Here are some photos and progress updates on my Fastrack shelf layout. I use a wheelchair, so everything has been planned ahead of time to enable me to reach as much as possible without barriers. Thus, I’m literally working from the top down and the outside in. The whole layout—from concept to creation—is a series of calculated compromises.

I can’t take credit for the big stuff: I hired the construction work and paneling, and am assisted by an individual who used to build layouts for clients in the Southeast (before retiring). Bobby Allen lives near me, so I was able to lure him into helping for a reasonable fee.

Last year, I added a 28 x 10 addition to my detached garage for the train room.  The upper walls were finished with beadboard to give the room an old-time train terminal atmosphere. Later, the upper walls can display some railroad memorabilia. I grew up in Central PA less than an hour from Altoona, so I'm partial to the PRR. 

The background mural was formed with Homasote panels (aka Masonite) with radiused corners. I had never attempted a such a large painting project, but I watched a couple of YouTube how-to videos, then took a whack at it. Using acrylics and inexpensive brushes, I dabbed thousands of “trees” to create mountain slopes.  After a short but steep learning curve, the work went quickly. The “clouds” were created with an airbrush. Again, YouTube proved invaluable. 

I had a stack of 1x6 primed lumber left over from another project, so it was ripped lengthwise into 1x3s to build the benchwork. This size proved more than adequate for strength. The framing sits at a height of 32 inches off the floor and is anchored directly into the wall studs. The cantilever design gives me almost uninterrupted space underneath the benchwork for my legs. It’s extremely sturdy, with all joints glued and screwed together.

Because of my limited ability to reach, the benchwork is only 26 inches deep. The exception is an area that extends out to hold a Millhouse River Studios 24” turntable (already delivered and ready to set up). Due to the limited amount of space, I’ll probably have to scratchbuild or kitbash a small roundhouse.

In addition to painting the backdrop, I created a long 3D “flat” along the rear wall to represent a railroad cut through a hillside. It’s made of polystyrene foam strips cut with a hot knife, then glued to panels of Homasote screwed to the wall on ½ inch spacers. The “excavated cut” is 21 feet long (about 1,000 scale feet) and more than 14 inches high, yet it’s only one and a half inches thick. The foam was covered with plaster mixed to the consistency of a smoothie, then sprayed with washes of acrylic paint. My goal was to work fast and not worry too much about fine detail or even geological accuracy. Its sole purpose is to create a little dimensional depth without sacrificing space, just like any backdrop scene. I used rattle cans of red oxide primer and gray primer to give the “rock” some tone, then dry-brushed the high spots lightly with white paint. Spray adhesive was used for all clump foliage and vegetation. The project went much faster than I thought it would, with a total cost of under $200 for all materials.

Currently, ½-inch plywood has been tacked down with a few screws so that the track can be mocked up. Later some of the elevated areas will be built over open grid benchwork.

That’s it for now--more updates to follow as work progresses. 

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Original Post

What a great start!  And the rock formations are super.  Looking forward to following your progress.

Suggestion:  when you update this thread with new info and photos, edit the thread's title to include the date of the update.  Doing alerts readers that new material has been posted by you.

Thanks for the info and photos.

Carl

Thank you for all of the supportive feedback! To answer Rob Johnson's question, I do plan to feature the PRR in the Alleghenies, but I've decided to let the character of the layout develop on its own over an extended period. This is because my primary "audience" and players (aside from myself) will be my two grandsons, Tucker and Jesse. Tucker is 7 years old but Jesse is not yet 1, so he'll primarily be a "watcher" for quite a long time. 

And this was also my rationale for choosing to go with O scale and Fastrack. I found it to be comparatively trouble-free and kid-friendly. I don't want the boys (or any other children who visit) to hear the words "You can't touch that." I want to encourage them and let them create their own backstories with the miniature world I'm creating.

CN6167 posted:

i think masonite (a brand name of hardboard) has nothing in common with homasote. Sorry to pick that nit, but....

