Construction photos


RIP Delta Table Saw. May you cut pine in the sky :slightly_smiling:

Welcome new table saw. You had better keep up :slightly_smiling: hehehehehhe


Another Saturday work session, the last one prior to the September 2013 layout tour, finds a lot of work progressing.

First up: We probably have all heard of using splines to lay out tracks in flowing countryside scenes, but splines to lay out a stud wall? Only on the A&O! This was the start of a feeling that the basement was suddenly getting a LOT smaller, and with a lot more twists and turns in the aisles!

Vince worked on the Ricksburg engine terminal tracks. These will not yet operate for the open house.

Finally Bill and David erect an extension of the stud wall that defines the main operator’s aisle from the interior of the Kayford coal branch. David kneels inside the Kayford while Bill locates wall studs. The outside mainline is still marked on the floor at 59 inch radius.

Meanwhile the lightning and thunder effects in Linnwood (the rain room formerly known as Darwin) are installed and that is a bittersweet installation, given the context of recent floods in Northern Colorado and the effects on so many people. Our prayers go out for them.


Boy…you guys been busy since I was last over (less then a month ago). :slightly_smiling: WOW! Can’t wait for the tour this weekend. I know a LOT of folks that are pretty darn excited to see the new empire.


Posts have been infrequent, so here is something for early December 2013.

David erected temporary supports for the River Gorge scene across the aisle from the Morrison coal prep plant. River Gorge was a favorite and signature scene on his previous layout, and this one should also be stunning. All flat-top bench work is done so from now on most everything will be Homasote spline roadbed. The “bent stick” method produces smoothly-flowing track alignments with natural-looking easements.

Why temporary? Sometimes a designer needs to flesh things out full-size to refine the plan, and that’s precisely what David is doing here. He explained his thinking about the Joel Beach (Joel’s Beach?) area approximately where the long white level sits on the stringers. What David learned by constructing this 3-D mockup will greatly add to the railfanning impact of the scene compared to the track alignment shown here.

The duck-under to the left will be an emergency escape from the Kayford valley coal branch and located inside a “people tunnel” extending across the aisle from the long horizontal stringers to the end of the lighting valence in the upper right. The hole is sized for reasonably-comfortable egress while affording passage for scenery and tool supply carts, and will be normally closed using a sliding door arrangement. It is not so low that, borrowing from an Indiana Jones movie, “Only the penitent shall pass!”

At the distant end track leaves Ricksburg yard on a 1.75% grade to rise over and clear the duck-under.

All this means that I need to get busy rebuilding a battered Overland pin-connected truss bridge to be installed towards the viewer and stopping where the first green-handle clamp appears near the center of the photo. This bridge arrived badly-smashed. Although the superstructure is now straight and in need of a bit of touch-up soldering, the walkway/floor is a total loss (it was badly done to start with) and so needs total replacement. I have a supply of rail, spikes, tie plates and scale basswood custom cut on a Byrnes precision miniature table saw.

Also of note: David recently tabulated the scratch-built-in-place turnouts. Counting a 3-way as two, and a lap switch as two, there are currently 176 built by David, Vince Griesemer, and Jack Heier. I made the current black epoxy-glass PC board throw bars and Ellie Bowman donated high-quality gold-plated jewelry head-pins to attach the throw bars to the turnout points.


Thanks for the update, Bob. The amount of work done is always impressive. I do have a question: during the open house, Craig was using a new panel at Point Vincent that has CTC-like levers on it. Could you give a short description of the functions?


Jeff -

I believe the panel you’re referring to is the upper one.

CM Tower is primarily a curved scissor crossover and the launch point for trains onto CTC. The left two switches labeled 1 and 3 are wired as double pole double throw reversing switches. The toggle switch unlocks mainline (but not yet in CTC) turnouts so the local crew can service pulpwood and coal tracks in the paper mill, hidden by the panel and just to Jack’s right (blue shirt.)

The rightmost toggle is the only lever that will eventually interact with the CTC machine once we start building the hardware panel. It is a correspondence lever, and that is why there is a code button beneath it. If the operator wants to send a train out of the yard southbound, he throws the lever from center to right and codes the move. That will cause both the right LED on the lever to flash, and the corresponding LED on the dispatcher’s panel to flash, indicating that the two machines are “out of correspondence.” When the dispatcher accepts the train, he moves his correspondence lever to the right and codes it. Now both levers are “in correspondence” and both LEDs turn solid green. The trackside signal changes from red to a permissive aspect (green or yellow) until the train enters the first OS section and “knocks down” the signal, at which time the LED on this panel goes out.

When the dispatcher wants to send a train into the CM Tower plant, he initiates it by setting his correspondence lever to the left and coding. Note that the train is sitting at a red signal. Next the tower operator flips his lever to the left and codes it. The rightmost correspondence LED changes from flashing to solid, and the trackside signal changes to yellow.

The lower panel that Craig is operating controls the south end yard ladder.

Most of the time turnout 1 will be left in “reverse” and the second turnout of that crossover also left reverse (toggle switch just above Craig’s thumb.) That allows the south-end yard switcher to gain a very long drill lead along the hollow-line track shown on the CM Tower panel.

The upper-left track on the CM Tower panel says “Hump/Engine Lead” and that is a back-track used to shove cuts of cars up to the hump yard, and give the hostler access to the engine service terminal.


Hi Jeff,

I’ll add a thought or two as well.

The reason for the two panels is that the CTC-like upper panel would be what might found in a regional tower at just such an interlocking as CM Tower presents- a connection from a yard/industrial area onto CTC. Any turnouts on such a route would be Tower controlled and not available to the local crews without being tower-unlocked for the required movements. As Bob mentioned, the lower panel does not include such turnouts.

