View single post by titus
 Posted: Mon Jun 11th, 2012 01:59 pm
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Joined: Thu Aug 21st, 2008
Location: Colorado USA
Posts: 222

Rio✰Chama Central is a pretty big layout, but I wasn't liking how things were going. The traditional L-girder construction method was starting to get in my way and some other things about the layout I didn't like. It was actually a post here on Freerails that inspired me to change, after I wrote to someone, "If I was to do this again, I would..." It made me think -- I'm not that far in, why not just do it the way I want?

So I started a little experiment project using a completely different approach.

Instead of building the benchwork first, I started with an actual track plan, then purchased 1/4" foamcore and drew the entire track plan out life sized.

Then, instead of going with a thick heavy wood for everything, I bought a 4x8 sheet of 1/4" plywood, and ripped it down into 3" strips.

I used the life-size track plan as a measuring tool and build the benchwork right on top of it. This is the method advocated by Iain Rice in his book "Shelf Layouts for Model Railroads".

Though 1/4" plywood isn't that impressive by itself, when build up into a web of half-lap joints it makes a strong but lightweight piece of benchwork. With some planning ahead, various changes in elevation can be built right into the wood working. Sure, this method takes a lot longer than chopping up some dimensional lumber for L-girder, or slicing up pink foam, but I really liked the end result a lot better.

Fast forward to last week, and I've now got about 1/3 to 1/2 of the layout wired and operational. I've been having fun driving my C-19 around on it and hopefully this week I'll get the rest of the track and wiring in.

The Rio✰Chama Central isn't dead. Actually, it probably has a better chance of living now than before. There's a lot I've learned with this new techniques, and my plan is actually to hopefully do a re-start on the RCC this winter using all of the things I've learned from this side project. The first time around I think I fell into the trap of, "I just want to see the trains running!" and didn't think everything through about the layout.

Now that I've learned that approach won't always work, I think when the RCC construction starts up again, what I'll probably do is build only 1 or 2 sections at a time, and each year build up a new section. That way I won't be over-committing and if I end up not liking how 1 section is turning out, it will be a lot cheaper and easier to try that section again.

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