Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

1950's Reading Themed Layout Build Thread

8015 views
126 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Saturday, May 23, 2020 7:15 PM

 Wow, has it been almost 2 months? I FINALLY did some more work today. Stopped by Lowes because SWMBO wanted flowers to plant outside, so I grabbed some masonite foor backdrops and also a sheet of 3/4" plywoood for the end of the area I've been working on - this is where the turntable and engine house will be so I figured why bother making it open grid type benchwork, I'll just cookie cutter a piece of plywood. In a short time today I got started on the verticals down the long wall and got two sections (tootal 16') of backdrop up. Still needs to be sanded, spackeled, sanded again, and painted, but at least there's something there.

 Tomorrow I plan to be down in the basement most of the day, building the support area for the plywood base and getting that in place. I'm not holding my breath but maybe some track even - though I don't think I have any caulk and only a tiny amount of roadbed.

                                  --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    February 2015
  • From: Ludington, MI
  • 613 posts
Posted by Water Level Route on Sunday, May 24, 2020 11:17 AM

Looking forward to seeing your work Randy.

Mike

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Monday, May 25, 2020 7:59 PM

 SO here are some pics of additional progress. Brackets started down left hand (longer outside) wall, this is the side that will have the yard. And backdrop being put in place.

 I also started framing out the area for the engine terminal. Definitely will have a support leg in the corner there. I have my old legs salvaged from the old layout, but I can't get at them. Perfect place to reuse them.

 What I really need is a faster way to make the brackets. I'm thinking I could possibly cut strips of plywood and then make up the sections with the spacer at the far end in bulk, and then go around attaching them to the verticals. 

 I may have made things harder on myself by deciding to have the main start a slight upgrade behind the town while the yard lead extends to become a bit of a city switching branch. though all that really needs is a 2-track wide strip of plywood lifted on risers while the rest of the shelf stays flat. 2 reasons for that - reduce the rise required in the helix, and also this sets the level for the branch that goes around the outside - since it is only a single deck section, I want it higher than the lower deck fir a more optimal view. The loop around the outside of the helix can also be aon a grade, meaning the grade can be fairly minimal yet accomplish the goal. Downside is, I can't really have a connection at the far end of town between the main and the switch lead/city branch, even at double the grade it would take half the distance to come back down to the 0 elevation. ANd I kind of wanted to put a sneak loop in from the branch through the wall to reconnect to the main, which will not be possible without an absurd grade. If the uphill is 1%, I can probably get the sneak path in with a 3% grade - maybe not unworkable, since it would ALWAYS be downhill if used. Mainly for display running, and a shortcut to work the bottom deck before the top deck is done.

                                    --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    February 2015
  • From: Ludington, MI
  • 613 posts
Posted by Water Level Route on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 6:08 AM

rrinker
I can probably get the sneak path in with a 3% grade - maybe not unworkable, since it would ALWAYS be downhill if used

That sounds perfectly reasonable to me.  Due to space contraints my layout has about a 3-1/2% mainline grade in a 25" radius curve.  Never had any operational issues with it, uphill or down.  

Mike

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Friday, May 29, 2020 7:48 AM

 Got some backdrop up on the upper level in the same corner now. ANd I finally got a chance to start cutting plywood with my circular saw and Kreg Rip-Cut jig:

The saw clamps in the sled, the part with 2 slots (for left or right hand motor circular saws) and the lower piece slides along the edge of the piece you are cutting for accurate repeatable cuts. I also have a Diablo 60t blade for smooth cuts - and it cuts through the 3/4 birch like butter, nice smooth edges, no tear outs. First piece came out 1/8" wide - initial calibration is to put the sled against the blade and zero it, but then you have to set the width using the scale and pointer and make one cut to adjust it. It's not really critical, when attaching the pieces I am leveling the tops, so if one piece hangs down by 1/8" it's no big deal. But the second oen came out dead on 3" after I adjusted the indicator, and now they will all be exactly 3". 

 I'm considering not using the outboard space blocks in each pair of arms like I did with the first one. At least where the arms are 12" or less. Yes, they wiggle side to side a bit - that is until I install the plywood subroadbed on top of them. And then the fascia. Wider areas may need in to manage the flex, but even there I am wondering - such as the 2' wide yard section. That will fully be covered with 3/4" plywood from the wall to the outer edge of the arms. There's no way that's going to move side to side.

