Life, photography and philosophy at 1:87 scale…

Life, photography and philosophy at 1:87 scale…

Life, photography and philosophy at 1:87 scale…

My Basement Layout: The Abbyville Subdivision…

Much like this website, my layout is currently in it’s third form and I think I’m finally on the “right track”. The first attempt was woefully undersized and offered little in the way of operations. The second was much larger, but was “derailed” when an entire finished wall of the basement had to be removed in order to correct some foundation problems. The current layout is shelf-style that is approximately 22’x17’. Benchwork was constructed out of 3/4” cabinet grade plywood that was curt down to 4” lengths. The track is a mix of Atlas and Peco code 83 flextrack with Peco code 83 turnouts. Control is provided by my aging Digitrax “Big Boy” DCC command station and a computer running Decoder Pro. Photos are of the layout as it develops; older pictures are at the top while newer stuff is at the bottom. Click photos to enlarge.

The floorpan of the “Abbyville” subdivision as it currently appears. The layout takes up about 35% of our basement, which is as much space as I was allowed to have.

To join the eastern and western subdivisions, I had to drill a hole through a poured concrete wall. It took a weekend with a hammer drill and the largest hole saw Home Depot had to punch through.

A Kato SD45 tests the clearance through the south tunnel. This section of track runs along the wall above my workbench and exits into the furnace room on the other side of the concrete wall.

One of the first scenic areas I started on was my bridge over the Fox River. It was a lot more fiddling around to get the heights just right than I thought it would be.

A shot of the bridges and the curving tracks of the duck-under. After my first layout, I swore I’d never do another duck-under. Fortunately my layout sits 54” off the floor making the duck-under reasonable.

My train buddy helps out with some “monkey glue”. She’s a little taller now and would probably not fit on this section of the layout.

The first layer of the Fox River is poured. It is a thick coat of paint from Home Depot that will need a while to dry. (Yes, the Fox River really is that color in the spring.)

If the river looks wet, it because it is- wet paint! A pleasant surprise happened as the paint sat on the layout. Since it was a thick and took a while to dry, the colors separated a bit creating a flowing look.

I removed the bridge to allow some basic scenery to go in. Although the bridge is a moving swing bridge, I modeled it out of service and locked in place.

More basic scenery and the mess involved in the process.

A view from the doorway of the train room. You can just see the duck-under at the bottom of the photo. Near the center of the picture is my spray booth which vents through the window above.

The track at the approach to the bridge is supported by a series of shims. This was necessary to avoid a sharp change in the grade of the track.

After ballasting with real CNW ‘pink lady’ stone, the shims are invisible. This real rock product looks great and after being glued in place is strong enough to hold the track in place without nails.

After completing the benchwork, the kids decided to test it out. If it will hold up these two and all their animals, it should be sturdy enough from my trains.

My brother helped me build this storage shelf for my engines several years ago. don’t be fooled by what you see here, I am really a Wisconsin Central fan!

My layout is high enough that I can store a lot of stuff underneath it. My toolbox as well as my spray booth both fit perfectly.

My mom helped me ditch up these canvas panels that now hide everything. The are attached with snaps at each corner.

Another shot of the shelf and benchwork after the canvas panels were done. I made the mistake of washing one of the panels after it was installed. It shrunk and now are bear to snap in place.

One the western division, I constructed a deep drawer to store more locomotives under the layout. It keeps them out of the dust and safe from the hands of little visitors to my railroad.

A distance shot of the bridge and some completed scenery. If this spot looks familiar, it’s where I usually set up my engines when taking pictures.

This is a rarely seen part of my layout. The sound tunnel exits briefly into my furnace room. I needed this section of track to be perfect, since any problems would be hard to reach.

A train passes a TRANE. This section of track now has side guards installed just to ensure that in the event of a derailment, nothing hits the floor.

The north tunnel is nothing to look at, so I needed to build something to block the view.

This Walthers kit was heavily modified to conceal the tunnel. The addition (white styrene) is deep and tall enough that no matter where you stand in the train room, you can’t see the tunnel opening.

My warehouse in a fresh coat of primer and initial painting of the brick components.

Preliminary painting is complete. I still need to put the mortar on the bricks and install some of the larger detail parts. I’m still not set on the roof details and interior loading dock.

My nephew and I watch a coal drag cross the Fox River bridge. He’s tall enough now to stand on his own and see what’s going on.

A reverse angle shot of the bridge over the Fox River. My nephew Lucas enjoys spending time on  the layout, but I have to keep an eye on him- he’s a bit of a walking disaster!

There are other kids who enjoy the railroad as well. I caught my daughter down on the layout doing her own operating session.

A rough-up of the shopping district of downtown “Abbyville”.

I have been spending so much time building rolling stock that I decided to take a break and work on some structures.

Using DPM components, I’ve assembled a structure I’m calling the “Riverside Condominiums”. Those 3rd floor windows would be great for watching passing trains.

More foreground structures are being added to the main street of downtown “Abbyville”.

A painted advertisement for one of my favorite beers of all time. This is a custom decal made from a beer bottle label. ($4.99 for a case of bottles, and that included the deposit!)

The interior of my computer store begins to take shape. It will be lit with LED’s and have a detailed interior.

The computer store interior is just about done. I still need to make some signage for the exterior as well as detail the attached garage.

The interior of my computer store; of course it’s full of nothing but Macs and iPads.

The backside of the computer store. The parking lot needs some weathering to look more realistic and I might add some utility lines and other miscellaneous details as well.

It always seems like I’ve got too many projects going on at once. If I’m not careful, my workbench gets totally out of control and becomes a disaster area.

An afternoon later and I’ve gotten things pretty well cleaned up. Cleaned up that is, until the next project comes along.

Progress on the Western sub has come to a screeching halt. The ceiling had to come down due to a bathroom remodel directly above.

Initially my layout was illuminated with florescent lights. Over time, all but one have burned out so now I’m in the process of replacing them with LEDs.

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