Benchwork for the New Great Western

Dec 6, 2009: George begins assembling "open grid" benchwork using the Big Jig. The "Demand More Choice" on the T-shirt has no significance - Karla got some promotional T-shirts from Heska before she left and he uses them as work shirts.

Foam Benchwork

Upper Level Benchwork Assembly

May 17, 2011: Upper Level Foam Layout

The upper level is constructed with 2" extruded foam sheets. This shows how the 2x8 and 4x8 sheets will be utilized.

I have created some interesting techniques for the foam benchwork. I have made some custom hot-wire tools to carve features into the foam to help join the panels together, mount the fascia supports and provide recesses for the lighting components. For more details, see Tips And Tricks->Foam Benchwork.

May 22, 2011: The foam is supported with simple shelf brackets and standards.

The backdrop for the upper level will be 12" high. I'm using 36" shelf standards cut in half. They are installed such that the shelf bracket comes through the lower level backdrop. It was easy to use a coping saw to make a notch in the lower level backdrop to clear the brackets.

May 24, 2011: The upper foam sheet will rest on Masonite strips to keep the sheet metal from digging in.

A notch will be cut along the lower rear edge of the foam. It will also be notched to clear the standards, allowing it to be flush against the wall. Track DCC bus wires will be routed in the lower notch.

The upper backdrop will rest on top of the foam and will be attached to the standards with recesed flat-head screws.

Jul 4, 2011: All the notches and recesses are cut in the foam using custom-made hot wire tools. I use 0.047" piano wire for the wire since it is stiff enough to hold its shape when heated. Tool holders are made from plywood scraps and use model airplane "wheel collars" to keep the hot wire away from the wood. The original version of the tools had the wire supported directly by the wood but the heat soon singed the wood and made the wire loose and sloppy.

An old military surplus Variac transformer supplies the 12 amps needed to heat he wire hot enough to cut the foam.

This is the tool used to cut a curved recess along the front edge of the foam to clear the light bulbs and act as a mini-reflector.

This tool is used to cut slots along the edges of the foam. The slots are a snug fit for 1/2" plywood that will act as biscuits to hold the sheets in alignment. They are snug enough that the foam sheets do not need to be glued to each other.

The larger piece of plywood rests on top of the foam sheet during cutting and acts as a depth gauge. The sheets are not of perfectly uniform thickness so the top surface is the reference and the biscuits make sure the top surfaces are aligned properly.

This tool is used to cut a 1/2" by 2" recess along the lower rear edge of the foam. This recess provides a place to route DCC bus wires and lighting cords.

The same tool is used to cut 1/2" x 3/4" notches to clear the shelf standards at the rear edge of the foam. It is also used to cut 3/4" x 2" notches along the front edge of the foam to hold the fascia and light bulb suppports.

Jul 6, 2011: After cutting all the features in the foam, the front fascia supports and bulb holders are glued on. The notches for the facia holders were cut a little oversize and spray insulation foam was used to fill in the gaps. The foam prevents the block from twisting when the fascia screws are tightened.

The bulb holders are simple 1/2" and 5/8" UV-resistant cable clamps. 1/2" clamps are used to firmly hold the short 8 watt bulbs while pairs of the 5/8" clamps are used to hold the longer bulbs. The bigger size makes it easier to insert the bulbs.

Jul 9, 2011:Supports for the fascia and T5 flourescent bulbs are installed along the front.

The four panels that make up the Hillsboro and Milliken sections are now in place.

Jul 12, 2011: Here is the far end of the foam panel. This bulb is an F28T5 (48" 28 Watt) bulb. You can see the track buss running along the rear of the foam and the Masonite support slat between the metal shelf bracket and the foam.

The electronic ballast for the lights is sunken into the foam and screwed to a Masonite slat glued in place.

The bulbs have short 18 ga. pigtails soldered to their pins and ballast wires are connected with wire nuts. No sockets are used.

Jul 17, 2011: With the light bulbs installed and wired up, the lower level is nicely lit.

