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 Construction of the new PRR Northern Division

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
MarkF Posted - 06/13/2009 : 01:01:11 AM
I have finally decided to start this thread and share with you my experiences building my new PRR Northern Division layout. As some of you may recall, I tore down my old layout about two years ago when I decided it was time to sell my old home and move into a smaller house. (Pictures of the old layout can still be seen on my website) As painful a decision as that was, luck was with me as I found a house with a larger basement! I drove my real estate agent nuts as I was very insistent that the new house have a large, deep, dry basement! This limited my choices to some extent, but the search was well worth it! And oh, by the way, I do love the house that sits atop this basement!

The new basement is 32í by 24í. A newly built walled off area now conceals the heater/AC unit and hot water heater, and creates a storage room that will also house the staging yard. This still leaves a 32í by 18í area dedicated to the layout itself! Best of all, the basement is deep; the finished suspended ceiling will be 6í10Ē off the floor, a luxury to us taller railroaders!

Although this layout will be larger, it will incorporate the same elements as the old layout; the PRR Northern Division mainline, this time from Selinsgrove Junction to just north of Northumberland Yard, as well as three branch lines; the Wilkes-Barre line, the Shamokin Secondary track and the Selinsgrove Secondary track. It will feature interchanges with the Reading RR in Shamokin, the Lehigh Valley RR in Mount Carmel, Pa., and Wilkes-Barre, Pa., along with the Delaware & Hudson and CNJ, also in Wilkes-Barre. The biggest difference is that in addition to the foot print of the layout being nearly 50% bigger, this layout will also be double decked, so in essence, it will be almost three times the size of the last layout! While I am an operations nut, and the layout is planned for operations, I plan to better utilize that additional space for scenery and structures and avoid crowding the layout with too much track.

The lower level will be dedicated to the mainline run from north on Northumberland Yard to Selinsgrove Jct., as well as the Selinsgrove Secondary track. The second level will be dedicated to the two other branch lines; the Shamokin Secondary and the Wilkes-Barre branch, including Buttonwood Yard. Each branch line will emerge from the helix (located approximately mid-way around the layout) and run in opposing directions. Therefore, no two tracks will share the same scene. And before anyone asks me, no, I do not have a Ďtrack planí other than the one in my head. Iím great at doodling, but when it comes to an actual scale plan, well, itís in my head! Eventually I will most likely do one, and will definitely sketch areas such as the yard as I go. This is the way I build! Sorry guys, I know Iím breaking some rules here, but itís worked for me in the past so Iím going with it this time around too!

Visual progress has been slow to this point. I moved into the house in mid-January, but of course I spent a lot of time settling in. Work has been hectic, and on top of that, my son recently got married, but now with all of that out of the way, I hope to make steady progress. Bruce (SteamNut) and Rick (Harsco) have been instrumental in helping with the planning and initial construction. My first priority is to finish the basement by sheet rocking the walls of the basement and installing a suspended ceiling.
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
BessemerBob Posted - 01/21/2018 : 7:19:55 PM
Hey mark,

New year no posts?

Hope all is well...
MarkF Posted - 11/22/2017 : 5:55:42 PM
Well guys, don't let the absence of posts here on RRL let you think that things are quiet here in south Jersey. Anything but! I will have to do some prodding with some of these guys to post some updates.

As for here on the Northern Division, as I mentioned previously, I've been distracted with some 'home improvement' type projects, but fortunately that is coming to a close shortly. I will definitely post some pics once I get back from my Thanksgiving trip.
keystonefarm Posted - 11/21/2017 : 01:34:55 AM
It's been way too quiet in the Garden State !! ----- Ken
keystonefarm Posted - 11/21/2017 : 01:33:45 AM
It's been way too quiet in the Garden State !! ----- Ken
Grubes Posted - 11/19/2017 : 12:23:27 PM
I was wondering the same thing Mark, look forward to seeing your updates. The South Jersey crowd has been quiet.
MarkF Posted - 11/18/2017 : 11:44:45 PM
Hey Bob! Thanks for checking in. Yes, I've been in the basement since my last post, held a few op sessions, and even managed to make some progress around the layout. I guess I've reached that stage where I'm doing some futzing here and there, adding some hardshell in certain places, and working on a few engines, but nothing really exciting so I haven't posted any updates.

