It is April 2017, the fourth month of Canada’s Sesquicentennial. Based on Tony Koester’s suggestion, the next step was to look after the upper level lighting before putting down any track work which I was more eager to do. I stuck to his book and started putting up fluorescent light fixtures using the daylight tubes. They are bright and they do really differ from the warm incandescent lights that I was used to. I was not really happy at first until I went outside on a sunny day and believe now that Tony was right. The warm glow I was used to from indoor lighting was not as real as the fluorescents. Here are two pictures of the fixture installed above what will be Kennedy and Sons Foundry, ironically on the lower level.
These have been installed just outside the upper level bench work as will be seen as this story progresses. I used hooks through the joists and the shortened chains provided. They are bright but I have become accustomed to them. Valances of some sort will have to be installed. That Folkins print of CNR U-1-f 6060 at Spadina will have to be moved and I am still negotiating another place for it in the house. The master bedroom would be nice but…
Down The Wall To the Helix
I decided I had better ‘Get Smart’ and draw up just how and if these shelf brackets were going to work. The brackets for the upper level are drawn in magenta. Some are not yet drawn in around Wiarton.
Fortunately, there is no lower benchwork to contend with under the section that goes to the helix. I only had to use the brackets and the ‘L’ girder aluminum because the shelf is only 14″ wide, the length of the shelf arm .
Here, you can see where I cut the web in a ‘V’ shape so I could bend the ‘L’ girder to meet the narrower end of the wye. The bottom of the clock points to where the ‘L’ starts to run parallel to the wall. The same thing happens at the other end of the run where the siding is completed. As an aside, my father built that clock as well. He was a great craftsman. I should be so lucky.
The Styrofoam was cut, fitted and glued down. These binders full of my cherished Mainline Modeler magazines are rising to the task of weighing down the Styrofoam until the ‘No More Nails’ has set.
Simon Dunkley requested a diagram of only the Lower Level. Here it is with the lead to the Upper Level to Park Head included. There will be modifications as things get built but for now this is the intent.
Next I will be returning to the Lower Level to complete the benchwork for the Owen Sound mainline from behind the Roundhouse to where the Helix is entered. The Grain Elevator benchwork will be not built until after helix is built.
I know at the end of the last post I indicated that I would describe going down the wall next. However, I forgot that I had actually put down the first of the roadbed in Park Head before I did the bench work along the wall. In order to keep things in correct chronological order, here is The Wye Part 2.
I like using cork roadbed and flex track. Tomalco makes excellent code 70, 83 and 100 flex track and all sorts of aids to help lay it. You can also get ready to run turnouts from them but I, being the frugal person I am, use a FastTracks fixture.
I am using code 70 Tomalco flex track and mostly number 6 turnouts. The code 70 is being used because that is roughly the correct height of the rail, 4.5” which I measured in both Owen Sound and Palmerston. Although I can hand lay track, I am not really fond of doing it and flex track goes down so much quicker and smoother, kind of like a lager over a hoppy IPA. I used number 6 turnouts because they have a large enough radius, 50.788″, and they take up less space. I know the larger number turnouts look better but I only have the number 6 fixture so I make as much use of it as I can. I have had it for over 15 years and it still works great. I also have number 6 code 70 fixtures for a double slip and a three way turnout, once again to save space.
Here is a drawing of Park Head from Ian Wilson’s book, ‘Steam Over Palmerston’, page 111. I asked Ian and he was nice enough to give me permission to use it. Thanks Ian. This should demonstrate what the area looked like.
By the way, there is a picture of the wye looking north taken on October 24, 2018 at the head of the blog. Underneath is an overhead of the wye today. Track is long gone and it is used as an ATV trail now. At least the trail is still there and if we walk along it, close our eyes, we might still hear the whistles from the past and breathe in that refreshing coal smoke from the days gone by. I think I have been re-reading Ian’s excellent books too much.
Park Head had a long stretched out wye which I could duplicate using ‘selective compression’. I accomplished this by using a 3 way turnout at the north end and shortening the distance between the legs of the wye. This was done so the duck-under/lift-out would not be too long for those of us who are getting old and have arthritis setting in.
