Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Bathroom Project Is Complete!

My long running bathroom remodel project mentioned in a previous post has been completed! At least 98% complete enough to finally get back to work on the layout.

Here's some pictures of all the hard work.

Once I turned my attention to the layout, a leak in the water feed tube for my furnace's humidifier diverted it briefly again. This had me taking out the removable layout sections around the furnace once more for humidifier repairs. Removing those sections multiple times in one year gave me my first layout project, reinforce the section ends and try to improve the sections so I one have to remove one not both. I'm wrapping up that work and should move on to adding my first mine spur this week. Stay tuned...

PC board to reinforce the ends of the removable sections.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Akron Mini Maker Faire 2019

On Saturday October 12th 2019, the Akron-Summit County Public Library hosted the Akron Mini Maker Faire at their downtown Akron location. For the second year in a row the Western Reserve Free-Mo had a display set up for the event.

Tim Moran was the sole supplier of modules for the show, highlighted by his Canton Ohio W&LE Freight House modules. These modules were are actually built to be both a part of his layout and modular to be brought to shows.

Brendan and I helped Tim set up, run trains and promote the hobby of model railroading to the crowds.

Hopefully I can finally supply a module of my own later this year.

Please enjoy a few photos of the event, click on the photos for a larger view.

Tim's Canton layout modules
Brendan doing some switching while my NKP Heavy Mikado head down the line with a short coal train.

A full over view of the set up, all the modules were supplied by Tim.

Action at the W&LE Freight House

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Catching up on 2019

It's certainly been a while since my last update in April 2019! Aside from summer activities taking my time, there was a renewed push to complete a long overdue bathroom remodel. To make sure my attention was on the bathroom I haven't allowed myself to work on the layout until that project was complete.

As it turns out late in the summer I did end up working on the layout but only to disassemble three sections due to a couple basement emergencies. Our main drain pipe needed snaked out which called for the removal of the Pine Valley Yard peninsula. Then only a week later the air conditioning failed which called for the removal of two sections between Adena Yard and Pine Valley to allow access to the back of the furnace just in case. Luckily only a few pounds of freon needed added and we avoided a costly replacement for now. Thankfully I had the foresight to design these sections to be removed if necessary. However I did not precut the rails between sections so there was a frantic night with a Dremel cutoff tool before the drain people and later HVAC people came.

Mainline sections between Adena and Pine Valley removed and shown above, the Pine Valley Yard peninsula has been removed at right.
During the summer Brendan and I traveled to the Chicagoland area to see the Union Pacific's newly restored Big Boy steam engine in action on its tour of western states. We caught the beast heading through Wheaton, IL and then at West Chicago, IL where it stayed for several days on public display.

Union Pacific "Big Boy" 4014 though Wheaton, IL Chris Ellis photo.
While in northern Illinois we made the train watching hotspot of Rochelle our homebase spending hours at the busy railpark in town. This was Brendan's first real taste of seeing western railroading in action with the busy BNSF and UP lines moving traffic to and from Chicago. The first night there we were treated to a non stop parade of trains that made it hard to leave and head back to the hotel for the night!

BNSF intermodal at Rochelle, IL Chris Ellis photo
We made a point to visit the must see Illinois Railway Museum and got lucky visiting when the Frisco 2-10-0 steam engine was in action for short rides. I didn't realize then but later I found out the Museum and steam engine starred in movie "A League of their Own" with Tom Hanks and Gina Davis. The Museum had literal tons to see but even out in Illinois we found a small piece of the Wheeling & Lake Erie. On a wall of builders plates on display inside a passenger car was a plate from one of the Brewster built 0-6-0 steam engines.

Illinois Railway Museum, Frisco 1630 Chris Ellis photo
W&LE 0-6-0 Builders Plate at the Illinois Railway Museum, Chris Ellis photo

2019 would also have us visiting another train watching hotspot of Folkston, GA on our way to Florida for vacation. We only had time for a brief stop but luckily caught one train making the diversion worthwhile.

CSX intermodal at Folkston, GA Chris Ellis photo
In the fall Brendan and I took a whirlwind day trip to Cassandra, PA and Altoona, PA hoping to catch some peak fall foliage photography. We were rewarded with a beautiful day and almost peak colors, not to mention several of Norfolk Southern's colorful heritage engines making an appearance.

