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Discussion Starter #22 (Edited)
Thank you Gramps :) Here are some more pictures of my layout progress:

My first experiment with carving / painting foam. Just did this as a sloppy test for a culvert. I made a nicer culvert out of a foam "plate" that will slip into slots over this test carving and look real nice:
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Starting to build the East Mountain elevated foam base with Southeast tunnel portals going into the mountain (also with 3% grade train bridge). The bridge is a challenging construction being on a 3% grade slope and ends going directly into a tunnel portal on the East side of the river:
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Southwest view of entire layout:
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East view of entire layout:
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North view of progress on upper level turnouts and roadbed. All the upper level turnouts will be tricky because I have to use mini DPDT slide switches right next to them with the frog wire attached and embedded into the foam. On the lower level switches I had the luxury of building out wooden bases protruding from the table and using standard size slide switches:
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And finally, one of the coolest things I've done this season... I had to protect this train layout from future damage from both children and my cat who seemed to LOVE jumping and laying on the foam all the time... I built a nice plexiglass surround! All the plexiglass is easily-removable for when I need to work on the layout:
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Oh wow! Can you share with us how you constructed that plexiglass surround? I've been trying to figure out how to keep my cats off my layout when I start building.
 

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Discussion Starter #24 (Edited)
Oh wow! Can you share with us how you constructed that plexiglass surround? I've been trying to figure out how to keep my cats off my layout when I start building.
Sure Matt! My train table is an 8' x 4' layout, and I wanted as close to 24" of height (2 feet) on the plexiglass as possible. So basically I needed these things to pull it off:
  • Two 1/4" thick plexiglass sheets in 48" wide x 24" tall
  • One 1/4" thick plexiglass sheet in 96" wide x 48" tall
  • One 80 tooth carbide tipped table saw blade
  • Jig saw with a fine tooth cutting blade (I used a 24 tooth blade)
  • 4 Toolbox Drawer Stainless Steel Toggle Latch sets (I bought a 10 pack from Amazon here)
  • 1 or 2 packages of 1/4" EZ-Cable Clips (bought from Home Depot here)

The 80 tooth table saw blade I only needed to use once, and it was to cut the large 96" x 48" piece of plexiglass into two 96" x 24" pieces for the long sides of the table. I plan to Ebay the saw blade since I only used it once and will likely not need it again.

I then installed all the 1/4" EZ-Cable clips around the sides of the table (flush to bottom) as these would be where the plexiglass slides into and rests:
View attachment 338458

After making the long 96"x24" cuts, I measured out all the bottom cut-outs for all the plexi panels where I needed clearance for protruding switch panels and the PowerCab panels I need access to. I used the jig saw to cut out those pieces.
View attachment 338466
^You'll notice also in this picture that I installed one of the EZ-Cable Clips sideways so it acts like a swivel - I did this to support the plexiglass panels when they have to free-stand on their own, otherwise their weight and gravity will cause the tops of them to tip outwards until they fall right out of the EZ-Cable Clips (and also bend / ruin the clip in the process).

Finally, with 2 adjoining plexi panels in place, I make a paper template to mark the screw holes for the Toggle Latches. Then I use a power drill to drill holes with a drill bit through those marks, and very slowly / carefully screw them into the plexi by hand (DO NOT USE A POWER DRILL to screw them in, it could crack the plexi):
View attachment 338474
 

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Nice. I must admit, it is nice to find out I am not the only one to face the cat issue.
 

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When I saw the "glass" enclosure, I was going "oh sh...." as I was thinking that it was so serious that it was to keep the kids out! Oh it was the cat! Make sense! Cats like to walk everywhere as they please! LOL

Glad that I do not have any cat since I am diehard dog owner! I am building an extension to my existing table, my pitbull like to jump over the middle wood bar of the table. The middle wood bar is set across horizontally, connecting both legs, just half way off from the floor, maybe 18" up. I said "No, not you, Roscoe!" No idea what motivated my pitbull to do that.

Yep, he was named after the character from the "Duke of Hazzard."
 

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Discussion Starter #27
When I saw the "glass" enclosure, I was going "oh sh...." as I was thinking that it was so serious that it was to keep the kids out!
Actually, kids were 50% of the concern as well. Not so much my kids, because I've "instructed" them well about the train set, but we are a pretty social family so we often have other friends and kids over, and their kids run a muck in the basement. In fact, a few months ago I found the circuit board to my PowerCab panel damaged because I had left the cord plugged in it and some kid must have pulled on the cord and ripped the input away from the circuit board! :mad:

So yeah, the plexiglass had been in my plans for a long time, it was just a matter of saving up for the project and then the cat became the final catalyst for actually doing it.
 

