40 Feet of backdrop

Having proved that I could build mushroom benchwork, I’ve changed directions. Rather than continue to build the mushroom into the middle of the room, I decided to start working the perimeter of the room while I can still move materials around.  I’m starting on the upper deck and continuing around to Strong, where the peninsula meets the wall.  I plan to put in the grade (1.7%) and retest train and running.

Before I could put in foam or roadbed, I had to 1) pass the electrical box and 2) hang the backdrop.  For the electrical box, to angle the layout away from the wall, so that I can stand up behind the backdrop and access the electrical box.  For the backdrop I reused the styrene backdrop from my old layout.  The styrene had to be reduced from 36″ to 22″ height.  Phil came over and helped me complete that.  Tonight my wife and son helped me screw it up.

Following are a few photos of the progress.

Phil is working to cut the score and snap the styrene. We have have completed the longest single score and snap. The styrene is .060″ and 8 feet long. We had to cut through the joints that had a second sheet of styrene backing and green squadron putty. Took many passes to get through. I appreciate Phil coming over, his presence and efforts pushed me through to make progress.

To get passed the electrical box and over the laser cutter, I angled the layout through the corner. To do that, I put up 2×4″s horizontally and then applied a pieces of 3/4″ plywood vertically to which the backdrop was hung. The layout will only be 8-12″ wide in this area. The lower deck will be of similar width, removable, and suspended from the two plywood sections hanging down. I’ll remove it to work on the electrical or to run the laser.  Left of the backdrop you can see a 1×3″ top and 1×2″ bottom.  The backdrop is screwed directly to the horizontal 1 by’s.  Where ever there are studs, I’ve put up 1 by’s (mostly 1×3″).

Looking the other way, here is the rest of the backdrop. While the layout is a no-lix around the walls, I was able to keep the backdrop level as the Barnjam branch will be running down the wall ending at the far end of the backdrop. The styrene backdrop easily wraps around a water pipe (vent stack) and concrete column. There is no support for the backdrop on the column, it is suspended from the walls on each side of the column.

It’s was very pleasing to see the blue backdrop go up…Next step here is to put in the supports.  The mainline will be a constant 1.7% grade downward.


Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

In Progress – Tom Sulivan’s On30 SR&RL – Lower Deck

Tom Sullivan is building an On30 version of the SR&RL. You may remember that I designed an upper deck (Kingfield to Bigelow) for him. Here are progress photos on the lower deck, along with a rough trackplan.  I appreciate Tom providing the photos for me to share.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Farmington transfer track

Here is Tom’s track plan. The red shading marks the proposed upper deck. Since this draft Tom has tweaked the trackwork to better represent the prototype. The most significant change being how the F&M leaves Strong.

North end of Farmington’s transfer yard. The locomotive is a BLI C16 that he had for his previous On30 layout.

Using some buildings from his previous layout, Tom created this stand-in for the Russel Box Shop. While it may be a stand-in, the structure captures the feel of a Franklin County mill.

Tom’s interim Barker Stream covered bridge. Tom allocated plenty of length for the approaches. This will be a nice scene.

Tom’s South Strong has a potato house. The model at rear was inspired by a WW&F potato house and was on his previous layout. The prototype SR&RL South Strong had a spur much like this with a building at the rear. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that industry as a potato house.

Tom’s Strong Depot with Linwood Moody out front.

A train is entering Strong from the Bigelow branch. Tom is playing around with old structures to get the feel of how Strong will come together.

Looking back over Strong. I love the way the scene wraps around in the distance. Seems to go on and on…

Posted in Layout Tours | 3 Comments

Sn2 layout traveled to shows

A look back…  The original Sn2 layout traveled to Gary Kohler’s 2-Foot meet, later the Midwest 2-foot show.  The original layout sections were built form 4″ of foam board, laminated with plywood and Masonite.  Gary Kohler provided the photos, he thinks they were probably taken by Craig Stratton.   One print is documented as being 2000, so I’m guessing the other two are the year before and the year after.

