Lot of thought goes into how you want to arrange your layout.

Wow, it is scary how fast time is flying by! I have been taking advantage of the good weather we’ve had lately and getting ready for old man winter. The nights are getting cold and the woodstove has been fired up a few times already to heat up the house. I have been busy hauling, cutting up, splitting and stacking firewood and getting some car maintenance done in preparation of a long winter. It’s scary how fast time is flying by! Halloween is right around the corner. Hope you are enjoying the fall season.

A lot of time can be devoted to thinking how to arrange your layout. Deciding where the most logical location is for the different buildings and the different features of the model railroad can take a lot of thought. Getting the different elements to fit within the model railroads boundaries can add to the difficult task. Following a prototypes arrangement may help in the placement of the buildings and etc., but then things still might have to be moved around to fit the confines of a layouts size and/or shape. A freelance layout allows the builder more freedom to include the elements they want in their layout. That freedom may also create more questions like where to locate the team track and the best location that works well for both the railroad and the town.

I studied the track plans for my layout a long time in trying to decide on where to locate things like a small switching yard, turntable and roundhouse, and train passenger/freight station. Even though a lot of thought was put into planning the layout a change of ideas can come along unexpectedly. I had a small brain storm (small brain equals small brain storm). The location where I originally pictured the train station would go, suddenly looked like a great place for an idea I had from an old magazine article. I decided there was just enough room on the layout in this area to squeeze in a twisted, steep dirt road that heads up to the mines. The roads switchbacks, wood retaining walls and steep drops along the edges would add some character. Because of the tight location on the layout, the roads switchbacks are a little too tight but I think they are believable to the viewer. A poor truck driver will probably have to do a three to five point turn with larger trucks negotiating around the switchbacks.

I started the project by taking a picture of the layout where the dirt road was going to be located. I loaded the photo into Photoshop and played with the road idea to kind of get an idea what the road would look like. I drew the route of the road on the photo first to get an idea which way it would fit the best. Then I drew in the mountains around it. This was not to scale, but it gave me an idea where to start. The road is marked in red in the photo below.  This Photoshop picture is not to scale and does not show the exact route of the road, but it helped get my imagination flowing. The hardest part for me was to visualize how to cut the road into the mountain.  I did some thinking and decided to try a new technic for me. I wanted to try to cut the road into the foam mountain by using an electric foam cutter. But I did not want to purchase one. So I got my soldering gun out and removed the soldering tip from it. Then I removed the mounting nuts off another soldering tip I didn’t use much. These two mounting nuts from the soldering tip will be reused on a custom made tip I made from a heavy clothes hanger. The wire of the clothes hanger had no paint on it so no fumes would come from it when it is heated up by the soldering gun. The outside width of the wires need to be the width needed for the dirt road. I took a photo of the setup so you can see what I’m trying to explain. The soldering gun heated the wire up in about five to ten seconds and worked great for cutting the road into the foam mountains!

The building of the new mine road can be read in the “From the Very Beginning” story. When reading the story, look for the article dated    11-04-2017. Please check it out. I hope it gives you some good ideas to work from on your train layout. And as I usually say; keep it fun, relaxed and happy N scale modeling!


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