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Hi from Colorado, my new track plan in HO

Started by RevivalinHO153, March 08, 2022, 02:00:21 AM

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Some progress pics, this is the valance


This shows the overhead train...


This shows the backdrop with clouds painted by my artist friend...


My benchwork is finished. All is supported by angled steel anchored to wall, except peninsula, which is on legs of black gas pipe with round flanges as feet. framework is steel with wood inserts to screw OSB to. Only two legs to floor makes it alot easier to do wiring underneath, and to clean floor. I have a mechanics seat type creeper for doing wiring. Next step is adding foam sheets on top of OSB.


Hi. I haven't posted in a long time, not online much, mostly just very busy. Being retired has enabled me to make good progress on my new layout. Track is all worked out and in place. Gratis to AnyRail software...priceless!!  Some wiring for DCC is done, but operating trains on DC to test everything. all track joiners on both mainlines are now soldered. Three buildings finished. Will post later on wiring stuff. I came up with a simple system for two lift-out bridges. Will detail that later as well.


Hobby and my outdoor pursuits limit my online postings.  Let's talk about moving electricity!  I want to share a neat way I discovered for doing the wiring under my layout.  I was first planning on using T taps but dropped that idea for something a lot easier to use.  The item I discovered is called a CirKits SPL-62 Multiple Terminal Block, which is a push-in wiring cable connector. Available from Midwest Model Railroad (  This connector easily mounts to the underside of the layout with two small screws (not included). In this way the connector becomes a support for the wiring at the connection points.  This device accepts wire sizes from 28AWG to 12 AWG. This is so much better than using T taps since T taps are not offered in one tap covering such a wide range of wire sizes.  Also easier than using screw type terminal blocks.  The CirKits SPL-62 handles every wire size that is normally used on a model railroad layout.  Each port will accommodate multiple wires which can be twisted together, depending on how many will fit.

I am using 14 AWG wire for the Main DCC buses. The KATO wired track terminals I am using are 24AWG. My turnout buss is 18 AWG and the KATO turnouts come with 24 AWG leads. My layout lighting buss is 18 AWG feeding 28AWG LED leads.  (LED lighting is from Evan Designs, Fort Collins, CO.)  Using T tap connectors would not have accommodated these varied wire sizes in one connector.  All of my wiring is color coded for ease of identification.

For hanging the wiring between the connector blocks I am using a plumbing hanger.  They are 1/2" plastic hangers with two mounting holes.  I only use one screw and that way I can open the hanger from the other end that is not fastened, to insert wires . Very easy, neat, and convenient method of managing the wiring.  My trains are running error free using the DCC system by DigiTrax, and these wiring connectors.


A nice controller for KATO turnouts....One of my challenges with space constraints in my layout, which is in a small bedroom, was to have turnout controls mounted on the layout fascia that would not stick out,

 Because of this constraint I could not use the turnout controllers made by KATO, they would have stuck out too far when mounted on the fascia.  I found a really nice KATO turnout compatible controller made by RPC Electronics, Chesapeake, VA. (  They are made in a unit that will control 4 turnouts individually, and a single to control just one turnout.  They are almost flush on the fascia. The units mount behind the fascia using standoffs that come with the units. My facia is 1/8" hardboard.

These are made just for KATO turnouts only, which use momentary reversing DC polarity to throw the turnout different directions.  They will not work for turnouts that operate differently.  These controllers require input of around 18 volts AC and they convert that to DC to operate the turnouts..

There is a nice face plate that finishes the installation nicely, covering the cutout opening with a professional look. They do not have a faceplate for the single units, so I took the quad faceplate and cut it down to be a single faceplate.  In addition to the screw type terminals for the turnout leads, there are power in and power out terminals for the buss connections from one unit to the next.  They are available with either front mounted or rear mounted terminal blocks.

To operate, all that is needed is a momentary press of the buttons.  Holding the button down would cause an eventual burnout of the turnout.


Let's talk lift-out bridges!  My layout requires two lift out bridges just inside the room's door, in order to walk into the human areas within the layout.  In researching how others have done lift-out bridges I saw a lot of complexity.  One hobbyist even built his bridges to move up ingeniously above head height like an elevator.  I decided I did not want my bridges to be using a very complex method of moving out of the way and back into place.

