Rivulet Spacer Photo Gallery

Above: This little 2' spacer module was constructed in less than 90 hours for the 2011 Durham Train Show. Photo Credit: Jim Spavins

Above: Shaping the foam on the module. Photo Credit: Jim Spavins

Below: An overview of the module at the end of construction. Photo Credit: Jim Spavins

Rivulet Spacer

90 Hours to Rivulet

This is the story of the construction of the new Rivulet Spacer Module. It was constructed in less than 90 hours for the 2011 Durham Train Show.

Sunday September 24, 2011 - 10:00 pm

“C’mon Jim, you know you want to,” said Stu Dom, President of the Mohegan Pequot Model Railroad Club. We had just finished our annual post club meeting discussion at Dunkin’ Donuts where the group was discussing the layout plan for the upcoming train show the following weekend in Durham, CT. Stu had drawn up the plan for the layout and was two feet short from completing the layout. There was a need for a two foot spacer module the club didn’t have. I think Stu was baiting me to see if I was just crazy enough to build a new module considering that the loading of modules for the show was just under four days away.

I knew I had some spare plywood around and a couple of pieces of flextrack and some roadbed. The club had wire and electrical connectors. I just needed a theme. Then I remembered I had a set of extra stone arch bridge castings in storage and could easily donate one to the project. Since the spacer was only going to be two feet long, I only needed a single arch to cross a small stream or rivulet. After a quick two minute and thirty five second conversation, the plan was ready. Never one to turn down a challenge, I began my quest to build the Rivulet Spacer Module.

Monday September 25, 2011

Having lost about eight hours to sleep, I started bright and early Monday morning by drawing a full size plan of the module. The module would be simple with the two mainline tracks and the third inside passing track. The single arch stone bridge would be placed in the center of the module. There were also some areas for details like a MOW area on the front of the module and a camping scene on the right rear corner.

With the plan set, I searched through my scrap pile and found some pieces of extra birch plywood and luan to use for the module frame. The pieces were cut to size then dados and groves added for strength. Everything was assembled with brads and wood glue. By lunchtime, the frame was built, however I realized I needed more materials – like paint and spackle. So off I went to Home Depot to buy supplies.

Upon returning, I began to fit the parts for the bridge. The parts needed some modifications. I turned to my diminutive yet trusty band saw and just as I began to cut the first cast resin abutment, I heard a snap followed by the realization that the band saw blade had finally worn out. I guess that is par for the course considering that the club and I had managed to cut a few hundred module pieces with it through the years. So back to the car I went, this time in search of a new band saw blade. Down to about 72 hours to go, I finally had the bridge parts cut and installed on the bridge. After a brief stop for dinner, I went back into the shop and fit the foam insulation around the bridge and carved the few hills and shapes into place. By the end of the evening the module was taking shape.

Tuesday September 26, 2011

Tuesday started with spackle and lots of it. The bridge joints needed to be filled and all the scenery contours received a thin coating. Of course if I had thought ahead, I would have done this step the night before as it takes hours to dry. This meant I had to spend the rest of the morning watching the spackle dry.

Once it had dried by mid-afternoon, I then began to paint everything. This took about an hour and then I realized that paint takes hours to dry. So I spent the next several hours watching the paint dry. To be honest, watching the paint dry was a bit more exciting than watching the spackle dry.

With everything finally dry, I finally added the three tracks and wire feeds. After a quick coat of paint on the tracks, I took a break for dinner before starting the scenery. As I am prone to do, I made a complete mess of the workbench while adding ground foam and ballast to the module. However, it all seemed to magically come together when it dried overnight.

Wednesday September 27, 2011

On Wednesday morning, Stu made the mistake of dropping by the shop where I promptly put him to work assembling the harnesses for the module. There was no way I was going to let him off the hook for baiting me into building this project! While Stu was wiring, I finished the rivulet and added trees. By the afternoon, the sides of the module were painted and a piece of plexiglass cut to fit the front of the module. After a quick cleaning of the tracks, a test engine was run and the module was done!

Thursday September 28, 2011

On Thursday evening, just 90 hours after Stu suggested we build a new module, it was delivered for loading. All in all, for a spacer piece, the module turned out pretty nice if I do say so myself. Of course, I am wondering if I am setting expectations a little too high. First it was 90 days for the Rockville Bridge module and now 90 hours for the Rivulet Spacer Module. What’s next, 90 minutes?!

Watch the time lapse video of the construction of the module here on YouTube.

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Module at a Glance

Scale: HO Scale
Size: 2'x2'
Number of Sections: 1
Builder: Jim Spavins
Type: Straight
Mainline Tracks: 3
Years Constructed: 2011
Era: 1950s
Features: Stone Arch Bridge
Status: Active