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

Woodlark Central

In an earlier post this week, I stated I was jumping in with 2-feet!  That’s true for my model railroad, but I have another project.  The backyard 4.75″ Woodlark Central.  It is a backyard railroad that I’m building with my Dad for me and my friends.  Today, the grading began, you can read more about it on my back yard one inch scale blog.  Take a look here:

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John Rogers On2 SR&RL Videos

John Rogers may have been one of the most controversial, yet successful On2 SR&RL models ever.  He stormed on the scene with radical ideas and ambitions, got a successful operating and mostly sceniced representation of the SR&RL, then exited the scene almost as quickly as he came in.

Some may call him brash, but I found him endearing, generous and passionate.  Through him I got invited to a great OP’s weekend where I got to operate on his On2 SR&RL, Tony Koester’s HO NKP, and Craig Bisgeier’s HO Housatonic Railroad.  It was a TT&TO enthusiasts dream operating weekend.  John and I had met at the 2011 NNGC in Hickory, NC.  At that time John was storming along on his On2 SR&RL.  We had many conversations about the SR&RL, operations, TT&TO, On2, and Sn2.  John was as enthusiastic for me as anyone else.

I do not think I’ve ever posted any photos of the time I operated on his now gone On2 layout.  But I did find these links on youtube.  Take a look:

Farmington Arrival

Bigelow Branch

Bigelow to Carrabasset overview

Strong Maine

Farmington Yard Switch

Train 10 leaving strong for Farmington

Leaving Strong for Farmington

Backing out of Farmington

Backing into Strong

John has since moved on to bigger things.  He is doing 2-foot outside and inside it seems.  He has more youtube vidoes posted for his current adventures, checkout his youtube channel.

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Madrid on Al Churella’s On2 SR&RL

I was skimming through Al Churella’s website looking for inspiration and found a link to this video on youtube.  I love Al’s modeling, take a look for yourself.  Madrid is a site I plan to include on the Sn2 SR&RL.

Log Train at Madrid


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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)



Posted in Comentary | 4 Comments

Search for SR&RL freight car red

I want to have a large fleet of SR&RL friend cars, and all of them will need to be painted. Much discussion related to model colors has occurred in M2FQ, and on the various Maine two foot yahoo groups.  The On2 FAQ site has recorded some of the most valued content for modelers to read, read the post on Tin roofs and colour schemes.  However many of the recommendations are for older obsolete painted and/or complex mixes.  So I decided it was time to find paints acceptable to me.  My preference is for acrylic paints in an airbrush or spray cans.

So, I decided to do a number of test shots for my own evaluation.  To do the shots I cut styrene sheet into 1.5×4″ pieces around the size of a boxcar side.  Then I primer them with krylon great primer and finally sprayed them with the candidate colors.  Here are the results.


Candidate colors for freight car red

Which one do you like?  Rendering may not be accurate.  Upper left of unpainted. Next is primer grey.  The image below has them all flipped over so you can read the names.


Names of paints

It was Gary Kohler’s recommendation to use the dupli-color primers.  I do like the results they give and will likely go with one of them for my SR&RL freight car red.  If for nothing else they are in a spray can.  I’ll probably not stick to one color for all equipment, as the color likely varied some over time.  I’ll choose a roof color from there’s too.  It may be same car sides or vary, time will tell what I do.


The paints used in the test shots

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