Progress Report – End of 2023

I thought I’d post a brief progress report of the recovery efforts of my railroad building and layout. The building restoration from the flood is essentially complete, with only a few very minor details needing attention. I’ve been moving all of the boxes of stored railroading content back into the building (my garage and store room are thanking me). As I’ve been unpacking and putting away these things, I’m amazed at how much was in this building in the first place!

But I’ve also been doing a bit to get the layout itself operational. I’ve reinstalled all of the DCC electronics and have tested to make sure all is well. Yesterday I completed the third of the three booster districts, cleaned about 10 feet of track (amazing how filthy track can get after seven years of just sitting), fired up a trusty old Alco RS3, and watched it glide effortless up and down that short segment. It sure was good to see and hear the old girl come back to life!

The focus of this blog will start slowly changing back to its original intent, to document the construction and operation of the Louisiana Central Railroad. The photographs that I’ve posted over these past years were really just “place holders”, intended to simply keep the blog alive until I had model railroading activities going on again. However I’ll still post photos on occasion as I find them.


LCRR: Shop Complete

The shop area for the railroad is complete . . . well, almost. The Wilsonart laminate is installed, all the baseboards and quarter-round trim are in place, and the plastic coverings have been removed from the shelving above the cabinets. There is still a bit of paint touch-up left. I say “almost complete” as I see the ugly reality that the white paint on the shelving isn’t the same color as the white paint on the cabinets. One would think that white is white but that ain’t so (as the photos show). If it nags me, I’ll have to slap a coat of “new” white over those shelves. Judge for yourself below.

The storage and secondary work surface cabinet. Note the shade of white on it compared to the original white paint on the shelving above.
The main work counter. The sink is now installed and I’ll be adding a few other things such as a model paint rack, tool holders, and other “accessories” to aid in my model building. The laminate color is a bit lighter in person than these photos show. It’s a smooth surface with a matt finish, and I’m sure I’ll be happy with it.
The lavatory in the rest room is now in service. It just needs the towel rack reinstalled and the mirror hung, both are on hand.

I’ve been working on a “final” list of things left to do and making some pretty good progress. The trim installation is complete in the main train room . . . all that awaits is some caulking, filling of nail holes, and some touch-up paint. After that, all of the remaining layout leg bracing can be reinstalled and the plastic covering removed from the layout.

I’m confident that trains will be rolling this winter!

The Floor is Down!

A major milestone has been reached in the restoration of the Louisiana Central Railroad layout room with the installation of new flooring. Initially I’d planned to simply show a few snap-shots of the finished installation. But I then decided that maybe some would be interested in how the project was accomplished. So I’ve put together several photos that I took along the way.

I had to install flooring in the room to replace the tight-pile carpet that was formerly in there. That carpet was pulled out after the Great Flood of 2016. But the hardened glue remained on the concrete slab, and I decided that it was impractical to remove after speaking with people with experience doing just that. Also compounding my flooring problem were the 55 legs supporting the layout benchwork.

I ultimately decided to use a “floating” floor of Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) as I reasoned that it could be laid over the glue. I also decided to use a foam underlayment with a vapor barrier on it’s bottom. I used a floor scraper to remove chunks of drywall mud, and to smooth the floor surface as best I could. The LVT “planks” I used are 9″ wide x 60″ in length. However I would have to provide temporary layout support to allow the 43″ width of the underlayment to be rolled out. I thought about how to do that for some time, and finally came up with a solution.

This view shows all of the permanent legs and bracing removed from a layout section along the wall, and the temporary legs and cross member set in place . The spacing is wide enough to allow for the 43″ wide underlayment to be rolled out. The legs against the wall have support plates attached, these explained in the next photograph.
The first problem I had to overcome was how to support the layout at the wall side. Obviously I couldn’t have a leg where the flooring had to be laid. I also noted that the flooring requires a 1/4″ gap from the baseboard for expansion purposes. I pondered and prayed about this for some time, and this solution came to me. Those black steel plates are 3/16″ thick and they’re screwed to the wooden legs allowing the leg to be a couple inches off of the floor. With the plate against the baseboard, I’m able to lay the flooring and allow for my 1/4″ gap. The solution worked perfectly!
I’ve laid four rows of LVT planks down, and I’ve started reinstalling the permanent legs and bracing. I’m holding off installing the bracing along the wall side to make installing the quarter round molding against the baseboard a bit easier. That molding will cover the expansion gap. When complete, I’ll add the remaining bracing.
Here I’ve installed temporary supports across the aisle between benchwork sections, and extending under the edge of one of the two peninsulas of the layout. I’ll get five rows of planks down in this setting.
I’ve gone to the other end of the room for this view. Here the planks have been laid completely beneath that first peninsula and are already up to the edge of the second peninsula. In the foreground the first temporary supports have been installed and will take things to the center of another aisle.
And now I’m back at the rear of the room looking at the same area as the previous view.
As the flooring advances, it’s necessary to keep relocating the temporary supports so that the next roll of underlayment can be rolled out. I’m ready in this view to do just that.
We’re jumping nearly to the end here. The second peninsula at left is complete, and all the permanent supports are back in place. The final set of temporary supports span all the way across the aisle, beneath the benchwork and up to the wall. Note that only one row of planks remains to be installed.
The last row of planks is down, and the flooring is done! I’ve reinstalled several permanent supports, and have a few more to go (one right in front of me).
Going to the opposite end of the room again, here’s the view of the completed flooring. The temporary supports will soon be replaced by the permanent ones. As seen, much of the cross bracing hasn’t been installed to make it easier to access the wall for the installation of the quarter round molding that will overlap the edges of the new floor. When that’s completed, I’ll reinstall the remainder of the L-girder support bracing.

