I began to plan in earnest. I tracked down a good model railroading shop, read lots of blogs about it, and order manual after manual. I wrestled mightily with the choice of whether to build from scratch using my own design in my head, much like the christmas village, or go with a "starter kit." I finally made my decision after reading a very well written blog which convinced me to go with a starter kit. I chose Woodland Scenics River Pass kit because Woodland Scenics has a lot of cool products and techniques which I could try out on this project and see which ones I like and which I don't. The finished product is supposed to look something like this:

I guess we'll see. Anyway, having made that decision, I simply had to come up with the money. You see, this "starter kit" starts in the neighborhood of $800. I know, ritzy neighborhood. That puts my christmas village definitely on the wrong side of the tracks. Well, last week we got our claim check from the moving company for all the crap they broke in the move. Since we'd already replaced all of the items we needed I begged Pamela to let me have the kit. She, being the wonderful person she is, agreed. Actually, I think she likes it too, but don't tell her I said so or you'll get "the look." True story.

Follow along as I pursue this historic event.