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Author Previous Topic: CNR Blackwater division Topic Next Topic: Backdrops
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Crew Chief

Posted - 07/10/2020 :  12:31:58 AM  Show Profile  Visit Brunton's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hello everyone.
I have been building different versions of what I call The CB&Q in Wyoming for over 20 years now. None have gotten near completion.
Now I'm working on Version 5, in Casper Wyoming.
If you followed my previous build, documented here: http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=48262, you'll know that I was planning on relocating from New Jersey to Wyoming late last year. Why is explained in my last entry on page 4 of that thread.

We moved into our new house in Casper the first week of November 2019.
We've spent the last six months finishing the train room. There's still a bit of trim to be done and a couple lights to hang, but on June 25 I was able to start layout construction.

But enough chuntering on, how about a few pictures?

Here's the new train room right after we moved in:

And here's approximately the same view in late June:

Baseboards are part of the trim that's yet to be finished.

When I disassembled the layout in New Jersey, I was able to save all the L-Girders and legs, and most of the other benchwork. Backdrops were salvaged, but the subroadbed and whatnot went into the trash.
Except for Casper yard and engine terminal.
Casper broke down easily into three sections, so I was able to save all that work and bring it with me.

So on June 27th I began reassembling the Casper area, with the first L-Girder frame:

Compare it to this shot, taken in New Jersey almost exactly two years ago (five days shy, to be precise):

That's exactly the same frame, but with new leg extensions and casters to raise the height a few inches.

The next day, June 28th, I had all the casper frames rebuilt and the Casper sections fastened on top:

Since then I've been busy installing new DCC buss wires, reconnecting feeders, and I've begun installing new track where it was cut at the section joints. Within the next ten days I think I'll have Casper back up and running. That's a far cry from the eight or so months I spent building it the first time!

Sometime in the next few days I'll post the new track plan and go through it in probably way too much detail.

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Premium Member

Posted - 07/10/2020 :  07:19:38 AM  Show Profile  Visit jbvb's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Congratulations! At least for me, having something I can run is a great encouragement for further work.

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George D

Premium Member

Posted - 07/10/2020 :  08:17:07 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Good looking train room, Mark. You're off to a good start.


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Michael Hohn

Posted - 07/10/2020 :  09:00:32 AM  Show Profile  Visit Michael Hohn's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Looks like a pleasant home for your layout. Iíll bet itís pretty exciting to have a bunch of tracks down.


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Premium Member

Posted - 07/10/2020 :  09:21:21 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Great blog you have. And the work right now is looking pretty dam good.


"And in the end, itís not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." A. Lincoln

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robert goslin

Premium Member

Posted - 07/17/2020 :  6:59:46 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Mark, that's a really nice space for your layout, and nicely finished.
And a good job on being able to reuse the benchwork.
I'll be following along.

Regards Rob

Despite the cost of living, It's still popular

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Posted - 07/18/2020 :  02:17:41 AM  Show Profile  Visit adrian_batey's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Nice to see a layout build topic.

I wish it only took me 6 months to build my layout space. I'm 5 years in and still have a tin shed with no door.

Owen Pass Lumber Company
HO Logging Layout in a Shed.

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Crew Chief

Posted - 07/21/2020 :  10:29:11 PM  Show Profile  Visit Brunton's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the kind comments, everyone!

Mike, the most exciting part was having all those tracks down with just a few hours' work!

Adrian, it looks like you're making your own kind of progress. Jacobs Fuel Company looks great! And a prototype visit is always good for soul...

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Crew Chief

Posted - 07/21/2020 :  11:49:04 PM  Show Profile  Visit Brunton's Homepage  Reply with Quote
So here's the track plan. It's both substantially different, and surprisingly similar, to layouts I've started before.

The full-blown plan:

It's looks a bit chunky because the line widths don't scale down with the image. But we'll muddle through...

The numbers in blocks are elevations above the floor.

This is a partial multi-deck design. You can see that it extends from 22.5 inches above the floor at "F/O Staging" to 60.5 inches in Lander.

The blue lines (and Casper) represent the Burlington mainline through Wyoming, from Orin Junction WY in the south to Frannie MT in the north. The dark green lines (taking off from the left at Orin / Frannie) represent both the Northern Pacific line from Frannie on into Laurel MT (the Burlington had trackage rights through to Laurel), and the Burlington and Chicago & North Western lines east from Orin into Nebraska (no they didn't both go to Orin Junction. The Burlington did, but the CNW went through Lusk. Taking a bit of modeler's license there). The light green lines represent the Burlington branch from Frannie to Cody, And the red lines represent the end of the CNW's Cowboy Line from Shobon to Lander.

I'll bet that's all really clear now, isn't it?

Let's unpeel some of the layers on the plan and it might make more sense. First we'll look at the Burlington Mainline.

This is the Burlington's Casper subdivision. Most, but not all, towns on the prototype are on the layout (and even in the correct order!) I've left off Basin and Manderson and one or two others.
Some of the most egregious compression on the layout occurs on the upper right corner. The line from Casper to Powder River is actually about 30 miles, and Shobon is around 65 miles farther.
A BIG scenic element on the layout is the Wind River Canyon. There are no passing sidings along here. It's simply sweeping curves through short tunnels and cuts as the line parallels the Wind River through the canyon.
Thermopolis is a resort town, where people still go to swim in the hot springs-fed swimming pools. Worland is next, sporting the Holly Sugar Refinery. The next major town, Greybull, serves a variety of smaller industries. On the prototype it was also an engine change spot, with a turntable, roundhouse and servicing facilities in the days of steam. I left that part out - too much space needed. Finally we come to Frannie, the junction for the Cody branch. We'll talk more about that in a minute.
Going the opposite way out of Casper, we come to the smaller town of Douglas. There were a few industries here, but nothing major. Then it's on to Orin Junction.
Orin and Frannie are represented by two ends of the same yard. During operating sessions they will be considered disconnected, with trains going on into F/O Staging, or on to Cody as appropriate.

