Just like the Death Star, the Layout’s Fully Operational

Allow me to dust this blog off for a moment! Sorry for not updating this site, I’ve been a little busy with life and layout. After many months of hard work, the layout is now fully operational. Trackwork is complete, the electrical is almost done save for some switch machines to be installed in staging. I’ve got a new Digitrax Chief command station coming since the Empire Builder I am currently using does not have enough locomotive slots for the needs of the layout.

I’m currently installing fascia on the upper and lower levels and will paint it green soon to hide a good portion of the benchwork. I’m not sure where I’ll start with scenery, perhaps the upper deck at Hulcross of Kennedy. I do plan to work on one scene at a time (maybe a 4 foot area) rather than the “shotgun method” of rough sceniking the entire layout, then going back to add more.

I’ve also completed the first and (hopefully) only siding extention on the railroad, the passing track at Kennedy was lengthened to allow a full size train to fit. I realized before the first op session that having only one passing siding on the upper deck was not going to work that well, so Kennedy got lengthened,

So, here’s some updated shots:

Kennedy dead ahead, with the siding of Groundbirch on the lower level right hand side of the image



Dawson Creek, with a freight ready to leave town for Chetwynd


The north end of Dawson Creek, with the station from the old layout set in place


And the staging yard at Prince George, with a few freights ready to head north.


One Year Later……

February 25 marked one year since I started the benchwork for my layout.

Helix frame started February 25 2014

helix frame built

Like most model railroaders, I didn’t spend an entire year building the layout. The majority of the summer was spent outdoors and on vacations, and it wasn’t until the winter months when I started to really build.

So current status of the layout is benchwork around 90% complete along with the track work. I’m wiring the upper level reverse loop (Prince George staging) and once completed, the bench work for Dawson Creek on the lower level will be constructed. I’ve found its much easier to wire the upper deck without any of the lower level bench work in the way!

I installed the final PSX circuit breaker the other day, so now the power panel wiring is complete:


The good news is once the upper level is finished and Dawson Creek is built, we can start operating sessions!


Another Milestone: Upper Level Benchwork Completed!

I reached another milestone in construction this morning, all of the bench work for the upper deck is complete! I’ve started to lay the cork roadbed for Tacheeda, which on the prototype was a small yard where coal trains off of the Tumbler Sub swapped power. On my layout Tacheeda will be the start of the staging tracks, but will also have a section of catenary for the electric GF6 locos that ran on the Tumbler Sub.  I was planning on having a back track at Tacheeda for power to lay over, however room is tighter than expected and with a reverse loop in the picture I’m not sure if I can work these tracks into the plan.

Here’s the North end of Tacheeda yard, which will consist of 8 tracks.


And a veiw of the yard from the other direction. Notice the grade coming into the yard. This is due to the height of the upper deck increasing to around 62 inches off of the floor. I had to raise both upper and lower decks slightly to allow for my work table to fit under the layout. The extra height at Tacheeda shouldn’t be a problem for operations, since the yard is basically staging for trains.


And around the corner we have the reverse loop that will represent Prince George staging. The loop goes into the furnace room to save me some space in the layout room (priorities people!) Loop is 4 tracks


And, over (ok actually below) on the Dawson Creek Sub, I’ve built a passing siding (Groundbirch) and roughed in the location of the Howe truss bridge at Kiskatinaw. The bridge is from Hunterline, and will likely take me about 20 years to build!



I’m going to run to the hobby shop this week for some more cork, and plan on doing some steady track work to get the upper deck functional, since its a lot easier to finish the track on the upper level before the last of the bench work for the lower is built.


A Short Update


Its been far too long since my last post, however once again I find myself to be too busy in the basement to write a blog post! The above image was taken in the Chetwynd yard and shows both diesel service tracks occupied. The GMD-1’s are from Rapido Trains (and are amazing models) which I plan on using from time to time on the Dawson Creek Sub, as on my layout I plan to use the CN interchange at Dawson Creek.

