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Wow this went from bare wood to a really nice looking layout really quickly!

I've been sharing some of your photos with my dad to convince him to allow me to build a few more scenic elements. He's pretty set on Plasticville stuff without much tolerance for "scale model" scenery. Your layout proves that things don't need to be over the top crazy detailed to really add a lot of character and personality to the tracks!

Great job!

@rail posted:

Nice progress Chris. Being a miner, I assume you're using real coal in the hoppers?

Hey Don!!  for some reason I never replied to this one. sorry, yep all the coal is from "somewhere" in the northern anthracite field. from the clark vein. smashed it and screened it for the cars. they were full, but have since added false bottoms and just topped them after i started acquiring more hoppers.  i know these williams locos can pull alot but i dont want to beat on them that bad haha!  hmm, i see its also time for some update pics. got a bit more to do this weekend then ill get some up. thanks everyone else for the kind words and enjoying the layout!


Chris, I  use the coal dregs from my coal bucket for my fireplace coal insert.  I liked the effect also after noticing the sparkle when I went into the coal ' room '.  Just that little bit of fine sparkly dust really works out well.  All I did was apply some craft glue and sprinkled the fine coal overtop of the plastic coal load.

Right now I am able to run my modified Railking Triplex through about a dozen O31s in my over and under 16 × 5' double rail main layout  with the caboose and 23 coal cars .

Have a ball Chris.

Chris, I just reviewed this topic for the first time, and very much enjoyed your videos, photos and comments about the development of your fine layout.

Could you tell me about your ballast? What is it? Where did you get it? Did you buy it, find it, or make it yourself?

I think your ballast looks very good with your hi-rail tubular O Gauge track. My layout has the same track and 022 switches, which I have always preferred to the modern track and switches.


4F80DA07-2107-4068-ACE0-7A41DDA38316Thanks guys! Arnold, I was wondering what to use for ballast then I read on here that people have used kitty litter...... then a few days later one of our guys was cleaning up a mess in our hangar with some oil dry and I said.... that’s it!!  So yea, here ya go.......

also Arnold I agree on the track! The modern stuff is really nice, but, running Hirail tubular takes me back to being a kid at my grandparents house. The nostalgia of it ya know! This is a practice layout. We are gonna be moving in about 2 years to the forever home and plan a much larger layout in the basement we of the house we are going to build! But, I will still build it with tubular rail, probably buy it from Menards. Have some of their rail now and it works just fine.


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Last edited by C_Murley

I go to School parking lots, they have along the sides full of debris that I shovel or scoop levers of dirt into either a Depot or Lowe's Bucket, when home I shift the dirt into a screen then I pour into bottles (juice bottle 32 oz.) two bottle usually I enough to use on layout adhesive white glue and tiny bit of soap. It sticks onto table giving a realistic scenic look....

Kitty Litter, and Oil Dry are a clay product. I've never notice it to swell. Diamatex is also a clay product that is used for infields, and is a suitable material if screened, but it is a yellowish tan, so it would need to be colored. I use fine crushed gray stone from a building supply house. It's known by different names: Moon Dust, Screenings and concrete sand. I sift it through a window screen. I don't remove the fines like some do.

Chris and Chuck, I am also a 100% tubular track guy, 1st with 027 track and switches (now in boxes possibly for grandchildren down the road), and currently O Gauge track and 022 switches.

My love for O Gauge track and switches stems from the trains I admired that an older cousin and an uncle of mine had in the 1950s and early 1960s, similar to the trains Chris admired that his grandparents had.

I gathered my ballast in a similar way that Chuck did. On other threads I previously shared the photos below:




Those little pebbles are mainly ground up asphalt I found along local roads during long athletic walks, and filled my pockets with. There is also some kitty litter sprinkled in. I was told that kitty litter absorbs liquid, so I only put it outside of, not in between, the rails.

My ballast didn't cost me anything. It was fun finding and getting in.

The pebbles are way too large, but so are the high rails of the O Gauge track, so I think it works. Arnold


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Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari

Hi Chris, welcome to the forum, you've come to the right place.  Great video and your new layout looks to be really awesome.  I've been into trains for as long as I can remember and it started when I was a baby.  I also happen to love airplanes too, had my private pilots license but stopped flying when the gas went nuts  and I couldn't afford to fly but every once in a while.  I love your little bi-plane, I'll bet its a blast to fly.  Thanks for sharing your great video and all of your progress on your new layout.

thanks guys, for some reason i just noticed these responses. J.Motts, glad to hear you are enjoying my layout and nice to hear from a fellow Pilot. here ya go, ill take you for a little ride......;

JHZ, yea the trolly operation is fun.  we always had one when i was little, this is our old one. my mom gave it to me for testing. it has the slide plate on the bottom instead of rollers and cries a little going over the switch if its going too slow. its also missing the traction tire so it bobbles around a bit. I also noticed the bumper wasnt fastened down yet in the video and it was making the trolley bounce up in the air hahaha. it doesnt do that any more. when i get a chance to pick up the scranton transit trolley from the gift shop at the electric city trolley museum that one should run better as it has 2 pick up rollers. 

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