A Brief History
Of myself and the construction of the,
Ughnott Lumber & Butternox Mining Companies
The U&B R.R.
Please note, I am a little long winded, sorry but it comes from my 30 years of background as a commercial truck driver.
I had no one to talk to but myself and my truck.
Hello, my name is Larry, I live in the Omaha surrounding area of Nebraska. I am 64 and retired, ( as of 3-20 2010). I got started in the world’s
greatest hobby back in the late 50’s, when I received a Marx 4209 train set for Christmas. I can still remember the price was written on the box lid in
the upper right corner in pencil for $9.95. I have been in the hobby ever since, and I have had, I think, every major scale at one time or another. I
have built several layouts over the years and have never come as close to finishing one as I have on the U&B RR. It was started in Nov of 2010 with the
ceiling layout first. This was the first layout I decided that would all be scratch built regardless of how they turned. I never made a building or bridge until I started on this layout.
I was in HO for the greatest part of the time until I went into a Menards, one winter and they had the Bachmann ATSF 4 6 0 train set for $ 75.00, and
the rest is history. As my eyes started to weaken I had a very hard time seeing the small pieces in HO, without 1 or 2 pair of readers on. So G scale worked perfect for me. I still have agreat love for HO and N scale.
So I started collecting G scale track from ebay for a few years and had hundreds of sections of track and switches accumulated. At Christmas I would
set this up around the Christmas tree which grew to going thru the entire 1800 sq ft ranch home with 3 bedrooms. Once I got one main line going through the entire 8 rooms of the house I added a second main line, this was really a long layout and my grand kids loved it more than what I have done on theU&B. I think it was because they could crash it all the time and it only fell to the carpet. Then we bought a 4 acre acreage and I had every intention of building a very large outdoor railroad, until I realized I am retired and I would not be able to do much in the winter or when its 100 degrees outside. So I decided to build it in a finished basement room, 13’ x 27’, not much room for G scale, this I know, so I had to get real creative and come up with some really different ideas to make this work, and besides now that I am indoors I dont need all of the special glues or paints for outside, and I can detail to my hearts content. There are a lot of items that I didnt even glue down because weather is no longer an issue. On the U&B there are a lot of clearance areas that are as small as 1/4 inch. I know I way overbuilt, but I feel that it’s really a unique little layout.
The Ughnott &Butternox R.R. first got started back in 1985 where I entered a HO layout design competition with, Model Railroader Magazine. I needed
some cool names and my youngest son just threw out 2 names off the top of his head Ughnott and Butternox and they have been with me ever since.
The Ughnott Lumber Company and the Butternox Mining Company merged in the late 1800's to establish the U&B short line railroad and the small town ofButnot. The era is the turn of the century to around the mid-1920's and is a free style in door G scale layout using, 1/20 to 1/32 engines and cars. This short line snakes through the very rough and rugged mountains with 2 to 4 % grades through the Goom Wa Chee forest, or Land of Big Trees.
I always wanted a ceiling layout going around some room in my house, so this was the first thing I did. A single line going around the entire room
mounted with real railroad spikes for the braces, another idea from my youngest son. This does not tie into the layout even thou it appears to go thru
the scenery in a couple of places giving the impression it could be part of the U&B. All of my layouts have always been steam locomotives with log camps, and mining processing in very rough mountainous regions and this layout would be no exception. My layout would be extremely mountainous, sharp turns, 24 inch radius curves, very tight tunnels, bridges and everything else. So I took out my entire forbidden track, Bachmann, and laid it out on the floor for about 2 weeks until I felt I had what I wanted. I then took pictures and began the building of the Ughnott & Butternox, G scale Railroad. I ended up with about 90% of my total idea, not bad for not drawing any thing down. This is the way I am. I never draw out anything, I think of a finished idea and then I just start building. If I run into a problem, I fix it on the spot until I am back on my mental plan. I make hundreds of mistakes, so what. With this time frame you don’t even see them. I always say,
"Never judge a carpenter by the mistakes they make, but judge them by how well they cover the mistakes they made”.