At this point, I decided to paint some backdrop scenery before it got too awkard to reach it. The clouds were done by dry-brushing white latex paint tinted with some sky blue. A light touch produces nicely "fluffy" clouds. Once the clouds were dry, I painted on far hills, bushes and trees. This was done with craft acrylics.

There is more detail on this technique in the scenery section.

Aug 13, 2011: Before putting foam benchwork on the middle peninsula, I needed to take care of the Officer Junction scenery. It will be covered by the top level and the end of the wye will be hard to reach.

I added a curved styrene panel between the ends of the Masonite backdrops on either side and cut an opening for the trains. The opening (the entrance to the helix) will be camouflaged with a stand of trees. The track here has also been ballasted.

Support for the foam over the peninsula will be a little different. There is already a 3/4" plywood spine down the middle of the peninsula and that will be the central suppoprt for the foam.

Shelf brackets were already installed when the lower level was constructed and they will be used to cantilever 3/4" plywood stringers going across the top of the spine. The foam will have recesses cut so the stringers are embedded in the foam.

The lower level backdrops are already in place and painted sky blue.

Lights and fascia will be done the same as the Hillsboro/Milliken side.

Aug 17, 2011: Supports for the far end are the same shelf brackets as used for Milliken.

The backdrop on the end wil be removeable so that detail work can be done once the end foam is in place.

This shows the central peninsula before stringers were added.

Aug 21, 2011: The final sheets of foam for the Johnstown area have been cut to size and are laid out here so the locations for features can be determined.

A few of the Johnstown buildngs have beem placed around to get a feel for how it will look. A temporary backdrop is sitting behind the location of the Johnstown sugar factory.

Aug 26, 2011: The plywood stringers to support the peninsula foam have been cut to size and screwed to the shelf brackets. The brackets on the right side hold the stringers; they are cantilevered over the left side. Since the foam is very light and relatively stiff, the 3/4" plywood stringers provide plenty of support.

Aug 29, 2011: The two foam pieces under Johnstown have been tooled to provide all the support functions needed. They will be laid end-to-end when they are in place. The curve a the right goes around the helix.

The recesses for the 3/4" x 2" plywood stringers are visible as well as wells for the electronic light ballasts. All the fasica supports and bulb holders have been addded and the whole bottom side is painted sky blue.

Sep 1, 2011: Before installing the foam for the far end, I needed to lay track and basic scenery since it will awkward to reach.

This is the Johnstown sugar factory "module" set up on saw horses in the garage.

California Roadbed "Homabed" was used as roadbed for the yard then Atlas Code 83 track was laid on top and glued down. DCC track feeders were added to all the tracks then ground cover and ballast was added.

Details will be added later - it is still accesible when installed but trackwork and wiring would be tedious.

Sep 5, 2011: Before installing the Johnstown factory module, I also needed to complete the scenery leading to the Eaton staging yard. This area is very hard to reach with the top level on, so fairly complete detailing was done.

This shows the C&S crossing and the mainline heading to Eaton towards the back. Along the wall is the GWR wye using part of the C&S branchline.

Sep 21, 2011: California Roadbed "branchline" Homabed has been glued to the foam and some trackwork has started.

This shows the Becker siding and the entrance to Johnstown. The switches in the distance lead off to the Welty branch, the Loomix siding and the rest of Johnstown

This view shows the Johnstown wye, the Coors barley elevator siding and the four track Longmont staging yard at the rear.

The Welty branch and sugar beet dumps go off to the right.

The white strips are drywall tape glued over the foam panel joints.

This is the end of the Johnstown yard passing siding just beyond the sugar factory and the track leading down to Hillsboro and Milliken.

Milliken and the UP interchange "circle tracks" are at the far end.

This shows the Johnstown Elevator and Carnation Diary siding at the start of the Welty branch.

The beet dumps are off to the right side. The Clark beet dump is where the two hoppers are sitting.

Many of the sidings in Johnstown are lower than the main track. The bracnhline Homabed is 1/8" thick and the sidings are placed over thin cardboard strips. The strips come with the Homabed and can be used to superelevate the track. I used them as siding roadbed instead.