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Discussion Starter #29 (Edited)
Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel (pun intended ;)) on track-laying... Got almost all of the cork roadbed done on my layout. As of last night I finished the roadbed for Mainline 3 (on the upper level) and the logging siding. Just need to do the 2-track gravel siding now and then it's on to finish the actual track-laying. Soon I'll be working on my bridges!
View attachment 338506
View attachment 338514

I'm also trying out this new product for sealing the gaps in my foam, called Gardner "Flex n' Fill" - it claims to be a spackle compound but it dries with flexibility, so it is crack-resistant. Sandable, paintable, and will flex with mild movement of the foam. So far so good, I really like it!
View attachment 338522
 

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And the Flex-N-Fill folks took the time to advise people, in both English and Spanish, not to "ingest" their product in case you wanted to spread some on crackers while working.
 

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Discussion Starter #32 (Edited)
Made some more progress. The GREAT news is that I FINALLY finished soldering every turnout on my layout! Man am I glad to be done with those!!!:thumbsdown::thumbsdown::thumbsdown: Such a PITA.

I'm nearly done with all my track laying as well, and so it's time to start working on my 4 bridges to finalize the track laying. 3 bridges I am using 3/4" thick MDF board and I am going to scratch-build plate girders for the sides and make them all deck girder bridges:
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You can see in that pic that I'm also finally working on my first rock sculpting in the foam. That area on the right will have a small pond and a tiny waterfall down the rocks that lead the water into the pond. The pond will empty off to the left, into the main river.

The 4th bridge spans the river on the 3% grade going along the south edge of the layout. It's so close to the edge of the layout that I don't want to do an open deck girder bridge, so I am going to do a truss bridge there instead to help protect the trains from falling off the table in case of a derailment.

Other angles of the progress:
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Discussion Starter #33 (Edited)
Just realized I documented some bridge layout progress in another thread a few weeks ago and I should have updated my layout thread here too. Some other progress to report as well...

Made my first scratch-built deck girder bridge using various sizes of styrene:
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Discussion Starter #34 (Edited)
Did some experimenting with rail painting the other day. Using 2 colors mostly, a darker muddy brown for the mainlines (back rail in pic) and a rusty brown for sidings / yards / guard rails (front rail in pic):
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Some pics of painted turnouts (the 2 in the background vs the 1 in the foreground not painted):
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Close up:
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Birdseye:
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I also did the GLEAM method on a small section of the track and a turnout as well. I noticed an improvement on the electrical pickup for sure... my loco crept through the turnout at 1 mph without stalling which was pretty awesome.

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Discussion Starter #35 (Edited)
And for my final update for now, I'm in the middle of building some railroad crossings as my new focus:
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I have 3 bridges crossing this river valley where there will be also be a small town center with a few structures in between some of the bridges:
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I came to realize that once I finish the bridges, they will be a major obstruction to my reach in the middle to do some things with terrain and landscaping. So I decided that finishing the road that cuts through this valley and then focusing on preparing the terrain in this area is paramount progress for me before I can resume working on / finishing the bridges.

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Discussion Starter #39
Well I have some more updates to report on the progress of my layout. I nearly completed the road through my river valley with the intention of being able to work on the village center in the middle of the layout BEFORE I completed my 4 bridges. But as I got to that point, I realized a major aspect of "completing" that village center was to also complete the mountain / mountainside next to the river that cuts through that valley. So in order to complete the mountain, I had to work on at least 1 bridge first, because that bridge's tracks will join at rail joiners inside the mountain (since the bridge ends right at a tunnel portal). So I needed to finish this bridge to ensure all my track measurements and cuts were spot on, so all I have to do once the mountain is built up is join the track inside through a back-of-the-mountain access point.

Amazing how the little nuances of layout planning affects where you spend your time on at any given day.

So needless to say my attention was now diverted on completing the truss bridge for my 3% grade track on the perimeter of the layout. I documented the entire process of modding 2 Kato Unitrack truss bridges for Code 55 in it's own thread here if you're curious. Here are some pictures of the nearly final product:







I still have a bit more to do with adding guard rails and guard timbers on the track ties, and also adding some paint chipping to the rust color of the bridge... but this is far enough along for me to move on at this point.

So before I resume focus on building up the mountain the rest of the way, I decided to also complete the hillside for the 3% grade that leads up to the new truss bridge. This was easy pickins' since it's just a small piece of terrain that "implies" a bigger hill our mountain that exists off the layout, and we are just seeing the foot of that hill or mountain enter into the layout right at the point where the track is sloping up that hillside:



Carving the rock wall with my razor knife:


"Pressing" the top edges of the hill with a small screw driver stem to give natural curvature shape to the edges of the rock cliffs:


A perspective view down the grade:


A close-up of the rock cliff texture detail:


The nearly-completed terrain shaping:


My last step to this area before I finally move back on to the mountain will be my first experiment in terrain painting! :D
 
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