Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Layout Work Begins!

Not being one to keep putting off things indefinitely that seem like they will be fun, I have begun actual construction of the first module on my new "Blackwater & Mosquito Creek Lumber Co." On30 portable logging layout. Since posting the Plan B layout track plan a few days ago, I have up-dated the plan, adding a second 16-inch x 3-foot "End Cap" section which will highlight a locomotive service facility.

Using materials I had on hand (since the local building materials place didn't have the foam I plan to use) I have begun actual building of the engine house module. This will be one of two planned "short" end modules that will "cap" the three main 16-inch x 4 foot modules of the the Blackwater & Mosquito Creek Lumber Co. layout. The main objective is to keep it light and keep it portable - but at the same time, make it sturdy enough to withstand travel and repeated set-up and tear-down.

Follow along as I build this first layout section.

I trued-up the ends of this 16-inch x 3 foot section of 2-inch-thick insulation foam using a carpenter's square and a razor knife. (Above photo)

Using foam-safe building adheasive and a brad nailer, I attached sections of 4-inch-wide, 1/2-inch plywood as a frame around the foam, making the top edge even and leaving 1 1/2-inches underneath for the support boards (Above photo).

Four 2x2-inch support boards were cut to size and used as extra supports below the foam. I drilled a 1/2-inch hole through each support to route furure power, lighting and sound wiring. I adheared the 2x2's using the adheasive and small brads from the nail gun.

Once the module was framed and bottom supports in place I flipped the module over and glued the sub-roadbed to the top of the foam framework. I used 2x4-foot sections of accoustic drop-ceiling tiles. I've used this material before with good results. I actually like this as roadbed material more than the thin foam sheets (Photo below)..
Getting the small module to this stage only took about an hour after I gathered tools, extension cords, and materials. This 16-inch x 3-foot module, topped with the ceiling tile subroadbed, weighed in at only 9.5 lbs.!! Pretty light and very solid.

Now the fun begins with setting the roadbed and testing track and structure placement.

I will be hand-laying my On30 track, but to see how the module arrangement was going to work, I scavenged an old piece of On3 flex track as a test track. This single-stall engine house was leftover from a long-gone On3 logging layout and with some "uber-detailing" and an added machine shop will fit in very nicely!

Here's the loco service facility module so far with the enginehouse, fuel tank (hidden behind the enginehouse) and water tank (top) a Westside Lumber hillside model, (also a "leftover" from layouts past), sitting in place. The depression will become Mosquito Creek. The enginehouse lead will cross a short low piling trestle across the creek where rails will join the next module.

This is becoming a fun project and I am using it to test out my design and constructuion ideas before I commit to buying more materials to build the main modules. Next will be laying some ties and rails, building a trestle and getting that engine house and water tank back out of mothballs-status in into service.

Until next time..."Keep swatin' 'em buggers!"

Monday, July 25, 2011

Swamp Logger Layout Design 'Thinking' Continues

My thoughts have definitely been "Narrow-Minded" these past weeks, sitting down with a note pad and coffee writing and sketching, putting thoughts and goals to paper for the new Blackwater & Mosquito Creek Lumber Co. On30 modular layout. After sketching numerous track plans and toying with sizes the modules would be, I think I have nailed down a good track plan along with a manageable size for each module and the portable layout in general.


Layout Construction Concepts
Make it light and sturdy. I've decided to build each module from the lightest materials I can. My plan is to use 2-inch thick insulating foam cut into 16-inch x 4-foot sections - one for each module. Since I have "tons" of left over sections of 2x2 furring strips in the wood pile, I will cut and mount these under the foam as additional support and as an "open" area below the foam sub-roadbed to route wires for the power bus, lighting and sound. I plan to frame these supported foam sections with 1/2-inch plywood, ripped to about 4-inches wide. I will use the "tired and true" 1/8-inch tempered Masonite as the fascia finish panels on the front "display" side of the layout. I got the idea for using the framed foam from an article in the 2004 Great Model Railroads by Tony Michel and Jerry Strangarity. They build the benchwork using this method for their 2-foot x 16-foot, 4-section logging On3 layout.