NS SD70ACe 1022 at Cassandra, PA, Chris Ellis photo

NS AC44C6M 4002 at Cassandra, PA, Chris Ellis photo

NS Illinois Terminal "The Glow Worm" heritage engine at Cassandra, PA, Chris Ellis photo

NS Monongahela heritage engine pushing at Horse Shoe Curve, Altoona, PA, Chris Ellis photo
As for layout updates, aside from the emergency section removal there's not much to report. The entire layout was covered up to protect it from dust when a tile cutting "room" was created using sheet plastic. If you've ever seen the TV show Dexter you'll understand what it looks like...

As of today only the shower grout work and some minor details remain to complete the bathroom remodel. So my hope is by the end of February I'll have the basement back in order and ready for layout work to resume!

Almost done!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Track work for Adena - Part 5

The wye track at Adena was the busy junction of the Adena RR branchline and the Toledo mainline. The Adena wye is also what I would consider part of a "signature" scene for my layout along with the west end of Adena Yard. So the challenge as usual, is to get the look as close to the prototype that I can in the space I have to work with.

NKP 941, a 2-6-6-2 mallet, on the start of the wye and the Adena RR branch. JJ Young JR photo
Highlighted in red on the valuation map below shows the track I'll be working on next.  Click on the valuation map to see a larger version.

Tracks added in this blog post 4-9-19, Valuation Map from
Aside from laying track I'll also have a lot of bridges to build. The wye itself contains two bridges, one through girder on the main and a large 12 span curved wood trestle bridge at the start of the Adena RR branch. Between the wye and the Adena Tunnel on the main line there were two through girder bridges. Due to space constraints I'll only model the more interesting bridge closest to the tunnel with the Short Creek and a road running under it. Finally just past the wye on the Adena RR branch there are two bridges to build, one wood trestle and deck plate girder combo over the Short Creek and a through plate girder over W. Main St.

Here's photos of the bridges that will be built on the west end of Adena.

Toledo Mainline BR 192.13 over the Short Creek and Blairmont Rd. not too far away to the left is the Adena Tunnel. 4-9-2014 Chris Ellis photo
Toledo Mainline BR 192.67 over the Short Creek inside the Adena wye. 4-9-2014 Chris Ellis photo

Adena Branch BR 0.20 over the Short Creek inside the Adena wye, JJ Young photo

Adena Branch BR 0.40 over the Short Creek. 4-9-2014 Chris Ellis photo

Adena Branch BR 0.60 over W. Main St. Google Maps
Building those will keep me busy, but first I'll need to begin laying the road bed and some of the track to know where these bridges will go exactly.

Here's where the wye at Adena stands before trackwork. A while back I started the through girder bridge 192.67 and it's masonry footings which can be seen in the below picture. You can pretty much only make out two sides of the wye, but all the lines are laid out.

Adena wye looking east toward the yard before the real track work begins.
Adena wye looking west.

The cork road bed is now in place leading up to Bridge 192.67. A layer of the rubber sheet material I like to use and HO scale cork roadbed brings it level with the stone bridge abutments.

Toledo Mainline BR 192.67
The cork/rubber roadbed combo also brings it level with the milled homosote roadbed I planned on using. A difference in foam panel material caused a height problem but the two kinds of roadbed solved that issue. A little lightweight spackle also smooths out a low spot on the main and the seam on the west wye leg as seen below.

Spackle fill out a low spot on the main and a seam transition on the wye.

Mainline part of the wye
For the rest of the roadbed I use Cascade Rail Supply's milled homasote branch profile roadbed. All the roadbed whether it be cork, rubber or homasote is glued down with the DAP clear adhesive caulk.

The homasote roadbed goes in for the west end of the wye
Homasote roadbed cut for the west end turnout.

The west end of the Adena wye is anchored with a #8 curved 32"/25" radius turnout. I built this one freehand with a paper template before I received my Fast Tracks fixture. In order to fit the yard and wye along one wall I had to curve the west end of the wye. I was able to keep the 30" mainline radius on the outside but had to drop down to 24" for the inside of the wye. This brought the turnout pretty close to the backdrop which should make scenery there interesting.
The turnout ready to be spiked down after the headstock ties get glued in.
After the west end of the wye was "laid in stone" I began laying the other two legs of the wye which mark the beginning of the Adena RR branchline. The track being held up by a small container on the right will be where the long curved trestle bridge (BR 0.20) is located.

The beginnings of the Adena Branch
Next up more track laying and construction of the benchwork for the other two Adena Branch bridges.

- Quick links

Track work for Adena - Part 1
Track work for Adena - Part 2
Track work for Adena - Part 3
Track work for Adena - Part 4
Track work for Adena - Part 5