This is me all over. To make the layout bigger looking than it really is, I used a lot of reverse directional curves, and ground to ceiling scenery I got from the late JohnAllen's Gohre & Dapith RR. In Ughnott there are 5 and Butternox has 3 reverse directional curves. When you first see the layout it is hard to tell where the train will appear from one of the 17 tunnels. With this small layout I also knew I had to make this stand out. I would need BIG features that even the biggest layouts might not have. So I used floor to ceiling scenery, real water in the water fall, log flume, Goom Wa Chee River, and the town creek, and a lot of timbered trestles, portals and bridges, with my biggest trestle being the 100’’ long by 42 inch high curved timbered trestle bridge going into Butternox mining area named the, Wapie Cash Eea, or road that bends. Hundreds of trees and real foliage collected from the back yard. I love free stuff.They are a combination of real, and handmade trees representing Ponderosa and large Douglas fir trees. With the highest being a handmade Ponderosa Pine measuring 75’’ from the floor and there are well over a thousand trees so far on the layout. Only about 35 are handmade tall trees of what ever you want to call them, Red Woods, Douglas Fir, Ponderosa, or Sequoia. The rest are real cedar branches that have been trimmed, shaped and sprayed with whiteglue, and stuffed all over the layout. I felt my layout had to not only have realistic scenery, but it had to function as a true operational short line R.R. With 7 side spurs, the U&B has areal purpose for going around the layout. So I made the Ughnott Lumber Company and Butterknox Mining Company on opposite ends that produce raw materials where they are taken by rail to the small town of Butnot and put on the mainline for shipping. The construction was pretty basic. I used 2x2 legs, sheets of ¾’’ plywood, which did not work well, and I replaced it all with 1x4 bench work. Everything was screwed together, I have a hard time using a hammer it seems it always wants to smash my hand instead of the nail. Believe me I am not a carpenter and have never worked on home construction. I don’t even know the names of parts of a building or house frame work or anything else. So I started in the corner of where the unknown water fall is now, that is to say the water fall was a secondary idea and not added until I started the construction and saw how high the layout was. When the water fall idea hit me, I noticed it wasn’t too far under the ceiling track, so I started building up the scenery to make it appear to go through the ceiling layout with a small trestle bridge that goes over Anal Falls. Then I started on the constructing the mountains where they meet the ceiling track using cardboard lattice style, and scrape wood for bracing. All of the scenery was first coated with a thinned dry wall mud soaked paper towels, and then coated with plaster of Paris. The drawback is, there heavy, so a lot of cardboard stripes and wooden braces where needed to help support the mountains. Then I used my master mold and one of 32 smaller molds to make the mountains and larger rocks. The color of the mountains was always a mystery to me, that is to say I couldn’t ever seem to get that real look and a few years back I read an article on how to color plaster mountains. O Boy, right what I was looking for. Now I call this my secret color formula, and the best part of all its entirely free. I love free stuff. My big patient secret formula is, dirt. Dirt and water, and its FREE.. Take about a cup or 2 of very fine sifted free dirt and put it in a 1/2 gallon container of free water that you can shake like crazy, take your brush and start splashing it on. The dark dirt fills the crevasse and cracks like you wouldn’t believe, and they look so real and the color is perfect. If you dont like it it washes off just fine. I use brown and black dirt and some places I combined them to give a deeper color and cool effect as to the plaster mountains. I have always used plaster. I know how it works and what you can and can’t do with it. Besides it’s in expensive and you can paint, stain or anything else you want to do to add color.
The real water fall, river, and the log flume where constructed after all of the frame work, and the entire track was laid down and in complete operation. Now I have a good idea on how the mountains will look. So the water fall was constructed using a pond liner, and after I had the rough mountains built, and laid in place where I coated the entire water area with Hydra Cal, stained it with my free dirt wash for my mountain colors. I then took a clear based fiberglass and coated everything where water would flow. The water is pumped through a Little Giant ¾ hp pump on a gang valve. All of this was trial and error because the first couple of times I had major water leaks. The sides of the log flume where to low and the water rushed over the sidescausing the plaster mountains to collapse. What a mess that was.
I always loved tall timbered trestles so I wanted to build one as large as I could, so I put in the largest bridge on the layout going over the gorge leading to the Butternox mining and locomotive service area. I call this the Wapie Cash Eea bridge. This was built on site one bent at a time. All of the support boards are all glued then nailed so you can see the realizim of the nail heads. I then built it with a car tunnel in the middle of the curve for some more character.
All of my buildings, trestles and 95% of the portals are handmade with used cedar or pine and stained with an alcohol/Indian ink wash. This wood work great. I take old cedar fence slats and cut them down to as thin as 1/32 on my table say and beings there 5/8's thick already, they are perfect for lap
siding, board on board, or board and batten siding. You can skin these slats as well and retain the old worn wood look from its actual ageing, and you don’t have to weather the wood, its perfect, and the best part is, no one can say that doesn’t look real. The rest of the slats stain perfect using a leopard style painting technique, with black Indian ink wash that comes very close to looking like the actual weathering. Every building I built was built with a different teqnique. No two buildings where built the same. Some I started as walls of cedar slats, and I would glue them together, other times I used an actual card board box and coated it with cedar slats and trim. I used foam board on one or two side, or I used foam board for the whole building. Foam board is easy to work with and you can cut windows and doors very quickly and easily, where they will just snap in place and then put my cedar on it, in either verticle, horizontal, board on board, and board and batten sideing. Like I said with this time frame it makes building buildings very easy and realistic with very little effort. I have one building that I used only typeing paper, another one I used a liscense plate. So grab anything you can glue, and build something cool and original, and Just start think like a scrape builder, and start building,and have fun. And when you go shopping just start looking for stupid little things that you can use for the layout. Hobby Lobby had plastic easter eggs for 2 bucks and the bottoms worked perfect for the bottom of a water tower. My slash burners are those .79 red colored patio tumblers, I think there like20oz, Then I used black non shinning duct tape and cover the whole thing and wrapped brass wire for retaining rings, and then I took rust calk and dry brushed it all over making it look like its all burt and rusty. I left the top open and put a string of blinking Christmas lights inside, so when it lights up it looks like there is a massive fire in there. I took a 2 1/2'' fine wired cullener cut the handel off and wahla you have a screened top for your slash burner. Very cheap and very cool. I hvae about .95 in this burner minus the $3 blinking light set. It doent take a lot of money to have cool one of a kind items on your train layout. This is a hobby that the more you do your self, the better you feel about your accomplishments.
