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  Well, its been awhile since I have posted on this forum. Last time, I had designed a layout, that I could run Big Articulateds on, in a small space. I've had a change in plans and decided to model the late steam era on CP "somewhere" in the mountains.

  Basement is too small(common complaint among all of us), however it does force one to become more creative in what DO have, as opposed to what we DONT have.

   Ive had trouble loading the file, but it downloaded as a pdf file. Hopefully, you can see it without any issues.

Look forward to comments



Files (1)
Last edited by albertstrains
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Hey Albert,

How's it going? No pretzel? Too bad.


Anyway, I opened your attached file and it's blank. No layout, no anything. You saved a fresh start.


Just click on add attachments, then point the file chooser to the location where it is saved on your computer. It's My Documents by default, click on it, and click ok.


On our end, we have to right-click it and "save target as", then open it with SCARM after it lands.


I am interested to see your new idea. The pretzel was cool and was borrowed by a few forum members. You have a good eye and imagination for making a lot happen in the space that have.

Last edited by Moonman

  I think this plan has a little more interesting operating, as trains have to go up and over. I was thinking to two trains operating on the mainline and maybe switcher for around the yard.

  Minimum is O72 with O84. Scenery....well, lets say very mountainous terrain.

 Grades should be OK( 3%?). Atlas TT and two roundhouse kits(I had to do it)

   I have some of the other plans that evolved from my original pretzel layout to this one, I case anyone would like to see them posted.

  I will see If I can post my crappy basement plan as well


Als Pretzel Layout Buildings



Images (2)
  • Als Pretzel Layout Buildings: the original
  • basement: 12" grid floor plan

  Layout is basically 16'x 8' with an 8'x 8' off one side. Its all I can really fit in my basement unfortunately. On a positive note, it makes things a little more manageable without having "too much" layout(if that's possible)and I can probably get things done.

  So far I haven't installed pop ups yet for access and I've been crawling on top of the layout to get at the hard to reach places. That's why I made the bench work out of 2x4 for framing and 1/2" plywood top.

   It seemed easier to do foamboard as opposed to the "cookie-cutter" method of grade work, as mentioned by Carl.

  I did have to eliminate the one siding on the top main where the reverser loop was, due to actual space constraints. It looks like the grades will be tolerable with most of my motive power and the fact that freight trains will be only 8 or so cars in length.

  I will be constructing some bridges and trestles so it wont look to closed in, down the road. Priority is to get trains running and then pick and choose what I feel like working on.


Here are a few pics of recent progress. Almost done completing the mainline trackage, probably by the end of the weekend. Drilled holes for all the wire drops on the switches and I will neeed to drill more when and where I decide to add power connections to the track. I will be soldering 2/18 awg stranded cable for these.
   Soon time to get out the hot wire and do some basic carving. Then buy some tan coloured paint for the flat surfaces and some grey for the vertical surfaces. I purchased a can of expandable spray foam to fill gaps at various locations as well and will post some pics of this after


Images (8)
  • IMG_20150919_004645_edit: big mess where the 2 Atlas Roundhouse kits will be. I will have this cleaned up once all the upper level sub roadbed supports are done
  • IMG_20150919_004638
  • IMG_20150919_004519
  • IMG_20150919_004241: one more shot of main line grade acsent around where the Roundhouse will be
  • IMG_20150919_004217
  • IMG_20150919_004128
  • IMG_20150919_004029
  • IMG_20150919_004009: cant wait to start running trains!!!!

It is so cool to see it come alive. You didn't say much about making the basement area into a train room. I recall the early photos. You put a lot of time into that.


You may want to start running with one connection for track power. If the train slows in an area, check the track tabs first. Mike of Lionel has a "continuity with FasTrack" video on youtube that shows how to slightly bend the track tabs.


If that doesn't fix it, then add a drop.


If 18awg is what you have, that's fine, but 16awg is tried and true.


Thanks for update.

Great progress, Al.

Your home made method of elevating the track is brilliant.  How are you notching the risers so they become flexible in the curves?  I'm guessing it's just a saw or box cutter slice 1/2 way through every inch or so.

A guy could go broke doing it all with Woodland Scenics foam.  Hopefully you find using foam helps quiet Fastrack.  I look forward to your impressions once all is up and running.  I might just rethink doing mine using your method.





