Soon after the layout was erected, I had 2 pine trees removed next to the driveway.
My tree cutter used a "Cherry Picker" for cutting one of the trees down. I thought it would be neat to show the layout from 60 feet up....
After I took the pix, I asked him if he would stop by in the Spring, (or when the layout was finished) to take another photo...He said "Sure".
These photos will fill your entire screen ....Viewing at 1024 X 768.
|December 2005 April 2006|
|If you viewed my 2005 Open House pix on my web page and, took the time to read it, you read that I wrote: "That I won't be open for the 2006 tour and this may be a great op for me to re-build a very tired and aging railroad." It wasn't so much the railroad that was tired and aging...it was ME!
In October 2005 I turned 55. Now I can get a senior discount at IHOP and, a senior soda a McDonalds. (hehe)
I received my 1st pension check last November. (I retired from the grind in Aug. 2000)
The major problem with my railroad has always been clean up... I've been doing cleanup on the OLD railroad for 10+ years and, another 6 years on smaller railroads in different locations in my backyard. My knees and back can't take it anymore. There are just too many trees.. Pine and Oak to be exact..(See "Fall Cover Netting") and getting the railroad(s) ready for the very short summer running season really sucked! Cutting down the trees would be a summer disaster since, they are mostly on the South side of my backyard. My A/C would never turn off in the summer and, the removal cost would be in the thousands... (Then I could get a pool HUH?...................Hmmmm!......Naaa!!)
During the summer of 2005, I drew up some plans that would make my clean up a breeze, and make life a lot easier, AND extend my running season to year round. I took my plans to a few metal craftsmen in the West Berlin area and they thought I was nuts.. A few also thought that this could be a chance to pay off their mortgages........... What 's the big deal?!! Some guys make elevated layouts in wood (Like my RDC line) and as I found out, sure it's easy to get trains running but, the structure has to be maintained so, doing the NEW layout in wood was out of the question.
I thought about it some more and, in early September 2005 I shot off an email to Charles Bednarik and Dwight Ennis, on www.mylargescale.com , with the question.. "Who makes that portable metal/elevated roadbed that I've seen you steamers use?"
They both replied "Eaglewings Iron Craft!" I contacted Dan Hoag of Eaglewings in AZ.... and after many emails, photos, drawings and ideas and.... just as many phone calls, work began on the new layout. Dan is famous for portable layouts and bridges. He has never made a layout like this before, so.....
The West Berlin GR is the "Official" Eaglewings Iron Craft's "Experimental All Season Outdoor Layout".
Included here is a pictorial of events from drawings to operating layout.
The entire layout was installed in 5 months. (Thanks to a very warm Winter of 2005/2006)
|Just in case I move...(Who says you can't take it with you?)
Sure, what you are about to see could all be done in wood and less expensive but, I wanted maintenance free and new layout was cheaper than tree removal too!. (I really do like my summer shade so the trees are safe.)
|so,the new design needed to sit the same. Moving existing gardens and walkways for the new layout was out of the question but, improving them was part of my design. You will see how they were improved a little later.|
|Welcome to my Jungle!
<----- This photo is looking East at the walk way and ground layout. If you look at the dark part of the layout you can see a string marking the edge of the West Side.
The East Side----------->
Looking West in this photo.
Roadbed and track are at the bottom
|<----The KEY to the entire layout is this.
The "SPIKE". The lower section of the stand is driven into the ground then, the adjustable top slides over it. The "wing-nut" locks in the adjustment and the roadbed "sits" on the supports.
This is how the stand supports the roadbed.----->
|<---------The layout sits fully assembled on the Eaglewings workshop floor. The West side of the layout is in the front. The stands are placed on top to show where Dan feels support is necessary.
The next step is to add the roadbed..------------>
Here are the 3 screens that were available. The middle is the one that I selected.
Once these were added to the roadbed sections every part was "Powder Coated" and packaged to ship to West Berlin, NJ.
|November 23, 2005|
|It's 9 AM, on the coldest morning of the season, and a very large truck is seen backing into my driveway.
Inside the truck, on a 10 foot long pallet, sits the new layout. The driver isn't too happy that he has to unload it a piece at a time.
I'm not too happy that I have to help him.
It took us about 20 minutes and wasn't that bad.
|Layout and Parts Everywhere!
I did manage to do a little "sorting" while I carried the parts into the yard. Here is a photo of all of the shelfs.
The photo on the right is the decking and the "SPIKE(s)" all completely powder coated and ready to go..
Winter seems to be apond us so, this will all wait until spring. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and the start of the Holiday season.
|Fooled by Mother Nature again!!
<-----Friday, Nov.25th was overcast but warm. Warm enough for me to layout the "North" side. A "Dry Fit" if you will. Seems to fit nicely.. But, it's "Black Friday" and the wife wants to get into the Holiday spirit and go shopping. :(.
A Sunny Saturday produced even warmer weather and the first section are installed without a hitch.------->
|By Sunday afternoon the layout is up!
Now, it will rest and weather out the season to see if any problems arise.
We had a few light snows and some ice until year end. Skipping ahead, by mid-February 2006 we had a snow storm that produced 7 inches of the white stuff.. It's was a good test for the layout.
|We are still waiting for Winter to come by Mid-January. The Temps are way above normal so, track work begins..
