Timothy J. Horton


The first track to be positioned outside the helix was for the East Pine River bridge. A temporary span was created in order to avoid damage to the final 3D model during layout construction, and this was used to determine the alignment for the span, which would in turn the alignment of the approaches.

Three lengths of flex track were used to cross the span, and these were glued down onto the bridge.

This photograph of the connection from the helix to the bridge illustrates my selected method of sub-roadbed construction. Strips of 1/8" balsa wood were glued together to form the desired radius with easements, and the top surface was then sanded down in preparation for the roadbed and track. For this section, feeder wires were brought up from the bus wires below for connection to the track.

Here is the same section of right-of-way with the Woodland Scenics Foam Trackbed laid on top of the balsa sub-roadbed. The foam trackbed is laid in two halves and is glued down with Woodland Scenics Foam Tack Glue.

The balsa sub-roadbed elevates the right-of-way above the benchwork surface to allow for the creation of drainage ditches alongside the track.

This is the same section of right-of-way prior to tracklaying, with the super-elevation added underneath the outside rail of the curve. The super-elevation was created by laminating thin strips of masking tape on top of each other. At each end of the super-elevation, the layers are stepped in one-inch increments.

The masking tape super-elevation held its place and curvature after installation on the trackbed, and was not disturbed when gluing the track down on top.

This photograph taken from inside the helix shows the laying of sub-roadbed in progress on the upper deck in 2010. At the bottom right is the foam trackbed extending from the top of the helix. The sub-roadbed extends through Tremblay.

The advantage of the balsa sub-roadbed is that it can easily be sanded when needed, as with the ramp down toward the helix in the foreground.

This photograph from the same location shows the foam trackbed laid onto the upper deck and into Tremblay.

I found that the foam trackbed was too wide for N Scale, and elected to narrow each strip by removing approximately 1/4" from each half. This was accomplished by placing a quilting ruler on top of the foam trackbed and cutting off the excess with a sharp hobby knife.

Here we see the roadbed and foam trackbed in place for the main line, turnouts and siding at Tremblay. The sub-roadbed for the siding was made from 1/16" balsa so that the siding track would be slightly lower than the adjacent main track as per the prototype.

A small base of sub-roadbed and trackbed has been created for the head block ties at each turnout, which in turn will support a switch stand.

After extending the sub-roadbed and roadbed around the curve from Tremblay to Kiskatinaw, I installed a temporary wood span for the Kiskatinaw River bridge. A single length of flex track was just long enough to cross the span. The alignment of the span was optimized for future photography on the layout.

Following installation of the bridge, the sub-roadbed and trackbed were extended toward the yard limit at Dawson Creek.

In 2016 I laid the tracks for Septimus along the west wall. This section of track will represent the main line north from Chetwynd and will serve as a north staging yard. It will eventually be hidden behind a scenic ridge.

After seeing several friends do well with Atlas Code 55 flex track and turnouts, I selected these products for my main line. The sub-roadbed and trackbed for Sundance isi n the foreground, and leads to the yard limit at Chetwynd.

This is another view of the tracks at Septimus, looking south. (The previous view was looking north.) The mainline beyond will curve towards a connection with the yard at Chetwynd.

The sub-roadbed and trackbed for Sundance are in the foreground and also extend toward a future connection with Chetwynd Yard. As with the tracks at Tremblay, the sub-roadbed for the siding was made 1/16" lower, and transition ramps were sanded down at each end.

Following completion of the tracklaying and wiring at Septimus, the connection from the helix to the Pine River bridge was laid. The Atlas Code 55 track mates with the Peco Code 55 used in the helix without any issues.

The flex track on the temporary span for the Pine River is Micro Engineering Code 40, and will be replaced with Code 55 bridge flex track on the final model of the bridge.

This is the connection at the other end of the bridge, with a short piece of flex track leading from the bridge to a joint in the benchwork. At each benchwork joint I also made a joint in the track and connected the two sections with half length rail joiners, so that the layout can be dismantled without cutting the track.

The Pine River bridge also has half length rail joiners at each end so that they can be slid back for easy removal of the bridge. The bridge was removed during electrical work underneath the benchwork above.