What you've completed there looks great.

 

Yep, I should have just described it as hardboard. It's cheap stuff, and I got the type that has a white finish on one side.

sidehack posted:

Bruce, great job on painting the walls, very nice and those rock walls are fabulous only wish I could replicate them on my layout. Keep us informed on your progress.

Is that because there's nowhere on your layout for an escarpment? Honestly, I'm no artist and you would be astonished at how easy and fast that rock wall went up. If interested, I can supply more photos and a quick step-by-step. This is my first layout--first rodeo, so to speak, although I've been studying the hobby and tinkering for probably decades, and have built models for decades.

Bruce: When you feel you are ready, please consider doing a full feature article for O Gauge Railroading magazine. What you are doing looks great to this point, and an article about building a layout that conforms to your wheelchair requirement may be very inspirational to others who have physical restrictions that can be overcome with a bit of creative thinking. Just get in touch with me when you feel you are ready, and be sure to continue documenting the layout construction with a good series of hi-resolution images.

BruceG posted:
sidehack posted:

Bruce, great job on painting the walls, very nice and those rock walls are fabulous only wish I could replicate them on my layout. Keep us informed on your progress.

Is that because there's nowhere on your layout for an escarpment? Honestly, I'm no artist and you would be astonished at how easy and fast that rock wall went up. If interested, I can supply more photos and a quick step-by-step. This is my first layout--first rodeo, so to speak, although I've been studying the hobby and tinkering for probably decades, and have built models for decades.

Bruce I would have answered you as yes more pics on how you did them but in reading Allan Millers post you may want to save them for a great magazine article, I can hardly wait. Anyway super job.

Ray

Allan Miller posted:

Bruce: When you feel you are ready, please consider doing a full feature article for O Gauge Railroading magazine. What you are doing looks great to this point, and an article about building a layout that conforms to your wheelchair requirement may be very inspirational to others who have physical restrictions that can be overcome with a bit of creative thinking. Just get in touch with me when you feel you are ready, and be sure to continue documenting the layout construction with a good series of hi-resolution images.

Thank you, Allan. I'd be delighted. I have already sent a message to your magazine email contact. 

BamaRider posted:

Y'all had the mustard out in pic 3?

There's no mustard in that iconic yellow bottle. It has the right-sized nozzle for adding small amounts of water to acrylic paints or plaster mix. Hence its current contents are "high quality H2O."

"There's no mustard in that iconic yellow bottle. It has the right-sized nozzle for adding small amounts of water to acrylic paints or plaster mix. Hence its current contents are "high quality H2O."

Oh ok,  I was thinking y'all might be on break and doing ham and cheese sandwiches, and didn't call anyone.

 

Retired Firefighter

Marathon Runner

Long Distance Motorcycle Touring

www.bamarider.com

 

BruceG posted:

Here are some photos and progress updates on my Fastrack shelf layout. I use a wheelchair, so everything has been planned ahead of time to 

In addition to painting the backdrop, I created a long 3D “flat” along the rear wall to represent a railroad cut through a hillside. It’s made of polystyrene foam strips cut with a hot knife, then glued to panels of Homasote screwed to the wall on ½ inch spacers. The “excavated cut” is 21 feet long (about 1,000 scale feet) and more than 14 inches high, yet it’s only one and a half inches thick. The foam was covered with plaster mixed to the consistency of a smoothie, then sprayed with washes of acrylic paint. My goal was to work fast and not worry too much about fine detail or even geological accuracy. Its sole purpose is to create a little dimensional depth without sacrificing space, just like any backdrop scene. I used rattle cans of red oxide primer and gray primer to give the “rock” some tone, then dry-brushed the high spots lightly with white paint. Spray adhesive was used for all clump foliage and vegetation. The project went much faster than I thought it would, with a total cost of under $200 for all materials.

 

Bruce,

I never saw this method or style before, it looks great and is going into my "scenery" file

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