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Thread: MetroRedLn's UP Vallealmar Subdivision Layout

  1. #21
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    Default Bridge Over Modeled Water (Winter 2014 Layout Party Entry - Part 6)

    Made some great progress the past couple weeks!

    For the past...oh nearly four years, my mainline track hasn't been 100% permanently caulked down. The last holdout is the track in front of my layout, which goes over a deck bridge that spans the flood control channel. Without the channel finished, I can't permanently glue down my track. I made a deck bridge out of styrene years ago, and
    it largely sat in place, not glued down, while it also waited to be painted. Finally, I was able to spray paint the bottom a mix of grimy black and stainless steel, and then weathered it a bit with rust color.

    So here's the bridge, finally ready to get glued down...





    ...And now the bridge is finally in place! I can go forward with my trackwork!



    Then I fastened down the track with adhesive caulk (Since my track here is a mix of C55 ME Concrete Tie Flex Track and C55 Atlas Sectional and Turnout track, there is a .020" difference between the two -- the ME concrete tie track had higher ties. I fixed this by tracing the general tie outline of the Atlas track on .020" sheet styrene with a pencil, and cutting them out with a scissor, then gluing them down on the roadbed as a "riser" for the Atlas track to sit upon. For the turnouts, I also drilled a hole under the throwbars to accommodate a Tortoise switch machine. I masked the area around the styrene "risers" with painter's tape and sprayed Testor's gray primer over it, since my ballast will be gray and I don't want any white styrene to stick out. I should have just painted the risers before I caulked then down, but the masking method turned out well and my room didn't smell like enamel paint for very long (I pointed a fan at the painted risers to speed up drying).

    Then I caulked down the track, made sure it was nice and straight, and voila...)! A landmark moment for my layout!



    And today, I finally finished landscaping the banks of the flood control channel, painting the foam base with my own earth brown color, spraying wet water over it (I masked the concrete channel with painter's tape to keep it safe), and sprinkled sanded tile grout (Polyblend "Bone" color, available at any Home Depot), and fixed with droppings of diluted Mod Podge matte medium. Then I sprinkled some WS green and yellow grass and put some WS bushes in. Since I'm modeling California, I can't put too much green in, so I just sprinkled it where the terrain was low to simulate where grass and bushes would grow where water would accumulate. The bushes were put right at the bottom of a hill, where water would roll down when it rains.

    I was debating whether to just let it dry before removing the painter's tape. But I was too excited to see how it looked, so I removed the tape even though the glue hadn't fully dried. Good thing I did, I discovered that some water and matte medium seeped down into the modeled water channel , so I cleaned it up with a warm damp paper towel. Phew! It's been a while since I did this kind of scenery!


    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
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    Default The Coast Starlight Rolls Through Town!

    I went through all my Kato Amtrak hi-level cars and realized -- I have enough for a Coast Starlight!
    So here it is, Amtrak's Coast Starlight -- albeit re-routed through the Tehachapi Loop, Bakersfield and the fictional UP Vallealmar Subdivision en route to San Luis Obispo to re-join the regular route:

    Last edited by MetroRedLn; 24th Jun 2014 at 02:19 PM.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
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    Default A Little Track Surgery



    A few days ago, I was looking over my track and realized it I added a second crossover track on my double-track main line, I could totally expand operational possibilities on my layout. But like everything on my layout, it's not just a matter of doing it, but it's a multi-step process. For instance, I chemically blacken my track, so that also means I have to wash my Atlas code 55 turnouts, dip them in the blackener (I use the plastic blister from the original retail packaging as a shallow basin for the blackener (I use Blacken-It)), wash again. But most of all, I was worried, after doing such a great job with the trackwork the first time, I might mess up and ruin the job I made.

    Then I watched a bunch of track-cutting videos on You Tube, and found one, made by this little kid, who whipped out the Dremel and started cutting the track on his layout. Then I thought, "Man, if this little kid could do it, why can't I?" I did cut track with a Dremel before but it's been several years. And unlike last time, the track I need to cut was already caulked onto the layout.

