Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cahaba Southern 2nd Edition (2009- )

The 2nd edition of the Cahaba Southern Railroad (CSR2) has been in the planning stages for most of 2009.  It will be built in a small room in the downstairs area of our split-foyer house.  The room is 116" by 101" with no windows and only one door.  The room is fully finished, along with heat & AC, and is located off of the downstairs den.  I only had to add 2 additional 110VAC 20A circuits to the room to make sure it could handle the needs of a model railroad.

It is a much smaller room than the original CSR had, but still plenty big for a nice size N scale railroad.  During the planning phase there were plenty of "I wish the room were a little bigger" moments, however I was able to work past those.  Here are some of the design parameters incorporated into the design:

  1. Southeastern US, circa 1966-1970, Appalachian foothills railroading.
  2. Primarily Southern Railway & Central of Georgia rolling stock
  3. Dual mainlines, 1 branchline
  4. Hidden staging on a second level
  5. Primarily a railfan layout, with some operating capabilities
  6. Several industries, including a coal mine and a small town passenger depot
  7. Digitrax DCC operation with future full electronic control and detection
  8. Peco Code 55 track, medium turnouts on mainline, small turnouts on yards/sidings
  9. 15" minimum visible radius, 12" minimum hidden radius, 2.25% maximum grade
  10. Everything within easy reach, all benchwork 24" deep (except the helix)

The final design features 2 levels connected by a single track 18" radius helix.  The lower level holds a staging yard that feeds the helix, with no scenery planned, at approximately 36" high.  The upper level will be fully sceniced at approximately 52" high.  I've attached jpeg exports from CADRail which I've used exclusively during the planning stage.

Upper Level:

Lower Level:

Benchwork will be built from 1"x3" lumber.  I have ripped the 1x3s from 3/4" cabinet grade birch plywood.  If you have the means (i.e. a table saw) I highly recommend using the 3/4" plywood as it is very stable and strong, resists warping, and cheaper than buying 1x3s made of pine.  A single sheet of 3/4"x4'x8' plywood is $40, out of which you can rip 18 8 foot 1x3s.  Decent 1x3s run over $3 per piece, for a total of over $54, and none of those will be as straight and stable as the plywood 1x3s.

Benchwork (Same for both levels):

The other thing that I've been doing over the months of planning is purchasing rolling stock and track.  95% of my purchases have been done thru eBay with a few exceptions of a couple of items thru online and local hobby shops as well as train shows.  It has been a pleasant surprise that the selection of southeastern rolling stock has greatly increased since I last was involved in N scale model railroading back in 1999.  In particular Southern & CofG locomotives have been produced in large varieties by both Atlas, Kato, Intermountain and MicroTrains, all with great details, DCC-ready, and superb runners.

Unfortunately prices of everything model railroading has gone up dramatically since 1999, in most case around 50-75 percent.  This price increase makes buying thru ebay a must, as that is where the bargains can be found.  I've purchased over 2 dozen locos thru ebay the last 9 months and have averaged around $42 per locomotive.  All of these were either NOS or testrun only, with usual $80-90 street prices to be found on the packages.  The most interesting part is that most of these were purchased from dealers selling thru eBay that are outside of the southeastern US.  All the local shops and shows are sold out of southeastern rolling stock but they do have plenty of "foreign" roads, guess the same happens elsewhere in the US and Canada.

Next on the agenda is finishing the room and beginning the benchwork, which will commence once the New Years bowl games are over with.  I promise more frequent updates and pictures as the work goes on from here...

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