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Keokuk Pickle Car on ModuleWith some trepidation I start a thread showing the progress on my layout.  Trepidation because starting a thread means some level of accountability - but almost everywhere on this forum there are great encouragers and helpful tips so I don't want to miss out.  Also, there are some things I do that might help others.  I just don't want to realize halfway through that there was something big I wished I had/had not done.  But life without risk gets you no train layout!

The Hannibal-St Joseph Railroad was a real railroad, started in part by Mark Twain's dad (Samuel Clemens' dad) in 1851.  It was folded into the CB&Q, then Burlington-Northern and now BNSF.  I grew up north of Hannibal, in Canton, and we made the trek frequently across the state of Missouri along 36 Highway to my grandparents north of Kansas City.  Hwy 36 connects Hannibal and St Joseph, and roughly parallels the original Hannibal-St Joseph track.  As an adult we lived in St Joseph for a couple of years, so my attachment to Hannibal-St Joseph is lifelong.

My model diverts from history, and actually connects Keokuk, Iowa to St. Joseph, Missouri, by traveling south along the Mississippi River to Canton, then down to join the Hannibal-St Joseph trackage across the state.  So I will probably refer to my model as the Keokuk-St Joseph Railroad.  There was a Keokuk & Western Railroad in the early 1900's, and it did cross the Des Moines River heading south, but then turned west back into Iowa vs. further south to Canton.  Since I grew up in Canton, modeling Canton was a requirement and I know more about Keokuk industry than Hannibal anyway.

The layout design is basically an along-the-wall and peninsula single track, short line type of railroad.  Minimum curve is 34".  I have some 34" Marx switches, and most people say not to go beyond 36" depth without access hatches so 34" loops are where I ended up.  I wanted low profile track, so 31" O Scale was out, and my experience with 27" switches and track is they are just a little too tight.  Plus I am now a proud owner of a Lionel GP38 and its minimum turning diameter is 31".

So the layout is basically a loop-to-loop, 2-level layout (48" and 30") with a town at mid height (Marceline at 40"), and an industrial yard spur at one end.   Going from one end to the other is about 270 feet of track, in an L-shaped area about 23' x 18'.  Keokuk will start at 48", and on the 48" level the towns will progress from Keokuk south along the Mississippi and across the Des Moines river to Canton, then southwest to Monroe City, then continue west to Shelbina, and Macon.  From Macon, the transition begins to the lower level.

Note that 18" is a long way to go at 2.5% or less!  So midway down, we turn through Marceline (Walt Disney's home town) - and Marceline will be at 40", and in a stub wall-separated area of its own.  After Marceline we continue down to the 30" level, where we pass through Brookfield, Chillicothe, Hamilton, and then arrive at St Joseph.  Also, from St Joseph we can drop down through the stub wall underneath Marceline to the St Joseph Industrial Park, which is at 25" height.

The majority of the incline/decline is along the long part of the "L", 23 foot wall, and about a 12" shelf.  The 12" shelf area will have track at 48", declining track from 48", inclining track from 30", and 30" track.  So a long stretch of scenery along the wall is about all that will fit - which is nice between towns, and represents what you see along Hwy 36, which is primarily 200 miles of farms.

Note that I am using primarily scrap lumber, estate sale track and buildings, and I will have tubular track in the Industrial Park, FasTrack in Marceline, and the rest will be Gargraves.  I will have Marx switches, Lionel and K-Line tubular 42" switches, Fastrack switches, and Ross switches with Tortoise motors.  Eventually I will have a simple PLC to control some block signals, and hopefully run a fast clock with lighting.  Maybe the layout should be called "The Estate Sale and Scrap Lumber RR"!

I have started construction at Marceline to use up my menagerie of scrap lumber and switches in the least visible area, which limits initial outlay of cash, and because the track through the wall and around the sump pump is the most difficult to figure out.  Also I am allowed my fun as long as I include a Disney play area - which means Marceline needs to be in place soon!  Marceline will feature "Disney Home at Marceline", a Disney amusement park located in Marceline in my imagination, complete with Disney castle playset and monorail.  (Marceline does have the Disney Hometown Museum in real life!)

Hope you enjoy the development, and here goes!

