Thursday, December 31, 2009

Backdrops and Benchwork

I had to clean up the layout and shop area because I was having trouble moving around. Part of that work was to throw away what I knew I wouldn't use. There were still a few scenicked pieces of the old layout. I kept what I could and threw away the rest.

Another part of the cleanup was to try and get some of the big pieces of material cut down to size so I could get it out of the way. I cut up the big sheets of hardboard and installed quite a bit of backdrop. I normally like the hardboard that is finished on both sides, however I have found that they don't flex quite as much as the kind that is finished only on one side. This means that a few of mine have broken in the corners because I flexed them too much. Unfortunately I can't find the other kind right now.

I still had a few big 1x4's and 2x4's to use and get out of my way. I decided to make a test case for the last piece of benchwork This takes up a lot of the remaining floor so I made some brackets to hold it, so it can be removed so I can get around the room. I'm a little worried that this is too big, so I'll leave it up while I get a feel for if this is the right thing to do.

This piece of benchwork will allow me to raise the trackwork from the drill in the left center of the picture to the drill in center of the picture, by coming toward the end of the benchwork and turning around and going back. There will be a town on the left as you come toward the screen and a yard on the right as you head back. You might be able to see that I'll have to make one more turn around this middle section to get to the upper level and then exit to the right.

I couldn't keep South always to the left and North always to the right. I was able to place a river crossing at the upper level, so that geographically the operator will always be on the water side of the tracks.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Layout Overview

I had a problem with a large semi-permanent cabinet that would prevent me from adding the elongated helix I was planning. I finally just had to tough it out and move the offending cabinet. It took a very large shoe horn to get the cabinet out. I just about made it impossible with my lower ceiling and all the junk in the way. The job is now done and the extension can be made, after I ensure myself that all the big pieces that need to go into the room are in. It will be difficult to add large pieces of anything after the extentio n is installed.

We will now take a short tour of the layout area.

The picture below shows the staging to the left and the helix in the center. There will be one more extension coming out from the helix toward the camera. It will be almost as long as the staging area.

This picture shows you walking into the layout just past staging. The Helix is on the right.

Continuing around the corner we come across the first town area on the lower left. The helix is still to the right.

Now we open up into the area where the first phase is.

Now we turn around and look toward phase 2 from the phase 1 section.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The walls are connected to the helix

I have been busy with a couple of aspects of building the layout. The benchwork around the walls has been connected to the helix area. I have been struggling with the three levels and where everything will go so that the levels aren't on top of each other.
The helix has not been completed. I have an eight foot section to put in where Searsport Yard will be and of course there are cabinets in the way. I'm trying to figure out where to put them. This has not been easy. I'm almost thinking of changing the plan once again to something smaller to give me more people room.
I have a piece of plywood set for a portion of the yard. It seemed that the original height, was just too high for switching without a stool. There isn't enough headroom for standing on a stool.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Grades have been set

I spent the last two days setting the grades for the railroad. I started by loosening the risers for the lowering of the approach to the south end of Rigby Yard. I lowered it as far as I could to connect up the lower level all the way to staging. The grade is at the most 2%, but mostly around 1.5%.
The next big event that I finally just had to do, was lower all of the plywood, for the lower level of Phase 1, about 1.5". This was not fun at all. It is now complete.
The upper level has been set from staging to about half way around the layout. The rest of the upper benchwork can now be lowered about 1.5". This will make the upper level towns easier to access. Once this is done we'll move onto the helix area and connect both of them together.
The lower level will rise about 6" from staging to Rigby Yard. It will level off for two towns and then start the rise to the upper level. That rise will be about 17", where it will level off for 1 town. We will rise and lower again 1" as we travel to the next town. Once we leave that town we will drop down about 3" to Staging.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Plywood Subroadbed

I took 48 feet of plywood and turned it into 80 feet of sub-roadbed. All of the straight sections along the walls, with the exception of staging are ready to have the supports added and the grades adjusted. It is now time for all those pieces of scrap that were in a pile in the floor to be put to use. That should give me more room to move.
I'm anticipating having to lower everything that has already been done so I can keep the proper spacing between levels. This is to also keep the upper level from being to high.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ceiling is progressing & Code change

