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Builder's Railroad Project: in the Beginning...

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  • #16
    So, how are you transferring the shapes from a small piece of paper to full size on the osb?

    BTW, you can get 3/4" 7-ply plywood in the US. We use it for high-end cabinets...called stain grade ply.
    Last edited by JAD_333; 19 May 12,, 05:28.
    To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato


    • #17
      Each apex of every point is identified by an X-Y measurement from the origin at the lower-left corner of the OSB. I just use a tape measure to set out each point and connect the dots. For the curves, I use a Rotape, a specialized tape measure with a steel pin that comes out of the center and a pencil lead holder on the end of the tape. You just pull the tape out to the radius you're needing and scribe a big circle. The tape is calibrated from the center pin, so you don't have to worry about the thickness of the case (unlike a standard tape measure).

      Because the centers of these curves lie off the sheet in most cases, I had to butt a second sheet up to the one I'm laying out so there was a place for the center point. I'm going to use these first curve pieces as templates going forward so I won't have to use two sheets. Here's what a Rotape looks like.

      The hardest part about using this thing was keeping the center point in the OSB while I was drawing the curve 50" away. I finally resorted to lightly hammering the center pin in a little deeper so it would stay put. It would have been much easier with a helper.

      As you may recall if you've read this from the first post, I was originally going to project the images onto the OSB using my InFocus PC projector and then just hand-draw around the image, but the results were very disappointing. The images were too distorted to produce an accurate replica and would defeat the whole purpose.

      As it is, even if my drawings are perfect, I'm still having to execute those longs cuts with the saber saw. My first curved pieces weren't my best effort. Before using them as templates, I'm going to touch them up with the belt sander. For the templates I'm going to hammer in some brads at the curve start and end points and just bump the template up to the brads and trace. This will be much easier than trying to hold the curve in place over the points which can be many inches apart.
      Attached Files


      • #18
        Cutting cont.

        3 down and only 8 more to go... OSB sheets that is. I got three sheets laid out and cut today. I tried the improved method of using a previously cut piece as a curve template for the next sheet thus avoiding the off-sheet center-point problem. To make it more stable, I hammered in some small nails at the apexes and just bumped the template against them to make the curve. It worked nicely and made it easy for me to do the curves without a helper.

        In addition, it was gratifying to see how closely the actual layout conforms to the computer design. Here's a close up of the template after being bumped up against the pins, and how close the curve comes to the sheet edge. Above it is the drawing with the coordinates. Note that the edge of the piece in the drawing touches the edge of the sheet, just as the real one does. It's within a 1/4". The sharpie that I'm using makes a line over and 1/8" wide so being within a quarter inch is quite acceptable.

        Here's the third sheet completely laid out prior to cutting. It's a relief to know that I'm not making fine furniture. Any blemishes, or not-so-hot cutting will ultimately be concealed under layers of track, roadbed, ballast, paint, ground cover, foliage, etc.

        And here's a closer look.

        Now for some fun... I'm working with the grandkids to build a large jigsaw puzzle on the floor of all the sub-roadbed pieces to get an idea of how it all fits in the room compared to all the plans. My 10 year-old said it more "sawing than jigging".

        As the time goes on this picture will fill up. Then all I have to do is build the trusses that will hold it all up. The frame construction is more fun than cutting out all these slices.

        I have work tomorrow. Will get back to cuttery on Wednesday. At the rate I'm working all the pieces will be cut by the end of next week.

        It's kind of funny to go from the battleship with its infinitesimal details and precision, and go to cutting out large chunks of OSB with it's forgiving nature. There was nothing forgiving building that ship.
        Attached Files


        • #19
          10 Down 1 to Go

          I had a very productive day yesterday cutting the layout shapes from 7 sheets of OSB and piling them all up on the garage floor.

          I also created quite a bit of scrap, much of it usable. I tossed any pointy pieces, but kept those that were the largest which will be useful in creating splice plates to joint the pieces together.

          When I was cutting all this I wore hearing protection, a cheap dust mask and safety goggles. It all worked and was very wise. The only thing I had to keep an I on was where the sawhorses were. I set the circular saw depth to just nick the sawhorse so I could just cut through the OSB without worrying. With the saber saw, I'd cut just up to the sawhorse, then lift the sheet to place the blade on the other side and then continue cutting.

          So there's one sheet left.

          I finished this much faster than I thought and that's real good since it was my biggest concern. I will need help getting the larger pieces down the basement. Even though I can carry them, there's some tricky curves to negotiate without wrecking the house. My wife has volunteered to help steer.