Well, I have finally been able to run some trains on the layout! I have had to "blast" some additional clearances out on curves at various locations when running my CP Selkirk and heavyweight passenger cars, with my hot wire soldering gun. All and all I'm happy to say the 2-10-4 will haul 4 MTH heavyweight cars up all the grades with minimal slipping. I built all my custom bridges with 1/4" mdf board so all track sub road bed is able to handle the weight of the trains without relying on the support of just the fastrack.
   In response to Bruces query on the foam construction, this how I went about it.
First I purchased 2" and 3" foamboard in 4'x8' sheets. For the risers I ripped them in 7.5" widths on my tablesaw. With the blade fully extended I could not cut all the way thru so I would have to flip and turn the sheet around to cut all the way thru.
    Once ripped into the appropriate width, I proceeded to cut the "slots" along one side only at approx 1 to 2" intervals.
Of course you need to adjust the blade depth of the cut so there is still atleast 3/4" of material left. This will allow the sheet to bend at whatever your desired radius is.
   You may need to make the cuts closer together if you require tighter radius bends.
I need to state you should be very confident in using a table saw as it can be dangerous repetative work and a table saw is unforgiving if you are not cautious.
   All track was laid out on 2" foamboard sheets which covered my 1/2" plywood table top. With the track laid out I traced out the upper routes with black marker. With the risers cut and easily bendable to curves I could now use white glue to affix them to the base foamboards.
I used 3" nails placed along the marked lines to hold the curves in place while the glue dried.
Hopefully this helps those who might want to try this method of construction as it is quite fast once you have all your risers precut.
    One negative is that cutting the foamboard on a tablesaw is MESSY and it gets everywhere so have a shop vac handy lol.

I thought about the mess made by using a power tool to cut foam.  Best done in an enclosed space where you can confine and trap the debris.  That is, unless a winter scene is what you're modeling...then let'r rip!


Gotta admit, notching out foam to add clearance has to be the easiest form of adjustment.  Not so much when working with wooden supports.



Well, it's been a while since was had a chance to work on my layout. Finally started a new job in Nov on a 6 month contract in construction of new headquarters for Imperial Oil(Exxon) here in Calgary. Lots of walking which has not left me with much energy to stand around working on my layout lol(gettin older). Anyways, started working on an additional spur for a mine and tunnels on the one end of my layout.

 Purchased a "handy pak" of 1 1/2"foamboard(2'x 4') from Home Depot to start. I also stocked up on another bottle white glue.

   With my trusty soldering gun converted to hot wire duty, I started carving out and adding supports for the new mine area. I recessed the area by 1 1/2" to accomodate the spur track off the Main, which also inclosed the lower main loop as a tunnel. 

 Here are a few pics showing the latests modifications

 I've been busy on my layout, de-cluttering, organizing things I haven't had the time to do til now.

 I have wanted to have a place for the small coal mine spur on the top level and have decided to move it the the opposite side of the This will require partially covering the top of the 2 track siding on the main level. This will allow me add more bang for my buck.

 I have cut 2" strips of foamboard at 5 1/2 and 7 1/2" widths , build the upper mine addition.

 Here are some pics showing the progress



Images (6)
  • IMG_20160625_202430
  • IMG_20160625_202412
  • IMG_20160625_184148_edit
  • IMG_20160625_184256_edit
  • IMG_20160625_184218
  • IMG_20160625_165753

 Ok, I've been busy on the layout(feels great) and have the upper mine area ready for more mountain elevation now that there is a good solid base.

   I also cut out an access by the station area and am planning a river gorge area where the arch bridge(s) are.

 I am going to cut out the plywood where the ravine will be to add another 4" of depth.IMG_20160702_200044IMG_20160702_200052IMG_20160702_200809


Images (3)
  • IMG_20160702_200044
  • IMG_20160702_200052
  • IMG_20160702_200809

  Been workin on detailing a few MTH buildings and scrath-building CPR style telegraph poles. I went to Micheals a putchase the materials which were pretty cheap, even in CDN dollars(under $25).

 5   3/16" x 36" wood dowels

1   bag of match sticks

1   small container of beads

   I can give more instructions how I did it, let me know



Images (6)
  • IMG_20160708_135559_edit_edit: some of the tools and materials of course white glue is missing from the pic
  • IMG_20160709_231357_edit
  • IMG_20160709_231342
  • IMG_20160709_231957_edit
  • IMG_20160709_233103_edit_edit
  • IMG_20160709_233959_edit

Hey Al; looking good. That gorge is going to be great. Nice use of those arch bridges to make it happen. Overall I really like your track plan and your use of foamboard for all elevated track. And it should be nice and quiet. I need to bring my VL Bigboy over soon so we can make sure your clearances are adequate. It will find any tight spots for sure!


Last edited by Rod Stewart

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