John, just to be clear, I think you’re saying the framing wasn’t needed to support the upper level decking. I’m going to have a setup similar to Mark’s and I plan on just using pylons to hold the upper deck (3/4”) without the 1x framing. I like the idea of concrete wall forms. Did I understand correctly?

Rescued Trains posted:

Mark, great thinking, a trip to Lowes, a little bit of time for construction and it is done. Did I miss a meeting? Has a new level been invented? All mine look like yours. I haven't heard of this new "wizbang" device Mike G. talks of.


Steve, Thank you!  The "wizbang" device Mike used is his digital level.  He showed us photographs where his level showed 0.0 several times.  It is very impressive!  

Lew and Pat, Thank you!

RSJB18 posted:

Hey Mark- just caught up here on your thread. Good to see some solid progress. Love your choice of test loco's too . The framing should be fine as long as your not planning on dancing up there . My second level is just about 5" and some taller cars don't fit (rookie mistake), so 5 1/2" should be fine.

I use those Rustoleum paints too, they are very nice. A suggestion for the spray paint- get a old box fan and mount a throw away AC filter to the intake side. Position it where you are spraying, and move along as you go. It won't grab everything but should control most of the scatter.

I had an idea for the cassette system Dave designed. Make a top that looks like an engine/ service building that can sit on each cassette. That way you can disguise it a bit when they are on the layout.

Keep up the good work.


Bob, Thank you!  No I do not plan on dancing!    There is only 38" from the plywood to the low ceiling!    The 5-1/2" came from testing the sheet of plywood temporarily held up by blocks of wood.  I first tried 5", but decided to go higher.  Good idea on the paint spraying.  I am defiantly going to make adjustments before spraying again.  

I really do like the idea to put an engine house or car repair house over the cassette!    Maybe I should have put in a few more thumbs up!  I'm going to do it!!

John H posted:

Mark, I have been enjoying your progress. I know how satisfying it was building my layout. Your second level is a great idea and please don't take this as overly critical. You could reduce your grade and increase your clearance by just supporting the plywood with posts, without the boards. A Railking Husky Stack is 5 3/8" from the base sitting on Gargraves track alone. I used 6" concrete wall forms to hold mine, and I hardly have a splinter or wire's clearance. Mine is 7' wide with supports around the edge and one in the middle, and absolutely no sag. If this is moot because you never plan on any rolling stock that high, then keep up the good work. If I ever get a scale sized stack, I wont be able to run it on the lower track, so I'm just throwing this into the mix. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

John, Thank you!!  I never thought you could get away with supports like that without linear bracing.  But you have proven it can be done!!   Yours looks great!  One thing I won't be running any cars higher than the boxcar since I like the steam-diesel transition era.  I don't ever envision running high cube cars or double stacks.  Now cutting the steep grade down some could still be a possibility.  I wasn't going to build this upper support yet, but I found myself waiting on my next load of Mianne benchwork for the long straight grade and the yard in front.  If Tim is able to keep onto the schedule he told me over the phone, I should see it sometime next week; surely before he starts packing everything up to take to York next month.  Once I get that, there will be more lower level track work, the yard, and the power panel.  At that point I can get started wiring.  The point is, that gives me time to see if I don't like the grade, I could easily take this apart and remove the 1x2s, thus lowering the grade.

I appreciate you throwing the idea into the mix!!  Dave is glad you did as well!! 



Brian, Thank you!!!

Dave, you read right. The upper level is 1/2" plywood and 1/2" ceiling tile, supported on the perimeter and a couple places in the middle. I have a 2' by 2' access hole near one end. I use Fastrack, so the clearance is even less. The forms were left over from a new milking parlor in 2008, so the price was "just right". Works for me, as the cars just have to clear the plywood and not any framing. 3/4" plywood will be even better for strength.


Located in the real Upstate NY

Nice work Mark. I think most progress comes in spurts, I know it does for me. You are approaching things in a well thought out and logical manner, and dealing with things as they come up. As far as the level, I have a laser level, but wouldn’t have used it in that application. By the time I set it up, the regular level has done its job. Sometimes the old ways are best, and just as effective.