          I'm getting a "Google Malware Error" every time I enter this site over the last couple of days. Anyone else having this problem? What do we do about it?
          Attached Files


          • #20
            More Preliminary Stuff

            I got every cut. The last piece was cut yesterday, then I made many, many trips to the cellar carrying as many pieces as I could myself. I laid them out on floor to see the fit and compared it my Visio drawing. It seems to fit very closely to plan. Here's the layout as it stands now. There are five big pieces missing that my son in law is going to help me carry down tomorrow.

            It looks a little foreshortened in this picture. I took it with the iPhone since my "real" camera was left in my daughter's mini-van yesterday. The fit was generally good with all these puzzle pieces except for a few minor problems. All of these problems were the result of my decision to change the intersection angles on the curved pieces. I got the bright idea to make the ends reflect the angle as projected from the center of the arcs they inscribe. This worked okay, except where it didn't. Case in point: see this picture.

            The "spider" piece in the middle is the most complex layout of the bunch. The angle on the right side was originally supposed to be vertical just like the large adjacent piece. I neglected this relationship, and enscribed it with the radial line. Unfortunately, the adjacent piece is constrained because it's 8 feet wide and ran edge to edge on the sheet and couldn't be angled outward to conform to the spider. The result is this wedge shaped opening. I will fix it when I go to mount the panels on the framework. I'll scribe the line 2" wide of the right hand piece and cut off the angular part of the spider and put in a splice piece. No problem.

            Here's another example of a slight mismatch that I'll fix as I go along.

            I checked clearances for the swinging door on the back curve that's going to provide easy access to the inside, and nicely, it clears the Lally column and will give good access to the interior.

            Then I woke up this morning at 6:00 a.m. thinking about building the layout. I solved several problems including improving the way I'm going to attach the diagonal braces on the wall brackets, reintroduced my brain to using the water-level to set the level from one extreme part of the layout to another, and lastly, while I wasn't going to put Tyvek on the ceiling like I did in the old house, but reconsidered.

            Here's what this looked like.

            This is the "poor man's dropped ceiling" and was the idea of my old friend who was the lead vocalist and keyboardist in my 60's rock band, and is an electrical engineer in Oklahoma City. I was looking for a way to stop dust and spiders from invading the layout. Both would raise havoc on models. While the public side of DuPont Tyvek has huge graphics on it, the reverse side is pure white. It's tough and water-resistant. It's easy to install. After stapling to the joists, I use the Tyvek tape to seal the seams. No spiders can get directly in.

            So today I went to Home Depot and bought two rolls. Each covers almost 500 sq ft and I have about 750 sq ft to cover. Tomorrow I start the installation.

            Here's another tidbit. When the railroad was built in Germany, it had two characteristics. It was "cab control" and was built to be disassembled and put back together easily. The former works like this. My transformer has two separate throttles, right and left. I wanted to be able to run two trains simultaneously anywhere on the layout. This is done by breaking the layout into a series of blocks (in my case 30 or so), and having a single-pole, double-throw toggle for each block. Flip the switch to one side and the right throttle would power that portion of the layout. Switch the toggle to the other side and the left throttle would power that block. Put the switch in the center and that block would be off. This creates a lot of wires, but did give some decent operational flexibility short of full digital control.

            Now to the second condition. To make the railroad come apart and go back together again with this cab control feature meant that I installed separating terminal strips at every junction. You can see how many junctions there were, and each had 8 wires on both sides. Not only was this a slow and complex process since every wire entering and leaving each connector had to be tagged, but it introduced more risk in the design AND probably added electrical resistance that wasn't needed. Here's what the underside of one panel on the old layout looked like. This was typical.

            If you've ever seen the inside of a pinball machine (the old style) this is what it looked like. It did go back together. If you looked at the other side of this panel, the track and roadbed was attached and completely wired.

            On the new layout neither condition will be present. I am going to use modified cab control and won't have to use all those connectors. This layout isn't coming apart until we move (not likely) or I die (hopefully not likely soon), so the wiring can go all the way from the source to the terminus without intermediate connections. This will speed up the building process greatly. I'm also using completely out-and-back wiring to make it ready for Mike's Train House Digital Control System and also Lionel's Trainmaster Control. This allows you to run any number of engines at the same time since they are each addressed individually.
            Attached Files
            Last edited by Builder 2010; 26 May 12,, 04:47.


