In the words of General MacArthur…" I Have Returned!" Its been a long while since I’ve done much railroady, real life gets in the way, work, health problems, a divorce etc etc all conspired to keep me outta The Shop and away from the rails. A heart condition diagnosed in February and also renal problems (yes I was a bad diabetic for far too long) have pretty much ruled out me doing any heavy work thats gonna be needed to repair and maintain my 1:20 scale line outdoors this year, but I am feeling well enough that I NEED to railroad. My On30 collection is the answer.
Some of you may remember previous efforts that I started for both freestanding On30 layouts and a layout around the walls of my Shop in the basement. these projects never got very far because I was having to make too many compromises in the railroad that I want to build. I looked at doing a complete indoor line utilizing my living room/ dining room area and even started drawing up track plans to fit the space, then lost interest again, I wanted to be outside.
I needed to move my old 7/8 scale display layout from its storage area, and I was wondering what to do with it. None of the rolling stock I have now will run on the tight curves that it was laid with, and it dawned on my I could recycle the benchwork into an On30 modular line! I also realized I have a seldom used sunporch adjacent to my carport that tends to collect junk more than anything I could use… It was brilliant I could set up the loop and design a loads in/empties out arrangment on one end and do some mining and logging industries along the way. its could be semi outdoors, yet undercover too. But I had forgotten how big the damn thing was!!! 10x18 feet would barely fit on the carport let alone in the smaller sunporch (roughly 17 x 11 feet) so a redesign was in order.
Instead of a portable layout I theorized that I could expand the benchwork make it an around the walls walk in line. I spent about a month drawing plan after plan on paper, making changes, starting over, tryig to work in all the things I wanted on a perfect railroad, It wasn’t until I was chatting with our good friend Boomer one night that things started to click. He pointed out that theres was no way I could do everything I wanted to do in the space availible, and he was right. The rest of the chat gang with helpful with suggestions and ideas, which if not useable sent me down avenues towards ideas I would never have thought of.
Note that there are two swinging bridges across doorways into the the room. These are gonna be constructed similar to the bridge that Andy has on his Bluestone Sourtherns Indoor division to allow walk through access. the bottom swing is a must have. the one to the right is a “would like to have” to complete a running loop to allow for locomotive breakin running and testing, and just general running equipment that would not normally be associated with the operation of the railroad.
The line is being influenced heavily by the Manns Creek Railway down in the New River Gorge. While its not gonna be a faithful copy there is a lot of inspiration in there.Im also borrowing ideas from the EBT and ET&WNC lines as well. Now I’m inspired its time for construction to begin.
I decided to start construction in the areas where the switchback and mining areas will be so that I can set the grades appropriately to let the equipment to operate reliably (model locomotives tend to buck going down super steep grades due to the way their drive trains are designed) and the first section installed , with the help of my lovely assistant Courtney, was a corner module that was set up and srewed to the walls.
Yes the layout is short, but necessity made it so because it needed to be below the leverl of the sunporch windows. I’m not planning any sort of back drop other than the sceniced hills so light a and air can circulate. It is an Outdoor Railroad after all…A really neat thing happened after I got this section in was the general height will allow me to expand from the Sunporch to a shelf out on the carport without major grade changes. this led me to ideas that finally helped me sort out a few problems on the track plan (more on that later). By the end of the evening we had installed and leveled two sections and I was very happy.
The 45mm track will be removed and most of the scenery stuff scraped off , then a new deck starting with 1" polystyrene foam insulation will be built up from there. the foam insulation is stiff enough that it should bridge that gap with no problems. then I will build up and shape the lanscape from there.
The Adventure Continues…