December 31, 2001
With the landscape features completed we could lay the
rest of the track. We had previously
laid the sections of tracks that were under the mountains. Now
we needed to lay the remainder of the track. We basically
followed the same procedure we used when we laid the track sections
under the mountain:
Temporarily install the entire track, laying it
directly on the track foundation foam.
Run the locomotive and a few cars on the
temporarily installed track and make any needed adjustments.
This involved adjusting the track for smooth curves and tight
joints and also sanding rough or uneven sections of the track
foundation. One advantage of using foam track bed is that it
will compensate for minor irregularities in the track foundation.
Trace the outline of the track onto the track
Remove the track, keeping it in sections as big as
possible. It is also helps when you remove the track to keep
it in the correct layout so you can be sure it goes back exactly
the same way it was when you marked off the track bed.
Glue down the foam track bed using foam glue,
following the lines traced on the track foundation foam. Use
a ton of T pins to hold the track bed in place while the glue
It doesn't take long to write down how we installed the
track, but it took all morning to actually do it. After the
track bed was glued and pinned in place, we couldn't do anything else
to the track until the glued fully dried - which meant
overnight. Every now and them we would inspect the track bed and
press down any sections that were not fully seated. This was
especially necessary around the curves. Sometimes we would move
T pins from areas that were firmly glued to areas needing a little
We had been working pretty hard the last couple of
days, so we decided to knock of for the rest of the day and do some
other things. Tomorrow the track bed would be firmly glued and
we could lay the track.
New Year Day, 2002
We slept in a little latter than usual this morning
because we had stayed up to welcome in the New Year. By
mid-morning we actually started laying down the track.
Just like before, we first laid out the entire track,
time we laid it on the track bed we had installed the day
before. When the track was all laid out we again ran the
locomotive and a few cars, made any necessary adjustments to the
track, then pinned it down with T pins. Then, just as we had
done with the track sections we laid under the mountains, we removed
small sections of the track, applied foam glue to the track bed,
replaced the section of track and pinned it down.
We repeated this process until the entire track was
the track bed. We would have to wait until the next
before we could actually run the train on the track to see how well
(or poorly) we had done.
While the glue on the track was drying, we started
adding the scenery features that would turn a totally white landscape
into one with a little more interest.
The instructions call for applying an "earth
the entire layout. We mixed the supplied earth-
pigment with water to produce a very thin solution, then simply
brushed it over the entire layout. There is really not much way
to go wrong here, so it's a perfect job for an 8 year old.
As you can see in the photo, the earth-color pigment really brings out
the details in the layout. Notice how well the roads now show
January 2-3, 2002
To complete the scenery, we added trees, shrubs, and
ground cover. The kit doesn't come with ready-made trees
and shrubs. You have to make your own trees and shrubs by gluing
various colored clump foliage to armatures (basically a naked
tree). Josh and his mom took on this work while I worked on the
To make a tree or shrub, you bend the branches of a
armature until it resembles a tree, apply a glue called Hob-e-Tac to
the branches, let the glue dry a little while, then stick on various
colors of the clump foliage. Not hard to do, but with over 50
trees and shrubs, it is very time consuming. We also discovered
that the Hob-e-Tac glue doesn't really hold the clump foliage on very
well. By the time we got the trees installed on the layout, we
had clumps of foliage that fell off the trees laying all over the
layout. We resorted to hot-gluing a lot of the foliage back onto
The ground cover worked much better. The kit
several different colors and textures of ground cover to imitate
grasses, weeds, and soil. To apply the ground cover, you just
mist an area with a 50-50 mixture of white glue and water, then sprinkle on
the ground cover using the supplied shaker. The instructions
give suggestions on where to apply the different colors and textures,
but basically you just use your own imagination. Before misting
the area with the glue mixture, we put masking tape over the track to
keep the glue off. After we had all the ground cover and trees
in place, all that remained was to attach the electrical wires to the
track and add the track ballast.
January 4, 2002
Before we added the ballast we needed to attach the
electrical wires to the tracks. We had installed
the wires before building the landscape features, so all we had to
do was solder the wires to the sides of the track.
After soldering the wires, we began adding the
ballast. This was a simply task. We just cut a small hole in the corner of the plastic bag
the ballast came in and poured the ballast on the track until it
covered up the foam track bed. It took longer to clean the
excess ballast from the ties between the rails than it did to apply
the ballast to the tracks. After we had the rails cleaned off,
we glued the ballast in place with the same 50-50 mixture of white
glue and water that we used for the ground cover. The
instructions say to mist the mixture over the ballast, but we found
the spray nozzle supplied in the kit tended to dislodge to much of the
ballast. It took a little (actually a lot) longer, but we opted
to apply the mixture to the ballast by using a drinking straw.
We filled the straw by dipping it into the mixture and then placing a
finger over one end of the straw while it was extracted. We
would then place the end of the straw very close to the ballast and
slightly release the finger, allowing the mixture to gently
"flood" the ballast. This took a while, but it
worked great, and we didn't wind up with lots of glue on the track,
which would have to be cleaned off.
We were now finished with the basic layout. Much
to Josh's delight, he was finally able to hook up the power pack (MRC
Tech 4 220) and run his railroad. We spent the rest of the day,
running the train and testing the track. We had to add a little
weight to some of the cars and we had to solder a couple of loose
joints in a some sections of the track, but by the end of the day, the
train would run virtually non-stop without
In the future we will add some buildings and other
structures to the layout and maybe add a skirt around the base of the
layout table, but for know, Josh has a train set that is fully functional.