    One of the tracks was a turnout that just got replaced with one facing the other way. I fit on the tracks and overlaid the other turnout on the track I needed to cut. I marked the exact location with blue painter's tape. I used a cutting disk on my Dremel, and used the Flex-Shaft attachment so the cutting disk comes down at a right angle, and cut the rails, just barely before the tape line. Then I used the flat end of the cutting disk and gently pushed it towards the end of the rails until the tape line. Then I did the same for the other end of the ME flex track that needed to be removed.

    The result was a success!




    Well, a near success, I'm having minor problems with certain locos (the Kato GS4 is extremely picky, my diesels seem to not have any problems) and cars with the top track of the crossover going straight through the switch; some trains would occassional split the switch, which is incredibly annoying. Part of the culprit might be the fact that I don't have much of a transition from the curved track just before the top turnout, and partly because of Atlas' design of their C55 turnouts where one of the point rails is slightly bowed and slightly narrows the track gauge. I filed the side profile of the point rail and it's helped a little.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
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    How did you get the joiners on without pulling up the track?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dwwojcik View Post
    How did you get the joiners on without pulling up the track?
    On the flextrack, I remove about 3 of the plastic ties (they can pop off or slip off the rails) and set it aside. Then I slide the rail joiners on to the rails all the way until the entire joiner is through the rail, place the turnout down in line with it, and with needlenosed pliers, slide the rail joiners down towards the turnout rails. Then I take the removed tie piece, and cut off the molded "spikes" off the first tie, and slide the ties under the rails, with part of the joiner over the tie that had the "spikes" removed, and then with a tweezer or small flathead screwdriver, I pop the other two ties back on to the "spikes."
    Last edited by MetroRedLn; 19th Feb 2016 at 04:54 PM.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
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    I forgot that my layout had its own thread. I recently shot this video of a UP Intermodal, a local and an Amtrak train on my layout. The UP and Amtrak trains are led by locos sporting new LED headlights/ditchlights I installed (the P42 has working ditchlights). I was able to shoot this video using my phone mounted on those grip tentacle tripods. It was actually perched above my mainline - fortunately I was able to position the tentacle tripod so that it provided enough clearance for my doublestacks


    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
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    I forgot I made a thread for my own layout! It's been over 2 years since I last updated it!

    Just want to share that my 4x8' layout turned 14 years old this week!

    How It Started:



    The humble beginnings of the UP Vallealmar Subdivision, when it was just a flat plane of blue extruded styrofoam in November 2006. Yes, that's HO scale sectional track - I used that as a template to mark down the track plan and create 18" radius curves. The outline of the HO scale track is roughly the same as the outline of N scale cork roadbed, so it it all worked out.

    How It's Going:



    The layout today. The folded-dogbone track plan is an adaptation of my previous layout, a 4x12' HO scale layout in the same room. The setting of the old layout is the same, except it had shorter tunnels and a lower scenery-to-train ratio.

    Like Disneyland, the layout is never finished! But glad to have made decent progress in the past few months alone (the ballasted track near the hills and the re-coloring of the rock molds). The yard was laid in 2019 (with ballasting and dirt yet to be laid down) and the station and road scenes were done in late 2015. The town scene will be the last section to be completed. And in case you're wondering, yes, that is the Millennium Falcon parked in the town (a 1:165 scale Revell model).

    Also, I want to mention that I joined nscale.net just a few days before starting my N scale layout (my first in the scale; I was a new convert from HO), which means this is also my 14th anniversary here, and your advice, knowledge and hospitality helped bolster not only my enthusiasm for building my layout, but my love for the hobby as well, so thank you, all of you!


    Layout_2006.jpg20201111_234747.jpg

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles


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    Happy fourteenth anniversary to you and your layout!


    Wow, four-teen years!
    = > ÷

    ~ Moose (Co-founder of the Mt. Tahoma & Pacific Railroad, located some where in the Pacific Northwest)


    "Beware the Train of Thought that Carries no Freight..." "Reading is for morons who can't understand pictures..."

