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!

The Saga Begins, and Ends - “Taking Down the Railroad”

8940 views
122 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Southeast Texas
  • 5,170 posts
The Saga Begins, and Ends - “Taking Down the Railroad”
Posted by mobilman44 on Friday, November 27, 2020 3:09 PM
It’s been about a year since I posted on the Forum, and during that time I wrestled with the possibility of taking down my layout. 
 
 
The first version was built in the mid ‘90s, and replaced in 2008 with a new and improved version, now operated via Digitrax DCC.  The layout fills an 11x15 room, with a sizeable lower level staging area, and the setting is generic Midwest, circa 1959, with the Santa Fe sharing some trackage with the Illinois Central.
 
With the exception of operating signals and small details, it is has been finished for a couple of years.  The track design is perfect for my needs, the trackage is flawless, and the Digitrax DCC runs flawlessly.  So given all this, why the heck am I taking it down?
 
Well, I’m 76 and find I’m aging faster than I expected.  That 4 ft wide duckunder, which allowed me to build in a decent loco terminal, is now a serious “knee buster”.  And, as nicely as the trains run, I’ve come to realize I’m much more a builder, than an operator. 
 
Lastly, my “life expectancy” just isn’t what it once was.  So for the sake of my Wife and family, I need to remove the layout and dispose of the “stuff” (thank you Ebay) myself, while I’m still able to do so.  
 
Make no mistake about it, for a guy who has been consumed with model railroading for almost 70 years, this is definitely a “big deal”, and I’d be lying if I said it was an easy decision.
 
I suspect that many of you will also be looking at a “layout removal” project sooner or later.  And while the forum is filled with threads about layout building and all that goes with it, I thought I would chronicle the step by step demolition and removal of one. 
 
As a retired financial analyst, my first step – after the decision – was to put together a step by step “set of instructions”.  Given the layout is in a spare bedroom, the need to be neat and orderly is a must.  And, the need to salvage whatever is salable is also a consideration. 
 
Well, it took about a week, but the “directions” are in place, along with a time estimate for each step.  At this point, I’m looking at about 130 - 160 hours to get the room empty and painted.
 
So with that, I’ve started working the first steps (pics/videos & rolling stock removal), and will write about them in the next episode……….
 
 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, formerly modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

  • Member since
    January 2010
  • 2,474 posts
Posted by peahrens on Friday, November 27, 2020 3:31 PM

I will be very interested to follow your process. 

I can see a day when I will be needing to take on a tear-down (a 5' x 9' layout) caused by planned moving and/or your situation.  I would hope to build again after a move but perhaps, rather than going for a grand layout, something more simple like a modular end to end layout would be better ahead of a final teardown.  If simple, it could be left up longer.

One thing on my mind is that I should learn the EBay sales process ahead of time.  I have some unneeded items that I could learn with, but am hesitant to get started, having some anxiety about learning all the shipping details, etc.

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

  • Member since
    May 2010
  • 7,430 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, November 27, 2020 3:35 PM

I'll be following your progress Mobilman.

I'll be doing this in a few years.

Mike.

  • Member since
    February 2018
  • From: Great Plains
  • 2,540 posts
Posted by York1 on Friday, November 27, 2020 3:35 PM

Mobileman, this will be an interesting story.  I'm looking forward to it.

York1 John       

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 14,761 posts
Posted by Overmod on Friday, November 27, 2020 4:11 PM

As I recall, we've had a couple of threads about 'best design practices while building to facilitate subsequent removal (including potential reuse/resale value).

As this work progresses, please note all the places where a different construction or design when building this layout did, or did not, facilitate removal.

 

  • Member since
    May 2019
  • 39 posts
Posted by TheFlyingScotsman on Friday, November 27, 2020 4:13 PM

It's a very interesting topic. I am 55 and accept, as we all should, that I am closer every day to the big day, which being honest could happen to any of us at any time. I've often thought about creating a step by step of what to do with my locomotives in particular. One thing that this topic has prompted me into doing is numbering my locos and tenders on the chassis with the boxes similarily dealt with. Whilst it may be blindingly obvious to everyone here what would go into what for others it would be virtually impossible I'd say. Enough rambling I will be tuning in to see your progress.

Take it steadily though and thank you for your interesting thread.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: west coast
  • 5,756 posts
Posted by rrebell on Friday, November 27, 2020 4:20 PM

Don't do it. The duckunder can be fixed. For now just sell off all the stuff you don't need. If you don't try to salvage, it can come down in a day along with patching and painting (dry times not included).

  • Member since
    February 2005
  • From: Vancouver Island, BC
  • 22,470 posts
Posted by selector on Friday, November 27, 2020 4:39 PM

Do you need the space?  What would fill it if you destroy your improved current layout?

