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This 4x8 LionChief Layout is being built especially for the York Spring Meet. Follow my thread and you'll see it from its start this week to its finish as we pack for York. Ray started us off by building the platform top. When he finished it  a carpet topping was attached. Then the platform was placed on saw horses and the figure 8 track, cut by the CNC Router, was temporarily put in place. There will be more track and a variety of stylized buildings, as this is a 'toy look' layout. The whole will be specially  (reasonably) priced for the York Show, with price announced before the show opens. Keep posted and I'll keep posting.

BarbRay finishing platform for new York Display Moduleplatform for new York layoutCNC Router cutting figure eightCNC Router cutting figure eight-2figure 8 on new York layout


Images (5)
  • Ray finishing platform for new York Display Module
  • platform for new York layout
  • CNC Router cutting figure eight
  • CNC Router cutting figure eight-2
  • figure 8 on new York layout
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Okay. So let's see where we end this week. Let me show you Delia building a mountain...or rather framing it up. What she's doing is setting up a skeleton around which she'll build her mountain. The photos are pretty much self-explanatory. Delia, I should note, has created a number of very realistic (geologically speaking) mountains on Dunham Studios layouts. She builds, carves and paints terrain, designs and builds historically accurate buildings and has become adept at using the 3-D printer so this 'toy look' scenery is a real change of pace for Delia...and for all of us. While Delia's building her mountain, John and Clarke are dealing with laying track on the figure eight trackboard, which you'll notice has been raised. That way, even on a 4X8 layout there can be 2 levels of trains for twice the fun. Speaking of trains Mike's set up a circle of track on a table to test the LionelScout for speed settings.

BarbDelia measuring depth for mountainDelia sketching in right side set back on mountainleft side of mountain sketched inleft side of mountain sketched inDelia cutting mountain set-backfirst cut-back in placeskeleton of mountain close-upfigure 8 against the mountain [2)figure 8 against the mountain [2)John & Clarke placing track on figure 8Mike setting up train to be tested


Images (11)
  • Delia measuring depth for mountain
  • Delia sketching in right side set back on mountain
  • left side of mountain sketched in
  • left side of mountain sketched in
  • Delia cutting mountain set-back
  • first cut-back in place
  • skeleton of mountain close-up
  • figure 8 against the mountain (2)
  • figure 8 against the mountain (2)
  • John & Clarke placing track on figure 8
  • Mike setting up train to be tested

Us "Mere Mortals" are busy as hell right now with four projects in the shop now and more waiting in line.  Which is why we are so late getting to the two new layout projects for the April York Show.  The one you see now is our new "Entry Level" two-train Lionel LionChief-powered layout.  The one you don't see (yet) is our new "Entry Level" Angela Trotta Thomas three-train LionChief-powered Layout.  It just came off the CNC Router bed and out of the Carpentry Shop late yesterday.  Our very good friends at Gargraves and Ross Custom have also been invaluable in getting us the goods ontime for this and many of our other current  and future projects.  The new Angela Trotta Thomas LionChief Layout will be the same basic design as the upscale "Angela Layout" that we featured last year (and will be at York again this April).  However, while it will feature many of the same Angela "3D Printed" buildings us the "Upscale Angela" layout did, it will use many two-dimensional Angela buildings, as well as simplified scenic effects.  I suspect that when you look at the new layout, you will have a hard time telling which is which at first glance.   However, when you look at the price tag, the difference will be quite clear.  These are meant to be accessible entry-level layouts, but built by professionals, and they are meant to make it possible for the beginner to have something beautiful to start their model railroading lives with.  Of course, it's also available to all toy train lovers as well.  So, ALL ABOARD!!


Clarke and Barbara designed my first layout and I believe I still have the drawing - had to be 15 + years ago when Clarke advised me the best way to finish the basement which lead to a great design. I was also fortunate to visit the shop they are currently building all these layouts in. 

Can wait to see them.


River Vale, NJ 

More of the making of the mountain. Unlike the usual Dunham Studios mountain construction where we (probably Delia) build a base of sheet foam, spray insulation foam over that and then carve into the foam to get the correct geology for the area being portrayed, this layout will have a 'toy' look. So the approach Delia took was different. She actually built up the complete mountain out of sheet foam and then carved it with a power saw. Here we'll take you pictorially through the process from where we left off above. After the mountain is carved and put back into place, Delia will attach it and finish the terrain. In case you want to see more photographs of what's going on at the studio, please take a look at Dunham Studios facebook where I try to keep up to date. Meanwhile, more tomorrow. (Remember time is getting short for finishing before York!)mountain ready for shaping-1mountain ready for shaping-2Delia beginning to shape mountainmountain being shaped-2LionScout 4-7-16


Images (5)
  • mountain ready for shaping-1
  • mountain ready for shaping-2
  • Delia beginning to shape mountain
  • mountain being shaped-2
  • LionScout 4-7-16

Growing a mountain! Delia, using colored mastic seals the surface of the mountain. Note the foamed seam where a piece had to be added. That seam was then trimmed and mastic-ed over. Meanwhile Clarke is figuring out building placement on the layout, which you'll notice is without the mountain for the moment. And a look at the control area, And no smarties commenting on the incorrect controller on the right. This is a only a photo-op demonstration.

