AT&N: Modern-Era Layout

Discussion in 'Freelance' started by trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017), Aug 12, 2012.

  1. trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017)

    trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017) Passed away September 22, 2017

    I wanted to start a thread for my emerging HO layout: The modern-era AT&N. If you missed my theme idea previously, just imagine that the entire AT&N has been restored as an independent company and extended 40 miles to the north to connect with the BNSF at Sulligent. Also imagine that the AT&N has not only been restored and extended, but also upgraded to a thriving, modern, Class I railroad that rivals BNSF & UP while proudly and prominently displaying its heritage. That's the theme for my layout.
    Due to a lack of space where we lived, from 2004 to 2010, my layout consisted of setting up power-loc and ez-track on the dining room floor. When we moved to our current residence in 2010, I wanted to build an 8' x 4' modern Birmingham Sub layout. Before anyone has a stroke, my BNSF would have prominately displayed it's proud Frisco heritage. With that being said, I wanted to build the layout in our rec room. However, our rec room just isn't large enough with everything else we have in it.
    So, about a year ago, I cleared out space in the back of the storage room at the rear (back side of the house) of our carport and constructed a layout table. By that time, I had dropped the modern BNSF Birmingham route idea. (I think I just heard someone say, "Hallelujah!") The interior of the storage room is about 5ft, 5in wide x 18ft deep. I arranged the front 10 feet for storage on each side of a narrow center aisle. At the end of the aisle, my layout table measures 5ft, 5in wide x 8ft deep going wall to wall on 3 sides. I crawl under the front end of the layout table (which is about 40in off of the floor) for a distance of about 2 feet to reach the 2ft wide x 4ft deep space in the center of the layout. From the access space, the layout is never more than 2ft deep in any direction.
    I purchased flex track for the new layout but I haven't laid it yet. I've had the power-loc track on the new table until I can begin laying the flex track...hopefully soon.
    Last week i solved the problem of not having air conditioning in the storage room where I have my layout. My parents recently upgraded from window units to central air/heat. They gave me 2 of their window units. However, the storage room doesn't have a window and since we rent, I can't just knock a hole in the brick wall. So... with a little "NW AL engineering," I took a metal cart on casters that I had, strapped an air conditioner onto the top of it, cut a panel large enough to cover the door, cut a hole in the panel for the air conditioner and (ta-dah)...I converted a window unit into a "door unit." Now I can model in air conditioned comfort again. YES, in the hot, humid, deep-south summer, AIR CONDITIONING REALLY IS THAT IMPORTANT!!!
    This week, I painted and installed panels on the 3 walls to "model" the sky. Carrying 4x8 panels down the narrow aisle, lifting them up over the table, and getting them into place was difficult for me working alone. I messed up the paint a little in several spots so I need to give all 3 panels a 3rd coat now that they are installed.
    After I installed the final panel today, I put the power-loc track back together and ran my O/W's: SD-40, GP-40, & GP-15. I got them for Christmas. They are my first Frisco locomotives. I love running them.
    I also managed to get my Southern 0-4-0 #27 to work for the first time today. I bought it on ebay a while back. The description said it worked but when I got it, it wouldn't move. For the low low price, I was satisfied with putting it on static display in the RR museum I have planned for my layout. Today, I decided to give it another shot. The light came on and the wheels turned about 1/4 turn. I kept working it back and forth until it moved on it's on. The longer it ran, the smoother and faster it ran. I guess it was just locked up. Any way, as we say in NW AL, "It runs like a scalded dog." I was glad to see it run. Now it can pull excursions from the RR museum along the AT&N.
    I also tried out the UP 0-4-0 I got with my 2nd train set over 21 years ago. It hasn't moved in years but the motor still revs up wide open. I suspect there is a problem with the gears. I plan to open it up soon and see if I can fix it. When it worked, it would run so fast that it would turn over on a 22" radius curve...definitely the fastest locomotive I've ever owned.
    Anyway, as you can probably tell, I'm excited about the future of my modern AT&N layout. The next step is designing the route. A few things I have planned...
    The AT&N will service a sand, gravel, and cement business. Like the old AT&N, the modern AT&N will service wood product businesses. Today, while I was sorting through all of my HO stuff, I came across 11 hoppers with coal loads, a quart-sized zip-loc bag full of HO scale wood chips, and a bottle of Elmer's glue. Surely you can see where that's headed. With some tiny limestone that I've already sorted by size, a little sand from the kids' sand box, and that bag of wood chips, I'll be hauling wood chips and sand and gravel in no time at all.
    Well, it's 1:45 am right now but for some reason I can't sleep. However, tomorrow is Sunday and that means going to church. I have to get up at 6am to be at church at 7am to help cook for our monthly men's prayer breakfast at 8am, then teach Sunday School at 10 and play the piano at 11. By the time our long winded preacher quits (I can say that. He's my dad. LOL) I'll be ready to eat and take a nap. Well, I need to get in the bed again and see if I can go to sleep this time. The annoying sound of my alarm clock will hit me like a freight train in the morning. Ship it on the Frisco! - Brandon
  2. Joseph Toth

