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This will be an on-going build thread for my layout. This layout is based on the fictional town of Blackwing, a division stop for the Great Northern in mid-Western Montana. This is primarily a switching layout. The town has multiple industries on several spurs. I don't have a good track plan diagram to share, but I might sketch something up later.

The current status is that the benchwork is completed, but track laying is stalled out because I decided I needed a creek on the layout and that meant that I needed to cross the creek with three railroad bridges and a road bridge. Which means I really need to detail the creek before I install the bridges.

So the current project is to detail the creek to the point where I can pour water and then install the bridges.

I'll start off with some construction photos.

Basic benchwork installed. I guess I'd call it a modified L girder design. It's 24" deep and the height is 50" off the floor with the foam installed.

3/8" plywood top installed. Laying out the track plan to see if it actually fits.

Foam installed, most of the roadbed installed, some of the track installed. Laying out building and road placement. I had pre-built a bunch of structures over the winter until I could cut up the plywood sheets in my (non-heated) garage.

I cut out the area for Lutgens Creek (named after a friend of mine who passed away about a year ago) and started building bridges and abutments.

I don't know if there is a limit to the number of photos in a post, so I'll save this one and add some more in a reply - I have a bunch. :)


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Continuing on. Starting to build the stream bed for Lutgens creek. I used some foam insulating rods to take up some space and then covered them with Sculptamold.

I had originally painted the backdrop sky blue, but I decided that I'd rather have some scenery. I discovered that RailroadBackdrops had a set of images named "Montana Prairie" and I was sold. Here they are installed.

I've been kind of bouncing around on the layout doing scenery, but I figure it's more efficient that way. I can put static grass on one end and then move to the other end and work while the glue for the grass dries. So here I'm adding some variety to the NE end of the layout.

Another shot of the NE end of the layout after adding some paint, static grass and bushes.

And this is Lutgens creek in progress. I'm test fitting the bridges and bridge shoes here.

That's the current status. I've got a bunch of rolling stock built, two locomotives (one steam and one diesel) and a handful of structures. I'll post more photos as progress continues.

There is a lot more detail and more photos on my blog and my Facebook page - both listed in my signature.


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A few additional details I omitted: The era for the layout is late summer 1958 or so. So late steam and early diesel.

The minimum curve radius is 20" (pretty much all curves are 20") so only small steam locomotives sadly. It's what I could fit in the available space and still have some fun.

All track is MicroEngineering code 83. Switches are all hand built using the guide from Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine. There are about a dozen so far.

Also: Static grass is fun stuff.


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Adding some locomotive and rolling stock photos, because why not? :)

My Stewart Hobbies V0-1000. I added a Tsunami DCC and sound controller to it and it runs and sounds great.

My Tenshodo Consolidation. I also added a Tsunami DCC and sound controller to this model, along with a new can motor. That was a job. It runs pretty well and also sounds great.

An Intermountain kit of a PS-1 box car. I added a grain door to one side and will have a grain silo on the layout.

Another Intermountain kit of a 12 panel box car.

A Red Caboose kit of a drop bottom gondola.

That's probably enough spamming for now. I'll add some structure images later.


Well-Known Member
Nice to see a photo backdrop that fits the scene quite well. What caught my eye the most is the cars in those last photo's. I got back into the hobby after many years of waiting patiently. These new third generation plastic models never fail to impress me in the manufacturing process and how good they have become. Some of these cars have high end brass quality detailing now.
In the old days plastic box cars were obviously plastic box cars the hand grabs were just wishful bumps and the lack of scale detailing was obvious now looking at today's products in comparison. You put some metal sprung trucks on those cars and do some dull coat and/or light weathering and those cars are as good as it gets. And you have to forgive me but..... I have to say to say the Diesel looks just awful...! but that Steam Engine, now that looks just great..!
Thanks. I kinda like the ugly diesels, but that's just me. The model is pretty detailed and the picture doesn't do it justice. I have a GP7 in the box that I just picked up and I will try and pick up an F unit at some point. I am a huge steam fan but 20" radius curves tend to limit the steam I can run.

The new car kits are very nice and highly detailed but the tiny styrene parts break easily and if you are a little heavy with the solvent they just melt. But they sure do look nice.

Weathering is on the list, but not for a bit yet.
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Well-Known Member
Okay, it's later and I'm a little bored at work. Here are some of the structures I have built already.

Vaught & Glass Freight house. A laser kit I picked up at the local hobby shop. It didn't come with any roofing material so I used 600 grit emery paper washed with red acrylic paint.

Blucher Glue Works. A GC Laser kit. Very nice to build, I especially liked the laser etched bricks. But the brick faces tend to come off at the corners.

You can see I painted some of the bricks various shades to break up the plain coloring.

Back side (that won't be seen on the layout.)

Earl's Oil. A Bar Mills kit and the first laser kit I built. Was pretty easy to build. I bought the tank truck to re-letter for Earl's Oil.

Another view.

Earl's Oil came with two oil tanks and a smaller gas tank. I also found an oil tank in a box of parts I had and will probably add some propane tanks too. It will be a nice industry to drop a tank car at every once in a while.


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You'll never make the Steam Sticklers happy they are just set in their ways. God help me, I am one... So just ignore the diesel insults they are just done for humor at this point. Not one thing wrong with a nice diesel sir, and that is one.
I wasn't offended by the diesel comment. I've been on the internet a long time and have a pretty thick skin. :)

I'm a huge steam fan and don't really care for newer diesels. Though that BNSF heritage paint job sure is pretty.


