Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About the Wrecking Crew and the LG&W.

1.  Who or what is The Wrecking Crew? The Wrecking Crew is a model railroad club formed by 27 local modelers to enjoy and promote the hobby of model railroading. It is a diverse group with varied backgrounds, ranging from an architect, retired military, commercial photographer, communications professionals, engineers and even a professional chef.
2.  What is the LG&W? It stands for the Locust Grove and Western Railroad. It is our 20’ by 30’ sectional model railroad consisting of 16 sections measuring 30” X 60”. It is a representation of Central Alabama in the 1950s.
3.  How are the sections built? The frame is made from ½ inch plywood with a 1/4 inch plywood panel added for strength and stability. Two inch extruded Styrofoam insulation panels are glued to the substructure. The track is laid on cork or wood roadbed. The legs are 2X2s that fit into pockets underneath, and each leg has a leveling screw. When the layout is put together, the sections are pinned together using door hinges; take out 4 pins and a section can be lifted out
4.  The main town looks like the one I grew up in. What town is it? There is no specific prototype for the main town or the smaller one. We used the visual look of several small towns in Central Alabama.
5.  What are the town names? The larger town is Locust Grove (a combination of Pleasant Grove and Locust Fork) and is located in Warrior County. The smaller one is called Smithville for the member that designed its layout. It might be re-named “Cuskerburg” for the member that re-built most of it.
6.  What is the scale? The model Railroad is built in HO scale (the most popular) It is 1:87 or slightly less than 1/8 inch to the foot.
7.  Do the layout sections belong to individuals? No. The layout is wholly owned by the club. Unlike some modular groups, our layout is a sectional design and can only go together one way and we must have all sections for it to run.
8.  How long does it take to set it up? It takes about 2 hours from trailer to operations. The individual sections are stacked together 3 high and transported in a 20 foot trailer.
9.  What is the time frame? The layout is set in the mid- 1950s although we sometimes operate later equipment.
10.  How do you control the trains? We use a Digital Command Control system made by Digitrax Inc.
11.  Well, how does it work? There is constant AC power to the rails. Each engine has a decoder (computer chip) that receives signals from the throttles and interprets them.
12.  How well does it work? Usually very well, and the controller units plug in at several places around the layout, (some are even wireless) which means we don’t have to stay at a control panel all the time. But sometimes we get interference and the system will just shut down, and then we have to kind of re-boot it.
13.  Is it safe to touch the tracks? Is that why you have the glass barrier? Yes, it is safe to touch. The voltage is very low on the tracks. There is no more than 13 volts beyond the control box, where we plug into normal house outlets. The barrier is to keep children’s (and adult’s) hands where they can’t do any damage to the equipment or scenery. And the barrier is Plexiglas, so that’s safe, too.                                                                                        14.  How many trains can you run at one time? The system is capable of handling 99 decoders at one time. If they were all in engines, trains would touch each other. We normally only run only 2 to 6 at one time.
15.  How long can a train be? We have run a coal train 56 cars long with 5 engines in it. But normal length is 10 -15 cars.
16.  How fast will it go? It can go really fast but we try to maintain a reasonably close prototypical speed, say 30 to 50 scale miles an hour.
17.  Where did you get the buildings? Most started out as kits available from hobby shops or the internet. Most of the kits were modified to some degree. Other buildings were built from scratch, using wood or plastic.
18.  What scenery materials do you use? We use a variety of natural and manmade products. The main product is various colors of ground foam rubber available from Woodland Scenics and Scenic Express. The products are available from local hobby shops.
19.  What are the rocks made of? The rocks are plaster castings made from latex rubber molds, some of which were made from real rock formations.
20.  What are the trees made from? Most of the trees are made from native oak-leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) blossoms, dried and then green ground foam glued on. There are some trees made from sagebrush and some commercial ready-made trees.
21.  How did you make the water? There are two different techniques demonstrated on the layout. One uses “Enviro-tex” acrylic resin used for decoupage and available from Craft stores. The other techniques uses artist’s Gloss Medium painted on to the painted water surface. The waves are made with Gloss Gel.
22.  How did you make the backgrounds? The backdrop scenes were developed from commercial scenes, photographs of local scenes, and also hand painted. The object was to blend action and the static background scene to give a smooth transition.
23.  Do the track signals work? While we have a long range plan to have the railroad signals operate in true, prototypical fashion, recently we have added some signals that change aspect color to Red when a train passes them.  Once the train is clear, the colors change from Red to Amber and back to Green on a timer circuit.
24.  Tell me about the track. What is it? We use commercial flex track called Code 83 and code 100 (denoting the size of the rail). Some turnouts (switches) are hand built to fit the specific location.
25.  How do you keep the track clean? We use a special train with cars that have scrubber pads that wipe the grime off the track. There are commercial track cleaning cars available also
26.  There is a lot of detail. Did it take a long time? Is it finished? This layout is about 14 years old and we are constantly adding to it. The detail adds to the enjoyment of running the trains through a realistic environment.                                                                27.  Some of the scenes are funny. Why? This is a hobby. It is supposed to be fun. It gets the viewer’s attention and adds interest too.
28.  Do you ever have wrecks? Often, although we try not to. With our DCC system it is possible to run into another train. It happens mostly when we are distracted.
29.  How much did the layout cost? We are not sure. We have not actually tracked the total expenses. Initial cost to begin this version was about $1500.00, eight years ago.
30.  There was a layout before this one? Yes. It was smaller (it would fit INSIDE this one with room to spare) and lasted 12 years before we needed to rebuild.
31.  Where did you get all the people? You can purchase figures in different scales from hobby shops. We have bought some already painted and some that we painted ourselves.
32.  Where did you get all the people (ALTERNATE ANSWER): We were inspired by the movie “Field of Dreams”, and built the towns and countryside – and the people just came, just like in the movie.
33.  Some engines have sound effects. How do you do that? Some engines are equipped with a special computer chip that generates the sound. There are sound chips for both diesel and steam engines.
34.  How can I get involved in model railroading?  For starters, go to these web sites: http://www.NMRA.org ; http://www.greatesthobby.com.  Then, if you want to learn more and are ready to start, visit local hobby shops and pick up books on model railroading. Subscribe to model railroad magazines. Go to Train Shows. Get involved with your local division of the NMRA. Join the NMRA and go to the regional and national conventions. Sit in on clinics for planning and building model railroads.

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