Sn2 at the 2019 Midwest Show


A family looks on while the mixed train takes a stop at Mapplewood (Image taken from Portland Locomotive Works Facebook page.  Click image to follow link to page)

The 2019 Midwest Show was another enjoyable event.  I enjoyed my time with my two foot modeling friends, local train buddies, mini-bunch friends and sharing the layout with the public.  Thanks to Gary Kohler, PLW and the Mini-Bunch for hosting the event!

My setup was again a “U” shape with Bigelow being a place to initiate trains and the full length turntable doing duty at the other end.  This was the first year for NCE with wireless throttles and even tested out the ProtoThrottle (I’ll have future posts on both).  I tuned my small Forney’s and they ran great.  The keep-alives in the TCS decoders seems to have died, I’m working with TCS to get upgrades.

There are a number of things that I wish I had completed, but let’s not go negative….It was too much fun, so let’s see photos of the Sn2 setup.


Larry Williams 2-4-0 pull a few flat cars into Bigelow


Gary White’s brought a few SR&RL freight cars as seen on the near track. Most were built from Mount Blue kits.


Larry Williams 2-4-0 modified from a WW&F #7 is approaching the Bigelow depot. Gary White built the freight cars at the rear.


Larry caught a few WW&F cars here in Bigelow.  The 309 has been loaded with lumber.  The SRR&L loco works in the background. Oh…that is a Gilpin caboose.


A pulpwood train crossing Salmon Hole bridge


Head-on as WW&F #7 pulls the pulp train through the Salmon Hole bridge. The caboose is passing the Mapplewood depot


Larry caught the pulp wood train working it’s way toward Bigelow


The pulp wood trains has already passed.  White Birch Tank looks lonely waiting for the next train


Chris caught the WW&F special after it passed White Birch tank. The locomotive is my T&T WW&F #7 and the cars were all built by Eric Larson and updated by Chris.


An overview of the layout with the WW&F train on approach to Salmon Hole bridge. I’m probably fiddling with the DCC or ProtoThrottle


Another over view, this time from the opposite side. I’m chatting it up with Paul and Jim, two of my model railroad buddies, two who have helped me with my Sn2 layouts. The full train length turntable is in the foreground.


The passenger train waits at Bigelow. SR&RL #7 was on the head end.


The Sn2 SR&RL made the Morning Star Journal, thanks to the wonder of these two. Click on the image to read the whole story about the show. I most say, I too found watching trains from this vantage point to be very captivating.

Thanks to Chris, Larry, and Gary for use of their photos….

Again, thanks to all who came to the show and made it a good time.  Anyone wishing to see my Sn2 modules in person, stay tuned, there may be a opportunity again this year.



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Dream Layout V2 Concept – More work on grades

I continue to play with my dream Sn2 SR&RL plan as I want to locate Bigelow is a location where I could start building the layout.  By shifting Bigelow under the South end of Strong and moving Carrabasset to the location vacated by Bigelow, I get much better grades.  I’ve worked up a new profile.

SR&RL V2 Preliminary Grades

SR&RL Version2 Preliminary Grades. I have left off some intermediate locations, but the grades in this are a very reasonable 1.5% or less

Some intermediate locations were left out of the grade profile.  But it does indicate that reasonable grades are possible.  To add the intermediate locations, I need to decide how long the intermediate sidings should be.  Some proposals.

  • Strong & Phillips – 12 car trains – 9′ point to point
  • Madrid, Salem, Kingfield – 8 car trains – 7′ point to point
  • Carrabasset, Reeds, Eustis – 6 car trains – 6′ point to point

Refining the grades results in the following profile.  I added flats for Madrid, Salem, and Carrabasset and still the grades do not exceed 1.7%.  Many intermediate switching points (such as Reeds, Hammond Field, Kingfield Pit, and Perham Junction) not on the concept diagram would be on grade and would require brakes for switching on the main.

SR&RL V2 Grades Refined 1

Refined grades with flats added for the intermediate locations of Carrabasset, Salem, Madrid and decreased grade through the International Mill in Phillips.  The grades are still a reasonable 1.7-1.8% max.


Here is the three levels of this double deck + mushroom plan.  Notice that 3 decks exist where Bigelow is on the lowest deck, Strong is the middle deck and Eustis is mushroomed above.

