Sunday, December 15, 2013

Constructing Santa Rosalia – structure

In the first two posts on this topic, I described construction and tracklaying for the staging tracks which are located beneath Santa Rosalia, and which therefore had to be completed before starting on the arrangement for the town itself. Those posts are at these two links: the first one about construction, ; and the second one describing installation of the track, ).
     The third post showed my switch machines in hidden trackage, using twin-coil switch machines, powered by a capacitor-discharge unit. That post is at: .
     I was now ready to proceed with the support structure for the town. Using the existing track supports (see the first post cited above), I added risers high enough for the support level of Santa Rosalia. This is essentially the same level as the adjoining Ballard track board. I made these using chunks of surplus L-girder, which provides more support surface for the new track board, and lengths of 1 x 3-inch wood.

     With these supports made, I clamped them at approximately the right height, preparatory to placing the track board over them to check height and level. Each support riser could then be adjusted to correctly support the track board. The risers must of course clear the staging track below. Here are three of them, B, C and D (the fourth one, A, is behind the camera). At left rear is the Ballard track board

     I used 5/8-inch plywood for the new track board, though 3/4-inch would have been fine too. I have supports fairly closely spaced, so the 5/8-inch will be plenty stiff enough. Much of my layout in Pittsburgh was 1/2-inch plywood, which is fine if supported at frequent intervals, say 14 to 18 inches. When supports have to be much farther apart than that, I believe 3/4-inch plywood is necessary. Santa Rosalia is an intermediate case.
     Here is the track board, temporarily in place to be tested for level, both crosswise and lengthwise. It is 7 feet long and 18 inches wide. I have a piece of Homasote already cut to match, which will be glued on top.

     With this board ready to go, I also tried the fit of my piece of Homasote. It looked good and was at the right height and level.

     While I was working on the track board, I also repaired some minor water damage in my ceiling. I only mention it because I used a model railroading solution. Part of a decorative trim had fallen out, as you can see here, when a water leak (since repaired) caused the ceiling plaster to swell. The smoke detector provides the scale.

I simply used Sculptamold paper mache, generously applied to the approximately mating surfaces, to “cement” the missing pieces back into place. It is very sticky stuff when mixed to a fairly stiff condition, and dries hard. I really tried it as an experiment, but it worked fine.

     The support structure for Santa Rosalia is now complete, though it needs some trimming for a pop-up access at the end toward Ballard. Next comes the backdrop transition, curved from Ballard onto the wall behind Santa Rosalia, and I will take that up in the next post in this series.
Tony Thompson

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