Sunday, December 28, 2008

Newspaper Interview

After returning from Hatteras for Thanksgiving, I was asked to do an article for the local newspaper. I arranged an interview with writer Bruce Wehrle and photographer Donnie Roberts. After several anxious days, it finally ran in the Christmas Day edition.

What a Christmas surprise to open the morning edition and see your story, not only front page but continuing for a whole second page as well.

The pictures were very good and showed more of a variety of subjects that I would have every thought about.

The Dispatch article is located here.

The pictures for the article are here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Scenery Around Linwood Yard

After we returned from Hatteras at Thanksgiving, I spent some time cleaning up for an appointment for a newspaper article.

I had also been working on scenery north of Kannapolis thru Salisbury, but got stopped when I realized I couldn't picture the Innes Street to Salisbury Depot in my mind. I skipped around Salisbury and also bypassed Spencer since I don't have the Roundhouse ready.

So, that put me across the river at the entrance to the Linwood Yard. The side from north of the Yadkin to Lexington is to be a winter scheme. I added some small ground effects (couldn't do much as this is all on plywood, not splines) and added the winter trees. Here, I used the Super Trees bare but sprayed light brown and the twigs from the Cinnamon decorative broom I had saved.

I had toyed with the notion of trying snow, but was really reluctant as I have heard quite a few horror stories. I masked off the track and ballast and sprayed a heavy coat of 4x Hair Spray on all the trees and ground.

I sprinkled on Woodland Scenics Snow very lightly. Here in Central NC, our snows have been rather sparse the last couple of years. I was immediately impressed with the look and took a couple of pictres and then moved along with more snow.

For now, I am keeping it off the track and right of way hoping to keep it out of the engine motors and mechanisms, With the light ballast, it is not as noticeable as I thought.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Moving north from Speed Rail Industrial are the stations Kannapolis and North Kannapolis. Somewhere in there is Glass, but it's not on the NS track plan I have.

The first picture is from around N. Kannapolis, looking south towards Speed Rail. Just another wooded area to provide the scenic break between locations so as to get a feel of distance. That was a lesson I learned on my first "layout". It was more like a test bench for anything and everything.

I tried creeks, mountains, overpasses, underpasses, buildings, dirt roads, asphalt roads.... whatever to see what I could make and what to stay away from on the one that counted.

The second picture is the same area as the first, but taken from the right side and just as I put down the first layer of groundcover. I use dried basil and oregano. Yep, that's right. Smells good too. I get the plastic shaker bottles 2 for a dollar and this pic is about 75 cents worth.

I am getting fairly happy with the fall colors. I have finally learned to tone them down and mix in a lot of green with a little red and less yellow.

I've set a couple of houses in place, but have got to go back and level and set them into the grass. The bottom picture is looking north with the Kannapolis station sign to the right. You can see how much the houses need to be leveled here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Speedrail Industrial

Speedrail Industrial is a business park located off Hwy 49 north of Charlotte. I plan to model 4 industries there. To the left is the beginnings of laying the trackwork last week. Below are actual pics of the 4 industries and what I have so far.

Foils, Inc - A metal recycler which is actually just north of the industrial park. Served by a single siding running thru the property.

The next business inside the park is Mallard Creek (Chemicals I think). Just a small pumping station manned by camera surveillance.

Next in the park is an Gas Company, but I don't have my notes with me, and the name won't come to me. They always say the mind is first to go. Anyway, the gas company will be located in the rear of this picture.

The track leading off in the foreground is Foils.

Southeastern Packaging is a rather large facility, actually located on 2 different sidings. This must be a warehouse of sorts. The tracks disappear under the building roof so that they can be unloaded out of the weather.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Station Signs

During the first Ops Session, John Barnett suggested that I make station signs in the prototypical Southern Green. I had made a highway sign with an online program called SignMaker located here.

I went back there and figured out how to make a simple name sign without all the highway markings, printed them and mounted on some plastic. There are quite a bit bigger than scale size, but I made them for the benefit of operators.

One of the goals I had building the layout was to minimize the amount of labeling on the fascia so as to keep the operators' focus on the layout. This should help in that regards.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Between High Point and Thomasville

This is a small area between the High Point Yard and Thomasville. Just opposite of it is Southern Film .

The bank rises a bit more than the prototype and there's actually an illegal garbage dump to the left. I may try to add it in later.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Jamestown Scenery

I continue to work on the upper NS level. Starting with the Danville staging
yard, thru Reidsville and on to Jamestown. There are a couple of industries served there, one being Univar and the other Homeland Container. There's also a siding probably a team or house track.