SR&RL V2 Concept Level 1

SR&RL V2 concept level 1 – F&M Bigelow to Strong

SR&RL V2 Concept Level 2

SR&RL V2 concept level 2 – SRRR Strong and down to Farmington

SR&RL V2 Concept Level 3

SR&RL V2 concept level 3 – PRRR Strong to Phillips and on to Rangeley and Marbles

This V2 concept of the double deck + mushroom design solves the most problematic grades from the earlier design by moving Bigelow.  The only negative consequence is that operators will not be able to duck under Strong when they arrive off the F&M form Kingfield.  But I feel that is a minor negative and can be managed by automating a few of the turnouts and having operators walk around the peninsula.  The change gains room for the sawmill at Bigelow and log loading between spurs can be added along the F&M on either side of Carrabasset.

This is the concept I’m going to move forward on.

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Playing with Grades

I’m still considering the two deck + mushroom dream plan concept as proposed a few years ago.  One consideration is the distance between decks.  Superimposing the lowest level grades under the upper level grades I can see the clearances.

SR&RL Grades Overlay 3

Bigelow to Strong shown under upper deck

This above diagram shows the deck separation as the railroad circles the layout room.  Bigelow is proposed to be 36″ high and the International mill in Phillips directly above would be 55″ above.  That’s 19″ spacing.  Carrabasset at 39.5″ would only be 17″ below Phillips at 56″.  On around the layout, the spacing between track levels would vary between 15″ and 19″.  If the upper deck is 4″ think, that is 11-15″ gap for viewing.  Not too bad.  Looking up Tony Koester’s track plan, and it seems to have similar gaps and widths.  My memory of his layout is that it was very acceptable.

I would like to ease the grade to Bigelow, so I’m planning to extend the line, shifting Carrabasset to where Bigelow is and put Bigelow below Strong.  Next post I hope to consider this change.

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2018 Midwest Narrow Gauge Show


SR&RL #5 pulling a string of WW&F cars build by Eric Larson and updated by Chris McChesney (photo by Chris)


String of Eric Larson WW&F cars owned by Chris McChesney pulled by my SR&RL #5 at White Birch Tank (photo by Chris)

This past weekend, I displayed my Sn2 Free-mo modules at the Midwest Narrow Gauge Show.  Had a great time interacting with other Sn2 modelers and many more.

Chris McChesney posted the following on the group along with two photos.

Hey guys,

Good show for Sn2.  Lots to see and run.  David Keith brought several modules including Bigelow Yard, White Birch Tank, Salmon Hole Bridge, Maplewood Flag Stop and siding and a mind-blowing two-track sector plate turned whole-train turntable!  

Gary White and I had great fun operating Dave’s modules with locos WW&F #7 and SR&RL #6 on DCC and Dave appreciated the breaks and help with tear-down.  On that subject, I recommend that more people commit to helping out module owners with set up, lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, tear down and just general time for the module owner to enjoy walking around any show. 

Dave had several SR&RL pieces of rolling stock and Gary White brought even more.  I brought Eric Larson’s small fleet of WW&F cars that I upgraded with freshly built Smokey Mountain Models freight and passenger trucks.  Everything ran great and any problems that arose were resolved on the fly.

There was a dealer there with a huge selection of Sn2 brass including some custom weathered pieces done by Matt Sharp back in the day.  The dealer also had many pieces of finished Sn2 rolling stock from the SR&RL, WW&F and KC.  Gary picked up a nice SR&RL pulp rack and I was tempted by two nice KC boxcars. 

Matt and Nancy Sharp were also there with the resurrected Train & Trooper.  While Matt does not plan to have a shop, he will carry a selection of items for mail order.  He had a ton of S Aspen Models resin figures and animals at the show and many were purchased.  

Matt also announced his new Sn2 prairie brass loco project and was looking for feedback and interest.  Initially he planned SR&RL #16 and #18, but he said he has had more queries about WW&F #6.  That being the case, I mentioned that the SR&RL #19 is actually a sister engine to the WW&F #6 and there are only a few major detail differences in the as-built locos:  counterweight shape, number of sand domes, and cylinder side shape.  If you are interested in any of these prairie possibilities, you should email Matt at trainandtrooper at

Chris McChesney


I’m not sure there is much more for me to add.  I had a great time.  Enjoyed talking up Sn2 and modeling with anyone who walked by.  Thanks to all who helped me with setup and teardown.  Thanks to Gary for the best event in years (I still have fond memories of the early years in the church).