Homabed transition ramps are used between them.

Nov 2, 2011: I didn't take many photos of the intermediate trackwork so I will include some high level shots of the upper level.

Looking down on Johnstown with the wye to the left. The Welty branch is in the upper middle. The prototype Johnstown downtown area is oriented about 45 degrees to the railroad. Not having the streets going directly across the upper level allows the buildings to create a view block from one side to the other. I still need to spend time arranging the downtown buildings and deciding how wide the streets should be. Overall, this area is a good representation of the real Johnstown.

Other things on the lower level visible here are the Loveland yard and beet factory (middle right), areas east of Loveland (middle). the Lory beet dump (lower middle), the Cache La Poudre river trestle (middle) and the Windsor Kodak plant (middle left, in the shadows - the lower level lighting was not on).

Looking down on Johnstown with the helix to the right. The Becker passing siding is at the top with the Welty branch heading to the left. This is a good view of the Loomix plant, Simplot and the cattle pens. Note how the Becker siding is oriented – it is good for working the Welty branch but awkward for working Loomix. The grounded box car is the grey car in the middle.

Lower level things visible include the Loveland yard (middle left), C&S/UP interchange loop (around the walls), the lift up bridge connecting the C&S to the GW at Loveland, the black lift-up bridge carrying the C&S/UP loop across the entrance door, a sugar beet field (green), the Gove siding (middle right) and the UP Ft. Collins branch (against the backdrop behind the beet field).

Looking toward the rear of the room with the Johnstown sugar factory upper left. There is a four foot access space between the layout and the garage door to fiddle with the upper and lower staging yards and for tool and materials storage. The lower middle is the far end of Windsor.

Note the plywood platform on the floor to the right. I built three of those to help work on the upper level and to assist vertically challenged operators. This one is 18” wide, 4’ long and 12” high. The other two are 15” wide and 3’ long. If I need extra height, I can stack a smaller one on top of the larger one (and try to remember to not fall off).

A better view of the Welty branch and the Longmont staging yard. Clarks beet dump is the first on the branch and is a facing point move. .Pulliam is in the middle and is double ended. Buda is on the far wall and has a run-around and boomer track. The east half of the I-25 overpass is at the end. Note the water tower hiding the edge of the backdrop in front of the staging yard.

My “workshop” is the space in the middle. I have an old office desk on sliders that pulls out from under the Loveland yard (or actually, is pushed under it for operating sessions). The computer is used to view photos I took of the area I’m modeling as well as holding my “playlist” of old rock’n’roll music that I listen to (hence the speakers over the backdrop). Much stuff is stored next to the workbench and behind the layout skirt. A 45’ long test track is mounted on the fascia above the workbench. It is connected with a phone plug and three jacks so I can power it from DCC, the programming track or straight DC.

Open Grid Benchwork

Since the new Great Western is mostly flat, what is termed "open grid benchwork" is very suitable. This is a grid of dimensional lumber, usually 1x4s that supports plywood roadbed either directly or with height adjusting risers. Open grid benchwork has been used by generations of model railroaders and is a tired and true practice.

When I toured John Parker's BNSF Fall River Division layout in Longmont, Colorado a couple of years ago, he hadn't progressed to the scenery stage yet and his benchwork was still exposed. He used plywood cut into 1x4 strips for his benchwork and I was stunned by how perfect it looked, almost like it had been machined. It was the first time I had seen plywood used like this and it made a lasting impression.

Nov 30, 2009: My previous layout was built with traditional open grid benchwork and I remember how frustrating it was trying to find straight 1x2 and 1x4 lumber at reasonable prices. That was 25 years ago and I suspected things hadn't improved much, especially with the housing industry (and its associated supplies) at an all time low. I wrote John and got some helpful hints.

A neighbor offered to help me pick up some plywood and loaned me his table saw to cut it up. A large pile of sawdust later, I had a lovely stack of straight 1x4s ready to be chop-sawed and drywall-screwed into fine benchwork.

It's Show Time!

