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It has been exactly 2 years (as of 2022) since I asked about radius curves & how tight I could make them.  I thought after my experiment working on the curves with different engines that I could do my portable 38 inch by 78 inch layout in about 6 to 9 months.  (At that time I had not factored in my back problems with past operations and chronic pain.  Last August 2021, I got a pain pump, but it has not been of much help yet as it was supposed to take at least 6 months to start to work.)  So here it is 2 years after I started and I am approaching the final work with many little things that need to be completed.  But it is operational.
I am going to show the progression from start to finish but with only a few pictures every couple of days or so.  I hope you enjoy it.  Make comments or suggestions but remember it is fictional, portable, and with some things looking maybe a bit strange, and "it's my railroad."

This is the post where I was asking about the tightness of a radius.
2nd update, 3/13/2020 (at bottom of 1st post), On30 radius curve, 1/26/2020... Update 2/14/2020

I scribbled out many track plans with each one not being able to fit.  I finally came up with a working start and it was modified a few times before really getting track permanently laid.  Nothing was taken from other ideas.  It just came out of my head and onto the foam board.

Here are the first two pictures to start it off.
It has a 1 X 2 frame underneath to fit around a 2 X 4 folding table.  Also a 1 x 4 facia.
I made cardboard circle cutouts to form the radiuses.
I used Peco switches and Peco Flex track with a cork roadbed.


Some track being laid thinking this may not work.  I really did not want to make the layout larger.

I have a backstory for this fictional railroad & why it is called Utacolzona. It will show up in a later post.
Lots more to come!


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Years ago I discovered craftsman buildings from various manufacturers.  Having built several Ameritown buildings for my O gauge (3 rail) layout, I decided to try one of those kits. I have built about a dozen now and love doing craftsman kits in wood.  I did one A&W Root Beer stand in plastic and I will never do another plastic kit again (It is not like the normal kits we are used to like Ameritowne).  I just had too much trouble.  I've done some vehicles also that I will be posting soon.  Those were very difficult, but still, I enjoyed building them.

Today I'm going to start posting some of the buildings that I have done that are going on the On30 layout.  I did post a few of them years ago on the Scenery & Structures forum.   I will post some here & there while posting the On30 layout build.  (I was going to put them on the O gauge layout with the On30 upper level for the mining and timber area, but none of it was going to fit right.  So the separate On30 layout was started.)

Note poster on inside wall.


Thanks for following along.  More to come.


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Very nice, realistic looking buildings. Thank you for the PRR poster on the inside, by the way (although it is not a switcher)! For the outside of the gas station, side walls and along the front, you could spice up your modeling by Googling some vintage signs like Ford, Studebaker, Champion Spark Plugs, etc. and shrink them to size, but dirty them up a little. You don't want it to look too clean at a greasy garage.


@PRR8976 posted:


Very nice, realistic looking buildings. Thank you for the PRR poster on the inside, by the way (although it is not a switcher)! For the outside of the gas station, side walls and along the front, you could spice up your modeling by Googling some vintage signs like Ford, Studebaker, Champion Spark Plugs, etc. and shrink them to size, but dirty them up a little. You don't want it to look too clean at a greasy garage.


Not all garages were born dirty & greasy.
This was a new build picture.  It got a few signs on it eventually.

Last edited by Hartman

Some more pictures as work progressed.
I made a jig to make a lot of bents for three trestles.  As the incline rose slightly, I had cut down the bents to fit the rise (easy).  Amazing how fast this work goes with a jig!  I stained all the wood before cutting and touch-up was easy later on.  I used regular yellow wood glue and had no problems with anything holding together with the stain being dry.


This is the trestle on a rise.  I will show the two coal-loading trestles in an upcoming post.


Lots more to come.


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As I mentioned earlier, here are two metal trucks I built. They were a tough but fun build. I still have one more log hauler to build... Maybe next winter.  I went into my backyard and cut some branches off of a bush that looked just right for logs this size.




