LAYOUT PARTY 2023-2024 Sixteenth Annual International Winter Layout Party

ppuinn Dec 17, 2023

  1. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    "We know you're out there!
    Yeah, you… and you… and you with the potato chip hanging off your lip and the half-drunk beverage sitting beside you. We know you're not working on your layout as much as you hoped to."

    Rick Nicholson (Screen name: rsn48) issuing the first Layout Party invitation in Spring 2002.

    Welcome to the 2023-2024 Sixteenth Annual International Winter Layout Party!

    You may have ideas for a new project that you always wanted to try but never got around to.
    Or there is a stack of kits on your workbench you’ve been meaning to start.
    Or you have a partially completed project that has been neglected for far too long.
    Or you have an almost-finished project that just needs some final fine-tuning and attention to complete.
    Or you are already in the midst of a project and you want to participate in the Party to share your progress with everyone else.

    The purpose of the Layout Party is to offer recognition, encouragement, and support to all participants who are working on a layout project, and to provide inspiration to those following others’ progress in the thread. We hope to have a group of people who will post about the work completed on their layout at least once a week for the next 10 weeks. We will, of course, congratulate those who have worked on their layout, and encourage those who haven't.

    This year's Layout Party officially begins this weekend (Saturday, December 16, 2023), and will run for 10 weeks until Sunday, February 25, 2024.

    Guidelines for The 2023-2024 Sixteenth Annual International Winter Layout Party Thread:

    1. In your first post, please include descriptions of:
    --your layout (brief),
    --the area of your layout that you intend to work on (“before” pictures, please…if available), and
    --a description of what you hope to accomplish in the 10 weeks of the Layout Party.

    2. At least once each week, post a brief description and/or pictures of your progress--or lack of progress--so far, and what you hope to accomplish in the next week. The object of the Layout Party is to have fun, so plan accordingly: set a reasonable goal...and feel free to revise your goal upward or downward as you go along, so you are having fun instead of feeling stressed.
    A Note to New Participants: Please don't stress yourself about posting. Some people write long progress reports, some write short ones; some have lots of pics, some have 0; some post 2 or 3 times/week, some only get 2 or 3 posts for the entire Party. This is a PARTY! Have FUN.

    3. At the end of the Layout Party, post a description and/or picture(s) of your accomplishments.

    FWIW: Some observations and suggestions:

    • Life Happens. The idea here is for us to have some fun and act as an electronic support group so we can each get more done on our layouts.
    • Make a firm commitment to post at least once each week about progress on your layout project.
    • If you fall off the Layout Party Work Wagon, acknowledge it by reporting it honestly.
    • Then climb back on the Layout Party Work Wagon. Declaring exactly what you plan to work on during the next week will help you get back on the Layout Party Work Wagon.
    • When we have others coming over to see our layouts, we tend to get more done because we plan and prepare better, and then actually follow through so we have something to show our visitors and can garner some strokes for all our efforts. Posting in the Annual Layout Party works in much the same way: we plan, prepare, and follow through a little better when we know someone will be seeing our progress.
    • If you encounter difficulties on the layout project, remember that the other participants and all the TrainBoard members following the Layout Party thread can be a resource for encouragement and problem-solving.
    • If you have any problems posting pics, let us know so we can do appropriate problem-solving.

    Many participants have enjoyed this format and have commented that they accomplished more work on their layout in the short time we ran a Layout Party thread than they had in long time. In the 20+ years since Rick Nicholson set up the first Layout Party, hundreds of TrainBoard members have posted pictures, asked questions, moaned about problems, and encouraged others who were working through their own frustrations. Check out these links to our past layout parties.

    2022-20223 Fifteenth Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2021-2022 Fourteenth Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2020-2021 Thirteenth Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2019-2020 Twelfth Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2018-2019 Eleventh Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2017-2018 Tenth Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2016-2017 Ninth Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2015-2016 Eighth Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2014-2015 Seventh Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2013-2014 Sixth Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2012-2013 Fourth Annual International Winter Layout Party (Really, it was the Fifth Annual)

    2011-2012 Third Annual International Winter Layout Party (Really, it was the Fourth Annual)

    2010-2011 Third Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2009-2010 Second Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2009 - First Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2008 - Spring Layout Party
    Sixth Annual International Spring Layout Party -

    2007 - Spring Layout Party
    Fifth Annual International Spring Layout Party -

    2005 – Spring Layout Party
    Door Knocker's Delight

    2004 – Spring Layout Party

    2003 – Spring Layout Party
    From Armchair to Benchwork

    2002 – Spring Layout party
    Lonely Heart's Club Band
  2. nscalestation

    nscalestation TrainBoard Supporter

    Thank you Dave for getting this started again this year.