 While this has been going on, Roy has painted the base and Mike, who you sort of see under the layout, is wiring away.


controller in pkDelia painting the mountain with masticseam before trimmingmountain getting coated with colored masticClarke studying building placementtop view of building placementtop view of building placement from right endcontrol area


Images (7)
  • Delia painting the mountain with mastic
  • seam before trimming
  • mountain getting coated with colored mastic
  • Clarke studying building placement
  • top view of building placement
  • top view of building placement from right end
  • control area

You bet we would!  We've been discussing "how to do it?" for a couple of years.  It looks to me as if the OGR Forum may be the way to go.  It would need to be at least a couple of days to achieve any lasting good, but that would be no problem here.  We've put up entire Museum Staffs during construction visits here.  The local Motels are very simple (but very reasonable) and very happy to oblige.  I'll ask the OGR Guys if this is of interest to them.  Could be a great experience for all, including us!  

Hey Clarke, I want to examine the EXIF info on these photos to make sure you guys didn't really do all this work a month ago!!!    Seriously though, it's amazing how fast your team has taken this layout from bench work to scenic wonder in recent days, and watching it come to life here is truly amazing.  Simply fabulous!

Looking forward to seeing it in person at York, as I'm sure we can all learn something from it.  Thanks for sharing the progress pics here.


Thanks for sharing the pictures of the build with us.

For me, the most interesing part is the making of the one piece figure eight.  Looks like it was routed and then had the inner and outer edges cut.  Was this done of the same machine that did the routing or was it done by a jig saw?

I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of the finished layout.


Almost finished. Delia wants to get the trees on her mountain. Today I did my 'thing', creating little scenes on the layout and 'planting' trees. The buildings we've used to give this layout its 'toy' look come with signage and some details. I've added people and 'planted' trees. You'll notice that the trees have an almost out-of-the-box simplicity and I've 'planted' them with bases. Both are usually a big no-no on our layouts but then again, most of our layouts tend to be realistic and realistic is not what we're aiming for on this LionScout Layout. Tomorrow, Delia will finish 'planting' on her mountain, I'll add three billboards and a few more trees, Roy will paint the fascia, Bob and Ray will assemble the base (which looks great!) and John will make sure that the trains run. ('Trains'? Did somebody say 'trains'?) 

BarbCreamery scene [good view)Ice cream scenehouse sceneview from right end almost finishedLionChief almost finished.


Images (5)
  • Creamery scene (good view)
  • Ice cream scene
  • house scene
  • view from right end almost finished
  • LionChief almost finished

In answer to J-D's question: The (still-magical to me) CNC Router does that all in one program pass.  Actually, when we get into actual production on this layout, the CNC will rout the ties (where there are none on the traditional Lionel O-27 Sectional track) into the Medex board, creating the same effect as the time-consuming bending of Gargraves track to O-27 dimensions (which was a definite one-time-only adventure!)  So it looks like the idea of an Entry-Level 4X8 LionChief Layout will work!  We'll need a minimum of ten sales to go into production.  We'll know the price by Thursday at York, both for this layout and the Three-Train Entry-Level LionChief 4x8.  Yes, there are actually two 4x8s in the works for York, plus the Angela Trotta Thomas 4x8!  But it's only Monday!  Stay tuned! 

Hi Clarke and Team Dunham,

I am curious about what you used to create the remote holders. It looks like some type of channel or gutter.

This application has a few variants of the design by those that have public displays. Most keep the remotes attached to the layout and one even limits the throttle rotation. I understand for a private layout that may not be wanted, but the holder foundation seems lie a time saver.


Delia planted her trees on the mountain. I put in my billboards. Bob and Ray finished the last piece of the fascia (before going on to finishing the base) and Roy painted the fascia. We'll call it FINISHED!!! Done is beautiful, but this is really a charming layout, lots of action, and simply fun to look at.

Now for the SURPRISE. During the couple of weeks we built the LionChief layout we went from the planning stage to the finish stage (well we'll finish tomorrow) on a SECOND 4X8 O gauge layout. And it's wonderful looking, if I must say so myself. I've just come in from the barn and washed my brushes and I haven't made dinner yet, so I'm not up to giving you more than a teaser of a look. You can see both at York. When we get back, I'll do you a thread as I did with LionChief, so you can see it in progress...sort of a backward way of doing it but that's how it is sometimes.There's lots more to share and if I have any energy and time tomorrow, I'll give you a few more teasers. Otherwise, see you in York.


Barblayout from right endbuildings on crescentFletcher putting building crescent inbillboards in placelast of the fascia being fittedview from left endright end of layout with fascia painted


Images (7)
  • billboards in place
  • last of the fascia being fitted
  • view from left end
  • right end of layout with fascia painted
  • layout from right end
  • buildings on crescent
  • Fletcher putting building crescent in

Here's the Lionel LionChief Layout on its base, finished except for the graphics that go on the fascia. (They're on and they look good, but the crew whisked the layouts out to the truck before I could snap a pic.)

In terms of the second layout that we created in tandem with LionChief, go to Dunham Studios facebook where I've posted a series of photos of it. When we get back, I'll try and post a start-to-finish thread on it as well as show you the finished-finished photo of the LionChief. For those of you heading for York, safe traveling and we'll see you there. We're in the Orange Hall next to Angela Trotta Thomas.

BarbLionChief on its base-2LionChief on its base


Images (2)
  • LionChief on its base-2
  • LionChief on its base

Breezinup, thanks for your interest.

We use GarGraves track and Ross custom switches  which we have found over the years to be very reliable. If a client requests some other system, of course we'll oblige. If you get a chance to look back over my postings on Dunham Studios facebook, you'll see a holiday layout we made for a client last Christmas using  Fastrack which is what she wanted.



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