Author Topic: "Fred's Layout" - A Published Layout Dismantled, Moved and Resurrected  (Read 1055 times)

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C855B

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[This thread properly belongs to new member Craig Rude, @CRudeME , but since he spends much more time actually modeling than sitting on his duff carping online, he hasn't yet accrued enough posts for pictures. So I'm stepping in to get his show on the TRW road, with his blessing. Craig, please feel free to correct and/or illuminate any narrative; nearly everything I understand about Fred's layout is secondhand.]

Fred Houska is a long-time member of the Mississippi Valley N Scalers club, an accomplished artist and (now retired) Electrical Engineer. Myself @C855B , Craig @CRudeME, Glenn @gkoproske and Justin @MRLX1020 are also members of this club. Fred built a large, fully scenicked layout in his suburban St. Louis home several years ago, impressive enough to be featured in the July/August 2009 issue of N Scale Magazine. Pictures of the layout from about that time are shown here on the club's website.

Fred needed to downsize his quarters, and made it known to the club that the layout needed a new home. Craig stepped up to help with dismantling and the big move, and club members Jim and Crystal Knight volunteered their basement in a new home that could possbily house the layout. It would fit, albeit spliced and reshaped. This thread is about the effort to repurpose the layout while respecting its flavor.

Speaking of purpose - Craig, you'll need to help me here - I can't recall if there was a specific theme to his layout. There are a lot of great, well-executed scenes, but nothing I can discern as a general concept or prototype inspiration. Fred is pretty eclectic in his MRR interests, so the sense I get was a collection of scenes where anything - even his collection of European N scale - wouldn't look totally out of place. Construction as you will see is XPS foam on wood frame, track is Peco Code 70 and control is DC blocks with hand-held plug-in throttles.

Craig and Jim's efforts to rebuild the layout are moving forward quickly, especially in the conversion of what was a single level, terminal-to-terminal design into two levels with multiple running loops. Even with things still not quite spliced together yet, the current state allows three or four trains to run without supervision. Craig is starting a conversion to DCC, but as he and I discussed at length today, this is going to be an operational challenge given the 20-year-old Electrofrog turnouts liberally sprinkled about.

I had the opportunity to visit the layout earlier today camera in hand, so here are a few shots (of many!) which I hope capture the flavor of the project:



























And this one is for @gkoproske , in recognition of his great disdain for unpainted pink foam on layouts.  :D



...mike

http://www.gibboncozadandwestern.com

Never trust anyone lacking a sense of humor.

MVW

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Re: "Fred's Layout" - A Published Layout Dismantled, Moved and Resurrected
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2020, 10:26:29 PM »
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Yowza! Thanks for getting this rolling, Mike.

Welcome, Craig! Looking forward learning more, especially about the re-fit.


Jim

CRudeME

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Re: "Fred's Layout" - A Published Layout Dismantled, Moved and Resurrected
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2020, 11:25:09 PM »
+1
Hello! Craig here!

I've had the privilege of being the one who made Mike's @C855B Kelso Depot.
It was a project that took way longer than I originally thought, but I ended up learning some important details with regards to fineness and control with the multiple kit-built 3D-printers I own.

In reply to Mike's great beginning to the thread:
Paraphrased from the article Fred wrote in his 2009 N-Scale Magazine article, his layout had the trains that he liked, and the layout was build with the ability to just watch the trains run from town to town. The mainline I think was 14 scale miles from point to point.

For the trackwork, the layout is Peco electrofrog turnouts with Atlas code 80 track. One of the blessings of trying to move an re-assemble this layout is that NONE of the track was glued. it was all pinned down. However, we did have to fight some acrylic paint washes in order to lift up some sections during the moving process.

In the conversation that Mike and I had, he mentioned a serious concern about melting metal wheeled trucks on turnouts. Due to the implementation of these electrofrog turnouts, the layout was designed to accommodate ever situation possible through proper insulation. Thankfully for all of us, the retired McDonnell Douglas/Boeing Electrical Engineer Fred understood this very well, and he labeled everything - including the handcrafted control box for the entire layout.

Now for the crazy fun fact!

Jim and I started the moving process of the layout less than a year ago.
Preliminary planning begun around November of 2018, with the first sections moving to the new location around March of 2019.

In less than a year, a layout which was 24ft x 42ft was relocated and adapted into a space which is 14ft x 38ft.

Let me know any questions and things you all want to know more about!

Craig

peteski

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Re: "Fred's Layout" - A Published Layout Dismantled, Moved and Resurrected
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2020, 12:20:49 AM »
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The layout looks wonderful Craig!  Very realistic scenery.
One question I have is why is the track not ballasted?
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CRudeME

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Re: "Fred's Layout" - A Published Layout Dismantled, Moved and Resurrected
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2020, 08:33:03 PM »
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This choice was one Fred made when building the layout. He said that even the fine ballast is way oversized and does not look good nor realistic.