As you have probably imagined, yes, this was a massive undertaking. Over six weeks have been consumed doing this work (working 4-5 days each week). By far, most of the work was building up the temporary supports, removing the permanent supports, then reversing that after the flooring was down. I estimate that only about 20% of the time spent was actually installing the floor.

But I’m pretty pleased with the result, and hope I get many years of good service from this floor.

LCRR: the 11th Anniversary and a Restoration Progress Report

Yesterday was the 11th anniversary of the start of construction on the Louisiana Central Railroad in 2012. Unfortunately 49 months later, construction came to a rapid and grinding halt with the Great Flood of 2016 that consumed the vast majority of my community and surrounding areas. In the aftermath, while my home was fully restored 15 months later, the building housing the railroad lie almost dormant, with only necessary work occurring to stabilize things. Add to that several “false starts”, where I did bits of work from time to time, primarily electrical, but mainly “cleaning up” the demolition to aid with the eventual reconstruction.

However about a year ago I finally started the reconstruction of the building in earnest, and it has come a long way since. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update, that being right after the new shop cabinets were installed. But with so many other tasks to complete, I didn’t start painting the cabinets until perhaps a month ago. Painting cabinets is a tedious and time consuming affair, with the initial sanding, then primer and finish coats of paint (inside and out). I’m happy to announce that the painting is complete, and offer the photos below as proof.

This view is the storage area and secondary work surface. I applied two finish coats, and I’m pleased with the result. Pulls matching the drawers will be installed on the cabinet doors later this week. The counter-top will be receiving plastic laminate soon.
This view is the primary work area, with that open area being my work bench. I use a drafting stool on wheels while seated there. There will be a small utility sink down near the left end.
A glimpse inside a typical drawer, and the storage area below with an adjustable shelf.

As I mentioned above, I plan to have plastic laminate installed over the counter-tops. I used that on the earlier cabinets, and it worked out very well, hence I’ll use it again. The only other things remaining in the shop are the baseboards and shoe mold. After that, I’ll start laying the flooring down in the train room itself. I’m going to use LVT “planks” of 9″ x 60″ in size. It will be a challenge with 55 legs supporting a layout in the way. But I have a plan, and I’ll report on that later (if the plan works 🙂 ) along with pics.

There have been many items and issues in the restoration that I haven’t documented. But for those interested, here’s a list of postings detailing the progress of the larger aspects of this restoration project completed thus far:

Rising From the Ashes
Rising From the Ashes (Part Deux)
The First Progress Report
Repairs Started in the Train Room
Recent Drywall Progress
Final Sheet of Drywall Hung!
Drywall Installation Completed
Walls Painted
Last Progress Report of 2022
Shop Cabinets Installed


LCRR: Shop Cabinets Installed

I haven’t posted a progress report since late December of last year as there really wasn’t much to report on. Lots of small things were taking place, but nothing to post of “milestone” significance. However in this first progress report of 2023, I’m happy to announce that the new shop cabinets have finally been built and installed.

Shop cabinets, right side
At right: the workbench side of the cabinets. Model building occurs at the open area between the drawer stacks (I’ll use a drafting stool on casters here), and there will be a small sink near the wall at left.
Shop cabinets, left side
At left: this side is mostly storage, and for miscellaneous countertop “activities”.

I was able to salvage all of the hardware from the original cabinets, and most of the drawers (those with the white finish). The base board trim and shoe mold need to be applied next. I’ll be painting the new cabinets white as before. The countertops will receive plastic laminate, which worked very well for me in the past. I use a large cutting mat at my work position where the “rough” work occurs.

