Scrapped: Lessons learned

After not working on the layout for a year, a week ago I decided it was time, once and for all, to scrap this current rendition of the Rutland. The last pieces of it were hauled down Sunday. Two small sections, an 8′ section on one end wall, and an 8′ section over the washer and dryer are remaining for now as storage shelves.

The next version of the Rutland will be constructed with different methods. I will be making the towns I model more modular. Part of the reason I didn’t work on the now former last layout was I knew sometime soon we plan on moving. Why work on something if I have to take it apart.

Since I started layout building in our home back in 2007, I have used a slightly modified version of a method used by noted model railroad author Jim Six. He used two layers of ceiling tiles glued to a 2″ styrofoam base. My method used a 1/4″ layer of plywood instead of the foam as the base. The layout was supported with box frame construction.

In a nutshell, I will never use this method again. It sucks. The sections are heavy to move around when reconfiguring the layout. I did this twice: in 2009 when I switched my modeling focus; and in 2013 when we took a section of the layout room and turned it into a bedroom for a child.

Former Morton Siding area of Malone NY.

Dust! Even when spraying water on the tiles to keep the dust “down” while carving, there’s a lot of dust created with this method. Even after sealing the sections with paint once carved, dust permeated the room. The layout sitting for large periods of time not being worked on didn’t help that granted, but I believe the dust was amplified by the ceiling tile base.

The ceiling tile base was great for taking track spikes, but over time the base kept breaking down, or the glue holding the layers started to separate. Trying to add a drop gate for getting through the layout without ducking under, I was forever aligning and realigning rails. Even after carving out a chunk of the ceiling tile base and mounting hardwood blocks to attach the rails to, it just didn’t work well.

Former roadbed area by the lift bridge.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the issues definitely lie with my skill level. But after using this method for 12 years, it is time to go.

The next Rutland will definitely have Malone Yard, and Morton Siding. It likely will also have the town of Bangor. The new design will allow for straight lines through the towns, instead of bending the towns to fit the space. Both towns are going to be built on 4′ wide 16-24″ deep modules that are meant for moving. The connecting tracks between the two towns will be disposable. This way the towns can be saved for any new basement we may end up having.

Construction methods for the new sections I have not locked down yet. But I know it will not be a ceiling tile in sight.