I never actually named my pike in Georgetown that was born in 2003 when i was living at home following the completion of my university degree in December 2002, starting work in February 2003, and finally making the leap to moving into Toronto in May 2005. But it lived a good life, right up until September 2015 when a crew of friends helped me to tear it down in advance of my parents moving out of their house. I don’t have any early pictures of the layout under construction that i could find, but i do have shots of it at the end.
Georgetown Basement Shelf, Right before the end in September 2015
The layout was my first attempt at something other than a 4×8 loop of track. I managed to convince my parents to let me build a 2′ wide by give or take 12′ long shelf along the wall of what at the time was our basement family room, and build a layout on it. Being perfectly honest, I made lots of mistakes in the design, and plenty in the execution as well, but i also learned a lot from it. It had no capacity for off-scene staging, everything was sceniced, and i tried to squeeze in everything i had always wanted in my layout growing up, a roundhouse, car shop, passenger station, city streets, industries, you name it, it was probably squeezed in. The track plan below shows the layout generally, thick lines are powered, thin lines are unconnected display tracks.
Schematic of the track layout above, as you can see, lots of strange switchbacks to get to the industries along the top, clearly designed by someone who at the time had no clue about designing for operations!
Not all of this was bad though, it eventually gave me the opportunity to focus on buildings and adding lots of detail to them, for example, the City Classics West End Market on the main street that i spent months building an interior and lighting for. This was a chance to work on something I’d never done before, interior details on a structure, and lighting. It’s not perfect, but its something that could rightly have a more prominent placement on a future layout, rather than being buried behind a siding that didn’t connect to anything hidden behind passenger cars!
Interior Details added to a City Classics West End Market Kit
Growing up i spent a lot of time building plastic model kits. Cars, planes, spaceships, boats, you name it, i built them. I’ve gotten rid of most of them save a few really well built ones (turns out they take up a lot of space, and don’t necessarily survive multiple house moves well!), but i learned a lot about painting and assembling kits, that has translated well into kit building, kit-bashing and now scratch-building and 3D printing model railroad structures. Easily the most successful part of the layout was the structures. Building and detailing buildings is something i have definitely got, and very much enjoy doing. Probably explained at least in part as to why i went into Urban Planning as a profession.
As i don’t presently have a layout, and this was my first serious layout, about 95% of the track i’ve ever laid and ballasted was on it. I learned quickly that i had no clue what i was doing when i started ballasting the track, but i learned, and by the end, i was getting pretty respectable at getting a good profile, understanding wetting it down and getting glue to actually run into the ballast, rather than forming a shell over top of it. I’d say about 1/2 the running problems on the layout were ballast/tracklaying related, and the other half was electrical.
I also learned, that i was a lousy electrician too, my wiring was substandard (using 1980’s vintage life-like train set transformers for power wasn’t helping either), but again, it was something i was able to work on over the years and improve. I never got it to be as electrically reliable for operating as i would have liked, but some of that is the blame of the wiring, and some of it the quality (or lack thereof) in the laying of the track work. Whenever i do build something for operations, this is still an area I’m going to have to work on, but at least i know that i need work on my tracklaying! I never really spent any time testing the trackwork before i ballasted and moved on. It never occurred to me 15 years ago that i would need to spend a lot of time testing with different equipment to see if cars stayed on the rails or had power to run!!
Still, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and with my parents looking to downsize, i took the opportunity in September 2015 to tear down and pack in an organized manner, rather than in a mad rush. Thanks to six friends, we made short work of taking down the layout and safely packing away everything worth saving. It’s all now safely stored in the storage locker at my apartment, waiting on it’s chance to come back out and find a home on a new layout. Some of it will probably eventually be sold on as what layout i build is defined, but for now, its all packed away waiting.
Teardown Day in September 2015, its good to have friends to help with this part of the hobby, as its kinda sad to tear down what you’ve built on your own.
So, that’s a summary of the first “real” layout i built, 13 years of on and off puttering when i was at my parents packed into six big totes, but lots of opportunities in the future for new layouts and projects, not sure when I’ll get to layout or module building, but it’s on the agenda.