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The Saga of my Ever Shrinking Railroad, Part Duex

23543 Views 74 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  OldNoob
Well here I go yet again, with another thread to document the planning and construction of my layout inside my new garage.

Heres a link to the original, now archived post:


I will attempt to repost all the original text and pictures sans replies, so there is a continuity to the progress.





This will be the new home of the building log of my indoor layout, the Borracho Springs RR, a small mining themed line based on several historical lines like the Gilpin Tramway, the Coronada RR, later AKA the Arizona Copper Co RR, with influences from a couple model RRs, like John Allens G&D, Bob Hegges Crooked Mountain Lines, Malcomn Furlows work, and Joe Crea's Pitkin Tramway.

The Plan:

The location is indoors again, like the previous incarnations, in my newly rebuilt garage which unlike the old one, is insulated and plywood sheathed on the interior walls. Almost all the benchwork is already completed for a previous plan which after setting up, I was unhappy with. The back wall of the garage is 19'4", the left side is about 9', and the right side is 10'6"

So away we go...

12/12/07 In addition to reworking the plywood I have a lot of prep work to do, including adding something (masonite?) over the plywood walls to paint the backdrop on, wiring busses, and adding flourescent lights under the overhead shelf. Then it will be adding plywood platforms for the upper track deck.

Scenery will be blue foam, with either cast foam or hydrocal details, we'll see which are easier to do. but that wont be till after all the track and wiring is installed and operation is in good shape. I've already reworked the expanded benchwork on the left side of the layout, that was the trickey one, still need to rework the right side plywood a little, maybe today or next weekend. Pics when the benchwork is finished..

12/23/07 A little progress. Got the benchwork expanded:

Left side benchwork, expanded to accomodate the R1 turnaround

Right side benchwork, widened about 12" for the R1 turnaround on this side and for the track on the fiddle yard.

Fiddle yard widened to accomodate 3 tracks.

12/26/07 Yesterday I began test fitting the track and building the plywwod subtrack for the elevated sections, starting on the left side and clearing off the benchwork as I move thru each section, already finding some reach issues that will be an issue when the time comes for scenery (not operations), as the layout is a tad higher than the last incarnation (42" vs 36"), mostly I just need to keep a short step ladder handy.

PS the door is finished and installed/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/laugh.gif
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Since theirs NO apparently easy way to add pictures in this new forum format, we'll do this the HARD way, I thought this was supposed to be an improvement?:confused:

Track test laying, how about that, the CADD program was right, IT FITS!

Right hand side, Borracho yard, and the lower section of Long Grade

Upper part of Long Grade

The curve at Agony Point

Lower Agony Point at Heckawee, upper level mining sidings

the yard at Heckawee

Looking down Long Grade

Siding at the fiddle yard

 Now comes a part I've dreaded, cleaning the track /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crazy.gif, I've got 3 years of dirty gritty conductive grease to remove, so I can put shiny new conductive grease on the joints, somehow that seams a little contradictory doesnt it /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blink.gif
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Don, the grades is about 4%, the worst is at Agony Point since its curved as well, but I like real life tight twisty railroads so why not model them as well, and I like my trains usually short anyway. I'm looking forward to seeing how I have to "work" the trains up "the grade" once I get my trains going. I suspect I may end up having to "clean house" so to speak and sell off some of the weaker engines, or just rebuild them into heavier units.
Someone once said I had Marvin's sunny positive outlook on life.../DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue.gif
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Actually no, I'm surprisingly quite content with it as it lays out. Gonna be a heckovalot of work as it is, lots of kitbash and scratchbuilt structures to do, lots of scenery. One trap I found out back in my college days and I fell into with the last layout incarnations is that sometimes you can overthink a project to the point where nothing is satifactory because you always find another revision or tweek and one ends up never finishing the project. There comes a time in every project when you take of the designers hat and put on the construction hat, and right now, it's hard hat time. The layout is just the platform, its everything else that makes the railroad.
Test run #1 today on the mainline, using the Scientific guinnie pig as their no track power yet, mostly to test track transitions going up and down the grades. I've been using small wood shims to build up bases under the track at the transitions so there is a continuous solid base under all the track, so far got the left side transitions done, leaving only the transition at the right hand side left to do. Found a couple high and low spots during testing, thats what that stupid Scientific is great for, if IT will run on it, almost everything else will. Only a few rather funny derailments. It was funny to watch it run, since several track sections are still missing joiners, yet it trundled right along. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/laugh.gif
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OK been testing ELECTRIC trains, over part of the track, I actually just hooked up a powerpack to the track and surprise, its conducts current all the way around, even with all the crap in the joints. Agony Point is well named, its steep, and slippery, just like its prototypes on the Darj and the Uintah RRs, need to add a little more weight to my Bug Maulers, transitions seem to be working well. Discovered that Buddy L and Bachmann couplers dont....at least on curves, the knuckles dont overlap enough and on a curve they simply slip apart. Hmmm. So thats one more thing to fix, convert them all to B'manns
If I go up Long Grade, its OK... but up Agony Point its contentious. I knew going in it was going to fun working that grade, but I planned on short trains, short cars etc, and double heading. I plan to tweek my engines a bit here and there. I'm not worried about my geared babies, but once I get all my track wired up I plan to do some serious evaluations with all the engines, I may scrap outright (sell) some engines and modify others, I may even decide to modify my Bug Maulers with BBT drives, we'll see. Several of my smaller engines were never intended for the big layout and will instead be used for the portable layout. As it is I have far too much stuff for my layout right now, I really need to get serious about the direction I want to take my collection in.
Todd, R1, a necessity in my case, and yes, I know I'm nuts /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/w00t.gif

