Deconstruction and Rebuilding Part 1


This weekend I started tearing up the track on my modules started prepping it for the new setup. I am re-using most of the rail and the mainline roadbed but I still need to pry off the non-mainline roadbed and put down new roadbed. I wanted to round off the day with something productive so I started the first bit of hand-laid track on the main line.


My youngest son Jacob was kind enough to provide a tractor to help out.


I also have been backing off the usage of the spikes a little bit per a comment by Hunger Hughson (Ontario in HO Scale) by doing every fifth tie after the module end. I’ve also got a PCB tie at the very end to hopefully hold things tight.

Module Changes


I’ve been pretty busy outside of the train room lately, and some of those projects are starting to wrap up so I’ve been able to get a little work done. My youngest has been fun helping me work on my trestle project.


His contribution is mostly watching and seeing if Percy will fit (it’s one of the metal take and play Percy toys).


All I’ve done so far is use some plaster cloth to start building the land form, I still need to put down ties and spikes down on the bridge and the right side of the bridge. I also posed a small solder train using my DMIR car shop flat scratch built model (don’t look too close, the switcher doesn’t have couplers).

The bigger news is I’ve decided to redesign and start over on my free-mo modules. The problem is my original plan doesn’t really inspire me anymore and I wasn’t terribly happy with the track work. I also wanted to start a project that I could use to really dive into hand laying track and was less straight.

Free-mo Redo idea

Operationally it’s basically what I have now but more spread out. For bench work I’ll be reusing the three 2’x4′ sections I already have now just in an L configuration. The top left and right are free-mo ends straight through (8 feet long), the curve off goes to the cement plant I had already built. The fancy track on the top left is a 30 degree crossing with a transition leg from the main. The main purpose of this track is more stylistic not functional. My plan is to try and hand lay both the cross over and turnouts, as well as do a little bit more with non-flat scenery.

Module joint bridge track


A couple of weeks ago in Track Maintenance I mentioned the need to make a bridge track for one of the butt joints. The problem was a very slight curve that went straight. So my idea was to cut back the track and make a bridge piece that crossed the module joint. After receiving supplies from Fast Tracks I set to work by cutting a piece of rail for the inside piece.


Next up I started layout out where the PC board ties will go. I used some plain wood ties as spacers with a tie width between ties. I’m shooting for two wood ties between PC Board ties with one tie width between ties.


After getting the PCB ties soldered to the inside rail I needed to give it the inside rail a bit of curve.


I used the screw to give it just a little bit of curve, then I used my track gauge to line up the outer rail and start soldering. My piece of rail is longer than I needed so when I got to the last tie to solder I trimmed down the rail.


Finally for an almost finished shot I threw a couple of wood ties in to make it look more done. It looks a bit wonky shaped in the picture but it is smoother in person. I did check it with my track gauge and ran a car over it with good success.


The next problem I have to solve is gluing down the wood ties and ballasting leaving the PCB ties free so it remains removable. In the meantime I have continued working on my circuit for the crossing flasher, not enough to warrant a post today but maybe soon.

Track Maintenance


One of the tougher problems I ran into when pulling my modules out was one of the sub module joints on Murphy’s Cement was not a little messed up.


I’m really not sure how it happened especially with those PC board ties but the track straightened out on that side of the joint. I t looks like it might work but if you try to push a car over it it goes right off the track. The plan is to build a bridge track that is removable and crosses the module joint. Rather than straight joiner rails I plan to use a bunch of PC board ties to create a curved joiner track. To do that I need to cut back the track a little bit.


It looks like a feeder is the least of the problems right now 🙂 I’m waiting for some supplies so that’s as far as I’m getting tonight so there is only one solution here


That’s right, out of service. I have a feeling that boxcar will be there a while. In the meantime I’ve started back up on ballast on the other end of the siding. Naturally I noticed after I put it down that I hadn’t weathered the rail yet. I guess as soon as I get it glued I’ll have to try and weathering it up.


Test Run and Organizing


Today I started organizing the contents of my model railroading projects. Between moving things around and temporary setups it was kind of a mess and no organization on the contents of boxes. I started digging through them and started organizing, I found a lot of in progress projects. I really need to write them all down and start working on them before picking up anymore!

One of the things I was looking for in my disarray of boxes where joiner rails for my modules, I never found them but made a couple new ones and tried doing a test run. It didn’t go well so I got my cleaning car out and ran down the tracks.


Everything ended up running pretty well except one siding, it’s right at a module joint and has a slight curve so I might have to do some tweaking or even changing up the track on that industry.


Chainsaw to CR23


Not really, more like jigsaw but I have been strongly considering making some significant changes to the module I currently call CR23. The basis to the change is unhappiness with the scenery and hopefully the changes will make it a little lighter to move around.

For a while I’ve wanted to increase the functionality of the module without overloading it. What I’ve landed on is an idea to add a turnout and a non-industry track.


The curve would primarily be dilapidated branch line track that might store unused cars or maintenance of way equipment. I’m also thinking that would build an optional connector piece for the curve so there would be a mini-mo end on the curve so if desired it could be used as a branching point in a setup. Whether or not it’ll every be used in a setup is another question, I’ve never actually been to a setup where a mini-mo was used, let a lone a six inch wide one but such is life. My idea is that it would be a perfect place to tie in the mini-mo “Raging River” I started quite a while ago but never made any progress on.

In terms of scenery I’d like to take out a lot of weight. Right now the whole top of the module is 3/4″ birch plywood… it’s heavy and overly flat. What I want to try this time is to cut out any of the plywood not holding up track and replace it with cardboard strips and plaster cloth terrain which should be quite a bit lighter and will allow a more natural looking terrain variability. Beyond that the terrain will be fairly simple, just some grass and probably some trees.

Building Placement Aid


One of the ideas I’d had marinading in my head for a while was a way to make sure buildings are properly at each setup with minimal work. Since I was working on the Murphy’s Cement module, and that building is complete I started with it.

What I did was drill two small holes in which two small pieces of brass were glued. They were coordinated to fit in the curves of the building so you could easily slide it in place.


All you have to do is slide the building back to fit them into the groove and they are good, almost can’t see them any more especially from a distance.

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This morning we went to the Granite City Train Show in St Cloud and my oldest son Luke spent some of his birthday money on a Wisconsin & Southern hopper, it was a pretty nice model with metal wheels and couplers for a pretty good price. Here he is doing a test run on it, and Murphy’s Cement in preparation for the up coming Randolph show.

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Murphy’s Cement Update


A few weeks ago I made the decision to remove the passing siding opposite of Murphy’s Cement. This was for the most part prompted by the turnout just plain not working. Since it was such a small section of track I just ripped it out and based on a conversation with my friend Troy decided to replace it with a Lance Mindheim style one turnout industry. I’ve had some time to rough in the track and now I have a siding that beyond the clearance and grade point is 56 inches, which equates to 406 scale feet. In operational sense that’s about eight 50 foot cars.

For industry I’m thinking of a mining supply or explosives company, in other words a freelanced industry that would be at home on the Missabe.