I have been putting in what scenery I could leaving room for the buildings which will have to wait until I can kitbash or scratchbuild them.

So that operators can have clear access to the turnouts and sidings for cars, I've had to make the aisle side scenery pretty sparse. For the most part, it is just grassy areas. The static grass seems to hold up well to resting arms, and objects laid on it. I just have to keep undulating the ground so it doesn't appear to be just flat.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Reidsville Scenery

Have done a little work so far this week. This is the view coming up out of Danville staging thru Edna Signal by Reidsville.

The back side of the street will be a city block.
The entire level will be fall scenery. It helps to be able to ride around now and see the colors. Harder to imagine fall colors in March.

Looking south from Edna, the woods separating Reidsville from Jamestown. That looks like 20 miles, right?

I've went back and updated the train tags with the new symbols and added EOT tags.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Scenery In the Yards

With all the visitors out of the way, I went back to scenery. I pulled all the trains out of the yards (in part to test a short problem which turned out to be a defective PM42) and ballasted both yards. I also added a few background trees to Charlotte Yard, but couldn't do much as there just wasn't any room.

I was able to do more with Danville Yard and incorporated two pieces I had salvaged from my old layout. They don't fit perfectly into the new scenery, but I wanted a bit of the old with the new.

Monday, October 13, 2008

First Ops Session

17 months and 14 days after I started cutting trees down, I had my first Operating Session. I expected plenty of problems and the first crew was carefully selected having already experienced their baptism of fire. Now that we've proved it can run, I can open up a session to more users.

The first 10 minutes were a disaster. Engines not running, yard throat shorting out, engines mysteriously unconsisted, etc. etc. etc. After a while things settled down. We did experience an unknown Digitrax problem after the first hour that we haven't yet solved. The PM 42 was giving us shorts on the first district, but there were no trains there. Resetting the command station worked for 10 minutes and the short reappeared.

Larry Keller* goes down in history as running the first train on the CCSB 2.0 (The Asterisk is because Gil Brauch picked the first train order, but had problems out of the yard. Larry bypassed him to become the first. I am sure this will be be debated for years to come.)

 Jeff Lindstrom works the WSS/HPT&D.Jeff has learned to never volunteer for anything again.

The first Ops crew: (L to R) Larry "Paint Bank" Keller, Marcus "I Can Dispatch Anything" Neubacher, Robin "Watch This" Eanes, Jeff "Southbound" Lindstrom, Gil "Road Boss" Brauch.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Staging Yards

As I prepped for the first "Test 'n Tune" Ops session, I found that I was way short on both power and cars. I had stocked up on engines over the last year, but had failed to put back any decoders. Buying decoders by the dozen isn't any fun at all.

Like I've told several people, you find out quickly about scale when you build a layout this large. I would buy paint a dozen cans at a time, white glue by the gallons and track by the 100 pc boxes at a time. Eyes would roll when I'd talk about needing another dozen engines after just having put decoders in 6 or 8.

I guess I've just grown accustomed to the scale of things required. Is that good... or bad ??

Spencer Yard, Linwood NC

I worked last week on the yard at Linwood. I've had the track roughed in for several months, waiting to make sure I had covered all the interchanges between the Receiving Yard, Forwarding Yard and Class tracks, Engine Shop, etc.

Finally, I just jumped in and started soldering and glueing track. I extended the forwarding yard about a foot. It handles 3 trains each 16 cars long. (That seems to be a decent size). There are 3 tracks going to the Car Shop, another 2 to the Engine Shop and a bypass around the Shop to the servicing facility.
There are 3 tracks in the receiving yard. In addition, there is the lead-in "behind the tower" to access the receiving yard southbound, and the "thoroughfare" which runs from Lee at the north entrance to Duke on the south.

There are 8 tracks on the class yard and a drill long enough to handle them. There is also a "working " hump. Well, maybe not working, but there is a
hump there and I was able to push a string up and decouple them one at a time and gravity roll down the class track. The cars roll about 2/3-3/4 down the track, but as they begin to stack closer to the hump, they hit pretty hard. If I could fix it so that I could vary the height of the hump, I could vary the amount of roll.

I Have Been Working... Really !!

I just haven't thought to post anything. Most of what I've been doing since June wasn't very photogenic and thus I didn't consider post worthy.

It took a couple of weeks to put down the final flooring. After that, I worked to finish all the lower fascia so I could be done with the wood construction and put away some of those tools. I also completed all the Loconet wiring and panels. I alternated a UP5 panel with a standard single jack every 8 feet.