I’ve also purchased the flooring for the main train room itself. I chose to use LVT planks (each 9″ x 60″ in size) installed over a thin foam moisture barrier mat. These interlocking planks will give me a “floating” floor system. The layout has 52 support legs, so this type of flooring will (hopefully) make the job easier. I can remove a single leg or two at a time to enable sliding in a tile, and will have to plan the work carefully to get the flooring installed. I’ll start putting the flooring down right after getting these cabinets painted.

The light is showing down at the far end of the tunnel! 😁

LCRR: Last Progress Report of 2022

Just a brief update on the restoration progress of the train room and shop, the last report of 2022. The doors and cased opening have been installed, as well as baseboards and window trim. Only a bit of shoe mold needs installation once the flooring is down. I pre-painted all of this trim, so only have to fill and touch-up the nail holes.

I’ve contacted several cabinet shops about building the new cabinets for the shop area. Hopefully I’ll have some prices coming in soon. One of the shops told me upfront that they were booked through April of 2023 . . . hope not everyone is that busy!

I made a brief visit to a flooring store to look into my flooring options. I have the unique problem of having to install flooring under the 44 legs supporting the layout. I can remove a leg at a time to facilitate that, but it does limit the type of flooring I’ll be able to use. Since the concrete slab is still covered with the adhesive from the previous commercial carpet installation (something not easily removed), it appears that I’ll be limited to something like floating LVT flooring “planks”. That’s not really a bad option, with the biggest difficulty being how to roll out the under-mat that I’d want to use with it. But I’ll continue this research after the holidays.

In the meantime, I’ve done quite a number of small tasks. While small, all were necessary. The biggest was to complete the electrical installation, with all receptacles, switches and cover plates now installed. I’ve temporarily installed the lavatory on the new cabinet in the restroom so that I could run water through the piping. This turned out as a wise decision, as last Thursday we had a huge cold front come upon us, with temps getting down into the low 20s. The cold is expected to remain for at least four days . . . something we’re not used to in the deep south!

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll post more updates next year as the last of the restoration takes place. Then I’ll turn focus back to building the train layout itself! 🙂

I hope all of you have a Blessed Christmas, and a Happy New Year!


LCRR: Walls Painted

Yet another milestone has been reached in the flood recovery efforts: all of the building walls have been primed and painted. The shop (hopefully) will soon be receiving new cabinets. The floor tiles reveal the footprint of the original cabinets.

Shop: Painted
The shop walls (and the adjacent restroom) have received their paint.
Train Room: Painted
A typical view in the layout room. I painted these walls white to add brightness below the benchwork while working beneath the layout.

In addition to the cabinets, the next step is the installation of the doors, and the trim-out. Flooring will follow that.

LCRR: Drywall Installation Completed

A major milestone has been reached, with the drywall installation and finishing completed! In my last couple updates I showed hanging the drywall with the help of my (now) skilled helpers, Wayne Robichaux and Ron Findley. For the finishing, which included taping, floating and texturing (to match the upper half of the walls), I surrendered to a professional. I had spoken with a few pros several years ago, and none were interested in the job because of the extra difficulty of working below the train layout benchwork, and all the “special requirements” that I had. Fortunately I was able to find a fellow who was willing to undergo this project, and here are a sampling of photos to show the finished result.

Shop: Finishing Prep
A before photo of the shop, with only minimal taping of the joints.
Shop: Textured
And the finished walls of the shop.
Train Room: Finishing Prep
A before photo of the layout room, with only minimal taping of the joints.
Train Room: Textured
And the finished walls of the layout room.
Train Room: More Finishing Prep
Another before photo of the layout room, with only minimal taping of the joints.
Train Room: Another Textured
And the finished walls of this area of the layout room.

In a few more days (after I’m sure the texture is thoroughly dry and hardened), I’ll start the painting process with primer followed by a couple coats of color. At that point, only some trim will be needed to complete the walls.

LCRR: Final Sheet of Drywall Hung!

A milestone was reached on the Louisiana Central Railroad this week . . . the last sheet of drywall has been screwed to the walls! It was quite an adventure for this rookie and his able-bodied assistants (who were also rookies). But we got ‘er done! It’s not pretty, and there are a lot of gaps here and there, but it’s up, and it’ll stay that way.

The Last Sheet of Drywall
The last 8 foot sheet of drywall was split in two. The first panel is at the far end of this alcove, extending from the seam near the left leg, to the corner at right (virtually blocked in this view by the plywood “panel” on the leg-set). Most of the bracing has been temporarily removed from the leg-sets adjacent to the walls.
The Last Sheet of Drywall (close-up)
And here is the rest of the view. The first panel is at left, the second panel extending from the corner, right about ten inches past the photo edge. That electrical box was the last hole to be cut into drywall (whew!).