But first a new tool is needed. Building benchwork on the previous layouts was an uncomfortable task. My helpers and I would cut some lumber then screw it together while kneeling on the floor trying to keep the joints somewhat straight.

Well, my helpers are all back in Colorado and, even with my wonderful carpeted floor, my kneeling days are over so I set about designing an Open Grid Benchwork jig. My largest benchwork section will be 4'x8' so the jig needed to be that big.

Dec 5, 2009: The jig is a sheet of 3/4" plywood that is nicely square. It sits on 33" high sawhorses so I can stand while I drill and screw. It has a number of vertical supports at the edges and on 16" centers. I can lay the cut 1x4s on the jig, use some clamps to hold a joint straight and square and drill and screw to my heart's content.

The Big Jig works great. I drill 3/32" pilot holes for the 2" coarse drywall screws. I was concerned about the plywood splitting with the drywall screws but this has not been a problem, even with relatively cheap CDX grade plywood. So far I have had only one minor split on an interior cross piece. The grid sections are rock solid.

Dec 6, 2009: The first sections are built and the Big Jig is deemed a raging success.

This is the east end of Loveland yard and the route to the east. The benchwork is screwed to the wall studs and supported on 2x2 legs with lag bolts in the end for fine height adjustment.

The legs are offset 6" from the front edge of the benchwork. Thin lath strips will be attached to the legs to support the future black drop cloths to hide all the stuff stored under the layout.

Dec 11, 2009: The rest of the Loveland yard benchwork is in place.

The narrow west end of the yard (to the right) will support one end of the lift-up bridge that spans the entrance to the Loveland yardmaster operating pit.

The notch in the front is an allowance for a gently curved fascia

Dec 12, 2009: A close-up of some of the "machine work" on the benchwork.

I'm having major fun with my chop saw!

Dec 14, 2009: The 16" wide staging yard will be supported on stamped metal 10"x12" L- brackets attached to the walls. 1x4 supports for the brackets are screwed into the wall studs.

Likewise, the 12" wide C&S Interchange shelf and 6" wide double track shelf in the background will be supported on smaller L-brackets.

This is a view from the east (left end) of the Loveland benchwork.

Dec 14, 2009: Yet another jig. It is hard to hold the L-brackets while they are being screwed into the 1x4s. I made a simple jig from a 1x4 and a 2x4 to help out.

There are two drywall screws driven down from the top of the 2x4 so their ends protrude at just the right place to hit the L-bracket top holes. These keep the L-brackets in alignment while the 3/32" pilot holes are drilled and 3/4" #8 sheet metal screws are driven in.

A couple of clamps and the brackets are installed quick and easy.

Dec 20, 2009: The 1/2" CDX plywood sub-roadbed is cut and installed on the staging yard and Loveland yard. More benchwork sections are built for the Gorom area (under the window) and the Birds section (down the middle). It's starting to look like a train layout!

The top of the Loveland yard will be 42" from the floor. The C&S track will be on a downgrade behind Gorom so the benchwork needs to be lower. Likewise, the I-25 scenery under Birds needs to be lower than the track.

The Windsor side will be at 39" so the rest of the benchwork will be 38" high. Risers will take care of getting the roadbed at the right height.

Jan 3, 2010: The 1/2" Homasote is cut and installed in parts of the Loveland yard, the C&S staging yard and the C&S interchange. It is screwed to the plywood with 3/4" wood screws and the joints are filled with spackle. After it dries overnight and is sanded, it will be painted with tan latex paint to seal it and provide a dirt color.

I'm cutting the Homasote with a utility knife instead of a saber saw. It takes a little longer and requires more elbow grease but it's a whole lot cleaner than dealing with Homasote dust. The curves are hard to cut but it's working out OK.

Jan 5, 2010: More benchwork has been added to the center. This will be the track heading into Windsor (against the wall to the left). A 3/4" plywood spline will be added between the two benchwork sections (where the short spacers are) to add vertical stiffness and to support the extruded foam upper level.