What would fill the void in your hobby enjoyment?  Would you build something more modest that will still let you run a train now and then?

Have you grown tired of any one particular aspect other than access, and maybe the odd maintenance issue that was easier even five years ago?

Could you, as a make-work project, not do as rrebell advises?  If your principle objection is the access bottleneck, why not address it creatively?  Salvage all that work and what it still offers you in way of fulfillment, but fix the one glaring, or two, defects.  It buys you several years yet, even with continued decline, and you won't have to build another layout OR destroy what you have.  Will save money.  Even salvaging a portion of the layout, one about which you are particularly pleased and that works well....incorporate it into something more modest.

I do fully agree with maximizing one's enjoyment in any pastime.  If it really does mean destruction of this asset, then by all means have at it.  Just be doubly sure that what you will end up with won't be a disappointment or a degradation.  If that's the desired effect, then make doubly sure again that you have a firm and exciting plan for continuity's sake.   You don't want to end up depressed, overwhelmed, or feeling guilty about a hasty decision or an unwise set of parameters.

Lastly, "Rail, rail against the dying of the light..."

  • Member since
    January 2009
  • From: Maryland
  • 9,966 posts
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, November 27, 2020 4:43 PM

I'm with rrebell, don't do it.

I don't care if my wife or kids pitch it all in a dumpster when I'm gone, but until then, its mine.

Sheldon

    

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 20,323 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Friday, November 27, 2020 4:45 PM

Well, that's a bummer, MM. It will be an interesting, albeit sad, journey. Keep us posted.

Rich 

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 20,323 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Friday, November 27, 2020 4:47 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

I'm with rrebell, don't do it.

I don't care if my wife or kids pitch it all in a dumpster when I'm gone, but until then, its mine.

Sheldon 

My brother-in-law, an avid HO scale modeler all of his adult life, passed away about 13 years ago. He had a beautiful basement layout that he left behind. It is still there.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 1,606 posts
Posted by kasskaboose on Friday, November 27, 2020 5:14 PM

The emotional and financial toll you face are what we all can expect to encounter.  It's smart of you to face them now.  I wish you luck in that effort and welcome any lessons learned.

 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Southeast Texas
  • 5,170 posts
Posted by mobilman44 on Friday, November 27, 2020 5:27 PM

I guess I should clarify the situation........

 - the duckunder is 4x5 ft, and contains a good portion of the loco terminal, and allows for continuous running around the room on 3 tracks.  In fact, there are 12 tracks that cross the area.  In short, there is NO way it can be removed or altered to keep continuous running and/or the terminal.  

- the room will refitted with a treadmill, TV, etc.  As I found out last month, my "ticker" has a problem(s), and a treadmill will be a major help, significantly safer than walking outside as I used to do.

- I have no desire to burden my wife with disposing of the RR stuff.  There is money in it ($3k) and I'm no stranger to Ebay, having sold MR stuff since 2003.  So this is the way much of it will go - and BTW, my value estimate is low balled.

To sum up, the layout is coming down.  I will still subscribe to MR and CT, and certainly continue to be interested in what goes on in the Forum.

  

  

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, formerly modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 10,939 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, November 27, 2020 5:41 PM

Your absence from the forums was noticed, and I am glad that you are back with us. I do wish it would have been under better curcumstances, but I am very happy to have heard from you again.

I am looking forward to following this thread.

As I have shared before, I have been involved with the removal of several layouts from a widow's home after the layout builder has passed.

What you are doing is a very good thing, if it truly is time.

-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
    March 2012
  • 627 posts
Posted by trwroute on Friday, November 27, 2020 5:47 PM

So sorry to hear that it's coming down.  Seems like a point to point on one wall would be a great idea.

I do find it interesting that you've calculated how long it will take to take the layout down and repair the walls.  Never seen anyone do that before.

Chuck - Modeling in N, HO scales and anything narrow gauge

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • From: Pittsburgh, PA
  • 438 posts
Posted by ctyclsscs on Friday, November 27, 2020 6:00 PM

It's not my place to tell you what to do, but I will say - about five months ago something got me motivated to start purging "stuff" that we had accumulated. It started with stuff in a yard shed, then progressed to stuff in the back of our basement. Then I went through a ton of books I had. Books that really weren't worth anything. If I knew someone who might want one, I mailed it to them. Then I went through a ton of papers in a filing cabinet that were only of interest to me. I can't believe how much I threw out (or set out for recycling). There is still more to go, but just doing that felt great! I hope you'll feel a little unburdened too. 

I can't wait to get back to my purging but I had to take a break for medical issues.

Jim

  • Member since
    February 2005
  • From: Vancouver Island, BC
  • 22,470 posts
Posted by selector on Friday, November 27, 2020 6:41 PM

mobilman44

...