The first year, I had just started on the Phillips sections. Track (Shinohara HOn3 flex and #6 turnouts) was in place but not wired.  Nor did I have a locomotive.  I took it to promote Sn2 and to determine how the design would travel. Mark Harris brought the equipment and painted Strong depot. The Phillips depot mockup is at rear.  Mark sold me some of the equipment (not the caboose nor passenger car) as he’d move onto On2 by then.

2000 was the first year of the full loop. Again Mark brought more rolling stock and again I bought more of it (but he continued to hold onto the caboose and passenger car). I had motive power this year, an Sn2 critter.  The view is looking over Strong to Phillips at the far end. The mockup is of the Strong Creamery.

The layout looking from Phillips back to Strong. In this 2001 or 2002 photo, one can see the Salmon Hole bridge at right. Scenery was started too. The dickey bridge is barely visible beyond. I’m the guy with the camera talking with Al Churella. Al probably has his 20′ feet of On2 SR&RL from Rangeley to Marbles.  This year, the setup was round tables, and I was just beyond the cafeteria.  So folks pulled up chairs to eat at the layout and watch trains go by.

Appearing at the 2003 Sn3 Symposium in St. Louis. This shot shows Salmon Hole bridge and Dickey Rd. Overpass behind. The scenery is much improved.

A Backwoods Miniatures 0-4-0 porter pulled the trains during the Symposium.  Here it is heading over the Dickey Road bridge.

One of two Gilpin cabooses on the rear of the train. This view is similar to prototype photos taken from Dickey Rd.

The setup of this layout was easier than setting up the Free-mo modules.  I did not have to cart legs around.  Just lay the section on the tables and pin and bolt them, plug in the wiring and add the connector rails.  I and running in an less than 2 hours.

To see a Photo Tour of Layout #1 and a trackplan click on the link





Posted in Layout #1 - Portable, Layouts | 1 Comment

Tom Sullivan’s On30 SR&RL Upper Deck – K&DR Again

A few of us have been helping Tom Sullivan refine his On30 SR&RL. He has responded by taking in the critiques and making the adjustments to make his version of the SR&RL look more and more like the photos in the books. His lower deck represents Farmington to Phillips. Farmington and Strong are modeled while Phillips is staging.

Recently he suggested a footprint for an upper deck and suggested that he might like help designing it. What he wants is the K&DR, Kingfield, Carrabasset, and Bigelow. What a dejavoue. I designed an Sn2 K&DR layout for Gary White. If you want to know learn about the line and how it fits into the SR&RL take a look at part two of my multi-part design for Gary White.

Here is the design I proposed for Tom. Read the points below to understand my thoughts.

Proposed design of the SR&RL from Kingfield to Bigelow.

Key points about the design

  • The location is 1/2 of a garage. I have not included the footprint of the deck below. The word Kingfield is in the aisle where Kingfield will be accessed. It is on a peninsula and the backside will not be reachable as Strong is below the backside as much wider.
  • Trains get from Strong to Kingfield via a cassette raised from the lower deck staging area just below Kingfield and raised to the track running off the top of the design. The track going off the top of the plan is TBD as Tom works through it all.
  • The primary elements of Kingfield are included and should be recognizable to anyone who has studied the SR&RL.
  • The bridges on the run from Kingfield to Carrabasset are representative of the scenery along the way. The trains ran through Carrabasset river valley.
  • Carrabasset was simple. Tom wants to have the plywood mill, but does not have room for the wye. So it will have to be represented by a single spur.
  • The line from Carrabasset to Bigelow would again be in the Carrabasset River valley with the river along the tracks.
  • The Bigelow track arrangement is faithful. The Sawmill would have to be imagined.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this proposal. Should I generate significant updates to the plan, expect updates. I hope this gives you inspiration. I’ve kept the description of this plan simple. If you have questions, add a comment.

Posted in Bigelow, Kingfield, Layout Design | 11 Comments

Farmington on the Floor

I’m not one that pursues a precise trackplan. Instead I pursue a benchwork/deck footprint and then try to confirm that most of what I want will fit. The final track locations get laid out on the finished benchwork/foam.

