Building the Frisco System 1980 - Construction Project Documentation - HO-Scale Layout

Discussion in 'General' started by Iantha_Branch, Nov 18, 2023.

  1. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Same problems, different month. You know what I mean.

    This month's single work weekend allowed me to build most of the benchwork for the wall that went up last month. Nothing too crazy this time around. Like last time, I started at the end closest to the wall and worked my way out. The lowered area at the back is the scenic area between Iantha and Lamar. The foreground in Kansas Avenue Yard in Springfield. The gap in the plywood is to allow space for both incline tracks to work their way up the wall past the yard.

    May 5.jpg

    Now that I have benchwork up on two of the peninsulas I can see how my isle width came out, and I am quite happy with it. I think there will be plenty of room for crews to get past each other.

    May 5 (2).jpg

    I ran out of time to build the second trapezoid piece Sunday, so I will have to pick up there next time. I think building that section, the second 8' section for Kansas Avenue Yard and then cutting and installing 2 big curved sections should take up most of the next weekend I get to work with whenever that is.

    Once I get those items built and installed, that is were things get tricky. It will be time to build the final wall at that point. I currently have my supply of full sheet plywood setting in that spot.

    Once that wall goes up, I will be limited on work space for ripping plywood. I think I will pre build several sections of bench work before I put that wall up so I can maximize my work space for as long as possible.

    May 5 (3).jpg
  2. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Much to my surprise, I had time to work the past couple weekends.

    The first job was to build and install the other trapezoid piece. It is amazing how much time is added when dealing with angles. The last set of square sections I was able to build and install in about 30 minutes.

    This piece took about 3 hours.

    May 11.jpg

    After that, the next step was to cut out a curved section for the area between Iantha and Lamar. I remembered to take a picture of my tracing jig this time.

    I am using 4 sets of sweep sticks, and several sets of space gauges. The two center sets are the size of the track curves, 40" and 42" radius. The outer two sets are 38" and 44" radius.

    All 4 sets are spaced 2" apart on center. I then trace a line on the inside of the outside sweep sticks. This gives me a consistent curve that is wide enough to accommodate both tracks with room to spare.

    May 11 (2).jpg

    With the lines traced onto the plywood, it's time to cut. I'm lucky to have a deep chest of power tools to borrow. This cordless jig saw is very handy for making these curved cuts since I'm not constantly fighting a power cord. A unit tank train stops to pose in the background.

    May 11 (3).jpg
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  3. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Later in the week, I was able get the big curve and the other pieces all installed back in the corner. This one went together much easier than the first curve. This area only had one bridge to account for instead of two, so that helped.

    May 17.jpg

    Yesterday morning, I got started on the big curve at the end of the peninsula between Lamar and Springfield. It took me a while to make a plan and get going on it. It is still a work in progress, but this is without a doubt the most difficult part of the build.

    Instead of a double track curve, I need 2 separate curves coming around. The inner curve for the condensed "Springfield Subdivision" not only has an S curve to plot out, it also needs to start an incline in the turn as well.

    I also had to space sheeting for the east end of Lamar to work with the other line. For reference, the red tape measure is setting approximately where the MFA Elevator is going.

    May 18 (1).jpg

    I still have some more plywood to cut out to finish the sheeting over on the west end of Springfield, but that will be a project for next time.

    May 18 (2).jpg
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  4. rjthomas909

    rjthomas909 Member Supporter

    I look forward to seeing the finished layout in July. LOL.
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  5. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Robert, I may or may not have track down by that point. Either way, the plywood empire is open for tour. If anyone else in the group happens to be passing by on the interstate and would like to come by for a tour, feel free to send me a message.
  6. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Construction is on hold for the time being while I go through a bit of a redesign for the Springfield peninsula. More on that later.
    While thinking things through for Springfield, I have also started thinking about what to do with this second level business. A while back I mocked up a piece of benchwork to ensure I had picked the correct height, and I was happy with it. However, it dawned on me today that I had not checked how things would look going across the windows. So, I dug out a couple 1x4's and mounted them at roughly the correct height. Luckily, the height works out perfectly.
    When right up at the layout, the upper benchwork is up high enough to not obstruct the view. While standing up, the benchwork is low enough to not be an issue from most distances in the room.

