Link to Al Churella’s layout corrected – He has updates

Strong on Al's On2 SR&RL

Strong on Al’s On2 SR&RL

My link to Al Churella’s layout had been broken.  It is now fixed.

I see that he continues to make good progress on the layout despite writing PRR books….He has a link to a youtube video on the main page.  Worth a watch…

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Sense of Place

Like many other model railroaders I want my my guests to feel a sense of place. So I outfitted the entry way to my railroad room with a dash of depot…


Hopefully this bit of decoration makes one feel like they entered a depot.  I only did this little bit by the door.  The rest of the walls will be covered by one or two decks of model railroad and should get skirting and backdrop to hide so the extra time and money to outfit the whole room like a depot would be wasted.

I guess one could classify this as a bit of 1:1 modeling…

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Harry’s Farmington – 2,3,4…

As soon as I made the post “Farmington Faithful for Harry” he sent the following email and images to the Sn2_Trains yahoogroup:


The 13.5 feet is the lenght of the wall at the back of the section of benchwork. At the left end of that wall there is a 45* corner. I want to use the corner as a sort of view block to keep Farmington “framed in”. In the picture looking from the far right side, at the far end of the photo is a white card (there is a blue post it note above it), on the same level as Farmington. That is my mock-up of Baker stream bridge. Strong, which is not yet modeled, is where I am standing when I took this shot. I like your condensed sketch- busy looking without being choked with track. However, if each square is 12″ its too long. Regarding the crossings, I am hesitant to model them but they are a necessity. I had thought about running the NG track and having the SG track just butt up to the rails with no real crossing track. The SG is all dummy track so electrical shorts won’t be a problem. I was even thinking of using plastic rail to make my life easier- if there is such a thing as plastic rail. I dont want to go with the expense of having them made. But then again, I didnt want to model Farmngton at all.
The south end of Farmington on Harry's Sn2 SR&RL.  The tape represents the track and the plate is the SR&RL turntable.  Kingfield is below and I think Rangeley is above.

The south end of Farmington on Harry’s Sn2 SR&RL. The tape represents the track and the plate is the SR&RL turntable. Kingfield is below and I think Rangeley is above.

The north end of Harry's Sn2 Farmington.

The north end of Harry’s Sn2 Farmington.

I like your track plan for your new layout. I have ran the Foreny up a mock up of a 2% grade and it pulled 8 cars and a caboose. But the mock up’s track was only about 10′ or so. The Foreny was out of the box.


Based on this new input, I drafted versions 2, 3, and 4 for his inspiration.  These have a more accurate representation of the fascia.

Version 2

Angled the track to have the turntable within the bound of existing benchwork.

Angled the track to have the turntable within the bound of existing benchwork.

Version 2 is angled to keep the turntable on the existing benchwork.  The MEC freight house and SR&RL canopy are preserved too.  The MEC trackwork is simple and a crossing is provided for interest.  This version has ample space behind the transfer yard for the hill and trees that existed behind the prototype.

Version 3

A simple linear version that keeps the turntable within the bounds of existing benchwork

A simple linear version that keeps the turntable within the bounds of existing benchwork

Version 3 puts all track at the rear to keep the turntable within the bound of the existing benchwork.  The standard gauge crossings are preserved, but the SR&RL canopy is likely lost.  The Russel Box factory is at the far left.  It could go into flats so look more substantial.  The limited space behind means little room for trees and the hill.  This is my least favorite of the three versions.

Version 4

Moving the track toward fascia makes results in a new version

Moving the track toward fascia makes results in a new version

This last version moves the track forward for more background scenery including the box factory as a flat on the backdrop.  The box factory track could continue for some length behind the trees to allow more cars and operation.  The turntable is in the aisle, but I think that is a compromise with trying.  The SR&RL canopy is now just a flat as could be part of the MEC depot.  The crossings have been left out for simplicity.

Final Comments

I hope these designs give harry some ideas on what he could try.  Honestly no one version is best in my mind, I put them together for him to have ideas (brainstorming).  Hopefully he finds something to take from the designs.