    Joseph Toth Member

    Brandon....RIGHT ON!

    I love your idea of a modern AT&N! My planned large scale point to point will be loosely based on an extention of the QA&P "Somewhere in West Texas". It will use a QA&P GP7 for power. At a later date I plan to purchase some modern equipment so I can swap eras modeled. Power will be a red and white GP38-2.

    One advantage to a 28 foot long balcony is that I won't have to invest in a large number of power or equipment. The 50's will consist of a few 40 foot boxcars, stock cars, tank cars and a flat car with farm tractors. I plan to roster two cabooses with the same number! One caboose will be brought up to the modern era with a few blanked out windows. Needless to say, the power and equipment will be swapped out depending on the era being operated.

    Will your modern "Anytime At Night" carry on with the Frisco heritage using a Frisco style color scheme? A pity that so many regional and shortline railroads today don't consider doing this. It would be so sweet to see these carriers operating former Frisco operated track carrying on the Frisco tradition!

    Southeast...Southwest...Ship IT on the Frisco!

    Joe Toth
  3. trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017)

    trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017) Passed away September 22, 2017

    OK... What is the story behind the name, "Any Time At Night?" I haven't been able to find it anywhere?

    In other news... here's the latest progress update on my layout:
    Today marked 2 'first" for me... my first soldering of track and wiring (thanks, Ethan) and my first laying of track with DAP Dynaflex 230 Premium Indoor/Outdoor Sealant (Clear), (thanks, Keith). I'll never go back to "not soldering" and hammering nails again! The old AT&N ROW has been aquired, new flex track has been laid, and the first test run was made early this evening.
    The test run was powered by the 3 O/W analog units I purchased from the collection of the late Terry Murray through Larry Parrish. I plan to leave them in their O&W FRISCO scheme and add decals of an AT&N stencil or AT&N coonskin logo somewhere. (Would under the numbers be appropriate?) The idea is that the present AT&N would purchase the units & honor their heritage & connection with the AT&N by repainting them in their O/W FRISCO scheme with "AT&N" stenciled on.
    The units are (along with the most recent pictures of their prototypes I could find):
    1. An Athearn SD40-2: AT&N 956, Ex-SLSF 956, Ex-BN 6846, Ex-BNSF 6846, Ex-HLCX 6846. Yes, that is HLCX 6846, Ex-SLSF 956, still in use on 10/31/12, sadly with a note that says they have plans to scrap it even though it still runs.
    2. A Walthers GP15: AT&N 105, Ex-SLSF 105, Ex-BN 1380, Ex-BNSF 1380.
    3. An Athearn GP40-2: AT&N 774, Ex-SLSF 774, Ex-BN 3064, Ex-BNSF 3064, Ex-KCS 4824
    I worked on the layout for about 5 hours this afternoon. My 9-year-old daughter stayed with me and helped me almost the entire time. Spending time together was the best part of the whole thing for me. Ship it on the Frisco.
  4. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Oh the joy of getting trains up and running! Let's see some layout photos.
  5. HWB

