Mine-Town Modules - Planning Stage




HOMEIn August of 2006 planning started for the successor to my wagon diorama. The diorama was built on pink foam and though I was happy with the diorama I was not too happy with the track work on foam. I started thinking about another diorama built in a more traditional way using plywood as a sub-roadbed with Homasote on top of that. I had seen a commercially available bench work product from Mianne Benchwork at a train show and filed the info for future use. The new modules plan seemed like a good opportunity to give it a try. The price for one 2 foot by 4 foot table was around $100. I compared the price to the cost of planning, purchasing lumber and the labor to build tables and decided it was a bargain! Though their product is not set up for portable layouts a phone call to them got me two tables with legs cut and quick disconnect fasteners installed. The tables assemble with turn lock fasteners and in an hour or so I had two tables ready to go. I also decided on the commercially available Homabed roadbed product to save the hassle making my own.

I removed the structures and trees from the original diorama and tossed the rest. Initial planning started by cutting some 1/4 foamcore to the tabletop sizes and sketching in some rough track and structure locations. I had my original structures as well as some additional laser and craftsman kits in my "round tuit" closet. I had a finished ore bin built some time back and this got me focused on a mining theme. I had a mine building kit and had been buying bits and pieces of detail for a mine scene so this was the direction I took. I wanted to have structures to play around with during planning but rather than building them I scanned the laser cut building sides, printed them out and pasted them to foamcore. Walls were cut out and assembled with hot melt glue. When trying to plan a layout with structures this is a great way to have the actual building sizes available. Even though On30 has smaller rolling stock, the buildings are still 1/4" to the foot and take up a lot of room!

The mine building and ore bin were pretty much set and I was going to have them on one module and the town on the other. Of course the mine needed to be higher than the ore bin to be able to run ore car tracks out to the bin so a height difference was needed between the mine building and the top of the bin. I also wanted some interest in the track work so I decided the siding to the bin would also be elevated. Planning started with the town side as this would be on the flat. I juggled the buildings around until I got an arrangement I liked then sketched in Main St. A fellow railroader suggested running the track across the module to add interest and by doing this there was room to add a station and existing water tank on the other side of the tracks. A siding at the end of the module was added for an existing freight house right near the station. I decided on a hotel across from the station and wanted it on a corner so a side street was added. This turned out to be a good idea and the side street became Main St. entering the town from one side. The direct line of Main St. heads up toward the mine and will probably be called Mine Rd. (Pretty clever eh?)

Some Peco flex track and turnouts were used to plan the track work but I planned to try hand laying when the time came. Once I was satisfied with the track and structure layout I started thinking about getting the mine elevation needed and how I would run a road up to it! I also though a water feature would be nice for the track to cross. Adding 1x3 pine framework on top of the bench work provided for this option. Next step...the frame work.