Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I've Been Thinkin' 'Bout The Railroad All The Live-Long Day!

No, I didn't fall off the face of the Earth, but darn close...Working, family loss, last minute travel (due to my Mom passing away), working, wrapping up home remodel projects, working, fishing, working... Anyway, life goes on during the HOT Midwestern Summer and plans for building the On30 Swamp Logger layout keep getting pushed back. And with the arrival of my new fly fishing outfit, the layout may see some other "delays" as I head out to bend the pole before winter sets in!

But, with delays comes new ideas, clarity and renewed determination to do something right the first time. With the delays at getting the On30 layout started in my modest-sized basement, I have been writing articles, sending out  story proposals and getting some nibbles and seeing another of my "big" articles published in Model Railroader Magazine  a few issues ago (The one on converting HO scale pick-up truck into a Hi-Rail and modifying a Blazer into an extreme 4x4!)

Work continues with my two scratch-built On30 locomotive projects, with some interest from On30 Annual Editor Chris Lane on my Narrow Gauge Diesel Critter conversion. Thinking about building the Blackwater & Mosquito Creek Lumber Co. On30 layout also continues. With some extra funds coming in from working two jobs, we are talking about getting our home's electrical switched over to 200 amp and getting rid of the old fuse panels and limited circuit breakers used to protect our 1920s-vintage home. With the upgraded electrical, I will be able to hard wire in good lighting for the train room and more power outlets without fear of blowing fuses, over stressing the system, or worse, causing an electrical fire! So that's in the planning stages now.

My layout plan up to this point worked around a washer, dryer (with a dryer vent pipe that runs along in the exact MIDDLE of the long basement wall) and wash tub in one corner of the basement area marked off for the layout. These units take up a lot of space and cause a compromise to the design of the layout goal. A recent visit by our friendly plumber revealed that moving the laundry equipment to another location near drains and power is very do-able. So, that is also in the planning.

With the electrical upgraded and the washer and dryer out of the way, it frees-up a nice rectangle of room space in the basement for the trains. I will have a doorway to the basement bathroom to deal with, and the entrance to the "train room" to consider, but with the right track plan and a couple of drop-down/swing away benchwork sections, we should OK with that. There is also a floor support post at one end of the room, but that is easily worked around as well! I have made a pact with myself. I was going to prepare the train room fully- with sealed and painted walls and floor, install a drop ceiling, plus add good lighting, enough power outlets, and make sure it's an AC/Heated/Humidity-controlled place to build and run trains for years to come.

With the soon to be open floor space, some layout planning "thoughts" have come to mind. As you may recall, I had been thinking of doing a double deck layout with the lower deck my On30 Swamp Logger and the upper deck an  abbreviated version of my HO-scale Big Island Rail Hawaiian-theme railroad. Now I'm thinking make the lower level the BIRR and the upper level a shelf-style around the room On30 logging layout. The HO layout could feature a long center peninsula to increase the run of trains plus, I could use more of the finished sections of layout that were in our large rental home basement. The most drastic idea was to go back to my original concept for the On30 Swamp Logger and build it as a portable, modular, traveling display layout comprised of 4-to-5 manageable/ haulable sections that I could take to model trains shows in the region. These sections could be set-up for running in our "craft room" where we each have work desks for doing our hobby stuff. The concept would allow for a single layout basement railroad devoted to the HO scale BIRR. With all the talk in the model RR press about double deck layouts, that could be a possibility as well.

So that's where I am right now..still at the crossroads, but with some fun things to ponder as I wait for the plumbers and electricians to do their thing in the basement.

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