Dan Wiltshire

Attachments

Images (10)
  • 20210312 Overall Layout sketch: This shows 48" Keokuk etc and 25" industrial park
  • 20210203 St Joe Industrial plan: 25" high Industrial Park below 40" high Marceline
  • 20210203 Frankenjig for wall brackets: 16" wall brackets for 25" high St Joe Industrial Park.
  • 20210312 St Joe Ind Park bench: Benchwork includes 1.5" thick door, 3/4" plywood, and 1/2" plywood
  • 20210312 St Joseph bench: 1/2", 3/4", and 5/8" scrap plywood, covered with Sound Board
  • 20210312 Water Shut-Off1: Cover held in place with wedge at bottom and magnets.
  • 20210312 Water Shut-Off2: Panel lifts straight up, to minimize interference with layout.
  • 20210312 Incline from St Joe Ind Park: 5" incline from 25" to 30"
  • 20210312 Gargraves Bending Jig: Dremeled from sheet rock and lined with duct tape.
  • Keokuk Pickle Car on Module
Videos (1)
Proof of Concept-St Joe Ind Park
Files (1)
pdf Map of Hannibal-St Joseph Railroad
Last edited by Hannibal-St Joseph RR
Original Post

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Well, it seems like you developed a backstory and plan with some details.  Have you committed that plan to paper or electrons (in the form of a software program file)?  If so, please post either a picture or a copy of the file so that we might know where you are headed.  And, if your software provides for it, please post an exported picture because many of us may not have the software you've chosen to use.

Chuck

Last edited by PRR1950

Hi Chuck - Thank you for your interest!  I went ahead and attached the Marceline track plan in pdf format.  I have 3rdPlanIt that I used to mock up portions of the initial layout, but with my mixture of track - including Marx, K-Line, Lionel tubular, Fastrack, and Ross, the software is more work than sketching on paper.  That's why I posted in the Toy Train forum instead of the Track Layout and Design forum.  Maybe once I'm on the main layout and using exclusively Ross I can get a more detailed software representation, but I did attach photos of my pencil sketches on the first post.

Attachments

Files (1)
Track Plan for Marceline - Lionel FasTrack

Bent my first piece of Gargraves!  Pretty close to the 34” target!  Used the 32”sheetrock jig I showed on first post - and track sprung back to maybe 40”, so ended up securing and final bending at the same time.

Added non-derail guides to my 4 Marx 34” turnouts!  Used JB Weld on 3 - the first one I soldered but that took quite a while.  Also added 1/2 track pins into the point gaps where engines were derailing.  See pics!

Nailed down the up ramp out of St Joe Industrial Park, and tested successfully.  3% doesn’t look that steep but it definitely slows or speeds the engine.

I soldered the joints between every other Gargraves piece.  By soldering in the joint, I connect with two pieces with each solder joint, and strengthen the joint.  See pic!

Attachments

Images (6)
  • Gargraves 34”: 34” Gargraves reverse
  • Marx Switch Fix: Marx switch needs rail guide
  • Marx Switch Gap: Trains derailed in this gap
  • Marx Switch Gap Fix: Stuff half a track pin thru to fill the gap
  • Lionel 75w: New cord and resoldered innards
  • Soldered Gargraves Joint
Videos (1)
Marx 34” Switch Prove-Out
Last edited by Hannibal-St Joseph RR

"With some trepidation I start a thread showing the progress on my layout.  Trepidation because starting a thread means some level of accountability - but almost everywhere on this forum there are great encouragers and helpful tips so I don't want to miss out.  Also, there are some things I do that might help others.  I just don't want to realize halfway through that there was something big I wished I had/had not done.  But life without risk gets you no train layout!"

Dan, that paragraph hit the nail on the head!!  In January, 2017 I started what became my Blackwater Canyon Line topic for the same reasons you did.  I hoped to gain ideas for my new layout build, and offer encouragement and ideas to others.  Now 50 pages later, we went through 50 pages of idea swapping and encouragement.  Your layout design sounds like my "Plan C".  It would have been the ultimate for me.  Alas, our older daughter and her husband had mildew and rodent troubles in the lower level of their 100+ year old house, so we are storing some of her furniture and mostly to my chagrin her refinished circa 1900 upright piano.  They don't have the money to fix the house right, and neither do we or his parents who were forced into early retirement like we have been.  The piano was the kicker because we could only store it in the middle of my layout area.  So, we redesigned to her former 11x11 art studio off the old family room where construction had started on Plan C.  Plan D has been under construction for over a year now and I saw you have joined in the fun.

