The Thomsonbahn Grows

The Thomsonbahn Grows...

In the first week of 2003 I visited Dave in Cincinnati and continued to help him with his layout.  With the tracks in the staging yard all laid out, it was time to build up to the first "visible" level.

That's Dave screwing down the last track in the staging yard.  For lighting this area, we used a pair of strands of Christmas lights.  It works quite well, and is a cheap lighting solution.

You can see one of the Christmas lights just peeking out in the photo above.

I built a small control panel for the staging yard to allow Dave to switch off trains before the real control panel (and automated controls) are built and installed.  The track occupancy indicators use Marklin contact tracks to indicate occupancy.

The boards for the freight yard are in place!  Dave is no dummy - he has ME test the durability of the benchwork!  I'm happy to report that it survived (as did I!)...

Here are the first attempts at laying out track.  The track plan on this side of the layout changed quite a bit from what the track plan showed.  This is A Good Thing, as it shows the track plan as a "living document".  The turntable and the main line are in the same place, but all the other innards of this section have changed from the original drawings. 


The area to the

 of the freight yard has been dubbed the "spaghetti section".  Here it is laid out for the first time.  The tracks underneath it are actually of the station itself, which were put down for alignment purposes.  That station will be about five inches above the spaghetti...

After placing tracing paper below the spaghetti tracks, we used this crude but effective tracer to mark our roadbed.  Don't laugh, folks!  It really worked!

That's me working on the spaghetti section.  Notice the banks of track lights Dave has installed above the layout.  This is a very well-lit layout!

As you could guess, the next step is to cut out the tracing paper.  This is then pinned to a piece of Homasote / plywood for final roadbed cutting.

Once the tracing is done, you can take various sections of the tracing paper and lay them out to make maximum use of your Homasote.  Face masks are a good idea when cutting Homasote...

With the sections all cut out, it was time to screw down the roadbed and the tracks.  I'm roughly above the staging yard in the picture above.  It looks like I'm putting down the last of the roadbed in the spaghetti section.  Now it's time to install...

The train station!  Here we see the two large boards used as the basis for Dave's eight-foot-long station tracks.  Thanks to the spaghetti design, trains can enter and leave the station in any direction, and be turned around in the spaghetti section to either remain in the middle section indefinitely (on two different loops) or to return to the staging yard.  It's a track plan that will take some getting used to!

Here's the V200 with a string of hoppers on the line from the freight yard behind the layout.  It's a shame that this beautiful, fourteen-foot run isn't going to be visible when the layout is completed!

This is the wiring bus under the layout.  There is one in each of the three main sections.  The design is the brainchild of Tim Eckert, whose professional-quality power supplies and digital signal solutions adorn many of the world's top Marklin layouts. 

Dave's mugging for the camera, but it looks like I'm a little more concerned with that ICE3 that's headed for our faces!  That's the station in front of us, with some of the tracks already laid out.

Another cheap but effective problem solver were these blocks of wood, used as templates for confirming the spacing of tracks in the station.  As long as the first track was straight, all other tracks would be straight, too, and parallel with each other.  The blocks are clearly marked so they don't accidentally end up in the trash!

Here is the track plan for the station and upper reverse loop "au natural".  We use space for ideas wherever we can, folks!

In all, I was pretty pleased with the progress in those eight days.  Trains were running on two levels, with the trip up to the station possible as well.  The plan is to continue the layout in March, when Dave has a week off from work.  Be sure to stop by to see the progress.  In the meantime...

... Dave has plenty of time to play!

Next:  We complete the main line...