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plans was in fact terrible. Trying to ac- tually make the cut out, full size plans fit the space and stay in place was im- possible. Casting about for a new way, we realized that our CAD design pro- gram, 3dplanit®, would allow us to lo- cate the ends of straight track sections by referencing the walls of the room. In addition, we could determine the eleva- tion of both ends of the straight track, working from the top of the modules as a base or benchmark. We measured from the walls to locate

Place two screws (left) on either side of the centerline. Once the center spline is in the place, it is lifted up and a dab of hot glue is dropped into place and the spline is pushed into it to hold it in place. The center spline (right) is spliced to allow for a longer piece. The thicker area is where the center spline has strips added to create a straight piece.

evolving design much better. The design process lasted over a

year. When it came time for construc- tion to start, our first step was the “easy” flat area that became Loleta. That part of the layout was made with poly-iso roofing insulation. (See the March, 2011, RMC.) The main line was to take a route from the south end of town, and we talked about various ways to construct the roadbed. Plywood and Homasote® done cookie-cutter style was the more traditional meth- ods, of course. Cutting the poly-iso foam to fit was another. Ryan suggested that we try some-

thing he had seen in the Layout Design SIG site under construction methods, spline sub-roadbed made from hard- board. This single paragraph led to the method we use to build the mainline portions of our railroad. (See the

NMRA Design Special Interest Group website.) It was most interesting. Hardboard could be cut into one inch strips and hot glued together. The au- thors used ¹/₄″ wide material, but with the 28 inch (or less) radius curves on our plan we decided to try ¹/₈″ material for additional flexibility. This system has worked out beautifully with adap- tations for our needs. We had full size, one-to-one plans printed at a local engineering firm. We headed for the basement after having built three 96″×30″ modules, planning ahead for the dreaded “moving of the railroad” if it ever had to happen. Once the modules were in place, we started to put cross pieces every two feet, like we had under the poly-iso foam for the town of Loleta. We soon discovered that the seem- ingly excellent idea of the full-size

the ends of each straight section, then we placed cross pieces only where they were required. Uprights were cut and screwed to the cross pieces at the loca- tions we had determined and at the cor- rect height. The location of the end of each straight section was then marked on each upright. We purchased three sheets of four by

eight ¹/₈″ hardboard. To be usable, the material had to be cut into strips, no mean feat if you do not have the tech- nique worked out, as we soon discov- ered. I have an inexpensive 10-inch bench saw that has seen a ton of use. With a fresh blade, we commenced cut- ting on the first sheet. Within minutes, everything in the garage got coated with very fine sawdust. After that, all strip cutting took place outdoors. Eventually we had two nice piles, one of dust and the other of one-inch by eight- foot strips. Into the basement we went with our arms full. Next, came the actual placement and securing of the central spline. As men- tioned in the NMRA article, two-inch screws were placed into the uprights on either side of the line. The spline could then move back and forth over the up- right, but remain in place over the mark. We figured 24 feet of spline would be needed for the initial piece of mainline. A six-inch piece of spline ma- terial was hot glued across the ends to form a lap joint, resulting in a 24-foot continuous piece. The only problem was that there

were no straight lines anywhere. The spline just curved from one upright to the next, looking more like the results of a science experiment about wave the- ory than a railroad. Our initial attempts to fix the prob-

Excess glue must be removed prior to adding more strips. The screw had previously been taken out from one side; here, a steak knife is used to cut the glue away from the spline.


lem would probably have made a great You-Tube® comedy upload. We tried to make the center spline straight where it needed to be straight by pulling it tight like a piece of string. One screw was removed from the near side of each upright and the spline was flexed into position. While one of us tried to hold the center spline in place, the other was hot gluing it to the uprights. Alas, it would not cooperate. Next, we tried hot gluing another eight foot strip to the


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