I said all that to say it seems you and I have similar ideas except my layout is situated in the mountains of West Virginia following the former Western Maryland line.  Yes, a level of accountability.  To keep the discussion going, it takes time to take photographs, write up what you did, and answer folks comments and questions.  I have had almost unanimous encouragement from the great folks on this forum.  I can only think of one comment that could have been taken as harsh in 50 pages, and he may have just been blunt.  Yes some folks will challenge you, but it is for your own good and the good of the layout!

Welcome to the "ongoing layout build topic owner club"!!!!!!!

Last edited by Mark Boyce
@Mark Boyce posted:

"With some trepidation I start a thread showing the progress on my layout.  Trepidation because starting a thread means some level of accountability - but almost everywhere on this forum there are great encouragers and helpful tips so I don't want to miss out.  Also, there are some things I do that might help others.  I just don't want to realize halfway through that there was something big I wished I had/had not done.  But life without risk gets you no train layout!"

Dan, that paragraph hit the nail on the head!!  In January, 2017 I started what became my Blackwater Canyon Line topic for the same reasons you did.  I hoped to gain ideas for my new layout build, and offer encouragement and ideas to others.  Now 50 pages later, we went through 50 pages of idea swapping and encouragement.  Your layout design sounds like my "Plan C".  It would have been the ultimate for me.  Alas, our older daughter and her husband had mildew and rodent troubles in the lower level of their 100+ year old house, so we are storing some of her furniture and mostly to my chagrin her refinished circa 1900 upright piano.  They don't have the money to fix the house right, and neither do we or his parents who were forced into early retirement like we have been.  The piano was the kicker because we could only store it in the middle of my layout area.  So, we redesigned to her former 11x11 art studio off the old family room where construction had started on Plan C.  Plan D has been under construction for over a year now and I saw you have joined in the fun.

I said all that to say it seems you and I have similar ideas except my layout is situated in the mountains of West Virginia following the former Western Maryland line.  Yes, a level of accountability.  To keep the discussion going, it takes time to take photographs, write up what you did, and answer folks comments and questions.  I have had almost unanimous encouragement from the great folks on this forum.  I can only think of one comment that could have been taken as harsh in 50 pages, and he may have just been blunt.  Yes some folks will challenge you, but it is for your own good and the good of the layout!

Welcome to the "ongoing layout build topic owner club"!!!!!!!

and.. AND... That's what Makes Mark.. "Sir Mark". You, are now a charter member of "Friend of Miggy".

Mark, you are appreciated! <salute> "And Toto Too"

Keokuk Pickle Car on ModuleWith


Hope you enjoy the development, and here goes!

Dan Wiltshire

Dan, Hello!. you had me with PICKLES! (Keokuk Canning Company Co. Classic Vat Car Pickles)

Great story, Thanks for sharing. I welcome your posts as I am but a 4x8-er with my doctorate in Seasonal Carpet Layouts. Very good folks here. the experience is vast and well shared. "My Layout and Train Accomplishments have breadcrumbs back to those Giants who have traveled this road before me"

Enjoy and thanks for the share. (I Lived next door to Gedneys Pickle Factory in Chaska, Minnesota. On a Hot summer day, the breeze from the south brought along the sweet fragrance from the wooden Pickle VATS. Man, Now I gotta find one of THOSE cars....

Growing up in St. Louis, we’ve made a number of trips to Hannibal. What a great old river town!

Looking forward to seeing your vision come alive. All of those tedious tasks of fixing switches, new transformer cords, etc are all worth it even if progress is slows here or there. My advice is document even the small wins, because it’s fun for us ‘viewers’ out here, and when you look back at your thread, you’ll realize your did more than you thought.

Mark, thanks for your encouragement and sorry for your being forced out.  Definitely something I am concerned about after I turned 50!

