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This is a vintage Kato GP-38-2
286 Posts
I thought I cronical my continuing efforts on my shelf layout I starting building over 23 years ago. I had grand ambitious plans as I finally had a finished basement to fix up and showcase a shelf railroad that friends and family would love to visit.
This is my 3rd engineered road with childhood experiences from serious modelers. I did the loop, and point to point in homosote and cork. I was a member of a modular club and learned all I could about DCC. If you ever want to learn DCC or modular design, joining a club and learning how to's from a lot of educated afficinato's is the way to go.
In those early days, being transient, I was relaglated to "N' scale and grew to dispise the micro-issues the scale presents. So this 3rd working to.....fulfill the dream!

The plan was to have a BIG yard to park a vast collection of rolling stock and Engines and a loop or duel main that could transit separate zones and climites based on my favorite railroad, namely the Santa Fe. I wanted at least 2 trains to be able to roll without much guidance while I could manage switching in a yard and making consists. I'd switch out consists on the main and drop off deliveries off the main while avoiding the 2 trains rolling on the main.
That takes a lot of track and basement space so the shelf layout was the ticket.

The Design....

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I spent two years building the shelf, cutting out track bed, homosote, laying track, wiring in the DCC wiring, hardwiring locomotives from DC to DCC, and finally running trains. I had even tried to run a overhead main track high in the ceiling around the drop was enough to "burnout".
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But there was so much more to do! I had very little buildings, no lighting, very little scenery.
So I kept plugging away...and life happened and I had to rethink everything as I feared I would have to tear it all down and move. So I abandoned my overhead line with a helix to connect the shelve unit and I shortened the mainline in order to be able to move it all. And then it sat, waiting to see if I would have to move it or not.

10 years later and it looks as if time passed me by and now I see myself retired and needing a winter hobby.
How about a railroad...I so wish I still had that drive I had in my youth, time has taken it toll on me too. I am in my 60's, FYI.
But I am trying to do more and more.
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I found some sweet deals on used buildings at the train show and am making them "mini diaramas" to plug and place on the layout all ready to go with people, furnishing, LED lighting and the such.
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Today, I get excited with nano LED tech and am working between the building diaoramas and the streets that define the spaces the diaramas plug into. I purchased nano street lights and building nano leds....
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Engineering street scenes to work with a "popout panel" for loop access....
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Mounting street exciting!
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I had a dedicated hi amperage 24vdc power supply for use on the layout and I am going to use it for all the lighting, adding several circuits of different adjustable voltages to mimic different brightness of street lights, home lights, store and sign lighting....a very ambicious lighting project.
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And a glut of used recycled builtings to embellish and make into mini diaoramas. Placing then to see how they may fit in the town area around the bottom of the loop....
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And a general view of the "L" shaped layout...
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This top loop is a module that can move and disconnect to the shelf layout in order to gain access to a storage area door....
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More to come soon.
I am wanting to start my own thread about my layout to document future progress and appologize in advance to those viewers looking for progress during the late Spring, Summer, and early Fall months as this is mostly a winter hobby for me.

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794 Posts
Having observed SF Gal's modelling skills, I know she would be more than capable of having a Klingon cruiser in there as well with full lasers and sounds........

I think that would be a little over the top though......pardon the pun.....or shooting for the stars.....

What an awesome job accomplished !

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This is a vintage Kato GP-38-2
286 Posts
Having observed SF Gal's modelling skills, I know she would be more than capable of having a Klingon cruiser in there as well with full lasers and sounds........

I think that would be a little over the top though......pardon the pun.....or shooting for the stars.....

What an awesome job accomplished !

