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Thread: The AL&D Short Line Railroad

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    Default The AL&D Short Line Railroad

    Well here is the first installment of the AL&D Short Line Railroad. Some background first, (I know, yadda, yadda,yadda… get to the pics). I built an N scale layout throughout High School. It was a small layout and pretty rough. But it was fun and I was able to use it for several projects in school. My family moved when I graduated and it could not come with us, (NY to FL). It was heart wrenching taking a hammer to the mountains in order to salvage what I could, (yes, I actually remember it). It all fit in two boxes. I promised myself that I would build a better one when we got settled.

    Fast forward in life 35+ years… College, Marriage, Son, Son in college, several Jobs, and Life in general. Every year the Christmas tree would come up and the trains, (LGB), would go around it. And every year I would swear I would build my layout. Last year, my wife bought me AnyRail and told me to begin my layout. Yea, she is a keeper!!!, (hence the AL&D; her initials). I decided on a 36"x80" hollow door, and designed a nice track plan. At this time, I revisited my old layout boxes. Umm, it was not pretty. 35+ years in the Florida heat… has anyone seen scenic lichen, plastic trees and models fused into a big ball? Yuck! My engines and rolling stock were just as bad. I made sure to pack my engines in foam lined boxes for protection. The foam disintegrated! #$%&*#$^@ . That sht was in every gear, nook and cranny. I salvaged some stuff, but not much. Time for shiny new toys. I moved forward and purchased the materials to build the bench work and built it in the garage. While waiting on the next batch of funding $$, I had an "Oh crap" moment. The board would not fit into the room where it was going to sit. The doors, halls, and windows were too small to fit it. Noooo! (Yes, I own and know how to use a tape measure. No, I did not think to use it until after the fact. Stop laughing!). Back to the drawing board, AFTER measuring.

    I came up with a 29"x60" plan. I did not want to attempt making a two piece modular layout at this time. So it was much smaller with more sacrifices, but I figured it is big enough to re-learn skills and once I get this one in the bag, I can design a bigger one, (the kid won’t be living home much longer… I hope). I started over with my new design. Money is still tight and I can only drop a little at a time. I actual created a spreadsheet with each stage of the build broken into $125 increments, (items needed, part numbers, price, where to get them, etc.). It is a moving document, but, it gives me a blueprint of where I am and what is next.

    The layout will be Atlas code 55 track. I like to watch the trains run more so than point to point or switching operations, hence the dual track, two train design. It will be DCC and manual thrown switches. It is a freelance era of mostly steam, (there WILL be a Big Boy seen on it from time to time. Yes I know the outer mainline is only 13.5" radius curves, Yes I know the layout is awfully small to run big steam, Yes I know I am crazy/stupid to do it, but… I love Big Boys, and HEY, it is my layout . Hell, you might even see a diesel run through.

    That is my story so far. Attached is the track plan and a pic of some of the materials purchased. I have already transferred the plan to the foam board. Anyway, I will update this thread with additional pictures soon, and will let you know when we are up to date with the progress. Thanks for taking the time to join me on this journey. Feel free to make comments and suggestions.

    Frank
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    This looks fun!
    I too enjoy watching trains go in circles for hours. Its calming. I'm not an expert layout builder/designer, and my home layout is basically 2 ovals on a door, so your plan is already way more interesting than mine. The best part after building the base and getting all the track together is running that very first train. Cant wait too see where you go with this, cuz its always about fun!
    And I'm with you, big trains are awesome. I have an AC-12 cab forward and a pair of Baldwin centipedes that look absolutely awful on my amazingly tight curves, but that don't stop me none!
    Good luck with the project! and don't forget to keep us updated!
    Check out my Blog! I review trains and attempt to build a layout!
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    https://newportncale.blogspot.com/

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    Nothing wrong with Big Boys , I just hope for you that they will run on such tight curves. I sure like that you have the budget planned out , very wise. I'm sure you will have more fun then some that have all the money in the world.

    Now quit talking and get building , and we definitely want to see more pictures then this
    As long as I can model in N-scale, I know I'm not old

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    Welcome to the forum Frank.

    Smart to plan out a budget to make this all come together. Building your layout the way you want it to be is definitely the way to go.

    I'm looking forward to seeing your progress.
    Rob

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    Yes, the planning/budget spreadsheet helps out a lot. It keeps me focused moving in one direction step by step. The pause between purchases help me really “look” at the layout one process at a time. It has already saved me from making mistakes, (river spacing issue as an example, but more on that in a later post). Here is a pic of a portion of my spreadsheet. I have a legend at the bottom that corresponds the “Store” number to its name, as well as reminder lists, etc. I also combined purchases per web site to minimize shipping costs. That’s why you will notice small detail items mixed in one purchase, (the ash pit kit is needed before the track can be laid because it goes under it. The web site also sells some small detail items I want, (sacks and a small shack I will use for the pigsty). One order and done! When I have purchased a “section”, it is moved onto another sheet with the actual costs and quantities. This way I keep a running total in case I need to go back and purchase more of something as well as know what materials went into the build. I am anal about stuff like this, sorry. Anyway more later.

    Frank
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    Looking good, one suggestion on your track plan - perhaps you could lengthen the cross-over, it appears that you have switches back to back on the inside loop, perhaps some track in between would provide a decent runaround ?

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    Thanks Huntress, I looked at that and might do it. But because the tracks are so close to the edge, drilling holes for the switch track frog power contacts interferes with the board bracing. I actually have the bracing going around that section, (will show pic of this soon). I will revisit this when I have the track to play with.

