Backdrops anyone?

Wow, only two more days to Christmas, how times fly. First off I would like to wish everyone and their families a very Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukah and a Happy New Year.

Now back to the construction.

Unfortunately I’ve been feeling way under the weather for three weeks prior to last week so progress pretty much came to a standstill since the end of November, but there has been progress.

As stated in the last installment, the next step in construction was to install the backdrop. Well I did install about 60% of it before I got distracted, more on that later. I decided to use 0.060 styrene for my backdrop, which was available from my local plastic supplier in 48″ x 96″ sheets. Because I’m using brackets to support my layout simply gluing the styrene to the wall was not an option. 1″ x 2″ wood strapping was installed horizontally between the wall standards. The thickness of the strapping matched the thickness of the wall standards I used to support the layout (sometimes one gets lucky).

To install the styrene, I started by cutting a 17-1/2″ (height between top of layout and bottom of bracket supporting shelf) x 96″ piece from the styrene sheet that would go along the back of the layout where the shelf is located. This left me a piece 30-1/2″ x 98″. This was cut to length so that it would go between the electrical panel enclosure and the shelf along the side wall. As this area is mountainous I wanted the backdrop to extend to the ceiling. This height is greater than the 30-1/2″ of the styrene piece left over. This was not a problem as the space not covered by the styrene would be covered by mountains. “Liquid Nail” adhesive was used to install the styrene to the strapping and wall standards. The 17-1/2″ wide strip was curved around the corner and glued to the strapping and wall standards in the same manner as the first piece. The joint between the two pieces is a butt joint with a 2″ wide reinforcing strip behind it. This joint was glued together using MEK.

As seen in the pictures there is approximately a 2-1/2″ gap between the bottom of the wall brackets and the shelves. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it yet, leave it open or fill it in. For now I’m going to leave it open and see how much it’s going to bug me in the near future.

OK, now here is where the distraction came in. Since I designed the layout, there were some concerns from members of the “On30 Conspiracy” (including myself) as to whether the length and design of the switchback would allow enough vertical clearance using a “reasonable grade” to clear the mainline that would be below the logging area. For a quick and dirty method I decided to use Woodland Scenic’s 4% incline system. Each incline section was started by using a 2% incline section 12″ long before starting with the 4% sections. I figure this method will ease the transition from 0% to 4%. The Woodland Scenic inclines were attached to the foam base using latex contact cement. The incline and riser system was installed until a height of 2″ was achieved and then 2″ foam was used to continue the right-of-way. This method was used for every 2″ in height.

The first section of the switchback rises 2″. The second section switchback raises 3″ for a total height of 5″. Using two layers of 2″ thick foam gives me a 3-1/2″ height clearance in the tunnel (allowing 1/2″ for the roadbed and track). Height clearance testing with the equipment I have on hand showed that this gives me sufficient clearance (this is a new scale for me so I’m learning as I go). 1″ foam on top will “close” off the tunnel.

So what’s next? Maybe finishing installing the backdrop, laying the roadbed and track work in the tunnel portion so I can finish the mountain or maybe ripping it all out and starting over (just kidding). I’ll see what mood strikes me after Christmas and go from there.

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