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 basement where 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, granddad"?  

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 use the 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 indicatedUpholsterers T-Pins #189 by 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 used a 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 in place, 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. 

<Scenic Ridge Progress

Laying Mountain Track>

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