Indian Valley RR

In March 2015, my friend and partner Steve Blackson from Windypoint Publishing in Austin, TX asked me if I would like to help him building a G-scale layout in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. After looking at the track plan I said "Sure, why not? Should be a nice change from N-scale building" :-)

So, on April 20, 2015 we had a first glance at the customer's site. Looked very promising.... However, the weather did not really cooperate: it was raining cats and dogs the day before we arrived and so the site was soaking wet. To make things worse, the ground is solid red clay.

Following is a construction report in pictures. To view an image in full size, please click on it and it will open in a lightbox. To close the lightbox, simply click into the dark shaded area.

Customer site on April 23,2015, 08:00 o'clock
Customer site Customer site    Customer site
Customer site with some track laid out This bridge will be used for a dry wash    

In the afternoon, the picture had already changed a bit:

Exit from the shed storage area. Track laid and ballasted Exit from the shed storage area. Preparation for road Pre-built trolley track laid out Steve checking on dimensions...
Getting the radii right Inside the storage shed    

All in all, it was a very productive day. It really helps saving time when the customer has the plat ready to accept track :-).

April, 26

2 days have passed since the last update, and we got some more work done:

Storage tracks laid in the shed Top layer of ballast added to shed exit Close-up of top layer ballast trenched and filled right-of-way for the main line
Manual switch stands mounted and wires buried Customer site That's about 3 tons of gravel sitting next to my car...  

April, 27


More track down and roughed in More track down and roughed in Bridge is located over the drywash and track has guard rails More track down and roughed in
Dry wash about being built Guard rail close-up and alignment with main line Getting the curve right First buildings are out to locate the loading spur
First buildings are out to locate the loading spur Trolley track The trolley track in the left picture was pre-built from laminated Sintra (a plastified cellulose product) and is not really meant for outdoor use. As you can see, it warps in the heat. Only good thing is that we did not build it. The bad news: we have to deal with it... Overview of left layout side from the customer's deck
View from the deck onto the (still) untouched right layout side      


Not a bad day at all, although Steve had the idea of burying the wires for switch control in pipes ------ after the track was laid and ballasted :-(. So we had to invest some extra time, dig up the ballast, run the wires, bury them, and re-ballast. Not to self: Make sure this doesn't happen in May when we tackle the other half of the layout!

Snakes !!! The layout is controlled by AirWire, and the engines run on battery power. The switches, however, need to be wired... Wires out of the shed PVC pipes to bury the wires in
Customer just added a coal trestle and lumber yard Our customer had the idea of adding the coal trestle shown in the left picture.  Ehmmmm, not at the height of the one shown! Rocks! The layout will have a waterfall and a second level with a coal mine. Both need to be rocked up if we want to avoid some unintended "erosion"...

This concludes our first 10-day stint here in North Carolina. We now leave for a well earned break and will return on May 7.

May 12

While I am busy adding more ballast to the left side of the layout and started trenching the right side, Steve occupied himself with building the first trestle for the waterfall. There won't be glue or nails in the trestles, just nuts, bolts, and washers!

Trestle build Trestle build Trestle build Trestle build
Rocks for waterfall Tar The customer wanted an asphalt road. This is the first try of about 4. Just doesn't look right... Over to the right side of the layout!
Future site of Victoria Station Main line along the shed wall    

May 13

After passing the dry wash from the left side of the layout, the main splits into a loop and a branch line up to the coal mine. The plan had a calculated grade of 4% which we managed to bring down to about 2.8%. That is still pretty steep for G-scale but manageable for the engines intended for the branch: a railbus and the 2-6-6-2 "Uintah" by LGB.

Grade up to coal mine Rocked-up grade and 2nd level Start of grade Curves to trestles
Future waterfall To motivate the trestles, the customer gets a working waterfall. The catch basin in the foreground houses the pump which will take the water up through the hoses. The fall will be lined with landscaping fabric and rubber lining, and then be drystacked with rocks. Victoria station taking shape  

May 16

Another 3 busy days lie behind us and so it is time for new update:

Testing the water flow Testing the water flow The left image shows a rough layout for the waterfall as we try to find the best water flow. The shiny ywelly brass track defines the location of the lower trestle. Last minute addition: a covered bridge
Trolley track Close-up of track feeder That pesky trolley track still gives me a headache. The builder made no provision of track feeders. The customer, however, wants to run the trolleys on DC power. In the end, I simply chiselled an opening into the back of the track and added rail clamps with ring connectors as track feeders. Upper trestle almost done
Upper trestle almost done Upper trestle almost done Upper trestle almost done  

June 15

Unfortunately the weather didn't quite cooperate and so we lost 2 days due to heavy rain. Another day was lost due to the fact that the landscaping company hired to do some heavy lifting let us down. In consequence this meant we couldn't finish the layout as per our deadline and had to schedule a third stint of 7 days beginning today.

When we arrived, we were really surprised to find the layout overgrown by grass and wild onions!

Jungle Jungle   Jungle  

June 17

The next day, after some manicure, the layout looked a bit better:

Weeded out Weeded out A village is established All the grass is eraditicated, the barren areas have been covered with landscape fabric and coated with gravel. Also, the trolley is wired now and a test run was performed. In principle, the trolley runs. The track needs some TLC though, as can be seen in the video clip below...

After testing the waterfall for several hours we found a small leak. Panic struck! Luckily, I was able to detect the leak in about 2 hours and so we decided to give the waterfall a complete makeover. 2 dispenser boxes were added to the top in order to achieve a better water flow and the sides of the liner and the dispenser boxes were mortared in place to keep the water from flowing underneath the liner. This added another 6 hours of heavy leifting but it was well worth it!

Waterfall makeover      

June 21

Our last day is finally here! The main tasks today were mainly cleaning up the work site, some detail work (aka TLC) and test runs. I'll conclude this construction report with a short video clip of the test run.

The owner holds an open house on August 8, 2015 and I will be up in Winston-Salem for it. If you are interested to attend, please drop me an email and I'll send you the address. And yes, the owner is fine with that :-)

Layout test run June 21,2015

D-Day! Test running a Bachmann 2-8-0 (1:20.3) and an LGB 2-6-6-2 "Uintah" (1:22.5)