1 This is overall design of the layout. It's a three level mushroom design.The lower and middle levels are viewed from the aisles and the upper level is viewed from inside the center platform. The floor of the center platform is 30" above the room floor. The overall design of the layout is a 'loop to loop' with a long mainline run between the end loops. The lower return loop is in the top right corner and will be hidden under the large city. The upper return loop is above the helix next to the center platform. There is about 500 ft of mainline run between the lower and upper return loops.
2 The lower level. Most of the lower level is at 42" elevation. My freelance version of the city of Ogden Utah is located along the top/right of the lower level. In my freelance version of Utah in the 1950s, Pirates from the Great Salt Lake founded Ogden. ;)
3 The mainline exits the helix at 62" elevation on the middle level. About half the middle level is flat at 62" but then it starts climbing (2% helper district) until reachs about 80" where it crosses above the aisle into the upper level.
4 The upper level mainline track starts at about 80" elevation and levels out at 82" elevation. With the 30" high raised floor of the center platform it is effectively 52" high. The mainline enters a tunnel before reaching the upper return loop (with 5 staging tracks) which is above the helix. There is a branchline that splits off the mainline and climbs up to 88" (58" relative) to service a large industry (or town) above the upper return loop and helix).
5 Simplified bus wiring diagram
6 This is a 3D overview with the backdrops and terrain removed. The pink areas will be 1" rigid foam sheets.
7 Lowes delivered the initial load of lumber for the layout benchwork.
8 First I built a storage rack for the lumber....
10 Finally I moved all the lumber from the driveway into the garage.
12 This is what the train room looked like before construction on the layout started.
14 And then I started on building the 'center platform'.which makes the 'room within a room' of the mushroom layout design.
15 The benchwork leaning against the wall in the background was recovered when I deconstructed my old layout. I may be able to use some of it in the new layout,otherwise I will take the pieces apart and reuse the 1x4 and 1x3 boards.
16 Building floor joists to support the 30" high floor of the center platform.
17 One of the other projects was to seal off the windows. The windows exist only for exterior archictectural reasons and get in the way of the layout construction because there will be two levels of shelf benchwork crossing them. I first installed 2" rigid foam with reflective finish facing out and then mounted 5/8" plywood.
18 Furring strips around the perimeter of the window to be used for mounting the plywood.
19 You can see the 2" rigid foam insulation in the windows on the back wall.
21 Wide angle perspective showing the size of the center platform.
22 I have tied the joists together across the front (where the helix will be located).
23 The joists were spaced 24" on center so I can use the area under the center platform to store the large plastic storage tubs.
24 I have installed the 3/4" tongue/groove plywood floor and one of the center platform wall panels (1/2" sanded plywood). The wall panel on the right is just leaning against the stud wall.
25 The two 4 ft wide plywood floor sheets were about 3" short of making all the way to the near side of the platform here.
26 All of the center platform wall panels have been installed. I plan to fill in the 4" gap around the bottom at some point (probably before I install the carpet tile on the center platform).
27 The 5/8" plywood has been mounted.
31 I'm starting construction on the benchwork where the lower return loop and 5 staging tracks will be hidden under the large city. The lower level benchwork will be 1x4 open grid style.
32 Here's my open grid benchwork construction/assembly area in the garage.
33 I am using SPAX 1 3/4" hardwood/MDF screws to assemble the open grid benchwork).
34 Adding the second piece. The benchwork assemblies are bolted together with 1/4"x2" bolts and affixed the the wall stubs using 2.5" cabinet screws.
35 After the 3rd and 4th pieces were installed. The two larger openings in the benchwork near the corner are access points where I will be able to reach the back side of the deep (44") city scene (which will have a removable backdrop to provide access from the back).
36 The lower return loop will have a radius of 38". The 5 staging tracks inside the return loop will have radii: 35.75", 33.5", 31.25", 29", and 26"
37 I used 2x6 SYP (Southern Yellow Pine) boards as the main support beams for the upper level 'wings'.
38 There is 6' 3.5" clearance under the upper level wings.
39 I built the stairs to get up onto the center platform. I also started work on the lower level benchwork on the right side of the door. I wanted to get that benchwork area built to establish the 'traffic flow' around the layout.
40 The stairs are very solid.
41 The view entering the room.
42 I temporarily installed a piece of the old benchwork to the center platform to get a feel for how wide the aisle would be. With exception of a couple places (entry door way, stairs up to center platform) the aisles are 48" +- 2" wide.
43 The benchwork on the right is just temporarily mounted to get a feel for the aisle width.
44 Overall view of the work I accomplished in week one.
45 I rebuilt my benchwork assembly table so it's taller and more level. This makes it easier to produce accurate open grid benchwork assemblies.
46 I also finally got around to installing an L6-30 240V receptacle for one of the workshop's 240v 30AMP circuits. This allowed me to run the Grizzly 240v 2HP dust collectosr. I also started configuring my dust collection system. Right now I just have the vortex chip collector, miter saw (it's hard to tell!) and the floor sweeper duct hooked up.
47 The lower level benchwork along the right side steps down to allow the mainline to descend into the lower level return loop and staging that will be under the large city (which will be along the walll behind the photographer.)
48 The main division yard will be along the far wall. The benchwork is 30" deep along that wall. I need to install a bunch of support arms from the wall to the benchwork in this area.
49 I continuously verify level when building the benchwork.
50 Home Depot had their Ridgid MS1290LZA 12" sliding saw on sale for $299 so I bought a new miter saw. I will be keeping my existing Delta 10" miter saw to use as a chop saw to use for cutting the Closetmaid Shelftrack mounting tracks/standards for the middle level shelf supports. I need about 100 shelf bracket mounts for the middle level benchwork..
51 I was trying to decide how to support the middle level (shelf) benchwork. These shelf brackets are very sturdy, but the diagonal support struts intrude into the lower level 'airspace' and make it difficult to create a seamless backdrop for the lower level as well.
52 You can see how these brackets intrude into the lower level airspace.
53 This 'custom' bracket solves the problems of the previous bracket: it does not intrude into the lower level airspace and it would be very easy to install a seamless backdrop. Unfortunately (as expected) it has too much deflection when you place weight at the outside end of the bracket.
54 This is the Closetmaid Shelftrack system with a 20" shelf bracket (for the 24" deep benchwork). The bracket mounting 'track' comes in lengths from 12" to 84" and they have 12" 16" and 20" brackets. I cut two 5" lengths from a 48" track. In this configuration the 20" shelf bracket only intrudes about 3.5" into the lower level 'airspace' but the top of the mounting track blocks the middle level banchwork from mounting directly onto the face of the studs.
55 In this configuration the middle level benchwork can mount directly to the studs but the mounting track intrudes about 2" farther into the lower level backdrop. It seems to be very sturdy (Using Spax #10 2.5" screws to attach the mounting track to the stud). I'm going to try cutting the mounting track about 2" shorter to see if it's still sturdy enough when mounting directly onto the studs of the center platform. I'm pretty sure I will not be able to shorten the mount track for the middle level benchwork supports that will attach to the drywall walls around the outside of the room. The good news is that most of that benchwork is only 16" deep.
56 Working on the lower level benchwork where the main (classification) yard will be. The benchwork is 30" deep along here.
57 After I added the wall support struts.
58 Building more of the lower level benchwork around the center platform. I need to add wall support struts.
59 I have started building the shelf for the 4 track staging (and 'offsite' passenger train service facility) that will be located in the model workshop.
60 The wall studs were exactly where I expected them to be when I cut the opening of the model workshop staging track entrance from the train room.
61 At some point after the layout benchwork construction is completed I plan to go through the wall on the right and add a return loop in the woodshop/workshop. The return loop will be designed so it can lift up against the wall when It's not needed.
62 I wired and installed DPDT switches so the staging track can be selectively powered/controlled either by the 'main' layout DCC control or by the Zephyr in the model workshop. I also wired it so the closest track can function as a standalone DCC programming track
63 I'm also working out the 'kinks' on how I plan to use 5630 SMD LED light strips to light the layout.
64 The view from the train room looking into the model workshop.
65 I have completed the lower level basic benchwork. I will be installing 5/8" plywood and 1/2" homasote in the yard and engine terminal areas and 5/8" plywood and 1" Foamular 150 (pink) ridgid foam in other areas before I start to lay track.