I will also add an overhead fascia panel from the 1/8-inch Masonite to each module to give the layout a finished "Shadow Box" display look (See Below). This will conceal the overhead lighting and tree tops and provide framing for the backdrop board. I will use the 2x2's for the framework on this as well. Each module will get locked into place to the adjoining module using pull latches front and behind.

I'm thinking of using the folding, plastic "Saw Horses" for the layout supports rather than folding tables. Lighter and a little cheaper!

Plan B
I want to have the largest percentage of the layout consist of scenery, i.e. swamp and trees, with a minimal amount of track and buildings. I want to convey the sense of a logging coperation being in the "Boonies" or deep in "The Sticks" far away from any town. Here is my working track plan (See Above) for the Blackwater & Mosquito Creek Lumber Company layout. It consists of three 16-inch wide x 4-foot long modules and a 16-inch x 3-foot end module for the Logging Camp. Still in the "R&D" stage will be two "Turntable Sector Plates," one at each end. These will contain two tracks each and will have a pivot in the center to allow, locos, railbus, speeders and complete trains to be turned without handling during an operating/train show session. I'm still working on how to design them to be portable and how to mount these to the other sections of layout and how long they will end up being, etc.
As always please feel free to drop me a note, comment, or share ideas.

Until next time, "Keep swattin' 'em buggers!"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Very" Early Track Plan

Here's what I am thinking about for a track plan for the small, mobile and light Black Water & Mosquito Creek Lumber Co. On30 pike. This is a 5th or 6th version of the sketching out a plan... I think this one will allow for switching and operation with a minimum of turnouts (switches) and more scenery opportunities. The section will be approx. 1 1/2 ft. x 5 ft. so they will fit in the back of our Nissan Xterra. I plan on setting them up on folding tables.

 At both ends I'm planning sector plates that will allow complete turning of the trains to allow ease of operation during a train show, where I can run a train through the modeled scene, then turn it and have it ready for another trip through in the opposite direction.

I plan to hand-lay the track and possibly the turnout, as well. I did that for an old On3 logging layout I once built and the results were quite stunning!

Any thoughts, comments or ideas are very much welcome!

Thanks. And untill next time: "Keep swattin' 'em buggers!"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Let The Swamp Logging Begin!

Hello fellow model railroaders and "Swamp Loggers!" This is a new blog that will document the creation, design, building and operation of a new model railroading project for me: The "Blackwater & Mosquito Creek Lumber Co." railroad.
The small narrow guage pike will be built in 1/4-inch scale (On30) and built in modules to easily travel and set-up at train shows in the region. But mainly, it's giving me a "new" very different modeling project to get excited about beside's working on my basement-sized modern-day, Hawaiian Island-based HO-scale Big Island & Pacific Railroad.
I have a small collection of On30 On3 and 1/4-inch-scale logging stuff packed away that I want to use. I had toyed with the idea of doing a Hawaiian Island guage plantation railroad, but then it would be "more Hawaii." I thought about doing a Minnesota-based logger, but tht wasn't getting me as jazzed. I wanted something totally different from my other layouts. I had modeled the Pacific Northwest with a logging and lumber-themed railroad with the tall pines lumber and logs in both HO and 1/4-inch scale, but the idea of doing a down and dirty, sweaty, steamy, mossy, firefly and gator-infested swampy hardwood's logging railroad in narrow guage was too hard to pass-up. What really sent me over the edge was seeing a few videos on You Tube of the 'Muskrat Ramble' swamp logging pike in On30 from Down Under. I believe the Website is:
So with that said, I will try to pass on my concept notes, head-scratching brain storming scribbles, track planning ideas and photos of the whole process in the weeks and months to come.
I think this will get me back on track with my main railroad modeling as well!
In the meantime,thanks for coming along for the adventure. Please feel free to share comments, ideas, websites, photos with me.

Until next time, keep swattin' dem buggers!