Kootenay Division video series launch – A conversation through time!

Hey, everyone. I’ve been working on this huge project all year and will continue to for the upcoming year. I’d love it if you would all subscribe to it! The premise is that every Wednesday I upload a video taken a year ago and every Saturday I upload a video taken that week, and converse with myself about all manner of things.

It’s called Past Matt/Future Matt.

First Past Matt:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBvm4qeKzuA

First Future Matt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwnKc_MBJS4

Subscribe!! www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=kootenayvlog

Thanks in advance, please enjoy this 104-video long series!


Kootenay Kwickie – How to mess up your fascia in two easy steps!

Step 1: Build your benchwork

Step 2: Put your fascia on it poorly.

Okay, here’s the dealio. I tried to use 1/4″ hardboard for my fascia as it would be stronger, probably wouldn’t crack as easily, and curve more smoothly…but long story short, I tried to curve it too sharply. Don’t try to bend 1/4″ any sharper than an 18″ radius, and even then, only if you’re sure it’s nice and smooth.

Your inside corners might look okay…

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Outside corners? Most certainly not.

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So that was my attempt at finishing off the lower deck. Whoops. Learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to make them yourselves, lovely people!


Kootenay Division in Run 6

I would never claim to be in run 8, but progress is being made! Lots and LOTS of it.

If you take a look, you’ll see my last post, September 23, I had just finished the upper deck’s benchwork. In that time, I’m not doing as well as I could be, but I did a lot.

Firstly, I built the hell out of the lower deck. In 10 days, I built the benchwork for Nelson to Kootenay Lake. I don’t have any photos without piles of stuff on it, though. Enjoy.

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Next up, as you can see, I ran a shelf below everything. This won’t really be used by me. The price of air rights.

After that, I needed some space fo’ my thangz. I removed a shelving unit from the room to make room for lumber storage that was previously used to house my random crap, so I built a random crap-inet. See this post.

How to build above layout storage


After that I popped in all the risers for Nelson. I wanted to get that big table out of the way. It took me quite some time to draw out all the track lines, mind you…but I ended up using plywood 1x2s again, since it’s SO easy to crack cheap pine 1x2s!

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Now, with the plywood base and masonite top cut and ready to put in, the fun begins. The usual, kick myself in the face type of fun where my past self is an idiot, or something.

That yard lead I installed last year? With the really nice embankment I was so proud of? This one? Well, guess what…it was 2 inches too long. Don’t ask me how I messed that up. So I had to CUT THE THING OFF AND MOVE IT ALL WHILE CRYING TEARS, SPILLING THEM ALL OVER MY HARD WORK.

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It’s getting easier to get over such things.

At this point, I make sure everything mates up and aligns properly. Looks good!

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Mmm. Take a closer look. Turns out SOMEWHERE along the road I changed the track centres by an eigth of an inch. WoopdeedooodiehoohoohoohoooDAMN.





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*ahem* Anyway…with the plywood base secured down…

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…I realized it wasn’t supported enough, so I added a joist, as is the beauty of L girder benchwork of this type.

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Hooray! My river’s no longer wobbly! And yes, that’s how I keep track of where my receptacles are.

That being done, I was ready to glue down the masonite. Ooh.

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That’s a lot of glue.

Let’s put it down.

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Oh yeah. You have to weight that down. OH NO. I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING READY.


At least it turned out fairly well. Here’s the finished product, ready for track!

West yard ladder (roundhouse is the bulge on the left):

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East end of yard, KFP lumber mill in foreground with the diesel shops just beyond:

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A curious thing about Nelson Yard is that it’s built on the alluvial fan of Cottonwood Creek, the only large expanse of flat land in the area. This, coupled with the silver deposits discovered on the mountains around, made Nelson the division point it remains today. The curious thing about that is that the creek runs through the middle of the yard, between the classification yard and the diesel shops, with a series of bridges under several roadways and a dozen tracks! Duh, I’m modeling it! It’s a narrow concrete channel, so I just took the 12′ real life channel and widened it by a foot. Simple construction, though. You can also see the mid-yard sectional join on the left-hand side of this shot, and the disel shops are just beyond that.

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Oh yeah, and it’s mad strong, too.

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It’s hard to tell if it’s even flexing while I do that!

So, I’m moving eastward, Kootenay Lake is next on the list – once everything is nice and finished in terms of wood over to Kootenay Landing, I’m moving on up to the upper deck from Paulson to Grand Forks!

Oh crap. I had better go make sure GF is planned out completely.