    May 27 2.jpg

    I think I have come up with a solution for how to finish the first round of construction. I think I will build benchwork just for the two upper staging yards for now and make simple, direct connections to each yard. This would at least give me the staging capacity that I desire, the rest of the upper level can be built later.

    May 27 1.jpg
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  7. geep07

    geep07 Member

    Ethan, you can lower the upper deck benchwork to support two deck plate bridge abutments across the windows provided that no tall structures are located on the lower level below. This will provide some "see through scenery" and not block out the window view as much. It does not have to be a creek, river, etc., just a depressed area to kind of blend it with the outdoor scenery.

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  8. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    John, I had considered scene for the Mississippi River there a couple of times. I will have to look into your idea a bit further.

  9. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Short update this week.

    I am still working on redesigning the Springfield Peninsula. I will go into detail on that once it is done and ready to present.

    This morning, I spent time pre-building the benchwork sections for 19th Street Yard in Kansas City. The idea is to lay and wire the track for staging first, and then fasten on the benchwork for 19th Street after staging has been tested. Yes, I will have to reach over 19th Street for derailments and track maintenance, but it will be easier to get the initial track work done with it out of the way.

    Back this winter I put together a temporary switching layout in the crew lounge so I could have something to piddle with during construction. I had not operated it for a couple months, and finally got tired of the clutter, so over the past week I finally took it apart so I could move on with getting the place organized.

    After finishing the above mentioned benchwork project, I was ready to get back to de-cluttering. The first item for today was to add a shelf to the mechanical closet so I can store more stuff , mostly extra building supplies, in it. This morning, I could barely open the door.

    Now, it all fits easily and I was able to find a home for the empty storage totes setting out in the hallway, and I have room to spare, for now!

    Jun 1 (1).jpg

    The next project I wanted to tackle today was a book and DVD shelf for the crew lounge. For a long time my railroad book collection has been kept in a cardboard box in some random spot that I could find.

    Now, everything is on display and easily accessible. I had just enough time to get all the hard back books on the shelf before time ran out this afternoon. I should have a couple book ends coming in the mail to help hold the stack up in place.

    June 1 (2).jpg
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  10. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    I have finished my first draft of the Springfield Peninsula redesign.

    I am sure I will have some tweaks to make in the future, but this will give me a starting point. This may be a little more in depth than what the casual observer cares to read, but I think it is worth documenting for those that wish to learn in the future.

    If you are familiar with the idea of "just in time inventory", I have wound up practicing a version of that I will call "just in time planning". If you look back at the design thread linked in the first post, I have spent years designing this layout.

    Despite the amount of time spent on it to this point, there are still changes being made as construction goes on. That comes back to the simple fact that some things only work on paper, or a computer screen in this case. As I prepare to build a section of layout, I work out the benchwork details in a separate track plan file. I will cover that in another post later.

    The short version for now is I have to account for switch machines to operate my turnouts when placing cross members of the grid benchwork. If there is an overlap, either the turnout has to move or the benchwork does.

    Also, as I have made progress on the benchwork, I have been able to start looking at physical mock ups of how the incline track between first and second levels will interact with the layout as a whole. That is where we finally drop in to the topic at hand.

    As I started the intricate benchwork planning process of the Springfield peninsula, the potential issues I had made note of long ago finally surfaced. Take a look at the design I still had a couple weeks ago. The more bold looking tracks are the incline going up the wall.

    Springfield Peninsula Old.JPG

    Two main issues stood out Some trackage was directly below the incline and the Phelps Street Alley area would be difficult, if not impossible, to operate once I filled in all the buildings. The issue of of overlapping trackage occurred because I had a design I liked for the North Yard area, and had no idea how supports for the incline would work until I actually started construction.