    I am ready to start this year's layout party. Over the course of this past year I have been working on developing operations and also dealing with some technical issues so have not made too much progress on scenery since the last layout party. So finishing more scenery is going to be the primary focus this time.

    The photo below shows the hill side that forms the east end of the layout as it currently appears. My goals for this area will be as follows:
    • Finish the road that passes through the cut in the hill.
    • Paint the sky board.
    • Fully finish the scenery on this hillside.
    • Build a propane dealer in the flat area in the foreground of the photo.
    • Work on finishing some buildings and scenes in Carlin which is to the right of this photo.


    No major travel planned this time so should be able to spend the time required to get these things done.
    pabob, BoxcabE50, gmorider and 6 others like this.
  3. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Lots of irons in the fire right now! On my own N-scale layout, I'm prepping my layout to start hosting op sessions again (Last one was Pre-COVID Fall 2019).
    Since then, I've reconfigured most of my train routes (which meant recalculating all milages, which means I now have to recreate all my time tables for 70+ trains.
    In the past few weeks, I've been revising all fascia labels that provide operators with necessary information for navigating a basement-filling 35 foot x 40 foot double-deck layout:upgrading the labels for about a third of the 125 rail-served industries on the layout and all fascia-mounted Mile Posts in all 35+ scale miles of mainline and branchlines:

    Yellow Eastern Division Mile Posts:
    In the last few days, I've replaced track labels and Ground Throw Labels in the B Yard and the Arrival-Departure Yard: My immediate (this week) Layout Party goals:
    1. The track and ground throw labels for the A Yard and Engine Facilities are printed, but still need to be glued down. After that, I'll print out and glue labels for the mainlines, sidings, and branchlines.
    2. Work out the time tables for the 26 freight trains, 4 Coal trains, and 4 Interchange Jobs that run between modeled cities and rail yards on the lower level to the large P&PU East Peoria Yard and 3 other smaller yards on the upper level.
    After these 2 goals, I'll move on to:
    3. Add into the master time table the 14 (7 inbound and 7 outbound) transfer jobs that work between the large yard and various rail yards on the upper level.
    4. Add into the master time table the 4 AM and 4 PM local turns (8), AM and PM Scrap Job (2), AM/PM Keystone Steel Mill Job (2), AM/PM ADM Transfers (2), AM/PM Cargill Transfers (2), AM/PM Corn Products Transfers (2) that all run out of the large yard on the upper deck.
    5. Add into the master time table, the Kellar Branch Turn, The Beltline Turn, and The Alley Job which begin and end on the upper level.
    6. Coordinate Inplant jobs with the master time table, the 3 AM and 2 PM InPlant Steel Mill Jobs, AM/PM InPlant IBS Scrap Yard Jobs, AM/PM InPlant Corn Products Jobs, which all begin and end on the upper level.
    pabob, Mark Ricci, BoxcabE50 and 10 others like this.
  4. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    I have friends who help me on my layout weekly, and I work on theirs weekly, too. On Ken B's HO layout, he and I are trying to animate a flagman with a LED Lantern.

    Once we get two flagmen for spots on Ken's layout, we'll try to downsize to put a small surface mount LED on the hand of a N-scale flag man for my layout.
    pabob, BoxcabE50, gmorider and 6 others like this.

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

    Winter Layout Party Time again. My big project for this winter has been underway since Thanksgiving. That is redoing most of the wiring for the layout and completely replacing the fascia on the layout. With my bad knee, this involved temporarily raising the layout so I could work on the underside without getting down on the floor. All of the wiring for the aux items has basically been redone and the track wiring is tucked away nice and neat waiting on the fascia so it can all be redone. So, this is how it looks today and where we are to kick of the party.

    The plan from here forward is to make all new fascia and relocate some of the switches and panels to the other side.
    I'll adding a few thing as well.
    • 1 analog Volt meter
    • 1 analog mAmp meter (these first two not because I need them but I have them and thing it would look good. )
    • 4 Digitrax UP7 Throttle plug panels
    • 4 Home made LocoNet cables to hook these all together
    • 3 more Throttle pockets
    • 1 more of the New Rail cup holders (If I can find one more)

    Once most of that is in place, I'll lower the layout back down to a height that is about 5 inches higher than it was before I started this.
    Projects after that include completing the fencing around two places on the layout, the touch up the scenery around them. There are a few small projects on the layout that will fit into this as well but I'll add those to the list as we go. I was warned there may be some January or February travel coming up but things are not set yet so it's possible I may lose a couple of weekends of layout time.

    Looking forward to sharing the progress with you all and see what everyone else is up to.
    pabob, Mark Ricci, BoxcabE50 and 8 others like this.
  6. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

    Once again, I have goals I want to achieve on my layout this winter. I am building a 36’ x 18’ double deck layout in HO Scale around the southern end of my Kanawha, Youngstown & Northern railroad set in the early 1970’s.