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Tonight I got the first two fascia boards installed.

I also started finalizing the building, road and parking lot placements on the NE end of the layout.

Birdseye view.

A little more oblique angle shot.

I also started turning a flat building...

Into a 2-1/2D building...

I bought a flat from Trackside Flats to put against the backdrop and I cut off the loading dock to turn it into a real platform. I'm also going to add short (probably about an inch) sides and roofs to it since I have about 2" between the backdrop and the edge of the track.

I'm going to build other "flats" to go in other areas also.


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Got the "walls" and "roof" foam core on the flat the other day. Here's a quick test fit. I think it looks good against the backdrop.

Still need to add some styrene on the sides for the dock and foundation, then paint the dock and foundation and add the corrugated roof and sheathing.


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No real visible progress, but Friday and Saturday I spent some time building 7 of the BullFrog turnout controls and installing them. Then I spent a bunch of time tweaking my hand built switches so they would throw more reliably. There are one or two that might need some more attention. I just ordered the control rods for the BullFrogs and some 1/4" white vinyl tape to make track diagrams on the fascia boards.

I also designed up some throw reversers and control rod supports and cut them out on my laser cutter. I want the control knobs to all be pushed in when the turnouts are routed straight through and four of them need to be reversed. I might put them up for sale in my Etsy store later.

I also mixed up some Sculptamold and filled the gaps between the foam and the fascia. I just sanded and painted that tan so I can add some grass soon and that will be finished up.

I'm sure I'll do some more work later today, but I need to grocery shopping and I really ought to crawl under the car and see what's making "that noise." I hate when life keeps getting in the way of my modeling.


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Started installing turnout controls last night. Step one was to make a CAD template for the schematic and locate the holes for the controls. I decided the easiest way to make the schematic was to use 1/4" white vinyl tape, so I taped up the CAD template and centerpunched the holes. Then I put some blue tape up to mark the ends of the stripes and removed the template. I made some 1/2" wide blue tape strips to mark where the holes would be and applied the three stripes of white tape.

Using a new X-Acto blade I carefully trimmed the ends of the white tape and removed the sections where the holes will be. Then I applied the diagonal tape and trimmed the ends. This was the result. Not a complicated diagram, but I think it will do.

Then I did the second location and it looks like this.

Then I had to figure out how to actually throw the turnouts. I had already determined that I would need some bell cranks to reverse the direction of some of the throws, so I decided to start with one of those. This throw also needs to make a 90 degree turn and pass through an L-girder. I drilled a hole in the L-girder and bent the tubing to go through it, but decided the friction was too high, so I looked at it again. I ended up using another bell crank to turn the direction of throw 90 degrees and used a piece of music wire to go through the L-girder. I'm not sure the description is very clear, maybe you can see what I'm talking about in the photo.

I got that all working and I'm pretty happy with it so far. At that point it was getting late and I was running out of brains so I decided I'd better stop. Only seven more turnouts to do! And then three more when I lay that part of the track.

I'll hit it again tonight after work and see if I can get some more done.


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Lots of progress in many areas this weekend.

Friday the missus was visiting her mother, so I spent the evening installing the rest of the turnout controls. That was a bit of work, but it turned out pretty well.

This is the underside view of one half. Yes, I lay on the floor to take this photo. :)

I got all the cables installed and all the knobs on.

Here is a closeup of the knobs. They are just wooden beads from the craft store. I'm going to get some brass washers to put around the holes in the panel to neaten up the look a bit.

Saturday I was busy all day and the only thing I got done on the layout was to place some rocks and driftwood in Lutgens Creek.

Today (Sunday) I got to spend a bunch more time on the layout and I got the water poured in Lutgens Creek! Finally!

I also installed the bridge shoes on the three bridges and the GN plaque on the girder bridge. I'm one of those modelers who doesn't put a ton of effort into things you can't see, so I used some styrene blocks for the rear bridge shoes since the only way you'll see them is if you use a mirror.

After pouring Lutgens Creek I spent some more time on Universal Scrap Metals. I used a kind of dry-brush and wash method to stain the dock with rust. I thinned out some acrylic paint and semi-dry brushed it on, then I used some thinner to wash it and spread it around. I think it turned out pretty nice.

Next I started making and installing the corrugated side and roof panels. I used heavy duty aluminium foil cut into 8' x 10' panels and then rubbed them into a piece of computer ribbon cable with my finger tip. It makes pretty convincing corrugated panels.

I used canopy glue to glue the panels to the foam core. I think it turned out well. I need to let the glue dry a bit and then I'll paint and weather the panels. The dock needs some more weathering too. I think some grime spreading out from the doorway would look good.

I do have one issue - it seems that my turnouts need some more attention. I don't think the points are set quite right and need some adjustment. Freight cars go through them pretty well, but I was test running my V0-1000 diesel after I installed all the controls and it was splitting the switches. The wheels on the diesel are in gauge, but it looks like the point gaps are a little tight. Oh well, better to fix them now than have to deal with them after more scenery is in the way.


Well-Known Member
Very clever use of mechanical switching here. And making the little stands is such a modern convenience. I see electrical connections. What are these? Seems a very simple and totally efficient set up. And simple and efficient is exactly what you want anytime you can do it....! Just Brilliant.
The electrical connections on the turnout controls send juice to the frogs. I'm running DCC with insulated frogs so I have to switch the frog power. That's one of the things that steered me away from ground throws.


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