Building a Model Railroad – Part 5: Finishing the layout space.

This update is clearly way overdue but the summer modeling doldrums hit hard this year and I ended up spending most of my free time working on outdoor projects and other things I can only do when the weather is nice. That said, I did manage to complete the basement renovations and am only one small push away from getting the backdrop hung on the wall.

A lot of the stuff I’ve been working on was identical to the stuff I highlighted in previous posts so this update will be shorter than normal but there were a few unique challenges to solve and hopefully this will be a good capstone to this phase of the layout.

Last fall we had fiber internet installed in our house and the installer had placed the ONT on the left side of the outlet, which would make it inaccessible once the valance goes in, so I rerouted a few wires and moved it to a more convenient location.
With everything ready in the basement I got to work prepping the trim. This is from late March or early April and since my work from home setup is in the basement I didn’t want to be doing a lot of sanding down there. Fortunately the weather cooperated.
These unfinished pieces of floor trim are a good example of how poorly the concrete was leveled when the basement slab was poured.
The most difficult part of this process was trimming out the electrical panel. Scribing the boards to the wall and getting everything attached and caulked was difficult in such a tight and oddly shaped spot.
The only way I could get everything in place was by making two sub-assemblies and securing them with pocket screws which I plugged later.
Moving right along, the stairs appear to have been built as an afterthought with whatever crap wood was lying around. In many spots the back of the tread does not meet the riser. Some are just open, others had been caulked poorly. The oscillating saw made quick work of the old caulk.
Before I put any carpet on the stairs I decided that I should paint the floor first. With all the benchwork assembled I could only do half the layout space at a time. Here’s the first half all finished. The way it makes this space feel complete is really amazing
And here we have a new railing that I picked up from Home Depot. You can also see the concession I had to make with the trim to get everything to fit properly. It’s nice to finally have a real railing here. Much safer.
Finally I found some fabric/rubber stair tread material at Lowes that I cut and stuck to the steps. It looks a lot better and is nicer to walk on. I tried a few different adhesives none of which did a particularly good job of sticking to the rubber backing so I also tacked the steps down with some small black nails that I had lying around.
The last major thing to do is to replace this door. It doesn’t do a good job of keeping the cold or insects out and heat in. So it has to go.
Here’s the new door. It’s insulated and will seal against some weatherstripping attached to the frame.
The entire old frame was ripped out and a new one built with PT lumber on any concrete or exterior surfaces. Weatherstripping mounted to wood trim was placed around the perimeter.
In order to seal the bottom of the new door to the exterior stairs I had to build a form and pour some new concrete . That worked pretty well though there were a few voids that needed filling. Once the concrete has curred for about a month I’ll paint it with epoxy floor paint and add the weatherstripping.
And here it is. The new door is nearly three inches thick and is fully insulated. I painted it the same gray that I painted the trim and got some new brass hardware for it. The slide locks work well to hold the door against the weather stripping and I’ve noticed far fewer drafts.

That pretty much wraps up the basement constructions. I still have a few things to do in the laundry/utility area but those won’t affect layout progress and won’t be terribly interesting so I decided not to include them in this write-up.

Once I get things cleaned up and all my tools put away, I’ll get the benchwork in place and start to plan out the location of the backdrop, lighting and valance. I spent the summer buying up a lot of the stuff I’ll need to make progress and have a nice stockpile that should allow for construction to proceed uninterrupted by shipping delays.

What WILL affect layout progress is the small child that my wife gave birth to a few days ago. I’ve found some time here and there to get down to the basement but I don’t expect to do as much this autumn as last. I do plan to spend a lot of time watching ’90’s railfan video’s with my daughter though (got to plant the bug early) so the next few months should be fun regardless of how far I get on the layout.

Chris

6 thoughts on “Building a Model Railroad – Part 5: Finishing the layout space.

  1. Way to leave the best news for last. Congratulations on the new addition to your family. That’s simply wonderful news.

    Stepping through the work on the basement, you’ve accomplished so much and it looks terrific. I’m often surprised at how a job that’s simple to describe can be much, much more complicated. Those challenges made secret by the fine finish in the space you’ve created.

    Well done

    • Thanks, Chris! I’m really glad to have finished this phase of the project just in time. I think the amount of time I took to complete everything will be worth it going forward. We went from having a utilitarian basement to what is essentially an entire new floor’s worth of living space.

  2. You buried the lede! 😉 Congratulations on the new addition. I hope everyone is doing well.
    Your basement improvements look great!

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