Author Topic: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design  (Read 2806 times)

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timgill

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Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« on: December 28, 2014, 04:32:21 PM »
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For Christmas, I was given two of Ian Rice's books. I've always been a fan of his track plans and design philosophy, and I'm really enjoying the ideas laid out in his "Small, Smart and Practical Track Plans" book.

To paraphrase, a few of the design axioms for small railroads that struck a chord with me are:

1. Keep it lightweight and (semi) portable/modular, even if it is to be a permanent layout.
2. Make the module interfaces robust and foolproof.
3. Make efforts to design the layout for a space where it will be used the most.

In terms of the recently stalled progress on my HOn30 layout, I've realized that #3 has contributed the most; having the layout tucked away in a spot where it must be continually retrieved to be worked on is a detriment to actually working on it.

So, I've decided to take a stab at designing a micro-layout for a spot in my office, namely atop a 6' long IKEA "expedit" bookshelf. This is an attractive spot for a layout in that additional modules/layout can be built and stored in a nearby closet, and easily swapped out as the mood strikes.

Designing for this space requires working in a 16" deep by 72" long footprint. Most of my operating interests with HOn30 lie in the "watch 'em roll" category, so continuous run is a must at this point; having a passing track/runaround with a spur or two will add the option of having another consist parked and swapped in, or have a few industry spots to drop cars.

Here's the first hack at a plan:



The 7" radius is well within the operating ability of the short-wheelbase Minitrains loco and cars I will be running on the layout. I haven't roughed in any scenery yet, but the basic idea is that the tangent track along the upper part of the plan would be hidden by a low ridge/treeline. The passing track would host the small depot I have built, a water tower, perhaps a few related trackside structures like a coal bin or freight house.

While my first attempt at trackwork on the 2x4 version of this layout was handlaid, I've decided to go the easier route and try using Peco HOn30 flex and turnouts for this plan; I'm not necessarily in love with the code 80 rail profile, but the tradeoff is more bulletproof trackwork that will be quicker to lay. I'm not averse to handlaying turnouts if the need arises.

The reason for the modular setup is so it could be easily broken down and transported in the backseat of my car if necessary. Also, stacking 3' modules in the closet is easier than finding space for a full 6' layout.

As said, this is a "first draft" of the plan, so any additions or recommendations from our resident micro-layout wizards would be appreciated. I'd like to see if it is feasible to get another spur for an industry in. Staging would be nice, but I really can't see where it would go at this point.

Long term, the idea will be to design several small layouts for this space that can be swapped in and out at leisure; perhaps designed with the idea that they could have leg units and be linked into a larger setup at shows, etc.
-Tim Gill
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timgill

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2014, 09:43:23 PM »
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Upon closer inspection, the Expedit shelf is NOT 72" as previously thought; it's actually about a foot less. Here's a revised plan in 16" x 58"

I've introduced a few more undulations in the visible track to help create more leading lines for the eye; the amount of straight tangent track in the first plan seemed a bit too stiff and unnatural.

-Tim Gill
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packers#1

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2014, 10:15:02 PM »
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I like the flow and the added spur; should make for a fun layout to build
Sawyer Berry
Clemson University graduate, c/o 2018

Chris333

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2014, 07:03:12 AM »
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I like the new plan. Did you even get to run trains on the old layout?  :P

timgill

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2014, 12:36:11 PM »
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What is this "running trains" you speak of?  :P
-Tim Gill
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timgill

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2015, 06:29:37 PM »
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Cleaned the garage today, so lots of space to start working on new projects.  8)

I decided to spend some quality time with mister table saw, ripping up a 2x4 handy panel of 1/2" ply to create the frame members for the modules. I've decided on a frame design loosely based on FreeMo practice, using 4" tall endplates and 2" siderails to create a "tray" for rigid 2" extruded foam.

Once I ripped the 4" and 2" strips, I chopped them to make the necessary sized pieces for the 29" modules; however, I decided to use the odd-length waste pieces to make a "proof of concept" diorama.

Some screwing-and-glueing left me with this frame:



I am counting on the rigidity of the foam to shore up the frame without cross-members. It's already fairly rigid as is. Added the foam:



This makes a nice, lightweight module that is very strong. Pleased with the results. The two modules for the layout will be a bit longer, so I might add a cross-member if needed.

I can see myself using this method in the future to build a much larger, interlinked point-to-point layout. Really a fan of the lightweight simplicity of the design.



A box arrived from Scenic Express with some goodies.



Also received a resin kit for a pair of flatcars from Marsh Creek Miniatures. These kits look to be a lot of fun; I think I'm going to chop them down from their 28' length to 18' or 20' to suit the tight curves of the finished layout.

-Tim Gill
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Philip H

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2015, 10:48:29 PM »
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Your construction is oddly reminescint of the FreeMO-N stuff we've seen around here before.  Shouldn't be a problem.
Philip H.
Chief Everything Officer
Baton Rouge Southern RR - Mount Rainier Division.

"Yes there are somethings that are "off;" but hey, so what." ~ Wyatt

"I'm trying to have less cranial rectal inversion with this." - Ed K.

"There's more to MRR life than the Wheezy & Nowheresville." C855B

timgill

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2015, 03:33:59 PM »
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Laid track on the test module. Rail was soldered PCB sleepers at either end to have rock-solid alignment.







Even though this is a static module/diorama for now, I am building it to spec so it could link into a possible future modular setup. So, I dropped a pair of feeders. There is plenty of space between HOn30 ties to solder the feeders to the underside of the rail; that way, the feeders will essentially disappear when the track is ballasted.



