Starting the Elkton Creek Smelter

I purchased the N Scale Architect’s Elkton Creek Smelter kit earlier this year and have been scratching my head trying to figure out what to do with it. Initially I wanted to put it on my Inglenook Sidings layout, but for a number of reasons I didn’t. It’s mostly been sitting in a box on the shelf waiting to be built.

Sadly, the kit has no place on my new layout either… at least, not on the terminus module. It is a large kit with an oddly specific footprint.

 It is likely, though, that I will be expanding the layout onto a second smaller module in the future, making room for the smelter. So, with nothing better to do today, I started the tedious process of removing the Tichy windows from the sprues, trimming the tabs and flashing from them, and then cutting away the walls and other structural components from the sheets.

I spray-painted some of the micro-plywood walls red, then spray-painted the windows and doors white. 

Once the paint was dry I backed the walls with electrical tape, then carefully cut the tape away from doors and windows. After I glue each corner I will also run a strip of electrical tape over the joint. This will keep light from bleeding through the walls when interiors are lit.

I started putting in some windows, but didn’t have time to finish.

Turntable Hole and Cork

Using the template provided in Peco’s turntable kit as a guide, I put a hole in the module surface for the turntable. Having limited space for “real” tools, I used a hole-saw attachment for my Dremel. It worked well except the lock-nut loosened up early on, which made the hole a bit too wide.

I ruminated over this problem while laying down strips of 3.25″ x 36″ Midwest brand cork. Halfway through I realized that, if I used the scraps of cork to line the hole, I could sand it to the proper diameter. It worked perfectly. I covered the entire surface of the module with cork, then sanded it down to reduce any rough edges.

Module Surface

I built a shallow frame for the terminus module using 3/4″ birch ply and 1×3 dimensional common boards. Before inserting the 1×3 ribs, I printed a 1:1 scale blueprint of the layout (a great feature of Anyrail). This enabled me to avoid placing the ribs directly beneath turnout switches and the turntable, as these will require some clearance for under-table motors. I also drilled holes in the ribs about 1/2″ from the surface side wherever tracks will pass over, for wires to pass through.

The floors are not at all level in our house and the bookcase doesn’t have levelers, so I’ve attached levelers to the ribs located 10″ in from each end.

Terminus Track Plan

I downloaded a demo version of Anyrail, a track-planning program, and after devising several dozen variations of Hemyock I’ve finally come up with a track plan that I’m happy with.

I was determined to include a turntable for operational interest and a roundhouse for storing locomotives.

So, without further adieu:


Little Snoring Smelter

All track components, including the turntable, are Peco Code 80. All turnouts are electrofrog, which should (with a few modifications) keep operations smooth after I switch to DCC. Eventually, I would like all locomotives, all turnouts, and the turntable to be operated by a single handheld controller.

Big thank you to Tony’s Trains (which, incidentally, is only minutes down the road from my house) who assisted me with ordering all track. Ordering from Tony’s was more convenient than ordering piecemeal elsewhere (and it was considerably cheaper, too).

Bookcase Benchwork Begins

This past week I started building a poplar bookcase which will eventually be crowned with a shelf layout in N-gauge. The layout will be loosely modeled after Hemyock Station on the Culm Valley Light Railway.

Culm Valley

The bookcase is roughly 60″ long and 54″ tall, with 11.25″ deep shelves and a 14″ wide top. It will replace two existent bookcases along a wall in the study. The layout proper will be 66″ long and 16″ wide. Eventually, I will build modular additions which will be stored away when not in use, and the layout will be removable for expanded operation.