The ceiling is coming along and it won't be long before I can divert my attention to laying track. Speaking of track, I have decided to change to code 83 except for hidden track and staging.
I ordered a lot of flextrack and cork roadbed. I also ordered a pile of turnouts. I also snuck in a F3A/B unit with sound. The turnouts arrived today. The track should be here by the time I'm ready to go.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Things are going slow

The ceiling in the second section is progressing, slowing. I got most of it installed around the helix area and then I ran into another bottleneck. There is a transition that is causing me fits. I trying to build covers for some of the duct work to minimize the elevation change of the ceiling. The transitions are all different and must come together some way. I'm working out the details. I'm just slow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Connection between the two levels

I put in the benchwork for the lower level and decided to start to put up the upper level to see how the transition was going to work. I was making all of these measurements and settled on where the upper level needed to go. It is a little too high for a yard that may go in this locations. I started looking around and realized I was getting ahead of myself.

I looked up toward the ceiling and I remembered the ceiling needed to go in first. If I put the benchwork in before the ceiling, it would be very hard to get to the ceiling. So the benchwork will have to wait and the ceiling is at the top of the list.

This will allow me time to think about where to connect to the rest of the benchwork.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Don't you hate it when.....

you start a project and then all of these alternative ideas start floating around. I now have 3 different track plans going for the helix area. Some of these ideas will change the benchwork locations. There are sections of benchwork that won't change, so I'm still working at getting those parts put in.
The biggest idea change is trying to locate a second yard. I was having trouble trying to fit the second yard in with the existing benchwork. This called for me to look at extending some of the benchwork to accommodate the other yard. One good thing could be that with the extended area for the rise to the upper level there may not be a helix. I'm still looking at the possibilities.
The important thing is that I'm building what I can while deciding on the few pieces that will change the way the railroad will operate.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stud work for the Helix area

The stud walls I put up for the rise feom the lower to the upper level. There is about 25" on the inside in case cleaning or repairs are needed from the inside of the helix.


The staging area I was talking about the other day.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Upper Level Plans

This is the plan for the upper level. As before the double lined benchwork is actually in place.
Traveling Clockwise from staging in the lower left, you will make a right turn and then a left where you will run into a town on the left side of the second room. This might be a small yard. I'm still playing with ideas. You would travel on around the room to the opposite side of the room for another town. You continue on around the wall and back into the first room where you will find the helix area. Depending on how this area works out there should be two or three towns all together the details aren't complete.
Below staging you will find a reverse loop for ease in staging trains. There will probably be a helix from the lower to the upper level for continuous running,

Lower Level Plans

I figured out how to upload plans from auto cad, so I decided to share them.
This is the lower level. Benchwork that is already in place is indicated by the double lines. Single lines are approximate.
Staging starts in the lower left. You travel clockwise up the left and turn the corner where you will find the first town. Continuing on you will end up in Rigby yard and industrial area. You will leave the yard and come across a large industry that juts into the middle of the room. Continuing you will find the next town. You then travel around back into the first room and come around to the donut in the middle that will serve as a kind helix to the upper level. I do believe that there will be two towns in this area as yet to be determined.
The area coming out across from staging may or may not happen. It could be a large industry, part of an extended helix or maybe a second yard (for the upper level. We'll see how it goes.
Below staging you will find a reverse loop for ease in staging trains. There will probably be a helix from the lower to the upper level for continuous running,

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Staging Benchwork

Over the last two days I put in the staging benchwork for both levels and attached them to the rest of the layout. This brings me up to approximately 115 feet continuous on the both the upper and lower level. I still have to put in the reversing loop area for staging. The only other area left is where the helix area will be that will connect the upper and lower levels.
I was working on the stud work for the helix until I ran out of 2 x 4's. Another trip to Lowe's is in order. Now to make a list.
I have been trying to keep up with the benchwork in Auto Cad also so as my plan develops I'll know if everything will fit and whether or not I'll have turnout issues where the cross members are located.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Benchwork connected