More recently over the past couple of months I've been involved in several 1:1 home improvement projects, including installing a new front door, completely re-modeling my kitchen and installing a new floor in the hallway and kitchen area. So while there has been progress, it hasn't been on the railroad!

I will post some pics in the next few days.
BessemerBob Posted - 11/18/2017 : 11:17:51 AM

That wet cold fall weather has set in, have you made it to the basement?
MarkF Posted - 06/28/2017 : 01:11:42 AM
James, it looks like you and I use the exact same technique! All this talk about ballasting is inspiring me to get started with some ballasting, but since I've already started three other projects, I really need to focus and finish at least one of them before beginning another.
ed k Posted - 06/27/2017 : 10:21:23 PM
I learn technique and new words. How cool is that?
Orionvp17 Posted - 06/27/2017 : 8:40:46 PM
A pump hair sprayer loaded with Isopropyl alcohol (70% or 91%, which has less water) and misted on will help the initial wetting process, as the IPA is a surfactant. I follow this with the white glue/wet water mix applied with a plastic picnic mayonnaise "jar," which being translucent, helps remind me how much is left in the jar. The picnic jar is readily available and will apply a drop at a time or a splorch (technical term) if necessary. As they used to tell me in southeast Asia, "works good, last long time."

And yes, the progress here is inspiring! Bravo!

in Michigan

jbvb Posted - 06/27/2017 : 8:16:08 PM
I use an old 6 oz. glue bottle with a pop-up-to-open cap for my ballast glue. I can put a dot of mix between each tie, or run the tip along the top of the ties leaving a line of glue which disperses into the ballast. I mix it 3 water to 1 glue, saving the thicker mix for brushing on steep slopes.
MarkF Posted - 06/27/2017 : 6:32:18 PM
Thanks Glen. I already have one fine sprayer which I will use for the wet water. I was always concerned, as this is my luck, that the fine sprayer would easily clog with the 50/50 mixture. I've always had good luck with the dropper, although you are correct, it does take longer!

Ed, well put!
ed k Posted - 06/27/2017 : 2:27:51 PM
Thrifty, not cheap.
Glen Haasdyk Posted - 06/27/2017 : 12:08:11 AM
Hey Mark. I've ballasted my entire layout with WS ballast and the fine-adjustable sprayer works well for the 'wet' water. Just got down to a dollar store and pick up one. When it came to applying the 50/50 water-glue mixture, I used another sprayer to apply it, seemed to work a lot faster than the dropper method.
MarkF Posted - 06/27/2017 : 12:02:20 AM
Thanks James. I've actually been watching your thread and really like the look of your track with the darker ballast. It really looks good! The PRR used a lighter (I believe limestone) ballast, but I will be using a darker/cinder color in the yard and some industrial areas.

With regard to the glue, in the past I would spray on wet water with a standard sprayer, soaking the ballast fairly well, then apply a 50/50 white glue mixture with a dropper. It was the spraying part that wreaked havoc with the ballast. Hence the suggestion of using a finer, light sprayer that wouldn't blow the ballast around as much. I plan to experiment with various techniques and will post the results.

I think that is the main reason some people avoid the WS ballast. Since it is made from crushed walnut shells, it does not have the 'weight' and is easily disturbed with the spraying of wet water prior to gluing, whereas other brands such as Highball I believe are actually stone and because of that, it stays in place and is easier to work with during the bonding process. Since I have so much of the WS ballast, I feel the need to find a technique to make it work. Like so many other model railroaders, I am cheap so won't waste what I have!

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