Matt, only the mainline stuff, the big cars and big engines will be knuckle couplered, all the rest will be link and pin. Primarily my Bug Maulers, my full size freight and passenger cars. Not the stuff I would normally operate on the layout as its too big for most operations. Just an occasional D&RG thru train or the occasional excursion train using track sharing rightages.

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First big fault found/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blush.gif

Had to eliminate the reverse S curve at the base of Agony Point, was causing derailments, added a 6" straight on each side. Need to rework some of the upper level supports where track will now go. The 6" straights on the other reverse S curves help a great deal, I now have to see how it effects the only remaining reverse S, at the bybass track at the base of Long Grade, I have to see if I can add a 6" straight there as well and shift the bypass track back a little.

This is why you always test and test and test again before you fix down any track or start any scenery, ;)
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T this is why I said test test test before fixing the track, and dont fall in love with your ideas or one will never find the will to make the decisions needed to finish it. So I'm reworking the track, I'll figure out the rest of the layout later.

I've already moved the track at Agony Point, I just need to scrap together a couple more 6" sections, and move the track at the other side. I only have to rework one upper level support so thats not going to be a problem either. I cleaned out a bunch of plastic track at San Val and I am slowly replacing the brass storage track inside the house, I will use this good like new track out on the layout.

One the plus side, my Aristo bricked Shaykirk geared locomotive thingie will easily drag 4 cars to the top of Agony Point. Its only the reverse S issue messing with the link and pin couplers, and the BuddyLBachmann incompatability that have been the biggest hangups.
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You guys should see those Superliner cars going aroung them curves...just like a Lionel!/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crazy.gif

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Robert on CAD it was drawn at 5' deep, but in construction, I cut it down to about 4'-8" deep.

Be advised, track at Agony Point is restrictive operation wise, you had better know that before jumping into it. I'm already looking at adding additional weight to various slippery engines and will likely be selling off a couple if I cannot modify them, and you will be limited on the lenth of trains. But hey, thats half the fun right?
Updating from entries made on the old forum during the "troubles';)

An progress update!

Slowly and steadily working on the layout, I got all the track down, all the blocks wired, all the wires run, the powerpack installed, the BTE wired into it so I figure I've got all the pices in place to give it a try
, turn on the pack, put an engine on the track and started presing buttons and got..


not a sausage!
check the wires, nothin', checked the block controls, nothin', a quick check of the BTE controller revealed the problem:

Dead battery

...and after a search of the house, there are not any spares or ones to cannibalis in the house, Grrrr

Oh well, looks like tommorow

Found a battery, fixed a small wiring glitch, got it running this AM


Test running, my stock Bug Mauler pulled two full size boxcars and caboose around in both directions, some slipping on the grade, just like the real thing only i dont have any sand to lay down, but it didnt stop. I take that as a success! I was more worried about derails on the transition sections but so far A-OK.

Thinker T wrote:
About like my results when I did something like that; my Annie managed to pull itself, the tender, three full sized gondola's and a bobber caboose up a grade like that with only very slight slippage...but it were on an R2 curve, not R1 like yours. I found that with just a little bit of weight it could do the same with four full sized cars. I think the tighter radi really restrict the climbing ability.