Miggy - one consolation I have with pushing forward on a ‘permanent’ layout is i can still piece together temporary layouts for Halloween candy distribution in the garage and Christmas around the tree!  I love to set up temporary layouts.  Fun comment on pickles!

Ahitpy & JD thank you for your comments!  Received my LED lamps today so I can put those in the Marx switches and move forward with laying track!  Repaired an old estate sale Gargraves switch last night- plugging away!

Last edited by Hannibal-St Joseph RR

Dan, In the end it all worked out.  I was 59 when I received the retirement package, which was generous, but not overwhelming.  The better deal was that I immediately started working at the same company as a contract engineer for one of the guys I had worked with on a similar project a few years earlier.  That lasted 3 years.  I then went to work with a competitor at an entry level position, but we decided to hang it up when I had to get my knee replaced at 63. 

My layout is like yours in that I bought very little lumber to build it.  I used what I had on hand, what I removed from my dad's shop when he and Mum moved to personal care, and some I removed from my mother-in-law's house.  What I couldn't use I gave to our younger daughter and her husband to build forms for new cement steps.  I bought a little used GarGraves track, but most of my track and Ross switches are new.  I don't need as much as you will.  I have used bridges and a few used buildings.  Most of my engines and cars were bought used as well from Forum members.  That sure did stretch the hobby budget.  I had spent all the money I got from selling my HO stuff on tuition for the daughters 10 to 15 years ago.

I hope you will post some photographs of your progress.  As you can see from my Blackwater Canyon Line topic, I have posted the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  LOL

Temporarily laid the track to verify everything works like i want it to.  Had to screw down the corner of a Lionel O42 switch where a high corner and rail caused derail.  Need to modify the benchwork for the track opposite the factory - it only 3 feet, while the factory spur is 4 feet.  Until I shuttled some cars I wasn’t sure I cared.  Video!

Attachments

Videos (1)
Backing through the O42’s and O34’s

07DD90B4-A5F5-48EB-BEDF-4BC6252F0A42Very little on the other side - basic benchwork for St Joseph.  My mandate is to get Disney Home at Marceline open for Christmas, so I’m pushing ahead with the industrial park underneath Marceline so I can move up.  From Marceline I’ll ramp up to Keokuk and down to St Joseph.

picture is of the ‘creative process’ after the track test!  Soldering leads and getting track nailed down.  Fascia experiment on right side. Apparently pictures should be sideways and video should be vertical.

Attachments

Images (1)
  • St Joe Industrial Park track install

imageFascia is the back side of 3/16” paneling I had leftover, cut in 4” strip.  4” because I need to get underneath, and 3/16” vs 1/8” because it’s strong enough to support a curtain or something.  I bought another sheet for like $15 for the rest of the layout - (they ripped it into 2-2’x8’ pieces I transported in my Fiesta!).  You can see I have extended the fascia 1/4” above the sound board ($12 for 1/2”x4’x8’ sheet from Lowe’s), so I can add scenery without spillover.  Also shown is the 1-1/2” thick leftover interior door I used in this section for benchwork.  A small piece of fascia will cover that edge.

The operator panel is recessed and tilted up - recessed to reduce aisle interference, and angled upward for better visibility.  Track diagram on operator panel is 1/4” pin striping from auto parts store.  40’ roll for $4 at O’Reilly’s. Switches are from Electronics Supply in downtown Kansas City.

Johnson Controls battery plant is cardboard mock up with interior boxcar lead unloading area.  White Radon vent pipe will work for a sulfuric acid tank!  I’ll add another acid tank next to it (that isn’t functioning as a radon vent for the house!)  The 3-1/2” pipe is about the right diameter for the 5,000 gallon fiberglass tanks that are used.  St Joe battery plant now produces 50,000 automotive lead-acid batteries per day.  When I started in 1992 we put out 12,000 on a good day.

Attachments

Images (1)
  • Johnson Controls Battery
Last edited by Hannibal-St Joseph RR

Wanted to share a few micro projects - Tunnel Lining, Marx Switch lens repair, and wire routing.

To line the dual-track tunnel through the 4-1/2" thick stub wall, I used heavy card stock black paper.  I cut the paper 1" wider than the wall, cut slits in the portions of the paper that would need to bend, then folded the tabs over and stapled them to the wall.  When the tunnel face is in place, I see one staple I need to paint but other than that it is nice and black.

