...is the HO-scale layout I decided to build. Ever since finding that Johnny Cash rendition of "The Wabash Cannonball" I posted in the random video thread, I've gotten bitten by the bug to revive my model railroading hobby. My dad built me a small HO layout when I was a kid; a 4'x8' sheet of plywood with an oval of track with a figure 8 in the center. When I was 12 I started rebuilding my layout in our basement in PA, and I had a twice-around loop with an elevated trolly track in the center, but both layouts had little in terms of scenery; a few plastic buildings and a street crossing here and there was all. Mostly just bare wood.
I did have a couple Atlas plan books as a kid, however, and always wanted to build something more sophisticated like the big layouts you see among serious modellers; the old men who wear the overalls an engineer hats.
One of the plans I always liked the best was The Granite Gorge and Northern.
According to Atlas, it represents the meeting of 2 main lines in a mountain river valley.
I discovered that Atlas sells complete kits for its layout plans, and that the website linked above sells those kits at a discount. So, after some hemming and hawing, I decided to build this layout. I did consider a few others, notably the Folded Dogbone with Branch, the Grade Crossing Deluxe (found in layouts 13-23 at the above link), the Great Eastern Trunk, and the Transbay Interwoven (found at the layouts 24-30 link above; same series as GG&N).
I ended up picking this layout for a number of reasons:
1. At 5'x9' it fit well in the available space; the Grade Crossing layout was eliminated on this basis. At 13' long, it would have had to fit catty-corner into an 11'x12' room as the hypotenuse of a 5x12x13 triangle... and that would not sit well with my wife. I'm not allowed to take up the entire room with it.
2. It had multiple levels; tracks cross over each other quite a bit. The double track that passes diagonally through the center of the layout is a double bridge.
3. It has grade crossings, which always look cool.
4. It does not have reversing loop track.
Wiring those is not hard with Atlas electrical controllers, but I find a complex layout plan that avoids them to be more elegant. If I expand the layout later, I may add a dedicated section that does this. It also makes it easier to break the track into electrical blocks that suit my preferences rather than those strictly in the plan. The Grade Crossing, Folded Dogbone, and Transbay all have reversing loops.
5. It avoids the "round and round and round" effect by staying away from what's essentially an oval. The Great Eastern Trunk is plagued by this.
6. It allows the operation of 2 trains at once; either running on 2 mainline tracks, or one loco working the yard while another train runs on the main line. This will be a 2-power-pack layout.
7. It's a mountain layout, and I like mountains. Any of the others could be made with mountains but this one is designed for it.
8. It has enough yard to permit some yard operation, but it isn't an "all yard" layout.
I have plenty of rolling stock left over to use on it, so I ordered the track kit and 2 power packs. I was hoping to use a bunch of old track, but while I have plenty of basic straight and curved sections, I have almost no nonstandard sections, and the switch tracks I have are snap-switches, not #4 turnouts that the layout is designed for, even though they look very similar.
So, this is the reason for my Home Depot thread. This morning, I went to Lowe's and got the lumber! The track won't be here for some time yet, but hopefully by my days off next week. By then I should have the frame together and be ready to start cutting the plywood.
Ready for the first cut:
Cut into the sections needed for the framework and tabletop:
The 2"x4" legs. 4' high.
I plan to take plenty of pictures as I work, so I'll post more construction as it goes. I hope to have trains running by Christmas at the latest and be starting on scenery. Today was gross cuts of the wood; tomorrow will be fine cuts to allow the rises and falls of the trackage.