Thinker, Yeap, the R1s are tight, but given how small my layout actually is, that train I ran looked really long in relation to the rest of the layout. 

Thinker T wrote:
And that was with the equivilent of a standard issue Bachmann starter set size train! (Annie or Big Hauler, tender, and three full sized cars)

When you start running trains of say...six or eight full sized cars, the old layout really starts looking smaller; you start getting into the absurd situation where the caboose is just leaving the one town while the locomotive is almost at the next. I did come up with a legit trackwork solution to this...but it restricts me down to a total train length of about eight or nine cars.

Last update on the old forum:

I wired up the last siding this AM. Its ready to rock and roll!

..after I clean the track
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Update to today,

Been running the Bug Mauler around the layout dragging the track cleaner over the mainline, it manages to drag that lump up and over in both directions, tested the wifes Bloody L circus engine again, it can pull itself and the bobber caboose up and over but is too light for additional cars. Surgury time, going to drill a hole in those great big air tanks on the sides and fill'em with buckshot. That should help alot, I also plan to add some self adhesive weights insiide my Bug Maulers boilers and probably, to all my smaller engines. 

I now know for sure my transitions are correct, if that stupid Bloody L can make it around, all the rest will no trouble as that was the only engine that ran like crap by derailing or lifting the drivers off the rails if the track wasnt near perfect. Cleaning up right now, sheesh didnt relize what a mess I made putting that last work drive into it.

pic soon, I hope
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Just a teaser pic, for all those guys out there with computerized DCC and radio wave recievers.... my "High Tech" control system/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sick.gif

and yes, I know I need to change the block ID numbers:D
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Early test run with a Bug Mauler, gives a good idea of the layout size

PS engine is running about 4 times regular speed so you can see the whole layout in one take

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About 14 feet on each side for a 10 inch rise, this gives me about 9 to 9-1/2 inches clear under the upper benchwork supports.
Grades in large scale take up alot of run, the more moderate the grade the longer run is needed, its eats up a great deal of space fast.
Posted By wmumpower on 02/13/2008 7:58 PM
Your layout is really looking great!  I know this was just a test, but personally the Bug Mauler is just too big a locomotive to look right on that layout.  But some of your smaller locos......:D

Brian: "There no pleasing some people"
Leper: "Thats just what Jesus said!" 
 Monty Pythons Life of Brian;)/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/laugh.gif

Does this look better Warren? :cool:


Test Video #2
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In case anyone is interested

Some testing results, R1 curves with integral 4% grade, so far:

HLW Mack based engines:

Single units: 7 ore cars OK

Double headed: 12+ ore cars OK

LGB Porter based engines:

Single units: 5 ore cars OK (slicker wheels)

Double headed: 12 ore cars OK

LGB Toytrain based engines:

Single unit: 3 ore cars max, light engine, no pull

Double headed: 6+ ore cars, better performance doubled up

MDC Hustler based engines:

Single: 4-5 ore cars max, light engine, no pull

AC Centercab driveblock bashed engines:

Single units: 7 short (20') boxcars+ (ran out of cars) these pull like a son of a gun! nice and slow. They are by far my best performers.

Double headed: not tested but I suspect I'd run out of cars

Big Haulers:

Gen 2 converted to 4-4-0, 3 short cars is limit, very poor runner, poor elect pickup, may end a shelf queen

Gen 4 converted to 0-6-0, 4 short cars OK, 3 large cars OK

Gen 5 stock. 4 short cars OK, 3 large cars OK

Bachmann Indy:

Pooper...only 3 ore cars more and the wheels slip, this is a flyweight of an engine.

Bachmann Saddletanker:

7 ore cars OK, 4 or 5 short cars OK, rough performer though, prone to clunking around the track.

AC Rogers:

7 ore cars OK, 4 short cars OK

Overall I am very impressed with the HLW mack bashes, they pull more than I would have suspected due to there weight, more than the heavier LGB Porters. The kitbash geared engines like the Shaykirk and the Climax have more than outperformed my expectations, they are marvelous pullers! The most dissappointing for me have sadly been the Bachmann products, Oh well.


Ore car = HLW Minicar or LGB ore cars

Short car = 20' freight cars

Large car = 40' big hauler frieght cars
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