66 The aisles are nice and wide. Hopefully the aisles will still seem nice and wde if/when I host operating sessions. :)
67 I need to start work on the helix infrastructure before I build the final section of lower level benchworkwork (on the left). I also cut and mounted the first/test shelf support for the middle level around the center platform. It is 1 1/2" x 3/16" right angle steel stock and it seems like it should be sturdy enough to support the middle level benchwork (24" deep). I need 24 of these supports.
68 I mounted some supports and a piece of 1 1/2" right angle steel bracket across the aisle to simulate where the track will cross from the middle level (nolix) over the the upper level (center platform).
69 I am starting to work on the helix and upper return loop support structure.The helix will be double track with 37.5" and 40" radius tracks and will connect the lower level at 42" elevation to the middle level at 62" elevation. The helix will have 4.5 revolutions to climb the 20" elevation change. The upper level return loop will be at 82" elevation.
70 The helix will have 4" rail to rail elevation rise per revolution. There is 6' 4.5" head room under the 2x6 support beams across the top.
71 The 2x4s that are mounted to the vertical columns will support a 3/4" plywood base that will support the helix.
72 The eight vertical support columns are lag bolted to the slab.
73 The upper return loop will be 40" radius and it will have 5 staging track loops inside of it.
74 The 3/4" plywood support base is perfectly level. I will use a multitude of different height riser blocks to provide the correct slope for the first revolution of the helix. Once the first revolution of the helix is complete with the correct slope I can use constant height riser blocks to build to next 3 1/2 revolutions. The helix will be built with 2 overlapping layers of 15/32" sanded plywood.
75 The vertical column in front of the helix will provide support for the upper level return loop and will also provide support for the lower and middle level benchwork. It is lined up with the outside edge of the lower level benchwork and the outside helix vertical support column. Th mainline track will come in from the right and curve to the right and enter the right side of the helix. The helix will climb in a counter clockwise direction and exit on the middle level headed back in this direction.
77 I need to add additional 3/4" plywood subroadbed to complete the upper level return loop.
78 I used 3rdPlanit CAD to try to figure out the optimal plywood cuts for the helix. The helix will be constructed with two overlapping layers of 15/32" sanded plywood and it will be 4.5 revolutions.The left option would take 36 1/4 arc segments and require eight 4x8 sheets of plywood. The middle option will require 24 1/4 arc segments and 16 1/5 arc segments and it would require six plywood sheets. The right option (1/3 arcs) will require 27 1/3 arc segments and nine plywood sheets (and waste the most plywood).
79 I built the lower level benchwork that connects to the helix structure.
80 Starting to work on the wall panels that drop from the ceiling that support the outside of the upper level benchwork.
81 Starting to work on the wall panels that drop from the ceiling that support the outside of the upper level benchwork.
84 Sept 7 2015 - I built the upper level benchwork on the left side of steps going up into the center platform. Because I had reduced the overall length of the center platform from 16' 6" to 16' to provide more efficient use of 16' and 8' lumber (I moved the center platform to the 'right' in the room in order to provide more aisle width near the locomotive service terminal) the 2x6 blocking I had installed in the ceiling no longer lined up with the back edge of this 24" depp upper level benchwork. Therefore I built this benchwork to be 30" deep in order to line up with the 2x6 blocking in the ceiling. All the other areas where I built walls from the ceiling to support the outside/back edge of the upper level benchwork lined up ok.
85 This is where the mainline track will cross above the aisle from the middle level nolix up into the center platform area.
87 I built this section of upper level benchwork that connects the two 'wings' that extend from the center platform the corners of the room.
88 And then I built/installed the wall panel that mounts to the ceiling and supports the outside edge of this benchwork.
89 Next I will install the 5mm panel to this wall assembly.
90 An overview of the center platform. I will also be installing wall panels from the ceiling to the edges of the 'wings' so the entire center platform will be closed in except for where the steps come up.
91 Sept 8 2015 - I finished the last wall panel that supports the outside edge of the upper level benchwork (between the two 'wings' that extend the upper level to the corners of the room).
95 Sept 20 2015 - Working on the shelf brackets that will support the middle level benchwork. These are ClosetMaid 16" shelf track shelf brackets that I am painting flat black. I need about 70 of them (one for each stud 16" on center around the perimeter of the 2x4 stud walls). I built a PVC stand to hang about 40 of them while spray painting outdoors.
96 Setup in the yard on the south side of the detached garage. The 'lawn' is very long because we had new sod installed in front of the house/garage and we have to wait about a month before the lawn guys can mow it.
97 The black spray paint is quite fragile so I had to do a little touch up after carrying the brackets inside.
98 These are the 1.5" steel angle brackets I fabricated to use as shelf brackets by mounting to the exposed studs around the center platform. I started with eight pieces of 72" long raw steel 1.5" right angle brackets. I used my old 10" miter saw and a metal cutoff blade to cut them into twenty-four 24" long pieces. I then cut off the front bottom corner (in order to try and avoid giving people lobotomies if they reach their head under the middle level shelf) and I used my bench grinder to smooth all the cuts. Next I drilled 4 holes in each (3 to mount to the studs, 1 to screw into the 5/8" plywood shelf). I then sanded the loose rust, cleaned with acetone and them applied a thick coat of Ospho. Ospho converts Iron Oxide (rust) into Iron Phosphate (a hard, inert substance). FInally I spray painted them flat black.
100 After spray painting flat black.
101 These are the Closet Maid double track shelf mounting brackets I will use to mount the 16" shelf brackets to the drywall/stud walls. I started with five 84" shelf tracks and cut each of them into 5" segments. I then used the bench grinder to grind all the cuts/burrs smooth. Finally I drilled 2 mount holes in each one. I plan to make 5"x1.5" pieces of 1/4" plywood to mount between the 5" shelf bracket and the drywall walls. I plan to use two 2.5" Spax #10X screws to attach these bracket mounts into the studs.
102 After spray painting the 5" bracket mounts.
103 I mounted the middle level shelf brackets to the center platform studs.
104 Given the wide span across the corners of the center platform, I plan to fabricate and mount pieces of 1.5" steel right angle brackets to the bottom of the 5/8" plywood to help support the plywood (prevent sag).
105 October 18 2015 - I have mounted all the Closet Maid wall tracks and 16" shelf brackets into studs to support the middle level.
106 I ended up installing 70 of the 16" shelf brackets. I used two Spax 3.5" 10x screws to mount each 5" track through the drywall into the studs.
107 I also cut access holes into the 5/8" plywood panels that cover the windows. If necessary I will be able to cut through the 2" foam to access/unlock the windows and then we can open the windows from the outside for maintenance purposes.
108 I had a cat helping to mount shelf brackets.
109 I have begun installing the 19/32" plywood that will form the base shelf for the flat terrain areas of the middle level. I will install sheets of 3/4" Foamular 150 rigid insulation on top of the plywood. I had planned to use 1" Foamular 150 sheets however only 3/4" is available in Florida (unless you want to special order a case of 48 sheets).
110 One of the engineering challenges I had not solved was how to support the corners of the middle level shelf around the center platform. With just the right angle brackets mounted to the exposed studs there was considerable deflection when you pull down on the 19/32" plywood. I have decided to use one of these 13"x20" heavy duty brackets for each corner. I created a 13" 2x2 out of a 2x4 and mounted it on the INSIDE of the plywood wall of the center platform and then I used three 2" 10x Spax screws to screw through the plywood into the 2x2. Then I used 3/4" screws to mount the bracket to the 19/32" middle level shelf. It is very sturdy and the shelf does not deflect at all. I started thinking about how I was going to mount the coved concave backdrop with the bracket in the way and I realized that when I'm ready to mount the backdrop I should remove the shelf bracket, mount the coved backdrop so it's touching the plywood wall corner, and then mount the shelf bracket to the backdrop. I can paint the shelf brackets the same sky blue as the backdrop.
111 I designed the nominal track height of the middle level (62") so that it's just an inch or two below my eye level so it will put me "in" the layout when operating the layout.
114 The middle and right side of the lower level here will be a locomotive (steam and diesel) service facility. If you look close you can see I drew in the approximate location of the 130' turnatable and 12 stall roundhouse. Because this area is much too deep to reach the back sections the two wall panels behind this area are removable (each panel is held in place with 6 wing nuts).
115 Nov 22 2015 - Building the wall panels and coved backdrop for the upper level 'wings'.
116 I will install a 5mm plywood panel on the outside of the upper level wing and 1/8" masonite for the backdrop on the inside of the wall panel.