More layout build pictures in a few days.


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Here is the first picture when starting the rock formations.  I had no idea at this point I was going to instantly change the location for this railroad.  In the background corner, you can see I was trying out the Utah and Arizona rock formations and decided to go with it since my O gauge layout was eastern PRR northern Appalachian area.  Notice the addition here of the coal ramp that was a moment that I said, "Why don't I put a coal ramp in here."   This is sort of the way this layout was built.


Trying to see what buildings to use, how I can place them, and where to make roads.


Just to show some that don't model in O narrow gauge, here is the difference in the size of equipment.  Everything else, buildings, cars, people, trees, etc., are the same size as O scale.


I will post more rock construction on Sunday.


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Hello Sunday!  March is coming.
Some more foam construction.  I needed inspiration for my idea of doing a southwestern theme so I went to my pictures of my trip when I visited my son in 2018.  I have lots of good pictures to use for that inspiration.
I tried to think like a western rock & not an eastern rock.  Big difference!  That thought I heard later, on Thunder Mesa Studio by Dave Meeks.  I was needing inspiration for painting the rock formations and was having trouble.  Months after starting this project when I stumbled upon the Thunder Mesa Studio website, Dave gave me the inspiration I was needing...  What paint I needed and how to apply it.  Thanks to Dave, I think it worked.   As for the whole project, painting the rocks was a struggle for me and I spent a lot of time with layers of paint to get it (I think) right.  You will see that work in upcoming photos.

Note the standard gauge track compared to the narrow gauge.  This is supposed to be a service spur of the Rio Grande connecting my UTACOLZONA Railroad  (That back story coming up this week).
Also, you can see another coal ramp in this shot.
No serious carving of the rocks yet.


Pay no attention to the incomplete O gauge layout in the background.


Several pictures from my trip show shapes and colors.

More coming soon.


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How a mining town got its name

In the late 19th century, an old Italian miner stopped in an arid western area exhausted from his travels in search of riches.  As he sat there looking at the ground and the mountainous area, he thought if he could find water he just might stay there.
The next day, a traveler on horseback came by and the old Italian miner asked the man what the name of this place is.  The fellow said, "Why, this is Utah!"  He tipped his hat and rode off.
A little later from another direction a family came along in a covered wagon.  He asked them if they knew the name of this place and the family in unison said, "Colorado!"  They bid their farewell and rode away.
In the middle of the day, an old Spanish-speaking fellow pulling his donkey came in from the south.  Again the old Italian miner asked this man if he knew where they are.  "Se. This is Arizona!" and the old fellow walked on with his donkey.
Before it got dark, a couple of surveyors came through with their equipment on a buckboard.  They stopped and thinking the old miner had a mine nearby said to him, "We are building a railroad through here and we just might put a siding or spur along here, so we need a name to put on our maps.  What is the name of this place?"  The old Italian man thinking he still was not sure decided to tell them all three names he had heard from the other travelers.  So in his broken English, he said, "Uta Col Zona."
So that is how UTACOLZONA got its name.  Don't look for it on any map.  No one could decide where the place is, but we think it is somewhere in those hills and mountains of Utah, Colorado, or Arizona...
Or is it New Mexico?

I wish I had taken pictures of all the cutting that was done before I started painting, but I just didn't do it. 
All I have are the rough-cut blocks of foam as shown here.


Coming up soon will be painting of the rock formations.


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It's Sunday. March 6th.  More rocks to show!
I thought I had more than this one shot of the base coloring before adding all the colors to give realism.
This shows all the cutting put into the foam.  Something I did learn from other modelers was to
cover the track.


These next shots show close to the final coloring of the rock formations.
The buildings keep being put on and off to find their final locations.