A little bit about upper deck benchwork

I took video of the whole thing, so if you learn more by watching me do things, I’ll cross-post them to here once they’re up.

To start with: The plan. The whole thing’s just made of sturdy fun.

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If it looks like a big ol’ bunch of truss bridges, that’s on purpose. It’s an incredibly sturdy shelf. Now, the whole thing is on a grade from the helix (where that weird little tail piece is) to the sort-of-one-turn-helix that’s in the bottom left corner – and I don’t mean the track is on a grade, the BENCHWORK is. The track’s on a 2.6% grade all the way from the pulp mill to the summit, gaining 30 inches, and for some of that run the clearance is extremely precious. For this reason, the benchwork is also sloped.

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The most challenging aspects of the design were the creeks – Shields Creek and Farr Creek. For Shields, I had a bit of room to play because the backdrop could be quite far forward at McCormack Creek, directly below.

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Farr Creek wasn’t quite so lucky, and the valley bottom will have a rather large lip at the lower end to accommodate the benchwork without having the benchwork foul the lower deck. My original plan called for it to be 3″ above the pulp mill, whoops!

The basic construction, as you can see pretty well in the last photo, is L girders on the back and front with joists in between. It’s all made from lumber ripped from 3/4″ plywood cut as precisely as possible in terms of angles.  The whole thing is hung on 1x4s (nominal) from these special L girders on the ceiling:

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When they run perpendicular to the joists, they’re screwed directly into them, but otherwise they’re attached to 19″ wide sheets of plywood. Nice and solid.

The vertical members that hold the layout up have another purpose: At the corners, they but together and are screwed every 5″ or so. This gives a huge amount of rigidity. Speaking of rigidity, the 1x4s do have a certain amount of flex, so I added some steel U channels that happens to be 3/4″ wide to the sides of the 1x4s for extra sturdyness. You could use whatever is rigid and suits you best, I originally planned to use steel bar, but it was about $8 for a 6′ piece, and the U channel was free!

For the creeks, I simply made sure that everything had a bracing piece going in every applicable direction. Make sure you colour-code your plan! In mine, reds are the vertical supports, yellow is the regular height deck, blue is the extra-low front girder, and greens go from regular height to the extra-low height.


The bigger red one is a 2×4 that I connected down to the lower deck for added stability. I would have put it all the way to the floor, but it would have blocked access to the helix. Couldn’t have that!

To visualize all of this, here you go. It will eventually have a sheet of 1/4″ plywood to stop all movement dead, dead, DEAD.

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The rest was much more simply framed. For everything, it was made from plywood ripped into strips of nominal lumber, 1x2s, 1x3s, and 1x4s (.75×1.5, 2.5, and 3.5″ respectively.)  The outer members are L girders made of 1x3s with a 1×2 flange, screwed and glued. Make sure you do this right! Take advice from my video here. The bracing members in between are all 1x3s. I cut them at the proper angle after using a program called Cutmaster 2D to plan out all my cuts. It doesn’t take into account angled or beveled cuts so you have to do your own little trig calculations and bear with the extra little bit of waste for this type of benchwork, but with somewhere around 100 pieces of lumber it helped me make the most of my lumber. When planning, avoid any angled or beveled cut at a greater angle than 45°. Trust me.

To assemble it, make sure all your cuts are as precise as possible in terms of length, angle, and bevel. I put the 1×2 flange of the rear girder on top, and the front girder on the bottom. You only have to do this if it’s sloped front to back. A little trick to make it all snug is to turn your lumber until it lies along the back of your mitre saw (which is set at 0’) and cut off just the right amount to squeeze under the flange of the girder (so the cut is 3/4″ long)

To get them in place, smother them with glue, then hold them firmly in place while screwing them in. I’m working on getting videos done as a visual tutorial, so if all that is confusing to you, you won’t have to wait too long!

Under the helix I decided to just a simple grid of 1x4s.

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The next section has Porcupine Creek in it, and had to be fairly deep as a result. The section after that has to be close in elevation to the duckunder, so I decided to have them 4″ apart vertically with a joining plate of 3/4″ plywood in between the two.

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Anyway, that’s where I’ve gotten to. Check out the video tutorials, they’ll probably be more cohesive and coherent.  Time to get loads of work done!

Hard a Starboard, Kootenay Division!

This week I had a realization.

I was on the wrong tack.

My plan was taking on water.

I had to stop making naval references.

