Christopher Brimley updated May 3, 2011

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  • The New Beaver and Timber Springs

    TRAINS - THE ULTIMATE HOBBY. THIS IS A VOYAGE INTO EXPANDING A RAILROAD. ITS ONGOING MISSION - TO EXPLORE STRANGE NEW ALCOVES, TOP SEEK OUT NEW PLACES AND NEW AREAS TO MODEL - TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO TRAIN HAS GONE BEFORE.

    Model Railroading - May 1997 - Page 44 Model Railroading - May 1997 - Page 45

    by Paul Templar

    Photos by the author

    MY ONLY "ENTERPRISE" is in making space for my model railroad. For the last 11 months, I have been busy taking down my old Beaver & Timber Springs (see March 1996 Model Railroading). I must admit that I am one of those breed of modelers who just likes to either alter, take down or just plain rebuild some part of a layout. It's not just for the sake of building yet another railroad, but for the enjoyment of creating something new and more exciting.

    Starting Over

    It's just like the end of a year, out with the old and in with the new (yes, I know, I'm at it again). My challenge is in building that some thing extra special. Although I enjoy striving for perfection, and the ultimate railroad, I must admit that I have never achieved either. I thought I had gotten close with the old Beaver & Timber Springs, but soon realized that although it looked quite reasonable, I couldn't run large locomotives due to the small 18" radius curves. So, I decided to rebuild with a minimum radius of 24". That meant that I could run most of the locos that took my fancy except something along the Lines of a Challenger. On the other hand, a Challenger could be run as most of my 24" radius curves are in fact hidden in the storage tracks underneath. The minimum radius in view is in the region of 36" (33" on inner track) and over.

    Anyway friends, I think I have achieved my goal with the added advantage of seeing longer freight and larger locomotive power roll by.

    The Railroad

    Model Railroading - May 1997 - Page 46

    My railroad is, as always, freelanced and fictionalized. Never having been to the USA, I have to rely on photos and what I read in various magazines. I have always liked the idea of a mountainous area, and to this end, I have tried to bring the drama of a rocky (western) mountain feel to my layout.

    Many year ago I read an article written by John Allen that included photographs of his fabulous Gorre & Daphetid railroad with floor-to ceiling scenery. I was inspired by his article and photographs, and I have tried to bring his ideas on scenery techniques to my little bit of heaven. Although I haven't built floor-to-ceiling scenery in my little room, I have tried to create a little bit of magic.

    Out with the Old And in with the New

    The main task (and heartache) was to remove all of the scenery so the tracks could be reached and removed. This took my friend John Toll (another American modeler) and I approximately three days to accomplish. (What takes a minute to take down, took hours to build. Oh dear, what a mess). All buildings, trees, people, cars and structures were carefully removed, plus most of the greenery. Many boxes of broken scenery were taken to the rubbish dump.

    The next major job was to move the benchwork out of the railroad room so the mess could be cleaned up. The room looked awful; John and I were almost ankle deep in old plaster and odd bits of woodwork (oh, the joy of railroading).

    After the room had been cleaned out, washed, dried and ironed, John and I placed the open benchwork back against one wall of the room, stacking them one on top of the other. Now the job of thinking about the new layout was just about to begin. It was at this point that John made a hasty retreat saying that if he stayed much longer, the bug of taking his railroad down and starting over again might also be in the cards. As he had just recently bought my old Raton Snake Valley (February 1994 Model Railroading), he thought he would be wise to stay sane for awhile anyway.

    A pair of SD40s make the two percent grade, passing the waterfall. It's their only wash before arriving at Timber Springs.
    Model Railroading - May 1997 - Page 47

    It was at this stage in the proceedings that my ever-loving wife Wendy and son David tried to explain the logic of keeping one railroad for more than two years. I must admit that when watching TV with my wife in the evening, I sometimes startle her by jumping up from the chair and rushing upstairs muttering, "I've got it; that's the answer." Then two hours later, I come back downstairs, sit in the chair and try to watch TV again. I get some very strange looks.

    Trackplan

    I had already drawn up the new trackplan, but to make sure it fit the room I drew it full size on wallpaper which I had previously stuck together with tape:. I then carefully placed it into the room. There was one small but significant problem to overcome - should I remove and reverse the railroad room door or alter the tracks some way? The wife came up with the definitive answer - the door stays.

    It took several revised trackplans to get by the door situation. Although it is around the room, it branches off just before the door leaves at an angle to bypass the other double doors in the side wall. (These doors open out also, but only one needs to open for me to get at the railroad equipment inside.) Because the trackplan goes off at an angle, both sides of the main board are accessible. So all in all, it turned out for the best. (Good old wife, she knew best after all!)

    The new plan provides a much larger area to walk into than I had with the old layout, even though I have use a duck-under to get in. I have been able to keep the appearance of reasonable mountains and use trestle bridges extensively. There are three different types of trestle bridges on one 16' run.