Loveland yard is only partially covered with Homasote. The uncovered area is used to store tools and as a work surface to cut Homasote. It will be one of the last areas finished in Phase 1.

Jan 20, 2010: The large lift bridge between the C&S and GW is installed. It is supported by the plywood box screwed to wall studs. it is hinged 6" from the right side so the far end swings down when the bridge is raised. This allows an angled cut to be made in the track to avoid interference.

I was concerned about the 3/4" plywood bridge sagging over time but it will be in a raised position when the layout is not be operated. It will be subjected only to a vertical force then so sagging should not develop. So the theory goes...

Jan 20, 2010: The bridge in its "normal" position. The hinge end uses a 30" piano hinge to give it a wobble free rotating point. The other end had metal straps with 1/4" holes drilled to mate with shelf pegs on the GW side.

The straps and pegs will be used to route power to one end of the bridge. The other end will use flexible lamp cored wire to bring power to it. There is a wye turnout in the middle of the bridge and all three sides of the wye need their own power to control polarity.

At this point in time, the bridge is very solid and works effortlessly. It is self-supporting because it is over-center when in the raised position so no mechanism will be required to keep it up.

I will need to rig up some kind of mechanical interlocks at the ends to keep trains from drifting off into space when it is raised. The GW end will have a spring-loaded pin that rises up between the rails when the bridge is up. I haven't thought much about the other end yet but gravity may be my friend here.

Jan 31, 2010: Roadbed and track has been laid for the C&S behind Gorom and sub-roadbed has been built for the GW at Gorom and to the west side of Birds.

The C&S goes from 42" at the staging yard to 39" at the switch in the lower front (the south end of the future Windsor). The track to the right of the switch will go back up to 42" at the Kelim UP interchange. Both grades are less than 2%.

The GW track from Loveland to Officer Junction stays at 42" so the sub-roadbed is supported on 1x4 risers above the benchwork.

I broke out my old workbench power pack to run some engines back and forth when I first got the C&S track installed. I have since wired in the NCE DCC system so I can toot horns and ring bells.

Feb 25, 2010: I wanted to begin unpacking my buildings from the old layout and I needed a place for them. I also wanted to get a feel for the height of the second level. Both needs were taken care of by installing the Welty Branch extruded foam benchwork.

The foam is supported on shelf standards and brackets screwed to the wall studs. The 12" wide right-hand shelf (Welty beet dump) is supported on 10" brackets. The 18" wide center shelf (Buda beet dump) is supported on 12" brackets. 1/8" Masonite strips are between the sheet metal brackets and the foam.

The buildings packed onto the 16' of shelf space is 1/2 of the buildings (3 boxes out of 6).

Feb 25, 2010: A behind the scenes view. This shows the 3/4" plywood splines that act as a backdrop for the lower level and support the upper level foam benchwork.

The track on the lower level is the C&S/UP track that loops around the outside of the room and also goes off to the right to the Kelim UP interchange.

The 4' space between the garage door and Windsor benchwork will be kept open as eventual storage space for the chop saw and other tools.

Mar 6, 2010: Thanks to some help from the visiting Chris Cain, benchwork sections for Officer Junction and the base of the helix are in place. Another 2'x8' section goes to the left of the U to close it and will support Kelim and the UP interchange. About 2/3 of the track here will be at 42" so a lot of risers are needed.

On the right side is the vertical spline which supports the upper level under Johnstown and is the backdrop for both sides of the center peninsula. The extruded foam seen here is placed temporarily to hold stuff.

Mar 18, 2010: Quite a bit of chop saw action created the risers and support for Kelim and the helix. This side of the peninsula has the track at 42" above the floor and is flat. The other side will start the steep downgrade of Oklahoma Hill leading to Gove, Lory and Windsor on the GW. The UP also has a lesser grade along the spine of the peninsula.

The helix is 28" in diameter, leaving a nice hole in the benchwork. If we ever do use a dispatcher, this will be a nice cozy office out of sight of the rest of the operators.

