The First Build Session

Today, a crew of 5 employees, accompanied by local officials, successfully surveyed and acquired the rights to over one mile of right-of-way, destined to become the first mile for the newly created CenterTrak railroad. Plans for a small yard, industrial area, and a large fruit handling warehouse were discussed and construction of the mainline should begin shortly.

Back to Reality – The First Steps

The first build session for our group occurred today, Saturday, February 12th, 2011. Randy Page graciously opened his garage for a days worth of hard labor resulting in 13 new 6 foot long single track modules. That makes 78 linear feet of mainline, or 6,793.8 scale feet – over a mile of track. In attendance were Bob Brant, Dave Burman, Ron Copher, Shane Lambert, and Dr. David Webb.

Construction commenced with the ripping of 3/4 inch Baltic Birch plywood into 6 inch strips to be used for the end plates of the modules. Then, a sheet of 1/2″ sheet was ripped  to 5 1/2″ widths to create modules for Bob Brant and Shane Lambert, who will use 1/2″ plywood for tops. Finally, two sheets of 1/2″ were ripped to 5 1/4″ widths for modules for Dave Burman, Ron Copher, and Drake Hokanson (who could not attend today). These modules will be topped with 1/4″ plywood then 1/4″ homasote.

Modules frames were glued and nailed with an air nailer to speed assembly. Two assembly bays (folding tables) allowed one crew to glue and nail while another was setting up another module. This assembly took less than three hours and resulted in 13 new modules. All modules were built 23 3/4 inches wide leaving room for 1/8″ fascia material to be added on each side to make the modules 24 inches wide and provide a clean appearance to the viewing audience.

The group then decided we had time to add the plywood tops as well, so Randy and Dave Burman headed off to Menards while the rest remained in the garage adding plywood cleats on the end plates to support the plywood tops. The decision to make the modules 23 3/4″ wide allowed on sheet of plywood to cover two modules, with only a small amount left over for other projects. Ripping this plywood took less than an hour and all of the modules were covered before 6:00 p.m.

After years of planning, CenterTrak is finally off to a great start. Another build session is going to be planned for sometime in March to build several 45 degree curves to allow our 6,793 feet of mainline to curve around and fit into just about any space. It was discussed and agreed that each member should build two 45 degree modules so that there will always be enough for any setup.

For the record, each module cost about $31 to build. Not bad considering the use of very expensive Baltic Birch plywood. Working together all of the boxes were constructed from one sheet of 3/4″ and 3 sheets of 1/2″ plywood, and 9 sheets of less expensive plywood were used to cover the boxes. These modules still need legs, wiring, and of course track, buildings, and scenery, but we are now one major step closer to our first operating setup.

Good work guys – when do we do it again?

See our work and progress

3 thoughts on “The First Build Session

  1. Tony

    Very nice flow of work but this photo worried me somewhat
    Three hands that close to the blade and someone else pulling the wood through, a little thought on OHAS would be nice. The last guy should at least have a piece of scrap to push with and if you want to hold the timber down then clamp a piece of wood to the guide. It is a bit hard to run trains with no fingers.


  2. GrandSlambert Post author

    @Tony – thank you for your concern, it was shortly after this photo was taken that a block of wood was used. We are 6 inches wide going through, and Bob was more worried about holding it against the fence to make straight cuts. But you are right, future build sessions will not be quite this “cutting edge”. 🙂

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