MODELING: Sawdust and Cuts

I am taking a break from model building and trying my hand at building benchwork. My last layout framework was built by my stepson who is a skilled carpenter (one of his many skills).   It was a sturdy structure that could have supported my automobile.  This time around it will less stout and of a different design  For one thing, it will consist of a series of modules approximately 2′ x 6′ in size.  Each module will be sheathed with plywood. My previous design was based upon “L” girder construction.  While the “L” girder is flexible it doesn’t lend itself to moving to another location. The flat top surface will have extruded styrene foam board to create ground contour.

The reason for this approach is to make some or all of the layout salvageable if in the event of a move.  It will also allow me to move each section to a lower table to work on track or even scenery. Problems with my back and neck prevent me from spending lots of time leaning over the tabletop building track.  I will also be using Right O’Way Code 125 flex track to a larger extent.   Hand layed track in some of the areas will be used. I want to get trains running  trains sooner than later.

Other changes include the addition of DCC/Sound for my locomotives. I purchased a NCE wireless system to facilitate the effects. Jimmy sent me a short video of a Glacier Park Models C-9 equipped with a TCS WOW Sound DCC with a Tang Bang speaker.  This video clinched the deal.   Unfortunately, I can post it to Word Press.

Jimmy Booth sent me this shot of the DCC receiver installed in one of his imports.  The speaker is forward of the gearbox.  The “keep alive” capacitor pack is mounted on the gearbox.

I am also looking at using Tam Valley servo/controller for turnout operation.   It is expensive but is pretty much a turnkey setup.  Jimmy Booth suggested it to me.  He is using them on his new P48 layout.


I have still be trying to make progress on the old Shell gas station.  My limited accomplishment is to settle on a color. I first painted the model with Star Brand Jersey Cream lacquer. This was an unofficial name for the yellow used on D&RGW depots in later years.  I decided that it was too intense for my taste so I dabbed on Mission Models Paint British Cream.  This color looked good compared to color photos I have seen of Shell stations in the 1950s. I like this color because it is softer to my eye.  The roof will get a terra cotta color which will be muted compared to the raw plastic of the tiles.

It seems that Norm Buckhart got tired of doing decal art and decided to play with trains.  He has several new cars that are in the train shown.  The bulkhead flats are converted Pacific Limited brass AAR 53’6″ by Errol Spangler.  He built the bulkheads from brass and also the loads.

Norm has a backroom where trains are staged for the his layout.  He is has asssembled this little train to run over a portion of his massive layout.  The locomotive is a very old Walthers cast bronze early oil electric that Jay Criswell installed a super drive inside.

So that is all for now.


10 thoughts on “MODELING: Sawdust and Cuts

  1. Gene, glad to see the layout coming back to life! Good idea making it modular to work on and for possible ease in moving in the future.

  2. Hi Gene,
    I’ve been a regular reader of your blog even though I haven’t posted in awhile.

    I used a similar module concept on my present layout. All the sawdust manufacture was done out in the shop and just bolt and screw assembly done in the basement. Also all wiring, switch machines, and signal modules were located at the layout edge behind removable facia sections in concern for later back issues.

    • Charlie
      I didn’t know you were a regular reader. I am happy that you are doing so.
      I remember reading about how you located maintenance related items on the front edge of your layout. Modular construction is new to me but may help with back and neck issues.

  3. Gene,
    Would you please share your source for the Spanish tile you used on the gas station roof? I have a scratch built O-Scale replica of a CB&Q depot that needs Spanish roof tile to be completed.
    About 25 years ago I completed an HO scale replica of the depot and I think I resorted to using Holgate & Reynolds or some such thing. Barely passible but somewhat acceptable in a smaller scale structure.
    Thanks, Dave S. Tucson, AZ

    • Dave
      My source was a fellow in Germany. He had a die made to produce mission tiles for a depot he was building. I managed to find the name of the company and tried to reach him via email. The email bounced. I have done a few searches via the web but no joy. The tiles were purchased over twenty years ago.

  4. Hi Gene

    You have my sympathies for the back and neck problems; I got pretty banged-up in a car wreck many years ago, fracturing several vertebrae in my upper back and neck. I often get persistent headaches along with localised pain. I have started building lightweight benchwork with the same aim as you, of transporting sections to my workbench as required, to minimise the amount of bending and reaching I must do. Model railroading is what keeps me sane (although I’m sure my ex-wife will argue that no model railroader is ever particularly sane to begin with!).


  5. Come-on fellows, making it portable to move where to ?
    into the grave or if you believe , into the other world?
    just asking

    • Hi George

      In my case, portable means being able to take sections to my workbench so I can work on things from both sides at a practical height. I like the trains to be at eye-level when running, but that height is a pain in the rear when working on scenery even without the back problems I have. I also like to think that at least some of the layout might be passed to someone else when I kick the bucket, if it is easy to pack up & transport to a new home.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.