Mar 23, 2010: The plywood sub-roadbed and homasote for Kelim is in place. Kelim is on the right side, the UP tracks are on the left and the GW track to Windsor dead ends at the bottom left. The GW tracks will not be extended until Phase IIa is started.

The homasote on the inside will start the helix. The helix will be 1/2" plywood with track glued directly to it. I'm not concerned about sound-deadening in the helix since train noise will give the operator a clue that the train is still moving.

Mar 23, 2010: This shows the UP "Ft. Collins branch" leading away from Kelim and heading towards the wye leading to the staging yard. The grade here is about 1%. The opening in the benchwork in the middle is for the Cache La Poudre river trestle. The UP track will be partially concealed by trees and bushes but visible enough to see the train as it moves along. Since this area is primarily GW country, the UP tracks should not be very prominent.

On the GW, Gove will be in the lower middle with Lory just before the trestle.

Apr 11, 2010: The helix is made from 1/2" plywood. Due to its size, curved sections need to be cut from the sheet and glued together. CadRail was used to try to get the maximum amount of helix from each 4x8 sheet. Two sheets provided all the material used in the helix.

This shows the pattern I used. Not too much was wasted. The scrap pieces will be used as "biscuits" to hold the foam benchwork together.

A router was used to create lap joints to connect the sections. The largest circular pieces were used as clamping jigs to make sure the smaller pieces were nicely circular.

Apr 12, 2010: The first lap of the helix is being assembled. This is the critical part since all the rest of the helix is spaced vertically from this lap. A lot of fussy cutting and fitting created the graduated spacers between the flat base and the plywood track board.

Each lap of the helix must be complete and perfect before the next section is added. There is scant room between laps (3 1/4") for hands and tools. Each lap has vertical spacers glued and screwed to it to support the next layer. The track must be glued down and wired before the next lap is added. This is a slow, day-by-day process so other work can also proceed at the same time while glue dries.

Apr 19, 2010: After each track joint is soldered, the track is glued to the plywood with Woodland Scenics "Foam Tack" glue. I tried the cheaper craft store version of tack glue and it did not stick well to the plastic track ties - the high-priced spread is called for here. Masking tape is used to hold the track in place while the glue has overnight to set. At this time, another lap of plywood is fitted to the helix and vertical spacers are glued and screwed to it. It is set aside for the glue to set overnight.

The next day, the masking tape is removed and 12 gauge bare copper wires are stapled on both sides of the track. Jumpers are soldered from each section of track to the bus wires. The track is cleaned and a train is test run to check for any problems. The next lap is now placed on the helix and screwed into place. Shims are used to make sure the helix is slightly super elevated. At this point, the next lap of track is added.

May 20, 2010: The helix is almost finished.

The vertical spacers are staggered. This allows a spacer on top of the lap to be screwed to the plywood from underneath and then the lap can be screwed to the support under it from the top without either screw creating a unwanted bump. The spacers will also be used to hold the angle brackets supporting the foam upper level and well as providing anchors for the backdrop.

May 31, 2010: The top transition piece is added.

The track on the top will go from the plywood to foam benchwork. This requires the track to swing wide on the top level since the foam will be outside the helix. A little more fussing and fitting was needed here.

Jun 6, 2010: Foam supports.

Angle brackets are screwed to the vertical supports to hold the foam benchwork for the the upper level. The foam is temporary for now. I will use a hot wire "router" to make 1x2 notches in the bottom of the foam and will inlay plywood pieces that rest on the foam. This will add stiffness and strength - the foam is structurally stiff but is fragile.

Jun 13, 2010: Backdrop wrapper.

Since the helix is not scenically accurate (in the least) a 1/8" Masonite wrapper is screwed to the supports for a backdrop. Notches are cut to clear the foam support brackets and the notches are mostly covered with dry wall tape.

Jun 21, 2010: Completed helix.

The backdrop is screwed on, spackled, sanded and painted. Now visitors will have to climb under the layout and pop up in the helix to see all the wonderful details.

Thin "T5" fluorescent bulbs will be run under the foam (hidden by a valence) to light the lower level.

See Tips And Tricks->Foam benchwork for the detailed blow-by-blow construction.