The Highway 97 overpass is a ballasted deck concrete bridge with a recess on top for the trackbed.

There is a fair amount of construction work to be done underneath the bridge including creation of the highway and surrounding scenery, which means that the bridge needs to be removable. The section of flex track through this section was therefore not glued down and is currently held in place by the feeder wires and the rail joiners at each end.

This photograph shows the completion of tracklaying from the Highway 97 overpass to the east switch at Sundance. It offers a better view of the small platforms for the head block ties and switch stand at the turnouts.

The north end of Septimus is in the background, with the main line continuing north along the backdrop. This will serve as a runaround pocket for locomotives engaged in set-outs and pick-ups at Septimus. This will eventually be hidden by scenery.

Here we see the main line and siding tracks at Sundance after completion. We are looking north. The difference in elevation between the main line and siding tracks is subtle but noticeable.

This photograph shows how the head block ties of the turnout extend out onto the small platforms I have created for them.

The main track and siding tracks for Septimus are in the background.

This is another view of Sundance and Septimus, this time looking south toward Chetwynd. There is approximately five inches between these two locations in which to install a scenic ridge to partially hide the trackage at Septimus.

The track beyond the south switch at Septimus has not been laid permanently as I have yet to locate the alignment of the curve into the yard at Chetwynd. The paper signs on the fascia are control panel mock-ups.

With tracklaying on the lower deck now complete as far as the yard limit for Chetwynd, my attention turned to the upper deck.

This photograph shows the connection from the upper end of the helix to the west switch at Tremblay. The Atlas Code 55 track mates with the Peco Code 55 track at the insulated rail joiners, which separate power districts. This will be the first visible trackage as trains reach the upper deck.

This view is looking east through Tremblay, with the main line, turnouts and siding track all in place. The siding track is 1/16" lower than the adjacent main track. The siding will serve the Alberta Wheat Pool elevator here, which was the only online industry along the Dawson Creek Subdivision.

On the lower deck we can see the tracks extending across the temporary Pine River bridge and around to the highway overpass. The ALCO C-425 is on the main line leading into Septimus.

Here we see the main track extending east from the east switch at Tremblay toward another joint between power districts.

The layout is divided into eight separate power districts, each protected by a PSX circuit breaker. These districts must be isolated electrically from each other, hence the insulated rail joiners at the end of track. The design of the plastic rail joiners ensures that there will always be a gap between the two sets of rails.

From the joint between power districts, the tracks curve around to the left toward the Kiskatinaw River bridge. This is in fact the longest visible continuous curve on the layout.

A portion of this curve will be hidden behind scenery in order to create a visual separation between the scene at Tremblay and the scene at Kiskatinaw River. On a small layout such as this, visual separations help to create the illusion that the trains are going somewhere.

This overhead view shows the temporary span for the Kiskatinaw River bridge in place with connections made at either end.

The temporary span currently has Micro Engineering Code 40 track, but this will be replaced with Code 55 bridge flex track at some point.

This span is also equipped with half length rail joiners at each end, and feeder wires leading down to terminal blocks, so that it can easily be removed when needed.

This photograph shows the track leading from the east end of the Kiskatinaw River bridge to the yard limit at Dawson Creek. At that point the tracks will curve to the left into the yard there.

On the lower deck we can see the main line extending from the west switch at Sundance to the yard limit at Chetwynd.

This completed tracklaying for the main line, leaving only the yards at Chetwynd and Dawson Creek.

I selected the Micro Engineering Code 55 bridge flex track for my bridges, which features a closer tie spacing more appropriate for bridges, guard timbers for the edges, and Code 40 guard rails.

I located the guard rails closer together toward the centres of the ties to match the spacing I have seen in reference photographs. In this photograph we see the three sections for the Pine River bridge during assembly. The track has yet to be painted and weathered.

During 2017 I focused on tracklaying, wiring and turnout control for the yard at Dawson Creek.

The first step was to lay the approach curve from the end of the Kiskatinaw power district up to the first turnout for the yard at Dawson Creek, which was pinned in place. This section of track follows an 18" radius curve past the site of the Northwest Wood Preservers mill and across 221 Road.