The week before starting the layout I wanted to know that the space I’d allocated for Farmington would fit lower, middle and upper Farmington yard. To figure that out, put tape on the floor to mark off critical limits of benchwork, then followed with key track elements to representing the prototype track locations.

Farmington laid out on the floor. The upper yard would be closest to the camera. The MEC Freight depot is the white poster board in the distance. It is far end of Farmington and will but up against he backdrop at the end of Farmington. The aisle on the left wraps around the end of Farmington to get into the aisle of the mushroom along the back of Farmington.

I’m not going to go into the details of the track. Those who know Farmington can probably make out the SR&RL track and the MEC track and correlate them to the prototype. The MEC track is actual S-scale track with #5 turnouts (which I think would be OK), and the SR&RL track is mocked up with a combination of HOn3 and N-scale track. The scene is about 19 feet long.

I’ve left the tape on the ground to help me to locate the benchwork as I move forward with the construction.

In conclusion, the floor is a good place to test trackplans.

Posted in Current Layout, Farmington, Trackplanning | 5 Comments

Layout Construction – Begins with 16 Feet of Mushroom

Last post, I described the design of the mushroom.  With the design complete, Chris and Phil pushed me to keep moving forward.  Chris came down on Wednesday (day before Thanksgiving) and both game on Saturday after Thanksgiving (for 8 hours).  I really appreciate their efforts and more so that our wives and spouses let us spend so much time.

In the end, we completed 16 feet of Mushroom Skeleton.  Chris and I got the leg installed on Wednesday and an L girder to fit.  Wednesday we completed lower level L girder install, then build and installed the upper 16′ panel (notched to go under heating portion of ceiling) and lower panel (notched for rear window into Strong).

Take a look at the photos to see what we did.

View from the entrance to the railroad room. The top plywood support the upper deck. Eustis will be behind. The self brackets will support south end of Strong on middle deck. Bigelow modules will sit to right of pole on bottom (36″ track height). The leg set is attached to the left side of the pole. At present it goes up high enough to support Strong too (can be cut off if I do not feel it is required).  Temporary stiffening boards are on top deck until plywood is permanently installed under upper deck.

Looking toward the wall where the mushroom is anchored, The middle deck will be Strong, front and center on the layout. Strong is a junction. Trains will along the mushroom from Farmington, enter Strong, then curve off to the left along the wall to Phillips. Trains from Kingfield will enter Strong along the wall, pointed to Phillips, and back into the depot. The 6 foot window into the back of Strong allows F&M line operators to navigate their trains to the depot, before walking around the peninsula to work Strong.  Trains from Bigelow headed south to Kingfield and Strong will head from Bigelow past the pole and head to the left along the wall on the lower deck.  Both lower and middle decks will be wider than the skeleton benchwork when complete.

The backside (inside) of the mushroom. This is the window into Strong. Trains from Kingfield will enter Strong going right to left. On the upper deck (inside the mushroom) will be Eustis Junction. Trains from Rangeley will be going right to left on the deck.

Here is the section view of the build. Compare it to the design in the previous post. Bigelow will sit on the bottom before the pole. The bottom of the upper deck is clamped into position. I need to cut a new board before finalizing.

Posted in Current Layout, Layout Construction | 3 Comments

Layout Construction – Mushroom Design

For years, I’ve been procrastinating on the build of my Dream Sn2 SR&RL layout. I’ve been in this house for 13 years….So I’d say I’ve been stalling for more this 8 years. Even as recent as last month I was considering alternatives such as Sn3 free-lanced Ohio (ala Paul Scoles-ish), S-scale Modern Standard Gauge or S-scale transition era. But non of those have invoked my passion. So I cracked, conceding to start the build on the Sn2 layout. My friends sensed my weakness and decided to continue pushing me.

Last Sunday 11/22/202 Chris and Phil came over to discuss the design.  They wanted drawings and cut lists so that we could begin the build of the mushroom.  These two have build hunted houses together, sheds, one has put roof’s on houses.  They fear no construction and can just do it.  After 3 hours of discussion, they went home and I drafted a section diagram.  This is the section as the Mushroom leaves the wall.  The diagram is looking back at the wall.

