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I'm preparing to start on my new railroad...actually, my first. Originally, I was going to go with N, but realized that I'm not getting any younger (55) and HO is a lot easier to work on.

I have the half of the basement, because the rest is occupied by the furnace, washer, dryer... The working space is 21'L by 8' deep. I have a older pic to show what the space is, as it has been all cleaned up down there... (Just got the house, still a work in progress)

I was thinking I want trains and trolleys on the layout. I am not good with using scarm or anything else to try to plan, and was just thinking about winging it. Just looking for some thought. I am thinking more trolley than train, but trains are a must too.

Thanks for any thoughts...

Shawn

PS, the wall where the broom is I was thinking about making a tunnel there and running track into that room, as that will be the train shop...where the work is done, and stuff built. Its a perfect little room back there for that.
 

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Paint the wall sky blue right now!
 

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Rip down all the wiring on the ceiling redo it keeping up to local building codes.
Put sheet rock the ceiling.

Use flush mount or thin LED lighting about 24" out from wall.
Hang a long 12-18" deep shelf on same wall, up high, use hangers not brackets underneath.
 

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Are you reasonably flush for cash? For example, it would be smart to install a ceiling of some kind to keep crud from falling through the floor from above and onto the layout. Maybe not the entire basement, at least not right away....but.....

Also, for a small cost, you could fasten strapping (lath) to the jumbleblock basement wall at right and put a couple or three sheets of drywall up there...IF...it's a relatively dry basement and the cinderblocks never sweat.

If that lighting is LED, it should suffice. If it's fluorescent, would you consider switching to LED to minimize UV damage to plastics, paints, and rubbery-foam scenery plant matter?

I had the same considerations about space when we finished our basement years ago. I was given a 13' X 9 foot corner. This is what I made, a 'folded loop' which allowed me to stand in the middle surrounded by scenery. It was lovely.



You get a huge main line loop, even if it doubles through your scenery, and as I said, you turn to watch trains just a few feet away and the scenery is always all around you. You can get elevation at the overpass, and you can hide some of the tracks descending down to the underpass, as I think you can make out in the image. My grades were, of necessity, pretty steep at just over 3.2% on average. With your longer main axis of such a configuration, you could cut that down to 2% and have as much as 7" overhead separation. Allows tunnels, bridges, mountain terrain, cuts and bluffs....the sky's the limit.
 

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Don't wanna be a party pooper, but it looks like mold on the lower wall portions.
Is this basement a leaker?
If it's not, mold like that is from another source.
Mold can be insidious.
 

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The lower part of the cinder block wall is scaling. That means ya have water inside the cinder block from the outside. The slowly destroys the cinder block, driving out the lime that is the main ingredient that holds it all together. The block becomes more brittle.
Basement water proofing would drill holes at the very bottom of the block to let the water out then install a trough that looks like foot molding along the wall and route it to a sump pump or drain line. Once the wall is dry it can be repainted with penetrating sealant. That's the cheap way of fixing the wall. The more extensive way is to dig out the outside of the wall, repair any cracks then reseal the wall with tar. You also repair the plugged up french drain that should be around the foundation footing of the house.
 

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If it only leaks a bit during extremely heavy rains and you don't want to repair it, I would say use treated lumber for the legs of your tables. Marine grade would be even better. It's going to be a challenge to build a perfectly level table with the variations in floor height, but they do make leg adjusters to compensate.

The wiring looks to be a mess with a lot of it crossing floor joists with no conduit. Not sure how you could fix that without re-routing all of the wiring that is exposed in the photos. If you start drilling joists with that much wire to route it could weaken the joists depending upon the span and width of the joists.

At a minimum, I would definitely put up drywall over your layout area or otherwise seal up the underside of the floor with 6 mil sheet plastic to keep foreign matter from the ceiling off of your layout.

You have a nice space there to work with, but it's going to take a bit of work to make it suitable for a model railroad.
 

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Agreed. If you have the money and don't want future water problems I would put in a system like D&J said. I did it in our current home and in my sisters house, both had water/flooding problems and both have never had an issue since.

You can also put wall boarding up afterwards to make it nice and clean... you could use drywall (paperless would be best) or there are wall systems for basements. I used paperless drywall in my house and the wall system in my sisters house. All depends what you're trying to accomplish. (I also put plastic wood in my basement for the first 12 inches and then paperless drywall up from there, just in case. I also put the outlets 2 feet off the floor, but I'm sure this is getting to be too much information! :)
 

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Strip the paint off the cinder block wall and water poof it. Then install plastic barrier, insulation and studs to code. You will probably need to use pressure treated wood along the bottom of the stud walls. Then drywall. I was a noob at drywall and found it wasn't that hard and just finished an entire 700 sq foot basement area.

The ceiling desperately needs something, either drywall, but it might be easier and look almost as good, install a suspended ceiling.

The floor, that's a tough one. It looks pretty rough. I wonder if there is something that could be installed over it to level it and to allow any water to drain under. I see there are floor drains there.
 

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Pitt-Trolley

Please excuse my candor, but your basement scares the hell out of me.

Did you have an inspector look at your house before you purchased it? If so, did his report note any problems with your foundation, basement floor or basement walls? Did you pay extra for a Radon inspection?

I do not know what county in PA you are located, but the over half the state of PA is in a RED Radon zone ranking. With the conditions of your basement you just may want to visit your local Home Depot and purchase an "Air Things" digital Radon meter. Could very well be your house is clear. If not you are going to have your hands full starting by patching all the cracks and holes in your walls and floor. Next you will have to seal and caulk around your sump. Based on the reading you may want to have a mitigation system installed. Base price for that is about $1,000.

