Image above captured on the upper deck of the layout where scenery has progressed to some extent...
Shot with Olympus C-750

Welcome to the SP Oregon Division!

An N Scale RR depicting the good old days along "The Friendly".

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cascade Sub Layout Milestone:

Well, for those of you who feel like you are not making enough progress on your layout... you are not alone.
This April marks the 20th anniversary of layout construction here.  Family comes first, but I sure enjoy this hobby.  I told my wife way back when, that I would be done with the layout by 2016, and it is apparent there is still a lot of work ahead.  A conventional single level linear layout would have been my first choice for ease of construction and walk-around design, but I am grateful to have been able to cram this multi-deck spaghetti bowl into our garage at all.  For the most part it still retains mostly walk-around design features (with a few hiccups), but its configuration has swallowed significant labor hours as opposed to a more traditional linear design.  Adding the peninsula to the layout was not part of the original plan (started back in 2011), so I tell myself I would still be on schedule otherwise (lol).  At least now things are finally moving more to the scenery stages, so I am glad to have put the saws and drills away for the most part.  Slow but steady progress has been, and still remains the norm.

Looking forward to sharing my progress as a layout host for SoCalOps 2016 in June.

Crew Call Board

After seeing what Bill was using for a call board on his Southern Pacific Cascade Line, I realized what a good fit a magnet board was for operations here also.  So I stole his idea and tweaked things a bit to conform how operations are handled on this end (Thanks Bill!).  Hopefully this also makes life easier for the Crew Dispatcher.  There are six columns configured in an attempt to help crews get a general overview of their next job.  Typically trains are run by just an Engineer, but adding an option for a Conductor allows for unfamiliar operators to mark up with an engineer on mainline trains, and also for operators that like working as a two man crew for switch jobs.  Train ID and lead Engine number columns help crews find their paperwork and consist at the corresponding yard office.  The call-out Time is to work with the recently installed clocks on the wall (which are also for coordinating Work and Time with the dispatcher).  I have incorporated the latter to spread out the sudden start-up of operations at the beginning of sessions (which has been neglected for so long).  The departing station refers to the specific yard office where the orders and throttle are to be picked up by crew members.

Foam Base Scenery Progress

I  have been slowly adding more pink Styrofoam around the layout to get a feel for the basic concepts and how it is all going to fit together.  Static foam waste is entertaining stuff, so I am trying to get all the major pieces installed across the whole layout before moving forward on any other level of scenery.  Still need to configure the foam closer to natural curvatures, but at least now I can see how this is all coming together.  For some reason I don't' mind white plaster unfinished sections laying dormant for years at a time, but I think the pink foam will be a good motivator to hurry up and get er' done.  I am already eager to get all this painted a brown earth color asap, but will have to revisit each section for final shaping before that ever happens.  Maybe that can be the next phase of the project...

I am using mostly 2" foam board, but thanks again to Chip for helping to acquire some 1" foam, which has helped to speed up installation in many areas.  Some foam sections have still been too thick to lay flush with the needed finish height due to framework, so slots have been carved out in the foam.  This maintains a sturdy sub base for planting of vegetation, with significantly less carving on the topside.  I just cut along each side of the groove with a big disposable knife, and rock a chisel bit through to clean out the cross-member grooves:

One example of where I needed the foam to lay down low:

I am running a highway along the backdrop here with a couple of highway overpasses to conceal the tracks where they dive into the backdrop.  Tree foliage is my friend all over the layout to hide all these transitions.  It has been time consuming fitting all the irregular shapes in, but still have more trimming and shaping to get it right.  I take cardboard and make templates so that I can overlay it on the foam board, then trace around them to make best use of each sheet.  A number of labor hours still needed here to get the contours right, but its nice to see the basic idea finally taking shape:

I need to cut in the truss bridges here so I can envision better on how the riverbank is going to take shape:

Hoping to get all the sections pre-shaped before gluing into place, as I'm not too excited about trying to reshape in confined ares after the fact.  Most of the foam is cut and carved with a 3" knife that uses disposable blades.  I will follow up with more carving to get as close as possible adjacent to track sections and multiple layering, then follow up with rasps to blend the overall contours.  Just shooting from the hip on it all, as this foam stuff  is a new concept for me.  One thing for others to note, make sure you build your layout with a bunch of right angles to work with instead of abstract....    :)
Back to work!