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  October 22 Update

Below are pictures of the construction progress for your enjoyment. Click on the thumbnails to open larger, full screen size, pictures. (Suggestion: "right click" to open the image in a new window so that you can easily toggle between it and the discription).

It's been several weeks since the last update. Although progress has been slowed due to family matters, some progress has been made. This update covers the painting of the backdrop - no small task, especially since three coats of paint were necessary.

Also covered in this update is the rebirth of the Redding area. Permanent track is being installed at this time, with about 90% of the rails done. Turnouts are next, with thirty-two scheduled to be installed in the next couple of weeks. This will create a mainline, a passing siding, a separate industry siding, a double-ended five-track classification yard with leads at both ends, nine industry tracks, an interchange track, and a helper storage track.

Before painting approximately 260 linear feet of backdrop a sky blue color, the backdrop sheets (twenty eight sections of 1/8" untempered hardboard) had to be attached, the ends of the sheets joined securly with a strong splice board glued behind the joints, the seams taped and covered with pre-mixed joint compound, the seams sanded smooth, and the surface cleaned of plaster dust.

Then the layout had to be covered up to protect the lower level. This took many sections of drop cloth, some of which were sections of the plastic picnic-table fabric that had been used as the temporary backdrop surface.

The images below from left to right are: the Chico Tower area; the Orchard Yard and the engine service area aisle; another view of the same aisle; the town of Sambone; and the town of Los Molinos:


Painting begins. The primer coat is being applied by Mike Birmingham and Ron Orlando. This proved a bit tricky since the surface of the backdrop was untempered hardboard, a relatively smooth, and slick, surface. We found that the paint roller would sometimes slide on the surface, creating streaks instead of covering evenly, so we had to take extra effort to maintain an even coverage. Before painting began, however, we wiped every inch of the packdrop down with tack cloths to remove any dust created during sanding of the joint compound patching done to all joints and screw holes. This was an incredibly dusty and messy job. Fortunately, the use of an newly purchased orbital sander used with the shop vac attachment resulted in the capture of 95% of the dust, making a significantly smaller mess.

We made use of the Wagner Power Roller that was purchased to paint the train room addition when it was constructed in 1994. Although it sat under the layout collecting dust for eight years, it performed admirably for this large task. After figuring out that the primer paint was too thick right out of the can and needed a bit of thinning, we were able to paint almost 1,000sq ft of surface without stopping once to reload the roller after we started painting. With three of us trading off the rolling of the paint, we were able to make steady progress with minimal discomfort to any of us. After four hours of continuous painting we had the first coat done. With this coat, and the two followup coats of sky blue paint, that old Power Roller served us well indeed.


The primer coat has been completed. Due to the thinning of the paint so it could be used with the Power Roller, this primer coat looks thin after applied. However, it covered sufficiently and should be fine.

From top to bottom:

  • The Redding area
  • Two views of the yard aisle
  • The Sambone aisle
  • The Los Molinos/Red Bluff aisle
  • The future site of Draemer Crushed Rock and Cut Stone Co.
  • And the town of Raymond (this is the last town and siding as part of this construction activity).

Here are a couple of hard working guys. Check out the look of determination on Mike's face! While Mike focuses all of his concentration to the task of painting, Ron is holding up the hose through which the paint flows from the pump to the roller. Holding the hose off the benchwork makes the work easier for the guy doing the rolling since he doesn't have to deal with the entire weight of the paint-filled hose. The boys are just about at the half way point of the approximately 260ft length of backdrop that needed painting.

We had planned to apply the sky-blue paint a couple of days after the primer coat had dried. Unfortunately, I was called away due to a family emergency and it was two weeks before we were able to start applying the blue color to the backdrop. The color is custom mixed, and is intended to represent blue sky. Ron, Mike, Geoff Goble and I again took turns with the power roller. Here Ron is applying the blue over the primer. He's painting at the edge of the future location of the Draemer Crushed & Cut Stone plant which will fill up this entire area nearly to the ceiling. The proposed structures are based on the large Canada Crushed and Cut Stone Company complex at Dundas, Ontario, Canada on the Canadian National's mainline along Lake Ontario.

Although the coat of blue paint looked like it had gone on evenly, when it dried there were many areas where the white primer coat underneath shown through. We think the paint may have shrunk as it dried. This resulted in an unsatisfactory blue surface. That required us getting together a few days later to paint a second coat of the blue. Here is Mike, again with that look of focused determination - or it that "determined focus"? - handling the roller, with Geoff holding the hose, and Ron hiding at the edge of the picture.

Immediately after the 2nd coat of blue was dry in the Redding area, track laying began there. Here the rails are being installed at the west end of Redding. Most of the rails behind the camera are in place.

Also being installed at this time is the interchange track with the Southern Pacific (curving from bottom to the right) and the spur for the scrap/recycle yard (along the edge of the layout). The track entering at the bottom of the photo is the Southern Pacific mainline. A siding track to the left of these ties still needs its ties installed. This is the Redding Junction area where the SP and the ATSF cross at grade (directly under the WP boxcar).

This is where the tracks enter the Redding depot and yard area. The darker temporary flextrack curving off to the left will be the Southern Pacific mainline as it drops down to a hidden staging yard under the Redding Junction area in the previous photo. The two tracks at the left middle of the picture heading towards the window opening will be two of the three Champion Lumber tracks in Redding (instead of the single track located here when temporary track was used). The third track from the left is the helper storage track. The fourth track is the industry siding (where the Redding Local would be staged). Next is the passing siding, then the mainline, and finally the yard lead, with the team track leading off from it. Note: the quality of this picture makes some of the tracks look "wiggly". They aren't!

Here can be seen the five track classfication yard located at Redding. It will be called "Park Yard" in honor of my neighbor Ralph Park who, shortly before he died after a lengthy battle with cancer, gave me the sheet of homasote used here. He was never able to use it for his own planned layout due to his illness. The track heading to the right will be used as a storage track for "out-of-service" rolling stock. In front of the window opening at the top of the picture is the third Champion Lumber track.

This is the west end of Redding (Park Yard). All rails have been installed except for three of the ten industry tracks. These will be completed in a couple of days. The mainline is on the left top and curves to the right. The west yard lead is on the right and also curves to the right. The yard lead is the remnant of the old mainline, part of which was covered up by Shasta Lake when it was created by the construction of the Shasta Dam in the mid 1940's. This area is now ready to have the turnouts completed. After the turnouts are completed, wiring will be done and the new, improved, permanent Redding track configuration will be open for business.

Here is a look at the main yard aisle with the blue painted backdrop. Next, we'll start installing the fascia profile and hardshell. But before the hardshell above Orchard Yard (at the left of the photo) is installed, we need to paint the scenes of Lake Shasta, a "signature" scene due to it's importance to setting the local and to assist in the transition from valley to mountain. It will be easier to paint without the hardshell in place, so we'll have to figure out a temporary covering to install during operating sessions. Negotiations are underway with a local artist to paint the scenes of Shasta Lake on the backdrop.

This is the area above Sambone. This is where Ron was painting in one of the above photos. The blue turned out nice, with a seemless backdrop affect.

Well, that's it for this update. Thanks for checking out the progress!

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