The track centre lines were drawn on the Styrofoam. By placing track and turnouts in place as sort of a dry run, I could see if things would work out as planned before I started to lay down any roadbed.
Some adjustment had to made before the roadbed was glued in. The cork roadbed I started with was the S scale version that is sold by Scenery Unlimited. I did not have much so I bought two whole boxes of O scale locally which was pretty reasonable a couple years ago and set up my modelers’ table saw to narrow it down. It worked pretty well. Most S scale people simply combine an HO half with an O scale half and get the same result but the division line is off centre and one has to guess/measure out the centre line. Too much effort. Then again, I stood at the table saw for a number of hours slowly cutting the messy, gummy cork! When I ran out of the O scale, I decided to get more of the S scale because it was similar in price to the O scale now. A word of caution, the present S roadbed from Scenery Unlimited is no longer split at all. Apparently this is because the cutter is not able to do it anymore. I was informed that it was not split at an angle, meaning to me that it was at least split at 90 degrees which I could have lived with but now I have to split it on a band saw at an angle and it needs to be split to curve easily. I feel that was misleading on their part. So much for saving time!
I use carpenter’s glue thinned with water to glue the cork down and I use ‘T’ pins to hold it in place. If it gets persnickety, I revert to old magazines to hold it down.
Things were getting pretty exciting. The track laying crew was getting impatient but they held off until all the upper level bench work and roadbed was in place just to make certain that nothing had to be redone because of potential problems down the line. As you can see, the lower level, Owen Sound has become a landing zone for materials to be used in the upper level. Not quite fair for the denizens of Owen Sound but their time will come.
Thanks for following so far. Next I will really go down the wall towards the helix to Owen Sound and discuss lighting for the upper level.
In March 2017, with the framework and the Styrofoam for Park Head done but not glued down, it was now time to concentrate on getting across the door opening to the shelf along the eastern wall to proceed east to Owen Sound. The infrastructure would have to encompass the northern and southern legs of the wye. This meant either keeping something in place or a lift-out. I opted to do a lift out which on the one hand, would allow for flexibility when it came to maintenance but on the other hand, create a lot of precision issues.
I used combination of ½” x ½” and ¾” x ¾” aluminum ‘L’ strip to make a triangular frame that would meet up with a shelf on the adjacent wall. I made supporting ledges on the cage and the bracket on the wall. I also made corresponding lips on the wye frame that went over the cage ledge and the ledge on the bracket on the wall. Holes were drilled to clear three 1” 2-56 brass screws in the ledge on the cage and one 1” x 2-56 screw in the wall bracket ledge. Brass screws were threaded into the holes in lips on the triangular frame and were lined up with the holes in the support ledges on the cage and wall.
Here you can see the ledge on the Park Head bench that the lift-out sits on. There are three holes drilled to clear 2-56 screws. The centre one is easy to see here. The lift-out has three screws permanently put in place pointing down that once inserted into the holes in the ledges are bolted in place using keys.
The special keys are pieces of brass rod drilled and tapped on a lathe. Brass rod and brass sheet handles were soldered in place. Again, these are used to lock the lift-out in place. They are screwed in from underneath the ledges of the cage and wall bracket. This provides more stability and keeps alignment steady when the lift-out is in place. It also helps in the event someone does not duck under enough to clear the wye.
If you look under the wye frame where the red lines are pointing, you can see two of the keys installed.
After the outside of the frame was assembled, tested for placement and ease of removal, some thought was needed to make it more robust. As you can see, the grandmother clock my father built is in the background and has not yet been moved up to the living room.
The frame developed a 1/16” recess in it as I added a bit more bracing. I fastened the aluminum strips to the bottom of the frame on the left using ‘No More Nails’. They have stayed in place well but more support was necessary.
I discovered that 0.060” sheet styrene is 1/16” thick. Researching the Internet led me to a place locally that sells 4’ x 8’ sheets of styrene. I cut a piece to fit in place on the frame. It was part of the solution for the need for more bracing and became a table top to place the Styrofoam on. All was glued down using plastic friendly ‘No More Nails’.