Mark- taking the second level discussion a bit further. Typical house floor framing is16" on center with 3/4" subfloor. A few strategically placed columns should do the job and you could lower the whole thing. My second level is nothing more than 1/4" luan and 1" dowels. Holds even heavy post war engines just fine.

Happy to help on the cassette. I like the whole system and would consider it myself if I had more room.


Three Rails Are Better Than None 

Bob, Thank you very much!!  I can see what you are saying you did is similar to what I did with the upper level of my Christmas layout this past year.  I mounted 1/4" Masonite on top of plastic supports every foot or so.  Then I put the track on top of that.  It worked fine, and I have the Foam board with track and supports sitting intact in a corner to use again this coming Christmas.

I plan to use foam for the hillside with many town buildings on up the hill so part of the upper level will be covered with town, though I will have access to track on the back side.  Still, most of the buildings will be plastic, sot here won't be much weight.  I could certainly trim down the 2x2 supports and cut the unused 2x2 I bought for supports like you said.  In fact, to the left of the loop, the approach track will be held up with similar supports and a sceniced steep hillside down to the first level approach to the loop.

You have given me food for thought to be sure.  Thank you!  I wish you had more room too!  I know what it's like to cram a layout in a small space.

I got wind of these great kits by Carolina Craftsman Kits on a Western Maryland Modelers Facebook group.  After seeing some builds of their Elkins station, I bought an introductory discount offer Thomas station kit.  Jeff produces some great kits and build ups in O and HO.  You may have seen him in York.  The kit arrived this week.  I won't have time to build it until at least next winter, but here it is at the approximate location where it will sit on the upper level.

2019-04-20 11.35.50

The cork roadbed is down and sanded awaiting me to pick up a can of returned mixed gray paint at either Home Depot or Lowes.  I haven't been out that way for at least a week, so I will have to make a trip someday.


Photos (1)

I see it has been over 2 months since I reported in.  Some of you have seen a few posts on the 'What did you do on your layout today' topic, but for those who haven't, here is the little bit I have accomplished since April.

In the first two photographs, I have the Homasote cut, screwed down, and cork lightly glued down on that.  Then I took the top outside to spray the Rustoleum stone texture temporary ballast color.  I then screwed down the track with jumpers and tested continuity.  

2019-05-27 18.33.11

I decided from now on, I'll fit the track, cut the roadbed, take it outside to paint, then fasten it down to the tabletop.  The wooden panels are a bit heavy for me to handle by myself anymore.

2019-05-27 18.33.00

I then made a support out of some more of the poplar for a trapezoidal piece of plywood.  I'll trim the trapezoid down some when the final track placement is determined.   Here is the plywood secured with just two screws for now with some track slid in for temporary eyeballing.  

2019-06-18 19.01.55

I made some adjustments after taking this photograph, but this is basically where it stands.

2019-06-18 19.01.33

Thank you for looking!!!!


Photos (4)

Its looking good Mark! Slow and easy is the trick! Boy did I find that out, make sure everything fits right then fasten it down! LOL I like the spray texture but I am past that point so now I have to wait till I can do real ballast!

Keep up the wonderful work and I will keep watching! When I am not at the darn Doc's! LOL


USMC 5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

Thank you, Mike.  Yes, if I see something needs redone, that is fine, but I don't want to redo if it was because I was in a hurry.  

I have a bunch of doctor appointments and tests coming up too, starting tomorrow through at least July 10th.  Then my wife goes in for her second knee replacement. 

Good luck to your wife, Mark. We just found out my wife is facing a very difficult and involved shoulder surgery, but they’re hoping injections will allow it to be delayed for years. So far the first injection has relieved the constant pain, so we’re hopeful. I just dealt with a Lithotripsy procedure to break up a large kidney stone. I’m also having problems getting a new eyeglass prescription. I’ve been to the university twice and I still can’t see with new glasses, so now I have to think about trying again or paying another optometrist to see if they can get it right. Along with my back, it’s been one appointment after another, so now I’m leery about even starting my layout. I completely understand what you’re going through and frustrating it is when you can’t make much progress and how every little but feels like a major accomplishment. Keep chugging away, it’s looking good and you’ll get there.