I then turned my focus towards staging trains and working on paperwork, etc. for a preliminary Operations sessions. That has to be the hardest part of the whole layout. Thinking about what trains to send where so the could be returned without major problems was quite a chore. I think I am finally ready for the first session on Oct 12.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Workin' The WSS In The Heat

With record-breaking temps the last 2 weeks, I haven't been able to do a lot on the layout. By the time the AC units get it cool, it's almost time to quit for the night. What little I did was to continue on the WSS/HPT&D island. I am trying to get as much scenicked as possible so I can put on the lower valance. The top level is pretty much done as far as wooded areas, and I just have to come back and add in the industry buildings as I get them done.
I am not really looking forward to all the scratchbuilt buildings I have to do, mainly because it's not my strongest suit. I guess I can look at it as a chance to improve.......yeah right. For today's Show & Tell, I have a couple of areas on the WSS. First, the interchange with the NS in downtown Lexington. My version ended up in a corner as the track passes thru the island wall, thus the curve right.
South of the interchange the WSS crosses I-85. I still have work to do here including striping the southbound lane. This is another spot where I had to try out the Grassinator.
Down the road from I-85 is a siding leading into the PPG plant. Cut banks line both side of the tracks here.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Grassinator!

Thanks to, I have built a Grassinator (Plans are Here). What is it? What does it do? Several different manufacturers make static grass flock, small filaments that when a static charge is applied, stand on end to resemble grasses (see a how-to video here). Noch makes a static applicator, but costs around $150. Ztrains has plans for one for under $30. I just followed the instructions there and now have my own Grassinator.

The first time I tried it, there was a problem. I shook the applicator, but little of the flock fell out. I had tried to shortcut and used the wire from an old tea strainer instead of buying a piece of screen wire. I finally gave in and bought the wire and found it to work as it should.

The first areas I tried it on are pictured to the right. This was with a Medium Green flocking. I later went back and overseeded with a darker green, although the Medium is probably better for field grass.

Various From Around The Layout

Have been working on the upper level HPT&D for the last week. I've found it very important to get as much done on the upper level as possible because of all the mess I make dropping stuff down onto the lower level.

As of today, I have one small area to "forest" and I'll have all the upper WSS/HPT&D generally scenicked. I'll just have to go back and blend in as I complete the industry buildings and sites.

The first picture is the HPT&D south of the Wye in High Point. To the left of the wooded area will be KAO Specialties which I think used to be High Point Chemicals.

The last picture is just a random shot from the opposite upper deck. This is not visible from the floor and represents the HPT&D just south of the Georgia-Pacific formaldehyde plant in Healing Springs.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More Fall Scenery

Continuing to get the feel for the fall scenery. Tammy keeps telling me to hold down on the reds and let them blend into the green. I've learned that some people have a red/green colorblindness, which makes sense as I can't tell a red LED from a green one. I hate it when I look at electronics and someone asks "Is the light red or green?" IDK.

I'm not finishing the scenery 100%, just trying to cover some of the blank foam in between where the industries will be. It'll be easy enough to come back later and add more trees and details.

I think I hold up on the NS line and go back to the WSS/HPT&D island and work there for awhile. There's a good bit to be done on the upper level. I've learned that it's easier to finish major work on the upper before doing the lower.... less chance of dropping plaster and glue down on finished scenery.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Changes To Trackplan - WSS

As I was looking over the WSS from Bill Yard to the end of the island, it dawned on me that there was a lot of space for more industries. My problem was that just wasn't prototypical. In a blinding flash of light I realized that whole thing wasn't perfectly prototypical anyway, so I decided to make a few changes.

First, where I had added the house track and planned the old Lexington Depot near 5th Avenue I would change to be the siding for Owens-Illinois in Welcome. There is also room for another industry and haven't totally decided what to do. It could be a fake Carter Lumber (although there is not really a spur there) or it could be Carolane Gas (no longer receives rail shipments).

The entire other side of the WSS is the NS interchange, PPG and Cotton Grove siding. There really is nothing else there unless I just add something in.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Scenery On The NS Line

I've spent the last 4 months laying track, and can tell you it gets old after a while. So... I took a break this week and started on some scenery.

I started with the area just out of Charlotte staging on the lower level and just out of the pit on the upper. The area on the upper represents track between Bowers and Lake.

Both upper and lower levels on this side of the building will be done in fall colors. The opposite side of the building will be winter and the center island will be Spring/Summer.

I got really tired of laying track, so I took a break this week and worked on some scenery. For this section, I am trying a fall theme.