You owe it to your family to get this checked. ESPECIALLY if you have children, the gas is more harmful to them.

Always better to be save than sorry. Good luck.
 

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Shawn

I'll leave all of the construction gurus to help with
your basement space and get on to what sort
of train layout you can build. A U or dogbone
shaped layout comes to mind for what you have.

You are wise to choose HO for your layout. HO
has a vast selection of locos. cars. tracks and
track accessories...and...it also has a very complete
selection of trolleys.

There are city streetcars and intercity interurbans. What
did you have in mind? Several years ago I had an HO
streetcar system vaguely based on downtown St. Louis.
But, an interurban can run thru the countryside, perhaps
even on some of your freight train tracks.

With the space you have available you can have a single
track mainline for continuous running, one or two nice
yards and a number of spurs that will make switching
operations more fun. And with a DCC system powering
your layout you would want passing sidings so you can
run train A clockwise and train B counterclockwise.

Meanwhile, your streetcar could run thru the major city
streets on your layout, or your interurban could have stops at
a number of villages or crossroads.

Don't fear using a live overhead to run your trolleys.
It's really not that difficult and there are a number of
suppliers specializing in streetcar and interurban wiring,
aerial frogs and overhead suspension items.

I know there's nothing specific in this post but it is
intended to help you along in the thought processes
you need for layout planning.

You have a big bunch of experienced modellers here
on the forum who will enjoy helping you build your
layout. Welcome to the forum. We look forward to
seeing what you accomplish.

Don
 

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I thought Radon inspections were the norm for home purchases. The last two I did in Virginia I had them done. The present home ended up needing a radon mitigation system installed. It cost me $800.
 

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We just moved from a house to a TownHome last April. As part of the purchase contract we asked the seller to provide 50% of the cost of the mitigation system.

The seller agreed, it was $650 each. The system reduced the Radon reading by 94%. Well worth it.

Radon inspections are not required in Illinois. It is a $200 additional fee over the normal inspection since it requires third party.
 

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learn from my mistakes

Hey Pitt,

Just so you know we are trying to help, here is a current picture of my basement layout.

Very similar room area, block walls, messy ceiling, and now a layout keeping me from making major changes to wall and ceiling :mad:

Painting a block wall with brush or roller could be done with a yardstick and duct tape, but the nooks and crannies need to be filled first.

As for water, in the second picture, in the foreground, you can see my main water pipe into the house from the street. I've already had one near disaster.
 

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Shawn

There's been a lot of "Why You Can't" advice as a result of that photo and no real response at this time yet from you. But you did indeed mention that the basement has been cleaned up from the time that photo was taken.

I had a grungy basement as a kid but I ran my Lionel trains down there for ten years. John Allen dug out what was part of a crawl space back in the fifties and sixties. You may not have been planning a layout fit for a pictoral in "model railroader.

Maybe there's an easy way to put in a drop ceiling, maybe there isn't. You can put up some masonite on lathes down to the level of your benchwork pretty easy and as the guys mentioned, paint it sky blue.

Dog bones at each end or more of a U shaped dogbone / lay-up height up at your chest level and a max depth (except in the dogbones) of 30 " are my three suggestions.

Good luck

Rick
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yeah, the basement has been cleaned up a lot since that picture. I do know I need to put up a ceiling in there as well. Like I had said, i just got the house at the beginning of the year, Its a fixer upper. I completed the upstairs, now I'm in the basement. Apparently it sat empty for a year before I got it, and they did have people come in and waterproof and winterize it. I peeled all the stickers off the walls.

Even in heavy downpours, and we have had many, I have no leakage. I have been keeping a eye on it.

I am not planning on a magazine worthy layout. Looking to have something enjoyable, and to keep me busy...

I do really appreciate all the input, and I thank you all!

Shawn
 

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Making the basement habitable and structurally sound is outside the scope of this forum, so I'll leave that to you. Just make sure you can control the humidity, or you will have trouble with expansion and contraction of your benchwork, which can ruin a layout.

A 21x9 space is a good size to do some really exciting things. A big oval or c shape can give you a ton of space to put a layout in. You can do a city on one side, which can support a trolley, and some more open country on the other. With a little creativity, you can do a lopsided C with a return loop at either end, offsetting the "blobs" a little so you can walk into the center of the C. I have posted a sample of this kind of design in the layout design section, in the Collection of Layouts thread.
 

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Good advice, buy a dehumidifier. I keep one running most of the year save dead of winter. Keeps my already climate controlled basement at 35% RH or less.

You have a great place to build a layout, but do diligence first. Scrape/paint those walls, clean up the electric issues. Something on the floor.

Yes, HO.
 

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I just started on my layout in late August or early September and I can tell you that you’re better off doing your home fixes before any benchwork goes up especially if you’re not going the modular route. I put up my benchwork and had temporary track down and ended up with an epic mess when I had to replace a section of wire that ran above one section of my layout. I almost had to tear out what I had done already to gain access to the ceiling at that area where the wiring runs. If I was to do it all over again I would go modular. Gives you more ability to move things around if needed. I would also use 1x4 for it. I used 2x4 so it’s super sturdy but could show me issues down the road. I have a good dry basement so I at least have that going for me. We got 10” of rain over a 24 hour period here in central Illinois this summer and I got a couple drops in my basement from a bad seal on an old coal door. Anyway just make your house right before you go too far into it and don’t wing it. That’s what my thought process was and now I’m uncertain of my choices but have to live with them now
 
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