The method I am using is fairly simple, easy to setup, easy to use. I placed the approach tracks in place so they define the bridge placement, I then placed thin strips of metal glued to the OSB which is the platform for the layout that the two 1 inch layers of foam rest on. I then cut wood blocks for the bridge to sit on at each end with the bottom of the blocks having a strip of magnetic sheet glued to them. This magnetic sheet enables the wood blocks to stick to the metal plates to hold bridges in place.  The blocks were fabricated to an exacting height that ensures the bridge track matches perfectly to the approach tracks.

The bridges lift out with little effort and when put back into place are easy to line up the tracks.  They stay in place and do not move with repeated passing of trains over the bridges.  The magnetic attraction between the magnetic sheets and the metal is just right to keep bridges in place while also making it easy to lift out the bridges.  I built two shelves to place the bridges on when removed.  The electrical connections are made with short wires that plug into a terminal block from KATO with quick release modular plugs.  I had to modify the internal connections inside the terminal block to have two separate circuits since each bridge is on main line loops that are powered separately on the DCC system as power districts.Since the bridge tracks do not actually touch the mainline tracks at one end, they provide the perfect break that ensures there is not a continuous loop in the DCC circuitry, which is required with DCC, in the information I have.

I finished things off at each end of where the bridges sit, by using flexible concrete walls from Walther's (Chooch brand), and painting these walls, and wood blocks that are glued to the bridges, a concrete color.  A friend suggested that I should consider a removable flat piece of sheathing to span the area under the bridges.  This would be finished off to look like a river that the bridges are passing over.


Wow, this is becoming a really beautiful layout! You have a nice room for it. I'm sure it provides tons of fun.
David Hoogvorst. Founder and Owner of DRail Software. Creator of AnyRail.


I have finished a complex scene on my new HO layout. It is an Amish Farm, in a corner of my layout which I had no other plans for. I live in Colorado but I grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Amish and Mennonite country. So even though my layout depicts (with lots of liberties) the area around Castle Rock, Colorado. I wanted to incorporate some things from my family home area (where most of my family and relatives live) into my layout. There are now around 5 or 6 small Amish communities in Colorado. Now if I could just figure out a way to incorporate a covered bridge! If you don't know alot about the Amish Culture, I recommend you watch this video... "The Amish: Back Roads to Heaven", full movie by Burton Buller. .  I will include a pdf of the backstory I have written that details the activities in the scene, a snapshot in time.


Finally getting some time to submit a new post.  This one is about the mountain I have added to my layout.  The mountain is in a corner of my layout, kinda like an anchor!  The idea is for the flat landscape and parallel tracks to lead the eye to the mountain. Two mainline tracks go through tunnels. Both mainlines enter the tunnels on the same level but one line climbs a grade inside tunnel so at the other end they are at different levels.  In front of the mountain will be the Champion Packing Plant by Walthers.

I started with making the tunnels, using a sheet of one inch foam for the ceiling.  I had some flexible 3/8" foam laying around which I used for the walls of the tunnels.  I used some techniques for the tunnels I saw on a YouTube video done by a young guy in South Africa named Gerben.  He has some videos on YouTube under "ThecreativemodellerHO.  His method of lining the tunnels with crumpled craft paper makes for realistic tunnel rock walls.  I used spray paint to color the tunnel walls.

I then built the mountain using layers of scrap pieces of 1 inch thick foam, held in place with construction adhesive.  I then covered the foam with home-made sculptamold.  I used Gerben's method of making sculptamold from egg cartons processed through a blender to shred them, and then I mixed it with Easy Sand 90 minute drywall joint compound available at Home Depot and Lowes.  This works well, it gives a 90 minute working time so I don't have to rush when using it, plenty of time to get the terrain shape just right before it sets up.

The mountain design is taken from Castle Rock in Colorado.  I also use Castle Rock as the name of the little town on my layout.  My two mainlines are the Denver & Rio Grande Western, and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe.  Historically Castle Rock Colorado was served by both of these railroads, thus the reason for  the Castle Rock town and the Castle Rock mountain on my layout.  Of course I have taken great liberties with both so neither is accurately modeled correct to reality.  Two things that are accurate is the American flag flying 24/7 and lit at night, and a hiking trail to the top of Castle Rock.  The landscape includes tall pines, some different varieties of oak, aspen, grasses, briars, and low evergreen scrub.  It is fall season so the oaks and aspen are showing fall colors.

I built the top of the mountain using a one gallon plastic paint container cut down to the right height.  I then glued flexible rock castings on this container, leaving the ends fanning out so they meet the backdrop at the right angles.  I also glued plaster rock castings on the top and then landscaped the top. A few trees on top have been killed by lightning strikes. In addition to the flags, there are radio and tv broadcast towers.