Mini layout plan: Simsmetal wrecking yard

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by jetrock, Jul 6, 2006.

  1. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Now that I have my 25-ton critter, I figure it is about time to get started on a mini layout that will model the prototype's real-world home: the Simsmetal wrecking yard on North B Street, just north of downtown Sacramento. This wrecking yard is based right off the Southern Pacific (now UP) mainline. Through trains drop off gondolas filled with metal to be scrapped (including many old locomotives from local railroads :cry:), at the top of the SP's elevated berm that runs through the north edge of downtown. The gons are picked up by the blue 25-ton switcher I have gone on about so much, rolled down the berm through a switchback, and then pushed into the yard area for unloading/loading by a big crane. The switchback used to be the lead track for a switching district, but the lead track was abandoned a couple of years ago and the track torn up, leaving only a minimal length of track.

    These photos show a mockup of the Simsmetal mini-to-be. Currently it sits on an 8"x48" piece of 1/4" Masonite but I will get something a little sturdier to put under it, even if it's just 2" foam. The plan is basically a simple switchback, operation is based around shuttling gons from the upper berm to the junkyard area down below and then back. Because the whole thing is on a 4% grade, I will put some sort of pin (or just a dummy loco that doesn't roll) at the top of the upper grade to give the coupler of the last car something to hang on to (a jake brake of sorts.) The subroadbed is Woodland Scenics grades, 4%, and some leftover styrofoam. This gives me 2" of rise in the model as it is--in test runs the critter can drag a single gon up and down that grade with no problem. Some trees and piles of junk will help increase apparent depth of the scene.

    Overhead plan. The little stub track in the middle is for storage of the loco--it doesn't need to be very long.
    View from the switchback end.
    View from the other end, showing, if not well, the difference in height between the two levels.
    The prototype Simsmetal yard and the critter. I want to model at least one of those old gons filled with junk, as well as the trees in the background. I have several utterly wrecked gons lying around that would be ideal for this task...

    I may have to get a couple of Peco "Electrofrog" turnouts for this project, because my current Code 100 "Insulfrog" turnouts sometimes cause the critter, with its puny single truck, to go dead on the insulated frog--a live frog will fix this. Besides, I want to get the Code 83 switch so I can use the slightly lighter Code 83 track for this project.

    More as the project progresses...aside from the two turnouts, I am hoping that this project will come entirely from my junk box. Famous last words? We'll see...
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Last night I ran a bunch of tin foil through my "modelling" blender and it looks a lot like shredded metal. I had to use a bit of water to get everything to mix around, so it will take a while to dry... I went over the shiny side of the foil with a propane torch - really took the shine right off.

    Hope that helps. ;) :D

  3. wickman

    wickman Member

    Aren't those WS risers the best thing going :wave:
  4. pennman

    pennman Member

    Nice Idea, If your going to waether those gons I use a heat gun and a soldering iron. NOTHING WORSE THAN SHINNY NEW GON GOING DOWN THE TRACKS.
    If you look in the back issues of N scale you'll find and atricle about beating up gons.
  5. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Those gons are already weathered--most of them around 25 years ago, when my idea of weathering was even more brutal than my current preference for gobs of rust and caked-on crud. Bashed in with a soldering iron in several places, crudded over with rust and black paint, and then crudely painted by hand in the lettering scheme of my old "IFTCO" railroad when I was twelve--then subjected to nearly a quarter century in various garages. They look like junk, trust me...I share your loathing of shiny new gondola cars! I'll have to take some better lit photos so you can see the extent of the beat-up-ness of these cars...
  6. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    What did IFTCO stand for?

    "International freight terminal co.?"
  7. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Interstate Freight Transfer Company. I think that the only things I ever lettered for it were the hoppers--this was my dad's layout, and as he is much more of a "railfan" type model railroader, with a strong preference for three-times-around loops, no yards, and a western/mountain theme, running various western roads' equipment. He let me scenic and detail and weather to my heart's content, and I came up with IFTCO as a line based in southeastern California/southern Nevada/western Arizona, leasing power from SP and other western roads but owning a variety of pooled freight cars. (I think my preference for urban layouts, tight curves and heavy switching/operation emphasis is a holdover from my rebellious teens!)
  8. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Busy weekend so of my "givens & druthers" for this layout is the ever-popular "spend no money." Rather than using electrofrogs and Code 83 track, I used some leftover Code 100 and Peco sharp-radius Insulfrog switches, figuring I could switch things out, in order to get measurements for the roadbed. The base of the layout is an 8"x48" piece of 2" thick Styrofoam, with the Woodland Scenics risers and some 1" foam built up on top, and some WS foam roadbed, also from the scenery parts pile. I used up the last of my tube of Liquid Nails. I'll let it dry, then start sanding down where it's too far up and apply some lovely drywall patch to make the scenery.

    I did some fine-tuning on the critter, too: I sacrificed appearances a but and wedged one and a half 1/4 ounce lead into the cab in between the controls and the battery box, giving the engineer barely enough room to sit. With a little snipping to clear a coupler mounting I got the other half of the 1/4 ounce weight to fit onto the underbody opposite the current 1/4 ounce weight. I also discovered that it is only picking up power on three wheels, and reoriented a pickup wiper. While it's still not a monster puller, it does track more smoothly, moving a bit less like a hamster reacting to a loud noise, and seems to track sufficiently well over the insulated bits on the Insulfrog turnouts now.

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