To sum up, the layout is coming down.  I will still subscribe to MR and CT, and certainly continue to be interested in what goes on in the Forum.

  

  

 

Okay, thanks for the clarity.  It does make it rather final and firm.  I also do like that you're taking the same methodical approach to dismantling your creation that you had when you crafted it.  It's fitting, and I hope you can look back on all you have done in the hobby with a great deal of satisfaction.

If you haven't done so already for some reason, please take a few thoughtfully composed photos of it soon.  You will probably appreciate that effort in time.

Best regards, 

-Crandell

  • Member since
    January 2009
  • From: Maryland
  • 9,966 posts
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, November 27, 2020 7:36 PM

richhotrain

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

I'm with rrebell, don't do it.

I don't care if my wife or kids pitch it all in a dumpster when I'm gone, but until then, its mine.

Sheldon 

 

 

My brother-in-law, an avid HO scale modeler all of his adult life, passed away about 13 years ago. He had a beautiful basement layout that he left behind. It is still there.

 

Rich

 

For many years I was active in a round robin modeling group here in the Bel Air, Md area. A number of the members were older than me and have passed. I have since dropped out of the group for a number of personal reasons.

One of those members now gone had become a particularly good friend, and a customer, as well as fellow modeler. About 17 years ago I designed and installed a walk around DC control system similar to what I use for his layout, which was one of the featured tour layouts when the 2006 NMRA convention was in Philly. I helped during the convention visits and many other open houses he had.

He was an exceptional craftsman and the layout is filled with outstanding scratch built and craftsman kit structures.

He passed away in 2016. Prior to that is daughter and son in law had purchased his home and added a large inlaw suite for him and his wife.

The layout is still there, under the care and guidance of his family, a living legacy to his outstanding talents and warm generous nature.

Since it appears the OP has made up his mind, I will respectfully bow out of this conversation.

Sheldon 

    

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Southeast Texas
  • 5,170 posts
Posted by mobilman44 on Saturday, November 28, 2020 5:49 AM

Before I go on, please know that I am just telling "what works for me".  We are all different and have our own varied processes, priorities, and values.  What I'm doing is not an impulse thing, but something that has been mulled over for some time.  

Anyway, the first few steps are now in progress.

The first is the taking of pics and videos (newbie at that).  Using various angles and lighting I'm hitting each area in panarama and close up.  As I finish an area, I've loaded the rail cars into plastic boxes (from Container Store) keeping them safe and separated with strips of cardboard.  Eventually most of the 180 plus cars will be mated with their original boxes and sold, but that enormous task can wait.

What I've left on the layout is the various "special" cars with scratch loads and such.  These will get their individual picture taken in appropriate surroundings.  

Lastly are the locos......Several ATSF (4 steam, 24 power units) and a neat set of BLI Illinois Central E units.  The locos will get their pics taken separately or in consist as appropriate.  

Meanwhile, I've been removing the 1x2 lower horizontal supports.  All are secured with deck screws (not a nail in the layout) and as I remove one, it allows me to slither under the layout to get to the next one(s). 

I guess this would be a good time to describe the benchwork.  The layout is supported by fifty 2x2 legs.  They are connected a few inches from the floor by the above mentioned 1x2s.  At the top end of the legs is a matrix of 1x4s, typically in "give or take" 16x24 inch rectangles.  And on top of all this is 1/2 inch quality plywood, most of which has a thin cork sheeting. 

The lower storage area (a winding 2 percent incline ending with 6 staging tracks) is also 1/2 inch plywood, supported by 1x2 or 2x2 horizontals.  Building this was a challenge (keeping a constant grade), but it was well worth the effort.

This weekend, I'll be taking the photos of the locos and "special" cars, and finishing up the removal of the lower 1x2s.  Then, I'll remove the locos and remaining cars from the layout.......and the real work will begin.

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, formerly modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 20,323 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, November 28, 2020 5:56 AM

When I tore down my old layout back in February, 2018, it was located in an unfinished basement, so I had a lot more space than you do, MM, to work on the demolition phase. I also had the luxury of space to build a temporary 4' x 8' table to hold all of my structures, locos, and rolling stock.

Since your space is confined to the interior of a bedroom, I do not envy your task. 

Good luck!

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: west coast
  • 5,756 posts
Posted by rrebell on Saturday, November 28, 2020 8:27 AM

I do now see that you have a reason and a new purpose for the room. Good luck and hop you post some pics here.

  • Member since
    June 2020
  • 1,261 posts
Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, November 28, 2020 8:41 AM

Overmod

As I recall, we've had a couple of threads about 'best design practices while building to facilitate subsequent removal (including potential reuse/resale value).

