Dec 3, 2011

where it all started

an overall view of the module set
Here is an early image of "Marshall's Siding" having its subroadbed, ties, and rails installed.

I was very short of space in my condo at this time, and Trevor graciously offered a spot in his basement to carry on with the build. Thankfully I only cracked my head on the ductwork a couple of times before I learned to hunch over at the proper moment.

A Weller temperature controlled soldering station (the blue box, upper right) is an invaluable tool for the hand laid track enthusiast. Its fine tip and precise temperature management works for brass sheet, rails, and electronics - even for delicate DCC wiring harnesses and larger surface-mount components.

an even earlier snapshot of just the #8 turnout
The #8 turnout was built in a FastTracks assembly fixture and is actuated via a Tortoise switch machine. The Tortoise stall motor is powered through two DPDT ON-ON toggles wired in series with a 6V DC wall-wart adaptor. Having two switches allows the turnout to be thrown from either side of the layout, a must-have when you can operate and view from either side.

Floquil's "tie brown" and "rail brown" paints were used extensively at this stage. The contours are formed using Styrofoam SM insulation board, sculpted extensively by Trevor using knives and a Stanley Surform tool.

The subroadbed is "Tentest" pressed paper board similar to, but lighter in density than, Homasote. I would not use this method again as the Tentest proved dimensionally unstable. Roadbed is Midwest cork; half a piece of HO scale and 1/2 a piece of O scale. Ties are sugar-pine from Mt. Albert Scale Lumber, and the rail is Micro Engineering code 83. Spikes are ME small & micro sizes as required.

appropriately scruffy ties at the end of the siding
The siding was dropped by the thickness of the Tentest to add visual interest. A short section of Tentest was tapered using a 4" wide belt sander (and a dust mask!) to give a gradual height transition.

The tail end of the siding was left without rails, hinting that these had been lifted at some earlier point in time. A very close look will reveal the bolt holes drilled through the web of the rails. Trevor added this tiny detail for me.

Cars and trucks were to cross both the siding and mainline on a single lane dirt road. This road was built up quickly and easily using SM board and cork strips.

Adhesives used during construction were Weldbond PVA glue and No More Nails for Projects (Styrofoam safe).



  1. This was a really easy introduction to S scale, Chris. Glad I could share some basement space with you.

  2. Hey, it was like being in "train school" for me. I learned a lot of techniques. My execution, however, could use more work - and that means practise.

  3. "Train School". I like that.

    Hobbies are all about learning techniques. But there's no exam. Keep up with the practice!


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