Dave Vollmer's


 N Scale Juniata Division


  Modeling the "Standard Railroad of the World" in two eras


Here are step-by-step photos from March to August of 2006 of construction of the layout in my garage when I lived in North Carolina.  Click on individual images to enlarge.








Page updated 7 Nov 2008.














Note:  All photos, videos, and images (except for the Pennsylvania Railroad logo) contained herein are Copyright 2006-2008 Dave Vollmer and may not be used without permission.

The table is made from a 36" x 80" hollow-core interior door mounted on folding, telescoping H-style table legs.

Detail of mounting for table legs. They're secured to 1x3s mounted to the underside of the door.

If Pennsylvania were made of blue foam, the layout would have been done by this point.

Here I'm test-fitting the track and structures. Working out a plan to scale helps ensure fewer surprises as the layout is built.

Grading has begun. This is Woodland Scenics Trackbed.

Grading progresses... Roadbed laid over Jack's Run Bridge.

Grading is complete!

Tracklaying begins. Track is held in place with Liquid Nails Projects.

Laying out the town of Lewisport. Most of these structures come from my old layout.

Laying track at the mine.

The crossovers at LEW Interlocking have been installed.

At last! Tracklaying is done! All of the rail joints are soldered for electrical continuity. An advantage of a portable layout like this is that it can be built in the garage, where you can open the garage door for ventilation. When it's done the layout will go upstairs into the bonus room.

Here is the crossover at M Interlocking (East Mifflin). Also note the first of 8 position light signal masts to be installed.

Detail of superelevation on curves. Shims are 0.010" styrene on the easements and 0.020" in the curve.

The Standard Railroad of the World runs again... Here's the first test train running on the layout. The eclectic consist includes a P85br coach to check clearances.

Here's my son (and junior engineman) Jake watching the first train. I've been using the old MRC Tech II power pack to test each section of track. The Digitrax Super Empire Builder set is sitting upstairs attached to the old layout, awaiting installation on the new one once I'm satisfied that all the bugs are worked out.

The track power bus is 14 AWG solid. The feeders are 24 AWG stranded, and are soldered to the bus. The soldered joints are insulated with electrical tape. The plastic wire staples help keep the wiring relatively neat and secure. Feeder wires are kept less than 6" in length to cut down on resistance. Yet to be added are the programming track bus, the SPDT switch, the Loconet cable, and the signal wiring.

Here the track has been airbrushed with Polly-Scale Railroad Tie Brown.

Anorther photo of the recently airbrushed track. After I took this picture I went back and bush-painted the rails on all of the sidings a lighter shade of rust (Polly-Scale D&RGW Building Brown) and drybrushed the ties with Polly-Scale Concrete and Earth.

Here's the rather substantial toggle switch I use to switch between the programming track and the layout. It can handle all five amps that the Digitrax PS515 can put out.

And... we have DCC! Here's the Digitrax Super Empire Builder set.

Ballasting begins. I'm using Woodland Scenics fine gray blend for the mains, buff on the programming track, and cinders on the sidings. The Cinder shoulder is Highball fine cinders. The are two schools of though on when to ballast: before the rest of the scenery and after. The past three layouts I ballasted after the scenery. This time I chose to do it first because the ballast helps hold everything in pace and because I thought I could control the ballast edge better this way (in the 1950s, Class I mains tended to have razor-sharp ballast shoulders).

Ballasting continues. I'm not a big fan of this step, given how slow and meticulous one has to be, but the results are worth it.

Wow... I can't wait until this step is over!

Detail of sidings. Note lighter color rust, variation of color on ties, and cinder ballast. It helps to paint and ballast the sidings differently than the mains to establish a hierarchy of track importance, per real railroad practice.

Break time! Got tired of ballasting, so I thought it was time to run some trains. Here a westbound limited headed by an E7A passes a pair of Baldwin RF-16s on an eastbound coal drag at LEW tower. That's a Hell Gate Models B-60b behind the express reefer.

Another meet at M Interlocking in East Mifflin. Hooray for DCC!

An L1s 2-8-2 on a local passes another coal drag at LEW Interlocking.

Here my son, Junior Assistant Superintendent of Operations "Sticky Fingers" Timmy, performs a roll-by inspection of the eastbound "Driveway Limited."

Both boys enjoy some fine railroadin', courtesy of Digitrax DCC.

The signals are by NJ International. The one on the left is a mainline signal (with absolute stop) and all aspects are wired, eventually awaiting connection to a Signal Animator from Logic Rail Tech. The one on the right is a standard signal wired for a siding, with stop and clear indications wired only to a SPDT switch that will be hidden in scenery.

Home signals at LEW Interlocking are installed. Look carefully and you can see five signals (hint: look way toward the back).

Mountains have been installed, using a combination of Styrofoam, plaster, plaster gauze, and Sculptamold. A visitor asked if I was modeling the Arctic!

The "Arctic" mountains at M Interlocking. The rock castings are Mountains in Minutes Flexrock Castings.

Here's the rock cut using the Flexrock castings. This will look much different when painted (see below).

The mountains have been painted black in preparation for foliage. The black base color will add apparent depth to the foliage.

Another view of M Interlocking before foliage is added. Notice the home signals.

Finally adding foliage. This is pretty mind-numbing, so since I hadn't glued the mountain to the layout yet, I did this in the living room so I could spend time with the family!

Another view of the "first draft" of foliage on the main scenic divider at M Interlocking. I ran out of low-temp hot glue; thus the big black patch on top of the mountain. Also, I plan to sift Woodland Scenics fine green blend ground foam over the tree tops to blend them a little better. Also missing are the pine trees to be added later.

Here's part of the rock cut showing the painted Flexrock castings by Mountains in Minutes. I start with flat black latex, and add about 6-8 shades of Polly-Scale acrylic paints all while still wet in order to blend them. The last step is to drybrush the edges of the rocks with Polly-Scale white.

Test-fitting the coal mine. Some of the trees need to be trimmed. Also, notice some of the gaps in the foliage... those will be filled in a "second pass" with clump foliage and white glue. This area looks pretty sterile for a coal mine! Junk, weeds, trucks, and coal dust will be added later.

Here the 1/8" Masonite hardboard fascia has been added and painted flat black. The layout is ready to go upstairs to its new home.

Copyright 2006-2008 Dave Vollmer.