This site is dedicated to my model railroad, the HO scale Virginia Midland Railroad. This layout comprises a 12X9 room with two levels. The upper level is complete and the lower level scenery has just begun.

I do a handful of train shows in the Virginia/Maryland region with Makin Tracks.
I also can help you find that freight car/locomotive or other hard to find item.

Email: virginiamidlandshops@gmail.com
You tube videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/Virginiamidlandrr/

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lower level track laying and a custom car delivery

In my last post, I said I would have a post up by Sunday/Monday.  Well it's Thursday night and the post is finally here.  I had a sinus infection on Sunday and actually missed work on Monday.  So nothing got accomplished those two days.  Did get another snow day on Wednesday and got a little done that I had wanted to get done earlier on in the week.  The mainline is finished through the area I started on.  The mainline comes out from the helix and through the wall to the lower level.  It comes through a set of turnouts and continues to hidden trackage that leads west.
In this view, we are looking east towards the "hole in the wall".  The mainline is the trackage in the picture.  The roadbed on the right will lead to the branch line.

In this view, we see the hole to helix and the branch line trackage the bulkhead is on.  I will put a curved turnout where the foam starts for the runaround track for the branch line.

The mainline west.  There will be another turnout added for a runaround track for the branch line.   Tortoise switches were already installed for the On30 track.  I used the same basic layout I had so I did not have to move the Tortoises.

Norm Wolf did a custom MOW tie hopper for me.  He delivered it to me on Wednesday.  It's an Athearn blue box Ex SCL hopper.  Norm did a sensational job on it.

He even added a scrap tie load to the interior.

It will look right at home with my other MOW cars like the side dump car is coupled to.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Helix operational video

As promised, a video of the helix in operation.  I now have to get cracking on the lower level track.  I'll update with a post by Sunday.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Helix overload... But it's done!

Well it's complete!  Took me a few days but the helix is complete and runs well!  I hope it runs well throughout it's whole lifetime.  Knock on wood!  It was not the toughest thing I've done in model railroading just time consuming.  You cannot take any shortcuts because they will come back to haunt you.  Somethings to consider when building one:
  • A kit: the Ashlin Designs helix kit was a time saver and went together well.
  • Space: the helix is on a 5' high platform taking up a 6' by 7' space.  I did put shelves under it so I could store stuff. I can forget parking a car in the garage.  We never did.
  • Track: 15 pieces of flex track in the helix from level to level.  I used Atlas code 100.
  • Lumber: about $100 worth of lumber.  I did use MDF board for the platform
  • Time
 The next step is laying track on the lower level.  I got the day off tomorrow.  Hope to put a dent into it.

This is my flat lower level loop.  The helix lower level ends about 2 o'clock and has to run all the way to here.  The sliding doors are kept closed since it's about 45 in the garage.

Overall view from the garage steps.  Alot of work for 10 inches of drop! 

A view of the track doors to the layout.  Need some touch up paint and to level the lower door slide.

These finishing washers are perfect for holding track in staging areas.  I used them exclusively on the helix.

Access hole.  Standing on a stool I can access the helix for maintenance/cleaning.  I also can easily open the track doors.  They will stay closed when not using the helix.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Helix platform construction Day One

I got started on the helix platform in the garage today.  It's a job in itself because the top of the platform is over 5 feet off the ground.  I had to build a decent frame for it.  They were not kidding when they say helix are a space hog.  This thing is about 7' by 6'.  A lot bigger than I wanted in the garage.  Guess it is too late to go back?  With the day off tomorrow, I hope to complete it.  I went to the Home Depot late last night for some lumber but had to return this afternoon for more lumber and screws.  I believe I might have to return again.  I'm using 2X3's for the frame and MDF 3/4" board for the top.  I will keep the middle open to observe/clean the helix.  Shelves will be under the helix size since I lost a ton of space in the garage.

The space I'll be working with.  The door leads to the layout now.

My office has some work done it too.  My work desk will be replaced with a smaller one.

Some beginnings of the framework.

Cameron helped me out a lot today.  Looks like I'm building a loft in the garage!

As far as I got tonight.  Should be able to finish tomorrow, I hope.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Scenery Update, USPS frustration and a sketch of the lower level trackage

This past weekend I had planned on getting the helix out to the garage and start installing it.  Well the USPS made sure that did not happen.  As I posted last weekend, I ran out of track for the helix.  The track has to be laid as you go up.  So on Tuesday, I ordered from Mainline Hobby (the best only train shop on the east coast!) in PA.  As always, I usually get my items 2 days after I order them.  Bonnie who runs the shop always sends out the tracking number on the USPS priority packages.  So it would be here in Thursday as per the tracking.  Thursday comes and no package.  To boot, I was off on Friday because of the weather.  OK, it will be here Friday, Nope!  Did not come Saturday either.  I was a little ticked.  The worst thing was it still said delivery on 1-9 even on Sunday!  This package went to a distribution facility near Baltimore, MD for 2 days, then to another one in Baltimore for a couple of days and then to Richmond, VA for a Sunday trip.  It finally came today.  Very frustrating!

