In 2013 I posted a detailed description of the rebuilding my Pennsylvania & Pacific RR. This almost 7 year saga covers all the details of building this railroad since that time. You can go back to the beginning with constructing the L-girder platform, laying over 300 feet of Ross track, building the control panel and wiring it all up at this location on the Track Planning and Layout Design Forum.
This railroad is on its third life. It was first constructed in Germany and was 21 X 13. It was built with the goal of disassembling and shipping back to the USA to our house in Bucks County, PA. I put it back together with an added 6 ft in length so it became 27 X 13 ft. After my layoff from the housing industry in 2009, and our subsequent move to Louisville, KY, I modified it, and built it all over again as a much larger, 39 X 15 ft railroad. I tried to eliminate all of the operational problems I had in the first two versions. The railroad is star-wired with 38 separately controlled blocks. It does not have digital control yet, but I wired it using home-run wiring throughout with high-capacity twisted pair wiring so it can get DCS whenever I'm ready to buy it. Meanwhile, it is a "Cab-control" layout run from both sides of a single-Z-4000 transformer. It has a separate DC power supply running the LED indicators for the block toggles and an interlock circuit that protects a swing-out door that permits access to the entire inside of the layout.
If you haven't followed it, this was all tracked in a the gory details under the Layout Design Forum. With that complete the Saga continues in this forum, just to keep things recognizable.
I noted when starting this thread that the layout wass going to be fully scenicked, and it will be a big job that will stretch over years. Boy was I right! I've now been steadily working on it for over five years and have had some wonderful sub-projects that are defined in detail in this massive on-going thread. I had hoped that my eyes, hands and back would make it that far, and so far, with a couple of physical challenges creeping in, I'm hanging in there. Whatever you use most wears out first, and since I've been building models since I was 8, the hands are experiencing the most wear and tear. I am grateful for having most of the under-the-platform work finished since the back hasn't been happy either. When I built the layout the first time I was 14 years younger. My wife actually asked me if I was physically capable of the rebuild. I'm happy to report that I am and most of the injuries are temporary... I hope.
The layout has a large mountain with tunnels on one end and a city/town on the other. In between are/will be industries, yards and an engine service facility. It does not have a roundhouse or turntable since I really don't have the room for it, but there is a large engine house slated for construction in 2019. The middle is open giving me complete access to almost all trackage without resorting to pop-ups (and more work under the table). A coal mine facility is designed that will emanate from the mountain.
Here was my rendition of the mountain region.
I created this image by using Snagit to capture the 3D image on RRTrack. Then I imported the saved image in Corel PhotoPaint. I masked the mountain, copied the masked area, and then inserted some sky and clouds (an image I have on file). I then pasted the mountain back in to cover over the sky. I masked around the mountain so I could "paint" over it and make it look a bit better. I lost my ability to use RRTrack when I converted to Mac, but I'm working on a way to get around that.
Here's a picture of the layout as it was in 2017. Since then, even more work has occurred. It's all described within.
The bridges in the foreground-left are customized Plastruct Deck Truss Bridges and the third is a Deck Plate Bridge and they too, and all the beautiful ravine scenery is described here.
Lastly, throughout this massive undertaking there have been some signature projects that have found their way to the model railroad press with a substation described in the November 2015 Railroad Model Craftsman magazine, and a three-part article in the 2018 October, November and December issues of Railroad Model Craftsman on the design and building of a Victorian Bourbon Distillery that existed in Louisville, KY until Prohibition when it was razed. More buildings and articles are coming out of this very comprehensive thread.
So, if you're so inclined and have a couple of years to read about the trials and tribulations of big railroad building, please come along for the ride. I don't have all the answers. In fact, I have very few answers, so I expect my readers to be willing to give. And give you do. I get as much from my readers as I give, and many ideas, thoughts and plans came from them. I can point to many critical things that wouldn't have happened if it weren't for all the patient and attentive folks that read and comment on this forum. The articles wouldn't have happened. In fact, the buildings themselves may not have turned out as they did were it not for the support I constantly receive.
The first steps covered are rail painting and ballasting using pails of inexpensive roofing gravel so read on...