I didn't get much benchwork done today, however I did get the phase 1 & 2 sections connected. I now have approximately 100 feet of continuous benchwork on both the upper and lower levels. The upper and lower levels are not connected yet. That is coming later.
I did remove the temporary staging yard so that I could get the benchwork connected. I will need a little more bracing to stabilize the benchwork.
A couple of choices I have for the next job will be the studs and the benchwork for the staging yard. The other choice would be to put a little road work in to see if the benchwork height will be right. That will help to ensure that the staging height will be right when I get there.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

40 More Feet of Benchwork

This is technically phase II. The first part of that is the L shaped area along two walls. I put studs up along the walls so I could attach the benchwork to it. I was able to put up about 40 feet of benchwork. 20 on top and 20 on the bottom. This benchwork leads to the staging areas. The top picture shows the phase 1 to the right .

Working our way to the left, this picture shows the middle of the area that was built today. The center top and both levels to the left are 12" deep. They are areas that the trains will travel in between towns. There will be a town on the lower shelf in the center of the picture. This area is 20" deep.

The bottom picture shows the narrow shelf leading to staging, which will be to the left of this picture. All of the open area in the front will be filled with benchwork. I will have to have everything done around the walls before I build this section, or I may not get everything into the far corners.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Going Going Gone

The wood rack (above) is in its final stages of life. It was a floor to ceiling rack with many storage shelves. The right hand uprights will stay temporarily, since it is still holding up the benchwork. Below I have added some uprights for the benchwork that will be along the wall. I placed test pieces for the benchwork to see if the width of the shelves and the 30" aisles will be a good fit.

Now I'll clean up the mess I made and see what can be salvaged and what needs to be thrown away.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It has been decided...

..the wood rack comes out.
I have modified my track plan and moved the benchwork away from the wall. This will create a different traffic flow. I still need to decide between 2 "nod under's", a reversal of the orientation of east and west between the upper and lower level.
I have asked friends and people in the Layout Design SIG. It is pretty much a mixed bag of what people like. Right now I'm leaning to ease of construction and no "nod under's". Either way the new benchwork that I'm working on should be basically the same. So, I can be working on the benchwork while I'm deciding.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wood rack

There is a wood rack in the room that I hoped I could use for getting the track around to the places that I wanted it to go. I wanted to minimize the modifications so that I could still store wood for the wood shop. I originally had a plan that would require a small duck under that wouldn't require you to duck to far, but it always bothered me that any duct under would be too much.
While I was working on the benchwork it occurred to me that the best bet would be to remove, move or modifying the wood rack would be the best bet. So, now I'm rethinking this and see if it will change anything for the better.
Another option would be to make a swinging door for the track and it happens that I have a door that I could use like a dutch door. Time put put on my thinking cap again.

Upper Level progress

The upper level benchwork is completed in the main area. Where is two towns will be located the benchwork is 24" deep and the, other is 20". It is only 15" deep where the trains just run through.
The benchwork was 62 1/2" high and for the widest area where switching would take place, it seemed too deep for me, with no stool. I had to decide how important the height was and whether a stool would be a problem with a low ceiling. I settled on lowering the benchwork down to 60". This gives me a 15" separation between decks, which really doesn't seem to be a problem on the lower deck except for a area where the trains will just run through.
I also can lower the lower level benchwork by as much as 3", just by loosening the supports. Some adjusting will need to be done as I put the grade into the lower level.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Upper Level Benchwork Started

The ceiling in phase 1 is complete. Trying to merge one room into the other was a pain. I got down to the last piece and it wouldn't fit around all those corners. I ended up adding an extra divider and made the last piece into two.

Now that the ceiling is out of the way I have started the second level benchwork. I have gone around two of the four walls. I have a few adjustments and brackets to put in place to ensure everything stays level and secure.

I'll still have the fun of trying to get past the water heater and still be removable, you know, "just in case". Hopefully, I'm thinking ahead for all the gotcha's.