117 Eventually I plan to paint the layout wall panels the same off-white as the room wall color.
119 I installed an 8ft length of the LED strip lights I have planned to use for the lower and middle level layout lighting. It's two parallel strips of 2835 LEDs (60/meter). They don't put out quite as much light as I was hoping. I will try adding a third row and if that doesn't provide enough light then I may go to 5630 LED strip lights (which use twice the power as the 2835 LEDs). This was a test of both the LED strip lights (mounted at 30 deg from horizontal) and a test of the backdrop paint colors. Update: I noticed the 20AMP 12V power supply I was using was only putting out 11.4 volts and it had a switch to change between 220v and 110v AC input and it was set to default 220v input. After switching it to 110v input the power supply put out 12.4v and the LED lights became much brighter.
120 This photo shows the LED strip lights and the room T32 (6500K) fluorescent ceiling fixtures on. The room lights are clearly brighter than the layout LED strip lights because you can see a much brighter area across the front of the benchwork where the room lights are hitting.
121 Nov 23 2015 - I'm working on building/installing the wall panels and backdrop for the rightside upper level 'wing'.
123 As expected this aisle area became noticeably darker after I closed in the upper level wings and blocked those two fluoresecent light fixtures. This area is currently lit with a single 4ft dual T32 fixture. I will probably replace it with a quad 8ft T32 fixture and see if that 'fixes' the room lighting situation in this area.
125 The ultrawide 10-22 lens can make for interesting perspectives. I need to patch/sand the screw holes and seams and then paint the backdrops.
126 I use many different sizes of Spax t-star screws....
127 December 31 2015 - My original goal was to have all the basic benchwork completed and the lower/upper return loops and helix track installed and functioning by the end of 2015, but that didn't happen. I have completed 98%+ the benchwork and I also installed most of the lower/middle level lighting.
128 I have started construction of the large steel bracket that will support the middle level 1x3 benchwork above the city where the middle level nolix track crosses the aisle and heads up into the upper level. The piece of wood crossing the aisle shows the planned relative height of the track crossing the aisle. I have ordered a 96" long 3" wide by 1.5" tall steel A-36 U channel which will be used to simulate a (long) plate girder bridge to span across the aisle.
129 This is the view from the upper level where the bridge will cross over the aisle to the middle level 'nolix'.
130 The middle level will have a 'nolix' along the outside wall to climb from 62" to the upper level 82" elevation. The track will be climbing along this stretch of middle level benchwork until it's about 14-15" above the benchwork.
131 I have also started experimenting with installing coved backdrop corners for the lower and middle levels. I'm using 3/16" hardboard/masonite for the middle level fascia.
133 I have also completed the 1x4 upper level benchwork in the upper level 'wings'.
135 You can see the LED light strips I am using the light the lower/middle levels. I am using 2835 LED strips and I mount 2 rows of LEDs to 30 and 40 degree mounts that I rip from 2x4 studs. Each 2x4 creates 4 mount pieces. The yellow/orange 12GA wire is the LED lighting power bus. I am using four 20AMP 12V power supplies to power the LED lighting buses.
137 The basic layout of the tracks along the main division yard.
138 There was a single 4ft dual T32 fluorescent fixture on the ceiling here which was not providing enough light so I replaced it with an 8ft quad T32 fixture which provides much better room lighting (although it overpowers the LED layout lighting).
140 In areas where the middle level is built with 5/8" plywood and 3/4" foam and supported by Closetmaid 16" shelf brackets I have to run the power buses wires over the shelf brackets. Ugh. In areas where the benchwork is 1x3 or 1x4 open grid I can run the bus wires through the benchwork boards (much better).
141 You can see the LED lighting power bus running through the benchwork.
146 You can see some of the 40 degree LED mount boards sitting on the left side benchwork. For the middle level nolix benchwork I plan to install 5" tall hardboard fascia to the 1x3 benchwork and then mount the LED mount boards to the back of the fascia that will light the lower level.
148 This is what the LED lighting looks like before installation. I wire the two LED strips together so it needs only one power connection.
149 The LED light strip power connection. I use Scotchlok 'suitcase' connectors to connect to the 12V LED layout lighting bus wires.
150 Upper level left-side wing
151 Upper level right-side wing
153 With the room lights turned off.
157 Jan 3 2016 - I finished building the steel bracket that supports the middle level benchwork where the mainline nolix crosses over the aisle as it heads up to the upper level. I have also started cutting and dry placing the 3/4" plywood subroadbed for the lower return loop and staging tracks that will be hidden under the city (Ogden). Once I am happy with the layout of subroadbed before screwing it down I will use it as templates to cut 1/2 homasote roadbed. This task has also forced me to figure out exactly how I am going to support the plywood base of the city above the hidden return loop (as well as how the detachable backdrop behind the 42" deep high rise city scene will be built/installed.
158 This benchwork projects 48" from the wall and the top of the 1x3 benchwork is 77.5" elevation.
160 Working on laying out the subroadbed for the double track mainline as it climbs a 1.3% grade and emerges from under the city.
161 Placed the board that shows the span where the mainline crosses the aisle on its way up to the upper level.
163 I also installed a conduit over the door to allow me a shorter run for electrical cables/busses as an alternative to going all the way around the outside of the room. I considered trying to run the conduit inside the wall but this wall is a load bearing wall (with lots of extra blocking), it has all the plumbing for the bathroom, and it has a bunch of electrical. So I took the ugly path of less resistance.
164 I finished installing the layout lighting LED strips that light the lower level. Note the "start climb" notation on the left. This is the point where the middle level nolix starts the 2.0% climb up to the upper level.
165 Showing the newly installed LED layout lighting sections with the room lights turned off.
168 Jan 10 2015 - I painted/sealed the homasote subroadbed for the lower return loop. The color is Behr N200-3 "Nightingale Gray". In the top left corner you can see a train crossing the aisle on the "plate girder" bridge that will be used to cross above the aisle into the upper level.
170 I created a 1:1 scale design proposal for a control panel for the hidden lower return loop and staging track. The red squares represent momentary switches that will toggle the turnout position. The green circles represent 5mm bicolor LEDs that will indicate the turnout status (closed/thrown). The red circles represent 5mm LEDs that indicate occupancy zones. It also shows where the track is gapped. The control panel would mount about 7" above it's current location once the plywood/foam base for the city is installed.
171 The lower return loop double track mainline will exit a tunnel portal at the bottom left of this photo. You can see where it will transition from the homasote roadbed to the Woodland Scenics 3/16" foam roadbed about 3 feet from the exit of the tunnel.
172 I used caulk to cover the drywall screws and seams in the homasote roadbed of the yard area. After caulking I painted it with the Behr Nightingale Gray to seal it.
173 The loco service area in the lower right
175 I finally started laying track (In the lower return loop). The track is Atlas code 100.
176 I'm using Peco code 100 large insulfrog turnouts in the lower/upper return loops. They will be controlled by Tortoise motors (which will be controlled by NCE Switch-it mk2 stationary DCC decoders with fron panel toggle buttons.
178 The 8 ft long "U" channel raw steel bar that I plan to use to cross aisle into the upper level was delivered last week. It is 3" wide and 1.5" tall. I plan to glue a section of 1/2" homasote into the U channel to use as roadbed. This allows the train to be clearly visible as it crosses approx 80" above the floor but still (hopefully) provides some ability to "catch" wayward trains before they make to death fall to the floor. I need to get the raw steel sanded and painted soon to avoid it rusting (of course some rust might be appropriate as 'weathering').
179 Jan 19 2016 - All the track for the lower return loop and staging tracks has been layed. Now I need to install track feeders and connect them to the track power bus.
182 Each of the 6 loops of track is an occupancy zone and each of the 2 turnout ladders is an occupancy zone so there are 8 track bus wire pairs. I ran out of combinations with a white wire so I ended up using a blue/silver wire as #8.
183 Jan 24 2016 - The lower level reverse loop and staging track have been wired for DCC track power and tested with 3 locomotives. I have also begun to work on the DCC infrastructure in order to test the track installation.
184 The next step is to install the Tortoise motors to drive the turnouts and the NCE Switch-8 + button board to control the Tortoises. I will also be installing the RR-Cirkits BOD-8 and FOB-A boards to handle the occupancy zone detection and LED status display.
185 This is the 'remote' booster #2 which provides track power for the lower return loop and staging tracks. The lower return loop is driven by a DCC Specialties PSX-AR to handle the reversing nature of the return loop. Booster #2 weill also drive a DCC Specialties PSX-4 which will eventually handle 4 other track power districts.