The first photo shows 8, 9, snd, 10 foot radius track "test fitting" the curve. Note: there is still track on the ground below that hasn't yet been pulled up,
The second photo shows all 3 mainlines installed with a battery operated "Track Test Train" running the line.
The last photo (taken with my new cell phone) shows a "review" copy of USA Trains new SD70mac pulling a very large consist. This is the first test on the "temporary" powered track. (The review will appear in the 4/2006 (July/August) issue of Gartenbahn profi, a large scale German magazine.)
|First photo is an overhead of the stone path and the edge of the layout on the East side.This is the old stone walkway around the GR that needed to "edge up" with the new elevated.(Blue Arrow) The old walkway was wide at the lighthouse (64 inches) and narrowed (about 52 inches) toward the back.. The photo doesn't show the complete stone walkway but you can see what I mean..
Sure does look like I put the new layout in the wrong place huh?
After some digging, some garden fabric, a TON of new walkway stone and, 2 days later, the stone walkways are now 64 inches (5'4") wide all the way around. No more "Bottle Necks" on Open House. The lighthouse was moved to back left corner in second photo.
Walkway photos taken Feb. 9th.
| With the weather here in N.J. NOW reaching the upper 70's it was time to get back outside for more layout work.. All of the trackwork has been adjusted as needed and "Over Tested". The next step was to get the ballast going. In these photos (taken March 14th) 300 pounds of rock dust have been installed so far. Another 800 pounds remain. The rock dust is sprayed with water (see the hose in photo?) When it dries, it becomes hard and holds the track in place. It can be broken up and sprayed over and over again, as long a dust is present in the rock.
A commercial weed barrier of spunbonded polyster was placed under all trackage. (it can be seen at the bottom of the photo) This will allow air flow (for quick drying) and drainage to occur but, the fines from the rock dust will (should ) remain.
| There is a total of 4 blocks on the WB.. The passing siding and three in the railyard. The SPST switches that I used aren't waterproof so, covers are made from 1 quart plastic milk bottles cut to fit over the waterproof conduit box. They are mounted on plastic coated pipes.. All wires are under the roadbed for easy access.
The passing siding switch motors will also be wired up from below and, I'll be using Aristo's 5475 switch controler via the TE to throw the LGB switch motors..
| About 2 years ago, I was in Home Depot and came by a Discount/Mark Down table loaded with "YOU-NAME-IT"... it was there.
This Waterproof box is for lawn sprinkler timers. Regular price was 25 bucks....and it was marked down to 8. I bought it knowing that someday I'd find a use for it. Well I did! This is where all wiring on the new layout terminates.
It makes trouble shooting a lot easier that's for sure.
| For those of you that have been here, you may notice that my control stand is closer to the deck, layout and, it now faces south.. This was done for a few reasons.. Summer shade, winter sun and fewer and shorter runs of underground wires.
The way the layout is designed, the control stand will just house the power units...It has also been re-painted to match the layout structure. A guy in Germany (who will remain nameless) calls it my "Bird House".
|Buildings, Roads, & the Trolley Line|
|All the final sundry stuff that finishes up the layout.|
|These are 3 of the photos that will be on the EagleWings Iron Craft web page very soon.|
|All of the buildings, roads, and trolley line are placed on the (re-)movable shelfs. There is an additional 160 pounds of topsoil spread out over the garden fabric on the shelfs to even it out with the track road bed . First photo is the South railyard and passing sidings . The second photo, the East side, contains real and artificial turf. The last photo shows the "Linking Shelf" trollley bridge on the North.|
| Since, I added more weight to the structure more support would be needed. I sent over a drawing to Dan Hoag and asked him to make 6 of these support posts. (as a precaution)
I would add these to the backside of the roadbed sections and, a few other places where additional weight will be hanging..
In a flash, the new posts were at my door step and installed the next day.. Thanks Dan!
|Layout Facts and Material|
|Before and After
Click on Photos.
After it loads click on the Expander Button in the lower right corner.
Back Button to return here.
|The "NEW " West Berlin GR
Dial Ups.. Pix will load while you read the intro...It's a LONG Page
|Before and After Pix|
| Added Material
400 sq feet of spundwoven garden fabric.
1100 pounds of rock dust.
160 pounds of top soil.
350 feet of 2 pair wire.
1 water proof sprinkler timer box.
3 terminal strips
1 new pair of wire strippers.
4 SPST switches.
3 mounting poles
36 feet of outdoor conduit..
Roads are custom cut and made from Asphalt roll roofing.
Outdoor grass matting. (from old layout)
1 ton of walkway stone.
| The layout can be installed by one person. I managed to do 99% of it myself. A neighbor added another pair of hands to the mix when parts were too large or too heavy for me to handle. Overall, the installation process is simple. Just keep it level and follow your marker string..
As of this writing, (May 1, 2006) one section, the North/East curve, has needed adjusting a few times.. Considering the weight that it's holding that isn't surprising. This may be caused by slipping of the adjusting screw or really soft ground. It's hard to tell but, It isn't a major concern at this time. I check it often and make the needed adjustment..
|The "Ground Layout" sat on a irregular plot in my irregular backyard|
|My plan was to have a 3 track roadbed layout, with a passing siding and a
rail yard, approx. 3 feet high and, that would be semi-permanent...
|The Ground Layout|
|To EagleWings Web Page|
|To West Berlin Site Map|