    The visible track work is about 90% complete, but I can’t see the trains very well on the upper level. Goal #1 finish the upper level layout lighting.

    Goal #2: Switch controls for all switches on the layout. Starting with the main track switches, they all need fascia-mounted ground throws installed.

    Goal #3: Benchwork over the workbench… There is a spur and a coal mine planned on the upper level over top the workbench. I still haven’t built benchwork for it. Last piece for the layout other than staging.

    Goal #4: Finish upper level backdrop and fascia installation.

    Finally, Goal #5: This one will get the layout to true operational status…Build the upper level staging between the bunker, above the electrical panel and the utility room adjacent to the layout space.

    The lighting can be knocked out quickly, and everything else is doable. However, there is some doubt I’ll get to the upper staging yard by March….we’ll see what happens.

    Unfinished lighting, fascia and backdrop on upper level.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  7. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    I'm in again. I tend to jump around a lot on projects so hard to pinpoint exactly what my goals are but I hope to finish, or at least get most of the foam board roughed in around/near the coal mine complex from one side of the layout to the other as shown below. I also need to finish a little wiring and track work in the hidden staging so I can put the upper level back on above it and can guaranteed I'll get sidetracked to another thing or two.





    Looking forward to seeing the progress for the rest of you and hope more joint in this year. Happy Holidays to everyone.

  8. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    BNSF Fan: Excellent, indeed! And Respect for that clean and well-organized work space. I can't remember my layout ever looking that good.
  9. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    BNSF Fan, Pat, and Sumner: Welcome back, guys! I expect others will be dropping in soon.
    country joe, MetraMan01 and BNSF FAN like this.
  10. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    Grey and Grandure Status and Goals as of 23.12.17z
    First View of the GandG as you Come Down the Hall
    South East corner:
    RS 1000 1a First View of Layout as you Approach 20231217_142426.jpg
    1a) Will Cover this with cardboard from shipping box
    1b) Paint it white and maybe fake boulders. Maybe put a mountain scene instead
    2a) Will paint darker and lighter 'strata' on mountain in corer
    2b) Will get a name for it.
    3) Soliciting names for large mountain in distance

    Southern Section / Grandure Yard and Black Mountain
    2 Southern and SW 20231217_142456.jpg
    1. Will turn white pasta box into Engine House with larger window - Will add detail slowly over the months.
    2. Will make 'credible' end of spur that is visible from power supply.
    3. Will replace fence on left with 'Visitors / Guest Book'. Instead of signing a book they will sign / graffiti the fence. I personally do not condone vandalism. The management of the GandG encourages personalizing this fence under supervision.
    4. Will Darken top strata on Coffee mountain and get rid of eagle

    Western / NW section 3 SW and W 20231217_143151.jpg
    1. Will put a splash of contrasting color on white 'Mystrium Silo'
    2. Will learn where each turnout lever is by feel
    3. Will begin placing 'space holders' for industries in the industrial area
    4. Will create a mnemonic to memorize where points are on these turnouts
    5. Will remove boxes from NW corner. Not sure what I wan to do there.

    Northern and North Eastern Section
    Mounster Mt rs 999 20231216_081556.jpg

    1. Will Fill Mountain with wild animal noises
    2. Will continue to use this as work bench
    3. Will design and build new bridge for interchange
    4. Will paint 'Simple Bridge'

    Other projects
    1?) Might weather and mount boxcars on foundations with step. Maybe put windows in them.
    2?) Might modify a hopper car to be used as 'sand' car on stilts.
    3? Might make a 'coupler transition' / transfer caboose from cheap caboose bought at Greenbur's show.

    Edit: Reduced Size of images.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2023
  11. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

    My goal in 10 weeks is simple. Assemble and paint these with my new compressor airbrush and regular brush. I've had them for over 6 month's, not sure I can do it 10 weeks :) If not, God help me :)

    BTW, digging the NEW Yellow ( funny I chose yellow color for the word and you can't read it ) label, makes it stand out. Wonder who suggested :) toot toot, my horn!

  12. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Grey One: Welcome to the Party!

    Having visitors sign in on the fence with graffiti is a wonderful idea! Will the owners of the paint store on the other side of the wall be Clemens and Sawyer?

    Lost Eagle honor of the eagle being removed from a nearby hilltop?
    No-wee-gul Mountain...named after the Indian tribe that once thrived on the slopes of the mountain?
    Whair-dit-go Mountain...because inquiring minds want to know where the eagle went.
  13. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    in2tech: Nice to have you back, again! We'll definitely keep using the Layout Party label to draw attention to the thread.
  14. nscalestation

    nscalestation TrainBoard Supporter

    Following up on my introductory post yesterday I now have an updated layout track plan showing the areas I will be working on pointed out with the green arrows.