If anyone else got more photos of the setup, I’d love to post them….

I came out of the event pumped for Sn2 and I hope such momentum continues forward for some time to come!  Stay tuned….

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Always inspiring – Rensselaer Model Railroad Society


Image pulled from 3D walk through of Rensselaer Model Railroad Society layout

In my youth and college days I was always inspired when I saw an article by one of the Rensselaer Model Railroad Club.  No, they do not model the SR&RL, Maine 2-Foot, not even narrow gauge.  But they were a at the forefront of proto-modeling.  The put believable modeling first….I watched that Allen Keller Video again and again….

Today, I encounter link to a 3D walkthrough of the layout:  Rensselaer Model Railroad Club in 3D.  It brings brought back the memories.  Still looks great.  Is holding up to the test of time.


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Eastern Loggers Videos

A fellow by the name of Joe Ross posted two youtube videos about the Eastern Loggers, the club I used to be active in.  For many years now, the layout has been complete, but a few guys maintain in the home where it resides.  Additionally, I found another video shot by member Mike Tener.  I posted about my involvement with the eastern loggers in this post.

I hope you can enjoy the videos

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S-scale boxcars for Farmington: What MEC Numbers

PLW has announced S-scale double sheathed box cars (O-scale too).  The MEC and NYC versions will have printed sides.  Gary indicates he will produce them with any car number you request.  So what numbers to get?

O-scale pilot model of PLW MEC Boxcar.  The paint color is dupi color red primer.  Same as one of my test paint colors for SR&RL cars

Honestly, I have no idea the date of the paint scheme.

I’m planning to model 1912-1914 time frame.  So I took a look at the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) for 1912.  (FYI:  Many ORER’s were scanned in for google docs you can find them by searching and including google docs in the search string).  Here is the ORER I found:

If you’ve never looked at an ORER, you will find a “Index of Railroads” in the first few pages (This was after the powers of attorney pages).  It will list each railroad and a page number.  One can than use that page number to find the page for the railroad.  The page number does not correspond to the PDF’s digital page number.  So it can take a bit of scrolling to find the proper page.

MEC listing in Index of Railroads (around page 15 in ORER)

The Maine Central pages seem to be 340 to 341.  So I scrolled down to those pages.  It’s hard to read the page numbers in the book as they are cut off in the scan.

First page MEC ORER entry for Dec 1912

First page MEC ORER entry for Dec 1912

According to PLW, the S-scale, box cars are roughly 6 5/8″ long, or roughly 35′.  The number on the pilot model is 1897, but others are in the 8000 series.  In the 1912 ORER, the 1800’s are used for coal hoppers, so that number does not seem appropriate for my time frame.  Possibly it is correct for an earlier time frame.  The 1912 ORER lists 8001-10400 as 36′ box cars (actually 36′ 9″ outside length and note that 9818 had an end door), so I’ll go with 8000 numbers.  The length is off by a bit more than one foot, and I do not know if the lettering is accurate for 1912, but who cares, close enough.

So I’m picking 8015 and 8301 for my two cars.  Hopefully no one else picks my numbers, that way I can pick up an additional car and not have a conflict.

Test cuts of NYC box car

Additionally, I’ll order an NYC car with number 53504

I plan to rotate standard gauge cars on and off the layout in Farmington.  My hope is to have the waybills for the SR&RL cars have a specific standard gauge car to deliver to.  2-3 SR&RL cars will be billed to a standard gauge car.  Think of each standard gauge car as a unique industry in Farmington and what’s even better, the industries in Farmington will change location between or even during an operating session.  The Farmington switcher (SR&RL #7) will have to deliver to make multiple spots at a standard gauge car to fill it up (or unload).  Then the standard gauge car will be moved off layout.  This should make the Farmington switcher a full filling job to work.

In addition to the two MEC cars and the NYC car, I plan to order two undecorated cars.  Looking through the SR&RL books, it seems that B&M, Erie, CV, and other boxcars game to Farmington.

Like most PLW offerings, I expect the standard gauge cars to have limited availability.  Reruns would depend on demand.


Posted in Farmington, PLW - Portland Locomotive Works, S-scale | 3 Comments