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/

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mid week update: July 30th

Progress has been slow this week because of chores around the house and other things.  I've got a little done but this has turned into alot more than I thought.  The track is totally done and wired and the turnouts in Orange have switch machines attached and wired to push buttons.  Unfun things like cutting and painting facia are about all that remain.  But since those items i just listed are unfun, I drift off to other items like backdrops and a untreated tie load.

I did some research on printing out backdrops on your own.  I was going to take the pics myself but my camera (about 10 years old) is less functioning than my I-phone one.  So, I found some high resolution pics I could use on the web.  Used a mirror image on a few and I have several pics I can use on the lower level on the branch line.

I also experimented with a untreated tie load and found some pics on the web of them in gons.  So, I used a piece of blue foam and cut it to the size of the gon. This takes up most of the space in the gon.   I then cut up match sticks to tie size(gon width).  I cut several different notches in the foam to represent uneven ties.  Paint the foam a tan color and then glue in the ties.
This untreated tie gon turned out well.  I need this for my untreated tie loading facility in Orange.

The load out of the gondola.
Examples of the printed backdrops.  This trackage is in front of my work desk and is very thin.  The hole in the wall leads to the helix in the garage.

Examples of the quality of the prints.  Some lights in this area might help.  It's on the "to do" list.  Printed out some different ones tonight.
My travels Saturday took me through my favorite railfanning spot since I was a young kid.  Doswell, VA always has engines sitting in the yard area.  Buckingham Branch has their engines here now and is typical for a short line like the VMID.  

These "plugin" receptacles are a nice added feature that can be easily added to the Midland. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Op Session yesterday and a railroad map of the Virginia Midland

Visited Mike Pulaski's model railroad, the Mohawk and Hudson near Richmond yesterday.  This is the second time I have visited his amazing double decked layout in his basement.  He models about the same time period as me( mid 1990's).  Most of his crew did not show up but that meant more trains to run!  If I were to ever get house with a basement, his layout is the perfect size.  Not too big and not too small.  Did not take a bunch of pictures, but here are a few:
This was a stack train I ran all the way around the layout.

His backdrops set the upstate New York scene.

This is a great looking feed mill on the upper deck.

Gotta love some Susie Q!
Here's a map of the railroads of Virginia.  CLICK ON IT FOR A LARGER VIEW.  The VMID trackage runs west out of Fredricksburg to Orange with the Mine Run branchline in western Spotsylvania County.  The F&NN trackage runs east out of Fredericksburg.  The F&NN trackage is not modeled on the layout.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Upper and lower level work continues

I've slowed down a bit on the work I've down this week.  Lots of tedious work the past couple of days like backdrop cutting and a shelf on the end of the extension.  I've completed all the track work on both levels and still need to add feeder wires to the track.
Attaching track.  I don't add subroadbed because this a branchline.

My end shelf.  Need to add another shelf and paint it black.

Trackwork complete.  I came back and super-elevated the closest curve.  I also added n-scale subroadbed to this curve which is not shown.

Another view of the trackage.

These sand hoppers test out the trackage.

The lower level trackage is done.  The CSXT boxcar sits on spur MOW spur.  To the left will be a older railroad building.

The gondola sit in the untreated tie loading spur.

The two spurs to the left are the VMID and NS interchange tracks.  The double ended train will bring 4 cars down and drop the lead engine where the boxcar is and then drop the cars in the interchange on the left..  Then pick their cars up and head back to Fredericksburg.

Had to cut into the the benchwork to get this unloading pit in.  Of course I forgot about it until I installed it!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bench work on extension is almost done and bigger horsepower

Well this expansion has turn into more work than I hoped but should improve the look and operation.
I have totally revamped the trackage in this area that was once complete.
Major changes:
  1. Gotten rid of a bunch of trackage at the aggregate facility including a run-around track. 
  2. I have also bent the VMID trackage that once went across the bridge to a cassette.  
  3. I have configured the track below without the use of a cassette there.
  4. Opened the layout up for more scenery.
Horsepower update at the very bottom.
Pretty much starting from scratch with this area.  

Had to add a smaller board up front to aid in accessing the lower level.

Mocking up the track work.  I use sectional 22 degree curves to plan curvage.  The 22 degrees is not to sharp and is usually my smallest radius.  This works well for layouts with 4 axle power and no passenger trains.  

The look towards the door.  The trackage on the left is the VMID.  I have to move the signal to the mark on the benchwork.

The aggregate unloading facility base.  It should hold 5-6 cars across the diamond.

Glad Walthers finally made one of these. I was close to making my own silos.

After today's work.  Bench work is just about complete.  Got to install the lights underneath for the lower level before I attach the subroadbed.  

