The Bone Yard Logging and Lumber Railway (BYLLR) is taking form.

Some train modelers start with making an exacting plan.  I am fairly sure there are people who print out to scale track plans and place them directly on their bench work.  I salute you who do, but I do not.  I start with general ideas: what genre I want to model, what elements would be interesting and fun to include–bridges, tunnels, elevation, water ways, ect., and space limitations.  30 years ago I would have been happy to squat and waddle like a duck to the doughnut hole in the center of my layout and make the trains buzz around my head…older you get the more tired that shit gets.  I need at least 24 inches of free and clear path space around the layout, 36 inches would be even better. once the space determination is met I build the bench work and then go from there.

As this was my first layout in 30 years and I have young kids one element that was sacrosanct was that the trains needed to go around in a contiguous loop.  Few eight year old kids and still fewer 2 year old toddlers want to watch daddy play in elaborate and boring switching yard.  So the BYLLR is basically a double dog bone (in an L formation, 8 x 4 x 10 with a 36d circle at the nexus of the two dog bones.


That Inter Mountain F7 was a shitty introduction to DCC and ebay by the way (more on that in another post).  Once I got all the physical dimensions for the bench work figured out I then returned to the more abstract planning of the genre; in my case this is a vertically integrated corporation which goes from the stump to the pulp dump.  Any legit logging operation requires at least 3 elements: a site, a sort and booming ground.  In my case I am vaguely going west coast British Columbia with river, rail and ocean conveyance of the logs to the mill.  The rail end of it will move from the sorting yard to the booming ground at the pacific ocean’s shore.  The two main influences here are my time working as a logger in the Cascades and Costals and Canfor’s now defunct Englewood logging operation.   For all you proto fanboys out there watch the video and see just how pitiful small your locos actually are compared to west coast timber.

This brings me to the third point.  Imma scale nature 1:87, not 1:100 or 1:120.  My personal take is that the trains become more interesting the smaller you make them look.

A train modeling hack: ballasting switches (turnouts aka points).

I am fairly sure someone somewhere has already thought of this because if I can think of it anyone can.  Ballasting switches is a time depleting exacting job.  Doing it once to some degree of satisfaction is enough for me…after that its just work.

Here is the hack on how to ballast a switch fully in about 10 minutes (5 minutes of which is spent waiting for the tape to recoil…Ill explain below).  Ok so I will throw up the photos and then give my observations at the end.

switch ballast A

Using standard electrical tape applied to the back of the switch.  NB the red circle.  Do not apply tape here  I do the straight leg first then tape up the turn out next.


switch ballast B

Spread the ballast generously.  On a flat surface press the ballast into the tape.  Then flip over and tap the switch gently on the tray to remove any free ballast. The end product should look like the following.

switch ballast C.jpg

WIN_20180614_23_03_04_ProZoom in to see the detail.

Some notes.  There is better tape out there in terms of stickiness, although electrical tape is not bad.  The best choice for adhesion would have been Tuck tape aka house rap tape…that stuff will glue your father in law to a bus…but its red! So common and cheap black electrical tape got the call for the job.  BUT here is the thing about electrical tape it stretches as it comes off the roll and the smaller the roll the more it stretches which is fine save for the fact it has memory, i.e., it likes to return to its mean length.  So you need to reel off a length and and wait 5 minutes until it is done shrinking back to its on the roll length and then apply the tape to the back of your switch…no cheating…5 minutes!  If you do not wait you will cry; off will come tape, perfect ballast and all.

Introducing The Bone Yard Railway

[The minister of Joy Gould’s church asked the railroad tycoon where he might invest his life savings of $30,000. Gould recommended the stock of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, and, sworn to secrecy, the minister followed his advice. When the stock’s price lost most of its value, Gould reimbursed the minister for his losses, whereupon the contrite clergyman confessed to Gould that he had passed the tip along to several other members of the congregation. Then Gould said] Oh, I assumed you would. They were the ones I was after.
Jay Gould 

Welcome to the Bone Yard Railway! I am just busy laying tracks on my first layout in 30 years.  It is a small modular layout (4 modules in total).  I notice that there have been many changes in the land of model trains.  Some of these changes I find genial, some less so. Anyway more on that in future posts.  For now I will just say that I am generally happy to be finally laying down track again. The title of this blog draws inspiration for spending many years as a logger and this.  More to come.