186 This is the main layout control panel. The Digitrax DCS-100 which is main 'brain' of the DCC system is located here along with two Digitrac DB-150 boosters. The DCS-100 will not be used to power any track. One DB-150 will provide power/control for all the turnouts on the layout and the other DB-150 will drive a DCC Specialties PSX-4 and power/control 4 power districts. There are also four 20AMP 12v power supplies which power the lower/middle level layout LED lightstrips.
187 I'm using a Digitrax PS2012 to provide power for the DCS-100, and two DB-150 boosters. Booster #1 will be connected to the PSX-4 in the top left corner to provide DCC track power for 4 power districts. The turnout control booster will be connected to a power bus that will power/control all the turnouts (~100) on the layout.
189 Feb 24 2016 - All twelve turnouts in the hidden lower return loop/staging track have been hooked up to NCE Switch-It mk II (one Switch-8 and 2 Switch-its).
190 A Switch-It on the left and the Switch-8 on the right. Behind the Switch-it on the left is the mount location for the RR-Cirkits BOD-8 and FOB-A occupancy detection/display boards.
192 This mockup photo shows how the hidden lower level return loop control/status panel will sit between the 1x4 benchwork and the city base (5/8" plywood and 3/4" foam). It will be recessed so hopefully the turnout toggle switches won't be inadvertantly hit very often.
193 There will be about 6" of clearance beneath the city base (5/8" plywood, 3/4" foam) to the hidden lower level return loop and staging tracks underneath.
194 I'm figuring out how the RR-CirKits BOD-8 and FOB-A boards work by testing them 'off layout' on my workbench before I install them on the layout. I need to solder eight 82 ohm 1/8 watt resistors on each FOB-A board for the display panel occupancy status LEDs. I learned that if the occupancy zone is LARGE (like all 60+ feet of flex track in 4 staging tracks plus three turnouts in model workshop staging yard) then the occupancy detector will 'detect' empty track unless the sensitivity POT is turned almost all the way down. Once I reconfigured the detector coil to detect a single track the BOD-8 started working as expected.
195 I installed a RRampMeter inline with the Digitrax DB-150 booster track power output to measure the voltage and current being consumed. This RRampmeter needs to be calibrated because it displays 0.16 amps even when no current is present.
196 March 18 2016 - I've been working on installing backdrops and coving corners on the lower level for the last couple of weeks. I was unable to get the 1/8" masonite to consistently bend sharp enough for the inside coved corners around the center platform so I ended up using cheap formica to cove these corners. Lots of spackling, fairing, sanding. I'm not very good at making perfect drywall joints so this task is tedious.
197 Coving the corner with 1/8" masonite.
199 I hit the masonite with 80 grit sandpaper using a palm sander before installing it on the layout to knock down the glossy finish and help the paint adher.
201 I painted the panels on the right before installing them to see what the 'sky' blue was going to look like with the layout LED lighting. I think it looks good and will look better when I drybrush on some clouds/haze.
204 After priming the coved corners. This is the corner where the double track mainline (foreground) is descending into the hidden lower return loop/staging track and a branchline (behind) is climbing to service the city above the hidden return loop.
205 The primed coved corner where the double track mainline enters the division point classification yard area.
206 Primed lower level backdrop with coved corners around the center platform.
212 Two issues here:
#1) The plywood that covers the window opening is recessed back from the drywall about 1/8"-3/16". Do I just paint the plywood the backdrop sky color or do I install removable 1/8" masonite panels and then paint them?
#2) There's about a 1/16"-1/8" 'dip' in the homasote between 22" and 9" that needs to be filled/leveled before continuing to install the mainline foam roadbed.
213 The double track mainline descending (1.4% grade) down into lower level return loop and the branchline climbing (1.5% grade) up to service the city above the lower return loop.
214 March 20 2016 -- I have started painting the base 'sky' blue on the lower level backdrops/background. I have also installed coved corners in the the outside corners of the middle level. I'm starting to spackle/fair/sand the coved corners before they are ready to prime/paint. The middle level along this section is part of the 'nolix' that climbs from the middle level default 62" elevation up to the upper level at 80" elevation. The middle level on the right will be a canyon wall with bridges and tunnel and will have terrain the reaches with a foot or two of the 10ft ceiling.
215 I'm not very good at drywall finishing so it takes me a long time to get the fairing/smoothing done to my satisfaction.
216 The coved inside corners around the lower level center platform turned out great. You can see any seam at all.
217 You can see I have installed the coved corner for the middle level on the far (right) end of this aisle.
220 It's remarkable to difference some sky blue paint makes.
221 I'm finishing up the fairing/sanding of the last coved corner on the lower level and starting the process on the middle level above it. The unpainted area on the lower level is ready to prime/paint.
222 I also painted the two removable backdrop panels behind the turntable/roundhouse area. I still need to finish the 2x4 supports and PVC conduit on the middle level.
223 This is my first design proposal for the display/control panel for the helix. The mainline enters the helix on the bottom right and then splits into two tracks. The outer helix track (upward traffic) has a 40" radius and the inner helix track (downward traffic) has a 37.5" radius. There are 4 1/2 laps to the helix plus lower and upper entrance/exit tracks. Each 'lap' of each track will be an occupancy zone so there are 18 zones in the helix plus 3 zones for each of the entrance/exit tracks for a total of 22 occupancy zones.
224 This is my design for the hidden upper return loop and staging tracks. This is almost identical to the lower return loop except the upper return loop is a 'true' return loop with a single track mainline.
225 March 26 2016 -- More base blue sky being painted
228 This shows how the middle level needs some LED layout lighting so the backdrop sky color matches the lower level backdrop. And it show how much work I've got to do (later) on the upper level backdrops.
230 This is in front of the left window opening. The 1/8" masonite panel is removable and the seams on the left and right sides of the window don't stand out too bad....
231 The right window opening. The seams are a lot more visible.
232 Again this highlights that the middle level needs some LED light strips in this area to match the lower level lighting.
234 The sky backdrop on the left looks more purple than the other sky backdrops. It turns out the LED strips in that area are outputting 4400K color temp versus the rest of the LED strips outputting 3800K color temp. That LED strip will have to be replaced....
236 March 27 2016 -- Working on the 1/8" backdrop for the middle level around the center platform.
239 I coved the three corners of the middle level around the center platform using cheap formica.
240 Now I need to spackle/fair/sand/repeat all the seams and screw holes before priming/painting.
242 April 16 2016 - After spackling/fairing/sanding all the seams several times I primed the backdrop using Zinser 1-2-3 sealing primer.
246 April 17 2016 - After painting the middle level backdrop around the center platform. You can really see the difference in the much cooler color temperature of the LED strips on the level compared to the middle level backdrop.
247 The lower and middle level backdrop colors look slightly different right now also because they are picking up the pink/purple foam on the bottom level versus the light brown/tan of the exposed plywood on the middle level.
251 I painted sections of the 2x6 beams that support the upper level 'wings' the blue sky color where they project below the upper level benchwork. I will either leave them sky blue or possibly paint them (and the upper level benchwork) flat black at some point in the future.
253 April 30 2016 - I've been working on installing the double track mainline through the main classification yard area. The flex track has been glued down with clear caulk and track power feeders have been fed through to the DCC track power 10GA bus wires under the benchwork. Now I need to connect the track feeders to the track. I solder track feeders every other flex track connection (Approx every 6 feet).
254 Glueing down the track as it turns left near the loco service terminal area.
256 Continuing on towards the big loop around where the turntable/roundhouse will be located.
257 May 1 2016 - Gluing down the 3/4" foam around the center platform of the lower level.
259 I installed the foam roadbed for the mainline around the center platform lower level.
262 Gluing down the single track mainline behind where the turntable/roundhouse will be located.
263 The lower level mainline track has been completed all the way around the center platform and into the entrance of the helix.
264 The lower level mainline track has been completed all the way around the center platform and into the entrance of the helix.
265 The lower level mainline track has been completed all the way around the center platform and into the entrance of the helix.
266 May 8 2016 - I have started construction of the helix. The helix roadbed will be made from overlapping 15/32" sanded plywood so the roadbed will be 15/16" thick. There railhead to railhead height is 4" so there will be only 3 1/16" clearance between the helix levels. The outside track (upward) has a 40" radius and a 1.595% grade and the inside track (downward) has a 37.5" radius and a 1.69% grade. There will be 4 1/2 revolutions to climb from 42" to 62". This is the pattern I used to cut 1/4 arcs from the 15/32" plywood. I get five 1/4 arcs per sheet of plywood and I need 36 arcs. I tried cutting 4 sheets of plywood at once and the radial saw had no trouble but the jigsaw could not cut that many sheets at once so I cut two sheets at once with the jigsaw (and that was really slow).