While waiting for the track, I turned to my creative side and put the finishing touches on the scenery at the end of Battlefield Yard.  This is just about complete except the railroad tie retaining wall by a switch.
This is the tail track of the layout.  The tie retaining wall will by the switch stand on the left center.

GP11 #280 tkes a peek at the new scenery.

A detail shot of the weeds and growth.

Add some of my leftover trees to the scene.  Need to probable put a few more in.
I just about have my track plan for the lower level.  The top is complete. It's the lower left corner that's tough.  I'll go with what I have.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Battlefield Yard (BY) action video

Here's a video I shot last night.  I've worked on the scenery on the tale track (on the right).  The Yard has a few more things to "finish" up on then it will be totally complete.

I will have an update later today or tomorrow about my current stage on my helix build.  Until then, enjoy the video!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Helix update

Got my helix as far as I could this past weekend.  Like most of my big projects, I usually run out of something.  I ran out of code 100 flex track in building the helix.  I though for sure I had enough but it would not be me if I had "everything"!  If you have ever built a helix, you know you have to lay track as you go up.  I used screws with finishing washers to attach the track to the helix.  It gives the track room to wiggle when it's in the garage.  I hope to get it completed this weekend.  Getting it installed would be great but probably not going to happen this weekend.  I'll try my best.  I plan on using code 83 track on the lower level so a transition area will be when the track is completely out of the curves of the helix.  More updates later.

Just getting started
My stopping point.  the helix has gone together quite well.  I'm only hoping it operates well also.  Still got to add bus wires. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lower level work has begun and so has the helix

Started packing my On30 items up yesterday and clearing them off of the lower level.  I had a On30 layout underneath Battlefield Yard and did an expansion past my work desk and under the VC yard.  Check out the older posts of the On30 layout:


The On30 track was all laid out and functioning.  It's nice because the track is the same as HO track and I can get a feel of what I have by running my HO trains down there.  I still have to take out the On30 track eventually.
VMID #281 giving me a feels of what lies ahead of the VM.  You can see BY directly above it. 

The other end.  There is a bridge crossing a canal between the 2 pictures.  The sand load spur will probably be where the hoppers are at the end.

Here's my helix in it's beginning stages.  Wanted to work in the garage but the near 0 degree temperatures made me stay inside.  the Helix kit is by Ashlin Designs out of Utah. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

85th post and a video update of the layout

This is my 85th post to this blog and hope to continue with many more since the layout will be expanding to a lower level.  All my progress can be found on the video:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Operational Session on the VM with Mark Chase and scenery update

Had the pleasure of doing an operational session with Mark Chase on Monday afternoon.  I've owed him one since the summer months.   I was talking with him at the Greenburg Train Show in Richmond before Christmas and I gave him an invitation.  Mark is a talented On30 modeler (I was a promising On30 modeler once)  and has a sensational layout in the Piedmont and East Blue Ridge.  His layout is fully operational and he's working on the scenery in the mountains of Central Virginia.  His layout hauls mainly soapstone and complete info can be found on his website.  Warning, you can spend literally hours on it!   Mark is also active in the James River On30 modular group.  They had the best looking layout at the Greenburg Show by a long shot! 

I got a lot of work done before Mark came over. Op. sessions seem to do that!  I recently got a backdrop done from LARC products to put behind Battlefield Yard.  I wanted to have mainly trees there but they did not offer anything with just trees.  I compromised and went with something else that turned out well.

Mark's train: the V100W switches out Patriot Industries

Mark moves his cars into the proper position

The F&NN train comes into Battlefield Yard lead by Ex-BAR loco #46

RF&P D792 comes in to Midland trackage with a cut of cars.

A work train comes east from Orange into Battlefield Yard.

Mark's V100W is ready to come back to Battlefield Yard but has to wait in the clear for oncoming trains.
A shot of the new background

Another shot with the backdrop in place.  The glare is from the lights across the room.

Overview of Battlefield Yard

Mark gave me a great idea for the end of Battlefield Yard.  Instead of keeping the background buildings at level ground, he suggested that I add some elevation and put the background building on a bluff.  The locos are weighing down the glued foam.  I will shape it with my foam cutter today.