Saturday, July 20, 2019

More Benchwork Progress

I am finally test assembling the initail section benchwork for the layout. This gives me a 72X32 inch working surface that will underlie the most complicated trackwork and turntable. The tray table milk carton are there to support the test assembly. In order to get the legs and cross supports square and accurate, I will unbolt the L girders, build the supports and then re-assemble. There is a lower cross support to keep the leg assembies rigid. Like archeologists I will  carefully mark which leg and L girder now go together to ensure they go back the same way. The printer and PC are going on a lower stand before the final assembly.  I am working in fairly tight area hear so things have to move around for each step. The sections will have the 2 inch high full locking casters mounted after the legs are in place to bring the top of benchwork to bring the level height to 40 inches. This will clear the rolling storage carts that will go under the layout .
I am still playing around with baseboards. The advocates of foamcore over sheet extruded foam probably have the upper leg as I have no friends with an available pickup or large SUV to go 40-50 miles to the nearest Home Depot that sells 1 and 2 inch extruded foam. I can easily drive 10 miles to a Blicks Art Supplies and buy 40 X 60 sheets of 1/2 inch foamcore to form the baseboard in my mini SUV. I can laminate two sheets together to create a fairly sturdy 1" thick baseboard. The turntable pit depth problem will be solved by taking a 1/2 inch piece of plywood and mounting it under the lip of the L girder to support the pit and give me more than adequate depth. The turntable and engine shed are the focus or crown jewel of this layout representing Port Costa 1947-54 so everything must be designed around that feature.

2 40X60 sheets of half inch foamcore waiting for final completion of section C

I keep plugging along. I am designing the A section for along the wall perpendicular to the C section above and the connecting B section which may be suspended between the A and C sections.  See my earlier diagram posted in this blog. The A section will be similar to the C section in construction but only 20 inches wide.  It is about 56 inches long. 


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Benchwork Continued Part 2-Section C Almost There

It takes me about a week to do each major task in building the first section of the benchwork. I have now completed the two sides of the major section which I am tackling first. On my initial map it is section C. I intially thought it would be 30 inches wide but after laying out the trackwork using the free trial version of Anyrail I have had to conclude it will need to be 33 inches at the widest point. Fully assembled, section C will be about 32 inches wide. 1 X 2 screwed to the side for about 48 inches that need this width will probably work.

I finally bought a hand mitre saw for $11 at Harbor Freight so I could correct the mis-cut on one piece of the four poplar 1 X 3's  that will form the cross braces for the legs. I thought about how to attach the cross braces with my minimal toolset and working alone. It gave me a nightmare. So I will remove the legs from the L girders to attach the cross pieces and then somehow rebolt it together working slowly and carefully. I used carriage bolts for this very reason. I am carefully labeling legs and girders to ensure any minor offsets from perfect measurement will go together.
This is how it is supposed to go together when I test fit the legs after completing the L girders.
After the two leg and cross piece components are bolted back to the L girders I will raise the structure high enough to screw in the casters and raise the whole structure to the 40 inch planned height. 

I may work on the sub-roadbed after that and install the initial turnouts and connecting track for Port Costa to ensure my plans work. By then I also hope to have the turntable and pit built. Getting 1 or 2 inch pink extruded foam and transporting it from the nearest Home Depot that sells it (about 40 miles away) is proving to be a problem. No one I know has a pickup or SUV with the needed room to move the 96 X48 inch sheets. 

I am going to test using multiple sheets of 1/2 inch foamcore from Blick in 4 layers to give me the 2 inch base needed to accomodate the depth of the turntable pit. After I assemble section C I may find a way to provide a floor suspended from the L girders to handle the turntable pit depth problem and reduce the foamcore to 2 or 3 layers. I have some 1/2 inch plywood that may provide as suspended base.

Beyond that I have spent a lot of time thinking about section A which will be 66 by 20 inches. And also about section B to connect A and C. Currently this will not be a full benchwork structure with its own legs but rather a 1 X 2  structure supported from both A and C sections.  I have some 1 X 2 that was used to support the celotex baseboard of the old Padstow layout.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Benchwork Continued

Some of the paralysis has subsided. I finally committed to wood for the first section of benchwork, section C which is the largest. I went to my local Rockler and had them custom cut poplar planks and 4 36" 2X2 cherry legs to get me going. Expensive, yes about $100. I am not sure the remaining modules will be built like this but I am following Fugate's MRH Tomar philosophy to get me started. 