I have a Marx Switch with a melted lens housing, but I really like the color-change feature, so I bought a packet of colored cellophane sheets from Hobby Lobby and taped a couple pieces in place.  I am expecting that with the LED bulb replacement (LED-1447WW from Town and Country Hobbies) the taped lenses will stay for many years.

To clean up the rats nest under the layout, I really hate to spend money.  Being neat shouldn't be costly - it's already somewhat time consuming!  So what I did was shoot a staple where I wanted the wires to be gathered, then slipped a bread tie / twist tie under the staple and tied wires up that way.  Looks fine and it's easy to add more wires.  Incidentally, I am using 18Ga red and black for track feeds, 16Ga jumpers on terminal strips, and 14Ga "bus" from transformer to/between terminals.  For accessories and switches, I am using 18Ga yellow bus and 20Ga to the accessory.  (actually 22Ga on switches so far - I have leftover 3-wire roll.  22Ga has worked fine on multiple layouts and the distance from operator panel to each switch on this layout is no more than 3 feet.)  Using 18Ga blue for 24VDC "track occupied" signal, and 18Ga orange for 12VDC Tortoise switches when I get there.

See pics!  I'm almost done wiring the St Joe Industrial Park, getting ready for scenery, buildings, and lights.  Just reading Lance Mindheim's "How to Operate a Switching Layout" - great insights that I will use!

Attachments

Images (7)
  • 20210327 Tunnel Prep
  • 20210327 Tunnel Papered
  • 20210327 Tunnel Final
  • 20210320 Marx Switch Lens Before
  • 20210320 Marx Switch Lens Final
  • 20210327 Wiring Ties
  • 20210327 Wiring Terminals
Last edited by Hannibal-St Joseph RR

Attached full track plans - lower and upper levels.  The setback is to be expected I suppose 28E5EB0C-1EAC-4A37-AAD0-D397C2C0A3E9

F18AAF55-7B9C-47E6-A000-190EBADE46C0when using 50+ year old switches - after getting the Industrial Park track all set and operator panels wired, the one Lionel switch is balking, and one Marx switch needs the wire posts replaced - they are too loose for consistent electrical contact.

Attachments

Images (2)
  • Lower Level Track Plan
  • Upper Level Track Plan

13D1F967-E50E-4FA5-BE60-9CE535939B35image

450BB722-4910-4387-8B7B-0AA717EDD62B

April 20 Pallets and Paper Trucks.

Assembling some wood pallets from Rail Scale Models, and trying my hand at paper trailers and trucks.  There are free paper trucks in S scale at DAF.com.  I had them scaled 150% and printed at Kinkos on heavy paper.  Next is to assemble a paper trailer from Team Track Models - only $6 for the download, and as many trailers as your heart desires!  The trailers will probably be less expensive than printing the free trucks at Kinkos, because I print the trailers at home and paste them onto card stock and mat board.

Attachments

Images (3)
  • image
  • Free Paper truck from DAF.com sized 150% on 80lb paper
  • 450BB722-4910-4387-8B7B-0AA717EDD62B
Last edited by Hannibal-St Joseph RR

Would you happen to know if any employment records exist for the Hannibal-St. Joseph RR? My grandfather was living in St Joe in 1920 and his occupation was given as "fireman" and railroading ran in the family. He was not a fire-fighter.  I am looking for info. Thanks.  Mark

Keokuk Pickle Car on ModuleWith some trepidation I start a thread showing the progress on my layout.  Trepidation because starting a thread means some level of accountability - but almost everywhere on this forum there are great encouragers and helpful tips so I don't want to miss out.  Also, there are some things I do that might help others.  I just don't want to realize halfway through that there was something big I wished I had/had not done.  But life without risk gets you no train layout!

The Hannibal-St Joseph Railroad was a real railroad, started in part by Mark Twain's dad (Samuel Clemens' dad) in 1851.  It was folded into the CB&Q, then Burlington-Northern and now BNSF.  I grew up north of Hannibal, in Canton, and we made the trek frequently across the state of Missouri along 36 Highway to my grandparents north of Kansas City.  Hwy 36 connects Hannibal and St Joseph, and roughly parallels the original Hannibal-St Joseph track.  As an adult we lived in St Joseph for a couple of years, so my attachment to Hannibal-St Joseph is lifelong.