267 These are the 3/4" plywood risers I made to establish the grade for the first level of the helix. There are 16 of them and they have 1/4" rise between each step.
268 Here I am gluing the helix entrance roadbed where it comes in from the lower level mainline. I have also (dry) placed all the risers overlapping 1/4 arcs that make most of the first level.
270 This is where the mainline track comes through the backdrop to enter the helix. I am fairing down cork roadbed in order to drop from the mainline track 3/16" foam roadbed down to the bare plywood of the helix.
271 Gluing the first sections of the helix plywood roadbed. Once I finish gluing the first level roadbed I will install both the inner and outer helix tracks and then I will install track feeders. And then I will install the next level of helix roadbed.
272 May 10 2016 - Gluing down the outside track of the helix.
273 The inside track has been soldered and dry placed.
274 I altered the turnout where the mainline splits into the inner and outer helix tracks from being a left hand to a right hand turnout to resolve two 'S' curves.
275 I installed a scrap piece of 1/8" masonite as a proof of concept/test for enclosing the helix (eventually). It seemed to be fairly sturdy but I may try a piece of 3/16" masonite to see how that does.
276 I test fit a couple more 1/2" plywood roadbed arcs to see how the spacing when the helix makes a complete circle and starts covering the lower levels.
277 A good use for cheap Publix root beer.
278 I installed a plywood panel where booster station #3 is located. Booster #3 will power a DCC Specialties PSX3 amd PSX-AR. The PSX3 has three power districts: helix, upper level left, and upper level right. The PSX-AR will power the upper level return loop and staging tracks.
279 I have started working on the helix trackpower bus infrastructure.
280 Each half of each track (inner/outer) of each level in the helix will be an occupancy zone. There are 4 1/2 laps/levels for the helix so there will be 18 occupancy zones within the helix (and 3 occupancy zones for each the helix entrances (lower/upper)) for a total of 24 occupancy zones. Each occupancy zone requires a track power bus. For the helix I plan to use 9 different 12GA wire colors (brown, gray, yellow, orange, red, green, blue, purple, pink) paired with white on the left half and paired with black on the right half for the track bus (18 total color combinations).
302 Only one injury during construction of the helix.
303 Wiring the track power in the helix. There are 22 occupancy detection zones in the helix.
305 Building the subroadbed along the 'nolix' that climbs @1.95% from the middle level to the upper level.
308 The exit from the top of the helix into the middle level.
309 All the mainline track has been installed and powered. Trains can now run all the way from the lower return loop to the bridge that crosses the aisle where the mainline enters the upper level.
310 I will be adding several service spurs around the center platform area of the middle level.
315 Middle level passing track.
317 The start of the 'nolix' climb from the middle level at 62" elevation up to the upper level at 82" elevation. The grade is 1.95% and will be operated as a disgnated helper district.
321 There will be a 3ft long trestle bridge in this corner of the middle level level.
323 There is 41" elevation difference (38" - 79") between the lower return loop and the middle level mainline where it reaches the bridge that crosses above the aisle into the upper level.
326 I had originally planned to butt join the backdrops in these two red highlighted corners of the upper level but I subsequently decided they would look much better if the backdrops are rounded/coved so I am reengineering these areas. I plan to finish the upper level backdrops before I start laying the upper level mainline track.
327 After taking out the backdrop panel for redesign/rebuild.
328 After installing the 1/8" masonite with rounded corners.
329 After installing the 1/8" masonite with rounded corners.
330 Dec 19 2016 - Still working on installing the 1/8" masonite backdrops for the upper level.
331 I am completely replacing the panel in the right corner to see if I can get a better/tighter fit to the ceiling.
334 Dec 28 2016 - Applied first coat of mud to seams and screw holes.
336 I have sanded the screw hole patches but the taped seams need to dry more before sanding and applying the second coat of mud..
338 Dec 30 2016 - I finished the backdrop prep and painted two coats of primer this morning.
340 A panoramic view of the upper level.
341 The slightly darker shade of blue for the upper level backdrops. I still need to cut in the very top near the ceiling. I plan to use white spray paint to create some 'haze' on the lower area of the backdrops.
344 Jan 1 2017 - After I spray painted some white 'haze' and removed the plastic sheets.
347 The left side upper level 'wing'.
348 The view of all three backdrop levels below the left 'wing'. Notice how the middle level is fairly dark in the corner.
349 The right side upper level 'wing'.
350 The view of all three backdrop levels below the right 'wing'. Notice how the middle level is fairly dark in the corner.
351 Jan 2 2017 - I installed LED strip lights for the middle level under the upper level 'wings'. This is the right side wing.
352 And the left side wing. I also added a short light strip for the lower level corner as there had been a dark spot there previously.
353 I am starting the cut and dry place the 3/4" plywood sub-roadbed for the upper level track.
354 There is a passing track on the mainline in the left 'wing'. The radii of the large curve area is 42" (mainline) and 44 1/4" (passing track).
355 Jan 5 2017 - I am starting to install WS faom roadbed for the upper level mainline and passing track.
356 There are three #8 turnouts along here (farthest to nearest: passing track return, helper engine pocket (for designated helper climb district), and Cache Valley Branch line turnout.)
357 Jan 9 2017 - Construction of the upper level return loop subroadbed is complete.
358 The upper return loop is at elevation 82" above the room floor and 52" above the center platform floor.
359 The upper return loop and staging tracks will have exactly the same turnout ladder configuration as the lower level return loop (mainline around the outside and 5 stagiung tracks on the inside).
360 There will be large agricultural facilities and small town (Franklin Idaho) 5" above the upper return loop track.
362 The 'Nightingale Gray' paint is still drying.
364 Jan 10 2017 - Paint is dry and working on the staging track turnout ladder layout.
368 January 13 2017 - Gluing down the outside return loop track (mainline). I use DAP Dynaflex 230 clear to glue the flex track. I tack down turnouts and Atlas rerailer assemblies.
369 Shows the relative height of the return loop from the center platform floor. The center platform floor is 30" above the room floor and the upper return loop is 52" above it (82" absolute elevation).
370 The view of the helix and upper return loop from the lower main aisle.
371 The Walthers #8 curved turnout and entrance tracks for the upper return loop staging track ladders. You can also see the mainline track on the middle level level below (20" rail-to-rail elevation difference - 62" vs 82").
372 Gluing down the first staging track loop. The second staging track has also been soldered and dry placed
373 The second staging track dry placed (not glued yet).
374 Gluing down the second staging track.
376 Jan 14 2017 - The track for the upper return loop and staging tracks is complete. Now I'm going to start working on the mainline track leading from the bridge over the aisle to the return loop. Note the lower return loop on the left of the photo. It is functionally identical to the upper return loop.
379 Looking from the exit of the bridge over the aisle along the mainline track. the first turnout to the right is probably going to be to service a cattle/hog farm/ranch.
380 Working on laying the mainline track out around the left 'wing'. There is also a passing track in this area I will be installing next.
381 You can see the roadbed for the passing track on the left of the mainline.
383 January 29 2017 - I finished installing the upper level mainline track from the bridge over the aisle around to the upper level return loop. I installed track feeders and the 10GA THHN track power bus as well.
385 The short track on the left is for a small steam engine service facility and endpoint of the designated helper district.
387 The bare sub-roadbed on the left will be the 'Cache Valley' branch that heads up to Franklin Idaho (above the upper return loop).
388 This is how I install Tortoise turnout motors when there is an obstruction underneath that prevents mounting them directly under the turnout points. In ths case (the Walthers #8 curved turnout for the return loop) the LED lights for the middle level forced me to offset the Tortoise mount.
389 An offset mount in one of the upper return loop staging track ladders. I ended up having to offset mount 4 of the 11 turnouts that make up the upper return loop/staging tracks.
390 A test/prototype of the upper return loop control/status panel. Once I am happy with the layout and functionality of the three control/status panels (lower return loop, helix, upper return loop) I plan to have nice etched plexiglass panels made.
391 Hinges out for access.
392 Back side of the panel. I still need to install the RR-Cirkut occupancy detection modules and status LEDs.
393 These are the turnout control boards (NCE Switch-8 mk2, Switch-It mk2, button board) that control the 10 staging track ladder turnouts.
