Framing and Track
Actual framing of the BSMRR began in June, 2011. The first six months of the year were spent designing the track plan and tearing down an existing layout to make room for the new one. I saved as much of the old track and turnouts that I could, as well as a few structures that would be appropriate for the BSMRR. I was also able to save most of my model of Birmingport to include it in the new layout.
The framing of the layout is nothing new. Since the layout is basically a shelf layout, much of the framing is an open box style that is secured to the walls and supported by angled wood braces where needed. I used L-girders with cross members for the central peninsula. All the framing was done using 1 x 4's and I used 1/2" plywood for the roadbed baseboard. The backdrop is 1/8" hardboard attached directly to the walls. The hardboard is attached to 1x2" supports on the peninsula. I used the same hardboard for the fascia and overhead valences.
Most of the layout is flat, but there are two helixes going to a lower level for off-site spurs and the large power plant. Each helix has a 30" radius, rises 16" through 4 turns and has a grade of 2.1%. There are also a couple of slight grade changes on the Birmingham Southern main line in order for the track to go over the west helix to get to Birmingport and the east helix to get to the Oak Grove coal loader. My model of the U. S. Steel Fairfield Tubular Operations plant is also on an elevated area at the end of the central peninsula.
The room lighting is all done with 40 watt equivalent CFL bulbs in standard ceiling sockets mounted to wood strips, that are in turn attached to the ceiling over the track. The bulbs are not dimmable, but they are about 2' apart and unscrewing every other, or third one, can give the effect of early morning or late afternoon. At some point I will change to dimmable LED's, but not until the CFL's are no longer available.
All of the mainline track sits on standard HO scale cork roadbed. I used 1/8" rolled cork for the yards and industrial spurs. The track and turnouts are all code 100. While it may have been more prototypical to use code 83, I had a lot of track and turnouts left from previous layouts that I wasn't going to waste. Once the track is painted and ballasted you really can't tell much of a difference. I also used mostly Atlas Custom Line turnouts. Regardless of what some others have said about Atlas, I have found them to be quite reliable and they are DCC friendly. I do have a few Peco curved turnouts where I need them. Most of my mainline turnouts are powered with Tortoise switch motors. All the others are hand thrown and have Caboose ground throws on them. Some have home made handles to better match the prototype. There is an article in the How-To section on how to make these.
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