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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