Ballasting can be very finicky, and takes quite a long time to do at a very high level. The track and ballast were weathered with an acrylic wash, and was good enough for him! Most people take 30 minutes looking at the layout before they even realize there is no ballasted track. (except for the ground in the coal mine area)

peteski

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Re: "Fred's Layout" - A Published Layout Dismantled, Moved and Resurrected
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2020, 08:58:23 PM »
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This choice was one Fred made when building the layout. He said that even the fine ballast is way oversized and does not look good nor realistic.

Ballasting can be very finicky, and takes quite a long time to do at a very high level. The track and ballast were weathered with an acrylic wash, and was good enough for him! Most people take 30 minutes looking at the layout before they even realize there is no ballasted track. (except for the ground in the coal mine area)

I see. I guess either way it is a compromise. The N scale ties and rail are out of scale anyways. And the time that it would have taken to ballast could be spent elsewhere on the layout's construction.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2020, 09:00:01 PM by peteski »
--- Peteski de Snarkski

-"Look at me, I'm satirical!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm anal retentive!!!"
-"Look at me, I have the most posts evahhhh!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm snarky!!!!"
-"Look at me, I have OCD!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm a curmudgeon!!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm not negative, just blunt and honest!!!"

CRudeME

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Re: "Fred's Layout" - A Published Layout Dismantled, Moved and Resurrected
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2020, 10:00:13 PM »
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In addition to all of that, the roadbed is all HO scale cork split in half and used angle-side to the front. Even the larger staging yard areas were made from built up HO scale cork.

The main goal of the layout was to simply run trains from place to place through many towns and a lot of different scenery. It was certainly a blessing in disguise on us trying to move the layout, even with nearly every single track joint soldered.

peteski

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Re: "Fred's Layout" - A Published Layout Dismantled, Moved and Resurrected
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2020, 10:03:34 PM »
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In addition to all of that, the roadbed is all HO scale cork split in half and used angle-side to the front. Even the larger staging yard areas were made from built up HO scale cork.

The main goal of the layout was to simply run trains from place to place through many towns and a lot of different scenery. It was certainly a blessing in disguise on us trying to move the layout, even with nearly every single track joint soldered.

Well, you sure have accomplished your goal. Not only the trains run from place to place, the scenery looks great.  Both the city, and the country scenery is all very well done.
--- Peteski de Snarkski

-"Look at me, I'm satirical!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm anal retentive!!!"
-"Look at me, I have the most posts evahhhh!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm snarky!!!!"
-"Look at me, I have OCD!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm a curmudgeon!!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm not negative, just blunt and honest!!!"

CRL

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Re: "Fred's Layout" - A Published Layout Dismantled, Moved and Resurrected
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2020, 11:39:15 PM »
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As long as the roadbed is accessible, it makes sense to hold off on ballast until most of the scenery is done and all the bugs & kinks have been worked out of the track work.

CRudeME

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Re: "Fred's Layout" - A Published Layout Dismantled, Moved and Resurrected
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2020, 12:11:15 AM »
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@CRL I 100% agree, but also slighty disagree with you. The humidity and thermal expansion/contraction over time will mess with the nickle silver/cork roadbed/foam/wood/wall interface.

Over the 20+ years of building and operating the layout, Fred ended up adjusting many rail joints over the years. After working for many hours on rejoining the layout through every cut, I can say that few people can accurately guess the expansion/contraction distances for a layout for 2 decades.

In a nutshell - ballast if you desire to ballast after you have done all your weathering/testing. Bugs and kinks will always be there, no matter how much you try!

k27463

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Re: "Fred's Layout" - A Published Layout Dismantled, Moved and Resurrected
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2020, 11:18:36 AM »
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So I've been giving Craig and Jim a hand here and there, mostly in the "testing finished sections" area, as well as wiring up DCC DPDTs... ;)

As of this weekend, almost the entire main section is connected, and the middle tier is operational.

The lower tier (as opposed to lower level) yard will likely be next.

Since the layout will be reconnected with the original 3-cab DC system as well as DCC, wiring the reverse loop is interesting...thankfully @CRudeME has dug into all of this and has a plan.

C855B

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Re: "Fred's Layout" - A Published Layout Dismantled, Moved and Resurrected
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2020, 11:57:46 AM »
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Since we're here, @CRudeME sent a text with progress snapshots a couple of days ago:

Quote from: CRudeME
Connected together at last! Everything was pinned down by feel - it'll get smoothed out on the final tweaks.







Recalling what was and wasn't working on the last visit, these were the last remaining links to restore the full-length operating loop of the original layout. Everything you see that looks like a lower level are new additions that will eventually double the mainline mileage.
...mike

http://www.gibboncozadandwestern.com

Never trust anyone lacking a sense of humor.