I don't have all the details to get from one level to the other, but I'll at least be able to get the benchwork in and mostly adjusted, until I get into the other room.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's a little low but....

it is a ceiling. No more worries about insulation falling on your head. I just have to finish a funny corner by the door and splice it into the next section.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The rest of the ceiling in the alcove

I went to the store and got the rest of the materials for suspended ceiling. I am in the process of building the grid so that I can install the ceiling panels. I decided to go with the highest ceiling I could get for the rest of the alcove.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Testing upper level heights

I completed to drop ceiling for the area over Rockland. It is at 6' 3" of clearance. I am now playing with an old section of benchwork for the upper level. I knew going in that things might be tight. This section of benchwork was 2 1/2", plus the 1/2" plywood top.

I started thinking I would have only 11" clearance from the road bed to the lights. I did some measuring and figured I could start with a 13" clearance to the top of the bench work. I started with 18" deep, which is slightly less that the 20 1/2" of the lower level. Since I would not be having a town in this area on the upper level, I reduced that to 15". I could go to 12" deep, but 15" seems good for now.

The bottom picture shows the first try with a 13" clearance on the top and 17" on the bottom. There appeared to be room to lower the upper level a little so I came down an inch to the top of the backdrop I had installed. The upper picture shows this new arrangemeny. You could still see the back buildings on the lower level real good, so I think this is were it will stay.

Now I have to see how well I like this upper level clearance, because the next decision is whether or not to have a valence all the way around this section or just raise the rest of the ceiling higher because I can.

Decisions, decisions....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Drop Ceiling and Upper Valence

I finally got around to figuring out what was needed for a drop ceiling in the layout room. I am trying for two levels. It is made complicated by an already low ceiling and duct work in the way. I made some measurements and the best I could do would be 6' 4", which would be unacceptable for a single height ceiling.
The first thing I did was move the ventilation around to the perimeter of the room. This gave me more height in the middle of the room. I then had to build a valence over one side of the layout to hide the duct work and lights. This turned out to be about 6' 3", which is OK because it is over the edge of the layout. The upper level might only have about 11" of clearance. This is not as good as I want, but a single deck layout is just not acceptable at this time.
I will set up a temporary upper deck and play with the heights and clearances and see how it looks. The area I'm most concerned with is just going to be countryside. This might be a slightly lower, lower deck, but we'll see how it goes. If it turns out that I can live with the clearances, then I'll decide if I have a valence all the way around the room.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New turntable

The turntable base has been installed at Rigby Yard on the south end. I hope I didn't mess up to bad. For some reason I thought it was the same size as the old turntable. It didn't look small until after I installed it. The big disadvantage is I won't be able to place two diesels on it at one time. I'm not sure if this will be a problem or not. We'll see

South end of RIgby Yard

I finally got around to finishing the south end of Rigby, so that I could install the new turntable. I ended up with yard tracks that were all roughly equal in the length to the original longest track. This will add about 7 - 10 cars more storage in the yard.

I also added a yard lead and the ability to get to the mainline tracks. This can be done from boh ends of the yard. This should add a lot of flexibility to Rigby yard.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Room Changes

There was a water heater that was hooked up but not used in the train room. It had been isolated for many years. Today it was taken out. Removing the water heater freed up the area where the staging leads were to be for the upper and lower staging. This also freed up the power that was used for the water heater and gives me two more 120 volt power sources.
I also had a leaking outdoor faucet that needed to be replaced and it came through the layout area. It was also replaced. The water faucet would have caused problems for the layout if I waited and had to change it out later, because that line would have been behind the layout backdrop.
Now I have to figure out how to install a drop ceiling before continuing on the layout phase two.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A little while ago I received my new Walthers turntable. It was slightly different than my old Bowser turntable. This has caused a redesign the south end of Ribgy yard to make everything fit.
I finally got around to changing the yard today. It was a little more trouble than expected, partly because I had a left hand turnout where I needed a right hand turnout. I finally found the right combo, but I had to steal a turnout from the staging yard. The good news is that all my yard tracks are now as long as the longest one used to be. Now to rerun the main line and connect up to staging with a different turnout. This is really OK because the staging area is only temporary and I had to reroute the main line anyway.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I had a track plan revelation...

