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Peter's Model Railroading | The Layout
Layout History

This page captures some significant moments in the construction of my current layout.

March 13, 2021

I was doing some re-arranging of "stuff" in the room that holds my model railroad, when it dawned on me that moving the three modules that I had previously built out of 3/4" plywood, each weighing 40 lbs (18kg) or more, was just too much of a pain. My previous layout was started under the same philosophy of modular construction, with the intent of keeping those modules "forever". While lifting those 40+ lbs modules of layout is currently physically doable, as more and more delicate track, structures, and general scenery items are added, they have to be treated with much care. That is hard to do by yourself when they are that heavy and bulky (3' x 4'). So, I made the monumental decision to completely start over again and build a new layout. This one would be made out of a lighter material, the modules would be smaller, but they would continue to conform to my plan for the overall (future) layout.

The last photo of the previous layout itself.

March 19, 2021

I had previously experimented with all sorts of foam board material to try to build a lightweight, modular layout. All those foam-based experiments failed as most foam materials warp or shrink over time. The only one I had not tried was Gatorfoam® board. This was because it is extremely expensive stuff, which is why I decided to go back to 3/4" plywood as the base material for my modules (as shown above). However, with today's prices of 4'x8' sheets of 3/4" plywood, and the fact that a few years back I had visited a very large N-scale layout in the Houston area where the owner had built his layout out of modules built from 1/2"-thick Gatorfoam board, I decided to give it a second look. So, after some extensive research online, I found a company that had a reasonable deal for ten sheets of 3/16" thick, 2'x3' Gatorfoam board. The ten-pack arrived in the mail today, so the new layout is officially a "go" now. See my article about this material.

The Gatorfoam board arrives.

April 6, 2021

I've completed the construction of the first module's framework.

The completed core module.

April 18, 2021

I have installed the Hazel Mine's foundation blocks and the track. The foundation blocks (44 of them) were salvaged from the previous layout (partially visible in the photo at the top of this page).

The flextrack is installed.

May 7, 2021

I have completed the application of the ballast on the Hazel Mine module. The Hazel Mine tipple's main building I had completed during the lifetime of the previous layout. I was thinking about how to permanently attach it to that layout, as that was a point of no-return, which was part of the reason why I decided to scrap that layout. With the new module's framework completed, the focus returns back to completing that mine tipple itself.

Ballast done, and Hazel Mine main building loosely placed in position.

October 8, 2021

I completed the support structure for the Hazel Mine tipple building. It was made out of to-scale styrene strips. However, over the days and weeks that followed its completion, the whole model started warping in all three directions. Even some of the H-columns all by themselves started warping. So, this was a failure, and was sent on a one-way trip to the trashcan.

The first version of the tipple support structure, the one that warped.

January 6, 2023

I completed building the new support structure, this time out of Plastruct ABS. It was built in place. This photo was taken shortly after the whole structure was spray-painted.

The second version of the tipple support structure.

April 1, 2023

All of the detailing that needed to be done to the interior of the support structure has now been completed, and so on this day I officially and permanently glued the main building to the support structure. The module, itself, is now two years old and I have seen absolutely zero warping or twisting in it. I have, finally (after 8 years of research), found the material out of which I am going to build my entire layout.

The marriage of the main buildin to its support structure.

May 14, 2023

After one month short of three calendar years, the Hazel coal mine structure has been completed. Super-detailing and weathering will be done over time, but the basic structure with all of its attachments, are in place.

The Hazel coal mine tipple completed.