Solid Rock Railroad

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Slide Show

CEO Roger Wasson
City, Country Springfield
State/Prov MO
O Construction Photos
Name of Layout Solid Rock Railroad

So you are thinking of purchasing some Backdrop Warehouse (BDW) Backdrops. Been there, done that. Yes, I worried, thought all of the negatives, and had some sleepless nights. But, now that I have purchased 9 backdrops and have them all hung, and they are straight, with very few wrinkles, I found that the experience was wonderful. The process was better than I ever thought it could be.

In fact, I have had other issues with this layout that were far worse than hanging these backdrops. I believe that painting the ceiling joists solid flat black was the worst part of building my layout.

Like all other layouts, my layout is very unique. You see, I started with my layout that is 13’ x 17’ and like any other American male, I found that I needed more space. I built my layout in my John Deere room that is under one corner of our home. Our home is strictly a one level home and has no basement. But, it did have a rather large crawl space that had possibilities. So, for a little over 2 years, I dug the crawl space out, or as my wife, Louanna, says, I mined it out. In the Missouri Ozarks we have a lot of limestone and very little dirt. Yes, I dug out my crawl space and now have an additional 46’ x 29’ area for a nice addition to the present layout.

Before I go any farther, I need to let you know that I did consult with an area architect and also several general contractors on the process of converting this crawl space to a workable layout area. All of these folks were very informative and thought that I was a little crazy. I told everyone that I was acting like a 12 year old that was digging his way out of jail.

Wall Construction

I basically used 2” x4” framing for all of my walkways and walls. At this point let me tell you that I am by no means a carpenter, my primary work was a mechanic. I did do the carpentry work for the walkways and the sealing of the dirt from the other area.

For the walls I hired a railroad buddy, Jim Christensen and his men to come in and install the walls and make them square and straight. Don’t forget, I am NOT a carpenter, so if I did the walls there would be no way that they would be straight or true to this world.. Jim is the best and he used framing of 2x4’s for the wall frames. The walls are 41” high.

Deciding on Backdrop Warehouse (BDW),

Vernon Hart, TCA #97-45602, is a dear friend and has helped me eminencly with many of the decisions and physical help in building my layout. He has guided me on many matters and purchasing the BDW backdrops was one of the biggest decisions that he has helped me with. He has one on his layout that I visit on a regular basis. I love the way these backdrops give a layout so much depth, they add to the layout without taking attention away from the trains.

I proceeded to the BDW website, , and started to look around. Yes, I agree, it is a little overwhelming, but also very informative. When I had a question, I picked up the phone and called them. They were very helpful and sent me a 4” x 8” sample of the product. I asked for this sample so that I could just look and feel what this product was like. I asked several questions of them and all were answered very well and in an informative way.

I wanted to use fall colors and phoned BDW. Norm informed me that they were leaving for a trip back east and when he returned back he would post these pictures up on their website. These photos are the ones that I chose and they all have beautiful colors. The list and order of my backdrops is listed below:

BD HL 981011ME - reversed

BD HL 981011ME


BD HL 871105CE

BD HL 871105CE - reversed

BD HL 871105BE - reversed

BD HL 871105AE - reversed

BD HL 871105AE

BD HL 871105BE

BD HL 871105CE

All of these backdrops are 42” tall by 13’ long.

Receiving the Backdrops

So after making the choices on which backdrops I wanted, I phoned BDW to place my order. I spoke with Norm and was pleased with the way that my order was taken and I received a receipt via e-mail.

The backdrops arrived approximately 3 weeks later via USPS mail in 3 different shipments. BDW can only put 3 of these backdrops in the 6” round diameter cardboard carton that is approximately 44” long. So for 3 consecutive days it was like Christmas at our home.

In each carton there were 3 backdrops, that measure 42” tall by 13’ long along with sample swatches that you can use for testing. I cannot emphasize enough that you need to use and test these samples. As these backdrops arrived, I opened and inspected each one. I then rolled each of these backdrops flat and let them come to room temperature and humidity over the next several days.

Preparing the masonite wall surface & seams with tape.

I had read on the OGR forum that some guys had used clear shipping tape to seal the seams of their masonite walls. I did this with great success.

Installing the Backdrops

Worry is SIN ……………… Like NIKE, Just Do It !

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to worry a lot. I am ashamed to say this but, I let my backdrops lay out for over 3 weeks before I had the nerve to attempt to put them up on the walls. Vernon came over one Saturday and we put up the first backdrop.

First Backdrop up -- Whee! And I thought it would be the worst one! This one is in my Horseshoe Curve. Look closely, you can see the clothes pins we used to hold the top of the backdrop to the masonite? If you want to know, the walls have a radius here of 49”.