...and it came to me in church on Sunday. Needless to say my mind was not where it should have been. I did figure out a rough track plan for the rest of the layout and I believe I can do two levels without a helix. There will be two giant staging yards, with at least 8 tracks each, plus return loops, stacked on top of each other. There should be 7 towns total on the two levels, with the main yard near the middle of the run. I am working out the details in auto cad on the computer.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

New Buidling & First Session

I had a friend from the club, who likes to build structures, put together my icing plant. I got it back the other day and it looks real good. I didn't allow enough room for the track, so I'll have to move the track forward a bit. This won't be a big deal. I'll just shorten the lead and everything will be fine.
I have been selling some things on Ebay that were just to modern for what era I was modeling. I realized that I could get the Walthers built up turntable in exchange, so I basically swapped some older stuff I wasn't going to use for some new stuff that I will use. In fact the turntable will be the next thing to go in.
I held the first session with someone other than me. It was mostly a teaching season for some that have never been involved with any operations. I believe the word will get out about the fun he had and we'll be having more people as time goes on.
I was told that if you build it they will come. I am going to build it and we'll see about the rest.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Added Icing Track

Added Icing track and another industry (to be determined) in the center of Portland. I always wanted to do more with the reefers, but I never got around to it. I also have the ice house under construction. I'm not completely convinced it will be located correctly, however we'll run a little while and see what happens.
The car cards and waybills are all new. I was just hand writing over the old ones, which worked for initial testing, but if I'm going to run official sessions the operators needed the real thing.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

First OP Session

The first OP Session will be Saturday, June 27th. A couple of guys wanted to learn operations and I have the layout up and running enough for a small session, I figured why not start. It will help me figure out how my set up is coming along, at the same time I'll be showing them OPS and teach them about Car Cards and how they are used.
I'm looking forward to having OP sessions again on my Railroad.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Portland Roundhouse and Turntable???

I was looking ahead a thinking that it might be tight for turntable based on the track arrangement. According to Auto Cad it should fit with less tracks than I had before. However, as I said before the yard expanded a little because I was trying to get the short yard track a little longer.
Now I'm pretty sure that it won't fit. Now I'm looking at options. The first being to take the turntable lead around and under the main line and bring the turntable to the front of the layout. The second was to alter the turnouts on the south side and curve them into the yard, which might actually lengthen my short yard tracks.
It looks like more measurements are in order.

Passenger tracks, Coach Yard and REA track

The north end of Portland now has a passenger siding that will hold 3 85' cars. Behind this track is a coach yard that will hold 6 cars total on the two tracks. Behind it is a track for the REA building. This track should hold four cars.

On the center left of the picture is track temporarily laid out to see where the industry tracks will be. My original plan had these two areas off the same lead, however I stretched the total yard length which gave me room to separate these two areas.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Testing Issues

I Started running trains and I found that I could slowly add a few cars and still be OK. These cars would stay on the through trains because I have a lot more room in staging than the industries. I will try temporarily call the 5th staging track my engine service facility until I can get the second half of Portland done.

One of the problems I found was a handful of turnouts had no power on the rails leading away from the frog. I previously cut gaps near the frogs, but I had so much trouble when unsoldering them for my move, I chose to gap at the end of the rail. This meant no power for a short distance on one of the rails. I didn't find this out until I was using my switchers in slow speed. The engines were short enough to lose power in that section. No problem, just drop a few more wires.

The last thing was I put a fourth track (stub) in staging for the four trains that I can run right now. I was thinking that I could run a train around the layout and then back it in at the end of the run. Except that with small operations, all the double ended tracks were in use so I couldn't get around. So, I added another track (stub). Now I can leave one track completely free for continuous operations and two trains can back into there spot. This staging is only temporary anyways. It should work fine for this phase of operations

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Added Staging track

I added a stub ended staging track so now I have 4 tracks to support 2 through trains in each direction.

I'm doing small op sessions and slowly adding cars and to find the right balance of cars for the available industries. The real fun is tunning up the cars as I add them to the layout. This includes cleaning the 10+ years of accumulated dust on each car.