Another view

Final view from the door.
And finally some bigger horsepower for the VMID.  She will be patched and put into service soon.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Work on the upper level starts

Just like my work desk, I have to have several projects going on at one time.  My layout is no different.  The lower level has come to a halt and I have moved to the upper level expansion.  I ripped out the bridge and river scene last night.  Amazing that it takes you days to do a scene and only minutes to rip it out.  This area represented some of my first scenery applications on this layout.  I did a decent job on it. I was mainly unhappy with it because of the track and ballast.  It did not look good and why did I ever use sectional track?  Most of the trackage on the VC in the old aggregate area is being removed.  The spur to the elevator will remain.  I will add another crossing to the VMID trackage to access the new expansion.  I will curve the VMID trackage toward the door and the removable cassette will no longer be needed.  It's alot more work but will look good when complete.
This scene is now gone.

Saving what scenery I can.  The VMID mainline between the signal and the electrical box will be curved now.

Popcorn and hard shell scenery made the hill side along with some plaster rock outcroppings.  

The river scene is no more.

Now time to rip out the track and ballast.

Thought I was done taking out track and ballast but since this is a difficult trackage with a crossing, I will have to rip out almost all of it.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

A week off from the layout: VACATION

Taking a week off from the layout and life in general to vacation with my family in the Outer Banks in NC.  I have not been down here since the mid 1980's!  During the down time, I'm going to plan out what exactly I want to complete on the layout when I get back.  Orange has ran into a dilemma.  The cassette will not provide enough room for a run-around exchange track for the VMID.  So, I may have to bring trains down to Orange double headed to work the exchange.  I do have one industry in Orange and I may still do the run-around cassette so the local doesn't have to be double headed.  If you don't know railroad lingo, double headed means a loco on the front and the rear of the train.  Some of the CSX locals in our area do this and we have a coal train that comes up from Richmond that does this also.  The coal train runs north and then runs down a branch with the rear locos without having to run around it's train.

So here's whats on the agenda when I get home:

  1. Complete trackage in Orange including wiring
  2. Complete the cassette
  3. Start on the expansion above Orange.  
  4. Complete aggregate facility (Walthers kit)
  5. Complete scenery on expansion
I want to complete the scenery on the expansion of the aggregate facility because this is the first thing you see when you come into the layout room.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Orange continues at a good pace

I've used this holiday weekend to get as much as I can done on the lower level at Orange.  It a weird setup, like a "L" shadow box, so I have to make sure I get everything done before I cannot reach certain areas.  This includes soldering feeder wires, painting the background blue and other small tasks.  The Norfolk Southern interchange can hold 4-5 cars and the VMID interchange can hold 3 cars.  These car lengths are 50' based.
Here is the entrance to Orange.  The spur to the left goes to the NS interchange and a untreated tie loading facility.  The trackless turnout will lead to the edge of the layout and a cassette for the VMID interchange.  The toggles on the right are for the signals at City Junction above.  

The interchange track is the closest and the tie place has the gondola on it's track. 

The track the gon is on is not glued down in case I need to move it.  

Here is the hidden trackage that leads to Orange.  Had to make sure that trackage was good to go before proceeding.  

The good thing about working on this lower level is that I've done it in a chair.  By the way, operating the lower level is strictly done in the chair! 

The interchanges will be an easy reach  for operators.  This view is right by the door.  

Did I mention my office is a total wreck!  This items in the middle of the room were under the area I'm working in.

Future expansion?  Might extend this area towards the me about 2-3 feet and take out the creek and bridge scene.  This would make the aggregate area a lot bigger.  But would require another crossing of the Midland.  Stay tuned.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July and quick update

Worked most of the day on the Orange area and it is a lot more work than I realized. Working in a less than ideal space between levels is no fun. I've hit my hit several times. That probably explains the bad headache I had yesterday morning. Some of the jobs include stapling wires up, running track and road bed in hard to reach places, soldering in those hard to reach places and installing lighting. The good news is that I finally figured out the trackage in this area. Here are some pics of the progress:

Here we look down the roadbed from the hidden trackage

The rest of the area:

The view block installed. Got get this area painted before I more any farther. 

Here my track plan:

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lower Deck work and weathering

Been busy this week in completing some weathering work for a client and starting on the end of my lower level.  The weathering encompassed several freight cars with varying weathering.  I even got a few of mine that have been sitting on my desk waiting for a weathering job.  Here are some of the cars:
MCBT #8279  The rust spots are the Weathering Solutions decals.

MCBT #8293

MCBT #8235

MCTR #1252

MCIS #1603

BN #450995  One of mine.

ACFX #47104  

AR #1559 Another one of mine.
Completed 97% of the lumber cuts this afternoon for the last leg of the lower level.  The town of Orange, VA will be depicted in a small "L" shaped area.  No luck on the track arrangement.  I like to piece it together on the bench work for a plan.  I'm going to have to get really creative here.  I need a run around track bad.

Brackets for the bench work.
I put the lights in.  Seeing how it looks.

Final layout.  Now to get the track workable!