Mushroom Section Diagram. Not that there are three decks in total.

There were two sticking points when they left.  1) How to support the middle deck 2) how to stiffen the plywood from lower deck up to middle deck.  I solved both of the problems with standard shelving.  The shelf supports would stiffen the plywood, and the brackets would hold the middle deck.

The upper section on left is mounted to the wall on one end and the ceiling at the section point.  No diagram exists for either.  They were to be built as needed.

The backdrop on each level will be styrene (I still have nearly 200 feet of .060 from my last layout).  The plywood backing on the lower deck is 48″, so that it can be screwed into the leg for stiffness.

One other aspect no shown here is that there are two house support posts that are just inside the fascia point on the lower and middle decks and can be wrapped behind the upper deck.  The support design is lock into those posts to ensure the decks do not move nor lean.  I’ll post later on how I use pipe clamps connect the layout to the posts.


Posted in Current Layout, Layout Construction, Layout Design | 2 Comments

3rd Sn2 SR&RL Layout – Tour

My 3rd SR&RL was more grand than the first and the second or first.  It reused the Strong, Philips and connecting trackage from the my first SR&RL.  Phillips was now an operating location trains passed through on their ways to Redington and onto the Rangeley staging yard.  Strong got built completely and continued on down to Farmington.  Farmington was highly compressed, but more than a staging yard but had sufficient number of tracks to switch.  There was a provision for the F&M to Kingfield (reversed) and on to Bigelow.  Starbirds trackwork got into place for switching and a module got built for Kingfield but never any trackwork.  This version even held operating sessions for the 2005 NMRA national convention.  The T&T large Forney’s were running for that event.  I had lots of fun working on this layout and had a layout construction group of friends.  Jim Stewart helped on lots on all three versions of the layout….I think he remembers most the two days in the spring of 2006 when we tore it down.

SR&RL Version #3. Strong and Phillips form the first SR&RL again appeared on this version. Strong got completed as did the trackage in Farmington and track through Phillips to Readington and onto Rangeley staging. The continuous loop got completed and Starbirds track was in place.

These are the same scenery sections used in the 1st SR&RL only viewed from the back. Salmon Hole bridge is at right, Dickey underpass is beyond and then to Strong beyond. Phillips would be to the left.

A more direct view of the Salmon Hole bridge and the fill leading to Phillips on the left.

The approach to Phillips as trains were on the outside of the backdrop. My Mt. Bike (I still have it) fit nicely under the layout.

Phillips is at right. The turntable might be in place along with the other tracks. There was a gap between the module and backdrop, but many could not see it because of the height of the railroad. Readington is the pink foam beyond Philips.  Rangeley staging yard (4 tracks that ended at a turntable) is to the left of Rangeley.  There was an approach that hinged up for the door, should I want to open it.  But that door was to the backyard so never did.  I had walk in access from the garage.

Here is Philips before the track was completed to Readington. The backdrops were styrene and hollow core doors were placed upright on edge to hold it up. The continuous run back into Strong went through the backdrop.

Rangeley staging under construction. The turnouts were condoled by slide switches mounted to the outside of the fascia. This control was used on all of the new sections of the layout. The turntable was at the end and had a slow motion motor without indexing.

I know there are better images of the layout.  I think I have some from the 2005 NMRA national convention op sessions.  I had about 100 visitors to the layout as I was on the LDSIG tour and the opsig tours.  I never got it fully running, but it was a fun and manageable project for a 34 year old man.

One more parting shot of a train crossing Salmon Hole bridge on it’s way to Strong.


Posted in Layout #3, Layouts | 2 Comments

2nd Sn2 SR&RL Layout – Tour

The second SR&RL Layout was short lived.  The first layout came down when I got married and moved in with my wife.  The second layout was started after we purchased our first home together.  This layout was only up long enough to have an NMRA division layout tour.  Then I started working on the 3rd version.  Only a few photos of the 2nd version exist along with a poor trackplan.