I cut some Styrofoam pieces and put them in place. After I was happy that things were working well enough with regard to installing and removing the lift-out, the Styrofoam was glued down. The line to Wiarton will go under the window in the background. The line to the Helix to Owen Sound connects to the right leg of the wye.
Next: Time for Light Fixtures and Going down the wall toward the helix to Owen Sound.
It was January 2017 when I decided to do the upper level starting with Park Head. This meant building directly over the yard of Owen Sound. I kept in mind that the upper level would not be easy to access in a couple of places and I knew that I would have to work hard to meet this challenge. I wanted to use a light material and metal shelf brackets. Also of concern was maintenance of the upper level. I needed materials that would require little or no maintenance and would not be as affected by the weather as wood. This meant metal and plastic. I knew that Jim Martin, a member of the S Scale Workshop and really great modeler in his own right, had experience with steel 2 x 4’s so I decided to see what could be had to build the upper level using some type of metal that was light and easy to drill and tap. I checked out the Internet to see what was available locally. Aluminum structure shapes were available at the three major building supply outlets. I decided on 1” aluminum ‘L’ trim which I will call girders that is used for doors etc. It was not as cheap as wood but nice and thin at 1/16” thick and I could easily get 8’ lengths in 1”x 1”, perfect for the 1″ thick Styrofoam. I did have to make certain that the girders were not distorted or bent when I selected them. Once in a while when I found one that was bent that I actually could use, I managed to squeeze out a discount from the store. Sweet!
Steel shelf brackets are easy to get in 10” x 12” and 12”x 14”. They are pretty much as cheap as you can get and they come in white too which means they kind of blend in unobtrusively. Not taking up too much space, they can be hidden behind a back drop. My idea was to use the shelf brackets and attach the aluminum ‘L’ girders to the ends using 4-40 nuts, screws and washers. Why 4-40? I had a surplus supply from my early attempts to build an S Scale CNR K-3 Pacific. I settled on the smaller 2-56 screws for that project. All drilling and tapping were done on one of my Unimat 3’s which is set up as a drill press/milling machine. I used centering drill bits to ensure accuracy.
Initial results proved that my idea was going to work but as you can see, ‘reaching access’ over the north end of the yard would be an issue. I almost constantly checked for level.
I discovered things which may look great in drawings and on paper don’t always work out in the real world. This has happened time and time again. The shelf brackets worked well up to 14” but the reach from the north end of the Owen Sound yards was way too great to be able to access the upper level. Some adapting was necessary. I decided a 10” inch extension would solve the problem of being able to access the motive power and rolling stock on the upper level in this area. I then cut some of the 1”x 1” aluminum ‘L’ stock into 12” lengths, drilled and tapped them and attached them to the 14” leg of the brackets. Tee and ‘L’ brackets were added to the ends to support the main 8 ’x 1”x 1” aluminum ‘L’ girders which provided the front shelf edge for the Styrofoam.
Here are some of the braces and splice plates and bolts I used in the construction of the upper level. The 6 x 1/2” screws were used to fasten the steel shelf brackets to the wall. In some cases, I needed to supplement the screws that went into the walls with ‘No More Nails’ to secure them more.
I also use just straight splice plates, sometimes known as bars, to join the underside of the aluminum lengths together.
I am not certain if it is acceptable to name stores in a blog because it might be deemed promotion, but I can tell you this, different stores have better prices and quantities for certain things. I have to visit 3 different ones to get the best prices and quantities for the materials I was using so I found it was necessary to try to wait until I needed enough from one to eventually go there unless two were close enough together. It would be nice to be able to one-stop shop.
The extensions to the steel brackets gave me the reach but the brackets were now kind of floppy. After Trevor Marshall and I discussed whether to add braces to the bottom or go up, I decided that adding vertical supports to the ceiling would alleviate this problem. To make the supports as visually inoffensive as possible, I used ½”x½” aluminum ‘L’ shape. I had to custom-make some brackets from brass rectangular tubing and extra aluminum 1″ x 1″ ‘L’ to attach these verticals to the ceiling joists.
Building over the South end of the Owen Sound Yard required some extra support. I built a cage-like affair using steel 90 degree corner braces to anchor ¾”x ¾”aluminum ‘L’ pieces as uprights and used 1”x 1” ‘L’ turned down to form a sort of rack on top.