    The Phelps Street Alley is an area that I had high on my wish list since I first started researching Springfield for operating ideas. I think it is a neat prototype and included several industries that fit in well with the traffic pattern of the layout.

    I really liked the design I put on paper, but as I started really thinking about how it would operate, the more I realized how much of an issue it would be. The issue with recreating an alley is not being able to see or reach the cars that you need to switch.

    It was really hard to convince myself to take this out of the layout after losing most of the Kansas City urban industrial trackage when I shrunk the building, but it was necessary.

    Let us look at how I remedied these issues.

    Springfield Peninsula New.JPG

    The first item to improve was the engine terminal. I was never completely happy with any of the solutions I had come up with it previously. It was all shoved into the back corner to as much leave room as possible for North Yard and Phelps Street.

    I brought the whole thing out in the open and made room for a full 3 track covered shed with an open ready track, just like the real thing. There is still a half-sized engine shop tucked in the back as well as sand and fuel delivery tracks.

    From there, my dilemma was how to balance what I wanted to do with my remaining space for industries. I wanted to keep the iconic Anheuser-Busch Elevator east of the yard, and the spur with the fuel dealer and two lumber yards.

    For the other two spurs, one is actually the location of the Union Stock Yard Association according to the industrial schematic. It later became the location of a scrap yard post merger in the 1980s.

    I am thinking of using my modelers license on that one to add more variety to the layout. The area east of the AB Elevator was an empty corner, so I dropped in a spur and stuck in a couple Zone 3 industries. Not sold on that idea yet.

    To fill out the rest of Springfield, I made a compromise to combine North Yard and Phelps Street into one single area. A double set of main tracks are the center of this scene. The portion closest to the operator is a condensed version of North Yard.

    Two tracks allow space to hold cars coming in and out. There is space allotted for the TOFC and automobile ramps, and I am thinking of adding a spot for General Grocers in the far corner.

    My solution for Phelps St was to cut it in half, so that the industry buildings are only along the back wall. I picked a handful of industries from the list to be included in this area. The track plan does not really have a chance to replicate the prototype. It is merely what I can do to fit the space.

    It is also worth noting that I brought the radius of the incline down to 36" so that it fits inside of the lower level. This will allow me to brace it down to the benchwork directly. Bracing can be covered with a backdrop. I also removed all industry tracks from under this area to accommodate this change.

    Ok, that was a very long winded explanation of all the changes that I made. If you read all the way to this point, bravo.

    My idea here was to demonstrate how no matter how much you plan in advance, there are some things you cannot plan for until construction starts and that almost anything can be achieved with the careful art of compromise.

    With this redesign mostly taken care of, I should be able to move forward with the final phase of construction now.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2024
  11. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    And for those that did not feel like reading the novel I just published, here is a meme instead.

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  12. dwoomer

    dwoomer Member

    I like what you have done with Phelps Street. I have done the same thing, with industries on the back side only and nothing obstructing your reach for switching. Well, I did manage to sneak in a propane dealer on the front, but only a single large low tank is modeled! I also like getting the engines out of the corner to where they can be seen better, and you can reach them. This hobby is full of compromises!
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  13. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Well, it's been almost a full month since I've posted something, so here is kind of a combined update.

    Farming has taken most of my time and energy this month, so I don't have any construction progress to show. I've prebuilt about half of the remaining benchwork and stacked it out of the way. The stud wall is mostly built, but not installed yet. I think If I can catch a full weekend where I'm not completely wore out from work, I can finish up and install the last of the lumber for now. I'll need a couple more workdays after that to sheet rock, tape, mud, paint the backdrops for the peninsulas.

    As much as work has kicked my but physically the past month, I'm happy I took the time to clean out the crew lounge and make it usable. On the days that I'm too tired to build (like the past 2 days) I've been able to just set at my work bench and tinker. I didn't realize how much I've missed that.