                                         --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    February 2001
  • From: Wyoming, where men are men, and sheep are nervous!
  • 2,462 posts
Posted by Pruitt on Friday, May 29, 2020 1:01 PM

rrinker
...I finally got a chance to start cutting plywood with my circular saw and Kreg Rip-Cut jig...

I picked up one of those a couple months ago when I was laying my OSB subfloor. What a great tool! Easy to use and accurate even for a fumble-fingered guy like me.

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Friday, May 29, 2020 8:10 PM

 I wasn;t about to get a table saw for just this one use, plus handling a 4x6 sheet, as I expected, of 3/4" plywood is not easy, even with extension tables. ANd I don;t trust the big box guys to cut properly - their saw has coarse teeth anyway. The specialty wood place where I got the good 3/4" 13 ply birch for the structural bits, as far as I know, doesn;t offer a cutting service, and chopping a full panel into 3" strips would get expensive pretty quickly if they charge per cut. This seemed liek the best option - worst case, I could back my truck load of plywood into my driveway and cut it right off the back of the truck, but the good stuff only comes in 5x5 sheets and they aren't quite as hard to handle, downside is while a 4x8 sheet fits my truck (over the wheel wells), the 5' width does not, so I have to get them to deliver it. They won;t bring it into my basement, but they will put it in the garage, I just lift a sheet onto a furniture dolly and wheel it into the basement.

                                     --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Sunday, May 31, 2020 8:43 PM

 Got two piece of subroadbed cut. Not attached yet, but I did slice up a sheet of plywood to make lots of brackets.

Upper level backdrop:

  

Subroadbed 1:

Subroadbed 2:

Getting there, slowly.

                                           --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 19,508 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, May 31, 2020 8:47 PM

Looking good, Randy.   Yes

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    May 2010
  • 7,101 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, May 31, 2020 8:47 PM

Nice Randy, great to see your progress!

Mike.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 11,967 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, June 4, 2020 1:41 AM

Randy,

It's neat to see a few pieces of the subroadbed resting in place. Sure looks like progress to me!

BTW, you have done an excellent job of coving the corners!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: In the heart of Georgia
  • 3,722 posts
Posted by Doughless on Thursday, June 4, 2020 6:37 AM

Nice work Randy.  I can better see what your trying to do with the double decks. 

I like the narrow height of the brackets jutting out from the wall, which seems essential for a double decked plan.  The trade off is you need a lot of wall supports for the brackets.  Gotta do what it takes.  Nice job.

- Douglas

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Thursday, June 4, 2020 8:13 AM

 The one on the right, where the yellow tool is sitting (it's a very nice stud finder), I can lean pretty heavily on that and it doesn't give. I actually have to cut that off, it's too long for where the track is coming out.

 The two 2x4's on the left, there will be a leg where they meet up, but right now they are just hanging in space, glued and screwed to the uprights. I'm not going to lean my full weight on that, but it doesn't move much when I put weight on it, and that sticks out about 4 feet from each wall. 

                                  --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Thursday, June 11, 2020 1:58 PM

 Just got my order of fresh laser cut baltic birch from our friends in Canuckia, so now I can test to see if I made those subroadbed pieces the right size before I put on the supports and permanently put it in place.

 Translation: I ordered a whole bunch of SweepSticks from Fast Tracks along with some of their SpaceGage tools so I can lay out my curves without trying to string lines or swing a stick from my camera tripod.

 The left side piece I am not worried about, but I cut the right side piece a little narrow, and there might not be room to get it all on. There are two main tracks at 30" radius with 3" spacing (probably doesn't need to widen out that much since I don;t plan on running 80-85' cars, which past experiences has told me need at least 3" center space on 30" radius curves), plus a third track at 28" radis spaced much futher - a continuation of the yard lead which also serves as the city branch.

                                         --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Thursday, June 11, 2020 5:20 PM

Aaaaand......

Yup, inside track way too close to the edge. Easy fix though, I can just cut out a bit more from the isude of where I cut it from the big sheet, so it will even have the same curvature and mate up to the cut part. The track doesn;t overhanf the inside lip, but it's so close that anything leaving the rails would hit the floor, so a small protective piece with scenery will give it someplace for a car to roll.

