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CNR Blackwater division

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  • CNR Blackwater division

    After working on my layout for 15 years, I'm thinking a tearing it down and starting over. I've started to realize the track plan's limitations and I think I can do better.

  • #2
    The layout is 14" long and 5'4" wide on the one end and 7'4" wide on the other. The basic mainline is a loop with the return hidden behind the backdrop.

    Those of you with a good eye with recognize the switchback from the Gumstump and Snowshoe trackplan from Model railroader. Originally this layout was only 8' X 2'. I built that part almost 30 years ago when that was all the room I had.

    Now there are a few thing's I'd like to change.

    1) Make the layout more open without the hidden return track. I think it's a big waste of space and operating possibilities

    2) widen the mainline curves. The section through the city is 22 and 24" radius which isn't bad but the part through the tunnel under the logging area is 19" radius which I won't even attempt with my passenger cars.

    3) eliminate the switchback. It was a novelty that has pretty much run it's course.

    4) more separation from the larger city and small town.

    I do want to keep the stamp mill, turntable, roundhouse and the harbour if I can.

    I have already removed the engines and rolling stock from the layout when I took the pictures.

    This is my layout plan at the moment. The new layout has pretty much the same footprint as the original, with the exception that the one side is now a straight line. My plan is to have a 2' aisle inside and maybe a lift gate to access it or I'll just have to manage a duckunder. The new mainline radii would be 24 and 30".

    I also added the incline spur that will serve both the stamp mill and the logging area, but adding a turnout so the stamp mill will have it's own siding. I also added passing sidings to both longer legs, each about 8 feet long if my measurements are correct.

    I'm also considering making the layout higher this time around. The current layout is 3'6" and I think it would be better if I gave it an even 4 feet in height. I'm not adding any sidings or yards quite yet. I'm thinking of building what I have drawn first, then seeing how things will fit. I have allot of buildings on the current layout that I hope will make the journey to the new. I do suspect the I'll be sacrificing the turntable but I don't see myself missing it if it comes to that.


    • #3
      The overall views of your layout are interesting as I looked for structures we’ve watched you build. I’ll be watching your new adventure.


      Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin


      • #4
        If you do wind up with a duckunder to a 24" wide aisle, plan the framework so you can install handgrips to help stand up in the narrow space. How I know is I presently have a file cabinet, scenery materials and a stack of storage drawers full of electrical stuff under the layout on either side of my narrow aisle. I should rearrange that...


        • #5
          Hi Glen. Looking forward to to seeing a new layout started. I'm quiet envious, as I decided 18 months ago to do the same but haven't done anything as yet.

          I assume you are reusing all the buildings, and removable scenery items. And keeping the same theme. Definitely keep the harbour, as they are always a nice feature.

          Even raising the layout to 4' it's still fairly low, especially if using a duck-under.

          I suppose it depends on how much reach you need .

          Will be following along, with keen interest, as I always enjoy your work.
          Regards Rob

          Despite the cost of living, it's still popular

          My current build.


          • #6
            my layout has a central "cockpit". my layout is high with the clearance of the duck under at 50". The duck under got old fast and Iwish I would of added a lift/up or door into the the center.

            It\'s only make-believe


            • #7
              Thanks everyone.

              I'm thinking of trying to incorporate the harbour into a lift or drop gate but even if the doesn't work out, I do want to re-introduce the harbour if I can and utilize a gate to get into the operating pit.

              I completed stripping everything off the layout a couple days ago:

              It took a few nights and allot of boxes but I cleared the layout of all the structures, trees, figures and other details. all the structures were boxed up with their details packed with them in zip-lock bags. I also took pictures of some of the structures so I will remember where all the details went.

              When this was done I started pulling the scenery up around the Narrow gauge line

              I'm trying to be as careful as possible as I want to save the hand-laid trackwork. Fortunately most of the roadbed is screwed onto risers so I'll have minimal action with a saw, at least on this part.

              To begin with I un-soldered all the track wiring and removed the control panel, throttle and power supply so I can use them later.


              • #8
                More demolition

                I took out the rest of the the scenery around the narrow gauge and then proceeded to unscrew the roadbed risers.

                Robert, I know that even 4' is still a little low for the layout but I'm limited to the height due to my house's electrical box being behind the layout (red arrow)

                Still an extra 6" is better that what it was before.

