A Railroad with Relevance

Sub-roadbed Progress Update

Written By: Alan - Jul• 07•13

Rolling right along getting sub-roadbed sections cut. The cutting is the easy part. Figuring out where each segment should begin and end was much more challenging. I folded little tent cards from notepad paper to use as my markers. This worked real well since I could freely move them all I wanted. 100_5368Each section joint had to be between crossmembers so as not to interfere with riser positioning. The joints also could not be near a switch or complicated track work. Recall I am using “every other one” methodology for laying track on the sections. Even number sections will be built-up on the workbench. Odd number sections will have their track laid while the section is in place on the layout. This allows me to build the complicated track work on the bench while the in-between odd number sections serve to join the pre-built sections and adjust for any minor misalignment. Working with the tape measure and moving the tent cards I was finally able to put together an arrangement that fits the requirements while allowing each section to be cut from a 4×8 sheet of plywood. With the exception of one spot. There is always an exception, isn’t there?

This is the Lapeer area section. It is the largest single section measuring 96″ long by 51″ wide. Yes, 51″ dag nabbit. So close to 48″. Rather than split it into three sections (even-odd-even) I decided to 100_5362“extend” my plywood sheet in the one spot where the track plan hangs over. You can see my gluing operation going on in the upper left corner of the picture below. Having Lapeer as one big section will pay huge dividends later. Fortunately, this is the only occurrence of sheet extending I have to do. As you can see, the Lapeer section is also a plywood sheet waster. It is worth the price on this one


section because it will allow me to build the entire Lapeer track work as one big piece and at the workbench. Lapeer is the biggest single section on the railroad. For all the rest of the sections I have been working with the track plan cutouts much like one would do a puzzle. This has allowed me to minimize the scrap. At $48 a sheet I try my best to keep the waste to a minimum. I’ll get a few more sections from this sheet so it isn’t going to be a huge waste. I purposely cut the longest sections first and work my way to the shorter sections that I can cut from smaller and smaller cutoff pieces. In the photo gallery there is a picture of my scrap thus far. I don’t think it too bad at all considering how many sections have been cut.

While the glue is drying I grabbed the camera and took some pictures. I have about 2/3 of the layout cut but the lights were on only in Zone 3 so that’s all the photos I took for today. Yes, the lighting system is working out well. It is nice having to turn on the lamps and LEDs only in the area where I am working. Saves on electricity! I’ll post photos of the whole thing once all sections are cut.

Accomplished so far:

  1. Reinforce with clear packing tape each seam in the paper where track crosses from sheet to sheet.
  2. Stretch and pin the paper plan tighter than it is now.
  3. Divide the plan into sections that can be cut from a single sheet of plywood (no section can exceed 8′ in length). Try to keep areas that have a high density of switches on the same piece of sub-roadbed.
  4. Using a razor blade, cut out the track along the roadbed lines printed on the plan.
  5. Mark alignment points on the crossmembers corresponding to the openings created by removing the track segments.
  6. When all track segments have been removed and all crossmembers marked the non-roadbed portion of the paper plan will be discarded. (Decided not to do this just yet)
  7. Trace and cut from 3/4″ plywood all sub-roadbed sections leaving 1/4″ extra on the ends. Locate the sections in their proper place on the benchwork. Refine the joining ends.



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One Comment

  1. Rob says:

    Looking good Alan. I am still doing vicarious layout building through your efforts and those of a couple of others. Right now I am working on getting a new house, train room combination. I will know pretty soon if it is going to work out or if I have to put it on hold for a while.


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