 Other side is fine, plenty of room for the inner track - plus the open space there will get filled in with a lift out piece containing the roundhouse and turntable anyway.

                                         --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 19,508 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, June 11, 2020 5:34 PM

rrinker

The left side piece I am not worried about, but I cut the right side piece a little narrow, and there might not be room to get it all on. There are two main tracks at 30" radius with 3" spacing (probably doesn't need to widen out that much since I don;t plan on running 80-85' cars, which past experiences has told me need at least 3" center space on 30" radius curves), plus a third track at 28" radis spaced much futher - a continuation of the yard lead which also serves as the city branch. 

Do you really want a 28" radius on that brand new layout? Can't you broaden that to 30" radius?

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Thursday, June 11, 2020 6:17 PM

 The main is 30". This is the yard lead for the little switchers. And it's 50's era - it will be rare that even a 50' box car would be on that track. Mostly 40 footers.

I'm not a radius snob. I want a railroad, not a bunch of really neat looking cuves that run into one another. The big club modular layout has 28" radius curves and there is not a thing that won't run on them. Even brass articulateds and 10 drive locos. Viewed from the inside, it's not even noticeable. The branch around the outside will be similar. Actually, I have that one drawn down to 24" so it doesn;t stick too faroout away from the all, but since I now have the 28" radius SweepSticks, I might go bigger.

                                        --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 19,508 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, June 11, 2020 7:13 PM

rrinker

I'm not a radius snob.  

I don't think it is about snobbery. It is about derailment free performance.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Thursday, June 11, 2020 8:01 PM

My last layout was 22" radius and Atlas #4 turnouts and nothing derailed....  Granted I didn't run my Northerns on it. But I was modeling a branch they never would have gone down in the first place (counting down until someone shows a Ramble shot where they did venture that way.......). Only 6 axle first gen units are Trainmasters, everything else is 4 axle only. Reading didn't have any SDs, or RSC/RSDs.

 It's not the radius so much as it is not being sloppy with the track and roadbed, no kinks, no sudden curves, no sudden grade changes, etc.

                                     --Randy

              


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 9,198 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, June 12, 2020 9:39 AM

rrinker
It's not the radius so much as it is not being sloppy with the track and roadbed, no kinks, no sudden curves, no sudden grade changes, etc.

I 100% agree.

I run 24 inch radius on my hidden and branch line trackage, and never have problems. I use Atlas sectional track for 24 inch radius because it is easier to assure a consistent radius and avoid kinking.

I run SD-7s, Trainmasters, PA-1s, and full length passenger cars. Also. My Bachmann 2-8-8-4 will go around an 18 inch radius curve, but it sure looks silly doing it.

I use 36 inch as a minimum for the little mainline visible trackage I have.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Friday, June 12, 2020 12:10 PM

 Biggest loco I have is a 4-8-4, and it doesn;t look silly on the 28" at the club, so it will be fine on 30" here. The helix is wider radius - I don't want the helix to be the sharpest nor the steepest track on the layout, that's asking for trouble.

 No 80-85' passenger cars on the Reading, and no 89' flats or articulated auto racks in the 50's, either.

 I'd use #5 turnouts in the yard, but the first Code 70 that Peco says they are releasing are #6. But after 2 years of waiting, who knows if they will ever show up. I really do not want to build a yard using Code 70 flex (readily available) but have EVERY turnout require careful shimming and soldering to transition to Code 83 turnouts. My progress is slow wnough so as it is, if I have to painstakingly make every joint like that in the yard, it'll never get built. I'd sooner just use all Code 83 and hope it loooks good enough just using different ballast and thinner roadbed.

 The Fast Tracks SweepSticks are pretty neat. I just dry fit them to check my space, but I've since assembled some of the sections together. And Peco flex is a very nice compromise between Atlas and ME - when bending it by hand I thought it flexxed back, but after using some SweepSticks to form a curve in a piece - it barely moved back. yet it curved smoothly and neatly without having to jockey the ties around like ME.