394 Control station #3 controls/powers the Helix, Middle level center, upper level, and upper return loop.
395 I still have some wire tidying to complete. There is just barely enough room for me to stand/work in there.
396 Here's the 'hole' in the benchwork I stand in to work on the upper level turnout control components (If I can't reach from the control/status panel access hole).
397 I'm starting to add the 2x4 risers that will support the 3/4" plywood and 3/4" foam that will cover about half the upper return loop and provide the base for Franklin, Idaho 6" above the return loop track.
398 The diagonal 1x2 shows how the backdrop partition wall will line up. The upper level return loop on the right will be covered and on the left will be exposed (however it's 82" above the room floor so it won't be readily visible).
399 The 4ft level shows how much space there will be below the 3/4" plywood base/cover. It looks like trains on the staging tracks should be reasonably visible as they approach the fouling points (Atlas rerailers). I may install an LED strip to the bottom of the 3/4" plywood in this area to improve visibility of the staging tracks, but based on this view it may not be necessary.
402 Feb 1 2017 - I cut and placed the first piece of 3/4" plywood that will cover about half of the upper return loop.
403 After cutting and placing the second piece.
405 A view of the space under the plywood for the upper level return loop track.
406 Starting to work on the wall panels that the final upper level backdrops will mount to.
407 I have decided that I need to move the diagonal wall panel in about 2 1/2" to provide a smoother backdrop corner. This means I need to make additional cuts on both pieces of plywood.
408 I finally finished installing the 2ft carpet tiles in the center platform. The center platform floor is about 16ft x 10ft (on one end) x 8ft (on the other end). And the helix/upper return loop Blob projects into the space by about 3 ft.
411 Feb 4 2017 - The view of the new wall panels above the upper return loop as you enter the layout room.
412 The new wall panels above the upper return loop. The 5mm door skin panels are noticeably more pink than the panels that have been installed for over a year. I will be painting all these panels the light beige room color eventually.
413 You can see all the risers supporting the plywood base (and wall panels) above the upper return loop.
414 The exposed half of the upper return loopand staging tracks.
415 I plan to install 3/4" foam on top of the 3/4" plywood.
416 It's ready for the 1/8" masonite backdrop panels to be installed.
417 The Atlas rerailers mark the 'foul point' clearance locations in the staging tracks. As long as locomotives/trains don't pass the rerailer they will not foul the turnout ladder/mainline.
419 After installing the 1/8" masonite backdrop panels with coved corners.
421 The backdrop is ready for the screws and seams to be spackled/faired/sanded/repeat.
422 Feb 5 2017 - I built the 3/4" plywood subroadbed for the Cache Valley Branch line as it climbs from the mainline elevation at 82" up above the upper return loop at 88" (Franklin, Idaho). It's about a 40 ft run of track at 1.25% grade.
423 The mainline as it passes under the Cache Valley Branchline. The minaline will enter a tunnel right about here.
424 I also installed the Woodland Scenics foam roadbed for the Cache Valley Branchline. Here's where the brnachline splits off the mainline using a Peco Code 83 #8 turnout.
425 The #6 turnout is where a spur that services a coal mine facility will be located.
426 The branchline climbs as it heads out and back in the right 'wing'. The mainline is in the foreground.
428 The view of the branchline passing over the mainline as it heads up and over the upper return loop.
429 The connection for the branchline subroadbed to the plywood base above the upper return loop. There will be 3/4" foam insulation above the 3/4" plywood base.
431 Feb 7 2017 - Starting to patch/fair/sand the masonite backdrop.
432 Feb 8 2017 - First coat of primer.
433 Second coat of primer.
434 "Dancing Blue" sky color.
435 All the upper level backdrops have been painted the basic sky blue.
436 After spraying some white haze/clouds.
438 Feb 9 2017 - I installed the track for the Cache Valley Branchline. It's the track on the right here. The middle track is the mainline and the track on the left is the helper district service track.
439 The track on the left is the Cache Valley Branchline. It starts climbing a 1.25% grade here in order to get above the upper return loop/staging tracks.
440 The branchline uses the right 'wing' to climb up to Franklin, Idaho (above the upper return loop).
441 As the branchline passes over the mainline.
442 Feb 11 2017 - The 1" foam is glued down and seams are caulked. I have also installed a 2" tall 3/16" fascia to hide the edges of the 3/4" plywood and 1" foam.
443 It's ready to install the branchline and spur tracks that service Franklin Idaho.
445 I'm starting to work on installing the 5/8" plywood and 3/4" foam base above the lower return loop where the city of Ogden will be located. Because the city base is about 45" deep the backdrop in this area will be removable.
448 Installing the risers that will support the 5/8" plywood (and foam) city base.
450 I have installed the first 5/8" plywood base piece and now I'm working on fitting the (removable) backdrop 1/4" plywood panel.
451 Not a lot of clearance (5.5") above the lower return loop/staging tracks. But I can access it from inside (underneath) and outside.
452 I plan to build a large "high rise" interpretation of downtown Ogden in this area. The pirates from the Great Salt Lake who founded Ogden were very successful in attracting large multi-national banks and corporations with their programs of low tax and low levels of corporate governance. :)
453 Half of the lower return loop is still accessible by going under the benchwork and coming up in the large openings next to the removable backdrop. I will also be connecting the track coming thru the wall from the model workshop (offsite passeneger service facility, aka 4 tracks of passenger train staging) to the spur that services Ogden.
454 Painting the removable backdrop panel the base "Brilliant Skies" blue before installing it on the layout.
455 Feb 12 2017 - I have mounted the removable backdrop and painted the room wall the base sky color. Unfortunately the double switch wall plate and thermostat will intrude somewhat but there wasn't anywhere else feasible to mount them.
456 I've got the second plywood base section mounted and all the risers and ledger boards mounted for the next two plywood sections.
457 Risers and ledger boards mounted.
458 Two more plywood base sections cut and placed. I need to make some small refinements to one of the plywood sections before mounting them.
459 The city of Ogden will occupy this entire plywood base area (approx 90 sq ft).
460 After cutting and mounting the last two plywood sections I will start working on the backdrop panel that goes between the removable panel and the room wall backdrop.
461 Feb 26 2017 - I'm working on the risers, plywood sub-roadbed and Homasote roadbed for the track that connects the branchline in Ogden through the backdrop to the 'offsite' passenger train facility (staging) in the model workshop. The steel brackets that support the middle level benchwork are in the way relative to the original track plan so I modified the track plan such that the first turnout in the model workshop yard is a right hand turnout and it will come through the hole in the wall on a diagonal allowing the connecting track to follow the right edge (inside) of the lower level staging track loops.
462 March 12 2017 - I have installed the final backdrop panel and I have begun the spackle/fair the screw holes and the edge on the left side where the panel meets the room wall.
463 I have cut/placed the 3/4"foam sheets that will make the 'base' for the city of Ogden.
465 I built a tunnel enclosure and painted it flat black to 'hide' the inside of the layout benchwork behind the backdrop panel. This opening in the backdrop will be shielded (mostly) from view by a fairly large building.
466 March 18 2017 - I have painted the last backdrop panel. The edge between these two panels is more visible than 'ideal' but the panel on the right is removable from the back side and the left panel is positioned at an oblique angle which required a mitered cut. 1/4" luann plywood does not miter cut as well as thicker plywood.
467 Gluing down the next section of 3/4" foam.
468 I am going to have a 24"X20" removable section of foam that will allow me to stand here when I need access to the middle level above here for construction and maintenance purposes. I was originally thinking about having a permanent piece of 3/4" plywood here but then I realized using a piece of removable 3/4" foam would be a MUCH better idea.
469 The removable section with the 5/8" plywood underneath.
471 The view when standing in the 'removable' foam area on the benchwork.
472 The view from behind the backdrop of the lower return loop track and the elevated track that connects the city level track to the 'offsite' passenger staging tracks in the model workshop.
473 Here you can see the 'tunnel box' where the connector track goes through the backdrop on its way into the model workshop. The tunnel box is painted flat black inside and just sits on the 5/8" plywood benchwork on the left end and horizontal screws on the right side so it is removable.
474 March 19 2017 - After caulking the seams and painting the foam base. This paint color (Nightingale gray) is mostly to just hide the purple foam but it will also provide some color for underneath the track that will be installed directly onto the foam.
475 The lower return loop and 5 staging tracks.
476 I installed 1.5" tall masonite fascia along sections where I want access to the lower return loop underneath and 12" tall fascia where I can access the double track mainline from underneath the benchwork.