The wood is beautiful. Almost furniture like. These are photos of the first two L girders and legs. I am debating how to attach the legs with respect to the cross braces. 

Work area. Using wood tray tables as saw horses. L girder top is glued and then screwed to top 

First Girder done

First leg cross piece option

second cross piece option

Friday, June 7, 2019

Benchwork Paralysis Continues

Actually I have been thinking again about the custom woodwork idea. The price of cabinet grade lumber is steep these days but I am coming around to that as possibly the only solution that I can get accomplished. 
Along those lines I started to do what a modeler does when frustrated and build a model of part of the benchwork to give me an idea of what I would need to have cut.  
The attached photo is a 1 inch = 1 foot concept model of the benchwork section C on my plan.  It would be the largest of the sections being 30 inches by 72 inches.  The plan would be (harder to get) 1 X 3 or 1 X 4 wood for the L girder and 2 X 2 legs.  The lower strengthening  pieces would again be 1 X 3 or 1 X 4.  Note that the L girder that is in back by the wall is reversed. This section is 6 feet long and 30 inches wide. The height is 36 inches which allows for up to 4 inches for 1 X 2 cross pieces and 1 or 2 inch foam sub roadbed to reach the maximum planned modeling surface height of 40 inches. 
There are no grades in my trackplan. I plan on using a 1 inch foam as the basic line and adding another 1 inch foam that can be cut out to provide a little surface elevation relief and allow for the turntable depth.  
I am looking for stability and rigidity more than mobility. All wood pieces would be attached by screws.  It could be collapsed back into a pile of cut lumber when I need to move out. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

More on the Port Costa-WC layout design

More on the Port Costa-WC layout design
The design is a modeling display layout rather than an operations oriented replication of freight and passenger movements. Track arrangements at Port Costa an Walnut Creek replicate condensed track plans of actual locations. Avon is a bit more fanciful.  
I operate strictly with DCC fitted locomotives. Trackwork will be a mix of Peco Code 83 and Code 70, Micro-Engineering and possibly others. I have a good stash of Peco Code 75 that will suffice until their Code 70 turnouts are available. Turnout control is another issue. I am used to just hand throwing Peco turnouts. I feel it mimics a brakeman's job on a real railroad.  I certainly have no plans to power turnouts and create a wiring nightmare. Manual push pull controls are probably an adequate solution for me.
I am probably going to add a friends suggestion of a cart fiddle yard/staging connection at the end of Walnut Creek to allow for longer length and by making it double allow for turning a 3 foot train segment. One could look at that as a truncated homage to the original purpose of Port Costa as the southern terminus of the SP car ferry that moved all mainline trains across the Carquinez strait until a bridge was completed in 1928.  The ferry pier tracks would have been located coming off the outside of the curve in the lower right corner. I will possibly do a John Allen style bridge and mirror where it is marked Martinez, Sac , ROW (Rest of World) in the upper left corner.
Note the 5 sections/modules and their dimensions. These form the requirements for the benchwork sections.  Benchwork is my agony. Trying to find a way to create the support structure for the layout at a one meter height that will allow copious under layout storage space.  It is my big hangup and problem of commitment to one solution or another. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

My Port Costa-Avon SP Layout Soon to Start Construction

The ceiling in the previous blog post has finally been repaired and I am gradually moving back into the office/trainroom. 

This is the tentative drawing of a plan to fill a nine by eleven foot space of the eleven by eleven foot room with three of my favorite scences from near my home. The objective (and preference) is not to create an operations oriented pike, but model a set of scenes mostly for display of my rolling stock. Any SP Western Division trains Eastbound to Sacramento or Tracy and Westbound to Crockett and Oakland will be able to move only a few feet. What action there is would be moving a few cars to and from Avon and Walnut Creek.

This layout will be built on a series of removable tables not attached to the walls of my townhouse office and trainroom. The Walnut Creek module is freestanding with a two foot space between it and a wall completely covered with built in cabinets and bookshelves along with a wet bar. The design of the freestanding shelf/table like structures is still in flux. The height is limited to 40 inches at the sub roadbed surface. I plan to maximize storage of rolling stock, parts and painting supplies under the layout. I can no longer do any carpentry so the sub-roadbed will likely be a foam board of some type. Under the Avon side is a 28 by 48 inch workbench. That wall also has a 6 foot long window. and Avon yard will run in front of the window.

Port Costa with its 70 foot turntable small engine terminal is a favorite. I have tried to include as much of the trackage as possible but have had to resort to curved turnouts at both ends and considerable compression through shortened trackage. Outside the engine terminal trackage the turnout placement is fictional. The Martinez junction has been moved to the east end of Port Costa. Avon is a truncated small yard with the east wye leg omitted. Walnut Creek is shortened at the south end with about 500 yards missing. It is primarily to display the depot and railroad related structures I am building.

I have not sufficiently mastered any of the available free layout design or drawing software packages so my planning is stil pencil and graph paper.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The End of Padstow Mark 1

Rick Stein (of Padstein restaurant infame) is not involved that we know of. (UK joke.)

On the night of February 19, 2019 water from a rainstorm two days earlier had backed up on the flat roof of my townhouse and leaked through the roofing onto the sheetrock ceiling of my office and train room. A 4 foot by 4 foot panel of sheetrock detached from the ceiling and fell swinging down from the paper coating slowly. It did not hit the 2 foot by 11 foot layout based on the trackage at Padstow minus the long pier or my workbench. While the layout and workbench were intact, I was informed that the room would ultimately need to be cleared of furniture and fixings to repair the damage to the ceiling and repaint the ceiling after the external roof was repaired. It has been over 3 weeks since that disaster and unfortunately we have not had enough dry days in a row for the roof to dry out so it can be replaced by the roofers.

I have boxed and binned most of the train stuff from the room. But, alas, the time has come to tackle the rather poorly build layout. It was simpley a 2 X 8 sheet of fiber insulation board on top of supporting 1X2 boards supported by 3 wood TV tray tables. There was an 3 X 2 extension with a shallow manual turntable and locomotive storage tracks that did not exist at Padstow. Any actual storage or shedwork was done at Wadebridge where there was a Southern Railway sub shed.

The design really only afforded a place to pose or switch either my English prototype collection of postware Southern Railway and related 4 mm scale (00) scale or my growing collection of US 1947-54 US Southern Pacific passenger and freight equipment. It was built from an assortment of Peco Code 100 Streamline turnouts going back 15 years and older Atlas code 100 track with wider thicker ties. I have ripped out the turnouts. Much of the wiring was from a previous pre-DCC Great Western Brixham branch line terminal layout from 2003-2010.

It is not really a great loss and I feel no real regret at its demolition. It is almost and air of exultation that comes with an out with the old in with the new anticipation. The turnouts have been saved although their future is in doubt as new layout(s) when built will use more modern trackage components. If it is totally British in outline it will use new Peco Code 75 “bullhead” rail components when they become available. On the other-hand the first to be rebuilt could be to North American prototype track with Micro Engineering and new Peco Code 70 USA line components. I also have some Peco Code 75 flat bottom European HO track turnouts on hand now that have not really been used and may be used to augment the newer track. Flex track would be Micro Engineering code 70.

All the buildings from Padstow station area have been saved. If I get the energy I will build a separate 3 2X4 modular layout that can be stored when not in use to show of English Southern modeling efforts. This will happen only when there is a full range of Peco bullhead rail components available.

I am also thinking about how I can rebuild so that I can model the Walnut Creek station area on the Southern Pacific San Ramon valley branch and maybe the branch interchange at Avon Contra Costa. If I had the space I would start with the small engine terminal at Port Costa, the Sacramento/San Joaquin junction at Martinez and then the Avon yard with interchange to the US Navy Port Chicago terminal railroad as will as the San Ramon branch. Unfortunately this would probably depend on winning a substantial lottery prize. At my age (75) it is probably just a dream goal.

A more realistic proposal for my small 11 foot by 11 foot area is to remove the book cases in the office and put a new Avon/Port Costa shelf layout along the north wall at a 45 inch height. My office desk, PC and printer would go under the layout. The big chair will have to go and only a single roll-around office chair used. The office has to stay here as this is the location for the high speed ATT phone/data connection and the WiFi router. This modular shelf layout would have two tail tracks. One on the short 5 foot west wall and another extending 9-10 feet over the work bench on the east wall. This would be at the 45 inch height.

Along the South all in front of the built in cherry bookshelves, a new Padstow Mark set of modules would be built with a curve at the east end to get to a pair of storage/staging tracks in front of the windows and below the SP layout staging. The workbench desk would have to be replaced and move out.

As I do not anticipate full re-occupancy of the train room/office before the end of April, this construction effort will take place over most of the rest of the year with the goal of full operational track work by December 2019.