Christmas Day, 2001
Josh must have been a good boy in 2002 because Santa
came through with his request for a model train layout. He was
really glad Santa got it for him because one of the presents he got
from his grandparents was an n-scale locomotive with several pieces of
rolling stock and enough track to make a 3' x 6' layout. If Santa
had not come through, Josh would have had to try and convince his mom to
leave the train set up on the dining room table where we had
temporarily set it up on Christmas eve. Somehow, I don't think his mom
would be keen on that idea.
Santa must have known what size table
we had built for our layout because the one he brought was just
the right size for the table. He's a pretty smart old
elf. I think he also knew that we needed a layout that was easy
enough to build in the two weeks I was off of work after
Christmas. He got the people at WoodlandScenics
to make the layout, which they named Scenic Ridge.
The first thing we had to do was set up the table we
had built. Josh and I carried the table to the room in the
his mom said we could set up the train layout. We laid the table
top upside down on the floor so we could attach the legs. I put
the bolts in place and Josh used a ratchet to tighten them. In
practically no time, we had the legs on the table and were ready to
begin building the layout.
Josh and I carried the box containing the layout from
under the Christmas tree to the basement. It was easier with two
people, as the box weighed 35 pounds. We sat the box on the
couch (so granddad wouldn't have to bend over so far) and opened it
up. The box was literally packed full of stuff. Lots of
stuff! Looking at all the stuff, I wondered whether 2 weeks was
going to be long enough to get it finished. Oh well, we'll just
begin and see how far we get.
The instruction book that came with the layout was
excellent. It gave very detailed instructions and it had plenty
of pictures and illustrations. The instructions were organized
into a series of 9 steps, so you got a sense of were you where in the
process by what step you were on. Josh caught on to this and was
soon asking, "what step are we on now,
The first step is to install the sub terrain (as WoodlandScenics
calls it). The pieces that make up the sub terrain are made
entirely of polyurethane foam and they form the foundation for the
tracks, the mountain profile, the tunnels, and the building areas.
First, we glued the three 2' x 3' foam sheets that
form the base to the top of our table. The instructions say to
supplied "foam glue" to glue the sheets to the table but we
decided to use the Liquid Nails™ we had left over from another
project instead. The instructions say to let the "foam
glue" dry for 24 hours before proceeding and we don't want to
wait that long. After all, we have this big box of stuff just
waiting to be put together -- we are not going to waste a whole day by
just installing 3 pieces of foam. As you can see in the
photo, the base has the layout printed right on the foam. That
should really simplify installing the other pieces.
After the base was glued down, we installed the first
layer of foundation pieces for the track. These foam pieces are
designed so they will easily bend around the curved areas.
Pretty simple really. Just place them on the track as indicated
the layout lines on base. The kit even supplied pins to hold the
pieces in place. At first I thought they had included way too
may pins (box of 100) but we soon discovered that it takes a lot of
pins to hold all of the foam in place. For some installations we
needed more pins than came in the kit and had to use some that Josh's
mom's had on hand.
Once the foundations pieces were pinned in place, we
low temp glue gun to glue the pieces to the foam base. The
instruc- tions are very clear about using only low temp glue.
Appar- ently, the high temp glue will damage the foam. It takes a
little practice to use the low temp glue because it hardens much more
quickly than its high temp cousin. But, once you get the
technique down, it does a good job of gluing the foam together.
After the first layer of foundation pieces were glued
we installed the second layer of foundation pieces. These pieces
are used to form the various grades in the layout resulting in a track
that runs on three different levels - ground level, low mountain pass,
and high mountain pass. The foam pieces are pre-tapered
and the base is marked where the grade starts, so the pieces are easy
to install. We used the same pin and low temp glue method we
used to install the first level of foundation pieces. Installing
the foundation pieces went pretty fast. We had them installed by
the end of Christmas day. Josh didn't help the whole time
because Santa had brought him other toys besides the train and he felt
obligated to try them out so he wouldn't hurt Santa's feelings.
He would check in on me from time to time just to make sure everything
was going OK. Tomorrow we will begin laying some of the track.