                I had to use a jigsaw to cut the narrow gauge section away from the rest of the layout in one spot but the rest lifted away easily. I hope that it will be fairly straight forward to re-attach it to the new layout. You can now see the 19" radius curve that was under the scenery. That part hasn't been visible for almost 15 years.

                With that out of the way I pulled down the rest of the mountain scenery and the backdrop. You can now see the entire trackplan with the return and storage track that was hidden behind the backdrop. I can see a trip to the dump when I finish the dismantling, I've almost filled two large garbage bags with scenery debris and I'm not done yet.

                Now that all the track is visible, it's time to fire up the soldering gun and start to remove all the wiring. I'm going to try to salvage as much track as I can, especially the turnouts as they're almost all Peco.


                • #9
                  Looking good Glen, if destroying a nice layout can be called good.

                  It might inspire me to do the same. I've procrastinated too long about staring a new layout.

                  Folks I know who have done it, say after you start over, it's a great feeling, and is refreshing. So good luck. I'll definitely bee following along.
                  Regards Rob

                  Despite the cost of living, it's still popular

                  My current build.



                  • #10
                    I see what you mean about the fuse-box access.

                    So either don't go down that far past the fuse-box , so you could then raise the layout. Or keep the same footprint, and a lower layout.

                    I just know that duck-under, can litteraly be a pain, so a liftout or gate would be a good idea.

                    Whatever you do, I'm sure will be great.
                    Regards Rob

                    Despite the cost of living, it's still popular

                    My current build.



                    • #11
                      One option for the electrical panel would be a removable piece of backdrop. If you used .060 styrene or aluminum flashing, the edge could be made fairly inconspicuous. Solvent paints on styrene should stand up to a fair amount of flexing, I'm less sure about acrylics on either aluminum or styrene.

                      My removable Rowley & Rowley River modules push up against permanent 1/8" hardboard backdrop at each end. I've had no problems with flaking paint (acrylic over sky blue latex house paint) but the 1/2" edge is impossible to completely hide.


                      • #12

                        Congrats on starting over. I did and no regrets.

                        Fuse/breaker box... some building codes require that box to be clear 3' in front and totally visible.

                        Duck/crawly under?...Don't do it. I had planned on a small operators pit for a logging section on the current layout. You had to crawly in to it. At 55 not so bad... at 65... what was I thinking? Quite some time ago I decided to make that a static scene. Now at 75... I go in there once a year to dust, clean track.

                        Gordon Spalty


                        • #13
                          I've pretty much sold on the idea of a drop gate, probably incorporated with the harbour. I don't think the engineering as as difficult as some may think it is.

                          I pretty much have the layout taken down now. A couple days ago I removed everything from under the layout and cut out all of the wiring. Then I started to pull up the track

                          I also started to remove the small sections that I had added over the years such as the sawmill area.

                          all the visible track had been ballasted so I soaked to down with water to loosen the glue and gently pried up to track. I managed to salvage all of it with minimal damage. After I removed a section of track, I gave it a bath in the laundry tub to remove the rest of the ballast.

                          Here all the track has been removed except for the rear run-around and the storage track. You will also notice the small 6" jog in the wall, when I rebuilt the layout I plan to follow that jog to utilize that to get all the room I can.

                          With that done I started to disassemble the benchwork. The benchwork was an open grid with plywood roadbed on top. I had thought that it would be easy to salvage the roadbed but 15 years ago I glued cork on top of it all so I figure it will just be easier to buy a couple new sheets of 1/2 plywood and throw the old stuff away.

                          Then I pulled the open frame work apart. This I am reusing, or at least as much as I can. It's made of 3/4" fir plywood cut into 3" strips. the rear run around was build in the same way. The layout was built someway modular-style, in 4 main parts with a few add ons over the years. I plan to build the new layout in a similar fashion.

                          And then I'm back to the original Gumstump and Snowshow layout that I built almost 30 years ago. I was think of seeing if anyone wanted this part. It can be refurbished and made into a nice little switching layout like I started with.

                          Next is the final dissassembly and the room cleanup.


                          • #14

                            More power to you Glen. Hopefully you won't lose interest in the middle of this project and quit.


                            • #15
                              Good luck with this project Glen. :up: