Monday, December 20, 2010

Back to Work on the Pier

If you follow along with my Model Railroader's Notebook Blog you'll know that I just unpacked the Pier.  It has some damage and needs repair.  We'll be working on it in the next few days.  Welcome back, Dixie Donut!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Working on the New Workshop

We'll be working again on the Dixie Central soon!  I'm getting the workshop in order now.

Take a look!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dixie in the Desert

It's official.  I'm moving my family from Atlanta to Utah.  I've taken a new job in Salt Lake City and will be relocating soon. 

Please don't be surprised if I don't blog between now and December, but look forward to new things happening in January!

The Dixie Central will be moving with me.  I'll not have a room for it so it will have to be set up either in the downstairs family room or the garage.  Paring down my tools in the shop will be the biggest issue.

Look for some post on how I accomplish this amazing feet!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

#019 04 Tybee Pier - Installing NBW's

Hey!  I'm back.  Well, sort of.  The baby is keeping us up nights and I'm doing laundry, cooking and cleaning most of the day.  But over the past few days I have had the chance to do some modeling.

This weekend's project (took three days due to interruptions) was to put nbw's in the pier.  To do this I used tweezers, white glue, hobby knife, Floquil Roof Brown spray paint, pin vise drill, #70 drill bit and Grandt Line HO scale 3" nut and 4 1/2" washer nut/bolt/washer castings #5099.

First I sprayed all the nbw's with Floquil Roof Brown from a spray can.  For the extra buck or two it was easier than cleaning up the airbrush for just this little bit of painting.

Actually, I sprayed some nbw's for my Howe Truss Bridge in O-scale.  I put painted or partially assembled parts in this handy cabinet so that they aren't in my raw details drawers and I can find them easily.

I have this small drill keeper and fished out a #70 bit.  There is another case that I have full of #70's as they break very easily.

These small bits are easy to mix up so I often check them with my drill bit gauge.

There are tons of pin vise styles out there.  I am using this heavy one with the moving top so that I get even downward pressure without pushing the bit.

As recommended by a few MMR's I cut the nbw's off at an angle making them easier to insert into the hole.  They tend to bounce everywhere, so I keep my finger over them when I cut.

I carefully drill a hole just deep enough to take the nbw.  Then using some sharp and curved tweezers I dab a little white glue on the end and place them in the hole, then push them down with the tweezers.  Actually, this goes rather quickly.  The look of the nbw's is amazing.
I tried a close up shot but didn't have enough light.

A bit blurry, and a blurry bit.  Normally I do this right handed.

Here is the first squadron of nbw's in the planks.  This extra little touch is AMAZING!  More to come this week!  If the baby cooperates!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

#018 04 Tybee Pier - The Nuts & Bolts of Nuts & Bolts

Here, live in the Dixie Central Blog, two modeling geniuses explain the fine art of NBW castings...which I've got to mount hundreds of very soon.

From the legendary Jack Burgess, MMR

Regarding nut, bolt & washer castings

Plastic ones are much better than metal for most applications (metal castings are much more expensive and more difficult to bond in place.) I generally use Grandt Line N-B-W casting since they have such a large selection of sizes and washer types. (Note that wood trestles generally use
those with large washers.) However, Grandt's dies are getting worn out for some sizes and the resulting parts are sometimes mismatched. Some of the smallest HO N-B-W castings should work for N scale size a 1" nut in HO would represent a 2" nut in N scale.

Some of my tips for using them on wood trestles:

Stain the wood and assemble all of the bents first and then drill the holes.

It is much faster to use a drill press to drill the holes...while I have a precision drill press, Micro-Mark and Dremel ones should work since you are drilling into wood.

Drill all of the way through the wood; you need to represent the bolt head and washer on one side and the nut and washer on the other.

Of course, paint the castings while still on the sprue. The prototype bolts and hardware I've seen start out a dark brown/black and eventually start picking up rust. Air brush a couple packages of castings a brown/black color and then go back and add a very light dusting of rust to some of the sprues.

Measure the sprue shaft diameter and use a drill one size larger. This will
make it easier to insert the casting into the hole.

Cut the sprue on the casting so that the sprue is just short of 1/2 the thickness of the wood you are inserting them into. You can cut all of the castings off of the sprue at the same time if you are careful and don't let them shatter. This makes the work go much faster.

Put a spot of regular white glue on a scrap of paper/wood/styrene, pick up a casting with tweezers by the shaft, dap the end of the casting into the white glue, and insert the shaft in the hole. Once started, push the casting the rest of the way into the hole with the side of the tweezers. The white glue doesn't actually stick to the styrene but fills the hole enough so that the casting won't come out accidentally.


One the modelers in my club scratched a 30 inch long trestle on a 33" dia curve Double track. He claimed the only pieces of wood all the same length were the ties. 1500 pieces or so. He told me later that putting the NBW's in it weakened the structure. All redwood.

If the timber sizes were prototype and he wasn't drilling oversize holes, there shouldn't have been any weakening of the structure...the prototype timbers had holes drilled in them! Assuming he was using prototypically-sized timbers, I suspect that the problem was actually the choice of wood since redwood is not a strong wood but really a softwood. The prototype (in the West) tended to use Douglas Fir which, although not classified as a hardwood, is a very strong wood, good for house building, freight cars, etc.

Note that not all bridges used bolts and nuts for every joint. Many bridges, especially driven pile bridges, used spikes (not railroad spikes but extremely large-diameter "nails") rather than bolts and nuts for attaching the sway bracing. So, the lack of N-B-W castings should not automatically result in lost points for the Prototype score. However, you those cases, you should represent the head of the spikes. The problem is that, except for very large wood trestles, there isn't a lot of places to gain points for Detail. But there are also other details that can typically be added. For
example, most bridges use multiple stringers in pairs and those stringers should have an air gap between them. These stringers would therefore be bolted together with special large washers between the stringers to provide that air gap. The washers I have from YV bridges are in an "hourglass" shape and are 4" in diameter on the ends, 1.5" in diameter in the middle, and 4" "thick". Larger trestles also need fire protection items such as drums of sand to extinguish fires. If running coal, the tops of the bents might need to be protected from dropped cinders with tin sheets.

Jack Burgess, MMR
AP Chairman, Pacific Coast Region

And from Martin Pequod…

Pretty much the same way that I apply nbw's although a few variations and additonal tips.

When you're cutting the "bolt" free from the sprue, cut at an angle to put a bevel on the
tip -- makes them a little easier to insert into the hole.

Tichy makes a decent selction of nbw's and rivets, in a rust-brown which looks pretty decent in many uses with just some stain on them. Been buying them as much as Grandt line now for that very reason.

I prefer ACC over white glue for just about all materials; having some nbw's magically some back out at the most inconvenient time can be truly irritating.

Plastic vs. metal; plastic is far cheaper, but sometimes the brass parts are better particualrly if soldering things together, and sometimes I've used brass ones for their strength.

Small variable speed drill press is a tool worth investing in and beats a day with a pin vise for this and lots of other chores.


#006 02 Four Way Cotton Gin - Rust Bucket

How to Use Archer Etchant by Alaska's Wisest Man

I am about to build the cotton gin, and Darryl Huffman's post on using Archer Etchant is brilliant...

I started using this stuff decades ago and love it.

I keep one of my small plastic drawers in my parts cabinet labelled ETCHANT
and I use it for nothing else.

When I am done with the etchant, I wash the drawer out and put it back in
it's place.

I know you should use gloves and glasses with this stuff but I never have.

But I do spread out newspaper under the little tray as this stuff platters

I have one tip for newcomers.

Pour some of the etching into a plastic tray so that it is about 1/4 inch to
3/8 inch deep.

If you are using Campbell's Corrugated Siding, cut the siding into the right
sizes and put one piece into your tray containing the etchant and go away
for 15 minutes.

When you get back the piece of siding will be completely dissolved.

But, by doing this, you speed up the action of the etchant.

And, as you continue using it, it works faster and faster.

In addition to just sticking the sheets of siding into the etchant, you
should also try spraying one side of the siding with gray primer first.

Let it dry and then put the siding into the etchant.

With just a little bit of practice, you will be able to turn out great
looking, weathered siding in no time at all.

After removing the siding from the etchant, I just drop it into a bowl of

So people recommend adding some baking soda to the water first but I have
never found a need to do that.

I let all the pieces sit in the water for about 30 minutes and then spread
them out on a paper towel to dry.

The stuff I did 30 years ago still looks great.

I demonstrate my methods on my Easy Weathering DVD:

Darryl Huffman
12020 Old Seward Highway
Anchorage, AK 99515

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

#002 The Great Turnout Project - Details, Details

I got some good coaching from Frank Koch, HLM and Executive Assistant Manager of the NMRA AP Program...


Some members of the chat group may give you grief for two reasons - requirements say operational as defined by powered locomotive able to negotiate all routes while under power with an assumption you will use an NMRA gauge to establish clearances, but some will say you need to build to all the track standards (not the requirement).  Second, some may ask where your plates, tie rods, point braces, NBW, and all the other minor elements are - they are details that add to your score.  Lastly, paint and weather the rail and ties, and add the little details that are around a turnout (switch stand, control boxes, etc.  Talk to your local AP manager and ask how they judge trackwork.  Then build and include their comments.  Good luck.

Frank Koch

I had not planned to highly detail the track items, but may change my mind.  First, I'll do as Frank recommends and will reach out to our Division AP Manager Bob McIntire to see what they look for.  Since the items must go on my layout, they have to operate flawlessly so that is the priority.  Detailing is second.

I've bought Proto 87 parts before for turnouts and will probably do so again.  They are readily available at in a variety of different types.  The site also has printable diagrams:

Number 6 Turnout RH diagram

Ok, well maybe we won't be added store bought details.  I added up what I needed at the Proto 87 store and it came up to $81.  Forget that.  I'll make my own details like I usually do.

Being an MMR cost a lot of money, that's for sure.  It is probably something you should take into account.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Scott Perry’s Blogs

A guide to hints, tips, techniques and products related to the hobby

A portable sectional layout designed for benchwork, scenery and trackwork skill development

Exciting coverage of the On30 Okefenokee Swamp Railroad, a model train layout constructed in On30. This unusual layout is based on the prototype Hebard Cypress Company and the Waycross & Southern Railroad that occupied this large Georgia swamp in the 1920's.

The NCIOG is a Model Train Building and Operating Club Located in the North East Atlanta Suburbs. This is a Round Robin Club with Limited Membership.

My Better Beginner's Layout that features operations and simple construction to help new modelers get the most out of their layout!

Follow Along With Me as I Designs Model Train Layouts!

Descriptions, Ratings and Demonstrations of Modeling Tools

Watch as I design I. D. Jackson's version of the Georgia Northeastern, a modern 3rd class railroad that runs in north east Georgia.

Layout Design Event Featuring the B&O's Cumberland and Mountain Divisions

Join us as I test techniques, tools and products while building water scenes.

Look at Dan Berman’s Layout, Designed by Me Just For Dan

Welcome to Scott Perry's next On30 adventure! A small layout in On30 based on Alaska's White Pass & Yukon Railroad.

This is a small mining layout based on a real 30" railroad. Follow along as we design the layout.

#001 The Great Turnout Project - Civil Engineering

My coach and mentor Larry Smith, MMR says that I need to work on my NMRA Achievement Program Civil Engineering Certification next.  For Civil one key element is the construction of three types of track elements and have them judged.

I've outlined the three elements that I want to build (see Trackwork)  and they are:

Turnout RH #5
Turnout Building Guide

Three Way Turnout
Building a 3-Way Turnout Guide

Crossing 30 degree

Assembly help:

Fast Track Turnout Assembly Video

Fast Tracks Assembly Videos

    My first step is to start gathering materials.  Luckily at the train show this weekend I was able to buy an HO 3-way turnout by Shinohara (Walthers) to use as a model.  For $20 I'll take that!  The next thing was to purchase some HO pc board tie strips.  There were none at the show so I had to order them.

    The first place I tried was Fastracks as they have really nice punched pc board ties that don't twist.  However the cost to ship them was as much as the ties themselves!  Ouch!  They are based in Canada which probably has something to do with it.  So I went back to my old stand by The Clover House and bought them.  They are hard to buy from as they are internet averse, but I was able to get $20 worth shipped to me for $5.00.  They will get here quicker, as well.  I did ping my buddies in the NCI Group to see if they had a few to loan me in order to get me started, but as it looks it will be about two weeks before I can start laying the track.

    I have unweathered code 83 rail available, which is what I prefer when soldering to pc board ties.  Next I'll dig out some cross ties (I have tons of them as I used to have a company that sold crossties) and will start staining them this week.  Micro Spikes from Micro Engineering are here, and I'll need some stock basswood for the longer ties.

    One thing I'm not sure of is what kind of roadbed I want to use.  Since there isn't a low profile cork roadbed for sidings and yards, I'll probably just use cork sheet, and I think I have some of that.

    To me the crossing is the hardest of the two to build as I've built a dual gauge crossing before.  The wiring of the Three Way turnout might kill me.

    We'll start with the plain Jane turnout first!

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    NMRA Achievement Program Yahoo Group

    NMRA Achievement Program Yahoo Group is a new way to find information, guidance and the sometime necessary kick-in-the-pants to help you earn your Achievement Program Certificates and become a MASTER MODEL RAILROADER.

    If you are an NMRA member and would like to join, just go here…

    I’m Scott Perry, long time Yahoo Group host and found of several groups such as…


    And others!

    So come join the fun, make new friends and make a plan to Achieve!

    Scott Perry

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    #005 02 Four Way Cotton Gin - Photos of Homer Cotton Gin

    My wife has a cold and is still very pregnant.  About six weeks left to go.  So, she through my daughter an me out of the house.  Oh goody!  Time for a spontaneous trip to Homer, Georgia!  Its only about 30 minutes north of me.  More on Homer, GA in my Model Railroader's Notebook as I hit a gold mine when I went there.  I promised Popsicle Rick that I'd take him, but we left before Church was over.  We'll go back, for sure!

    Click on Photos to Enlarge

    The cotton gin sits on the side of the road just like the old timer at the gas station told me, between spits of tobacco and lookin' at me funny.  Naturally there is a !@$#^% telephone pole in front.

    The cars on the front loading dock are quite amusing.  Since this is a used car lot and that I'm known to be shot at, I kept my distance and shot with a telephoto lens from the Post Office across the street.

    The large vent pipe is still in place and most of the building is in great shape.  While I didn't get to go in, it is obvious that some of the machinery is still inside.  It is quite large compared to other gins I've seen.

    Continental Ginning Systems were quite common at one time in the south.

    This is a rough looking shot, but you can see the unloading machinery still in place.

    Amidst the junk you can make out the really worn looking cotton storage building, still connected by a seed pipe.

    There is a road behind the building but I still couldn't get a clear shot of the gin.  Here is the back of the cotton storage building which is outside braced and very interesting.

    Here is the back side of the gin and the seed pipe going to the storage building.

    This building is also on the property but I'm not sure if it is part of the gin or not.  It has a very long overhang on the roof which leads me to believe that it is.

    Yes, this is the one that I'll build and I'll get started on the drawings right away.  It is much easier to build a prototype that you can go see again if you need to.

    I shot over 150 photos of the building, many of them detail shots.  Let me know if you want to build your own and I'll send you the photos.  They will come in handy when I begin drawing.

    Saturday, February 27, 2010

    Idiots that Rate Hobby Shops

    PLEASE NOTE: The article in question was pulled from the internet at 9:31 pm est. and is no longer an issue.   Mr. Truett's reply is in the comments section.  We appreciate his quick response on this matter.

    I love the fact that anyone can prove they are stupid just by logging on to the web.  Take this latest Rocket Scientist...

    The Top 10 Model Train Shops in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia by Larry Truett

    It's obvious that he's not a model railroader because he missed the one of the largest model train stores in the Southeast!  How does Mr. Truett do-it?  Well, he says he bases his rankings on on-line chatter.  So he ranks Kennesaw Trains & Hobbies as number one!

    Larry, did it ever occur to you that chatter is just what it means?  Chatter!  Worthless talk about nothing.  The reason that Kennesaw Trains is getting chatted about is because we are all watching (sadly) for when they might have to close their doors and we'll lose another hobby store.  Not because it is great, bigger or sells a lot of stuff.  Trainmaster Models, one of the finest hobby shops in the Southeast didn't even make the list!  Absurd!

    Let's compare...
    Click on Table to Expand

    How can a small store with no traffic and nothing much on the shelves beat out the largest model train shop in Georgia?  How can a hobby shop with one employee beat out a hobby shop that has seven folks and gives free clinics in a huge clinic room built just for that purpose?  Why is a cat lover that lives in San Diego, California rating hobby shops that he's never been to?  Simple!  He's hoping you'll hit one of the advertisers on his website.  Yup, posting bad info to drive you to his website so he can favor his advertisers.

    So please...take a minute to leave a comment on his site telling him that we aren't fools and that he's way off base by providing this garbage on the internet.  Our goals (no, not just me) is to get Larry to pull his bogus Ezine article off the web. 


    Please note that I'm not disparaging Kennesaw Trains.  I think the owner is a great guy and I shop there when I'm nearby.  Its just that this information on Ezine is far from accurate and I think Model Railroaders should hold their feet to the fire.  Meanwhile, visit every hobby shop you can including:

    Trainmaster Models

    Kennesaw Trains & Hobbies

    Support your local hobby shops!

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    Shop Clean Up Night

    The shop is getting messy now that I have so many projects going on at once.  They guys are coming over from the NCI group next week so I thought I'd straighten up a bit.  Found the coffee pot!

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    Quick Trip to the Hobby Shop

    My wife was running late tonight so I got to swing by the hobby shop.  We got caught up on the latest gossip and I bought two 1940's stake trucks for hauling cotton, some HO scale structure doors and some 3" nbw castings.

    I may go down and start rusting the trucks.  Or at least make them muddy!

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Vacation Contruction

    I took today off so that Marie and I could do new baby stuff and so my testicles could heal some more.  So I've been taking it easy today.  Should have been healed up by now.  Let's go to the basement!

    Where did I leave off?  I've been working on a top secret project for Dr. Ben's so I haven't worked on construction lately.  Oh yes!  I need to put the top layer on Section 1.  Ok, let's get to work.

    We've cut the outside supports and now we need to cut the three inside supports.  These will be a little more tricky.

    First we'll lay out the radials with a Sharpee marker and a yard stick.  This is where the supports will go, but they won't go the full length of the section since the front is sloped and may have rock formations.

    This is how the supports will look, although they will vary a bit.  After I started cutting I did ad a back support to the pieces and may cut them out later if they are in the way.

    Using scrap luan plywood I draw out each piece and cut it with a jig saw.

    Here are the three new pieces.  The square cut out is where the train goes and the large area is where the DCC systems will go.

    The will have to rest flat on the top board, so we'll need to cut some gaps in the foam.

    Using the hot wire cutter we'll cut out the gaps.

    The holes are cut wide enough so that the support and a piece of quarter round can fit.  The quarter round piece will help hold the support upright and reinforce it.

    Next I draw the outline of the foam with a marker so that I don't put glue where we don't need it.

    Then we lather on the wood glue.

    Ouch!  Blurry!  Sorry about that.  The pain meds are still working...  Pretend you see small paint cans and wood blocks weighing down the foam so that it sticks to the glue.

    I went upstairs and got a drink of water and feel a little better.  We're back in focus.  I put a light coat of white paint on one side of each of the supports and let them dry.  The reason I painted them is that they will be in an area with no light and the white makes a good light reflector.

    While the paint is drying I cut out the places where the track alignment blocks will go.  This was done with the hot knife.

    I did all three.

    Time for a second coat.  The paint job is sloppy, but it really doesn't matter.  Only I will see it.

    That's it for now.  I may come back and work on it later, but for now I have to go pick up my daughter.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    #004 02 Four Way Cotton Gin - Changed my Mind

    Actually, I'm going back to the wood sided prototype, the Augusta Gin.

    Really, I like the look of the wood sided gin.  This one is old so the wood would have been nice and silver-gray by 1945 if it was standing at all.  There is no information that I can find on this mill so I'll build it as a freelanced model and use what I can from this one photograph.

    Here is the plan overview with the rough dimensions that I was able to decipher.  Not a hard structure to  build, but will take some time.  Just what I needed for the SER convention, though I probably won't be able to make it with the new baby.  Maybe I'll send it by courier.

    One change that I'll make is that the cotton storage shed will have a railside loading dock.  I don't want to put the nice side of the gin toward the back so I'm not sure how it will look yet.

    Here is the warehouse, which is slightly enlarged from the above drawing.

    It is a simple structure, building on wood blocks to keep it off the ground.  Identical on both sides unless I put in a rail side dock.  I've shrunk it down a bit for the space I have.

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    #003 02 Four Way Cotton Gin - Burton's Cotton Gin - Texas

    Here is the prototype or at least one of the prototypes that I'll use for the gin.

    Gin Picture

    The Burton Cotton Gin

    This is a historical landmark and there are tons of photos of this magnificent place.  The angles on the roof are VERY interesting and it invites your eye to walk around.

    They have a FAQ about cotton processing.

    I've got a Powerpoint on the gin and a ton of photos in the file.  I'll print these and start drawing.  It's a very interesting building.

    Another Round Layout

    Here is another 'Bronx' inspired layout.

    LOL...keep in mind, I was round before they were!  My plan is almost 9 years old.  Just never got around to building it.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    New Rolling Stock!

    Well, my L&N single sheathed box car didn't make it.  Heck, I didn't even get a chance to finish it.  My buddy Rick just HAD to have it for his smelly old L&N railroad, so I gave it to him.

    Of course, he couldn't take it as a he went browsing...

    This Seaboard Silver Meteor boxcar is on its way over to my house for the Dixie Central.  I'm glad to have a fine Seaboard car on the line and Rick's being more kind than me and even putting the metal wheels on it.  Now I'm ashamed...

    We are done with rolling stock!  Now, to get it built and running!

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    #002 02 Four Way Cotton Gin - Hell's Bales

    Its funny, but the size and shape of a bale of cotton has not changed much since the 20's.  It's still 500 lbs and 33" wide at the "bulge".

    Here is a link to the dimension.

    I'm going to need a lot of bales of cotton.  I figure somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 or more.  They will be needed for the gin, for the dock, for loads in cars and some for the mill.  Maybe a few others here and there.

    For this many we'll need to mass produce them.  Probably resin or hyrdocal castings.

    Model Tech Studios has some, but they don't look very real.

    Cotton bale dimensions are 500 lbs, 55 inches long, 20 inches wide, 33 inches or less thick.

    Bale pictures...


    I forgot to check Model Railroader Magazine but E. L. Moore actually did an article on building a ginnery.  I ordered a copy of the plans from the NMRA Kalmbach Library today, so I should have it by Friday.  They are VERY good!

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Working on Section #4 - Foam and Elevated Platform

    I've had a little time today to play, so I made the best of it.  I want to get the track supporting parts of Section #4 which has the mill and the waterfalls.

    First I cut a 3/4" foam slab for the top of the section, then marked and arch where the lower level trackage will go.

    The forman was being her usualy self today.

    Here you can see the semi circle where the lower level track will be.  Using a #5 right hand turnout I marked where the track will go.  I also marked the tunnel opening.  Everything that is not foam will be a work space and room for the DCC system.

    Here you can see the #5 turnout.  This might become a #4 turnout as it is a bit too close to the edge.  Using some flex track I made sure the curve that leaves the table would work well.

    There will be a tunnel portal and a small section of track here so that if I add a yard or expand the layout, there will be a place to connect it.

    See?  Just a little too close.  Normally I like 4" of tangent track at a connection between sections.

    Before I install the upper deck I wanted to see how the mill was going to fit.  Its a bit tight with the lower level trackage below.

    The mill is also too low.  We'll have to boost it up.

    It will look great on the layout, though it is a bit too close to the aisl.  One of its purposes is to hide the joint between the two sections.

    When I put it on a slabl of 2" foam it comes up to the right height.

    I hope it is not too wide.  This is not a structure I want to scratchbuild as my June deadline is approaching rapidly and a baby is going to show up in April.

    Speaking of too wide.

    The next step is to cut a luan upper deck.  Just like other patterns I used the previous section to mark this one.  I went ahead and put in the waffle marks, but I'm not sure that I'll remove them.

    Nice fit.  Now we'll cut away everything that doesn't look like a layout.  Mostly about 3-4" on the front.

    Next I'll make some side boards to lift the upper deck.  The square is a hole for the lower level train and the circles are just for lightweighting.

    Here is the right side board.

    Here is the left side board.  I'll need to cut boards for the middle as well.  But we'll do that tomorrow.

    I put the upper deck on the work table and will make three more risers tomorrow.  A stop by Home Depot tomorrow will get me a stick of quarter round which I'll need to help fasten the sides to the upper deck. 

    Meanwhile, I'll just enjoy the pretty wood!