Brian and Dave,

Thank you very much!  The knee surgeon agreed with me today to hold off on my knee until my wife recovers from her second knee replacement which is scheduled for July 23rd.  He gave me a new pain prescription to replace the one I have been on for a couple years and a script to get some physically therapy.  Maybe we will make PT the activity an aging couple can do together.  Her on post op therapy and me on pre op therapy!    We didn't know what life in our 60s would be like when we married, but never thought of PT for a family activity!!!    I am sure the drop foot from the sciatic nerve issue throws me off balance and affects the other knee and vice versa!  

Dave, Ugh, yours and your wife's difficulties sound like no fun for sure!  I can see why you are leery about starting the layout!  

Leandro, thank you for your encouragement!  Yes, I am hampered because I don't have a great crew of helpers like you have!!

Lookin good Mark! I like the added 2nd level. I think it's going to look very nice and will have plenty to add interest and train running fun when finished.  And I also see trains already!    I need something like that 2nd level on my layout too. Mine just being a flat rectangle was ok at first, but the excitement diminishes pretty quickly these days. 

I wish your wife good luck with the knee replacement. It's been a bad year for health issues, I'm having a few as well, some old some new, and from reading some of the posts lately it seems like that is going around this year. Not to mention the good folks we have lost more of that please! 

I wish the best to all that are having health issues, and may everyone get fixed up quickly and be back to layout building and train running very soon!

Thank you!  I keep hoping the layout provides enough excitement when trains are running over the entire plan.  

I guess we are all getting older and more susceptible to injury, illness, and as most of my problems are 'wear and tear'.  Yes, I have heard that from several doctors.  No fancy medical term given.    I agree, I am saddened by the news of some of our friends or their wives passing.

Morning Mark, Just wanted to let you know you and your wife will be in our prayers for her speedy recovery from the knee replacement! We really hope things go well!


USMC 5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

rtr12 posted:

I can see this one, and I can see the layout plan in the other one as well. The other one has one picture missing below the text. Maybe it will show in a quote?

Mark Boyce posted:

Mark 2018-06-07

John, Yes that is a good idea.  I won't have a lot of hidden track, but there will be on both the upper and lower 042 turnback loops in the upper left of the plan.  This drawing has the lower alignment right under the upper level, but I don't expect it to work out exactly that way.  I will have the town of Thomas over this area which in real life is located on a hillside.

Yes, that seems to have worked. This "quote" looks just like the earlier post does in the thread, at least here anyway.


Mark, this is good news indeed! Walking is truly a wonderful thing. Walking without pain.....even more wonderful. Thinking the very most positive thoughts for you both.




Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

Mark, that's great news about your wife moving ahead so fast! I hope things go well for you also! Remember just don't rush it!


USMC 5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

Mark Boyce posted:

AEGIS21, Thank you very much!!  Yes, the surgery was successful.  She started physical therapy Monday, and moved from the walker to a cane yesterday.  I started pre-operation physical therapy for my knee replacement also.  Same time, same place!

Excellent news!!!  

All the best (for both of you),


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

RSJB18 posted:

Good to hear that your wife is doing well Mark. Hope yours goes equally well.

See if you can find a good chair to sit in so you can work on your layout after surgury.


Bob, Thank you!!  I have that planned out too.  That will be when I work on my Carolina Craftsman Kits Thomas, West Virginia station kit.  

Here is how my new layout stands.  Roadbed and track is all in for this double deck section.  The buildings are just set there to give an idea of how the town will look someday, and jumpers are through the roadbed ready for wiring.  I was so used to pre-wired switches, I forgot I needed to put jumpers in to power all the parts of the Ross switches.  Oh well, they are easily taken up since the track is only screwed down; no glue.  I doubt I will get much more done before my upcoming knee replacement surgery on Nov. 5th.

I apologize for the darkness.  I need to put more lighting in.  When I take a daylight photograph right now, the sun shining in the window messes with my iPhone 6s camera.   And yes, my wife is going to move Raggedy Ann and Andy along with a few more items someday. 

2019-09-24 19.31.11


Photos (1)

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