            • #21
              A Big Boo Boo and Installing Tyvek

              Just in case you guys ever think I'm a "perfect" hobbyist, here's an example of how I'm not so perfect. Somehow, I laid this piece of roadbed out backwards. As I was bringing in downstairs with my son in law, it seemed wrong somehow. As soon as I got it over the layout I realized what I had done. But it's not completely backwards...only the curved end is on the wrong side. In order to get it to fit...somewhat...I had to turn it over to the rough side. OSB has a smooth side and a rough one. I'm not worried about this part since it's going to be covered, but when I reversed to make the curve fit, the other end was now backwards. I don't have any scrap big enough to remake this piece, but I do have enough to refit the back end and get to mate properly with the large rectangular piece next to it.

              This shot shows the right-hand piece overlapping the left. I'll draw a line down the left about two inches off the edge and put in a filler piece. Notice the right edge going down towards the right

              Here's the piece in the drawing showing that edge goes down to the left.

              The drawing is correct since it was simply copy/pasted directly from this roadbed assembly drawing where everything fit perfectly. I was working on the top side of the board away from the origin, and had the drawing in such a way that I measured in the wrong direction... at least that's how I figured it happened.

              I picked up all the roadbed pieces on one end of the layout and put them against the wall to clear the decks for action so I could get the Tyvek up on the ceiling. I got three strips up which is about 1/3 of the job. It's already proving its worth since just stapling it up dropped dust on me and into my eyes. Next session I'm wearing goggles. I didn't use a chalk line to get the rows straight, I just winged it, ergo, I have some fill-in to do. Again, no one's going to notice the ceiling and the Tyvek tape will hide a multitude of sins. Should have this all done by next week and then it's onto building the structure to support all that OSB.

              Attached Files


              • #22
                Don't let the explosives tempt you

                We all have a faith in you. You will find a way to fix this.
                No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

                To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.


                • #23
                  More Tyvek

                  I know this aspect of the project is... well... boring. I also know that prep work is boring in any project, but essential. I almost finished one half of the Tyveking (new word) job with the additional of two more strips tonight. I have one more half strip and then I'll move into the other half of the layout room. Then I'll go back and use Tyvek tape to close all the seams and then it's goodbye spiders. There will still be areas around the periphery where they'll be, but they won't be directly over the platform. Without this covering it is an impossibility to keep them out of the ceiling joists. When they're in the joists they throw down lines to the lights and everything else. Should have this done in a couple more work sessions.

                  BTW: I probably have enough scrap of big enough sizes to remake that errant piece if I'm willing to split it down the middle and make it out of two pieces. That's not a problem since I'm going to be splicing plates on their ends and long axis anyway just to put the regular pieces together.

                  I have my real camera back so the quality is greatly improved over the iPhone camera. The iPhone's may be decent, but I just can't hold it stead enough. My Canon has image-stabilized lenses which is perfect for me.
                  Attached Files


                  • #24
                    Some Design Ideas

                    I've been playing around on the laptop to work on some of scenery ideas. I loaded a new version of my track design program, RR Track Ver. 5.0. I've been using this product since version 1.0 over 12 years ago. Version 5.0 is very easy to use and has a simulator where you can run a train over your design. This lets you see first hand what clearances are, how switches need to be aligned, how long of a train can fit in each siding, and the length of time that trains take to travel from place to place. Besides, it's entertaining since the layout won't have trains running on it for months. It also has a feature that it had from the beginning, a 3D viewer that really helps you understand how things, especially building placement, will look on the finished product. While you can create your own 3D images using the "extrude" function, I don't understand how to make inclined surfaces. So for those, I export the image as a bitmap to CorelDraw and create the remaining illustrations in that program.

                    Right now I have my main village area elevated to give me more land area, but I have the station and industrial zone at base level. I need to get a way to get vehicular traffic down the 20' (scale) elevation. Here's some pictures showing my crude way of doing it. I'm not married to the elevated town, and since it's all done in the computer, changing anything is no big deal.

                    One of the reasons I'm re-thinking this design is this;

                    This picture was taken yesterday in LaGrange, KY. It's one of the few remaining towns in the USA that has a mainline RR running down Main Street...literally. That's actually "Main Street"! It's the CSX RR's mainline from Cincinnati, OH to Louisville, KY. It's very busy. In the hour we were there three trains came by. I'd like to make my trains pass through town like that. We were at the Arts Fair held each year on the Courthouse lawn.
                    Attached Files


                    • #25
                      New Town

                      As noted yesterday, I've decided to scrap the "elevated town" scenario. It was a remnant of the RR when it was 11 feet shorter and was the only real estate that was big enough to hold a town. When I reset my thinking, I realized that I have a lot of real estate on the "east end" of the layout and could build a nice main street, and still leave a big space for entering the inside the layout to reach mostly everything. Here's what all this looks like. RR Track crashed on me several times, and of course it was after I'd done a lot of things and lost all of them. I started saving after doing anything. I don't believe it's RR Track's problem. I think it's my laptop's. Here's what it looks like now.

