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!


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!

Tote dat barge, smash dat ridge

On today’s episode of “What that crazy guy is doing”, we find him in his basement with a large mallet.

Oh, did I get ahead of you? Sometimes I do tend to skip to the fun bit.

On my last blog post, I was adding a road and a hydrocal base. This I enjoy. Let’s pick up where we left off…

After a day or two of spreading chunks of plaster around the house, I had pretty much all the hydrocal in place except for between the west switch of Nelson and the backdrop. At the same time, I put rock castings on using thicker hydrocal as a sort of glue. If you like sculpting hydrocal (I don’t) you can use it at the same time to make the rocks blend in better by creating more rock face around them. I plan to do this with slower drying sculptamold later. I do not enjoy creating detailed cliffs.

I think that extra inch or two all along helped a lot.

Meanwhile, I decided a high cliff face like there is right beside the Keenleyside dam would be fab. I hope I don’t end up tearing it out. Another thing I’m doing, since hydrocal costs about a fifth as much as sculptamold by weight (probably a twentieth by size) is rough in the various protrusions so only a thin coat of sculptamold is required.

Also put in a few bits up the line past Labarthe.

Now we come to the precursor to the smashy bit…

That steep face on the left that just doesn’t look right? Yep, that’s the one. Several reasons it needed to go:

  1. It was too close to the tracks to put any rock castings on
  2. Didn’t work with the lay of the land
  3. (most importantly) there was no equivalent prototype cliff, just a big ol’ load o’ trees.

That brings us up to speed. If we go back to this post we can see what the base looks like, especially in this picture. I took out the cardboard support and let it slope gently, adding some compression to the hillside which I’ve lately found is nice.

I also winged it with laziness on the lake side of the track, since it was too steep. I wadded up some newspapers, tried taping them down unsuccessfully, and ended up just plastering over them to give a rough shape and then shaping it more as the plaster dried. I’m absolutely shocked something so lazy worked.

Finished avalanche slope – I mean hillside:

In person, it’s miles better. Lumpy, but better.

I also realized that operations and videos would be a lot better if I had somewhere for trains to go once they were past the tunnel, so I added another mile of mainline run by saying “to hell with ideals, I’m building a temporary bridge”

So I cut a wide piece of plywood in the hopes that it would stop derailed rolling stock from falling off, and since I was out of flextrack, patched my 3 longest scraps together and caulked them down right on the plywood.

That gives me some sort of staging…problem is, 81 can trundle right up into it, but staging an eastbound? Have you ever tried to back an N scale train with a mix of body and truck mounts up a steep grade and around curves?

Let’s just say tomorrow’s project is adding some scenery around the bare bits so that my trains have somewhere to fall.

Additionally, I’m in an art show this weekend, so it’s amazing I’m doing anything down here at all. Procrastination? Nope, I’m not using real life as an excuse not to play with trains!

Bridge that gap.

Now, you’re probably wondering “Why aren’t you done your deck yet?”


See that? That’s weather. That’s my #3 cause of delay. It allowed me to work a bit, however.

First thing I did was work on the island at Taghum. It’s a slab of plywood on top of a couple of risers surrounded by plaster and chooch castings.

I figured that I could fill the gaps with hydrocal and carve it later. I either don’t have the tools or the skill, but either way it didn’t work out.

Anyway, it looked good once it was painted. Used a combination of black, white, and burnt sienna thinned out a bit to be a bit wash-y and not entirely blended to give some variety. The plan is to add some white washes to give water lines and highlight the mortar.

Looks nice? Well, I have to redo it. Because I screwed everything up. Such is life! I’ll get back to that later.

I also put in the benchwork for the west switch of Nelson yard, right up to the section edge. The next section will wait until the drywall is in place…if it ever gets built.

Ignoring the ping pong ball assortment, this is what the construction is like. I only used risers, I didn’t bother with 1x1s. The plywood you see is the river (well, lake at this point) basse and the risers above it are for the subroadbed. Only one subroadbed riser comes from the joists, the rest come up from the lake. Anyways, on top of that I decided to use cork strip past the last turnout in the yard and masonite for the yard base. There’s no difference on the prototype in railhead elevation inside the yard so that gives me an excuse to be lazy.

I drew all the track lines on the board before I cut it, made it a lot easier.

Unfortunately, it does end abruptly, but not at the most awkward point. WHOO PLANNING!

Anyways, leaving that for a few months, I’ll get back to the bridge.

I built it using Micro Engineering 80′ plate girders cut to the proper length. I then clamped all 8 girders between a pair of toonies (Perfectly sized round $2 coins, Americans) and filed them until they were rounded like the prototype. Once done that, I used 0.010×0.125″ strip styrene to add a new stop and bottom to the girder. Braces were made using 0.3″ styrene cut into 1″ wide and 1/4″ tall strips to support the track at near the prototype height. After that I eyeballed the bracing and just winged it. For the bottom bracing, the first bridge I winged it and made something beautifully abstract. Second bridge I planned ahead and it looks…better.

Let’s have a C-liner and some Micro Engineering bridge track for scale, shall we?

Well, I’ve done worse. Anyway, the problem at hand: The bridge feet are just under 1/8″ high, and the gap between the bottom of the bridge and the piers is more akin to 3/8″. I’ve decided to use a spare pair of abutments (I accidentally ordered 4 pairs instead of 3) and recut them so the top and second step are at the right height, but the piers are up in the air. I kept the off-cuts and have glued them back together, and I’m going to see if I can recut them to be taller without them looking horrific. Wish me luck!