I threaded the aluminum ends as well so that the 4-40 nuts would snug down and become doubly tight. Occasionally if the thread did get stripped, I used red thread lock liquid to keep things tight. Note, that lock liquid will eat into Styrofoam. I am hoping that this approach has made the upper level somewhat easy to dismantle when the last rule of Murphy’s Law of rail modelling comes into play.
More bracing was added to the top rack to support the Styrofoam. 1/16”x2” flat pieces of aluminum were used as cleats to make the bracing flush and provide more support. Later, when I found a commercial source of sheet styrene, I found that 0.060” is equivalent to 1/16” and would use that instead. Cheaper by the kilo!
After some creative linking between the rack and the shelf along the wall, the Styrofoam was cut and added but not glued down. I wanted to be sure that no future unaccounted for altercations and alterations would ruin the Styrofoam.
The next installment will cover doing the frame work for the lift out section of the wye and proceeding down the wall to the ‘east’ towards the helix.
I found some pictures that I took dealing with obstacles before finally putting in the last bit of bench work of the Owen Sound yard. They may prove to be of interest and help others who are planning the same. Again, this was all done in November 2016.
The basement had already been finished before my wife and I moved in and as far as I was concerned was good enough. I am not one for undoing something that works and is already in place. Before any construction of the upper level that would go from Park Head to Wiarton, I needed to modify the circuit breaker panel enclosure. The bottom hung down too far to clear the upper bench work and track. Luckily there was enough extra room below the panel to remove some of the enclosure and shorten the doors from the bottom. We had to replace the original fuse panel with a circuit breaker panel and the electrician placed it up higher in the enclosure. You will notice in some of the photos a Bell Internet router on a little platform. I built that to hold the router which ordinarily was just sitting on a DVD cabinet. According to Bell this is the only area in the house that a router can be placed without interference from wiring in the ceiling of the train room.
The doors to the panel enclosure were easy to take off and cut on a table saw. The enclosure frame required the careful use of the reciprocating saw. It worked out well in the end but I did have to make certain that any cables were always clear.
Luckily I was able to match the paint close enough at a local building supply. As it turned out it came in quite handy later and I should have bought a gallon.
That nice water colour of the CN Stirling station was painted by my mother-in-law, Alicia Chambers. She is a really good artist and was a professional photographer for the Belleville Intelligencer. She paints scenes from photos she took around the Bay of Quinte area. This painting will be relocated to the lobby.
The access notch in the now installed Owen Sound bench work is plain to see in this picture. It will make the radius of the curve behind the roundhouse smaller but this modification was necessary. This was also described in the last post.
Would more pre-planning have helped? Possibly but sometimes a person really doesn’t know what to expect until they arrive at a situation. I have found as I go along that what looks great on paper won’t always quite work out in reality unless some adaption is made. Flexibility is key.
In the fall of 2016, the bench work for the lower level started. It was unconventionally warm for a long time so I could work outdoors up until early December. I had pretty good success with Styrofoam as a base on my modules and I have seen it used successfully on many newer model railroads. Also and most importantly, it is very stable when it comes to humidity and temperature change. The Styrofoam insulation I decided on was 1” thick, 2’ wide and 8’ long available only at one of the last Canadian building supply centres. I chose this also because I could fit these sheets inside my windowed panel van. The 1” thickness would mean that I would need a more robust support system but it was the only sheet that came 2’ wide. With these things in mind, I designed the lower bench work to provide an inner lip and framing to support the Styrofoam so that it would be flush with the edges.
Here are the overall dimensions of my layout space. There is a support beam in the upper area of the drawing which will come in handy to support the grain elevator extension. The main room 22′ 8″ x 18′ is where Owen Sound proper and Wiarton will be. The lower part of the drawing displays where the layout will actually go outside the main room into a kind of lobby. This will hold William Kennedy and sons and the southern part of Park Head. Unfortunately a duck under will have to be used for the wye at Park Head. The intent is to have it removable as a lift out.
I wanted to be able to store my 3 linear modules under the bench work as well so given these considerations, the build started with the end of Owen Sound yards, William Kennedy and sons. Below is the drawing which really doesn’t give the overall dimensions.