These pictures also show a huge mistake I made.  I started this out as a portable layout which it
still is but, I did something I always did on the O gauge layout... I ballasted the track.  ALL of the track!
So far, all I had was a small amount of wood, foam, and track.  What a huge amount of weight the fine
stone added!  I was planning, and did, to put dirt and some weeds & grass down and then sprinkle
some stone to give the appearance that there was some ballast there.
Now it is a two-person portable layout.


Another craftsman-type building for the On30 layout.


One other thing to point out.  All of the buildings, cars, trains, and high rock formations come off
to be able to move this layout through doorways.  Those pictures coming up.


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Sunday. 3/13/22  One more hour closer to summer!

Here is one shot with most of the color on the rocks complete and roads almost complete.
Notice many of the higher rocks are not in this picture.  It is because I made all the high rocks removable so the layout can be moved easily when turned on its side to go through doorways.


Shown on the scenery forum a while back is this tiny hotel which will be the second-largest building here.
This picture is a bit washed out.  It is not as white as it looks.

What happens when you have a warped plastic wall?  You heat it up then put weight on it to flatten it out.  What happens when you forget that the wall is heating up? Make a smaller building.


More to come with most of it together.  I say most because there is a lot of little things to do before I start taking some good camera shots.


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Here we are on a Wednesday (3/16/22) afternoon.  How about a couple of pictures.
OK.  Here are two.

What are all those handles doing on the sides?  Does Dennis need so many?
Weeeellll,... No.  Those are very special for something they are not meant to do.


They hold a Backdrop.
I wanted a Backdrop but it had to be removable.  I saw a gentleman on Youtube doing it but even though his backdrops were removable, his tall supports were permanent.  It took me about a minute to figure that out.  What I really needed to learn from him was how to bend Masonite.  His method worked but it was more labor-intensive than he showed.  Windex with Ammonia, soak the area where you want the bend, and go to it.  It was a lot of work but it did the job as my corner is round and the break in the backdrop seam is about a foot from the corner.  A two-section backdrop is so easy to handle and transport (and to operate the layout for fun).
A note here about bending Masonite.  Easy to do unless you have a very tight corner and bend to make.  The total amount of my bend was 9 inches. 


What, no pictures of the backdrop?!  That is coming up in another post... Soon.


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It is Sunday (3-20-22) and I have something to show that took a little thinking.
Stripped down ready to move easily. Removed trains, buildings, cars & people, and high rocks.



(I found what I suspected to be my main issue with my pictures.  My camera is never in focus for the past several months.  It is autofocus & I can not control it manually.  So this week I have to spend money on something I really had not planned on and that is buying a new camera (No, I do not have a "smart" phone).  I wish I had better pictures for this thread but they will have to do.)

I wanted a few power poles with wires.  Making the poles and stringing with necklace string was easy but I needed them to be easily removable.  I found the 22 casing a perfect fit for the base of the poles.  I glued them flush into the foam.  Now the poles drop into or lift out of their perspective holes easily.



In this picture, you can see the wires (string) going across from pole to pole.

Coming up.  The backdrop view from the front!  Ooooh. Exciting.


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It is Sunday (3-20-22)part 2.  Backdrop with the UTACOLZONA Railroad.


A close shot where the foam rocks meet the backdrop.


Lots of little things to do yet like people, weathering the car & pickups, two more coal chutes, etc.
The only complete buildings I bought were the "Lucky #7 Coal Mine" and the water tower.  There are two plastic Ameritowne kits.  The one beside the Hotel & the #7 Mine I will probably replace with other craftsman kits when I find something I like.
As soon as I get another camera, I would like to post several closeup pictures.
I hope you all enjoyed the progress.


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@RSJB18 posted:

Great work. Goes to show you don't need a basement the size of a football field to have fun in this hobby.


Thank you, Bob.  I had a couple of moments where frustration started & thinking... Why am I bothering to do this?  I took a break and in another week I was back at having fun with the whole build.
Also, thank you to everyone posting "likes."  I appreciate it.

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