This page documents the high-level steps I have accomplished so far in building my model railroad. To keep this page from being nothing but text, I've inserted photos of the efforts.
From 2008 through 2015 I had my first S-scale layout, which was a freelance-design switching layout very loosely based on the Chartiers Branch. I became increasingly interested in modeling true-to-scale and to do away with freelance. I just couldn't figure out how to accomplish that without owning a football-field-sized building. Then, in 2015 the concept conveyed in the Introduction page came to me. In late 2015 I demolished my S-scale switching layout.
My journey into this new layout construction approach started with the idea of making modules out of foam board. My experiments were a big failure, but I have captured it all in this article. The concept was that modules made out of foam would be lightweight and easy to move. The problem was that foam warps over time.
My next effort was in building modules out of a framework of plywood (sides and bottom), but then making the entire interior of the modules out of layers of foam board. This worked, until the winter of 2016, when I noticed that the track between the modules was shifting vertically. My conclusion was that, somehow, the foam started warping again. So, on this day, I officially made the decision to scrap the four modules I had been working on for the past year and three months, and to start working on the new ones. So, technically, this was the official first day of the new, permanent layout.
I made the decision to build a three-section layout to model the area immediately surrounding the Hazel Mine in Canonsburg, PA.
Started work on a 3D CAD design diagram that will capture the plan I have in my head.
Bought the raw materials for building the framework of the three modules.
The framework for the modules has been built.
The modules were set up in the layout room.
Completed the Chartiers Creek in the modules.
The first structure, Fort Pitt Bridge Works, has been built and installed. It is a partial, background building.
I have decided on the final track plan for the Hazel Mine set of modules.
The trackwork construction phase officially commences with the laying of the ties.
I completed laying the ties.
Decided to switch eras from 1950 to 1924. This was a major decision; probably nearly as significant of a change as which railroad to model or which scale to model in, because a bunch of stuff that I have accumulated now doesn't fit my time period (there weren't too many diesel engines running around in 1924!). Earlier this year I received more detailed prototype information that made it obvious to me that the early part of the 20th Century was a much more active time for the Chartiers Branch. There were lots of mines open, many passenger trains ran each day, and the volume of freight traffic on the branch line was tremendous. So much so that a substantial portion of the branch line was double-tracked. Although I enjoy diesel locomotives, I knew that at some point in time I wanted to have more steam locomotives than diesel ones, which means that I'll have to scratchbuild them in S-scale. Now I have no choice but to build them.
I completed building my LED overhead lighting system for the layout. I had also put down the first layer of ballast.
I started installing the rail.
I expanded the LED overhead lighting system. I got what people now call Covid-19 in late-March, and it knocked me out until well into May 2019.
I finished laying the rail itself. This matches, exactly, to the track that was in use at the mine in 1924, with no selective-compression.
It took me two years, but I finally finished all trackwork-related activities for the Hazel Mine diorama.
I rebuilt the overhead lighting framework to make it sturdier and more practical.
With the trackwork all done and ballasting done for the module that will hold the Hazel Mine Tipple, construction of the tipple officially started today.
The main building of the tipple-proper is now complete, but much work remains.