I soon realized my drawings needed to reflect frame work dimensions.
Construction began on warm fall days and evenings, on the driveway no less because I wanted to keep my modules up as long as possible so I could run trains! The outer bench work framing is 4.5″ deep with inner 3.5″ framing that provides the 1/2″ lip for the 1″ Styrofoam. I used 1/2″ plywood which was left over from various projects including having our roof redone. I don’t like to waste anything.
The lobby held a couple of things that needed to be moved. One was a grandmother clock my father had built from wood that he hewed himself. He was that kind of guy. He didn’t live long enough to complete it so I did some remedial work on it and we had a friend, Marg Fishbein, do the finish. She did an excellent job and now it is in our living room. You can see part of it on the left side of the pic. Building layouts can lead to procrastinated projects becoming completed! In later pics, you will see the unfinished clock more clearly.
All proved to be well and so on I continued with more framing. Some things are according to plan and others are ‘seat of the pants’. As the layout proceeded, I encountered various obstacles I had forgotten to include in my initial drawings. Some like the TV, needed to be relocated and not always where I originally thought I could put them.
I really wanted to be able to store things under the layout as the main room was/is a storage area for train equipment, kit production parts and blueprints. Various cabinets had to have casters installed on reinforced bases. They roll out well.
I thought I could put the TV on the wall overhead Park Head but it would have not allowed for scenery so it ended up on the wall under the Ben Allen/Shallow Lake siding. As you can see in the photo, I did not compensate for the covering for the down pipe on the wall. It was not in my drawing. An oversight but not insurmountable. I used a reciprocating saw and jig saw to make a cut out and put pieces of plywood in place around the down pipe. Saved by power tools my wife had bought me for Christmas over the years.
Things really started to get exciting for me when I got the framework done for the Owen Sound roundhouse. I had a learning experience here. The framework was built on the driveway according to plan but it would not fit down the stairwell so out it went and had to be trimmed down. It also meant the front of the previous bench had to be trimmed back to match. When I tried to access the circuit breaker panel, it was a bit of a reach. I thought I could live with it but my wife Terry insisted that if access was needed by any technicians, the safety of the layout would be compromised. So I used the same saw combo as above to cut out a gap for easier access to the panel which can bee seen behind the roundhouse. It has proven to be helpful in that Internet, air conditioning and electrical technicians have managed to avoid any contact with the layout. It is good to have a smart wife give you advice!
I guess I should address a few things before I end this section of construction. I am a firm believer of learning from what others have done and from my own mistakes. If there is something out there that can help me expedite things without too much loss of fidelity to the prototype, I embrace it. I have seen too many rivet counters like myself get ‘prototype paralysis’ and never complete anything to their satisfaction. There will be more about ‘prototype paralysis’ in later posts. So, windows in the roundhouse though not prototypical will probably stay. BTW, the roundhouse was purchased for a ridiculously low price because it was started(nice, a time saver). It is actually about the right length though it is narrow gauge. I will put a ‘concrete’ base under it to give it more height. If my Pacifics were scale length and not lengthened for flange clearance reasons, they would fit in perfectly. I may try to lengthen the roundhouse for this reason but then again, there are always more pressing things to do on the layout. It was December and now there was snow on the ground so it was time to start the upper level! But what to do? What to do?
I decided on a two level track plan. The Lower Level would be Owen Sound, the upper Park Head to Wiarton and a staging area. If you know the line, you will note that I left out the towns of Shallow Lake and Ben Allen between Owen Sound and Park Head. You will also notice that the towns of Hepworth and Clavering are missing between Park Head and Wiarton. This is because of space limitations. But it does not mean that the layout will lose out in the majority of prototype operation which occurred at the 3 key points I have chosen to model. The two levels were to be linked together with a 42″ radius helix. As the building of the layout has progressed, the 42″ had to be reconsidered and downsized to 38″ radius.
As can be seen, it is a challenging undertaking. I have built only a couple of layouts in the past, one Flyer and one HO. I also have built two module sets and corners for participation in the S Scale Workshop of which I am a member. This however is a bit daunting.