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Last Saturday night (June 12) at 10:45 in the evening a heavy storm with strong winds toppled our large (65 feet tall, 3 foot in diameter) oak tree, roots and all. The blessing is that it fell straight down the driveway and  nobody was killed or hurt.

The sad thing is it fell on the south side of our house, crushing the gable and opening the house up to heavy rains just above my layout. My oldest son and my neighbors came to the rescue and helped remove all the trains and accessories before the got too wet. As far as I can tell right now the lost pieces are a milk car, 2 floodlight towers, a radar tower, a microwave tower, some street lamps and an Arttista hot dog cart, all smashed by the falling ceiling.

Since I am a "silver-lining" type of guy, we are looking at some improvements to the room and the layout itself. For now, the trains go into storage.

Is there anything I should do before storing?



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@RickO posted:

Put everything in front of a dehumidifier for a week

[EDITed as apparently my original post was unintentionally misleading] In addition to thoroughly drying as best you can as suggested above and below, it might also be a good idea with any items you box up (in dry boxes) to but lots of fresh silica gel packets inside the boxes to absorb moisture.

Last edited by SteveH

Forget trying to dry them with silica gel packets!  Do a little research on the amount of silica gel it actually takes to just protect something that's already dry, trying to dry something out with them is a fool's errand!

One thing that was successful for me with folks dumped water on their laptops was a low temperature bake, 150F or lower for a few hours.  Yes, I did actually remove the LCD screen before applying that remedy, they aren't up to the temperatures.   I've baked a ton of circuit boards to dry them, that's actually how we did them when I was building avionics.

Thank God you weren’t hurt!

Your home insurance might cover a restoration company doing a professional dry-out. In case not, you can try this: Dry off all the surface water and take off locomotive shells if possible. A hair dryer set on cool or barely warm should do a decent job, or you can run a box fan across a table full of them until they look more or less dry. If you do get a dry, sunny day, it might speed things up.
After you get rid of all the water you can, buy a jug or two of unscented crystal cat litter. It’s silica gel, but much easier to use than packets or even the little canisters.     An eight-pound jug is about $15. Pour it a couple inches deep in one of the big storage totes. Lay white cotton cloth, like old t-shirts etc., over the crystals, then pack away your stuff as you usually would. Block up the safety holes in the handles (they’re there in case a toddler or pet gets in, but you’re not leaving these around open) and store. Blocking the safety holes will keep damp air from getting in and defeating the purpose.

Here’s hoping it all does work out for the very best.

Bob, you were extremely fortunate that more wasn't damaged by the rain and the collapsed roofing.

I agree with all everyone that stated to dry them out thoroughly and remove the batteries immediately.  Check each item individually.   

Maybe even using a hand held hair drier to blow hot air into the those areas you can't get to without a complete disassembly.   

Just make certain to move it around so as to avoid any accidental bubbling of paint.  Also don't put it on the highest setting.  You want warm to hot air that won't damage delicate parts.

Please keep us informed as to what your insurance company ends up saying it will do for you regarding the layout.  It may prove to be a good lessen for us all.

One thing that was successful for me with folks dumped water on their laptops was a low temperature bake, 150F or lower for a few hours.  Yes, I did actually remove the LCD screen before applying that remedy, they aren't up to the temperatures.   I've baked a ton of circuit boards to dry them, that's actually how we did them when I was building avionics.

Agreed!  I've done this as well with great success (100F with cell phones and laptops)... if there is a convection fan in the oven ...even better.  It's very, very dry in the oven.

Last edited by Dennis-LaRock

Thankfully, it's just "stuff".

Be sure to document the amount of time you spend on drying, cleaning, etc.  A local train club had to clean up after vandals broke in and sprayed fire extinguishers on everything.  The club kept track of how much time the members spent cleaning cars, engines, buildings, and scenery; the insurance company paid them for their efforts because it saved them from hiring professional cleaners.  YMMV, of course.

Wishing you the best during this difficult process.

One last option for drying is an air compressor. I use a 5 gallon pancake style compressor and set it to about 30 lbs. I then use the blow-dry nozzle to remove all water. This will certainly get enough of the water out of all the nooks and crannies to then allow a little "bake" job as discussed above. If there are any circuit boards present, they have tiny components that will trap water under them - that's where the blow off from a compressor really works well.

Just be careful with a compressor, even 30lbs of air pressure can direct an air stream strong enough to break delicate parts


I had a house fire in 1973 the trains got wet, smoke damage and some plastic bodies were damaged however none of the locomotives and rolling stock were a total loss. The power was turned off to the house so I had to gather all that I could and transport it to my dad's workshop. I had compressed air, hairdriers and four 22" window fans.  I put a tarp on the concrete floor and  removed the bodies from all the locomotives first and put the parts on the tarp with the fans directed at the floor then I set about with compressed air and the hairdrier to dry each loco. I spent the entire night and next day drying the locomotives I did not move on to the rolling stock till all the locomotives were dry. Somewhere along the way I taped the nozzle of the air hose to the end of the hairdrier and this turned out to be the most effective way to get things dry fast. Now that our trains are loaded with electronics getting them dry fast is even more important.                     11PM Friday April 13, 1973.        j

Let me add to my previous post I did have a very nice stereo system and John's advice of putting electronics in the oven at 150 degrees is very good advice I was a bit cautious and left my components in my mothers oven at 100 degrees over night and then they sat another month or so while I got settled into a new house. When I did finally hook them up a couple of months later all was fine.          j

Last edited by JohnActon


Just you may need ... a valid excuse to re-do your layout:
   add features to it from your THINGS TO DO list
   change outdated scenes
   delete no longer wanted buildings; add a new shop building:  "Layout Resurrection Services, Inc."
   re-route some trackage for variety's sake
   gain more layout space with a second level
   change the track system if that's a wish list item - from tubular to Fastrack or Atlas O or Ross?

Glad to know that your trains and rolling stock can be recovered.

Mike Mottler    LCCA 12394   


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