                                       --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Friday, June 19, 2020 8:59 PM

 Company decided to make today a paid holiday, so I was able to get some work done on the layout

I started installing the horizontal pieces, cut from 3/4" birch plywood

 

You can see how I screw it to both the main vertical and the extra piece. Also glued.

The corner is a special case. I cut one side and attached it to the other to form a solid corner

And continued over to the 2x4 frame I built earlier

Then I put the cut piece of subroadbed back to see how it would fit

The extra bit of the horizontals will be cut off before I attach fascia.

I also added some more of the brace blocks to the existing verticals

And some over on the other side as well

So I could add a couple more pieces of backdrop

And on the other side

Overall view of this section of the layout so far:

Back at it tomorrow. Supposed to rain all weekend, and I need more plywood for subroadbed.

                                        --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 9,198 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, June 19, 2020 9:13 PM

Randy: I really appreciate all the good pictures you are posting along with your layout build.

These make it easy to understand what you are doing.

Great work.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Friday, June 19, 2020 9:30 PM

 Next step before I get much further is to sand, tape and mud, and sand again the backdrop. Easier to get at it without the horizontal pieces in place. Painting - I might start that before more subroadbed, or not. I can easily get at it to paint, at least along the shorter wall where the benchwork is narrow. 

                                      --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 11,967 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, June 20, 2020 10:37 PM

Great progress Randy!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

  • Member since
    February 2001
  • From: Wyoming, where men are men, and sheep are nervous!
  • 2,462 posts
Posted by Pruitt on Sunday, June 21, 2020 12:23 AM

Looks impressive, Randy! 

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Friday, July 10, 2020 8:18 PM

 So here's what I've been up to the past few weeks.

First, spackle all the screw holes in the backdrop, and the gaps where two panels meet:

Then I sanded it all and applied the first coat of high-hide primer:

And a second coat of primer:

And tonight I put on the blue:

 

Next it is on down the yard side. I can at least put the main in there - still waiting on Peco and their Code 70 track for the actual yard tracks.

                                         --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    August 2013
  • From: Richmond, VA
  • 1,890 posts
Posted by carl425 on Friday, July 10, 2020 10:51 PM

Backdrops look most excellent.  Nice shade of blue too.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 28,720 posts
Posted by rrinker on Friday, July 10, 2020 11:44 PM

 It will look slightly different under the lights I plan to install under the upper decks - the room lights will not be used normally. I took the paint sample card down to the lighting section of Lowes where they have different color temperature LEDs so I could see which one looked best under the lights I plan to use - I'm not going to go all fancy with clouds or anything, just plain blue. I have to go look at the sticker on the can for the name of it, it was a standard color off the cards at Lowes.
 I also realize I've been being way too picky when painting - the bottom 3/4" you will never see because it will be behind the plywood subroadbed. And the back wall, the short one - you may bever see the upp deck backdrop - because of reach issues I am plannign to keep the track there pretty close to the front - about where thay 2x4 sticks out, and from there and all along the yard, the upper deck will be mostly just the main and scenery so I don;t have someone trying to switch an industry on the upper deck getting in the way of someone working the yard on the lower deck. But, it's there, I know I did it, even if it can't be seen.

 Next step, finish the verticals down the yard side. Then I need to get some more Masonite for those backdrops, and some roadbed plywood - I really hope they have the same stuff I already used. My top quality 13 ply birch plywood I am saving for the horizontal supports. 

                              --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 11,967 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, July 11, 2020 12:03 AM

rrinker
 Next step, finish the verticals down the yard side. Then I need to get some more Masonite for those backdrops, and some roadbed plywood - I really hope they have the same stuff I already used. My top quality 13 ply birch plywood I am saving for the horizontal supports. 

Hi Randy,

Your progress is excellent even if you don't think so yourself!

I'm a little envious of your backdrops because my layout will not have any. I may make up some moveable screens for photography but that will be way down the road. Someone suggested I use a centre view block but I prefer the idea of having a wider scene.

If you are interested, one of my old club members developed a really quick and easy method for doing decent looking clouds. He made several stencils out of heavy card stock with the outlines for various clouds. All he did was hold them in place and spray the area below the stencil with white paint in various concentrations, always with a flat bottom. He was able to get an array of different clouds by combining the stencils in various positions. Here is an example:

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!