My model diverts from history, and actually connects Keokuk, Iowa to St. Joseph, Missouri, by traveling south along the Mississippi River to Canton, then down to join the Hannibal-St Joseph trackage across the state.  So I will probably refer to my model as the Keokuk-St Joseph Railroad.  There was a Keokuk & Western Railroad in the early 1900's, and it did cross the Des Moines River heading south, but then turned west back into Iowa vs. further south to Canton.  Since I grew up in Canton, modeling Canton was a requirement and I know more about Keokuk industry than Hannibal anyway.

The layout design is basically an along-the-wall and peninsula single track, short line type of railroad.  Minimum curve is 34".  I have some 34" Marx switches, and most people say not to go beyond 36" depth without access hatches so 34" loops are where I ended up.  I wanted low profile track, so 31" O Scale was out, and my experience with 27" switches and track is they are just a little too tight.  Plus I am now a proud owner of a Lionel GP38 and its minimum turning diameter is 31".

So the layout is basically a loop-to-loop, 2-level layout (48" and 30") with a town at mid height (Marceline at 40"), and an industrial yard spur at one end.   Going from one end to the other is about 270 feet of track, in an L-shaped area about 23' x 18'.  Keokuk will start at 48", and on the 48" level the towns will progress from Keokuk south along the Mississippi and across the Des Moines river to Canton, then southwest to Monroe City, then continue west to Shelbina, and Macon.  From Macon, the transition begins to the lower level.

Note that 18" is a long way to go at 2.5% or less!  So midway down, we turn through Marceline (Walt Disney's home town) - and Marceline will be at 40", and in a stub wall-separated area of its own.  After Marceline we continue down to the 30" level, where we pass through Brookfield, Chillicothe, Hamilton, and then arrive at St Joseph.  Also, from St Joseph we can drop down through the stub wall underneath Marceline to the St Joseph Industrial Park, which is at 25" height.

The majority of the incline/decline is along the long part of the "L", 23 foot wall, and about a 12" shelf.  The 12" shelf area will have track at 48", declining track from 48", inclining track from 30", and 30" track.  So a long stretch of scenery along the wall is about all that will fit - which is nice between towns, and represents what you see along Hwy 36, which is primarily 200 miles of farms.

Note that I am using primarily scrap lumber, estate sale track and buildings, and I will have tubular track in the Industrial Park, FasTrack in Marceline, and the rest will be Gargraves.  I will have Marx switches, Lionel and K-Line tubular 42" switches, Fastrack switches, and Ross switches with Tortoise motors.  Eventually I will have a simple PLC to control some block signals, and hopefully run a fast clock with lighting.  Maybe the layout should be called "The Estate Sale and Scrap Lumber RR"!

I have started construction at Marceline to use up my menagerie of scrap lumber and switches in the least visible area, which limits initial outlay of cash, and because the track through the wall and around the sump pump is the most difficult to figure out.  Also I am allowed my fun as long as I include a Disney play area - which means Marceline needs to be in place soon!  Marceline will feature "Disney Home at Marceline", a Disney amusement park located in Marceline in my imagination, complete with Disney castle playset and monorail.  (Marceline does have the Disney Hometown Museum in real life!)

Hope you enjoy the development, and here goes!

Dan Wiltshire

Hi Mark - that is a neat history in the family!  I don’t know about an employment record, but I am making plans to attend the Burlington Route Historical Society convention October 7-10 in St Louis.  If there are records, that is the group that will have them.  (Since CB&Q bought H-StJ RR). I bet if you contacted them at BurlingtonRoute.org they would be very glad to engage with you.  Happy hunting!

Hi Mark - that is a neat history in the family!  I don’t know about an employment record, but I am making plans to attend the Burlington Route Historical Society convention October 7-10 in St Louis.  If there are records, that is the group that will have them.  (Since CB&Q bought H-StJ RR). I bet if you contacted them at BurlingtonRoute.org they would be very glad to engage with you.  Happy hunting!

Thanks for the tip. I will follow up. Mark

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