Upon my completion of the benchwork from Castlegar to the east switch of the summit siding of Farron, I began looking toward the next section – the 11 foot pair of sections encompassing Farron siding and a delightful little pond on McRae Creek. then it hit me – If I built that, how would I get lumber from the saw to the rest of the layout? For you see, though it’s fairly high off the ground, I also realized that I could add some house-like framing made of 2x4s to give a huge amount of stability to it. Can’t fit lumber through THOSE openings! So even though I already had the rest of the lumber cut and was maybe 2 months from having a fully operational grade to the summit and a place to turn my trains…

…I decided to build the rest of the benchwork first. ‘Cause then I could use my saw easily and stuff.

This meant a big ol’ pile of lumber. What you can’t see are the 40 or so members already cut and hiding under the layout.

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The lower deck will be standard L girder, the same as under Castlegar. The upper deck will continue the design that I’ll outline in the next post. I already managed to get all the lower deck done save for legs and braces. Quick, huh?

I should really write one of these.

Geez, I’ve been putting this off. Why? I wanted to provide finished stuff, not updates! Too bad, nothing’s finished. Where am I? Wellll….

Just after my last post, I fixed up the track going from the Boundary sub to the Rossland sub main, which is the straight through track of the wye. Things kept decoupling on it because the transition was too steep, so I pulled it up and sanded it the hell down – dumb me also forgot to feed it! All is now well.


A few tracks over, however, more problems arose. The track buckled and an earlier attempt was made to secure it, but alas, it only made it worse. I had to pull it up and sand out all the caulking from underneath it. Remember, when securing track to a surface that isn’t perfectly level, make sure to secure it VERY securely.

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I bought a whiteboard and whipped up a timetable for it. I’ll do an actual printed timetable eventually, but I need to learn how to use design programs first.

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So that’s it for January…Awaiting resources, I made no posts and no progress. A week in, I realized something I could do – Though I had yet to calculate where to put the backdrop and scenery behind McCormack Creek bridge, I could totally divide it into two sections, doing the front first, leaving room to put the bridge in! First I put in a good solid support for the fascia, which is extremely tall to accommodate the bridge. This is comprised of 1×4 salvaged from the 10 year old scrap pile, some 1x3s for vertical support, and a failed cut for the helix to perfectly match the curve above.

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Next up were the scenery supports. Working from my CPR plans, printed to 1:160 scale, I positioned pads for the piers at the right points, and cut out the exact profile of the valley. How ridiculous is that?! I also put profiles in a few other places for good measure.

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At the same time, I set up a new cut for Castlegar, one that shall have smooth sides. It’s all glued, supported in obvious ways.20130215 2

After that I didn’t get much done for a while. I ended up soaking those 6 deluxe innovations chip hoppers in brake fluid (prestone dot 3) which worked very well, if apparently toxically. I filtered out most of the large bits of paint floating in it by running it back into the bottles through a coffee filter. This clogged up pretty badly, and though the first bottle filtered through in about half an hour, the second half of the second bottle took four days. FOUR FREAKING DAYS.

Oh yeah, then something pretty cool happened.


After over a hundred applications, perhaps closer to 200, I finally found SOMEONE who was hiring. That’s awesome. I won’t have a big budget, though, since I did my fiscal planning and my budget is much the same as before. Oh well!

My current project, besides the planning for the upper deck (which is finally gaining traction) is working on the helix.  I’m offsetting the top by 2.5″ to allow some room for scenery as it curves around the top, so I’m planning the tie-in for the upper deck. This is very exciting. I removed the last section of the helix, leaving cool hanging track while I added in the spacer section.

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Having taken off the masonite I had previously wrapped it in allowed me to become acquainted yet again with how terribly skewed my supports are.

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Also, I don’t believe I’ve posted a photo of all the feeders going into the bus, so here it is:

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Maybe someday I’ll get some ty-raps and tidy it up.

Next up, I positioned the section and found out that GUESS WHAT there are problems. First off, it doesn’t make it to the next support. Not a huge deal, I’ll deal with it. The best way to deal with it, unfortunately, is to add another inter-deck support like I’ve done in many places. That doesn’t work because the inside of this subroadbed strip is outside of the outside of the next one down.

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In the end I figured out that the inside of the top should line up quite well with the outside of the next one down, so I screwed and glued a 1×2 to the outside of the second to top level and the underside of the top level. It’s now fairly solid, but I’ve got more tweaks and a cool idea to put into practice.

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Well, back to work! Someone’s gotta make a bunch of cash for flextrack – oops, I mean, a house. I’ll try to come back quickly!