    Click Here to See Moose's Layout Thread

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    Thanks for the update! I like what you are doing, and you are doing it so well!

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    You know, of course, that now @Moose2013 knows of this layout, you must not fail, at your own peril, to post updates.

    I would appreciate them too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    You know, of course, that now @Moose2013 knows of this layout, you must not fail, at your own peril, to post updates.

    I would appreciate them too.

    The reason why I haven't posted about my layout here that much is the whole image hosting thing...In the early days, I used Photobucket, but after they got stingy with their free hosting, I just stopped doing it. I post my layout updates on a Facebook page I made and share that to various N scale FB groups. But I also read this site and a couple other forums regularly.

    I've since discovered I can upload pics to the post, and grab the URL of those images to embed them in the post as images so they don't just appear as tiny thumbnails. This was my first time using that "hack," so I'll be doing that from now on.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
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  21. #32
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    Default Splendor in the Static Grass, Part 1

    I recently broke down and bought a Woodland Scenics Static King static grass applicator. It was a pricey proposition for a scenery product - nearly the cost of a locomotive, but after much research, I figured if I wanted quality then I shouldn't skimp on this. A year ago, I bought a budget imported static grass applicator from a major e-auction site but was later told that the product was out of stock and they refunded my money. That applicator only used 2 AA batteries as power and I learned the more juice, the better the static charge, so I guess it was a blessing in disguise. I decided on the Static King because it offered up to 12v using an AC adaptor (9v w/battery). Either way, that's more juice than a pair of AA batteries, so I'm not going to be disappointed.

    A good 50% of my layout is made up of rolling hillsides intended to feature California golden grass, which means it would likely be the first thing people would lay their eyes upon once seeing my layout, so it's gotta be good.

    Along with my Static King, I bought one package each of WS 4mm grass, one in Straw (a golden grass color) and one Medium Green. I also bought separately two packages of Silflor 6.5mm Golden Grass, and 2mm WS Straw and Light Green static grass packages for short growths.

    I've seen it countless times on YouTube videos, so I decided to try my hand at this static grass thing. I started by applying grass to a small square of white styrofoam I previously used to test tile grout as ground cover.

    I started by grabbing a few pinches of WS 4mm Straw into the Static King hopper, and mixing in minimal amounts of WS 4mm Medium Green. Then, for my subsequent applications, I added more green and then green only to make for a gold-green transition. I skipped the large black anchor for the ground alligator clip, instead attaching it to a map pin inserted into the application area.

    The Static King has a small flathead screw to secure the sieve cover, but I didn't find this necessary, plus it was a major hassle to keep unscrewing and screwing back the screw - WS should have provided a thumbscrew to make the process easier. But twisting on the sieve cover securely was good enough and I wasn't in any danger of accidentally knocking out the contents. So shake shake shake I finally did...

    Here's the outcome:







    148867154_751388995501659_751610506042471681_n.jpg
    149230658_751389045501654_6512676951117151789_n.jpg
    Last edited by MetroRedLn; 17th Feb 2021 at 07:40 AM.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles


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    Grass stands up nicely! No visible matting or E.D.

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    I did the same thing.
    I tried a couple of the cheaper battery powered units and wasn't happy with the results.
    So I took the step and ordered one of the WS Static King machine along with the AC power adaptor (because I hate replacing batteries)
    and was quite pleased with the results.
    Last edited by Allen H.; 18th Feb 2021 at 10:05 AM.
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    Default Splendor in the Static Grass, Part 2

    The static charge continues!

    Made some DIY grass tufts by placing blobs of glue (Aleene's Tacky Glue) on parchment paper. Once dry (a day later), I pried them off with a small flathead screwdriver and glued them to my layout. The big square grass patch is one piece; I can pull off a tuft as large or as small as needed.





    Placed some grass tufts along this culvert wash bed. The three bushes are balled-up pieces of Woodland Scenics Poly Fiber.