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    Here is another set of pics. First I had to glue a penny on the board for luck, 2017 for the start of the project. The next pic shows the bottom of the board with the braces, legs, and leg braces.

    A couple of things to note. The base is ¼" plywood, 1"x3" boards for braces, and the legs are 2"x2" board. The cut out is where my lake will be. Because the layout is so small, I could not do grades, so the track is flat and I will "dig" below the board to accommodate the water and bridge. Also as stated in an earlier update, the track is so close to the edge, I needed to attach the board braces around the section where all the switch tracks sit. Otherwise any switch mechanism I would utilize would end up directly over the bracing. I glued blocks where the leg braces would attach, (I used 4 of the metal closet organizer shelf bars). The entire leg assembly is removable.

    The last pic shows everything done and painted. I also added adjustable feet to level the layout and bracing around the bottom of the legs, (I will add a piece of hardboard on these when the wiring is done to create a shelf for storage).

    That is it for now. Foam top next.

    Frank
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    You're off to a great start Frank!

    I like the idea of a penny for luck. I would do the same when I start my benchwork but we no longer have pennies in Canada. Maybe I'll use a loonie.
    Rob

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    My Grandfather was a brick layer/mason in NY and every new building he started he would place a penny, of the year, in the corner stone foundation. It became a tradition in our family to do that for any building/renovation project we do. This layout is defiantly a building project.

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    In a sailboat, it is considered good luck to place a coin in the mast step before stepping the mast. We have always done this, and I've never lost a boat regardless of sea conditions.
    Cheers!
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    Wasn't it Neils Bohr, the famous scientist when asked why he had a horseshoe over the door "It works - even if you don't believe in it"?

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    That is a nice, clean, compact layout.
    Perfect for one man operation.
    You can run two trains on the mainlines, while doing a little switching on your industrial spurs.
    See ya
    Ron
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    but earth abides." Ecclesiastes 1:4

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    The next step… I installed the 1" foam board. I knew saving all those empty Gatorade bottles would come in handy. Once everything was glued down and dried, I sanded the top and edges smooth. You will notice the middle section is 3+ inches of foam. This is where I will "dig" out my lake. That’s it for now. I will post more later this weekend, (I transferred my plan onto the board, but, ended up changing the lake section). Thank you for visiting.
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    So we are at transferring my plan onto the foam board. I printed out my track plan 1 to 1, (gotta love big color printers at work – 11"x17" paper), and tacked it down. I then used a small finishing nail and punched holes along the centerline, tunnel portals, river, and ash pit. I lifted the paper, played connect the dots, and whalla the plan was there. But, there was a problem . The river/track spacing looked "off". So, I posted my concerns here, "River Spacing Help" and was given the answer by WP&P and Tim R, (Thank you again!), that I have been looking for but could never find. I have the two excerpts here:

    WP&P:
    This is a common corner that modelers paint themselves into, under-estimating the scenic footprint of a stream course… My go-to rule-of thumb is to allocate a stream course where only the middle third of it is blue water; the third on either side is for stream banks. That's as a minimum.

    Tim R:
    …the track is 30 feet above the river, or 2-1/4 inches in N scale… a slope of 58%. 2.25inches divided by 58% (0.58) is 3.9 inches, let's call it four inches between the track (edge of roadbed) and the edge of the river.

    Well, with this new info I started re-working the stream. BUT WAIT! There's more! My uppertrack was too close to the edge of the board, so my tunnel portal was hanging over the edge. You have got to be kidding me! Sigh. I added the proper measurements for the portals on the plan, removed the upper middle mountain, dropped the track about ¾” and created a small lake instead of a stream. This gives me the top edge clearance as well as 3” to play with for the lake edges. I reprinted the new sections and transferred them onto the board. Now I have a lake, (stream crossed out), and the tunnel portals, (larger rectangles).

    At this point I am waiting on the next stage of funding. To pass the time I made the small hills and a cow stockade fence. I will post those next week or so. Have fun and happy St. Patrick's Day all.

    Frank
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    One quick update. I decided to lengthen the cross-overs at the bottom, (thanks Huntress). It opens up the plan and gives me a small run-around. Plus, I like the look better with the switch tracks spread out.

    Frank

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    While waiting on my next material order, I took some time and made a stockade fence for my cow pasture. It was made out of matchsticks following a how-to article from bouldercreekrailroad.com. The matches were cut into 4 even pieces lengthwise and them into 1cm - Main Posts and 1.2cm - Cross Beams. I glued up several sections. I have to finish cleaning them up and will paint them later. But I think they came out looking good. I especially like the non-uniformity of the sections. Oh well… more later. Thank you for visiting.

    Frank
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    Yea that's cool - I'll have to remember that.

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    Neat idea, and looks good. Depending on whether you are going to paint or stain them, you might want to stain the individual parts before gluing everything together. Alcohol and India ink is a common stain for aged looking wood, for example. The glued areas will take up the stain differently. If you're painting, then no problem.

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    OTFan, most of the sections are already glued. I will clean up the "over" glue the best I can but they are on the fragile side. I am going to try to stain them and the different glued areas may make for an interesting weathered look. Who knows, I will experiment and see what I like better. Worst comes to worst, it cost me a couple of hours and a handful of matchsticks. Because I have a budget schedule I need to follow, I will have time between "major" layout building phases. I will post the results. Thanks for following my journey.

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