An N-Scale Santa Fe branchline through the mountains

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Contruction Journal ( 2004 )
01/07/2004 Like everything else, nothing with the Train works out exactly as planned. We moved in, the room is ready, but unfortunately it got used to store "extra" stuff that we can't decide what to do with. For now, my train room is a glorified storage room. With that in mind, I decided to "tweak" the layout a little more. The cross-overs and loop-backs worked well on paper, but when I started thinking about having to follow the train around ( with all the jumping back and forth from inside to outside ) they didn't work. I also found out the door wasn't located exactly where I thought it would be. So, here's the new plan. It makes for easier following of the train as it works its way around. I also modified the switching at the front town and added two sets of staging tracks over the painting table.
New Layout (8 x 16)
Overall Room Dimensions ( 10 x 20.75 )

02/16/2004 The day is quickly approaching when construction on the "NEW" Dusty Junction will begin. The room has been "cleaned" of all the "extra" stuff that was stored there. Now all I have to do is purchase the "sky" and paint it on. Then I can start constructing the benchwork. It's been so long, that it almost feels unreal that I will finally be working on the train again!

In celebration, I took a new photo for the website homepage.

04/02/2004 The layout is finally beginning to take shape. I finished painting the "sky" on a couple of weeks ago, and today I finished the basic benchwork for the layout. As you can see, I only saved one small portion of the original layout. By the time I had finished redesigning the trackplan ( over and over again ), not much of the original plan still worked. This weekend I plan to install the plywood, risers and trackage for the town of Driftwood. I'll finally be able to run a train! ( although only for short switching manuevers )

04/18/2004 I quickly realized that I couldn't install the town of Driftwood without first installing the return track behind it. So, the first plywood installed is for the mine area and the long return track behind Driftwood. I had hoped to install the plywood base for Driftwood as well, but as fate would have it, I ran out of screws! What are the odds? Anyway, here's a photo showing the mine area. The lower section of plywood is just sitting there ( remember, no screws ).

06/14/2004 After almost two months of VERY little progress, I have finally reached a "small" milestone in the construction process. I managed to install the subroadbed and track for the town of Jasper. Off in the distance you can still see the sections of plywood that I have not managed to install on risers yet. It's slow progress, but at least I now feel like I'm getting somewhere! Hopefully, I'll have all the plywood installed by the end of the month. Who knows how long before all the track is installed. Also, that is ONLY the track. No electical wiring has been done yet. SO... No Trains yet.

07/05/2004 The town of Jasper is nearing completion as far as trackwork, wiring, etc. I created my first control panel ( a kit from Model Railroad Central ) which I think turned out REALLY nice! (Sorry about the reflection in the picture) The tortoises make it easy to wire in LEDs to indicate the turnout direction. I finally have a section where I can do some switching while I continue to build the remainder of the layout. ( Although only as analog. I haven't hooked up the Digitax equipment yet! )

07/14/2004 I finished wiring the PM42 for the Digitrax system and have run the track wires and control bus over to the town of Jasper. As you can see, I've installed a temporary "master" on/off switch until I can get the facia installed in front of the power center. ( I'm waiting until I have everything installed for the trackage above before installing the panel ). The track leading west has nearly reached the town of Driftwood and the track leading east has nearly reached the mining complex just behind Driftwood. While progress is slow, hopefully soon I'll be able to run point-to-point from Driftwood thru Jasper and up to the mining complex.

08/22/2004 There's been a LONG break for the construction crew. The "real" job has been keeping me busy, AND we just got a dog! Just trying to get back into some sort of routine took nearly a month! Anyway, I finished laying the track to the mining complex in the back corner. The Tortoise switch machines haven't been installed yet, so switching is VERY manual, but at least I have another location to work with. I'll need to order another control panel kit before I can FULLY install the Tortoises. There always seems to be something else that needs to be done. I think that's why I like this hobby so much.

09/06/2004 Thank goodness for long weekends! I finally managed to get all the plywood roadbed installed for the entire layout. I also completed the stacked staging yards behind the paint booth. I built that at the workbench. Boy! I wish I could build the entire layout at the workbench. It was SO much easier to just flip the piece over and install the switch machines and wiring. Now I dread even more having to climb under the layout to install everything. Oh well. My goal is to get all the trackbed installed in the next week or so. ( I'm waiting on another shipment .. I seriously underestimated how much would be required ) and then hopefully have the track itself installed by the end of October. Lofty goals, but I have to start somewhere.

10/24/2004 Fall always seems like a hectic time when not much gets done on the train. I have completed laying all the subroadbed and I have laid the track in Muleshoe. I've taken a little time off from track laying to build my first turntable ( from Diamond Scale ). Here's the completed pit. I'm still working on the bridge. I've also started a little project where I'm replacing the wooden "metal" roofing on my mine with a printed paper version available from Paper Creek Model Works. I think the difference is amazing.

11/23/2004 The "golden spike" has been laid! With an insertion of temporary supports for the Megan Creek bridge, all the trackwork is now in place and the first trains have completed the full loop around the layout. I still have a lot of work to do installing the control panels and wiring for all of the switchmachines, but at least now I can really run the trains!

12/23/2004 If November is considered "National Model Train Month" then December should be considered "I Want to Work on My Train" month. It seems that once December started, all my free time has suddenly vanished, taken up with shopping, decorating, wrapping, packing, shipping, and attending parties. The only work I've managed to squeeze in on the train, is to layout the remaining control panels. I still need to drill them, install the controls and wire them up. So much to do and so little time. Hopefully January will see more progress.