    HWB Supporter

    As someone who has a layout in a mostly unconditioned enviroment in Alabama take some of my advice. Make sure you leave expansion gaps in the track. I used Atlas grade crossing (re-reailer) sections every so often and let them "float" that is they are not soldered on either end and not fastened to the benchwork. I left a sixteenth of an inch gap on each end for the actual expansion. So far I have had no trouble but my layout isn't a year old and has not gone through a complete season change.
  6. trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017)

    trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017) Passed away September 22, 2017

    I wish I had thought of that. I wonder what the ideal temp is for laying HO, nickle silver, code 100, flex track? I wish I had logged on this afternoon and seen your advice then before laying more track. I hope that using flex track exclusively and Dap instead of nails will allow for some expansion. I'll know for certain in about 7 months.

    Layout progress update: The AT&N has been double-tracked! Having completed the inner oval yesterday, I completed the outer oval today in between church services. I installed a turnout on each side of the oval. I'm going to have a line connecting the turnouts by going around the end of the oval from one side to the other. That line will feature a replacement of the Cochrane bridge over a freelanced "U"-shaped bend in the Tombigbee River. I will use 2 of my 3 through truss bridges, end to end. (I would like to use all three of my bridges but that would allow only a 15" radius past each end... that might be a little too tight for a 4-8-2 Mountain and an SD40-2?) Got any ideas for making economical (dirt cheap) water? Here's some reference pics. The first 2 are of the actual AT&N Cochrane bridge over the Tombigbee. My bridge spans are almost exactly like the prototype. I hope they don't have the prototype's fate. It's colapse was the beginning of the end for the AT&N. The 3rd is a color photo of a RR bridge somewhere over the Tombigbee, could be the BNSF just north of Amory, MS. I just wanted everyone to see what the river looks like in color.
  7. gstout

    gstout Member Supporter

    I think it's the seasonal change that is key to the expansion/contraction problem. Here in the Midwest, we find that the change in humidity from winter to summer affects not the track but the roadbed, especially if you are using Homasote. It seems to take a full year for things to settle down. You just have to expect a few problems and fix them as you go along. Eventually everything will sort itself out.

  8. HWB

    HWB Supporter

    I couldn't agree more. I did most of my track laying in the late spring with temperatures in the low eighties and expansion wasn't much of a problem. Now that winter has set in and temperatures are getting down in the low thirties the gaps in my rails have opened up to the point of being dangerous when cold. Once everything heats up the gaps come together as expected.
  9. WindsorSpring

    WindsorSpring Member

    "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." ;-)

  10. trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017)

    trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017) Passed away September 22, 2017

    People say that about the South all the time. Here, we steam. I've been to Yuma, AZ in June. There you bake. Steamed vs Baked? Either way, your goose is cooked! I'll take the southern humidity any day over having to wait until after dark to go outside. In Yuma, with the car windows down at night, it felt like an industrial blow dryer hitting me in the face. No thanks.

    Back to the task at hand... I used 3/4" plywood (painted green) for a table top, with flex track directly Dap'd down to the surface of the plywood. I painted a gray 4" path for the double track as an alternative to cork roadbed or ballast. I can always add ballast later. Too me, cork just dries out and is not suited for changes in a layout. I know I will get board eventually and change something. I'm still in the market for ideas on how to add muddy river water in a 3/4" deep river bed.
    I've never attempted any kind of water other than just painting it. I'm looking for the most economical way to get realistic looking water. - Brandon
  11. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Paint the color of the water on the substrate and cover with Enviro-tex. Another possiblity, check with Jim James on his quick and easy idea.
  12. William Jackson

