Home at last

Milepost 15 HQ.

Happy New Year.  It’s that time once again when I buckle down and try to get Milepost 15 on a regular update schedule.  We’ll see how long that lasts.

There’s been a lot going on over the past year but not much of it was model (or real) railroad related. Last February Beth and I bought a house which meant that most of 2016 and most of my money was dedicated to moving, unpacking and renovations.  The house is a small cape with a single car garage and a large addition off the back. It’s not exactly what we wanted, I would have preferred a two car garage and a basement with full-height ceilings, Beth wanted a colonial (because she wasn’t going to be the one perched two stories up on a ladder when the gutters needed cleaning). That said, the house is in excellent condition and apart from a few incidental things just needs a bit of updating.  We got it for less than we had been planning to spend and were able to put 20% down. All in all I think we did pretty well.

So, there have been a lot of changes.  The old layout has been disassembled and it’s carcass is sitting in one of the spare bedrooms.  I’ve slowly been scavenging the wood from it to use for trim and other little projects around the house and some of the foam baseboard has become rim joist insulation.  I did set up my modeling bench though. Right now it takes up more than it’s fare share of the office but Beth has been a good egg about it and it’s nice to be able to work on some small modeling projects when I have the time. This is all temporary however because even if I have to watch my head around the forced air ducts I now have a BASEMENT and though mechanicals and laundry take up about a quarter of it the rest is all mine.

The basement is under the original part of the house.  The foundation is cinder block with parging.  It has older wood windows with storms on the outside, a staircase in the middle and a bulkhead out the back.  The soil around the house is sandy and drains well, so it’s very dry inside. There’s a bit of effervescence at one corner, but it’s not damp and I think a few coats of masonry paint will keep it that way.  When we originally looked at the place, the previous owners had it jammed full of crap and yet there was no musty basement smell.  The poured concrete floor isn’t great, it looks like it was probably done after the house was built and not by someone who knew what they were doing (or maybe they just didn’t care) it’s uneven and unsuitable for finishing, but it doesn’t have any cracks, so I’ll live with it.  The windows aren’t a standard size either, I’m going to rebuild the wood frames and replace the glass instead of replacing each unit. With the storms they’re functionally double pane and even as they are now they don’t let cold air in. They’ll just require regular maintenance.

The future layout space in the basement.

The plan is to use half the basement for a future layout. That will give me approximately 11′ x 19′ to work with. More space would be nice, but my modeling time is limited, so the smaller the layout, the quicker it will be completed.  The other half of the basement will be divided in two. Half will be my workshop/office and the other half will be a laundry and mechanical space.  The bulkhead door will be in this area.  I’m working on drawing up a plan which I’ll post  as soon as it’s ready.  There’s a lot of work to do before I’ll be able to start building benchwork but I’m glad to be in a situation where that can become a reality.

The workshop.

While I’ve been dealing with house stuff, I’ve also been doing research and making plans for my layout.  I find that it’s a lot easier to get things done when I have some idea of what I want to do. By the time I’m ready to start construction I hope to have most of my questions answered and a solid plan in place.  I don’t want to be held up by indecision or the need to collect more data (though I’m sure that will still happen).

So far I’ve narrowed my era down to the summer of 1997.  There are a number of reasons for this that I’ll get into in a later post.  As I’ve always intended, the layout will be a compressed version of Milepost 14 – 16ish on BNSF’s Seattle Subdivision.  This encompasses part of what the railroad calls “West Tacoma” and Steilacoom, WA.  I’ve been making a list of scheduled UP, BNSF and Amtrak trains that were running on the line at the time and have been adding in notes on locomotive consists and overall train makeup.  I want to model shortened versions of these trains with percentages of car types that are in line with the prototype.

Most of what I write about on here for the next year at least will be about research and planning.  There will be much more railroad content going forward.  Modeling will still be happening, but I find Facebook to be a better venue for sharing that sort of content. If you want to see what I’m working on, follow me at: http://www.facebook.com/milepost15.  I’ll try to post recaps of various locomotive and rolling stock projects here as well, but they’ll likely be few and far between.

Next month I’ll be writing about my modeling philosophy; laying out the key points that will guide my planning and the various aspects of railroading that I do and do not want to incorporate into my layout.  It’ll be great! Trust me!


2 Replies to “Home at last”

  1. HI, Nice house. Re basement floor, there are cementitious leveling compounds that may do wonders to level out your floor. If you don’t intend to cover the concrete with flooring, you may want to use a self leveling topping, vs an underlayment as the former is generally a harder more durable material (but there are exceptions, do a little research). Toppings can also be stained with concrete dyes (if you choose the right product) adding really cool effects to the floor. A few links of products I’ve seen used over the years:
    Following link has two products- the second one is self-leveling, QUIKRETE® Self-Leveling Floor Resurfacer: https://www.quikrete.com/pdfs/projects/preparingsurfacesforcarpetetc.pdf

    If you have a supplier like Atlas supply out your way, they are really great to deal with and they have great products:

    Click to access atlas%20tech-top.pdf

    Another example:

    Here is a do-it-yer-selfer with a whimsical but knowledgable site on how she did her floor project (this was over wood but the approach is ~same):
    I agree with her, don’t use HomeDepot or the like, go to a contractors supply to purchase this kind of stuff.
    Another help site: https://www.bobvila.com/articles/leveling-a-concrete-floor/
    Finally, a bit more authoritative: https://www.concretenetwork.com/overlays-resurfacing-buyers-guide/self-leveling.html

    Consider laying down a radiant heat system on the floor before placing the self leveling surfacer.
    Level smooth floor will make your hobby a lot more enjoyable.

    1. Hi Eric,

      I appreciate the suggestion and I especially appreciate the links to suppliers and products! I’ve been considering using a self leveling compound of some sort, but am still unsure it will be worth the time and expense. More than likely this is a starter home for us, and I’m trying to walk a line between making improvements that will either be useful or help increase/maintain the house’s value and improvements that are just nice to have. The basement ceiling is too low to meet code for a finished space, so there’s only so much I can do with it.

      That said, you’re right that a smooth level floor will make for a more enjoyable hobby space and it’s not something I’ve completely discounted. I’ll to peruse.


      – Chris

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