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1,182 Posts
Discussion Starter · #228 · (Edited)
OMGosh! Thanks for all the wonderful accolades, I am so NOT worthy! ...hear me out....
I did putz with another backdrop and refined the way I light the fibers and noticed lighting one from the other is like night and day. I believe I forgot to glue the LED in place so it would not shift...
So I have to go back to the USS Enterprise backdrop and see what happened as I believe the LED shifted and caused the whole thing to dim too much, compared to the second backdrop I did....below is the nighttime shot....
Automotive lighting Electricity Road Landscape City

These LEDs are being powered at 4.5VDC, almost overvoltage for the resistor used, compared to 3VDC. I was thinking I needed a brighter LED and that was not the case.
So I need to fix this problem and lower the voltage to extend the life of the LEDS. Trial and error for me...kind of like my signature line below. So I messed up the first design...DRAT! Why didn't I glue down that LED in the housing?

One big problem with working on the layout lately is the wonderful weather is continuing in my region. Today, I helped a cousin with wiring /installing a outdoor sensor spotlight, went to the farm to get apple pie, homemade carmel apples, apple cinnamon donuts, and acorn squash, besides working a booth at the local craft fair I frequent.
Cloud Plant Sky Flower Outdoor bench

Tomarrow is the Dupage Train Show and dinner with relatives. Monday is yardwork...lots and lots of leaves! OMG! Eight lawn bags of "mulched" leaves so far and 4 or 5 more to go on my little property.

Tuesday is a new month and I have to work every new month, on my feet, walking 8 mile or more a day, as a meter maid, for maybe 5 days, but the pay is good. Walking that much is tough at my age.
Finger Wood Brush Glove Tradesman

Maybe the second week in November I will be a little freeier for working on the layout.
I would love to get past these 2 backdrops as the St. Louis backdrop is next, as I havent shown the forum the animated Zenith sign and the building lighted yet.
Then a real fun industrail backdrop for the yard area, left of the USS Enterprise backdrop....and on and sorry for the slow news coming...
The first week after thanksgiving will be crazy as I have to finalize my Grandmas Christmas train display for around the Christmas tree. A few loose ends will be documented in my thread Grandma's Christmas Trains....along with decorating the whole Frontroom for Christmas as the family celebrates the holidays at this homestead.
I think they are going to love the display I am creating....
Naval architecture Watercraft Motor vehicle Gas Engineering

It is close to done, maybe another 20 hours finishing the viaduct and fabricating a piece of track to shorten and fit into a siding. wiring and hiding it all. So it is just not my HO layout this year as this will be the first year since 1977 Grandmas train will run around a Christmas tree. I spent a lot of money just to have a professional refurbish the locomotive last August. It is going to be so cute and nostalgic, I am sure. Well, that's all for now!
A Work in Progress!....Stay tuned!...

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1,182 Posts
Discussion Starter · #231 ·
Well, we had a couple of days of cold weather and I got all my outdoor chores done before the bottom dropped out.
So I had some time to insulate my hobby lounge basement windows and do a few other things.
I stopped at Menards for some insulator kits and went thru the train aisles....
Product Shelf Toy Shelving Automotive lighting

...they have a good selection of O scale and a few HO scale buildings too....
Shelf Building Shelving Retail Convenience store

...I liked the Piggy Wiggly.....but not for $50!!! They had plenty of HO scale buildings...
Toy Shelving Automotive design Display case Railway

Once I got home I insulated the windows, like I said, and started looking at some of the stuff I bought at last months train show. Beside a built factory I will use for backdrop duty, I bought this kit of mini buildings....
Engineering Toy Urban design Motor vehicle Plastic

I also bought this hedge kit thinking it was a tree kit....
Font Publication Art Urban design Material property

I tackled my problem with dim stars on the first backdrop I did and thought I fix it but once I tested it, no go...Drat!
Wood Font Pattern Tree Automotive exterior see, I engineered these "pockets where i could marry the fiber optics to a LED but if its off by a little bit, the light doesn't get transfered through the optics. So there it sits as I took a break to think how to redo it right.
All the while I was listening to some vinyl records, so I alphabetized my mini collection and called it a day....
Publication Box Recreation Wood Font

I really need to make a nice raised box to store these albums, So much to work thing at a time.

