What’s Important- The first step for me in planning my railroad

Associated Oil Flying A distributor in San Jose.

Associated Oil Flying A distributor in San Jose.

My first thought when viewing the garage was that a neat railroad could be built.   I had thought of all the structures and sidings that could be compressed into the room.   Well, the first dose of reality came in the form of another measurement of the spaces and few sketches of a possible track plan.   The space was smaller than what I had paced off when I bought the home.   Ah, that is a minor problem.   It turns out that it was a major problem since the 60″ radius curves would be difficult to lay out in the room and to achieve.   I had envisioned a neat yard in the center of the room surrounded by some classic California industries like packing sheds, oil distributors and an aggregate plant much like the one that existed in Burlingame when I was living on the Peninsula (near SF airport).    Sounded great but didn’t go to the next step to plan in detail.   I had to get the room prepared before the benchwork started.

Earl Fruit in Lodi, CA was along side the SP Western Division main.  It was an interesting building made of wood but sheathed with Mesker faux brick sheeting.

Earl Fruit in Lodi, CA was along side the SP Western Division main. It was an interesting building made of wood but sheathed with Mesker faux brick sheeting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHMYoung1970alarge shed west trackside

Mumbert Pipe Lodi

The room preparation took about three years to get it done along with holding down a full-time career with a lot of travel.   The first step was to add lighting in the form of T8 single tube full spectrum lights around the room.   Along with this, I had the 220V and another 110v line added.  My stand-alone garage turned out to me a major challenge given the main breaker panel was on the other side of the house and not physically connected.  After going through several contractor bids, I found a guy who came up with a simple approach that didn’t require cutting holes in the living room walls to route through the top plate of the home walls.

The next step was to insulate the metal garage doors with foam panels sold by Lowes for this application.  It was easy to do.   The next step was adding R39 insulation to the attic above the garage.  That was an itchy experience.

Now, I went about finding the heat pump to do the job.   The most efficient system I found was made by Fujitus in Japan.  It ran on 220V.  A wall unit which includes the fan (impeller) and an outside heat exchanger.

fujitsu outside fujitsu inside

The units will handle about 500 square feet.   They work well and are extremely quiet.   A few weeks ago we had seven straight days of +105F.   The system struggled with this and the room was allowed to rise to about 90F.

The last preparation was to epoxy coat the concrete floor.  It keeps the dust down and more pleasing to look at than cement.   Working on concrete floors is tough on my arthritis.   Trade shows used to kill me when I was still working.   I am using memory foam mats from Costco and a roll of non-slip walkway the came from Lowes.   It has a memory foam and is easy on the feet.

The stage is set for the railroad to start.  One minor problem…….. I never did any detailed design work earlier and now I need to do it quickly.   I did know that the line was going around the wall and would have a drawbridge and moat to enter the room.   The curves were well defined by the four corners of the room.   The basic benchwork idea came from a good friend, Jim Zwernemann.   He is building his Proto48 layout in a large metal garage on his property in central Texas.   Jim came up with a basic idea for cantilevering the layout off the walls.   This left the floor free of posts that would have been catching my size 14 shoes on the way by.

I will post the benchwork drawings in the next installment.

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3 thoughts on “What’s Important- The first step for me in planning my railroad

  1. I like the benchwork design. You photo essays make me want to press on full steam ahead!

    Your Fujitsu HVAC system is one brand that I have been looking at. I think it will do the job here on the Delaware shore.

    • Bill
      Someone asked a few questions about how it was installed and such.
      I purchased from a distributor in Chicago by the name of Younits. The price was approximately $1600 plus another $75 or so for the cable pack to go between the inside and outside. The unit comes with a handy remote unit to control the operation. Younits shipped to California at no charge.
      You need to find a licensed HVAC that is willing to install it. Nearly all of the local companies in my area wanted to charge double for the unit and a bunch more for a three hour install.

      You also need to observe the local building codes. I had to erect a windmill and buy carbon credit to get approval (LOL).

      Gene

      • “You also need to observe the local building codes. I had to erect a windmill and buy carbon credit to get approval (LOL).” Very California and getting that way in Nevada now that Buffet owns NV Energy!

        We are on a Co-op electric grid so they want us to “beat the heat” all the time by shutting down appliances. Fortunately our development is on a central propane system so no heating issues for us. Need to switch the dryer and water heater to propane and life will be better when we live here full time.

        I will definitely check with your HVAC supplier.

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