    First up with my time tinkering this month, I finally took a look at the switch machines our resident Wiz Kid recommended to me. I rigged up a test stand of sorts with a scrap piece of 1x4. Once I figured out how to rig up the power supply and ordered in a pack of SPDT toggle switches, I had everything working for my test subject. I think this is going to fulfill the needs that I'm looking for. I've attached some pictures here for now. I'll try to get better pictures later on and do a better write up in the thread for turnout control.

    June 30 1.jpg

    Next up, I've started thinking I need a cart of some sort that I can pile on boxes of equipment, tools, supplies, track, etc and deliver in bulk to any area of the building. I ended up with the same tool cart we have on the farm, but with a different brand name stamped on it. It cost half as much that way.

    June 30 2.jpg

    With the issues I've run into with acquiring a prebuilt display case, I decided to go ahead and put up a simple shelf for now so I can at least unpack a few locomotives to look at. I put my new cart to use and pushed a stack of boxes into the crew lounge today and spent all afternoon unpacking locomotives.

    June 30 3.jpg

    Now that I have locomotives out, I can start working on decoder installs, programing and consisting when I need an easy task.
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  14. skyraider

    skyraider Member

    That's cool you can look out the window and see trains. There's a vendor of electrical switches on ebay named megatone electronics I've used for quite awhile. He is extremely knowledgeable on his products, has good prices and 100% positive feedback rating. Here's a link:
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  15. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Thanks for the recommendation on the supplier. I'll look through the store and see if I can find some supplies I didn't know I needed.
  16. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Ethan, here is my prototype concept for control of the MP switch motors; a push-on, push-off DPDT switch that is mounted in a 1/2" deep by 3/8" diameter hole in the bottom of the 3/4" sub-roadbed and activated by a black painted, modified push pin. I heat the pin and pull it out of the push pin, and substitute a length of .037 music wire. Then I cut the top off the push pin and mount on one end of the music wire. I drill a clearance hole through the remaining body of the push pin so the music wire will slide up and down through it. I drill a same size clearance hole through the sub-roadbed centered between the headblock ties where a switchstand would go. Then I drill the 3/8" hole, 1/2' deep from the bottom side of the 3/'4" sub-roadbed. I wire one set of the contacts of the switch to Common ground (for 12vdc) and the direction terminals on the switch motor so when you push down on the pushpin head, the switch reverses. When you press it again, the switch returns to normal.

    The use of the pushpins was chosen because they are cheap and the somewhat look like a switchstand.

    IMG_9512.jpg IMG_9510.jpg IMG_9514.jpg IMG_9513.jpg
  17. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    I hadn't ever considered something like that. That's brilliant! I will keep that in mind for things like industry spurs.
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  18. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    It's been a lot of work to get here, but we are almost to the end of this round of construction finally. After finishing the previously discussed Springfield redesign, I spent the past few weeks slowly putting things together. As of today, I have most of the work for Springfield done. I still need to attach the last couple pieces of decking, but it's at least all cut and ready.

    July 21 (3).jpg

    July 21 (4).jpg

    To get this far this weekend, I had to scavenge as much spare ply wood as I could from scraps produced earlier in the project. Every curved piece I cut out left quite a bit of waste on the outer ends of the sheet. I was able to get enough 4ft strips from those scraps to build the 2 out end sections of bench work. I then cut a few triangles out for what I'm going to call corner extensions where curved track would hang off the main benchwork.

    July 21 (1).jpg
    July 21 (2).jpg

    What amazes me is I took a shot in the dark when I ordered plywood last winter and only came up short 1 sheet. If I can get one more sheet in and ripped in half, I'll have all of the plywood taken care of. Beyond that, I need to cut some 2x4s to make a bottom frame for 19th St yard to brace back to. Once those two tasks are accomplished, all of the wood work is done and I can finally get the saws, saw horses and saw dust out. Once all of that is out, I'm ready to bring in sheet rock to cover the peninsulas.

    If all goes well, I hope to put down some track in August before harvest season starts. We'll see what I actually have time for.
  19. gstout

    gstout Member Supporter

    I'm gonna have to drive over and take a look at this after you get it up and running. This is really impressive.

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  20. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    Your doing great work Ethan!
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