More progress on Chetwynd yard:


All the track work in the yard is complete except for 2 turnouts that will need to be installed. I did some “test running” (ok so I was having some fun) in the yard and found I need one more crossover for operations, so I will need to install those turnouts. The upper deck has seen the fascea installed and partially painted, as well as turnout control switches and LED indications installed.

On the Dawson Creek Sub, I’ve roughed in and laid track over the Pine River, and have laid track up to the siding location of Sundance. I’d throw a few pics up however the view is blocked by boxes right now as I work on this section of the layout:


This section of benchwork is the hidden staging yard that will represent Fort St John (located north of Chetwynd on the prototype). In the back you can see the start of the lower level bench work for the Dawson Creek Sub. The staging yard will consist of 3 tracks, the largest sized to hold 15 cars including a van and 3 units. The operational plan calls for a freight to leave staging, lift cars at Chetwynd and continue on to Prince George. The grade out of the staging is steep, so I hope a test run shortly will allow a train to actually leave this yard! Once I have all the track in and wired up, I’ll build the lower level bench work above this section.

Trackwork in Chetwynd

I’ve been going somewhat crazy not being able to remove a lot of my freight cars from their boxes, so what better time than to build a yard! 90% or so of the track in Chetwynd is now in and wired up, I still have to run tracks for the diesel service and a few industries, but now I have a place to park a train!

North End of yard:


South end:


Roadbed in Chetwynd

Yesterday I finished laying down the cork roadbed for Chetwynd yard.

South end of the yard:


The long track in the foreground leads to the Canfor mill, the stub track will be the Esso spur.

Mid point of yard, diesel servicing tracks and TOFC track in foreground.


The track in the background that runs through the backdrop represents the line from Chetwynd north to Ft St John. On the layout, FSJ will be a 4 track staging yard under a section of the lower level benchwork. The hole in the backdrop will be hidden by the Chetwynd station.


And the north end of the yard. The tracks running behind the camera will be the line to Dawson Creek.


Summer Update

Now that our yard is finished, I can head back to the basement and get back to work on the layout! Here’s a shot of the curve on the upper level. The trackage on the left side of the wall is Pinesul, and on the right will be Azouetta, the location of a short rock tunnel


I’ve continued along with the upper deck benchwork and track, and have reached the location of Kennedy. On the prototype, Kennedy was where the Mackenzie Sub (branch line ot Mackenzie BC) met the Chetwynd Sub. I’ve built a short passing siding, as well as 2 legs of a wye that will be non functional due to space limitations. The dead end legs of the wye will be hidden by scenery. I plan to have road freights set out and lift bulkhead flats of lumber at Kennedy, to represent traffic on the Mackenzie Sub



South end of Kennedy with one leg of the dummy wye in the background


And since I really want to run a few trains, I started on the benchwork and the rough layout of Chetwynd

Chetwynd benchwork

Yard lead on the south end of Chetwynd:

Yard throat rough

Next up will be to pull wire for the lower deck lighting, add backdrops to Chetwynd, and continue the benchwork for the yard.

Retreating to the basement…

Because it was nut sack sweat hot out today, I figured spending some quality time in the basement would be better than in a humid garage. Although summer in these parts is short (2 months of good weather sometimes) I just don’t like doing much outside when its 30 degrees C with no wind. A couple days ago I painted all the backdrop that I had installed on the layout with a base shade of blue. After spending lots of time masking track and working in very awkward positions, I decided there has to be a better way to do things. So, today I pre painted an 8 foot section of hardboard before installing it on the layout. Much easier! So here’s a shot of said piece after the second coat of paint, and an overview shot of the sections I painted before. The blue looks better in person than in the photos, and it made a big difference in brightening up the room!

blue backdrop flat blue backdrop overview

That’s all I’ve done in the last month or so, been too busy landscaping our yard to do much modelling!