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Hello all. I've decided to start a thread documenting the progress of the new layout I've been constructing since September 2020. It's situated along two walls of my basement, and takes up a traditional "L" shape design. The approximate dimensions are 33' x 25', with a 5' x 9' inner peninsula (eventually to be 5' x 15') that holds a modest engine servicing facility and stub end yard (still to be fully designed).

The layout is completely freelanced, although I'm trying to capture the general feel of Southwestern Pennsylvania scenery and scenes in the late 1950s. The Pennsylvania Railroad is the main inspiration with the majority of the locomotives and rolling stock sporting PRR livery, but I like to have a little bit of everything (mostly eastern roads) on the layout as well.

A double track main is present for the entirety of the design with the outer loop being O-72 minimum. The track plan was designed to maximize the length of the run while trying to reduce the hi-rail issue of having too much track; this wasn't entirely achieved as space limitations meant that there had to be areas where more track is present than I'd like, but it should look decent enough when scenery is completed. Still, at about speed step 50 on the Legacy remote, it takes a train exactly 5 minutes to complete a full circuit. The main "room" of the layout is a twice around over/under design that sees the train snake its way along the edge of a hillside somewhat reminiscent of the approach and departure of the Horseshoe Curve, although again the key theme being inspired and not replicated, and a 25 foot tunnel. Some areas of the layout are more whimsical than prototypical such as the multi-level 4 bridge scene and relatively steep grades that were made as gradual as possible. The smaller portion of the layout will be home to a medium sized town and other scenery yet to be decided. Fastrack will be ballasted and weathered to improve the look.

100% of the equipment is scale and command control with either Legacy or Protosound 2/3. Roughly 80% of the motive power right now is steam, but I have recently been acquiring early diesel and plan to add more so the layout resembles the transition era from steam to diesel.

The pictures you'll first see below were take within the first month or two of construction, and the last few taken just days ago. I'll be updating this post as things progress. If you have any questions or suggestions let me know! Hope you all enjoy!

Nick

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Last edited by Nick's Tracks
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Thank you everyone for the kind words, it means a lot!

To address some of the above comments:

I tried my best to avoid areas that would be problematic to easily reach. For the mainline table, there is nowhere that exceeds 3' in depth. The only areas that are tricky to reach are in the corners of the wall where the current hillside is built, but once scenery is completed I should have little reason to need to access that area again. For the tunnel underneath the mountain the benchwork is all open with only the surface directly under the track covered in plywood. If there should be a derailment, I can easily go under the table and pop up inside the tunnel.

I sadly don't have a real track plan of the layout, not quite sure how to use those fancy programs haha. But I can draw up a rough sketch on a piece of paper later this evening.

And the tentative plan is to cover that long back wall where the eventual town will be with building flats from PTF designs. I'm also contemplating adding a sky backdrop in that area as well.

Again thank you all for the comments!

Nick

@BillYo414 posted:

I'd be interested to see what you decide to do about a sky backdrop. I'm in between on if I want to add one or not.

Yeah it's something I've been going back and forth on. If I do it It'll only be for the long back wall where my buildings are (I'll try to get some pictures tonight). But for the rest of the walls I don't think I'll add the backdrop since the mountains are mostly covering the wall anyway. We shall see though.

Nick

Yeah it's something I've been going back and forth on. If I do it It'll only be for the long back wall where my buildings are (I'll try to get some pictures tonight). But for the rest of the walls I don't think I'll add the backdrop since the mountains are mostly covering the wall anyway. We shall see though.

Nick

My layout will be 48" tall and there is a ton of commotion on the layout that I think would draw the eye away from the lack of sky. I just wonder if putting blue on the ceiling and wall would help immerse you better. It's hard to tell without prior experience.

@BillYo414 posted:

My layout will be 48" tall and there is a ton of commotion on the layout that I think would draw the eye away from the lack of sky. I just wonder if putting blue on the ceiling and wall would help immerse you better. It's hard to tell without prior experience.

I think painting the walls blue would be an improvement for sure. The electrical panel will also be covered up with an access door which will improve the look. Being in the heavy construction phase right now the room is a bit of a cluttered mess but once things are tidied up it should be more immersive. Black skirting will also be added hopefully soon. Thanks for the suggestion!

Nick

Last edited by Nick's Tracks

Nice job!  Looking forward to more pics.   Southwestern PA was also my 1st choice when putting together my layout.  There are a lot of older small towns that gave me ideas.  For the clouds and backdrop I hung 4x8 sheets of Masonite.  It was easy to put up and paint and looks good with the flats I built.20200518_205231

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Nick:

Your L-shaped layout platform provides opportunities for a track plan that transcends traditional rectangular layouts that are typically dominated by loops of track around the perimeter with some sidings.  Many OGR FORUM-ites wish for the space your have dedicated to your Pennsy-inspired layout.

My two-level L-shaped layout is much smaller (15x19 feet) and rendered in a plainer style than your empire with elegantly crafted scenery. You are making full use of Lionel's TMCC and Legacy technologies - a great control system. Cardboard strips and plaster cloth create a lightweight yet strong foundation to support added-on scenic magic. Carry on valiantly!

Some pix of my two-level L-shaped layout are attached -- although modest by comparison.

Mike Mottler     LCCA 12394

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  • E-W Platforms 3
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Thank you again everyone for all the compliments! It makes me want to go down in the basement and work away

PRR Joe, I really like your backdrop and elevated flats. I'd like to accomplish something similar.

Mike, all of the buildings on your layout look really great! I especially like the MTH drive-in restaurant in the first picture.

Hi Nick,

On the subject of sky backdrops, I recently had a conversation with an gifted HO modeler who models the Lehigh and New England. His approach was to paint the backdrop using two shades of blue. The upper half was painted a brighter sky blue and the lower horizon with in what was called Ice Blue (almost white) at the same time, in short sections,  using rollers and then, while still wet, blending them with a broad  brush. It looked like a typical sky in Pennsylvania, no clouds to distract the eye away from the layout, but adding great color to it.   I believe the paints were from Glidden. The look is exactly what I was looking for for my  soon-to-be layout.  Earl     

@wb47 posted:

I would go to great lengths to make sure both loops are a minimum O-72.  If you ever want 21 inch passenger cars.

Due to space limitations there are a few spots on the inner loop that had to be O-60, but it works enough for me. Luckily, the majority of the layout is O-72, O-84, and O-96 with the outer loop being O-72 minimum. The PRR Broadway cars in one of the pictures are the 21 inch variant from Lionel. They're a real pleasure to run

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