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My name is John Shankland and I am Building a 1600 sq. ft. HiRail layout loosely based on the Chicago Burlington and Quincy or later The Burlington Route. My time frame is from the mid 50's to the early 60's.

This railroad was taken down in 2003 when I moved to Florida.



New Photos as of 11/15/00
New Photos as of 01/29/01
New Photos as of 05/15/01
New Photos as of 12/15/01

In April of 1998, I moved in to my new home in the Chicago Suburbs. In June of the same year I had my basement finished including a drop ceiling and carpet on the floors. I started the construction in June or July of that year. My first task was to buy some tools and make some tables for the tools and work areas. I purchased a 10" DeWalt miter saw, a small drill press from Sears and a battery powered 3" mini skill saw. Two battery powered electric drills, one for the pilot holes and one for the 1 5/8 drywall screws. I then built an "upside down" table 4 x 8 feet with the 2 x 4 frame on top and a sheet of plywood on the bottom. The whole thing is mounted on heavy duty adjustable steel saw horses. I can saw, drill, etc. a full 4 x 8 sheet on this table. Take care with the frame, miter the corners, and you can use the whole thing as a squaring jig.  










The layout is constructed with L girders, ribbon sub roadbed with Midwest cork using hard shell scenery, Gargraves track, Curtis Switches and Tortoise stall motors.  I discovered an easy way to work with ribbon sub roadbed.  I cut 90 degree turns, 9 inches wide, from full sheets of plywood and attached 9 inch wide, 8 foot long strips of plywood to them.  I used a trammel to scribe 4 radiuses on the plywood starting at a square edge. i.e. one at 37.5, 40, 44, 46.5 inches. I cut (on my great work table) the inside and outside lines with a saber saw, ending up with a 90 degree curve with the track center lines already marked on it. I matched up the center lines from the straight pieces to the curves and glued the whole thing together with yellow glue and a splice plate. I then took these assembled pieces and laid them on the joists or risers if it was a grade and moved them around until I got the look I wanted. (No track parallel to the walls or other nearby tracks.)  I then joined these to the next piece by finding the tangents.  This method made the sub roadbed install like sectional track.  Join one to the next with a little fitting in-between. In other areas I used flat table top or table top using the cookie cutter method







The track plan is a simulated point to point with hidden staging yards and reversing loops on each end. The trains will run from the East end to the West end one time only. After a day (fast time) has passed the trains will return from West to East.  I developed the track plan by reading all of John Armstrong's books, and using RR-Track software. The unfinished drawing below grids are 2 feet square.


One night per week I am assisted by Joe Slezinger, who is a meticulous worker and guru about real railroading.  Norb Dembinski recently has been assisting a couple of nights per month.  The back drops were painted by Paul Ashack.  

We are currently working on the industrial area of the Town of Aurora. We decided to quit laying track for a while and start building some scenery. The following pictures are from that area.

The 3 pictures below depict the same area, Before during and after construction.










The entire railroad is being interfaced to a computer via Bruce Chubb's CMR/I. I have some of this done and working. When it is finished it will control all of the power routing, signaling, interfaced with a prototypical CTC panel.  I will also have a fully automatic demo mode. I have purchased all of the assembled circuits cards from Easeeinterfaces of Lakeland, Florida.

Don Wood can be reached via Easeeinterface@email.msn.com

The following pictures are from two separate areas being sceniced.

The first is the area around the turnaround blob in which one set of tracks is coming from Chicago (hidden staging) and going through Aurora to Denver. The other set of tracks is a reversing loop for the Cheyenne Branch and a branch line lead to the mines. The mine lead features loaded coal cars coming out of the tunnel portal and empties in. This is accomplished with hidden connections to the staging yards.








The track on the far left is from Chicago through Aurora. While not clear in this photo the hill on the left side is gentle slopping Midwestern and the right side is cliff and rocks of the West.

The next pictures are the Rocky Mountain area under construction.