Omnibus post. Turnouts. Pencils. Cocaine. No, wait, plaster.

Now that omnibus legislation is in the vogue in parliament, why not do an omnibus post? Scroll down to the bottom for the lessons if you’re in a tl;dr mood.

It’s been a while since I posted any photos of the main portion, so I’ve done a lot. HEY MAYBE IF I POST EXTREMELY INFREQUENTLY IT WILL LOOK LIKE I’M GETTING STUFF DONE!

First, I’ve laid all of the turnouts outside of the pulp mill and lumber mill. I suspect if I keep feeling the way I do, those will come along in the next couple weeks.  Anyway! Wiring turnouts is fun. Here’s the fixture from the crossover at Castlegar and the turnouts at the east end of the wye as viewed from the bottom. Pretty much every stock rail has a feeder going to it as well as every frog, the frog wire going to the cheap DPST switch that throws the throwbar. (Note to self, get slightly less cheap ones next time!) The #6s are done with ties that I cut myself (the huge pain ones) and the #8s are done with quicksticks that I got in the kit from Fast Tracks. If you can afford these, they make it a LOT easier, but it more than doubles the cost per turnout if you’re being cheap like me. All the ties are connected, so there’s only rarely a time when they fall off.

Here’s the crossover shot from above and installed. I -may- have not smoothed out the glue enough before laying it. Oops. I fixed that later on…but it’s too late for what I laid before that 😦

You can also see the crappy little poorly dimensioned styrene coal pit I made. There’s going to be a coaling tower in that space. Now, one thing I regret is keeping the frog wires above ground when there’s no recess for them to go in. DON’T DO THIS GUY SRSLY.

You can see I continued the different ballast levels into this area, based on prototype photos…as you can see here! The mainline is on 1/8″ ballast for most of the layout, but here it transitions to 1/16″ cork strip, and the siding goes from 1/16″ to none, to 1/16″ for the crossover before falling down to the base again, later meeting the main. This shot from a friend in Castlegar shows what the area currently looks like, and vividly depicts the elevation.

You can see the backdrop slowly coming along in the background, more on that a bit later on.

I’ve been using carpenter’s glue for everything, and I think I’m starting to regret just how ugly it is. If anyone has suggestions for something cheap that’s not as…yellow…comment! I also have accidentally broken the bond between track and masonite more than once. Speaking of glue, I just noticed that one rail in the previous photo is poking up after the frog, so I checked on it and GUESS WHAT the copper came off the PCB tie. I don’t want to replace this one, so I’m going to try supergluing this one down. GOOD LUCK TO ME AND RRRR.

Speaking of profiles, I have all the locomotives upstairs for speedmatching, so here’s chip hoppers on the 3 different levels. WHY DO N SCALE CARS LEAN SO MUCH IT’S SO ANNOYING-


The mainline is on 1/8″ Midwest cork, the 2 sidings are on 1/16″ cork I bought from the local hardware store, and the entire pulp mill complex will be on the ground.

Let’s backtrack to turnouts.

The yard ladder at Castlegar is screwed up. Because I was careless. When assembling multi-turnout fixtures, MAKE SURE THEY’RE STRAIGHT BETWEEN THE TURNOUTS! I had to kind of bend the last one and though I just put on its ground throw today, I’m a bit worried that shoving 20+ long cuts of cars through it might cause problems. It’s only visible if you’re watching a train go through it…or looking at it from fairly straight on…whatever. IF IT WORKS IT’S FINE. More annoying in that section is how I realized how much better frog wires look when routed under the tabletop instead of beside the tracks, but due to the placement of joists and risers I couldn’t easily route the wires underneath. It would have taken a longer drill bit than I have! Anyway, on these turnouts I used ground throws that were extremely simple, only 2 bends. Some of the more, er, ‘artistic’ ones further down have like 10. Apparently you don’t need to be that complex! Before you complain in your brain, the paint pen I was using to colour the tires went dry as I was doing these turnouts. I’m thinking of airbrushing them in the future, once I get a compressor. That’s holding up a few things…

Here’s a more complicated throw, there being no place to put the switch beside the turnout. Speaking of no room, I’m regretting there not being a spot for a prototypically situated water tower. DAMN!