This plan reused Strong and Phillips sections from the 1st SR&RL. I got the outside continuous loop running. (sorry for the poor image)

The night before the NMRA Division visit I got the outside continuous loop running.  The tight fit of the inside loop and the fact that Phillips was reversed from Strong doomed this plan.  Looking back some 18 years later, I wish I’d rebuilt the first SR&RL again in the new home.  The reason being is that I could have spend time building structures and rolling stock to take to the next home.  Now these many years later I have little to add and nothing I’ve built on my own.  So there is good reason to keep it small.

The T&T Forney’s did not yet exist. Here is the Backwood Minitures 0-4-0 pulling a train on the approach to Salmon Hole Bridge

The Dickey bridge is the scenery in the background. The scenery was enhanced from the first SR&RL. The foam was put in place to complete the continuous run back into Strong.

The Phillips Covered Bridge Mockup.

Posted in Layout #2, Layouts | 2 Comments

Wiscassettesq – A dynamic Sn2 Free-mo design

This week there has been a renewed interest in Sn2 Free-mo on the Sn2_Trains groups.io list.  So I thought it would be timely to share an Sn2 Free-mo design I did back in 2014.

Back Story

The Sn2 Crew displayed a setup at the 2014 NMRA convention I met a fellow interested in building an Sn2 free-mo module.  Dan’s had an interest in water and the two footers.  He was will to build more than one module and indicated he had good wood working skills.

Dan did not know that much about the Maine two-footers I think he wanted to be apart of a group of fine modelers and the subject matter was not that critical.  As such, I freelanced a design for him that would be interesting and could grow as his interests grew.

Grand Vision

Wiscasettesq setup as a sweeping curve (12″ squares)

The grand plan called for 5 modules

  1. Yard – Similar to the upper yard in Wiscasset, it serves as the core of the scene.  I added an extra track so that it could be a junction.
  2. Wharf – The wharf is more like Hayden and Frary’s Thatcher’s inlet so that it is a through module.
  3. Car Float – Inspired by floats by Bob Hayden (HOn30) and Paul Scoles (Sn3) (scroll down on link)
  4. Trestle – Inspired by the trestles in Wiscasset and Harrison (B&SR)
  5. Along the River – Inspired by scenery north of Wiscasset or at North Bridgeton (B&SR)

All turnouts are #8 and all curves are 36″ radius or larger.

The Core

The core of Wiscassettesq is the yard.  It has turntable, engine house, coal shed, and car shop.  The module is two sections that are 8 feet long in total.

The yard module

An extra track was added near the car shop so this module can also serve as a junction.  All free-mo modules should provide a through path, so the junction makes it possible to go to the stub ended car float and still have a through path.

All of the ends of the yard are 18″ wide with the track off center at 6″ and 12″ from the sides.  This includes the junction too.  So other 6-12″ ends would match up.

The second part of the core is the wharf.  It provides switching opportunities and structure building opportunities.

Yard and Wharf together.  Notice that the main is diagonal through the module with the 6″ fascia edges to opposite sides.

Water to be added at the edge of the yard near the car shop to make to seem as if the coast line (or river line) is along the edge of the modules.

Many more setups – Flexibility

Curving the other way.  The Trestle module narrows to 12″ to meet the car float.

Car float as the off the yard for mega switching

A shorter version with wharf and float on branch.  The trestle module and along the river module both have a 12″ end with track centered.  That enables this setup to nearly be flat along a wall (probably with a slight tweak it could).

Narrow and short

The diversity of Wiscassettesq should make it fun for years.  Start with the yard or the smaller modules.  Add a train length turntable and it can be setup on its own.  Add a few more modules and you have a full layout.  The main yard and wharf are “beefy modules”, but could probably be transported in a small car.  The additional modules are small thus could be tucked into any remaining space in the vehicle.

To my knowledge Dan never built the setup.  That was as much on me as him.  By Christmas of 2014 life was very busy, I was coaching my son in basketball so I had to tell him that I might not be setting up Sn2 in the near future so I could not promise comradery.  I was burned out on Sn2 at the time too….

Posted in Free-mo, Layout Design, Trackplanning | 1 Comment