I wanted to try out using a spline roadbed for this layout, just so that I could say I tried it, and to see if it has any merits for a future larger layout. On February 4, 2006 I officially started work on this layout by cutting a set of 1/8" Masonite (hardboard) strips that were one inch wide from an 8-foot long sheet, using my table saw.
I decided to build the roadbed first. No benchwork yet. That would come later. This was definitely a backward way of working, but it actually worked out. Spline roadbed consists of staggered strips of material glued together to form a permanently set sub-roadbed. This next photo shows the center spline held in its approximate location using clamps. I am building the layout on top of a set of bookcases (left and right) and my workbench (center). The nail file and metal weights were used to hold the roadbed the desired distance away from the back wall of the layout.
Another strip continues through the center section over my workbench.
And continues onto the bookcase on the left side of the room. This will be extend to which I will model the layout for now.
It was then just a matter of connecting other splines, staggered about one foot to provide lots of glue surface. I used every clamp I could find to help this process along.
I used wax paper under the spline to prevent glue from damaging the bookcases and workbench.
Well, you get the idea.
After many layers, this is what I wound up with. One solid, heavy mainline sub-roadbed.
Here's a view of the end profile. These splines were specifically cut that way on the table saw. It will hopefully help with the scenic element of the roadbed down the road. I also learned that trying to smooth out the roadbed after the glue had dried was very difficult and labor-intensive.
The supports for the sub-roadbed are going to be legs made out of a piece of 3/4-inch plywood for the vertical height, and a piece of 1/4-inch plywood for horizontal stability. All was held together with yellow Carpenter's glue.
The first one is always the most difficult. I glued the two pieces of the wood together, and after they had dried, I glued the leg to the bottom of the main line sub-roadbed.
Using a level, I was able to then install the second leg on the right-hand side of the layout.
Here's a cleaned-up view.
I did the same thing in the center section, again using the level to make sure the whole layout was level across the various pieces of furniture.
Here's a view of the other end.
Within just three days after starting this layout I was installing ties! These were Kappler Mill & Lumber standard ties glued to the sub-roadbed using diluted white glue.
Within a week all of the main line's ties were down.
The next day I had stained all the ties and placed some grass on the outer profile of the roadbed. The ballast will go on top of this, so I wanted the grass in there first. The next layer was some rough ballast substrate. I used model coal for this layer.
Needless to say, the final layer was the ballast itself. I used my standard ballast, which was Arizona Rock & Minerals' PRR fine ballast.