2015 Sn3 Symposium – Roger Nulton’s S-scale Monon

The Sn3 Symposium hosted operating sessions.  Each participant had the opportunity to sign up and operate on one layout.  This is a great opportunity and a hard choice for us guests.  I was torn between operating on Dale Kruetzer’s Sn3 RGS and Roger Nulton’s S-scale Monon.  The “pull” to operate on S-scale was just too great and Roger’s layout is one of the best S-scale layouts.

Quite honestly, the only significant S-scale I’d ever scene is S-gauge/Hi-Rail or Flyer layouts at shows.  I guess there was some S-scale at the NMRA National X2011 show.  So, I really wanted to see the best S-scale had to offer and could it be competitive to HO or Sn3/Sn2 to my actual eyes (not in a mag or blog).  I’ll just say, that I was blown away by S-scale as Roger has done it….It look great, and operated great.  Take a look at the photos and make your own impression.

An RS3 on Roger's layout

An RS3 on Roger’s layout

Roger giving the pre-session instructions.  The layout currently operates on a sequence and uses CC&WB.  He is standing behind the Shops and staging is behind him.

Roger giving the pre-session instructions. The layout currently operates on a sequence and uses CC&WB. He is standing behind the Shops and staging is behind him.

Roger provides a "J" channel to slip CC&WB's in while doing switching along the route.  It worked quite nicely.

Roger provides a “J” channel to slip CC&WB’s in while doing switching along the route. It worked quite nicely.  When cards are not present the viewer is not distracted by the channel.

Roger employed 2-man crews.  I was the conductor on a local, and here is the engineer.  We used hand signals and he said he enjoyed.

Roger employed 2-man crews. I was the conductor on a local, and here is the engineer. I my suggestion, we used hand signals.  I think using hand signals is more appropriate for the time, as radios were not yet used.  My engineer said he enjoyed it or maybe he was just being kind.

At Gosport, IN we encountered another crew switching and had to wait to get through

At Gosport, IN we encountered another crew switching and had to wait to get through

Railfanning our caboose as it crosses a bridge

Railfanning our caboose as it crosses a bridge

Road crossing.  Glad the buss stopped safely back from the crossing.  My engineer blew the whistle in time.  No S-scale students killed today!

Road crossing. Glad the buss stopped safely back from the crossing. My engineer blew the whistle in time. No S-scale students killed today!

Newcastle is a hot spot on Roger's layout

Newcastle is a hot spot on Roger’s layout

An SW1 in the yard

An SW1 in the yard

Interchange is a significant element of Roger's operating scheme.  He has plans to have NYC and PRR jobs

Interchange is a significant element of Roger’s operating scheme. He has plans to have NYC and PRR jobs

The size of this structure blew me away.  It is big.  It made me think that Maine 2-foot structures are a bit smaller, closer to HO.  Why, the industries and towns are smaller so the structures that serve them are smaller.  Anyone modeling S-scale will have to deal with the larger size.  O-scale has to be worse.

The size of this structure blew me away. It is big. It made me think that Maine 2-foot structures are a bit smaller, closer to HO. Why, the industries and towns are smaller so the structures that serve them are smaller. Anyone modeling S-scale will have to deal with the larger size. O-scale has to be worse.

One of the branch staging yards is under the layout.  I did not notice it until I was about to leave.  It is effective and I like the blue backdrop.    My hand is there for "scale" so you can see how small the space is.

One of the branch staging yards is under the layout. I did not notice it until I was about to leave. It is effective and I like the blue backdrop. My hand is there for “scale” so you can see how small the space is.

This 0-6-0 sitting on a display shelf caught my attention as it is a Rex model (similar to an old HO Mantua Kit).  Roger did a nice job finishing it, but I'd guess it does not operate as well as the SHS SW1 so became a display item.

This 0-6-0 sitting on a display shelf caught my attention as it is a Rex model (similar to an old HO Mantua Kit). Roger did a nice job finishing it, but I’d guess it does not operate as well as the SHS SW1 so became a display item.

The quarry branch is in the garage.

The quarry branch is in the garage.

The quarry branch is up high, requiring steps to operate.  A PRR interchange yard is on the right.  We did not operate either this day

The quarry branch is up high, requiring steps to operate. A PRR interchange yard is on the right. We did not operate either this day

In the end, Roger has done a wonderful job. His layout may not be equal to the best HO has to offer, but it would be well above average. S-scale is not quite as “ready-made” as HO. But the size/mass of the trains is fun. They operate well, are easy to couple/uncouple. S-scale is worth consideration for those willing to compromise and or willing to build a bit on their own.

If you’d like more information about S-scale consider the NASG website and/or the S-scale SIG website or S-scale Resource.

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3 Responses to 2015 Sn3 Symposium – Roger Nulton’s S-scale Monon

  1. Trevor says:

    I know you’re well versed with S because of your work in Sn2 – but didn’t realize that you had not been exposed to scale 1:64 standard gauge modeling.
    We’ve talked offline about working in standard gauge – maybe something along the lines of the Indiana & Ohio, if I recall. Any further thoughts on that, now that you’ve seen a nicely done S scale layout? S std certainly runs better than Sn2 (or On2 for that matter).
    You’re right – S is definitely not as well served as HO. But by carefully choosing the prototype and location (or creating a plausible freelanced line based on same), a really nice layout can result. And S-std definitely has the advantage over HO-std when it comes to things like onboard sound and a sense of presence.
    Your comment about structures is interesting. I’d argue that some of the mills around Strong, Maine are huge in any scale. And again, choice of prototype can play a role in managing the size of the structures. On my own layout, the largest structure is the station in Port Rowan. Beyond that, i have a couple of modest feed mills and some coal bins. The rest of the traffic is generated on and off team tracks, which take almost no space at all.
    I’m looking forward to your additional thoughts about S std…
    Cheers!
    – Trevor

    Port Rowan in 1:64
    An S scale study of a Canadian National Railways branch line terminal – in its twilight years.
    http://themodelrailwayshow.com/cn1950s

    • narrowtracks says:

      Trevor,

      How dare you expose my S-std itch on the Sn2 modeler page….When I walked out of Roger’s S-scale Monon layout, I was ready to make the go S-scale all the way. However, I did not get on the plane and fly home at that moment. Instead, 50 minutes later I walked into Dale Kuertzer’s basement and went wow. Narrow gauge done right looks great. In the end, I walked away from the Sn3 symposium and ruled out On30. That may not seem like much, but I crossed something off the list. Future posts will tell how I fight the rest of my demons.

      I remember the first time I mocked up the Phillips depot. It was large. But I’ve become accustom to it’s size. As you suggest, the turning mills along the SR&RL are good size and may be similar to the stone cutting mill on Roger’s layout (my guess at the purpose of the grey structure is in the photo above). But seeing Roger’s 30-36″ long structure was an eye opener to me.

      Thanks for your response.

      Dave K.

      • Trevor says:

        Hi Dave:
        Sorry I’ve outed you. But then again, doing one doesn’t mean you can’t do the other. S-std might be a good choice for a shelf-switcher, or a small exhibition layout.
        Lucky for you that you visited Dale’s after seeing Roger’s place, I guess…
        It should also be noted that smaller structures still look worthy of rail service when the trains themselves are small and ride on rails just 24″ apart. Part of what makes Roger’s stone cutting mill (I’ll buy that) look right is that it dwarfs the train next to it – and given that the standard gauge equipment is larger, the structure has to be larger in order to do that.
        Cheers!
        – Trevor (who still has all of his On2 because…)

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