I guess it’s been awhile. Here’s the story. Back in November, a friend told me she was moving and asked if I wanted to take over the lease on her old apartment. Though I was fond of where I was living at the time, her place offered a downtown location, the ability to ride my bike or the bus to work and a view of Pan Am’s River Line all at a price that I couldn’t pass up. So I moved. Once I was settled, I soon discovered that one wall of the new place could be ideal for a model railroad. At 21 feet long and with only small windows towards to ceiling I would have room for a nice linear switching layout and movable staging yard. A full gallery of my progress so far is available on my PBase site. A few selected photo’s and an in depth description are after the break.
There were a few caveats to having a model railroad in the apartment. The most important thing to me was that it look nice. The apartment is a studio, so I can’t hide the trains behind closed doors when I don’t want to see them (yes, it happens). I also didn’t want to deal with anchoring the layout to the walls (mostly because my landlord probably wouldn’t have been too happy, but also because I don’t want to have to repair any holes when I move). Finally, the layout would take up space that, at the time, was occupied by my desk and workbench. The solution to all these problems was to build a 2 foot wide, self supporting framework upon which 3 foam modules could float unattached. Two sets of legs would also support one leg of an “L” shaped workbench that would also serve as a desk and computer space. The other two legs were spaced to fit around an Ikea bookcase and dresser. The entire assembly is spaced back 4 inches from the wall to accommodate a gas pipe to the apartment above and to allow heat from a baseboard radiator to circulate up towards the ceiling.
As you can see from the Sketchup drawing, the modules are made up of two layers of foam. The base layer is 1 inch thick and the top layer is 2 inches. The top layer will be carved back to form the coastline of a small bay. It’s not shown in the Sketchup drawing, but there will be a piece of fascia contoured to the scenery on the front of the layout. The backdrop will likely be .8″ thick styrene panels that are curved at the corners. They will be secured to the back and will rest on top of the modules.
Once I had begun the benchwork and was certain the layout would work within my space limitations I began thinking about a track plan.
The main reason I’m building this layout is to gain experience with tracklaying and scenery techniques as well as to (eventually) have a realistic looking setting in which to photograph and display the models I build. That said, a little operating capability would be nice as well. I settled on a single track mainline with one end of a long siding that can be for passing trains when I’m photographing or car storage when I’m operating. There’s a single industry, a large paper mill, at one end of the layout with a rail/marine facility on the opposite side of the tracks. The mainline will follow the contours of a small bay large enough for a single Walthers’ carfloat without feeling too cramped. The setting will be somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, between 1979 and 1985 if I’m running my SNCT or Milwaukee equipment or 1997-2001 when using my BNSF/UP/Amtrak stock. Switching era’s will just be a matter of changing locomotives and some cars and vehicles.
The plan will probably evolve somewhat as I start building. This version for instance doesn’t take into account locations of switch machines, which may be located in areas where benchwork supports are. At the moment I’m taking a brief hiatus from modeling to focus on some outdoor activities, but I do expect to get the next layer of foam soon. Progress will pick up as the summer winds down and the weather becomes more appropriate for indoor activities.