    Mark Ricci, BoxcabE50, ppuinn and 6 others like this.
  15. MetraMan01

    MetraMan01 TrainBoard Member

    Very excited to join the layout party this year. I moved back to the US from Japan this last summer and bought a house with a basement. Only minimal progress since this fall:


    I’ve posted on my layout thread WC Waukesha Sub when I was in Japan and had a 2x5’ tabletop and a small shelf for switching above it. I’ve put a couple of posts since I moved, but this will be an n scale layout, freelanced/inspired by some scenes along the old WC in northern Illinois and Metra in Chicago suburbs. Space currently available is about 8’ by 20’. Track plan needs more work, but Metra will be point to point and freight will have some opportunities for switching and a sneak off for a continuous run.

    I’ve got 2x HCD (24x80) mounted in the corner of the room.

    The #1 goal for the next party is to get a 4’x15’(approx) peninsula built extending from the left hand side of the photo above toward the viewer/my location when I took the photo. When complete I should be able to have 30” aisles giving my access to everything-2’ reach.

    This week I need to finish the track plan-which will drive the actual/final dimensions of the pen and help me write my shopping list.

    I’m taking some vacation after Xmas, so I think I can get through construction and foamboard during the party. Wish me luck!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  16. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Hey, Brad! Welcome to the Party! You must have snuck in yesterday in stealth mode, because I didn't see your first post until you referred to it in your second.
    Nice looking Track Plan.
  17. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Welcome to the Party, MetraMan01!
    I live in and model Central Illinois, just a few hours south of the area you are modeling...and will be looking forward to seeing similarities and differences in our layouts.
    BNSF FAN, country joe and MetraMan01 like this.
  18. Philip H

    Philip H TrainBoard Member

    Time to jump back in, if only so I can remind the domestic COO that I have model train obligations. As for my list:
    • Backdrop - I discovered some cloud on blue pattern paper for classroom bulletin boards a couple of years ago. The paper is four feet tall, but the roll is thick enough to cut to 1 foot heights with my chop saw. So now I have three 12 inch by 8 foot lengths of paper backdrop I need to install on something to mount to the wall behind the layout. Since I am mostly scenery free at the moment I think this is the time.
    • Industries - I need to finish track laying and wiring for my Wizard in The Woods locomotive rebuilder industry. The idea is that one of the tracks out of the back of the building (Which I got from a remarkable friend and mentor a couple of years ago) will be wired as my programming track, and the remaining track will give me a place to host all the locomotive projects I have queued up. Once the building and the track are in place, I will need to populate the area with oak trees mixed with Longleaf pines to get the "Woods" taken care of.
    • I'm not happy with my current workbench or storage situation in my long and skinny layout space. SO my plan is take a couple hollow core doors and do a new workbench on the remaining long wall where the last layout benchwork segment goes. The idea is to have an HCD for that layout surface with legs and then have the workbench underneath but in the same foot print.
    We shall see how all this comes together. The good news is with the younger three kids off school for Winter Break I have way fewer evening activities to go running around to. I do have to help my cousin move to town from norther Mississippi (He has some physical disabilities) and getting him set up and settled will take some free time. And there's gumbo to make and football to watch . . .
  19. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Grey One: Would it be possible to run a mechanical linkage from each turnout to the edge of the layout in such a way that, when the turnout is closed, a 1/8" square rod about 1 inch long would align parallel with the edge of the layout, and when the turnout was thrown toward the diverging route, the square rod would align perpendicular to the edge of the layout? With this physical representation how the turnout points are oriented, a quick touch of the rod at the edge of the layout would provide a tactile indication of the current switch status without having to remember or reach into the layout to confirm.
  20. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Thanks for joining us again this year, Phillip H.!

    "...paper backdrop I need to install on something to mount to the wall behind the layout." Depending on finances, how permanent this backdrop will be, its final weight, and the way you want to mount the backdrop (to 2x2 legs next to but not attached to the wall; or with screws directly into studs in the wall; or from multiple picture hooks/nails), 1/4" or 1/8" hardboard (Masonite), particle board, or underlayment might work.

    For what it's worth, in the 1980s, I glued commercial photo backdrops to 30" wide 1/4" foamboard for some lightweight backdrops that had to be hung from picture hooks/nails to minimize damage to the walls of my rented apartment.

    At one point in my enthusiastic but short-sighted youth, I tried to glue pictures to the smooth back of some scrap vinyl flooring, but that DID NOT WORK WELL, because the vinyl sagged/curled between supports.

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