Two feet in?

Two feet in?  No I’m not talking gauge…I’m talking about me…

This past weekend, I attended the Midwest NG Show put on by Gary Kohler (PLW/M2FQ/LITCo…) and met up with some of my long time 2-Foot enthusiasts.  Including Gary White and Chris McChesney.  I had a wonderful time, great to spend time with my long time (more than 20 year) 2 foot enthusiasts…Darry S, Mark H, Gary K, Jeff S, Tom H, etc… also to catch up with my other NG friends, including those from right around home…The most common question to me was something like this:  “So how’s your layout going?”   My answer tended to go something like this…  “Well….not much progress, I’ve got one foot in Sn2, one foot in S-scale standard gauge, and a hand in HO DT&I of 1976”  It’s an honest answer and I’d continue with, “I need to jump into something with two feet…oh yea, I have two other projects in play too.  My dad and I are building 4.75″ gauge railroad in my backyard for my 50th birthday celebration and I’m working HAVOC, and 1923 HO modular layout with my model building friends”

Clearly I have lots of dreams, some will come to fruition, but none of them will be what I want if I keep shifting my energies and resources all around.  So, I proclaim, I need to pick a home layout and jump in with two feet!

So what should I jump into?

  • DT&I is out – Actually 3-4 weeks ago, the HO DT&I was hot and heavy.  I thought I could build Ford park at one end of my basement on top of (or under) Kingfield.  I could probably make something fit…but it was not going to be special and the 20+ foot long trains would have looked funny in my railroad room (24×30′).  The DTI regularly ran 3-4 diesels on the front end of trains, it simply would have looked bad pulling anything less than 20-25 cars…Anyway…I may have some 1976 freight cars on ebay soon.
  • S-scale – I really like the size of S-scale standard gauge.  I’ve considered the C&O of Indiana or the PRR in Cincy or B&O or other.  S-scale is still in the running, but it seems doubtful right now.
  • Sn2 SR&RL is back in the lead…I’m trying to jump in with 2-feet….There are a few things I need to get past:
    • How to meet my locomotive needs?  The current 5 SR&RL locos will not meet my needs and scratch building is not in the near future….Answer:  How about a compromise of Blacksone K-27’s?  Yea, not cheap, but they run great out of the box, have sound, and are steam.  Seems better than running diesels, given my 1912-1914 era.  I could practice building steam by re-detailing them.  These engines could put in the miles running the railroad for show purposes so as not to wear off the nickel platting on an Sn2 brass Forney.
    • Can the locos pull a 2% grade?  I think the answer is yes and I really think the K’s could pull more than enough…A future 2-6-0 or 2-6-2 should be close to a K, might be a bit less as those K’s are quite heavy.  Now the Jeff B has gotten us bolster for the Tichy Trucks I think Tichy and/or Smokey Mountain should roll sufficiently well.  Both should be simple enough to assemble.
    • What about spiders for all those turntables?  I could have 5-8 turntables….
    • Trackwork….At this point in time, I do not feel that handlaid track is something I want to do on the full railroad?  So I’m considering the use of ME code 55 flex with LITCo code 55 turnouts and code 70 between Phillips and Farmington.  I already have some flex to use.  Possibly in towns I may handlay…So, I’ll have to try it out…
    • A detailed plan – Honestly, I pride myself on being good at Track planning…but I think I’m just going to build the benchwork and fit the track in place….I’ll deal with change as required…
    • One phase!  I had been thinking how to do this in phases….Phases so I could just back out at any time if things did not work out….We’ll I think that mentality just does not work!  That’s like sticking your toes into the pool.  At this time I think I need to jump in with two feet and go all the way under!  I may come up shaking my head and screaming….but then I’ll warm up and enjoy myself…

So, step back…I’m about to take a running leap and jump all in!


Here is an HO K-27 with an Sn2 Big Forney. Do they look OK together? The domes are a bit small, but not tiny, the boiler is lower slung, but might be fatter, but lack the extension typical on 2-foot locos, the head light is a bit small. The tender is a bit short, but not terrible, clearly the CAB is the biggest problem. The cylinder might be too large. Anyway, good enough for a stand in…


The HOn3 K-27 does fit on the turntable, so no compromises there to make it run on the layout. A K-36 might look better, with it’s bigger drivers. Blackstone is taking orders for those now (No, I’m not going to order one)



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4 Responses to Two feet in?

  1. Trevor says:

    This is one of the challenges I faced in the On2 world – there was just so much to do, and my ambitions outstripped my time and energy to get it all done. And that’s one reason why I switched to S scale standard gauge, and simplified my layout. (Turnouts are a good indication of layout complexity and I went from a planned 30 turnouts on the On2, down to an S scale layout that has 8.)
    One thing that helped me was the first chapter of Lance Mindheim’s self-published book on designing a switching layout. That first chapter is all about strategic goals. There’s not a mention of curve radii, turnout numbers, or other typical planning considerations. Rather, it focuses on questions like, “What skills do you have now? What skills do you need to build your layout? What’s the gap? Are you willing to learn the missing skills?”
    The book is worth every penny just for that chapter.
    – Trevor (Port Rowan in 1:64 – and loving it!)

    • narrowtracks says:

      Trevor, I agree that chapter in Lance Mindheim’s book is excellent. I regularly lend out my copies to individuals that are stuck and need a bit of inspiration and direction. What had me over the last 5 years was lack of focus. I got it in my mind that 1) I had time to have multiple layouts/themes and 2) I was thinking the grass was greener in HO or S-scale. I no longer feel either of those is a good form me. I need to be committed to one layout/theme. For me, the Sn2 SR&RL layout will be simpler and it is what I know, so easier for me to just “do it”.

      I still remember the grin on my face as I watched one of Pierre’s S-scale 2-10-2’s roll past on the S-scale workshop…The sheer awesomeness of those locos (impact of size and detail) will not happen in Sn2, so I envy you in have such large locos to operate. Also, I’ve enjoyed the TMTV episond on ESU sound. I look forward to the next one.

  2. Gary White says:

    Hey, it was a fun & furious 2 days of 2foot… I think the K-27 might make you happy on the big steam as a stand in. I bought a C-19, drivers are really small, but a great runner. And you know our 2-6-0 MDC conversations, maybe next year one will be done.

    It was great talking 2foot, and joking around, I know I owe you some build pictures of a plow.

    Glade you have jumped in again, just get building right! I have started my next project… for my K&DR…


    • narrowtracks says:

      Gary, yea, I agree the K-27’s will be sufficient to keep me going forward… I love the C-19’s, but they are just too small for Sn2, but hey you can still enjoy it running on your layout. Yea, I need to start that plow. I look forward to you next K&DR project. I have a guess on what it is… It may be one of my next projects too…

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