The next major step is the taping, floating and texturing of the drywall to match the upper part of the room. But first, there is plenty of preparation work to do. I have to tidy up and tape down all the plastic protecting the top of the layout. I also want to wrap all important things below the layout surface such as Tortoise switch motors, wiring junction points, throttle plug-ins, etc. I hope to avoid drywall dust getting onto and into these things. I am also considering wrapping all the leg sets to avoid spraying drywall texture on those as well. And finally, I want to eliminate as much “clutter” under the layout and aisles as possible to make access better, and to avoid the possibility of having everything covered in drywall dust.

I also have the restroom lavatory’s vanity “under construction” (it’s a kit, and I’m modifying and strengthening it). I hope to have it ready to slip into place as soon as the finishing is complete in the restroom.

There’s plenty left to do, but the first major milestone is complete! My thanks again to Wayne and Ron for their assistance in getting to this point.

For those new to the blog, you can see the post Rising From the Ashes (Part Deux) for a starting point to read the story behind this work.

LCRR: Recent Drywall Progress

Work is progressing nicely in the train room. I’ve had assistance this week from a couple friends, Wayne Robichaux and Ron Findley. Their help was vital in order to hang the 8′ widths of drywall. Saturday, unbeknownst to me, Ron recorded a few pictures of the work in progress.

Insulated Wall Waiting for Drywall
Ron made this image of the area where we were working before things got started.

Laying Out the Electrical Boxes
Here I am laying out the locations of the boxes for the electrical receptacles. This sheet alone had four boxes in it!
Cutting Out the Electrical Boxes
And now I’m cutting out the box openings. No, there is no toilet in the train room. This one will find it’s way back into the restroom once the walls are finished and painted. 🙂

Attaching the Drywall
A sheet of drywall being screwed to the studs.

The Drywall is Up!
This sheet of drywall is hung and ready for finishing. The rag is covering the electrical equipment and connections for one of the model railroad districts. It’s one of three equipment locations. The L-girder bracing on the wall side has been temporarily removed to allow better access to the wall.

We’re on the downhill part of the drywall installation now, with a 28′ long wall, and half dozen “short” walls left to complete. My sincere thanks go out to Wayne and Ron for volunteering to help me with this work.

For those new to the blog, you can see the post Rising From the Ashes (Part Deux) for a starting point to read the story behind this work.

LCRR: Repairs Started in the Train Room

Now that the drywall has been hung in the shop and restroom, I’ve turned my attention to the train room itself. This is where the challenge starts! All of the work must occur under the layout benchwork structure. Here are a few photos to portray what is happening.

Here is a what things look like at the start. The wall cavities have been cleaned as well as possible, and all lumber is sufficiently dried (as determined with a moisture detector). This is the view below the layout benchwork, with the wall side L-girder visible at the top of the picture. The wooden diagonal braces next to the wall have been removed, but the legs must remain. Fortunately the legs are a few inches away from the wall. I’m hoping that the aisle side diagonal braces (one shown here) can remain in place. We’ll see.
The next step is adding the batt insulation. The diagonal metal strap is part of the sway bracing in the walls, a little extra rigidity for this large room with no interior bracing as normally provided by inside rooms.
Now with some drywall board hung. It is so nice to finally see a “real” wall. The first two sheets are up, only twelve more to go!

I’ve been preparing the other walls in the room as well, with all “cleaned” and ready for insulation and drywall. It’s slow going, but at least it’s going. 🙂

For those new to the blog, you can see the post Rising From the Ashes (Part Deux) for a starting point to read the story behind this work.

LCRR: First Progress Report

The restoration of the Louisiana Central Railroad model railroad hobby building (aka ‘the Train Room’) is progressing, albeit a bit slowly. But it is progressing. I’ve hung the drywall in the shop, entry and restroom, and here are the photos to prove it!

LCRR Shop - 1st Piece of Drywall
The very first piece of drywall in the shop has been hung!
LCRR Shop Area
This view is the shop area. There will be cabinets with counters below both of those wall shelves, their footprint to be within those bare concrete areas. The cabinet unit at right will have a small utility sink at the piping rough-in. The primary work area is also at right, with the fluorescent light above providing extra illumination.
LCRR Shop Foyer
Standing in the shop area and looking the opposite direction, we see the building entry door at left, the restroom straight ahead, and the entry to the train room at right. I had a few scraps of drywall left from my home flood restoration so I used them in this area (the reason for the different colors).
LCRR Restroom
Peaking in the doorway to the restroom, the lavatory will be here, the toilet to the right (out of this view).

There is still much work to do in these rooms to finish the drywall: the floating and taping work, and then texturing. But I plan to complete the insulation and drywall installation in the train room first. And I’ve started the prep work in there already (with a bit more to do), so should be hanging the rock by early next week.

For those new to the blog, you can see the post Rising From the Ashes (Part Deux) for a starting point to read the story behind this work. I’ll feature more photos of the restoration from time to time as the work progresses.