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Construction

As I mentioned earlier, we had the opportunity to bring together a variety of new and different techniques in layout construction that we have been toying with over the years. 

The peninsulas were constructed using the laminated floor joists now used in home construction. They are wood I-beams nine inches in depth and up to forty or more feet in length. I needed a total of four beams twenty six feet long and was able to find some at the lumber store that had been left outdoors and were a little weather checked but worked just fine. In fact, I purchased all four of them for twenty five dollars. They were brought in through a basement window and prepared for assembly. Two beams were joined together with 24" spacers, made from 1x4’s, and then attached to the wall at one end, with the other end being held up by two, 2x4 legs. The other two beams, with the spacers, have 2x4 legs at each end, as this peninsula is free standing in the room.

The top rail of the I-beam allows for inserting a screw up through the bottom and into a 1x4 cross member resting on the top, similar to the technique used in L-girder construction. Because of their strength, it was not necessary to add any support legs in the middle, so I have a twenty six foot span with no leg obstructions. This provides easy access for cleaning and under the benchwork construction and maintenance.

Spline Roadbed

I have come up with a new slant on spline roadbed construction, that has provided us with excellent results for a number of years now. It minimizes waste, is very fast and provides natural easements both vertical and horizontal. Some of the spline has been in place for 15 years with absolutely no problems.

Masonite sheets, 4x8x1/4", are cut into one inch strips. These are placed on edge over the risers and then laminated together using a hot glue gun. I start with a center spline which is overlapped, at the ends, six to eight inches and glued together at the overlaps, while a few are left unglued to allow for adjustments. I generally run the center spline the full length of the railroad, similar to a long piece of flex track. Long sheet rock screws are driven into the tops of the risers and the center spline is placed between the screws, which holds the spline in place and also allows it to slip back and forth for adjustment. Once the center line is established and all overlaps are glued, you then proceed with laminating the rest of the spline, until you reach the six splines necessary for HO scale. Branch off from the six splines with another center spline to form the sidings and spurs and repeat the whole, spline and gluing, process again. The top is smoothed and leveled using a wood rasp, belt sander or power planer and cork or Homabed is then added on top using yellow glue.

Now don’t panic about using hot glue, it works just fine provided you use the yellow resin type glue sticks. I now use a commercial glue gun from 3M, cost about $100, and their glue sticks, cost about $80 for an 11lbs box of sticks, but other brands of glue guns work just as well and are less expensive, just make sure to use the yellow resin type glue sticks. If this price sounds high, compare it to the price of the more traditional methods of roadbed construction (e.g. a plywood/homasote sandwich) and the wasted pieces of half moons that are generated. I know I think I still have some of them around. You loose about 3" from a 4’x8’ sheet of masonite cut in 1" strips. The N scalers, in the area, use 4’x8’x1/8" sheets of masonite, cut in 1" strips and achieve the same results.

Masonite Spline

Spline roadbed on Kelly Newton's N Scale Modules 
Spline roadbed on Kelly Newton's N Scale Modules 
Spline roadbed on Kelly Newton's N Scale Modules 

Scenery

Kelly has developed the technique of creating the land forms using cheese cloth as a base, to which casting plaster is applied. He uses two pieces of cheese cloth , one glued to the backdrop profile cutout and one edge glued to the fascia (See Keller Video #27 about the UTAH COLORADO WESTERN). They are stretched over the sub-roadbed, before any track is laid, overlapping at the center and then plaster is dusted or painted on until it begins to build up and take shape. Two parts plaster, one part dirt and brown, black and white powder tempera form the plaster mix. The process is very fast and allows for very natural cuts and fills, while the colored plaster mix takes on a finished look right from the start. He then applies the same plaster mix for all the rock carvings.

Cheesecloth

Cheesecloth on Kelly Newton's Modules
Cheesecloth on Kelly Newton's Modules
Plastic grocery bags filled with newspapers used for land forms under cheesecloth. Bags keep the paper dry while plaster is applied to cloth.

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What's New Kelly's Scenery