Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tracklaying in Johnson

I continued the track laying for Johnson over the past 2 weeks. After relaying the sub roadbed, I installed new track and took extra care to make sure it was level and with no kinks or other anomalies. The curved turnout was a source of many derailments and the main reason I re-laid the track in this area. So far testing of running cars and locos has been good. In retrospect, I think I could have built this section of the LVRC with a slightly wider radius and a lesser grade. I don't think the 28" radius is a real problem, but coupled with a steep grade problems do occur. But that is something I can add to the "if I was starting over" list (good subject for another post). Rebuilding that would be a major task and I really want to move forward with the layout. I think if you ask any layout builder they would have a list of things they would change, but have compromised to move forward towards a bigger goal. In any event the operations should be better now with the re-laid trackage.

With the curved turnout back in place, I laid out the sub roadbed for the talc mill in Johnson. At one time I thought maybe I would put 3 sidings in here (hence the 3 car card box), but in playing with flex track and looking at it, it just seemed like too much. I'm not really following the prototype here which was just a siding parallel to the main. So I have one nice long siding for the covered hoppers to be loaded and another track for other deliveries the mill might have still received by rail circa 1980.

New turnout and flex track on the LVRC main. Homa-bed laid with adhesive caulk, ready for a #5 turnout and sidings of Code 83 Micro Engineering track. The hoppers will be regular visitors to this scene, ready to be loaded with talc.

Here is how it looks with some hopper cars along the sub roadbed. The door is the entrance to the layout area. This scene is directly across from the Crawford Notch scene in posts from the past year. I'd like to get most of the scenery in this spot done before the open houses as this, along with the Crawford Notch scene are what visitors see first.
The mill will be behind the CN covered hopper with tall silos. I have only found one picture of the mill to work from, but I think I can also draw from an old RMC article on a mill further south in Vermont. It should be an interesting structure. Behind this will be VT Route 15 and a tree line to help hide the transition to the backdrop.

I also did a little track work over on the CP main line at Lyndonville. This is an area that has not really been touched in years. The track was somewhat temporarily laid down as I knew a turnout would be cut in later. It also transitions back to code 100 rail for the hidden track and into CP Newport staging. I simply pulled up the tacked in piece of flex track and put in a turnout leading to the Lyndonville industrial park. Then I put flex pieces back in and reconnected to the code 100 hidden track. The track to the right of the plywood will be mainly hidden by buildings in the industrial park and scenery transitioning up to the MEC mainline (above the CV staging, conspicuous with a CV boxcar!). Here you can see how useful having a large, flat area like Lyndonville has been. A real collector for "stuff" as you work.

The turnout and track are in place and adhesive caulk is drying as the tacks hold the track in place.
Next I will need to plan out the track arrangement for the industrial park. Again, this does not follow the prototype specifically. I'd like to get 3 or 4 spots in here, and maybe another non-railroad building. I have ideas on what will be here but getting it laid out will take some thought. 

As a side note, on the "things I would do differently" list, I think I might put the use of code 100 on there. Transitioning from code 83 to 100 has to be done carefully, and code 100 turnouts (at least Atlas ones) are not real great and not really cheaper than Atlas code 83 ones. It seems it would have been easier to just stick with code 83 in all hidden and staging areas, with Atlas code 83 #6 turnouts instead of the code 100 #6 ones.

With all this new track in, I got out the can of Rustoleum brown camo paint and hit all the track in Groveton, Gilman, East St. J, the CP main through Lyndonville and of course the LVRC track through Johnson. I then set up the fans and ventilated the area, door closed. So those pictures will come in the next update. This means all the remaining visible track is now base-coated with this pretty realistic dull track color. I can detail ties and rust up the rails as the mood strikes in these areas, and eventually add ballast (see MEC Crawford Notch updates in earlier posts to see how this looks). 


Matthieu Lachance said...

Hi Mike,

That new industrial siding looks pretty good and well-balanced. Nithing beats fiddling with tracks on the layout... instead of just following a "perfect" virtual track plan.

BTW, what did you used for your backdrop? Looks like you cut the sky and pasted the mounted on a blue wall. How did you glue it on the wall. I'm really curious because it seems seamless.


Mike Hamer said...

Hi Mike, Just checking in on the latest developments on your incredible layout. The new section looks great. I recall many years ago when a friend was building a layout, he had an area where there was a grade on a curve. He encountered similar difficulties as well. Anyway, glad to see you persevere in the relaying of the track and the operational rewards will be well worth the extra time involved. I always enjoy looking at images of your magnificent layout! All the best from up this way north of the border! Mike Hamer

Mike McNamara said...


The backdrop photos are from LARC. They sell images on a CD. They come as MS Word files, one doc for each part of an image. Each CD has dozens of images to pic from. Do a Google search for LARC Backdrop and you will see their products.
This scene uses 4 separate docs. I opened them up in MS Word on my Mac and printed them on full sheet labels from Staples. They then get trimmed with a straight edge left and right. This allows them to be seamlessly put together next to each other and create one long image. The top is trimmed with some "kids" scissors that cut a border pattern and I go in with an Xacto knife trim them further. I basically remove all the blue sky from the image. Then I position and peel part of the first label and carefully apply it peeling back as I go. Repeat for each additional label.

Mike Mc.

Mike McNamara said...

Mike H.,

Good to hear from you. I have the track spurs in now and have been testing some cars and locos operating through the turnout. So far, so good. But we'll see. In another of those "if I was doing it over", I would avoid this kind of situation. I'll be doing some more tests with the heavier cars soon and post my thoughts.

Thanks for the kind words on my layout, I appreciate it.

Mike Mc.

Unknown said...

Where did you find Homa-bed now? I used to be able to order the roadbed or buy the thin sheets of homasote. The lumber dealer here said it is no longer available and the source for the roadbed said it was to cost prohibitive to cut or produce the thin roadbed. I have used a lot of it as well as sheets of homasote for its sound deading quality and in humid areas, it doesn't dry up like cork roadbed and the rubber roadbed just doesn't do it. maybe okay for N Scale but not HO.

Mike McNamara said...

Ed, the last time I ordered Coma-Bed was from California Roadbed in 2011. My understanding is that the company is no longer in business. A new source which has go=tten good reviews is Cascade Rail Supply. My friend ordered some, and I have not seen it, but he is very pleased with it. They seem to offer a much larger catalog of material as well. Check