The purpose of this site is to share progress on the N Scale Model Railroad Layout that is being built in my basement with the help of some great friends and model railroaders. Comments on techniques we're using are welcome as are questions and critiques.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Rock Carving Session
Bernie carved some rocks at MG Tower
John mocks up the Gallitzin Tunnel and realizes that the backdrop horizon needs to be lowered a tad.
This is the original sketch for the layout design. Inspiration came from a number of noted designers, especially the late Matt Schaefer, and including Bernie Kempinski, Marty McGuirk and Paul Dolkos. Any errors in the execution of thier ideas are my own.
The layout represents the Pennsylvania Railroad as it was in the mid-1950s. There is still some steam on mainline trains but diesels are definitely taking charge.
Passenger service is still viable and the railroad is still running its "Blue Ribbon Fleet" of first-class passenger trains.
However, the Pennsy makes its money with coal and steel, hauling tons of coal and iron ore to the mills in Pttsburgh and all over the state, then hauling the output to industries all over the nation, as it has done for over 100 years.
The "Standard Railroad of the World" is traditional, but the railroad is showing some signs of innovation. In 1954, the PRR introduces TrucTrain service, hauling trailers on dedicated flatcars. GM also has introduced the innovative AeroTrain, essentially bus bodies on rails. It remains to be seen which of these ideas will last.
The layout includes the PRR mainline from "Works" in downtown Altoona, past ALTO and SLOPE Towers, to the "Brickyard", and up the hill to the curve itself. The line continues past MG tower and the four-track interlocking, around McGinley's curve to the three tunnels at the top of the hill. The eastbound and westbound main lines seperate to create room for the helper turnback loop in Gallitzin. The lines re-join in Cresson and continue downhill towards Johnstown and the west.
Here's a picture of one of the layout "Module" sections under construction. Modules are complex sections of the layout: a four-track interlocking at MG tower, for example.
The advantage of building Modules is that they can be wired without standing on your head. The switch machines were installed by Edd Braithwood, a fellow NTRAKer who now lives in West Virginia. He was able to take the Module home and work at his convenience. Here, Jeff Peck completes the wiring.
Once complete, the Modules are installed on the layout and track is connected. A gap of about 18" was left to ensure the the curved connecting track would flow smoothly.
Here's a shot of the Cresson Module with Leonard White, the layouts' first engineer and one of the regular crew.
Here's another shot of Leonard, with an easbound on #3 track and "The Slide" barely visible behind the reefers.
Creating the Allegheny Mountains in miniature
The Pennsylvania Railroad uses Horseshoe Curve to help with the climb to the top of the Allegheny Mountains in Central Pennsylvania. The railroad climbs over 1000 feet in the space of just over 10 miles, with the curve about a third of the way up.
Representing these mountains took some doing, even in 1/160 scale. We started by using sheets of 1/2" plywood to construct the mountain profile.
The general mountain profile is built from 1/2" plywood.
After the contours are installed, a grid made from interwoven cardboard strips creates the profile of the terrain. The cardboard is cut in 2" strips and stapled and glued together.
The cardboard grid creates the terrain contours.
Finally, heavy construction paper is glued over the grid to form the base for the scenery. The paper is first crumpled so it can easily conform to the contours and is attached with hot glue.
Here is a section of mountain scenery just below the Curve. Paint, and trees are next.
This layout would not be where it is without the help of some great people and organizations. Here is a partial list and some links:
The Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society
Source for all things Pennsy. The society encourages preservation of technical and practical information concerning the PRR.
The world's largest NTRAK Modular Railroading club, NVNTRAK was the inspiration for my getting out of the model railroading armchair about 15 years ago. A dozen modules and four layouts later, the group continues to provide friendship, advice and great times.