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updated: November 28, 2011

HO Scale Desert Layout Project  -  8/22
Construction and track laying has begun in February 2008. The last track was mounted on 9/29/08 (see page 4).
Currently, we talk about street construction, street bridges, RR-Xings, track ballasting and Joshua Trees.

Photos 714 - 826, starting 10/01/11 and ending 11/27/11

10/01/11 - After a rather long break of 12 months, I am finally in a position to continue on my layout.
On the left side of Percyville the two street bridges have been painted. I also built a small RR-Xing for the BNSF Service Crew, connecting their warehouse and access toward the tunnel. I built a second RR-Xing across the Werner Enterprises Terminal for Joe's old house. Afterwards, I started to put ballast on the tracks, finsihed the last section of street inside office 2. And best of all, I got my Joshua Trees (see more details below).
For the 2 street bridges I made new posts and and everything was painted gray. For the RR-Xing, I used the wooden grade crossing from Blair Line. It is the large radius with 36" (part no. 130). As the size is made for a two lane street, I cut it in half because I use it just for a single lane. Therefore, the 36" radius of the wooden parts fit quite well, even my track radius is bigger (47"). For the ramp I used cardboard, which was covered with plaster.
10/01/11 Street bridges got gray paint - 714 New RR-Xing for BNSF Service Crew  - 715
10/01/11 As usual, carboard makes the foundation - 716 Just some paint makes the difference - 717
10/01/11 Track level toward tunnel - 718 - 719
10/01/11 the bridges need markings and fences - 721 Both bridges are not glued on the posts - 720
10/01/11 - 722 Cloe up of "cardboard" crossing - 723
10/01/11 Woodland Scenics "Smooth-It" is used to cover the cardboard - 724 I made it a little bit higher to be able sanding it down to the correct level - 725
Xing is painted (bridge was removed) - 734 always be aware of the angles of a Xing (should not be steep) - 736
Bridges are back in place - 737 I am satisfied with the result - 738
This is the second RR-Xing built for Joe's old house just across the Werner Enterprises Terminal.
10/01/11 Again, I used the wooden crossing from Blair Line - 726 and cardboard is glued in place - 727
10/01/11 The drivers have to be careful when entering main street - 728 after all, Joe is having access to his old house w/o a big detour - 729
10/01/11 Over the cardboard comes plaster . .  - 730 . . which was painted desert earth color - 731
10/01/11 The ramp from mainstreet looks steep . .  - 732 . .  but no problem for Pickup trucks or Jeeps with high clearance - 733
And finally, I started to ballast the tracks. I already made 2 sections of track with ballast back in 2008: both tunnel sections, because of not getting access afterwards. You may check page 4 (photos 322 - 339) and page 5 (photos 453 - 466). I used "Purple Haze" (which is the same color, BNSF is using on Cajon Pass) from Color Canyon Materials, Arizona. Here is their web site: No question, it looks much better with ballast on the tracks. Here are a few words how I made it: I used the HO Ballast Spreader made by MLR (item # 479-5008). This little tool fits on the tracks and has holes for the ballast. Just move it slowly over track and we have the ballast between the ties. Afterwards, I was spreading ballast with a small plastic box along both sides of the tracks. With a brush, I removed ballast left on the ties. Once, it looked right, I sprayed the ballast with water (put a few drops dishwasher fluid) until it was wet. Next comes the glue. I mixed white glue (glue for wood) with water 50/50 (and again, a few drops of dishwater fluid). To apply the glue mixture I used a small plastic pipette. You can easily put drops of glue over the wet ballast without washing away the ballast. Just let it try for several hours and it will become "solid". Actually, I could not finish the whole layout with the 6,8 kg (15 lbs.) of ballast I had. I was able to apply 28 m (92 feet) of double track. The remaining 5 m (16,5 feet) will be done as soon as I get the re-ordered ballast.
So, let's take a tour of the ballasted layout !
10/11/11 without street bridges - 739 it looks really different with ballast - 740
both bridges have been installed again - 741 still plenty to do (fences, walls, street markings etc.) - 742
left side of Percyville - 743 looking toward main street of Percyville- 744
West Coast Customs and Cadillac Dealer - 745 New McDonanld's Restaurant - 746
Taco Bell Restaurant - 747 Pizza Hut Restaurant - 748
Denny's Restaurant - 749 Super 8 Motel with siding for Werner Enterprises - 750
Truck Stop Restaurant - 751 Werner Enterprises Terminal - 752
New RR-Xing - 753 Joe's old house and Werner Terminal across the tracks - 754
Right end of Percyville . .  - 755 . . with the Werner Terminal as the main attraction - 756
Werner Terminal seen from the back - 791 combined Railroad and Street bridge (lift out version) - 757
Right end of the layout - 758 the tracks are going uphill with a 1,5 % garde - 759
even the bridge is having a grade of 1,5R% - 760 this is a fold up/down bridge (lloks reat with the ballast) - 761
after the bridge, the uphill trakcs are going thru a tunnel - 762 and downhill tracks are coming thru another tunnel - 763
the downhill ramp is also 1,5 % grade - 765 it is passing in front of the stereo - 766
and over the next bridge (also fold up/down) - 767 Main1 and Main 2 are splitting to give space for the street - 768
RR-Xing and curved main lines - 769 in the distance, both track are coming together - 770
here is the next RR-Xing (looking uphill) - 771 same rr-Xing but looking downhill - 788
at the end ist the curved bridge (we have seen before) - 789 the ballast makes the scene alive - 790
we reached the top of the hill (Summit) - 772 by the way, the streets have ben painted - 773
RR-Xing on top (+ 16 cm above ground) with street bridge - 776 RR bridge above staging yard entrance (+ 16 cm) - 777
soon after the bridge, the tracks will be descending by 1,5 % - 774 looking down from Summit - 775
just before the RR-Xing, the lower main line is going uphill by 1,5 % - 778 this is actually the overfly of upper and lower level (going to Percyville) - 779
this street will go under the upper main line - 780 min. radius of inside track is 104 cm (41") and outside 110 cm (43,3") - 785
there are just 5 m left w/o ballast (area of parked trains) - 786 before I was ablet to put the ballast, I had to make the street section . . - 787
. .  between this curve and the upper curve - 781 once again, I used "Smooth-It" by Woodland Scencis - 782
we reached the tunnels, leading to the other side (office 1) - 783 This is the end of our layout tour for today - 784
In middle of November 2011, I got the re-ordered ballast from the USA to continue ballasting the remaining 5 m (16,5 feet) of double track. The first few pictures show the tracks (w/o stored trains) before putting the ballast. It is actually nothing exiting but just another step in progress. Once, this last step is done, I have no more excuses to continue with landscaping.
11/27/11 Upper level of tracks - ready for the ballast - 805 The Joshua Trees are ready (see more photos below) - 806
The distance between Main 1 and Main 2 has been widened - 807 - 808
This area will be one day famous Hill 582 of Cajon Pass - 809 Tunnel area inside Office 2 - 810
Putting ballast by hand - 811 wipe off ballast from the ties - 812
after wetting the ballast, a 50/50 mixture of white glue and . . . - 813 . . . water will be put drop by drop - 814
here we go - finished - 815 looks much better with ballast - 816
after cleaning the tracks . . . - 817 . . . a short train made a test run - 818
overview towards the tunnels - 819 we have Werner Entersprises on the road and on the tracks - 820
- 821 - 822
Werner Enterprises Diesel Loco is pulling some Werner Trailers - 823 the Loco's paint scheme is matching to the reefer trailer - 824
that's the end of the ballasted part - 825 on the other side of the tunnels is office 1 - 826
All tracks (the whole layout) is finally ballasted. Next step will be the City of Percyville. Working on main steet (incl. the ramp to the street bridge) and driveways to the different buildings at Percyville and their parking lots. In other words, plenty to do!


