29 May, 2010

Organizing your "To-Do" list for building a Layout

On the April 2010 Scotty Mason Show (check out: http://www.modelrailroadpodcast.com/), Dave Frary mentioned I showed him my unique way of keeping me "on track", or focused on what I need to do, to slowly but surely build my RF&P Doswel Junction layout.  As an Engineer, with a Project Management background, I make up lists, schedules, progress reports, and other documents, to keep us focused on what needs to be done at work.  As Mike Rose, Scott, and Dave mentioned, building a layout IS a Project, with many different areas to focus.
While this list is in and of itself, a work in progress and not in what I'd like as a final format, I thought I'd post a version here, as I use it, to help me focus my limited time & funds the best way possible, and don't just buy, build, or assemble without some purpose or benefit to the layout and rolling stock I'm constructing.  Hope it may help you...


1. Draw out Track plan on pink foam – in progress (approx. 90%)
2. Lay roadbed where needed (using latex adhesive caulk):
    a. Homabed for RF&P mainline – in progress (85% done); need more curvable pieces! Cutting from straight ones…
    b. Cork for C&O mainline – in progress (95%); need some help with one more lead to spurs for Doswell Freight House.

NOTE: No Roadbed for Spurs – lay directly on pink foam.

3. Lay track (in phases):
    a. Phase I – RF&P “loop” and sidings – in progress (60%)
        Phase II – C&O “loop” and sidings – in progress (10%)
     b. Adhesive used – Latex Adhesive Caulk

NOTE: Solder opposing switches and any flextrack with a joint on a curve prior to install!

4. Drill holes for Blue-Point machines on staging tracks – in progress (less than half done)
5. Electrically Connect Track – in progress. Track feeders & buses color code – Red & Black: RF&P – in progress; Green & White: C&O – not started
6. Plan out/Set up Digitrax Super Chief and Loco-Net – in progress; installed at end (recommended to move to center of layout)
7. Weather Track – not started
     a. Detail/weather track as applicable for mainline, sidings/spurs, “staging”, etc.
     b. Look at Paul Dolkos’ article (MR Oct ’09), as well as Doug’s DVD (#1) & Joe F’s DVD (#s 4 & 5?), for references.

8. Research & plan out signaling system – not started
    a. Prototype:  RF&P was Centralized Traffic Control (CTC)
    b. Determine whether to ‘simulate’ (non-live), or ‘imitate’ (live/working).  Note: layout is relatively small.

• BACKDROP (1/8” Hardboard)

1. Paint blue/blend white – not started (work with Daylene)
    a. Match paint to Doswell Photo – Done; purchased Olympic 15 year latex flat enamel ($7.99/gallon @ Lowes)
2. Backdrop scenery – low, rolling hills to the west, I-95 to the East, with lots of trees; not started (work with Bernie?)

FASCIA (1/8” thick x 7” deep)
1. Mount – started, using ¾” wood screws and finish washers
2. Prime – not started (not sure if I should do, prior to mounting)
3. Paint – not started (have one gallon, but will probably need one more)

1. Build up landforms (hills, gravel pit, view breaks, etc) – not started
2. Lay out Route 1 (Jefferson Davis Hwy) – not started
3. Lay out service roads – not started
4. Further work, as needed, as I get closer to completion…

1. Determine System – in progress
     a. How will it run? I like what Paul Dolkos is doing for his new layout (dispatcher uses car cards & waybills, gives operators switch lists); see MRP 2010 Article
    b. Prototype used Switch lists (I have an e-copy); need to modify – not started
    c. Determine “crew size” for comfortable and safe operating session – not started
    d. Create car tracking record/database – not started, although I have Micro-Mark’s CC&WB system and have filled out some for cars and motive power
2. Periodic Newsletter? TBD

Layout Materials

1. Latex Adhesive Caulk (from Wal-Mart – <$3 per tube); need 2 more
2. Walthers Code 83, DCC-friendly 6½ Curved Turnout (RH) – need one (1) more (Blue Ridge Hobbies @ $31.49 each, plus shipping!
3. DCC-friendly #6 Turnouts – need at least 2 more LH) – originally, Walthers Code 83, (Blue Ridge Hobby Supply) – recount what’s still needed! Remainder to be Atlas Super Scale Switches
4. Universal Throttle Pockets – 2 more (Micromark is cheapest, so far @ $6.50 each)
5. Fascia paint – match existing dark green gallon.