Friday, June 5, 2009

OPS have begun

Today I dug out the car cards for the cars on the layout and paired them up with the new waybills. Placed everything in the proper starting position and ran trains. I ran train BN-1 from Boston to Northern Maine Junction and train NB-1 from Northern Maine Junction to Boston. There were also two locals PR-1 and PR-2 from Portland to Rockland and back.

Things seemed to go smoothly, but of course there was only one of me. I do have a couple of very minor things to look at. One extra staging track and a few more cars are in order. Rigby yard is very empty at this time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Captain, thar be cars on the layout

All track is cleaned, powered up an operational. The turnout throws are installed where appropriate. So it is time to start thinking about operations, even if it is going to be on a smaller scale. I'm redoing my waybill calculator and card car program to meet the needs for the new layout.. I figure to have 4 through trains and a couple of locals for starters, plus a yard job. 2 - 3 people could have a job for now.
Now I get to decide what cars will get used first, tune them up and get Operations started.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rigby Yard ready to go

Rigby tracks are now all powered up, cleaned and tested. The only problem was that one of the Peco turnouts was an electrofrog and I didn't have it properly insulated, which caused a short. The problem was easily corrected by swapping turnouts. I'll prepare the other one for another area and another day.
The next project is to finish cleaning and tuning up the rest of the track and see how things run. With a town, a yard and a small staging area I can start mini ops and see how things go.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rigby Yard tracks are installed

I spent the day getting all of the yard tracks installed. I also put in a short yard lead, which I'll make longer at another time. This is a double ended yard with five tracks. The longest track is about 17 feet. Originally the plan was four tracks. I got concerned with the length and how to get the yard engine to both ends without fouling up the main tracks, so I added the fifth as a runaround close to the front edge so the engine could get to either end. I may add a yard lead on the other end before I get too deep into this project.

The yard is longer, but with the ladder at both ends the yard will hold less cars. It will about 40 fifty foot cars. The old stub end yard with five tracks would hold about 60 cars. If car traffic warrants a bigger yard down the road I can convert it to a stub yard.

Closer to the wall and behind the main line will be some industry, engine facility and the passenger station and tracks.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Passing Siding installed at Rigby Yard

I also installed the leads into the yard. This time there will be better access to the arrival/departure track from the yard lead than there was the last time. The last time you had to pull out onto the main with the yard engine to get the cars to the arrival/departure tracks. This time the yard engine goes straight from the yard lead to the appropriate track.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Throttle panels are all wired up!

I finally got all the panels wired up. I can control trains with the plugs and with radio control. It wasn't without some trials in making up my own loconet cables. But I was successful.

It is another small step forward.

The first town

The is the only town in phase one and all the sidings are in place. It does not yet have a name. I expect to have simliar towns as I had on my old layout, but that is still undecided. I did pull out all of my old buildings to see how to best lay things out. I will have to sell off some of the kits I have collected, because they just aren't going to work on this layout. Besides, I'm seeing a few new kits that would fit better with the New England theme.

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The route to the next area.

If you turn around from the last shot you will see the temporary staging and he return loop. The area to the right will be converted into a town when phase two starts. The part in the middle is a removable section that is temporary. It is only there so I can run trains while I'm working on the layout and converting the engines to run with Digitrax.

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The main part of phase 1

This area is 23 x 12. I expect to have two levels and all bench work will be narrower than before. I would like to have more people room. The area is open in the middle, but I might try a small industrial peninsula as long as it doesn't get in the way. The yard is off to the left and the first town is on the right.

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If you ever wondered....

The old layout is still lying around in pieces in the hope that I can still use them. It's not looking good for the larger pieces. I might still be able to use the narrow sections of the upper level.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The New BRWM

I am now in the building stage for the new railroad. Some of the layout has been designed, but not all of it. The benchwork for phase 1 is done. The is mainline track down and powered up. One town has all of the sidings installed. I even ran an engine all the way around.
We will run using Digitrax. I have 15 engines with DCC decoders right now and one of those has Tsunami sound. I have a couple more that will receive sound.
Pictures will have to wait until I clean up a little.