Now let's look at F/O Staging.

This is the section that is most different from earlier layouts. I used to call it the "Frannie Cutoff," and it ran to the modeled town of Laurel MT on earlier layouts, which was part of a giant loop of mostly hidden track that represented the Northern Pacific transcontinental. There were two huge hidden staging yards that represented Seattle WA and Minneapolis MN.
Well, because of space constraints and a more realistic assessment of what I might be able to actually build, all the NP stuff went away and the Frannie line now just runs into the staging yard you see here, located under the Wind River / Thermopolis peninsula. I figure that, operationally from the Burlington perspective, that gives me about 95% of the operation with about 10% of the build time. Yeah, I lost all the NP operations, but that was never the main focus anyway. The biggest problem I have now is that I have a bunch of NP steam, plus a 130' turntable and big roundhouse that I don't have a use for anymore. I guess I'll be the "NP guy" at the next train show!

Back to the track plan. Let's look at the Cody branch.

This line runs from Frannie west to Cody. Trains coming from Casper had to turn around here to head towards Cody. I believe that most Cody trains originated in Laurel stopping to pick up and drop off cars going to or coming from the south. The line runs through the small agrarian town of Powell, which was the origin point for many of the sugar beets that were processed in Worland (and Lovell, another town left off the modeled Burlington mainline. That one was painful to omit). From there, the line proceeds on to Cody, home of the Husky refinery, which specialized in asphalt production. Cody also was the Burlington's gateway to Yellowstone National Park.
Cody is located below Thermopolis and just above the F/O Staging yard,
You may have noticed Vocation between Powell and Cody. This was a temporary station, only in place for a little under five years, from 1942 to about 1946. It was the train station for the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, where Japanese Americans were confined during WWII. This is right smack in the middle of my modeling era, so I wanted to include it as a reminder of this shameful chapter in American history.

And lastly (finally!) we have the CNW Lander line.

The Chicago & North Western ran on its own tracks from Nebraska to Casper, and on to Riverton and Lander. In fact, the CNW preceded the Burlington into Casper by about 25 years! But it was just a branch, whereas the Burlington was a through mainline. In early WWII, CNW's line from Illco, west of Casper and all the way to Shobon was removed and they used the Burlington's tracks, diverging onto their own tracks again at Shobon (later the tracks from Casper to Illco were also removed).
On the layout, the CNW diverges at Shobon (just a turnout on the Burlington mainline), heads behind the scenes around the Wind River / Thermopolis peninsula (that's a busy peninsula, isn't it!) popping back into view at Riverton, on the deck above Powder River. From there it proceeds on a single line along the wall above Casper (narrow shelf with a bit of scenery and a backdrop), around the corner to the tiny little hamlet of Hudson (just a through truss over the Popo Agie river and a few houses) and finally to the end of the line at Lander. There were a few minor agrarian industries here (including seasonal apple shipments), along with a small turntable and minimal engine facilities.


So now you have a good sense of the layout. Sorry about the length of this post. I'll avoid that in the future.

Edited by - Brunton on 07/21/2020 11:59:39 PM

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Premium Member

Posted - 07/22/2020 :  09:40:14 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Congrats on a nice layout room, Mark. It looks like you have a great plan in place.


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Premium Member

Posted - 07/22/2020 :  12:23:06 PM  Show Profile  Visit jbvb's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Looks interesting, with scenic and operational potential. But testing as you build to-be-hidden track is going to be important.

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Premium Member

Posted - 07/22/2020 :  1:38:04 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Interesting project! Best wishes for visible, inspirational progress, but as James mentioned, test, test, test and test again anything that is likely to be hidden. And if you can make like a software developer and leave a back door or two in there so you can get at stuff later on, you'll be ahead of Mr. Murphy....

in Michigan

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Crew Chief

Posted - 08/03/2020 :  11:36:13 AM  Show Profile  Visit Brunton's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks guys!

Bruce, I'm just hoping I can bring this plan to fruition. There have been a lot of false starts.

jbvb, you're right about testing. That will be a BIG part of the whole process.

Pete, I certainly do plan on leaving access to the hidden track, especially the Frannie / Orin staging yard under the canyon. Those turnouts will no doubt need maintenance from time to time.

I just posted my latest video update to YouTube:

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Crew Chief

Posted - 08/18/2020 :  10:59:15 AM  Show Profile  Visit Brunton's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I just installed the first section of my "second deck," a narrow shelf above Casper for the Chicago & North Western line between Riverton and Lander.

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Crew Chief

Posted - 09/24/2020 :  11:19:50 AM  Show Profile  Visit Brunton's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Over the past five or so weeks I've continued with the construction of the CNW line over Casper, with benchwork construction now extending to Hudson.

Trackwork over the main part of Casper was completed at the end of August (Casper is pulled away from the wall to allow space to work):

Wiring was a little tight in that 3 1/2" wide space!

Benchwork construction proceeding around the left end of Casper. The section on the angled wall to the left is where Hudson will be:

Edited by - Brunton on 09/24/2020 11:21:01 AM

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Premium Member

Posted - 09/25/2020 :  08:15:41 AM  Show Profile  Visit jbvb's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Good progress! In that tight a space, it might be useful to switch to house wiring stuff like wire nuts; once assembled and tested the wiring could be pushed up into the hidden area and maybe retained with staples if it won't stay on its own.

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