Aug 27, 2010: T5 Lighting.

Here is a peek under the upper level. Various lengths of T5 bulbs are chained together to fit the curved benchwork.

Aug 31, 2010: Finished Valence.

A little black paint and a smidge of scenery show off the intended effect. Now for a hundred or so more feet of this and I'm all set.

Sep 6, 2010: Phase II Begins.

Phase II will build out the "Windsor District" which includes everything from Officer Junction through Windsor plus the Eaton Staging Yard.

Prior to cleaning up, the Big Jig and chop saw were used to construct the final benchwork grids. Once these are completed, the Big Jig will be disassembled and the chop saw table will be shortened to save space.

The next order of business was to move all the construction materials and the chop saw to the garage door end of the room and tidy everything up.

It sure looks nice after it is cleaned up!

One is tempted to philosophically state, "Space - the final frontier."

Sep 6, 2010: Windsor Industries Corner.

Although it was not in the original plan, I decided to add some of the Windsor industries for additional operating interest. They were part of my old layout and I have no other use for the buildings. They will give the C&S crew something to switch (or will be an added headache to the Windsor crew).

The corner area was enlarged beyond the planned double track return to Loveland and will provide a home for Cowan Concrete, Murray's Salvage, ADM Farm Supply and the Windsor elevator.

I also managed to find a spot for the ancient and trusty Atlas double slip switch I have been using to befuddle crews since 1978.

That fuse box will complicate the backdrop a little since it is right at the height of the upper level.

Sep 6, 2010: Windsor Beet Factory and Lead.

The Windsor beet factory will be much like the last layout but will be larger and more prototypical. It's main feature will be the elaborate "High Line" sugar beet unloading area.

The benchwork will continue into the far left corner for the Eaton staging yard and will go across the garage door to the right. The section across the door will be loose for awhile and can be moved around as a work table. This allows me to get to the chop saw for final benchwork (risers and such).

The right corner will have a wye for the C&S track to get to the UP Ft. Collins branch and the Kelim interchange. A large free-lanced model of the Windsor Kodak plant will hide the wye.

The GW track continues along the right side to reach the Lory beet dump, the Gove elevator, Oklahoma Hill and then around to Kelim.

Sep 12, 2010: Bridge Across the Door.

Another lift-up bridge goes across the entrance door to connect the C&S and GW tracks to Windsor. It will electrically interlocked to avoid accidents.

I need to find a large scale crossbuck with flashing lights to mount on the bridge to warn people to "Stop, Look and Listen" at the door when the bridge is down.

Sep 12, 2010: Windsor Industries Sub-roadbed.

The bridge and corner tracks are on a 1.5% grade down from the Loveland area. The lower area in front will be Murray's Salvage, a large junk yard. Back in the corner will be Cowan Concrete. Along the right side will be ADM and the Windsor elevator.

Sep 12, 2010: Windsor Beet Factory Sub-roadbed.

The large flat area will be the Windsor beet factory. It is narrower than I would like it to be so the buildings will be a little compressed in width. Length should be almost to scale. I had enough space to make it wider but it is already 30" deep there, about at the limit of a comfortable reach. The C&S track will run along the wall so I didn't want that to be hard to get to for maintenance.

The benchwork that goes across the garage door area has been moved out along the Windsor benchwork to make a nice work table for cutting plywood and Homasote.

Once all the benchwork is finished, I'll use my old drafting table as a work table - it fits in the Windsor aisle with plenty of room to get around it.

Sep 25, 2010: Windsor Lead Sub-roadbed.

My lumber pile is getting smaller so I needed to test fit all the plywood and Homasote pieces to make sure I had enough. Basically I had to solve a giant jig-saw puzzle. Luckily, I had just enough big pieces of 1/2" plywood for all the sub-roadbed and had plenty of Homasote.

I had to use the "rough" side of one piece of Homasote to make full use of it but that's not a big deal since I'm using California Roadbed "Homabed" in that area.

