All model railroads pass through phases… Like the heady days of youth, by far the most exciting one is planning and design.  The research, the joy of discovery; so much to consider!  The scramble to acquire all that is needed.  Then, the benchwork, the first laying of track, the initial model building. Eventually, like in one’s early mid-life, things get settled down while the construction continues.  Although still very stimulating, the layout work becomes more routine as the many modelling tasks are slowly checked-off one by one.  Planning becomes more infrequent.  Precise execution is the main objective. Then, as in … Continue reading Farewell


The tracks are glued directly onto the foamboard after the latter was painted flat black with latex paint.  Fillmore can be generally described as flat, like most yards are.  However, it is not truly flat; there is a slight variation in height in many places.  For example, the two roundhouse inbound leads are about 1/8″ higher than the ready tracks/outbound lead.  This was achieved with a Stanley Sure-Form rasp and 100 grit sand paper in a sanding block. I believe that this variation is picked up by the eye and is worth doing.  All tracks are PECO Streamline 83 flex … Continue reading ROADBED & TRACKWORK


There are a number of features on the layout that allow for function and convenience of operations. On the passenger/express side, we see a Digitrax UP5 plug-in.  I have these every four feet.  Generally, they are located where operators typically stand.  Even though I run Duplex radio, one still needs to plug-in if and when the throttle loses contract with LocoNET.  Wherever there is a UP5, there are throttle pockets (the Digitrax DT402D in the pocket has a dangling lanyard attached).  The tray to the right is for uncoupling tools while a layout diagram placard is hooked below.  Even though … Continue reading LAYOUT ODDS & ENDS


The layout is 12′ long by 29-1/2″ wide.  The odd width is so that I can wheel the layout through doorways (we never know where life takes us). The length is made up of three 4′ “tables, each with four legs built up with 1×3 poplar “L” beams.  The upper section of the table is 1×5 poplar formed into a rectangle that also has a cross “T” beam of 1×2 & 1×3 through the centre for re-enforcing.  The sub-roadbed is built up of 1/2″ thick plywood with 1-1/2″ of foamboard on top.  The tracks are glued directly to the foamboard.  There is a … Continue reading BENCHWORK TABLES


The floor of my apartment has quite a slope toward the centre of the room (I think it is something like 1/2″ over 4′).  To keep the layout level I could use levelling feet as found in home improvement stores.  However, having the layout on casters would be the cat’s meow, since I could easily move it about for cleaning and, more importantly, for operations.  The picture below shows the design I came up with — I tend to over-build things, so I’m sure there is a more elegant way to do this, but it works just fine for me. … Continue reading LAYOUT LEVELING CASTERS


When not using my layout, it is rolled into a corner of the living room in my condominium apartment.  To minimize on dust accumulation, fitted cloth covers go over the layout and my two portable staging trolleys. Early on in the building of the layout, the cover was supported by wire hoops.  One day, while vacuuming, I put my elbow through the side of the cover and realized that had I built the roundhouse there, I’d be doing a lot of rework to fix it.  I’m such a klutz, but this was a blessing.  I made removable hardboard sides to … Continue reading LAYOUT STORAGE


My layout, when operational, is an island design.  This style of layout was once popular due to the use of 4′ x 8′ plywood sheet.  A more contemporary approach (for some years now) is a shelf style around-the-walls layout where the mainline run is extended and more prototypical than what the result would be when using the good ole 4×8.  However, I don’t have a mainline as my layout is all yard.  And yards can congregate operators closely making operating on it awkward.  By building Fillmore as an island, my operators can stand on either side comfortably.  The engine terminal … Continue reading AN ISLAND DESIGN