The Home of Norfolk and Western’s Merrimac Subdivision

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by 91rioja, Mar 28, 2007.

  1. 91rioja

    91rioja Member


    Hello all! :wave:

    It has been 15 months in the making, but all negotiations for the Right of Ways have been completed; financing has been procured from a group of investors willing to fund this endeavor. All land has been surveyed, and ground is being broken as we speak. I wish to introduce the long awaited (and much overdue) Merrimac Subdivision of the Norfolk and Western Railway.


    The line will run from the interchange at Cambria, through the town of McCoy, ending at the mine at Merrimac. Industries served will include a freight depot at Cambria, a brewery, mill, food distributor, printer, and propane reseller at McCoy, and the mine at Merrimac.

    Current power to be seen on the line will be all diesels, but the investors have determined that the first run on the line will be a special train, a J Class 4-8-4 Steam Engine, to take part in the inaugural ceremonies. This date has yet to be set.

    Here is the track plan I am going to be using. It is a basic point-to point, with an optional swing gate to allow for continuous running. I would like to thank everyone at The Gauge who has helped me along on this journey. It is finally time to build.


    The track will be Code 83, with a mixture of flex and sectional. The minimum radius is 22”, with most at 24”. There will be a mixture of #4 and #6 turnouts. The elevation of the line is going to be flat from Cambria to McCoy, with a slope rising up across the New River to the mine at Merrimac.

    Two weeks ago, I started working on the bench. It is denoted by the red lines in the track plan. It is built from 1” x 4” wood, and is 18” wide. The height from the floor will be 48”. On the top of the bench, I will be laying a double layer of 1” extruded foam as a base. In the area where the New River will be cutting through, the height of the bench work has been reduced to 36”. This time, I built it in sections that could be removed, if needed (this was a mistake I made on my last layout). Each section is bolted to another to form a very sturdy bench.

    A view of the incomplete Cambria area bench.

    A view of the West side of McCoy bench.

    A view of the East side of McCoy bench.

    A view of the New River Cut bench.

    A view of the Merrimac Mine bench.

    I am planning on also using ½” extruded foam at 16” tall for the backdrop media around the Cambria, McCoy, and Merrimac sections; I’m planning on leaving the section by the window open for now.

    Welcome to my railroad’s new home. Check back in often to see the latest accomplishments.

    Oh, and Nazgul, you will be happy to know that during the bench work building on the 25th, I injured my thumb with the drill, so I’ll be off the golf course for a while :)cry: I cannot grip the club like I need to yet:cry: ). The thumb is fine, no major damage.
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Looks good, but you might want to rethink the use of the foam for a backdrop. You can't bend foam, so you will have corners in the backdrop. There generally aren't real corners in the real world, so eliminating them in a backdrop improves the appearance tremendously. What you should consider using instead is tempered masonite, which is strong, thin, and bendable to allow you to "cove" the corners and avoid 90* meets.
  3. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Great looking layout plan and benching! I heartily agree with Russ...consider another choice for the backdrop. Everone has their opinion on products, but as I look at the pictures, would flormica be a consideration? It bends, is strong, paintable, and would take only about 1/16" away from the layout surface area with the plus of being bendable. Also, right next to the windows where you'll certainly see some changes in temp and humidity, the flormica might resist warpage and resist heat/cooling damage. Just an idea.
  4. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Looks really good Chris, nice work. I too have used masonite for a curved backdrop, but on a small layout years ago I tried 1/4" foam, it worked well also. What it did for me that the masonite didn't seem to want to do was stay vertical thru the curve, with only support on the bottom edge, as I needed it to be removable for access.
  5. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    Curves on Corners

    Russ, thanks for the heads up. I have not thought that far through yet, but I am not going to leave the corners at 90*; there will be some sort of curve placed into the corners. As for the materials, I haven't yet decided.

    Herc, good to hear from you again! Still flying? I have had that room for just about a year now, and the fluctionations in temp are not bad. It is a north facing window, and the room has HVAC (it was going to be my office, but turned it into something better :thumb: ). I also have been stockpiling wood to let is "rest" before I cut and use it; I let it aclimate to the environment for at least a month before I use it (the wife HATES seeing all that wood lying around the house).

    Gary, thanks for the correction. I meant to say 1/4" foam, not 1/2" :oops: . That what happens when you put together something at work while the boss is bugging you. . .

    Now, does anyone know how to get full 4' x 8' sheets of extruded foam into a Toyota Camry?
  6. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    SWEET plan NICE nenchwork to, I am really looking forward to this layout, keep up updated with LOTS of pics :thumb: :D :D :D
  7. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Nice start. Can't wait to see the finished project.
    One question though...You're not really going to throw out those scraps of foam are you?.
    You just put them in the trash can to keep them out of the way...Right?
  8. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Your benchwork looks so neatly done! You can get the 4X8 sheets in the Camry by using a Sawzall to take off the top of the car. :)
  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You really don't need to get 4 x 8 sheets of foam in the Camry. Your benchwork is only 2 feet deep and your back drop will only be 18 inches high, so cut the sheets down to 2 x 8, fold the passenger seat down and it should fit. I don't own a Camry so I don't know how long the distance from the back of the trunk to the dash is, or if the back seat folds flat. I'm presuming it does, but don't know for sure. You could also cut a 4 x 8 sheet into 4 2 x 4 sheets to fit it in.
  10. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Well that DOES sound like a much more helpful idea! :) Should be easy to cut at the store.
  11. Nazgul

    Nazgul Active Member injured thumb is a small price to pay for the building of a railroad!:D
    It is good to see you off the golf course and back to "work".:thumb: :D
    The track plan looks great and the bench work looks as fine as the first incarnation's.:thumb: :thumb:
    I never thought about thin foam as backdrop material...I will be watching that with interest to see how that works out (if you decide to use it).
    Keep us posted ...and STAY OFF THE GOLF least a little while:D :thumb:

    one last thing...
    I can answer that........yes I do:thumb:
    I hope that helps!:thumb: :D ;)
  12. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    I've always wanted a convertible

    TruckLover, thanks for stopping by and looking. That is going to be the plan to document everything that gets done to the layout.

    eightyeightfan1, no the foam is not going to be thrown away. You never know when you might need to use it for something else (my wife calls it "packratting", but what does she know). I had to get everything off the floor to clean, so it just went to the top of the bench.

