although I have been building a layout for several years now I still consider myself a newbie.
I am now in the process of a total rebuild having learned from my previous mistakes and in the process I want to feature my underground trains by means of split levels, a cutting and a cutaway section of a tube station.
I started the project by dismantling the present layout, and I have made a discovery. Now experienced modellers may already know and use this method, but I have not seen mention of it anywhere so thought I’d pass it on in case it is of use to anyone else.
When I laid my original track I was concerned that track pins would not hold the track securely on the cork sub-base. I didn’t like the idea of gluing it and then of course there’s the ballasting to consider.
The discovery I have made is just how well my alternative solution has worked. I used double sided carpet tape.
I stuck it around the intended route then peeled back a couple of inches of the backing tape and folded it over at 90 degrees. I then laid the track on top and used long ‘t’ pins to hold the track in place temporarily, then removed them one by one as I removed the backing tape by pulling the folded out bit at right angles to the track.
Once the track was firmly stuck down I applied the ballast. I was not very confident this would work or be durable, but it has stood the test of time, holding both the track and ballast firmly in place.
In fact the ballast is stuck so fast I doubt I can retrieve any for re-use.
Love your compilation of tips.
In my younger days (some 60 years or so ago) I tried to paint a cedar shake roof for a structure on my long gone layout. I could not seem to be able to make it realistic enough…..Hmmmm maybe a REAL cedar shake roof would be the answer, but where could I get the material for it?
Ahhhhhh, I remember my grandfather smoking cigars that came in an aluminum tube and had a very thin REAL cedar wrapper. I called him and asked him to mail me a few aluminum tubes with the cedar wrappers in them.
The first thing that I needed to do was to flaten the cedar, To do this, I steamed the cedar with a tea kettle on the kitchen stove, then I placed them on a flat surface with a book on top to press them flat while they dried overnight.
Some experimenting with a surgical scalpel and a metal straight edge was used to cut the cedar into thin strips which were then cut into individual shingles. Trying to place the tiny shingles onto the roof of a structure proved to be an almost impossible task using tweezers given my large hands and fingers. After some discussing it with my wife at dinner, she said “that’s simple, just spread your shingles ot on a piece of wood and use a very small sewing needle to pick the shingle up.”
After dinner I took a small piece of card stock and coated it with a slow drying glue……WOW, I started to put shingles onto the card stock starting with the lowest course and working my way up the roof. Releasing the shingle from the needle became somewhat problematic until my wife again came to my rescue with a box of toothpicks
All I had to do was put a tiny bet of pressure on the shingle with the toothpick while I removed the needle. I wish I still had that first structure or even a photo of it to post here. I built five or six structures with ceder shake roofs.
These were projects that took lots of time to complete but when completed they were the highlight of the scenery on my layout. I never got around to my second idea of using the cedar (cut into thin strips) to create cedar lap siding for some structures. One of the things I liked using the cedar was the fact it could be weathered easily using water based wood stains.
The cedar shake roof project brought with it another spin-off project. The aluminum cigar tubes had a dome shape on one end and a screw-on cap on the other end. I simply cut the tube to the desired length, plugged the open end with a piece of balsa and sanded it dome shape to match the other end. A coat of aluminum paint, and I had the first Propane storage tank for my Propane Tank Farm on my layout.
I hope model RR buffs find this interesting.
Now on to Eric – his last post is here.
“Hi again Al.
Wensdale Moors Railway has finally arrived. It’s N gauge on a board at best 7.5ft by 5.5ft. The right of the layout shows my interpretation of the Yorkshire moors in the title but no signs of Heathcliffe.
After trying for a long time to make this a walk around layout instead of having the centre hatch, I failed as I did want at least a couple of levels and full circuits rather than end to end as I prefer to let my engines run rather than shunt from end to end, I’ll leave that for the purists. I am not a rail buff but I love modelling my various layouts a few shown in the past on this great site.
This time I settled for a bleakly sparse, 3 level, scenic layout with the centrepiece of a small river cascading out of a cave over slate rocks, the only buildings, a castle and remote farm.
The setting is early autumn. The grasses used are a mix of dark brown, winter, autumn and summer flock. The rock faces in many cases lift away for access to the tracks below so you will see where they join, you can try hide the joins but if you have a problem below they become more visible with use. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. haha
The whole river area lifts off for access to my hatchway. Track wise this is just two tracks even though it looks like more, they are run by four analogue controllers so theoretically there could be four trains running at once but on my video I settle for three so as not to cause me problems when filming which hopefully aren’t as jerky as some of my past efforts.
To put it bluntly I nearly gave up on the layout due to all the hassle taking out the front section caused, but I’m over that now thankfully but will be happy to destruct this layout and start on the next in the near future. That is my problem, I love building layouts but once they are more or less completed I like to start over again. This is due mainly to my rheumatoid arthritis so I can keep my twisted fingers working before they seize up altogether.
To sum up I use Peco track and points with ballasted underlay, all pinned down so I can easily take it up and reuse it all. I use loose matching ballast between the tracks, again this can be easily sucked up into a hand vac and reused if not glued down. The grades are approx 2 percent and you will see I can happily run 6 coaches without problems.
Keep up the good work Al.
Eric (Leeds) UK”
A huge thank to John, Dick and Eric.
Even after all these years, there are still some great new tips. Please do keep ’em coming.
Course, the Beginner’s Guide is jam packed with them.