    William Jackson Bill Jackson

    GS, is more right than not. It does take time for the curves and tangents to adjust. Railroads air on the side of laying rail too hot. It is better for the rail to pull apart than to buckle. Rarely do pull a parts derail a train. On the other hand we all know that track buckles do. I would advise for modelers, figure the hottest and coldest, your layout room will get. Lay your track a little on the higher side of the average. Give the track time to adjust.
    William Jackson
  13. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Hello, Brandon. I can't seem to get your color photo of the river to load but I live along the Mississippi River and it's also muddy. Looks kinda like coffee with cream in it. I will share some thoughts and techniques that I've used. First some thoughts. Water can be very tough to model. Some rivers are more clear than others and from above can appear black in the middle deep parts but transition to a lighter, brownish color along the banks where the muddy bottom is visible. Other rivers, like the Mississippi, look like chocolate milk all the way across. The sky reflects at times to make bodies of water blue but that's when viewed from a low angle.
    Now for techniques that I've used. Cheap way, paint your flat river bed a suitable brown color and top coat with a clear coat of gel medium of some sort from a craft store. What will really create the illusion is your attention to the river bank scenery and clean installation of the abutments. No gaps between river surface and bottom of abutment casting. This cheap river can easily be upgraded at a later date. The method I used on my Zalma Branch layout is similar to the cheap way but I used a product called Magic Water for the water. It is a two part odorless mixture that you pour onto your riverbed. You can build up layers if needed but one pour can result in the illusion of depth. With this method you can add some river rubbish, root wads or even debris lodged against the abutments. I use Magic Water for rivers,water puddles, swamp scenes and muddy ground. It's only about $30 and lasts for many many projects. You could always pour some over the cheaper river at a later time if you want.
    Here's how my Castor River turned out using the Magic Water technique.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2013
  14. William Jackson

    William Jackson Bill Jackson

    Jim, I would assume that all the rocks and so-forth, on the bottom should be solid. Some of my rocks that I use are not glued down solid. Have you had issues with floating rocks or debris. I kinda want my water to be clear.
    William Jackson
  15. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Yes. My creek scene has a rocky bottom. I secured the modeled creek bed with the usual spray of wet water followed by dribbling white glue over the rocks and gravel. Then glued some weeds along the bank here and there. After that all dried completely I poured the "water". Be sure you guys have no tiny holes of any kind and be sure to have a dam of some sort to keep the Magic Water (or any other brand of model water) in it's place! This stuff will also creep up a bit on the bank and bridge abutments. This effect is sometimes desirable but not always.
  16. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Exactly the technique that other members and I used in the late 90s to represent the Missouri River on my previous club layout. We put down a thin layer of joint compound first and then stippled VERY lightly with a damp sponge to represent the ripples that one often sees in the Missouri or Mississippi. I stress the "VERY lightly," since the initial efforts looked like Atlantic Ocean breakers!

    Add a layer of chocolate-milk colored acrylic paint and a layer or two of "gloss medium," and it was a good-enough job for our purposes. And, it only consumed about 1-2 hours total time over a couple of evenings. Note that the layout at this point was only approximately 10-12" wide, so it wasn't a very large area of work.

    Best Regards,
  17. trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017)

    trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017) Passed away September 22, 2017

    Can you be more specific on exactly what product (gel) I need to look for? The closest hobby shops that carry model RR items are 2hrs away in B'ham. There is a big Hobby Lobby in Tupelo 1 hr away. BTW, thanks for the tips. - Brandon
    P.S. - "Coffee with cream" is dead on for the color of the river in the picture you couldn't pull up. I couldn't have said it better myself.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2013
  18. trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017)

    trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017) Passed away September 22, 2017

  19. trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017)

    trainchaser007 (Brandon Adams RIP 9/22/2017) Passed away September 22, 2017

    Here are a couple of pics of my girls enjoying the AT&N layout. Another "monster" has invaded the AT&N. This time it's blue and goes by the name of Thomas.

    Photo122.jpg Photo121.jpg
  20. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Absolutely priceless photos my friend. I like the double track action. Next time you go to Hobby Lobby pick up a couple of yards of the light brown fake fur ( I think it's the only color they have) and get some green ground foam and I'll turn you on to a cheap and quick way to get some easy scenery started. The brand of clear gloss medium I had was Mod Podge I think.
    By the way, I always thought James, the red engine, looked way cooler than Thomas.

Share This Page