                      Where the town was is now either a quarry or a nice lake. The quarry idea gives me the opportunity to use some nice 1:48 construction equipment. Also notice I've move some light industry to the fore side of the layout and installed a chemical plant. There's room for another spur or two on that side to service that plant and that will definitely be a Phase II project.
                      Attached Files


                      • #26
                        Some minor progress

                        The right side room is fully Tyveked, but not taped.

                        I've now started on the Left side room. This job is complicated by the heating duct and the PVC intake and exhaust lines from our high-efficiency furnace. I had to use narrower strips and the results aren't pretty, but after taping they'll be passable. Besides, no one's going to be looking at the ceiling.

                        We took a nice three-day trip to Chicago in the mid-part of last week. We played tourists and even went to the top of the Willis Tower and walked out into one of the glass boxes that is cantilevered 1,300 feet above ground. The first step into the box is a bit disconcerting, but not as bad as if I were skydiving... which I won't do.

                        I've also been working with #1 grandson on his 1/32nd Super Hornet. If you may remember, I took some pictures of this last year when were installing the jet engines into the model. The engines would be completely out of sight so Alex had me do a cut-away and I removed a vent area over part of one engine. We also opened up the nose cone to show the electronically scanned phased-array radar. The unfinished looking area on the nose is where the refueling probe is to be installed.

                        It's a big, detailed model, but had some fit problems. Many Trumpeter models have those problems. They include many parts and details, but lack some of the fine engineering of Tamiya and Hasegawa. But the Chinese companies learn fast and they're getting better and better. Next we're going to coat the model with gloss Future Floor Wax to prepare the surface for decals. Then Tamiya flat spray goes on to seal the decals and restore more-scale matte finish. Future has become a standard technique with plastic model guys. It's cheap, dries perfectly clear, and dries fast. It's even used restore finish to clear parts like canopies.

                        A few more days of work and the ceilings will be done. But first I'm taking Alex to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, next to the Wright-Patterson AFB. It's only 2.5 hours from Louisville. Moving here has presented some interesting opportunities. We've been to Chicago twice (5 hour drive), two weeks ago I went to the Indy 500, and now the Air Force Museum. The last two are places I would not have gone to if I were still living in the Philly area. You have to make your own opportunities.
                        Attached Files


                        • #27
                          I see those pictures and my whole body starts to itch.

                          All I can think of is back 10 yrs ago when I use to put vinyl siding on houses. Summertime,wearing shorts and a nail pouch, trying to wrap a house with Tyvek. Wind blowing. Its almost as fun as putting up fiberglass insulation

                          I like you showing the thought process with your layout. Train guys have always fascinated me. We get a lot of stuff from you guys. There would be no Dios or photoetch in the scale model world if not for what you are doing here.

                          But instead of going big, you could do something like this. Its a japanese model show. But watching the build doesn't require language skill.

                          Human Scum. Proud Never Trumper


                          • #28
                            I watched all four of them. The Japanese craftsman are marvelous. It's no wonder that Tamiya and others make such terrific model projects.

                            My grandson and I spent five hours at the Air Force museum today. It should be on all WAB folks' bucket list. It exceeded all of our expectations. Walking into the cavernous bomb bays of the B-52 and B-36, examining the landing gear of the SR-75, hanging in the wheel wells of the B-1 bomber, standing next to the X-15 and examining at closeup distance the mechanism the hydraulics that move the F-22's variable exhaust nozzle is worth the price of admission. And the admission is free. Every plane that the Air Force ever flew is there. Amazing. It was nice just having Alex since he loves this stuff as much as I do and didn't get bored. We took hundreds of pictures, which I must triage to see what is worth keeping.


                            • #29
                              I feel the same way about the Naval Aviation Museum. Which is about 1.5 hours from my home (4 hours during the summer)
                              Human Scum. Proud Never Trumper


                              • #30
                                I suppose he and I will have to make a trek to Pensacola. I suspect that it may not be quite as awe inspiring than the USAF one since the Navy never had planes the likes of the B-1, 2, 36, 58 or 70. Actually, in my modeling life, I've been partial to Navy planes. I like their rugged landing gear. I did a nice job on both a 1/32nd Tamiya Tomcat, and a 1/48th Hassegawa Corsair II, but they're both in model heaven now. Pensacola is a lot farther from L'ville than Dayton.