You’ll notice that we made the bottom local panel back-lit for night ops like others on the A&O so far. But the upper being CTC-ish is front lit by LED from behind the valence. CTC panels often had their own floresents shining down on them for light. Thus, our attempt to simulate this and create a distinction between the function and purpose of the two panels.

It is possible that if we have enough crews, the south end yard switcher and the CM Tower operator will be separate operating positions. There is another similar panel directly across the aisle from CM Tower that serves the Willow Creek yard and is the New River Diamond Tower. It controls traffic in/out of the Willow Creek- the south end of the RR. Thus one Tower Operator can handle/coordinate with the dispatcher all traffic onto CTC from both Millport on the north, and Willow Creek from the south. This panel is also a CTC-like tower panel with similar lighting. It hangs on the light valence above Campbell’s.

It was fun to actually use them for the first time Nov. 3 for the first (mini) op session.



Ah Ha! Thanks to both David and Bob for taking time for curious questions. And even though I’m old, I enjoy learning each day to forstall grey mush atrophy. Didn’t know how CTC was entered and exited. Thanx again.


Here are a couple of straight-on shots of the control panels under discussion that should more clearly show the operation. In the first photo of CM Tower, I need to reverse the direction of the toggle switch as unlock is up, not down. This required a one character change and reprogramming of the ATTINY85 OS Section controller chips.

The Willow Creek / New River Diamond panel that David referred to can be see here during installation. The rightmost rotary dial selects which track in Willow Creek staging is selected and powered. This dial has a code button below so that the diode-matrix boards don’t needlessly throw switches when rotating the dial (and today I would use an Arduino instead of a diode matrix as it saves drilling many hundreds of holes.)


A lot of progress has been made since the last open house. First up, Bill and David install another “people tunnel” between Morrison (right, behind David) and the north end of Sobol Springs (lower right.) There will be railroad tunnels on either side of the aisle. These tunnels visually break the A&O into individual scenes, perhaps discrete stages as described by the late Frank Ellison. They make the layout feel a lot longer and give the operator more of a sense of being at a specific place.

Behind Bill can be seen the opening for an emergency escape crawl. Along the left side of the aisle, almost against the wall, and mostly behind David, spline roadbed snakes through what will become River Gorge.

Rick and Bob K installed subroadbed for a pair of Antioch & Dover (Rick’s railroad) staging tracks along the interior of a Kayford Valley stud wall. These tracks will be about 19 feet long. As Rick likes to say, "There must be a way to use a laser for that!"

Vince spent the day spiking rail and building turnouts at the Southern Baking Company, an industry in Glen Forge. This was more comfortable than it looks because Vince was sitting on a rather tall stool. He also took a time-out to review some design issues with the CMRI system.


Looking great guys!!!

And if Rick ever says “there has to be a use for some C4…” We should be worried. :slightly_smiling:



…And if Rick ever says "there has to be a use for some C4…[/quote]

The plans do call for a few tunnels!





Benchwork went up this week between Glen Forge (off camera to the left) and Ohio Bridge. The upper level is hidden staging for the New York Central. The lower level will support a 2 track mainline climb to the bridge at 2.2%, with a 60 inch minimum radius.

At the far right we see a glimpse of the crew lounge. The Ohio River bridge starts at the end of this benchwork and crosses the opening to the crew lounge. There was a lot of lively lunchtime discussion about bridge structural design, including ways to avoid damage to the bridge if an operator doesn’t duck. Damage to the operator is OK.


I think that perhaps we could use Rick’s C4 we were talking about above to protect the bridge. hehehehehe

Great progress :slightly_smiling:

And potentially dumb question here. In the second shot…what is the open ‘door’? In all of the time I have been going over to help out, I have NEVER notice that opening. hehehehehe Situational awareness I guess :slightly_smiling:



The small door is an access to the furnace humidifier and water and gas main. The main furnace access is thru the Dispatchers Office, as you may remember. A sky board will added, and access maintained to the humidifer space by ducking under. The facia will be over 4’ above the floor here.



Really love following the construction photos, any idea of the approximate start date of scenery work?

Russell - Idaho USA


Hi Russell,

I won’t start scenery, per se, until all the dust-making construction is completed and the floor carpet squares are down. This will keep the landforms and textures looking better longer. And I like to have a chance to operate first so I can trouble-shoot without worrying about scenery in the way.

All of which is to say, the Home Page photo (A&O 1.0) will remain into the near future. But I have the many scene compositions and sketches ready to go when the time comes!



Vince lays rails on the two hidden Antioch & Dover staging/interchange tracks. To make the job go faster he used a technique borrowed from his own HO layout. Vince applied Pliobond to the bottom of the rails (and I think to the ties.) When it dried, he aligned the rail and heated it with an old soldering gun.

A lot of lighting valences have recently been installed. Here Bill confirms the location of a ceiling joist above River Gorge.

Mark wires ceiling fixtures above Mount Union. Behind Mark we see a portion of the paper mill and Fillmore Heights, both areas under the garage.


Craig, Mark and David hang a lighting valence above the A&D interchange and Rock Bottom. The fluorescent light fixtures are intentionally skewed to avoid casting shadow lines when a “grid” anti-glare screen is hung along the bottom of the valence. Here we can also see the dramatic color difference between high CRI fluorescent tubes and a horrible spiral compact fluorescent bulb.

Craig gets into the Matrix underneath Glen Forge.

Short circuits are one of the more frustrating problems that crop up when wiring. We found an easy way to locate crossed wires. This is a really cheap AC/DC Hall-effect current probe. We feed about 1 amp from a current-limited laboratory supply (upper left corner) into the shorted rails. The probe attaches to a digital voltmeter, and clamps around a wire to be measured. It is quick and easy to identify which rail drops carry the short circuit current.