477 The removable foam panel that I can take out if I need to stand on the benchwork to work on the middle level above.
481 The tunnel portal for the double track mainline and entrance to the lower return loop will be located somewhere around here.
482 March 25 2017 - I have finished installing all of the track that will service Ogden (and connect with the staging yard in the model workshop). This area on the right will be a highrise downtown city scene with large buildings up to 40"-44" tall.
484 I combined two Downtown Deco 36"x2" warehouse flat kits along the wall as a proof of concept. I plan to have about 14-16 ft of narrow depth/flats warehouses/industries along that stretch of wall.The combined warehouse kit is 72" long.
486 There's plenty of space along the wall for more structures.
489 I ran a 12ga track power bus and a bunch of track feeders for all the track in the city. I also connected to the track in the model workshop and I was able to run trains in/out of the model workshop form the main layout room.
490 April 1 2017 - Starting to work on enclosing the helix. First I installed additional wood framing for mounting the 1/8" masonite panels.
491 This is where the helix display/control panel will be mounted.
492 I mounted additional vertical 2x4s to provide more support for achieving a smooth curve of the 1/8" masonite panels.
493 Mounting the first panel.
494 All the 1/8" panels are mounted andnow I'm working getting the screws counter-sunk appropriately in order to patch/fair them.
496 I needed to purchase one additional 1/8" masonite panel which is a different color than the original 25 panels I ordered whern I started the layout construction.
498 First step of patching/fairing the screw holes and seams.
502 The helix as viewed thru the opening where the helix display/control panel will be located.
503 April 5 2017 - Finished patching/fairing/sanding the screw holes and seams. Wiped it down with a damp rag and now it's ready to prime.
504 This is the current proposed template for the helix control/display panel.
506 After 2 coats of primer. All of the 'pink' wall panels will be eventually painted the same color as the room walls and the helix enclosure: Sherwin Williams "Gauzy White" SW6035.
507 2 coats of primer. I use two coats of Zinser primer on the masonite because the Masonite is very dark and it has a glossy finish.
508 Very white! I can't wait to paint all those pink wall panels.
509 After painting the enclosure the Sherwin Williams SW6035 'Gauzy White'.
510 After painting the enclosure the Sherwin Williams SW6035 'Gauzy White'.
511 I have removed these (removable) backdrop panels in order to paint their backsides the Gauzy White wall color.
512 I have removed these (removable) backdrop panels in order to paint their backsides the Gauzy White wall color.
513 April 7 2017 - Panorama photo from inside the enclosed helix.
514 I'm starting to patch screw holes and seams in the wall panels around the upper level in preparation for painting them
516 April 9 2017 - I've painted some of the wall panels that drop from the ceiling the room wall color 'Gauzy White'. On the right side here I have attached a strip (pink) on the end cap that I need to caulk and paint.
517 The view while on a 3ft step ladder.
520 I plan to install trim molding along the top of the wall panels at the ceiling joint.
521 I plan to install trim molding along the top of the wall panels at the ceiling joint.
522 April 13 2017 - I'm starting to work on the next upper level wall panels. Patching/fairing/sanding and then primer/paint.
523 I have six sections of track in the lower/middle levels around the center platform where turnouts on the mainline connect with service/spur track that will be mounted directly to the foam base. They require transition sections of roadbed to drop down from the 3/16" Woodland Scenics 'mainline' foam roadbed. I use cork roadbed for these tapered transition sections and they are 24-26" long. I will add caulk at the end of the cork to finish the transition.
526 April 15 2017 - I painted the next (right) section of upper wall panels.
527 It looks much better (finished) looking with the ugly pink panels painted room wall color.
528 April 23 2017 - I painted another section of the upper level wall panels. They are on the left as you enter the room.
530 I also painted the raw cut edge of the plywood base roadbed of the upper return loop and the perimeter 2x4 risers that support the plywood/foam base of Franklin, Idaho above.
531 Eventually I am going to have to decide what color I am going to paint the fascia masonite. It will probably either flat black, dark brown, or dark green.
532 The visible portion of the upper return loop and staging track loops. It's not visible from the floor of the main aisle.
533 June 20 2017 - When I needed to purchase more Foamular rigid insulation sheets for above the upper return loop Home Despot was out of the 3/4" sheets so I bought/used 1" sheets. The 1" sheets are much stiffer and they had some 'bowing' that I could not eliminate when I glued them down. Therefore I had to make 'cuts' though the slight hills in order to flatten them for track laying. You can see the 'cuts' beyond the turnouts.
534 Using caulk to smooth out the rough foam.
535 July 1 2017 - Before redesigning and rebuilding the mainline track as it exits the Ogden yard.
536 Theorizing how a #8 right hand and #8 double slip switch might work to provide a turnout leading into the Oregon Short Line.
537 After pulling up the old track and foam road bed.
538 Gluing down the Woodland Scenics foam roadbed using DAP DynaFlex 230.
539 I used the opportunity of laying another mainline track to flatten out a slight hump in the homasote for the mainline track.
540 Working on laying the new inside mainline track.
541 Installing the 'inside' mainline track.
543 Gluing down the new Oregon Short Line mainline track.
544 Gluing down the new Oregon Short Line mainline track.
545 The new double track mainline as it runs behind what will be the turntable/roundhouse area.
546 July 9 2017 - I finished caulking the edges/seams of the lower and middle level foam and painted them to hide the purple/pink foam insulation color. I also began placing the service spur track in these areas as well. I also painted the bracket that supports the middle level shelf. I need to install/paint the brackets for the other two corners.
547 I am using Micro Engineering code 70 track and Micro Engineering code 70 #6 turnouts for the service spurs. I still find the Micro Engineering track to be extremely difficult to get smooth flowing curves (compared to the Atlas and Peco flex track).
548 When I originally designed the layout I wasn't sure whether I was going to model Pocatello to Butte or the Oregon Short Line from Ogden to Cache Junction and the Cache Valley branch line. Since I chose Ogden/OSL/Cache Valley I subsequently redesigned the double track mainline as it leaves the Ogden yard closer to the prototype. This double track mainline represents 'West' of Ogden headed towards Nevada. The OSL turns off on the left side here. The 'right' mainline track is electrically isolated with a 16" stretch of 'dead' track and will be setup as a DCC programming track. The 'left' mainline track is electrically dead to minimize chance of locos running off edge of layout. :)
549 There will be two classification yard arrival departure tracks on the left here (As well steam locomotive server facilities).
550 Closeup of the OSL interchane Walthers #8 double slip turnout.
553 The outskirts of Brigham City will be located on the left.
554 I finished laying the track and turnouts for Franklin Idaho at the end of the Cache Valley Branch above the mainline upper return loop. I still need to fill in missing ties where flex track joints are.
557 Aug 4 2017 - I used a 12" piano hinge to mount the control/display panel for the helix area and I used a magnetic latch to hold it closed.
558 A wider view of the helix control/status panel.
559 The view of the helix with the panel door open.
560 I plan to locate the Laser 3 Modeling "John Murray & Sons Coal Distribution" craftsman kit in this location. I have installed the spur track that will service this facility.
561 It's an amazing model.
562 I have shaped/glued/wired all the Micro Engineering code 70 service/spur track around the center platform on the lower and middle levels.
563 It took quite a while to figure out how to shape the Micro Engineering track so it has reasonably smooth/flowing curves. I have also caulked/painted the remaining two shelf support brackets that support the middle levels on the corners of the center platform.
565 There will be numerous businesses/industries supported by the track around the cednter platform on the lower/middle levels.
567 The middle level with the exit from the helix on the left.
568 The outskirts of Brigham City will be along here.
571 A wider view of the lower and middle levels.
572 A wider view of the lower and middle levels.
573 Jan 5 2018 - I had a bit of an accident. :( I had some the buildings/structures I built for the previous layout on a bookshelf in the model workshop. The coal mine buildings were on the top shelf. There was a framed picture sitting on the shelf behind them. I bumped the book shelf and the picture fell forward knocking the Walthers coal mine kit 7ft down onto the floor. And then the picture/frame landed on the remains of the kit.
574 I have installed LED status lights for the PSX circuit breakers controlling the helix and middle level center.
575 I wired up all 24 occupancy detection coils for the helix.
576 I wired up all 24 occupancy detection coils for the helix.
577 Three RR-Cirkit BOD-8 block occupancy detector boards and three FOB-A LED driver boards for the 24 occupancy zones in the helix.
