2005 - Year in Review

Category: Trains
Sun, 01 Jan 2006, 16:35

For those of us with a permanent train layout, there are a couple of things that we dread. The biggest fear is having to move. Following close behind is having to renovate the train room. That latter applied to me this past year.

Last winter more than ever, I felt how cold the basement was, and I finally decided to do something about it. The basement floors were poorly insulated with vinyl tile, wood parquet, or a thin carpet laid directly on the concrete floor. I decided to add a Dricore subfloor, starting in the train room. Just two complications: First, there's the train layout permanently attached to two walls. Second, there was a curious fake fireplace in the middle of one wall, with decorative stone along the rest of that wall. I figured the train layout would be easy to deal with when laying down the new floor. When approaching a leg, I would add a scaffold support, cut about 10cm off the end of the leg, install the new flooring underneath, and finally insert a new footing for the leg. The stonework would be much more work.

Sometimes I think I wouldn't embark on certain projects if I knew in advance how much work it would be, and removing the stonework was be one of those cases. Pounding away at the stone, it took a couple of months working about 10 hours a week to get the stone out of the basement. The following photos show what the wall looked like before I started building my layout, and the wall half-way through the stone removal.

Train room before
Stone wall before starting my H0 train layout.

During renovation
Stone removed from half the wall.

Oh yeah, one additional complication: Part of my train layout was blocking access to about three meters of wall. Fortunately, that section was not attached to the stonework and was fully supported on four legs. I was able to cut that section out and move it aside.

By June, I'd gotten practically all the stone and concrete out. I estimated that I'd hauled about four tonnes out. Unfortunately, my doctor found a 10mm by 5mm kidney stone, and I was taken out of action for a couple of weeks. When that was all taken care of, it took a couple months more to get back to the renovation. We decided to hire someone to upgrade the windows and put up the new wall, but I still wanted to lay with the new floor myself.

Below, the photo at left shows the first two rows of subflooring in place. Dricore is easy to install. The panels interlock and simply float on top of the concrete floor without the need for nails or screws. The right photo shows the new footer for one leg of the layout, with a temporary piece of laminate flooring in place.

Starting to lay subfloor
Laying first two rows of subflooring.

New footer
New footer for one leg of layout.

I agonized a while over the choice of finished flooring. In order to keep costs down, I first wanted 12" vinyl tile. But after working out all the costs involved, I later decided on laminate flooring. Vinyl tile is fairly inexpensive, but requires an additional layer of plywood on top of the Dricore subfloor. The lowest cost laminate plus underpad is more expensive, but not by much. Laminate is also much easier to install.

The left photo above shows where I'm currently at with the renovation. I still have a week left of my Christmas vacation, and I fully expect to be done with the subfloor during this time. The laminate can wait until after the windows and wall are done, hopefully in a couple of weeks.

Another plus to this project is that I'll be able to add an additional 25cm of length to my layout, as well as a new setup yard. Hopefully, by Spring I'll be able to run trains around my layout again. Our daughter already misses seeing the trains run.


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