The track was spray-bombed with cheap flat black paint in preparation for weathering. I'm going to try Joey Ricard's method using acrylics and powders, to see if the results are worth using on the full layout.



Another test-project for this module was using lateral stacking of the foam for landforms. I'm never really happy with the land contours I create when the foam is stacked one layer on top of another; I'm also never happy with the amount of dust I create carving the land profiles. So, I started by creating cardstock templates for each 2" cross-section of the hill.




The sections were cut out using an old steak knife. Dry fit:




They were glued together in sections and clamped to dry.



I will have to spend some time blending the cross-sections together, but overall I created a pleasing hill contour with less effort and dust than usual. Some of the larger "gaps" will be filled with stray foam pieces, or perhaps a few rock castings.



Most likely the flat area in front will be carved into a shallow, sloping ravine.

While working on the diorama, I decided to put together the benchwork for the main layout. I've arrived at a clamping method that satisfies my OCD need for perfect right-angles in my joinery.





I lacked that same precision when fitting the foam, but luckily the more ragged edges can be placed towards the outer sides of the layout. Since there will be turnback curves there and no track interfaces, this should be OK. I'm really pleased with the construction method, as it yields very strong benchwork that is feather-light.
-Tim Gill
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timgill

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2015, 05:18:47 PM »
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Construction on the test-module continues.

Carved and sanded the foam contours together. Really pleased with the results.



To fill this strange accidental gap, I carved some rock outcroppings from some leftover foam scraps.



While I have usually used Sculptamold on other projects, I wanted to give using lightweight spackle as a scenery base a try.





Tacked on the fascia with wood glue; wherever possible, I'm using adhesive instead of screws or nails to help cut down on weight.





After sanding and blending, a coat of medium-brown latex paint was added to seal the foam and create a base color.



Track weathering! I'm using a method that Joey Ricard of Trackside Scenery did a video about on his YouTube channel. Essentially, you use acrylics to paint the ties a suede/tan color, and a chalk alcohol mixture to create a rust-colored and textured paint for the rails. The initial result is quite bright and clownish, to say the least.





However, the real effect happens when everything is dusted with grimy black powders.





The brighter colors under the powders create subtle highlights. I really like the texture of the chalk-paint on the rails.

Finally, everything was given a thorough "dirting". This is sifted and blender-ed dirt from the yard.



Just waiting for that to dry, then it's off to the races with more scenery and ballast.
-Tim Gill
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timgill

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2015, 06:54:07 PM »
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More work on the module...basic groundcover (dirt, ground foam, static grass) was added in layers. Testing different kinds of adhesive methods for the static grass, and mostly deciding that I like straight matte medium for this particular task.









Something about the texture/color of the ground cover is irking me though. Can't really put my finger on it, but I don't feel I'm really "nailing" that central/coastal southern California look yet. Thoughts?

I'm sure a bunch of trees and weeds will help as well.

Shapeways parts were used to convert the 0-4-0 to a 2-4-0. This mod is growing on me; luckily, I can switch back and forth between the 0-4-0 and 2-4-0 configurations.

First, as an 0-4-0:



Then, as a 2-4-0:





Box of flex and turnouts arrived!



Now I can get down and dirty with the full layout.
-Tim Gill
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timgill

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2015, 09:28:00 PM »
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Since all the track came in, decided it was time to transition from the test diorama and tackle the full layout.

Used 3/8" bolts/washers/nuts to fix the two modules together.



After transferring a full size printout of the plan to the foam, it was off to the races. I'm crossing my fingers I am putting the plastic joiners in the right place for the electrofrog turnouts to route power correctly...







PCB ties are installed over the gaps; for now, I won't be cutting the rails apart. I'm going to save that as a 'failsafe' move for if/when the layout needs to be transported or stored.

-Tim Gill
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Chris333

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2015, 06:26:35 AM »
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I can dig it!  8)  If the scenery matches the test bed it should look very nice. Will the back track be hidden?

Also you can always lean the layout against the wall (I know this  ;) ) without separating it if space ever gets tight.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2015, 06:29:40 AM by Chris333 »

jpec

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2015, 04:31:02 PM »
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Tim,

You rock...

Jeff
"It's sad that you have to die to see how many people loved you..." - Rodney Bingenheimer

timgill

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2015, 02:41:44 PM »
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Thanks fellas. The rear track will be hidden, though I'm still figuring out how to do this since space is tight. There will be a low ridge there to block it, but I'm also thinking in terms of verticality as I plan out the layout of the structures. Not necessarily urban sprawl, but evoking the feel of a small flagstop town that is "built into a hillside," so to speak.

I am notoriously bad at visualising these sorts of things in 3d, so I will be spending a lot of time making card stock mock-ups and trying out different ideas.

Finished track laying yesterday, so I will post more pix in a bit.
-Tim Gill
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timgill

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Re: Marmion Valley HOn30 - Re-design
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2015, 01:53:53 PM »
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As promised, pix of the completed tracklaying.



I still haven't officially decided on the arrangement of this spur yet. I want to mock up whatever industry is going to fit here first and see how everything will fit together scenically.



Little odds and ends projects are waiting on the workbench. I installed the train-order signal on the depot; used some used guitar string (excellent source of brass wire) to help complete the "bracket." The targets still need painting and I need to figure out a way to blacken the brass wire.

-Tim Gill
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