I have 2 full sheets of Homasote leftover so I will try to find a home for them. I'm glad I got a little too much instead of a little too little since it is a special order and I'm not sure if they would order me one or two sheets (the initial order was for 12).

Oct 8, 2010: Oklahoma Hill Sub-roadbed.

With the puzzle solved, its time to screw down the plywood. Oklahoma Hill is just after the UP interchange at Kelim and is the ruling grade on the GW. It is 2.5% down as it goes around the corner and ends up on the far side of the peninsula at Gove.

The open area in the middle will be an access hatch to reach the UP Ft. Collins branch. This will be mostly flat grassy fields here with a ledge near Gove. The track will descend through a deep cut, just like the prototype.

Hopefully, the cut won't fill with snow and take two days to dig out. A massive snowstorm hit Northern Colorado in 1949 and a couple of engines were stuck in this cut trying to buck the snow. A large crew of workers had to dig them out by hand.

Oct 8, 2010: Gove Sub-roadbed.

A grain elevator is at the other end of Oklahoma Hill at Gove. Off to the left is the sugar beet dump at Lory. Out of sight just beyond Lory is the low trestle over the Cache La Poudre river.

The UP Ft. Collins branch runs along the backdrop. Since the real UP trackage is nowhere near the GW tracks in this area, the Ft. Collins branch will be camouflaged by scenery here. It will still be visible and accessible to operators but will be hidden for photography. Low trees, bushes, beet piles and the like will be above the level of the UP tracks.

Nov 13, 2010: Gove Roadbed.

Sub-roadbed is screwed down and spackled waiting for the Homabed to arrive.

The Gove siding is indicated by the switches.

Off in the distance is the opening for the river and trestle.

Nov 13, 2010: Windsor Lead Roadbed.

This shows the south end of Windsor. A GW passing siding goes around the corner in the front. There is a 1.5% grade up from the river trestle at this point.

At the rear will be the wye leading from the C&S loop to the UP Ft. Collins branch. The wye will be hidden by a large industrial complex representing Kodak at the Eastman Business Park.

Nov 13, 2010: Windsor Factory Lead Roadbed.

This is the business end of Windsor. The GW crosses the C&S at about the middle of the photo and heads off to Severance and Eaton represented by a small staging in the far corner.

In the foreground is the beet factory lead with the ramp to the high line trestle at the left. The pair of tracks in the middle is the GW interchange with the C&S.

The beet factory is the end of the line for the GW Windsor crew. They will do their work then return to Loveland.

There is a sneaky route to Loveland off the other end of the factory. This goes through the industrial area and across the lift-up bridge to return to Loveland via the Loveland wye. This is solely for continuous running during layout tours.

Jan 7, 2011: Sleight of Hand

After completing the trackwork in the Windsor District, it's time for a few niceties. A cool trick is adding a mirror behind the Eaton staging yard.

It makes a more atractive termination than a blank wall and visually extends the scene and makes the staging yard that much more impressive.

Jan 7, 2011: Sleight of Hand

If you look just right, you can see the Eaton beet factory in the distance beyond the staging yard. An unplanned for benefit of the mirror.

I'll have to make sure that any buildings seen in the mirror have different paint colors on the back side so the mirror image is not so obvious.

Jan 7, 2011: Fascia and Skitts

I'm putting some finishing touches on the layout. I liked the black fascias and skirts I had on the old layout so I'm doing the same here. The black corduroy was carefully saved and reused.

One difference is I decided to recess the skirt from the fascia to give a floating appearance to the layout. Thin, cheap lath strips are screwed to the benchwork legs and short 1x2s descending from the benchwork. The cloth is then attached to the lath strips with push pins.

Jan 7, 2011: Fascia and Skitts

Here is a view down the Birds district. The skirt gives a nice finished look to the room and hides all the tools and suppies stored underneath.

Jan 7, 2011: Fascia and Skitts

Here is a view down the Windsor side. I left an opening at the rear to give access to the Eaton staging yard and the garage door area.

Also note the table and chairs in the "crew lounge". Reference materials are set out there to allow off-duty crews to bone up on the GW.