A Work in Progress!....Stay tuned!...

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1,182 Posts
Discussion Starter · #233 ·
Nasty weather outside equals more train time in my book. I finally engineered a wonderful fix to avoid misalignment of the fiber optics and the LED marriage on the back of the backdrop. I used a plastic drinking straw as a sleeve to marry the 2 items together! It worked great, as you can see the stars on the left side are as bright as the right. Phew!
World Urban design City Display device Electronic device

I also turned down the voltage back to 3 VDC for longevity of the LED's.
I did find a loose wire inside the building that lights my Santa Fe billboard, so that is a minor future fix. I am curious if anyone is using a cordless soldiering iron and if so, what are you using?
More pictures....
Train Transport hub Electricity Urban design City

Here is the backdrop to the left of the above picture that is just starting mock up ideas....and needs fiber optics for stars too.....
Rolling stock Track Railway Railroad car Public transport

This backdrop is to the right of the middle and is closer to completion, star are going in on this backdrop next...
Train Transport hub Vehicle Rolling stock Mode of transport

To the right of the backdrop above is not installed yet as I need to make supports for that movable module which allows access to the storage area behind the door. That movable module is far from being finished scenery wise.
So I am moving along slowly. Working my Grandmas Christmas setup too as I will be getting close to installing that in about 2 weeks or less.
While parusing the HO section of the forum the other day, I saw a thread called Who ran Trains today?
Seeing all the neato videos of your layouts I made a video of my layout running trains at night mode....
A Work in Progress!....Stay tuned!...

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1,182 Posts
Discussion Starter · #237 ·
Thanks to all for the nice comments. I am pretty happy with how the backdrops are turning out.
They really make the whole layout seem a little more professionally done.
Here is the back of the 3rd out of 6 panels I am doing to give you an idea of the scope of fiber optics placement I am doing ...
Handwriting Font Material property Rectangle Writing

(The panels, if you remember from previous posts, were church boards about various bible stories)
The fiber ends get taped down so they don't poke out of the holes.
Below shows how they get cut uniformly and a plastic straw is slid back and taped to allow one 3mm LED to align "perfectly" with the fibers, inside the straw. On this backdrop, with towns and sky lighted, I will have 4 LED tubes packed full of fibers...
Font Handwriting Violet Line Material property

Since the backdrops are made with two rigid external plastic faces with a styrofoam core, I cut the backside and hollow out a small area to accept the tubes that will be wrapped with black construction paper to hide the light from bleeding through the face of the backdrop.
Below shows 2 straws buried into the second backdrop I started.
Since no heat is generated, it is a wonderful application for this project.
Font Line Material property Tree Paper

Below, I still have one town to the right of the middle building on this 3rd backdrop to work on as I usually just add street lights and maybe a building light or two...
Water Leisure Urban design Building Travel

I'll post up the finished panel on my next post. So nice to be moving along with these backdrops.

I am also "engineering ideas" to drive streetlights and mainline track lights even though I started mounting some of them on the layout.
I found these kids toy traffic lights with sound, on Amazon, for less than $2 USD. I was thinking I could disassemble it and used the electronics to power a traffic signal. or two...on the layout.

As far as the mainline lighting system, I have no frugal way of making the lighting work besides using nails and foil to make contacts on turnout switch actuator bars. But it is an option.
I was looking at Walters DCC switch machines ....

... but at $93 a five pack, I hesitate to pull the trigger, as they say. Hence the "engineering ideas" blurb.
That's all for this weekends follies.....
...A Work in Progress!....Stay tuned!...

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338 Posts
awesome following along. It’s really coming our beautifully. So many ideas to borrow/steal :D keep the pics and vid’s flowing love the eye candy

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German, Swiss, and Austrian outline. HO/HOm
6,873 Posts
The Walthers switch machines work really well for me. The two lever switches can be used for signals or to control frog power if needed. They are also DCC controllable from your hand-held controller. DCC is built in with an included decoder.
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