1. 22-Ga solid wire – need white ONLY – MCM Electronics?
2. Lighting – Either (whichever is CHEAPEST!):
   o Plastic screw-in fixtures, with splitter & screw-type daylight fluorescents – purchased one for test, to shadowing, if any.
   o Single Bulb 2’ or 4’ fluorescent lighting fixtures – determine qty and install configuration.
3. Digitrax UR91 – Radio/IR Receiver Unit (Traintek LLC – $119 plus shipping)
4. Digitrax Throttle Upgrades – four (@ about $50 each, directly from Digitrax - http://www.digitrax.com/)
5. Signal System – determine whose, first!! Digitrax or Bruce Chubb’s… needs research; low priority at this point

Scenery Materials

1. Plaster Cloth – need more (Michael’s)
2. Gypsolite or Structolite – Home Depot or Lowes?
3. Super Trees, Silfor™ Tufts, Shrubs?, etc. from Scenic Express (www.scenicexpress.com)
4. Artist’s Acrylic Colors for making water – Blick Art Supply (www.dickblick.com)
    o Chromium oxide green
    o Cobalt or Ultramarine Blue
    o Phthalo Blue
    o Permanent Green? Ask Dave F…

Modeling Materials (for Rolling stock, structures, etc)

1. Phosphor-Bronze Rod – for brake piping/details – sizes, per Jeff Wilson’s book; get through Mike Rose (www.mrhobby.com)
2. Strip Styrene – determine what each project calls for (stick with Evergreen)
3. Sheet Styrene – ditto (Evergreen)

General tools & stuff

1. Track prep/Soldering Tool (Micro-Mark @ $14.15)
2. Weights!!!!! Need lots of them! Talk to Ryan – what metal?
3. Angle Plates - 2”x2”x2” & 3”x3”x3” – need one more of each (Amazon.com: $8.60 & $11.60, respectively)
4. Plastic Modeler’s Detail Removing Chisel (Micro-Mark $18.95)
5. NWSL True Sander ($$?), or Micro-Mark ‘knock-off’ ($18.95)
6. Micro Sanding Wands – Micro-Mark ($14.70)
7. Tweezers, Cross locking, self-closing, heat resistant grips (Micro-Mark @ $6.85, or Heat Sink type @ $10.95?) – Which one’s which?? Check with Bob S.
8. Standard Spray Booth (about $250)!
9. Razor Blades (Pkg of 100) – Micro-Mark $9.20, or Harbor Freight Tools ($4.99)
10. Paint Stripping Brush, for custom rocks (per Joe Fugate) – ‘Home Despot’
11. Carrousel Organizer – Micro-Mark #83149 ($32.65) OR Magnetic Tool Holder – Micro-mark #60458 ($11.95)
12. Paint Jar Opener (not really necessary, but could save breaking jar).
13. Despruing Tweezer – Micro-Mark ($13.80))
14. Topside Creeper, to work over layout – Ebay Motors or Amazon.com (< $229.00)
15. 6" DIGITAL CALIPER – Micro-Mark ($18.95) or Harbor Freight Tools ($29.99)


1. Reflectors and stand – Adorama (www.adorama.com) for 32” diameter set

Note that some of this is also a wish-list of sorts.  As I go thru it, I do assign priorities, as well as adjust those priorities, when the situation merits it.  Any suggestions or questions, please post a comment.  Thanks for looking!

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