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Peter's Model Railroading | Articles | Layouts | Layout #7

I printed out some Fast Tracks templates for the turnouts I was planning on building, and used that to do some track planning.

As I was awaiting my order for my first S-scale piece of rolling stock. I cut some MDF blocks that represented 40-foot box cars and used those to plan out the length of the spurs on the layout.

When I was happy with my design, I cut a bunch of these small blocks of plywood to act as sub-roadbed supports and guides for the bare wires I decided to use for the main buses (made it easier to solder the feeder wires at random locations).

Here you can see the bare bus wires for the DCC bus. The black and yellow wires are for the 12-volt accessories bus. I had no idea where they were going to go and would be needed yet, so I just left them loose, but capped off. The remaining blocks are for the sub-roadbed support.

I cut the sub-roadbed, in cookie-cutter style, out of 1/2" MDF.

I painted the track MDF to prevent it from getting wet and deforming. For some areas I also cut out the "empty" spaces as they would be the eventual foundations for the structures and scenery.

It was my plan to cover the MDF with Woodland Scenics' O-scale (part #ST1476) Track-Bed foam to reduces the wheels' noise. It is supposed to be glued down with Pliobond industrial contact cement, which remains pliable, and thus further reduces the transmission of noise. I glued the foam down. The stench was awful. I wound up tearing it all out after two weeks. I had to also replace the MDF sub-roadbed, because the glue kept on stinking up the room.

Since I needed a different sound-absorbing material, I decided to use 1/2"-thick ceiling tile as I had read about some people using it. Here's a photo of the 12"-square tiles I bought at Lowe's.

The ceiling tiles were then cut and glued to the painted sub-roadbed.

The ceiling tile itself was then also painted (the sides were painted later), as the tile is not water-proof.

I next cut and glued ties to the top of the ceiling tile, doing one section at a time. The ties were stained with

Rail was then spiked to the ties. I used code 88 Micro Engineering unweathered rail, soldering a feeder wire to each individual rail piece as I placed them. The wire disappears in a hole drill into the ballast, so you can't see it from the normal viewing angle.

There are going to be two bridges on this layout where the railroad crosses the Chartiers creek. I made a master for the bridge abutments, and then cast 4 of them, two for each bridge.

After painting and aging the abutments, I scratchbuilt the bridge in place. This photo shows the longer bridge ties having been cut and installed.

On the other side the other pair of abutments were completed, and the bridge was being built in place as well.

I could not proceed with the rail, because immediate after the bridge was a crossing (the bridge is just to the top left corner of the photo). I had never hand-laid a crossing before, and this one was a challenge because of the sharp angle and the fact that it had to be a part of a curve.

First, I completed all of the ties on the right-hand side of the layout.

Next, I stained those ties and then applied the ballast.

Then, it was finally time to tackle the challenge of building the crossing. This took several days of modeling sessions to complete.

The straight track through the crossing was there to enable the ability to do switching moves in this area. Where the box car sits there will be an industrial building that needs to be switched.

Because of the shallow tray concept, the Circuitron Tortoise switch machines were mounted sideways. They also couldn't be installed directly under the turnout, so some sort of custom actuating mechanism was needed for each installation. The Tortoises were controlled by the Digitrax DCC DS44 accessories decoder that you see mounted near the Tortoise.

After many hours of work, I did eventually complete all the track work on the right-hand side of the layout.

I also completed all the track work on the left-hand side of the layout. On December 25, 2009 I finally completed all track work (scale: 3,040 feet, actual: 47.5 feet, 11 turnouts, one crossing).

This section of the layout was to have the switchable DCC programming track, powered by the Soundtraxx PTB-100, shown here.

I took this opportunity to build a nice utility panel to hold all the DCC and power systems for the layout, which will be mounted into one of the cabinets under the layout.

Here is a photo of the front face of this utility panel. It has two wall socket for powering tools, the Digitrax panels (UR-91 and UP-3) for running the trains, three switches (for controlling the layout's lights, the DCC system, and the accessories line), and the single small switch that switches the programming track between programming and regular running modes.