578 Three RR-Cirkit BOD-8 block occupancy detector boards and three FOB-A LED driver boards for the 24 occupancy zones in the helix.
579 The 'inside' of the helix status/control panel/door.
580 Gluing cork roadbed to transition from mainline to service siding.This siding will probably service a livestock facility.
581 Cork is glued and ready to start sanding/fairing.
582 Need to fair the cork roadbed down to the bare plywood.
583 This time I decided to use my Bosch hand planer. Much faster than hand sanding.
584 This time I decided to use my Bosch hand planer. Much faster than hand sanding.
585 Gluing down the code 70 Micro Engineering flex track.
588 Noticeable kink in the track as it meets the #8 curved turnout. I need to redo this track....
589 The exits from the curved turnout are ok.
590 After redoing the track and soldering the flex track to the curved turnout. Much smoother.
591 Starting to work on the lower helper district service track sidings.
592 I had problems with the track as it passed through the backdrop and changed from code 83 to code 100 and had a double gap for occupancy detection. I redid the track so it's much more reliable.
593 The new track
594 Headed the other way into the model workshop
595 The view of the lower return loop and 5 staging tracks.
596 I laid carpet tile under the helix.
597 I laid carpet tile under the helix.
598 I laid carpet tile under the helix.
599 I installed plywood subroadbed for the classification yard two lead tracks.
600 I installed plywood subroadbed for the classification yard two lead tracks.
601 I installed (removable) 1/8" masonite panels over the two wndow openings and painted the blue backdrop along this wall (finally!)
603 All the backdrops have been painted basic sky blue. It's about 400 linear feet of backdrop.
605 I installed a status panel for three PSX circuit brakers for booster #1.
606 I installed Tortoise motors and NCE Switch-It mk II boards with toggle switches to control the three turnouts for the four staging tracks in the model workshop.
607 I moved the Digitrax UR-92 radio receiver up next to the upper level return loop control/status panel (in the center of the room).
608 Jan 28 2018 - I decided I wanted a ice house/platform facility on a yard siding to provide ice for the reefer fleet. I wanted enough ice platform length to service 6 reefers and enough spur track length to handle 12 at a time. This required adding additional plywood roadbed adjacent to the two yard lead tracks.
609 Changing the track design at this late stage can cause some interesting benchwork work.
610 Gluing down one of the yard lead tracks.
611 Yard leads and reefer ice service track are done.
612 I finally got my order of 46 Peco turnouts required for the yard and loco service terminal (Along with 125 sections of flex track).
613 You can see the printed copy of the yard throat area I needed for reference purposes.
614 Starting to work on the yard throat. It's fairly complicated because of the two arrival/departure tracks and two yard leads having the ability to simultaneously work two different sets of classification tracks without interfering with the other yard lead.
615 The Walthers "Car Shop" building will be located here and can be accessed from the yard "thoroughfare" track.
616 There are two caboose tracks, the track that allows yard lead track #2 to access the second set of classification tracks, and the main classification yard ladder track that connect the yard lead tracks to the thoroughfare track.
617 Gluing down arrival/departure track #1 and dry placed arrival/departure track #2.
618 Gluing down arrival/departure track #1 and dry placed arrival/departure track #2.
619 Gluing down arrival/departure track #1 and dry placed arrival/departure track #2.
620 Feb 6 2018 - My technique for connecting track feeders. I bend the tip (~1/16") of the 22 ga solid wire and flatten it.
621 I place the flattened tip on the base of the rail.
622 After soldering. After the track is painted and ballasted the track feeder will be virtually invisible.
623 I have added a DCC Specialties "PowerPax" for the DCC programming track and a RRampMeter to show real-time DCC voltage and current to booster station #1.
624 Booster station #2 also has a RRampMeter and a 5V power supply for the two RR-Cirkits BOD-8 occupancy detection boards used in the lower return loop and staging tracks.
625 Booster station #3 has a 5V power supply for the five RR-Cirkits BOD-8 occupancy detection boards used by the helix and upper return loop/staging tracks. It needs a RRampMeter.
626 Booster station #4 provides power for the main classification yard and locomotive service terminal. It needs a RRampMeter.
627 Over the last month I have have systematically gone through all of my "era appropriate" locomotives to verify functionality, install DCC decoders as needed, configure long DCC addresses, lubricated as needed, test run, and added to JMRI DecoderPro 'Roster'. I have about 42 'era' plausible locomotives (as well as about 25 non era appropriate diesel locomotives (post 1959). In my world the Utah Railway will be running a couple 2-6-6-4 NW Class As and 4-6-4 Hudsons in addition to their 2-8-8-2 steamers.
628 Feb 10 2018 - I have started researching methods for weathering the track. The layout has about 1200 ft of visible track and 86 visible turnouts. Most of the videos show people using masking tape to cover the points and pivot points on turnouts to prevent them from getting sprayed in order to avoid electrical conductivity issues. After the spray paint dries they come back and manually touchup the masked areas with a paint brush. With 86 turnouts that would be tedious and I concluded that if I had a very precise mask object I could avoid the manual brush phase. So I created a couple mask objects using TinkerCad.com and my 3D printer.
629 The first attempt as slightly wide.
630 The second attempt fits perfectly.
631 Some people mask the pivot points but many people so it's not necessary.
632 I created a mask for the pivot points as well.
633 I modified the points mask to taper the areas that sit between the stock bars and the inside of the rails.
634 They seem to work great. The points mask works for both the Peco #6 and #8 turnouts, but the pivot mask geometry is different between the #6 and #8 turnouts.
635 After removing the masks.
636 I noticed all three of my Athearn RTR Gas Turbine Veranda locomotives bounced severaly when crossing the #8 double slip switch and they caused frequent shorts on the frogs of the Peco insulfrog turnouts. I measured the width of the wheelsets and found all 14 axles on the locomotives/tenders were out of spec/narrow on all three locomotives/tenders. Internet research showed I wasn't the only person who noticed that problem. So I purchased an NSWL 'the puller' and adjusted the wheelsets/axles so they are within NMRA specification and now the locomotives/tenders run MUCH better.
637 There are four geared/driven axles and four non geared non driven axles on each gas turbine locomotive.
639 Working on gluing down the 8 classification tracks in the main yard. The eight tracks vary from 174" to 218" inches long and they can hold up to 250 40ft cars or 205 50ft cars.
642 Working on gluing the last track in the yard.
643 I need to replace all the missing ties where rails were joined.
644 The 'car shop' facility in the foreground.
645 All the 'missing' ties have been placed.
646 All the 'missing' ties have been placed.
648 Starting to do some testing on weathering/painting track.
649 It's time to start making decisions on ballast color. Here's some of the samples I got from Arizona Rock & Mineral company.
650 Feb 19 2018 - I am redoing/replacing the double track mainline that circles behind the (future) turntable/roundhouse area. There were issues with the Homasote subroadbed and double gapped track so I decided for a complete redo. The new trackwork is much better/smoother/reliable.
651 Gluing down the new track.
652 The new track installed.
653 Still figuring out a 'formula' for weathering the track.
654 The first 'brown' paint I tried turned out to have too much red/orange for good 'tie' color so now I'm trying Rustoleum Camo 'Earth Brown' (which provides a much better tie color).
655 I'm trying to spray with the original reddish brown from a low angle on the side (rust on sides of track)....
656 And then come back with Rustoleum Camo Ultra Flat 'Earth Brown' from directly above to color the ties.
657 Feb 24 2018 - I have decided to go with a simple single paint color for the track weathering base. I found trying to get a consistently inconsistent rust color on the rail sides and then dark brown for the ties was not providing satisfactory results. I will do a base coat of Rustoleum Camouflage Dark Earth and then touch up later on to add rail rust and tie color variation using a brush or pen.
658 Close-up of the painted track
659 It took almost a week to finish the base track weathering on the lower level. My calculations indicate that's about 750 feet of the total visible track length of around 1200 ft. I would paint/clean for about 30 minutes and then air out the fumes for about 2-3 hours and repeat this cycle 2 or 3 times per day.
660 I noticed that the Rustoleum spray paint slightly melted the Owens Corning Foamular foam base even though the foam was thoroughly painted with Behr interior latex. It is very minor and it should not be a problem because it will be covered with ballast and misc ground cover materials.
662 From left to right - The classification track lead tracks, the double track mainline, and the branchline to heads up to downtown Ogden.
663 The yard area with the experimental rusty rail/dark brown tie experiment.