Anyway, I didn’t do this as well as I could have, but it works. It’s the heavier piano wire that I SHOULD have put in a metal pipe, but instead just scratched a trough in the masonite before I laid the turnouts. Then I bent the piano wire on one end, shoved it under the turnout, decided later that it should have a piece of thin wood (the edge of a quicksticks tie strip, incidentally) to protect it from ballast and whatnot, and wrangled the whole thing into place.


Now, here’s something that I realized I should do a bit too late. I killed the two ground throws I already had in place on the east end of the wye because I realized it would be easier to have the overpass have the plywood tabletop bent up to it, cookie-cutter style. Since this photo was taken, I’ve re-set them both. I’ve also put a piece of masonite by the easternmost turnout because there will eventually be a speeder shed there, surely to be represented by that little shack for some time. Only time will tell if I need to add another joist and riser set to get a flatter section at the top, where the bridge will be.

So we’re doing a backdrop…and we’re doing it in the simplest way. It’s simply masonite with carefully countersunk screws drilled right into the studs. Because the studs aren’t perfectly straight, it isn’t perfectly straight, and I perfectly don’t care. The peaks will be covered in a fresh spring snow, while the valley will be full of wildflowers. Granted, I’m kind of combining March and June, but as recent snowbound trucks on Kootenay Pass attest, it’s not that far off reality!

Now, at the corners, it gets a bit tricky.  Purely trial and error on this one. Beveled the edges of the little piece that goes in to nuzzle up against the backdrop sheets on either side, which end at the studs. That crosspiece is necessary to hold up the house, and I haven’t yet decided whether it’ll just be sky blue or have the view south on it, obscuring the staging and switching yards somewhat. For something important, it sure is a weird shape…anyway, filled in the gaps with drywall joint compound, same thing with the screw holes.

Okay, so I did some scenicking! FINALLY! Finally, my trains won’t fall off and hit the concrete a scale 500 feet below. (That’s only happened once, if you’re curious.) I used the wire screen method, with carefully planned out 1/4″ ply profiles. I did them all while comparing them with the real terrain on google maps, though I don’t think that really helped me do it justice. The feel will mostly be in the shapes and colours of the rocks, and the trees, naturally. Where the wire screen needed extra supporting I used scrap bits of cardboard. It was sagging a bit near the tunnel, so I just jammed a piece on top of the profiles, and along the tracks I stapled a number of small rectangles of cardboard near it. I’m not sure I entirely thought out the lakeshore as much as I should have at the west end, being such a shallow elevation compared to the cliffs behind the tracks, but I’m sure it’ll work itself out. The inside of the tunnel is lined with foamcore left over from one of my girlfriend’s mounting projects, and it’s in two pieces as to be removable. The side away from the water is glued to the ceiling, and screwed into the subroadbed with 1 screw. The side nearest the water is attached with 2.

I don’t recall if I talked about the rear support for the hardshell, but it’s just 1/4″ ply just forward of the ends of the joists, supported by 1x2s. It was cut by eye, so…yeah. The actual backdrop will be screwed through this directly into the 1x2s. I’m hoping that it will be removable on occasion for photos, but I’m not holding out too much hope. The upper level will be entirely supported from above, so that will make it easier.

Anyway, I keep using hydrocal of different consistencies with my paper towels, so I’m starting to learn about the consequences of that! Incidentally, I have a large cooler of water (labeled non-potable just in case) that I use for emergency consistency problems. It’s also useful for getting a bowl of water for painting. I originally used it for my D-76 developer in my darkroom, but it really didn’t help the shelf life of the mixed solution.

Before and afters:

There will be a small creek going through a pipe or culvert at the obvious place.

Now, I THINK that’s everything.

Lessons learned:

Watch your turnouts carefully to make sure the stock rails are straight between turnouts. It’s really easy to have a bend where you don’t want it, and then it’s a BITCH to fix.

Smooth out your adhesive as much as you can so it doesn’t ooze up between the ties and screw up your ballasting later on.