We used backdrops from BackDrop Warehouse       Member - BackDrop Warehouse Customers

The backdrop may look washed out but this is due to lighting used for photography. Visually it is much darker. (note from BDWH)

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Layout Size 46' x 29 with an additional 13' x 17'
Era & Place Steam transisition to Diesel
Control type Lionel Legacy
Prototype Frisco
Contact Roger Wasson
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The main thing to remember is to make sure that the first one is very straight. I found that after you put up your first backdrop and take a step back your blood pressure is down and you can drop kick the other 8 backdrops up in your sleep.

A few keys points here:

Be sure to have clean hands.

TAKE YOUR TIME ! Do not be in a hurry when doing this.

DO NOT get rubber cement on front of backdrops.

Use a CLEAN paint roller, this is your best friend from here on out.

Tools that I used to hang these 9 backdrops.

6’ long Straight edge, (Bought this at Lowes, for cutting straight lines)

Scissors (for trimming around pipes)

Carpenter’s 2’ square (for squaring off ends so they are straight)

25’ Tape Measure (just to measure a few things)

Shipping tape (to seal seams of masonite)

Toothpicks (for getting rubber cement in tight places)

Exacto Knife and many blades (for cutting/trimming of backdrops)

6” vinyl ruler (for cutting straight lines around small objects)

Rubber Cement (best ever glue to use on backdrops)

Sponge paint brushes (for spreading rubber cement)

Clothes Pins (in some areas we could use these at the top, to clamp masonite & backdrop)

Stampin Up Chalks (for touching up my mistakes)

Q-tips (use these in touching up mistakes with Stampin Up Chalk)

Rags (do I really need to explain these?)

Now let’s get down to the real nitty - gritty !

After much thought and talking with folks that have installed these, I BIT THE BULLET. I have been on the BDW website, and I went thru every thing on it. I printed off the Installation Instructions and carried and read them thoroughly. They are a little vague, but after some trial & error and talking to BDW we got the 1st one up, and now, you can almost call me a professional as all of my 9 are up and these things are BEAUTIFUL!!

You need to roll up the first backdrop as tightly as possible. We found that the tighter or smaller the roll was the easier it was to get these things up straight. There were usually 2 or 3 of us doing this at a time. Roll out the backdrop as best you can onto the wall, make any marks or notes that you might need to trim or cut the backdrop. We then rolled out the backdrop face up to trim off the top and both side borders. I used an exato knife to trim all of these borders. I laid an extra piece of masonite down under the backdrop to be cut so that I would not damage any of the other backdrops.

We then laid out this backdrop back onto a CLEAN surface FACE DOWN. Then I used my square and straight edge to trim/cut the backdrop to the correct fit.

A quick note here….make sure to cut the backside of the backdrop and also make sure that the blade is angled away from the cut edge. This angle should be away from the image and toward the border. If you cut the backdrop from the front, there is a chance that you will be able to see a thin white strip from the underlying backdrop.

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When we started putting the first one up, we used the 2‘ carpenter‘s square to make sure that the backdrop edge was perpendicular to the top of the masonite wall. We then rolled out the backdrop approximately 2 feet and started there to use the rubber cement. I brushed on the rubber cement horizontally at the top, bottom and in the middle. We normally would work in about 2’ to 3’ intervals. This way we had a better chance to get these backdrops straight. Then after we had applied and rolled the backdrop out all of the way, we came back to the original first 2 feet and applied the rubber cement to this area. I used a paint roller with a new CLEAN roller on it to smooth out all of the wrinkles and stretched and pulled the backdrop as we were going. DO NOT push or pull this roller in several directions. We found that if we went just one way with the roller it always worked better. After you go through this process, you just repeat this as many times as you have backdrops.

On trimming and matching the areas, we would take the next backdrop that was going up, roll it up tight and leave about 1 foot loose where it was going to mate up with the backdrop we just put up. I always tried to lap over each backdrop about 1 inch. We marked the backdrop, turned it over on it’s front and cut it to match. Use the rubber glue sparingly when you overlap these backdrops. I have gone back with my toothpicks and rubber glue and applied the glue where I might have missed doing so previously.

We were not always exactly on target with all 9 backdrop seams, so some showed some white or other color where they overlapped. For this my wife used a product she had for her scrapbooking hobby. The product is Stampin Up Chalk. You can use any brand of chalk that you want to get at a hobby shop. We used Q-tips to spread and cover up some of our mistakes. And face it, everyone comes to your place to look at your trains, they do not come into your layout to inspect the seams in your backdrops. You are the only one that knows the mistakes are there !!!

One final note…YOUR COSTS!

I called Norm at BDW and gave him my order over the phone, and I had him verify all of his DISCOUNTS. (He IS VERY TRUE to his discounts). I paid him thru credit card, he takes a lump sum up front and the remainder is to be paid for in monthly installments up to 6 months. That is great for this old boy as I am on a fixed retirement income.

It is worth it ?? Look for yourself. The following pictures are of my back wall, 46’ LONG ,

These things are beautiful !!

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