    Ralph, I've always wanted a convertible, but I'd like to be able to put the top up when it rains! LOL. Thanks for the good laugh!

    Russ, I may have to spend some time in the parking lot cutting foam (I've done it before). I can get an 8' board from the inside of the trunk to the dashboard, just barely. The last batch of foam, I cut down to 2' x 4', but this I want to leave in long strips of 18" x 8' or 16" x 8'. My longest piece of bench is 7', so I'm trying to get a single piece for the second layer and not have to piece things together. I don't trust the yayhoos in the Home Improvement stores to cut my foam for me; the last time they did that, there wasn't a square cut in the whole bunch.

    Steve, you know I will not be able to stay off the golf course; what are you thinking? I got new clubs in December 06, and have been playing just about every weekend since then (yes it has been warm down here in NC), and have dropped 10 strokes off my game. Stop? I think not. But, I am trying to find time to work in the railroading between my real job, golf and lawn care on the weekends.

    The idea for the 1/4" foam came from the fact that everything else I looked at that was thinner was WAY more expensive. The 1/4" seems to bend well, so we'll see. .

    Are you going to give it up, or do I have to call "snookums" for help?
  13. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    Weekend Update - April 1, 2007

    Hello all :wave: !

    It was a rather productive weekend here at the Hylton (at least as far as my railroading goes). I conned a buddy of mine at work into running with me to the local home improvement store to get extruded foam (he has a pickup truck); it only cost me lunch.

    On Friday night, I cut all my foam down so it would be ready for the weekend. On Saturday, I put a bunch of it down and went to play golf while it dried. Golf was horrible; added another 10 strokes to my game (that is 20 in two weeks). I thought that practice made you better. After golf, I mowed the grass, and placed some more foam down. That was it for Saturday.

    This morning, I layed the last piece down, and started marking and setting out my buildings to see how they were going to fit.

    The overview of the McCoy area:


    This is a close-up of the western side:


    This is a close-up of the eastern side:


    I still have a bunch of track to purchase, and one more section of bench left to build (Cambria Interchange), but all in all, I'd call it a productive weekend.
  14. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    Who's turnouts are you going to use? I would recommend Peco, especially if you're gonna be using DCC.
  15. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    Layout Update - April 7, 2007

    Well, it is too cold here this weekend to golf, so I decided to work on the layout (a BIG plus that the wife went away for the weekend, so I didn't have a honey-doo list :D ). So I waited all week on my delivery of turnouts. I decided on the Code 83 Walthers/Shinohara for DCC. I have to say that I like the looks of them. But. . . .

    There is always a but. I planned the layout in RTS 7, and guess what? The Atlas turnouts are not the same size as the Walthers ones :curse: :curse: :curse: ! So guess what? I had to wing it and make modifications on the fly. I would have to say that they came out OK.

    So here is what I have for this weekend.

    West side of McCoy trackwork

    East side of McCoy trackwork

    Looking west through McCoy

    As for other things accomplished, I cut out footprints of my background buildings to see if they would fit. Would you believe that 2 won't??? So just a few more modifications to the plan.

    I have also decided that I am going to use 3/8" foamcore for my backdrop. I picked up a bunch of 32" x 40" sheets at the local craft store. I think it is going to work out great. I still haven't decided about the corners yet.

    All in all, another good weekend.
  16. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    And I forgot

    I also picked up two animated neon signs from Miller Engineering to add to the layout. They are historic signs from my hometown of Roanoke, Va. I am not sure what I am going to place them on, but, they are getting a spot on the layout.

    The H & C Coffee Sign


    The Dr. Pepper Sign


    Yes, they are animated, but I'm to stupid to figure out how to make an animated GIF of them.
  17. CRed

    CRed Member

    That is sooo cool,I'll have to check that out!Your layout will be really nice when it's done,can't wait to see it:thumb:.

  18. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    Layout Update 04/24/2007

    It has been a while, but I've been making slow but steady progress, for the most part. This past weekend, I went to my favorite hobby shop to pick up more turnouts and track. I also completed the last piece of benchwork, in addition to the honey-do list, yard work, and a round of golf.

    Last weekend was spent putting in the 3/8" foamcore bakdrop and laying track. But. . . .

    I am still having issues with the trackplan, which is done in RTS, and my Shinohara turnouts (which are not the same dimension at the Atlas ones:curse: :curse: :curse: )! It is starting to drive me nuts! Here is an example; I can use an Atlas Customline #4 to create a crossover by butting the diverging routes together and still keep a 2" center line spacing. The Shinohara #4 have a centerline spacing of about 2.75". So needless to say, everything is now out of whack! I have now resorted to laying all of the track freestyle, while trying to keep to the plan somewhat. Oh well, this is why I pinned down the track BEFORE laying any roadbed or glue; you live and you learn.

    I'm at work now, but I'll have some pictures to post later.

    You would think that by the third layout, I'd have a clue as to what I'm doing sign1
  19. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Missed the posts about those great signs! I love 'em!
  20. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    sweet,it will be cool to see some new stuff,i was lurking around this post til sompin it has! and glad to hear it,so hurry up wit dem pics! :thumb: --josh

Share This Page