**** Features of the U&B Railroad Started in Nov. 2010
* The U&B covers only 10 feet by 27 feet. There are a couple of places where the scenery extends from the floor to the ceiling, by doing this I maximized my small space and gave a lot of depth to the overall concept.
* All track and switches are the forbidden Bachmann brand, but it works perfect for what I need. About 80 to 90 feet of mainline, not much but with all
of the tunnels, reverse directional curves and multiply elevations, and side spurs it does seem to give it size and character.
*36’’ real water fall flowing over Anal falls.
*65’’ real water rushing river, with a hand constructed, controllable water gate damn to control the flow of the stream, called Foster Gate, and it is
also used as the log pond.
*34’’ log flume with real water rushing down to the trout river or the log pond. This is where the logs are removed from the pond by the elevated crane, loaded on log cars and taken up to the saw mill
* Real water flows from the bottom of the damn that fills the creek through the town of Butnot.
*11 timbered trestle, the largest trestle bridge being the Wapie Cash Eea, curved, 100’’ long, and 42'' high trestle with 15 bents and a car tunnel in the
middle of the massive curve.
*40 completed hand built structures, (so far).
*Currently there are over 1000 trees ranging from inches to the massive 75'' hand constructed Ponderosa Pines. Most trees are real, and are in the 2 to 4 foot height range and there are approx. 30 handmade Ponderosa Pines.
*Buckets of homemade ground cover, natural rocks and plenty of local weeds and grasses.
* This is old school analog track power with a remote power control, and a lot of dead switch track areas so I can have several trains on the side spurs
without conflict. I also have started to use battery power in one of my Heislers with the Air Wire, and Phoenix sound systems. Awesome.
The quaint town of Butnot is the last item to be finished. I have already started on it and it will be the most time consuming area because of all of
the handmade buildings to be made. I think I will have close to 18 buildings in this area and at this time I have only have 2 buildings left to build .
The engine house and a general store with above rooms to rent.
I went to a train show locally, and there was a G scale garden layout club on display, it took me 2 years before I joined, and I am so glad I did. Even
though my layout is indoors and all but 3 of us have indoor, and the rest are outdoors of the 50 sum members, it is still great fun to run trains and
share knowledge for this great American hobby. The name of the club is, Rivercity Railroaders Garden Model Railroad Club. Check em out. This was by far the best thing I have done. I meet a lot of great people and learned so much in the 2 years of membership. I have never build a building before, but I felt I needed to do it regardless of how they turned out. They are not square or ,plumb, or straight, but they look okay, and look like they belong on my layout. And you know what?, for this time frame it not so hard after all and it is far from perfect. If you never build a scratch built building you
need to do so for your own satisfaction. If you have a local club, please join, and take your kids they will love it. My grandson actually puts
down all of that tweaking junk, and goes with me to club meetings so he can run trains. I love it and so will you.
Check back for current updates and photos,
*** Last up date was May 22, 2015, I finally finished the insides of the saw mill and finished the steam donkey powered dynamo for the coal processing plant. Both the saw, and the steam donkey, do actually run
Thanks for stopping by and I hope something on this site helps you in with your project. Any questions, comments, or mistakes I made on the text.
Please contact me I would love to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-332-3450
PLEASE NOTE, this web was launched March 19 2015 and is still under construction. You may see duplicate photos on different pages and there are probably a few hundred spelling errors.
***** June 17, 2015 at 1:20 pm, I finished my layout. The first one in my life that I finished
Final update the completion of Butnot single stall engine house and work area, and the Sand Lot
The Sand Lot has option to build one more building, the General Merchandise + Hardware Store
Go to Butnot, sawmill, and coal mine, and check out the new photos.
Now I start building engines, cars and more detailing.
***** Oct 1st I finished 3 locomotives. The 2 climaxes are totally scratch built and the 0 4 0 was detailed out.