Posted in Farmington, Layout Design, Trackplanning | Leave a comment

Farmington Faithful for Harry

Harry Downey just yesterday posted a Farmington design challenge to the Sn2_Trains yahoogroup.  Here is what he wrote:

I’ve finally gotten the time to get back to some serious work on the layout. I left off at the track work from Farmington to just south of Strong. On my original plan, I had Farmington as just a staging yard. Now, I see how much it is needed to show the purpose of the connection between the standard and narrow gauge as well as the comparision between gauges. I am, however, drawing blanks as to how to arrange the track. I have 15′ of layout space to work with and I really want the freight transfer yard area to be the highlight. However- I still need a place for those rustactors to transfer fron the ME. And, enough room for one crossing. All in 15′. My “plan” so far has the standard gauge at the rear of the benchwork (running paralell to the wall) with the station at the far right end of the bench work. At this end is the narrow gauge turntable, ME crossing and the station. This is in the first 5′ from the right end. I want to include the coal transfer at the north end- it never seems to get modeled. Because of space restrictions I have the NG turntable swinging out over the aisle by about 3″ or so. Also, the SG track running along the back edge will be a single track with no turnouts etc. The benchwork in this area is 18″ wide overall. I have thought about leaving out the crossing(s) but then realized how important to the scene. (What was I, thinking!!)   

From what it looks like to me, the railroad had the sidings laid out to minimize disruptions to as few cars as possible when switching. Hopefully someone can see what is right in front of my face and have a great suggestion.

While there is significant unknown in the Harry’s description, I thought I’d take a crack at answering the call.


Several years ago I considered modeling Farmington as a Sn2 Free-mo module.  It was a faithful design of the Station area (left) and the middle yard (center).  The upper yard would have been to the left.  Here is that design.

Sn2 Free-mo version of Farmington, ME on the MEC and SR&RL.

Sn2 Free-mo version of Farmington, ME on the MEC and SR&RL.

The MEC tracks were designed to be operable across the front with an option to build the full wye that existed in Farmington.  The design does not sows a very short (3′) runaround on the SR&RL.  A full 5-6′ runaround would have been added to the left in as part of the upper yard.  Harry want’s to include the coal transfer which is north of the upper yard.

15 Feet for Harry

Using the Free-mo design as a guide, here is a design for Harry.

Sn2 Farmington to capture Harry's desires

Sn2 Farmington to capture Harry’s desires

On the left is the Coal trestle.  I understand it to have been used to transfer coal from SR&RL gondolas to SR&RL locomotives.  The coal would have been loaded into the gondolas from the standard gauge cars right in the this yard.  An interesting bit of operations.  I’m not sure there is sufficient length to make the grade required.

In the middle is a single run around track that is 5 feet long, sufficient for a nice 6-8 car train.  At front are is the main MEC transfer tracks.  I’ve extended the front track to the left and added the small transfer track at the rear.  Proceeding to the right, the turnouts are overlapping unlike the prototype.

At right is the station area.  I’ve kept it simple  I’ve included the SR&RL canopy (where passengers got off the SR&RL passenger cars and the MEC depot.  Finally, I’ve provided a flat for the MEC freight house.  I my mind, the MEC freight house is a must, it is a signature building that caps off the end of the station scene.  The turntable could be moved to the left to keep it tighter into the scene.

I did not draw fascia, as I do not know Harry’s space limits.  Overall, as dawn, it’s a bit more than 15′ from the coal transfer spur to the MEC freight house.  Some slight changes on the left end of the run around can reduce the distance a bit.  I did not draw the MEC track along the back edge as Harry describes because that’s not the way the prototype was laid out.  Having the cars in front and SR&RL trains go behind will emphasize the size differences and emphasizes the freight transfer as he suggests.  I have one standard gauge turnout, it’s a key turnout seen in many photos and adds to the fact that the MEC and SR&RL had multiple locations to transfer.  I would consider adding one more MEC track where the “SR&RL Canopy” text is on the diagram.  It would not require a turnout but would add a crossing.  It would run to the end of the MEC Freight House, just like the prototype. and enable transfer near the turntable.