As this work progresses, please note all the places where a different construction or design when building this layout did, or did not, facilitate removal.

 

 

 

Our tabletop(s) layout is designed to be dismantled and reassembled.

Wiring is all labelled and can be disconnected at table joints.

Mind you, the five tables are quite large. Most joints have sectional or flex track across which can be removed and reinstalled.

Big difference for us is no scenery as yet. That's the trickiest part to dismantle for re-use.

My new layout is planned as modular on shelf brackets. We'll see how that works out.

One thing I wonder about is whether there might be a market for a layout. When dismantling a large layout why not cut it into sections that someone might reassemble? Building a new layout from scratch is a lot of work. Maybe somebody would prefer to rebuild a layout from already completed sections.

Alyth Yard

Canada

  • Member since
    August 2006
  • From: Nashville, TN area
  • 543 posts
Posted by hardcoalcase on Saturday, November 28, 2020 11:06 AM

It sounds like you have a well-thought-out plan in place.

I have it on good authority that the angels in Heaven have a fantistic layout! AngelThumbs Up

Jim

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 10,939 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, November 28, 2020 11:13 AM

- -
One thing I wonder about is whether there might be a market for a layout. When dismantling a large layout why not cut it into sections that someone might reassemble? Building a new layout from scratch is a lot of work. Maybe somebody would prefer to rebuild a layout from already completed sections.

There is no market for used layouts.

The only exception I have seen is unscenicked modular layouts that are ready to install, but even then, having the pieces that match someone's available space is highly unlikely.

Hobby items installed in houses, not just model railroading, destroy a house's market appeal and make it a very hard sell.

-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
    April 2020
  • 406 posts
Posted by Ringo58 on Saturday, November 28, 2020 12:35 PM

peahrens

One thing on my mind is that I should learn the EBay sales process ahead of time.  I have some unneeded items that I could learn with, but am hesitant to get started, having some anxiety about learning all the shipping details, etc.

 

I just sold my first Item on Ebay 3 days ago. The process is very easy and Ebay walks you though the whole thing! I had the locomotive packed and in the mail with the funds in my bank in 1 day. That was after waiting a week of bidding wars to see who would buy it!

  • Member since
    January 2010
  • 2,474 posts
Posted by peahrens on Saturday, November 28, 2020 12:42 PM

hardcoalcase
I have it on good authority that the angels in Heaven have a fantistic layout!  Jim

I heard there are disputes on what scale to use and whether DC or DCC (which can "soon" become outmoded).

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • 216 posts
Posted by bedell on Saturday, November 28, 2020 3:47 PM

We are on a waiting list for a retirement community in Pennsylvania and have been downsizing for a while now. This summer I decided the N-scale layout in the garage needed to be dismantled. At first I was mehtodical about the process thinking I would keep enough to be able to still run some trains. But then the "rip off the bandage" phase hit and the whole layout was just a memory in a very short time.  Very liberating.

There is a silver lining.  The retirement community has a three scale train room for residents.  Of course, the time schedule has slowed down due to the situation we are tired of hearing about!

Cheers and be safe.

 

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • 1,177 posts
Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, November 28, 2020 5:48 PM

Why not get a nice comfy chair, with wheels on it.  Sit in the chair, roll under, and then stand back up once beyond the clearance point?  Would that work?

John Mock

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Southeast Texas
  • 5,170 posts
Posted by mobilman44 on Sunday, November 29, 2020 5:22 AM

John, that was one of my early ideas last year, using a mechanics chair (very low), but "I wouldn't fit".  But in any case, the layout is coming down......

Had 3 sessions yesterday and removed all the lower 1x2s and got them to the garage, cut to a reasonable size, and taped into bundles for the trash guys.  They are fine with taking anything (2 x a week) as long as its not "of size".

All the cars are safely in plastic storage cases - with the exception of the unique freight cars and the ATSF & IC Walthers passenger cars.  It looks like we will get some sun today (after 3 days of rain) so it will help getting decent pictures.

I've also been removing stuff from under the layout.  Some goes to the garage, some goes to the trash, and some is saved for sale or for hobby later use.

The first hard part (to me) will involve removing the duck under so as to facilitate easy access to the rest of the layout.  First I'll remove structures and trackage and tear out the wires underneath.  I might be able to unscrew that section, but suspect the trusted Craftsman recipricating saw will come into play.  We will see.

 

 

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, formerly modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Southeast Texas
  • 5,170 posts
Posted by mobilman44 on Sunday, November 29, 2020 5:33 AM

Here is a pic taken awhile back.  I'm relearning how to post them, so I may screw this up............https://i.ibb.co/VVnMK2B/DSCN2409.jpg

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, formerly modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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!