    Added these grass tufts and Poly Fiber bushes along the roadside across from the passenger station. The hillside above will sport golden grass later on once I've fully nailed down my static grass technique.
    The retaining wall used to be one of the sidewalks on my old HO scale layout!




    Grass tufts along the road at the bend.





    My first attempt at California golden grass on my styrofoam Try-O-Rama. This features a hillside hiking trail, just like my layout's hills. I used a mix of Silflor 6.5mm Golden Grass (darker shade) and Woodland Scenics 4mm Straw (lighter shade).

    Was generally satisfied with the results; was concerned whether the grass would stand upright or lie flat or stand perpendicular to the contour of the hill. All three of those scenarios happened, LOL. I was told that gently running a soft flat paintbrush along the grass to make it stand upright. The grass at the base of the hill lay flat, but not a huge deal since that happens in the prototype world. I did learn that I should apply the grass in a small concentrated area and move the grounding pin around as I progress; I only had the grounding pin at the right side of the hill throughout the application process of this hill.




    Closeup view of the golden grass hillside and hiking trail.


    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles


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    Some of those grass tufts look like yucca. A few flower/seed pod stems rising 2 to 3 scale feet above the tufts would complete the picture. A few seed pods or pale cream colored flowers at the top of the stalk would be frosting on the cake. (Just sign me "CDO").

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    Great stuff. I love how you repurposed the HO sidewalk!
    Serdar

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    Quote Originally Posted by el Gato Gordo View Post
    Some of those grass tufts look like yucca. A few flower/seed pod stems rising 2 to 3 scale feet above the tufts would complete the picture. A few seed pods or pale cream colored flowers at the top of the stalk would be frosting on the cake. (Just sign me "CDO").

    Thanks, good idea. I'd probably have to use a darker green for that, but I'll look into experimenting with that.

    One of my other hobbies is California native plant gardening, and when I was making these tufts, I was thinking of doing a sideline business where I'd be making model scenery of California/western native plants and trees in N and HO (maybe O also) scales. I'd first need to master making a Washingtonia fan palm tree. No one has ever made a decent one on the market, and I haven't tried scratchbuilding one yet. I'm sure those would sell real well if I made a good-enough one.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
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    I am a believer in the notion of putting fine green ground foam down first, then the dried brown/gold static grass over that. This puts some chlorophyll down at the base of the plant and adds some tonal depth to the grass. I put the fine green down at the same time, just place it first and flood it with glue, then bring the static flocking while wet. I tend to think that the ground foam particles also help the static grass to stand up, as they afford surface area to which the grass can adhere (i.e. a grass blade can stand next to a foam particle and thus be braced by it).

    I don't know if this method is right for Cali-flora, though; maybe gold all the way through is right? But as long as you're in an experimental mode, you might try some permutations. Maybe WS "burnt grass" color (kind of olive) would be better, rather than medium green as a base layer.

    Hello. My name is Michael, and I am an ALCo - haul - ic.

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    Default Finish the Fascia First

    Time to lay down the static gr...Oops, gotta finish the fascia first! Drilled extra screw holes and added screw anchors in the foam, and then filled in the edge gap with WS Flex Paste.

    For the past several years, I've been having this fascia section hang on for dear life by four screws at the bottom. So I drilled more holes in the upper section and inserted screw anchors into the foam.




    Adding the screws to the fascia. Note the large fascia edge gap towards the top of the picture.



    I heard Woodland Scenics Flex Paste, among its uses, is great for fascia edge gap filling, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I taped pieces of parchment paper to the inside face of the fascia so the Flex Paste won't stick to it.




    Applied the Flex Paste to the fascia edge gap, and let it dry overnight.





    The next day, I used an X-acto to cut along the edge of the fascia.




    Then, I painted over the Flex Paste.



    The large fascia edge gap is now gone! This whole area will be covered by static grass (After this picture was taken, I applied a thinned wash of Raw Umber over the Tan-colored paint to blend it in with the rest of the hillside base color).






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