The Joshua Trees have arrived on the layout !
During my California trip in June 2011, I went to my Joshua Tree builder to pick up my HO scale trees. Mason Clark is the best builder of realistic Joshua Trees. No question, I am very pleased with the extraordinary look, like the real thing. The trunks are made out of a metal casting, branches are twisted and painted. The tips are the "secret" of Mason, but it gives every tree the special and realistic look - outstanding. Need Joshua's for your layout? - Go and visit the web site of Mason Clark:
The first Joshua Trees are placed on the unfinished layout - 799 In the foreground is a small tree and behind a large one - 800
Close up of large tree, seen from above - 803 The trunk's structure is like the real thing - 804
Detail of small tree w/ 3 branches - 801 Another small tree which looks different - 802
Plenty large trees are waiting to be placed on the layout - 792
Plenty small trees will be used as well and mixed with the large ones - 793
Details of small trees - 794 none looks the same - 795
Details of large trees - 797 All Joshua's made it to Switzerland - 798
One day, all these Joshua's will be planted on my layout. The best replicas of the real thing !

New 4/14/13: continued on page 9 - click here

updated: November 28, 2011

Technical Data of my Layout:
Size: 4,5 x 6,5 m (13,5 x 19,5 feet), Era: Modern, Location: Southern California in the Mojave Desert (Cajon Pass), Layout Style: unconventional, in house along the walls, 2 swing up bridges, 1 lift out bridge, double track, min. radius 104 cm (41 inch), max. grade 1,5 %, Track: Atlas flextrack code 100, Turnouts: Peco code 100, Power: conventional DC with electrical feeders every 2 m, Mainline: 32 m (96 feet), Height: 93 cm (36,5 inch)
Overview of the layout (each square is 0,5 m)


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See the track plan and the 1:10 cardboard model of this layout - click here Did you see page 22 ? - click here

Werner Enterprises HO Diorama built for the 14th Convention - click here

Did you see the Werner Ent. Truck Fleet ? - click here

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