The PRR Chartiers Branch - Progress Report - 2013-11 Report
11/28/2013
11/28/2013
It has been a while since I did a progress report on the layout. It is not because I haven't been working on the layout; far from it! This first photo shows the addition of the Canonsburg Milling factory, which is still a work in progress. I have noticed something about myself. I get mildly stressed when I start a new project when I haven't finished a previous project. I don't like to leave things hanging. This structure is a case in point, because to its right is the Canonsburg passenger station which is only bare walls right now. Yet, the Canonsburg Iron Works and the team track platform in the foreground are finished. What I realized is that this is supposed to be a hobby, and so you should work on those things you want to work on at the moment. In the meantime, the layout makes progress, and I can learn to live with the new additions. For example, the large factory building made me realize just how small an 18-inch shelf layout is in S-scale! For me, it seems, structures are really starting to narrow the layout quite a bit. If I were to start over again, I'd definitely be looking at 30- to 36-inch deep "shelves".
2013-11 Report
Another thing I have been working on is several more trees. I wrote an article about them for this web site. For the moment, they are just loosely planted in random locations on the layout, just to keep them protected. I am also using them for a couple of shows on our club layout, which is why they are still loose. In January 2014 we will have a large show. I want to bring these trees with me to that show. However, after that, I will make a permanent spot for them, and integrate their roots into the surrounding scenery.
2013-11 Report
These are larger foreground trees, so I am experimenting with where to fit them. For example, this set of five trees were just planted on the layout where I had some space. They completely obstruct the view and the ability to easily uncouple cars for this area, so this is probably not a good place for them. These actual trees will probably replace some existing trees in the center section of my layout.
2013-11 Report
The real impetus for this month's report page is the fact that I started reworking the closet module again. It has gone through several iterations since I first introduced it to the layout in September of 2011. The last one was in April of this year when I used it as an off-layout storage track shelf. That idea was somewhat usable, until one day when I needed to get something off of the top shelf in the closet and didn't realize something loose and heavy was placed on top of the box I wanted. The item crashed down on top of my storage "cassettes". All but one of them had their track knocked loose and one of my freight cars was returned into a semi-kit state. That made me realize that it just wasn't going to work. I toyed with the idea of putting a sheet of plywood over the cars and then decorating the top of the plywood with a town scene. However, after doing some measurements, I realized that it wasn't going to fit. I abandoned that idea, as well. However, the idea of making a town scene lingered in the back of my mind. Finally, a few days before this next photo was taken, I decided, "Why not!". Many model railroaders wouldn't dream of dedicating precious space to a town scene when track could be placed there. I have always liked the idea of modeling such a scene. I am a big fan of George Selios' layout and the way he models city scenes. When we were at the NASG Convention in August in Scranton, PA, I bought a couple of Pine Canyon Models kits, and they were a big part of the motivation behind dedicating some space to modeling a small town scene in 1950.

So, to make this long story longer, I decided to remove everything off of this module and start fresh. I still wanted to have the two feet of track I had on it, which I use for the battery charging track for my battery-powered engines. After clearing the module, I found some cork in the garage and decided to use that to build the sub-roadbed out of. This photo shows the first piece being glued in place. I used white glue, which takes a while to cure, so I put lots of flat-bottomed items on it with substantial weights (the white round containers hold rocks, ballast, etc., so they are quite heavy).
2013-11 Report
I continued with a second layer of the cork. This one was slightly skinnier than the first one.
2013-11 Report
I then glued two more layers of cork to represent the roadbed. I put enough layers on to try to match the already-established height of the bridge that connects the module to the layout, accounting for the height of the ties, of course.
2013-11 Report
After letting the glue dry overnight, I was happy with the cork roadbed, so it was time to install the ties.
2013-11 Report
Ties installed! I used Aleene's Tacky Glue so that I didn't have to wait so long for the glue to dry.
2013-11 Report
I had forgotten to take an overall photo of the closet module, so here it is. One lone Pine Canyon structure is under construction. The charging track power supply will be moved to under the module.
2013-11 Report
Next up is the track. I continued to use my layout's standard code 83 rail, which was spiked to the ties with Micro Engineering medium-sized spikes. They worked well, and since this part of the track is not as easily visible, I didn't get too worked up about its appearance. There are no tie plates installed here either (which the rest of my layout does have).
2013-11 Report
The two rails were soldered to two wires, which were then connected to the two output terminals of this Radio Shack power supply. When the unit is turned on, any battery-powered engines that are placed on the module's track are charged.
2013-11 Report
Next I used the famous india ink and alcohol mixture to darken the ties.
2013-11 Report
I ran out of Floquil "Rail Brown" paint, which is what I used to paint the rails on my layout. So, instead I tried Polly Scale's "Rust". I then added a bit of Bragdon Enterprises' weathering powder. I actually think I like this approach better than using the Rail Brown paint. The rail looks more rusted. Also note the two wheel stops at the end to prevent a train's crash into the closet's back wall.
2013-11 Report
External Reference:
The final step of the track work is ballasting. I normally do my ballasting before laying the rail, but I had to order the ballast. So, while I was waiting I installed the rail. I ordered these three packages of "Pennsylvania Railroad HO Mainline Ballast" directly from Arizona Rock & Minerals. They arrived within three days! I had previously used this size ballast on a couple of modules of our club, and I liked its size. I measured some of the larger pieces and they come quite close to an S-scale two-inch dimension, which is the recommended ballast size in the prototype. Instead of making my own ballast from scratch, I will use this from now on. I had used their N-scale product for many years on my N-scale layouts and was always happy with the results.
2013-11 Report
Aaahhh, the beauty of a clean slate! As you can see, I finished ballasting the two-foot section of track. I had previously installed a 4-foot fluorescent light under the shelf in the closet, but I decided to remove it because it sat too close to where the structures of the town scene are going to be. It was a pain to remove, but a heck of a lot easier than it would have been had I had some scenery on the module!
2013-11 Report