Monday, September 15, 2008

West Forge: Sub Roadbed and "Benchwork"

So I choose to do something I haven't seen done before for my bench work. Admittedly i was inspired by some bench work I saw that was built primarily from artist foam core mat board. I built my bench work completely from blue extruded foam. I took a piece of foam that I had in the basement (remember I'm trying to use what I have to build this) and I cut it down to a width of 24 inches. This left me with a none to straight 2x4 foot piece of foam. To make it more rigid and flat I cut halfway in 6 inches from each end and snapped the piece back until they layed flat connected only by the plastic wrapping to the main board. I cut out additional pieces to use as cross braces under the foam top (make sure that you use the same sheet or a sheet you know came from the same store at the same time as I have found different batches can be slightly different thicknesses). I then used yellow wood glue and sewing pins to hold it all together, and left it to dry for about 3 days with weight on the top.

Once it had sit for 3 days it was dry, flat and solid, but still very light. You can easily pick it up with just one finger. Below you can see how I layed out the supports. After the glue dried I removed the large pins (all I had at the time) and replaced them with some flat headed steel pins I picked up the store. I decided to leave the pins in place to keep the foam from shifting if it took a hit (something highly likely to happen in my house).

At this point it's rather nice as I was able to just slide the entire board behind my dresser to keep it away from the kids.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

West Forge: My New Layout

So as I've said before I chose my new trackplan recently. The choice was influenced by a few factors.

  1. I wanted a continuous loop for just running something around and around.
  2. I wanted some spurs to have some type of switching action.
  3. I wanted a passenger station, a signal/Interlock tower and an industry.
  4. It needs to be a small table top layout that I can move around the house right now as we are still doing lots of work on the house (and will be for the foreseeable future).
  5. It needs to be affordable, I am working on paying stuff off and just getting by. I had to dig into my savings account for the money for my GG1 and I don't' want to wipe out my savings on a layout (tempting as it may be).
  6. Considering item #5 above if needed to use as much of the track, equipment and supplies that I already had on hand.
  7. A layout that is somewhat expandable is a large bonus.
After all that I found a nice 2x3 layout on a site in my bookmarks. It fit the bill of giving me something small that I could pull out of a closet set up quickly on a table and run some trains either for myself or my kids. Here is the basic track plan:

The basic premise is that this is set near the town of West Forge, PA, a small rural part of Pennsylvania served by a branch of the PRR. The lower track is the branch line coming in from the PRR mainline it is where set outs will be made for any operations and it is where I hope to later expand this layout with a wraparound shelf that could go along a wall.

Over the next few days I will post additional pictures of the construction that has occurred until I get caught up with where I am now at.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Kato GG-1: It's MINE all MINE!

So I have to admit that I have been a bit cheap when buying my rolling stock and motive power on my layout. Most of my locomotives are either Life-Like Ready To Run pieces that I bought off ebay or Bachman engines that came from sets I've bought over the years. up until now I would have said that my Life-Like N scale PA and SD7 locomotives were my nicest. Well all that changed Wednesday night when I picked up my first ever Kato loco and by far the most expensive loco I now own (it's pricier than even the Lionel O27 I bought for around the tree).

The Kato GG-1 is a beautiful engine. It looks great in the pictures, but I will say that the pictures don't even do it full justice. Out of the box the loco comes "paint shed new". It's got a bit of a gloss finish to it that I at first felt looked a bit like un-painted plastic but it is painted and it's just got a waxed up finish. Great if you are using it as a showpiece, or railfain train on your layout, maybe not what you want if you are running it as an old freight car. Since Kato designed it to pull the Broadway limited it's not a big surprise to me that it's shined up.

All of the Lettering and striping on mine are well done. You can clearly read the words "Fuel" and "Water" along the lower edge of the body.

The engine runs well and is relatively quite especially at low speeds, at least compared to my other locomotives. While I have not yet taken it apart to fully examine the interior it appears to have 6 drive axles (the center sets), and it is well weighted. It came with Magenetic couplers pre-installed, i just needed to insert the metal pins into them.

At $140 for the DC version it's pricy, to me at least, but if you are a Pennsy fan or heavy electric fan it's probably worth it for a very nice piece like this. If you regularly buy nicer motive power than this is probably middle of the road pricing from what I've seen.

All in all I'm glad I picked one up. I'll try and get some pics of mine put online later, but for now you can always see what Kato has on their site at