    Model Railroading - May 1997 - Page 48

    Behind the mountains are the three tracks which run down and underneath the main area. They are blocked so that six 13-car trains can be stored. LEDs on the control panel light up as soon as a loco gets into the block. By keeping the train length to 12 cars plus caboose, I know the caboose is clear of the next block. I usually operate the railroad with a waybill system, but if I just want to run trains (lapping), I fIrst have to clear a track underneath. Anyway, the only time I just lap trains is when I am working on the layout.

    Most of the track and all of the points were reusable as were the point motors. The only real expense was buying new wire for the control panel, plus new insulation board and chip board. The old lx4s were reusable.

    When all tracks were laid and wired to the control panel, my attention was diverted to one area of the layout which looked a little sparse. How could I make this part more attractive? John suggested adding a turntable. So I set about rebuilding part of the baseboard. (Here we go again.) I transformed a Peco manual turntable into an American Gallows type. It took me approximately three days with balsa and strip wood, plus replacing the code 100 rail with code 75 fine scale.

    Of course, I just couldn't leave a turntable in view without its necessary ancillary equipment like a sanding tower (scratchbuilt) plus water tower and engine facilities. So I set about adding two more tracks to the turntable and adding a loco engine shed. I also fitted lights above the tracks by the engine shed. It took me approximately three weeks to get this area looking right, but I think John was right about building a turntable, it looks fine.

    Bridges and Scenery

    The next step was the building of the three distinctly different timber trestle bridges that adorned the back run. This one track is the only track in view and needed to be scenically appealing. The total length of track climbing from the tunnel to the top level is 16', and it has a slight "S" curve. (The grade is 2.5 percent.)

    When the track and trestles were in place, a 2' high by 12' long sheet of hardboard was placed 10" in from the back wall and shaped to support the mountains. Cardboard and rolled-up newspaper were used to make the shapes. Before the final decision was made as to whether the mountains looked right, I got out my camera and looked through the lens. This usually enables me to tell if an area will look appealing by the time it is plastered and painted. Plaster-impregnated bandage (MODROCK) was overlaid on top of the newspaper. Many hours were then spent applying and carving the undercoat plaster with a knife to achieve the correct results. When it was all dry, more hours were spent painting the carved plaster and adding greenery, etc. (Model railroading is fun !)

    Behind this hardboard are the tracks which travel down and underneath the railroad to the storage area. The effect of having the mountains approximately 10" from the backdrop tends to give an overall 3D look about it.

    Since the main area is at an angle, I have a similar effect with this baseboard, inasmuch as it is approximately 1' to 4' from the wall most of the way down. In fact, only one wall has the tracks almost up to it (3" away), and these tracks are directly behind the turntable. Having said that, these tracks are on a slight curve anyway, and mostly covered by trees.

    Model Railroading - May 1997 - Page 49

    Power and Phone Lines

    I must be a masochist, as I have spent a week or so installing utility poles complete with overhead power cable and phone lines all around the layout and to nearly every building. The poles started out life as Rix utility poles. I then cut other makes of telephone poles up (Atlas and Model Power) and used the crossarms and transformers plus junction boxes to add more character to them and give that cluttered look to the overall scene. Having made the poles, I looked around for something to use as the overhead power lines.

    Many years ago, when I was in N scale I used Arnold Rapido's over head catenary system which uses an elastic-type thread for the power lines. I hunted through my boxes and found two reels. After all power lines were in place, I still needed a different size and color thread for the telephone lines. My wife (bless her cotton socks) came up with the pos sibility of using some of her knitting elastic, but I finally decided to use dark green thread to which I applied beeswax before adding them to the utility poles. This gave a natural sag to the phone wire.

    In one place on the layout where it wasn't possible to drill holes to light some buildings, I used the utility poles to bring in real power (l6V) to the buildings. I used the small wire from a Peco electromagnet left over from my N-scale days. The wire was almost the same size as the elastic thread used for the power lines so I just painted it black to match the rest. Now when some of my railroad friends ask if they are real, I just smile and show them the buildings that were powered by real overhead lines.

    Fiber Optics

    For some time now, I have been playing around with fiber optics. Several of the shops and two of the automobiles are now illuminated with fiber optics. To get the optics to shine brightly I used 1/4" diameter alloy tubing and placed all the fiber ends together into the tube, then placed a 12V bulb onto the other end of the tube holding it in place with black tape.

    Getting the Family Trained

    Last Christmas, I dropped a few hints to my wife, son, daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren, about helping me build up my empire with Christmas presents (from Santa of course) for the railroad. Christ mas morning arrived, and guess what, I had two sets of railroad crossing lights plus one electronic unit, plus one or two other little bits, all neatly wrapped with "From Santa" on them. Bless'em all; I guess they really do love my railroad after all.

    Well my friends, I think that's just about it. I expect I shall move something else in the not-too-distant future after all. Model Railroading is great fun. Happy modeling.

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