It connects with the first turnout for the yard, which serves as the lead into the Northwest Wood Preservers mill.

The first stage in laying track for Dawson Creek yard was to install the switches and spurs for the Northwest Wood Preservers mill at the west end of town.

From left to right, the tracks include a chip loading track, a lumber loading track, and a tie spur.

The chip and lumber tracks are pinned down for now as they will likely have to be removed for painting and weathering at a later date. The turnouts and the tie spur have been glued down with feeders attached.

The second stage in laying track at Dawson Creek was to install the west half of the yard track, including the main track, sidings 1, 3 and 3, the runaround track, and the elevator lead track. I also installed the tracks to the Alberta Wheat pool and to the trailer ramp at this time.

The yard tracks were terminated at the joint between benchwork sections where they will mate with the east half of the tracks. This is to avoid cutting any track should the layout need to be dismantled.

The third stage in laying track at Dawson Creek yard was to install the east half of the yard tracks.

In this photograph from left to right we see the main track, sidings 1, 2 and 3, the runaround track, and the elevator lead which serves the Cargill Ltd. and Foster Seed & Feed elevators. These are joined with the west half of the tracks seen in the previous picture.

On the far left we can see the spur track serving Peace River Lime, which received slab side hopper cars in cement service.

This is another view of the east half of the yard tracks a little further along near the Cargill Ltd. grain elevator.

In the distance we can see the spur track leading to B.C. Hydro on the left, and the shed and station tracks which were installed at this time.

This photograph offers a closer view of the station area with the crossover from the main track to the station track, and the two tracks serving the freight shed.

The main track continues on toward the interchange with Northern Alberta Railways, and the station track extends to serve the Scott national warehouse.

In late 2017 work began to lay track for Chetwynd Yard. The first step was to extend the main line from Septimus (seen at right) and the branch line from Dawson Creek (see at left) to a connection with the first turnouts in the yard.

At this point I also made a change from foam trackbed to cork roadbed. There was a larger area to cover in Chetwynd Yard and I was offered some 24" x 36" sheets. I also wanted to gain some experience with cork as a comparison with the foam trackbed.

This view is looking south through the yard from the first turnouts at the north end. At left are East Siding 1 and 2 used for departure and arrival of the Dawson Creek Switcher. Next to them is the main track. To the right are the Passing Track, West Sidings 1, 2 and 3, and the Lead Track.

The curved spur next to the small shed is for Imperial Oil Ltd. Beyond are the shop tracks with the mechanical shop, fuel pump house and storage tanks.

A little further south we see the freight shed at left with its two spur tracks beside, and a closer view of the shop area at right with the mechanical shop, fuel pump house and storage tanks. The spur next to the shop tracks is the RIP (Repair In Place) Track for carrying out repairs to rolling stock. A small crane was situated over this track.

In centre we see the Ramp 2 track, with an open area beyond for the BC Hydro & Power Authority storage yard. The Canfor Ltd. mill is in the distance.

A little farther south again, and looking north this time, we see the shop area at left, the Ramp 2 track in centre, and the station and freight shed at right. The main track and BC Hydro lead extend south from here.

You can see that as a result of the final location of trackage in the yard, the station and freight shed is extending off the benchwork slightly. I will either provide a short extension off the front of the fascia to accommodate this structure, or I may section the building to provide some interior views.

The largest industry at Chetwynd is the Canadian Forest Products Ltd. (Canfor) mill. It is served by four tracks providing access to a lumber loading area for box cars, a twin track chip loader, and an area for loading bulkhead flat cars. I have provided some cardboard structure mock-ups for the mill based on aerial photographs.

In the foreground is the main track extending south, with the BC Hydro Lead connecting at its south end, and the Ramp 1 track serving the railway's trailer ramp.

This photograph illustrates the view upon entering the layout room, with Chetwynd Yard on the lower level and Dawson Creek Yard above.

General layout design wisdom would suggest not to place one yard directly above another, but I did not have a choice in the space I have to work with. I hope to mitigate any challenges this might present with staggered control panels and wireless throttles.

The completion of Chetwynd Yard leaves just the permanent bridge trackage to be installed now.