Posted in Farmington, Free-mo, Layout Design, Trackplanning | 2 Comments

Setting the grade

In a an earlier post, I tested how many cars an Sn2 Forney could pull.  Click here to see post and watch video.  In that post I showed how many cars an Sn2 Forney could pull on level track and hypothesized about how many a Forney might pull on 2% or 3% grades.  In my last post I proposed a new track plan that my friends responded to positively.  The plan calls for three decks and stiff grades (upward of 2% see chart at bottom of link) to get between them via a “nolix” design.  If I’m going to take this design seriously, I need to confirm that such grades will meet my operating goals.  So testing is required.

The weekly model railroading session just happened to be at my house on this week, so Phil and Paul helped me conduct some tests.  First step was to setup a grade.  We did this by putting the last two free-mo modules on a grade by shimming the feet of the legs.


Here is the setup. Can you tell the two modules are on grade? Roughly 2%


The legs were shimmed with 1/2″ boards. The far legs were remained on the ground, the intermediate legs got two boards (1″) and the near legs got four boards (2″) to establish a 2% grade over 8 feet.

Once the setup was made, we ran trains of cars up the grade and watched for slipping.  WW&F #7 handled 6-7 cars up a 1% grade, and then 4-5 cars up a 2% grade and 3 cars up a 3% grade.  Let me tell you we had 15+ minutes where I was scared, as I wrongly thought the 3% grade was 2%.  3 cars up a 2% grade was never going to be acceptable.

Later, we decided that not all cars were equal.  We thought weight was a significant contributor.  In the end, I dug out 7 HO Walthers cars that had HOn3 trucks on them (these has been used during ops on my previous layout…way back in 2005).  With these and the corrected 2% grade WW&F #7 was able to pull a 8 car train up the grade.  9 cars would be great success!

The following day I got curious and tested with one of the small 0-4-4T Forneys,  T&T SR&RL #7.  It was able to pull 7 of the cars up the grade.


T&T SR&RL #7 with 8 cars, ready to take on the grade, this missed but removing the last car resulted in success with a 7 car train.

After completing the test, I wondered if weight was the only factor.  So I did rolling tests to see how well the cars rolled.  The results were unexpected.  Many cars which I thought had good Kadee trucks on them did not roll well at all.


Free-rolling test. The cars came down the 2% grade from right, then rolled freely across two curved modules. When a car stopped, I placed off the rails next to where it stopped

As you can see from the test, some cars hardly rolled one foot, yet others rolled 6 feet.  So what is the difference?

Here are a few quick notes:

  1. SR&RL Flat (on track) – Rolled 0″, weight 1.8 oz, KD trucks
  2. SR&RL Pulp Rack (at front) – Rolled 1/2″, weight 2+ oz, KD trucks
  3. SR&RL Box (behind) – Rolled 5″, weight 2.5+ oz, KD trucks
  4. PRR Box – Rolled 8″, weight 1.6 oz, MDC trucks with brass wheelsets
  5. Stark Box – Rolled 13″, weight 1.6 oz, MDC trucks with brass wheelsets
  6. Tichy Flat – Rolled 29″, weight 0.8 oz, MDC trucks with nickle plated wheelsets
  7. SR&RL Box – Rolled 36″, weight 2.5 oz, MDC trucks with nickle plated wheelsets
  8. SR&RL coal – Rolled 62″, weight 2.5 oz, MDC trucks with nickle plated wheelsets
  9. SR&RL flat – Rolled 67″, weight 2.5 oz, MDC trucks with nickle plated wheelsets
  10. There was one SR&RL box with KD wheelsets that would not even roll down the 2% grade when I pushed it.


  • Weight is a factor, but not the only factor effecting locomotive pulling power.
  • Not all trucks are the same.  The trucks and wheelsets effect the drag and likely limit loco pulling power.
  • KD trucks are not the quality I need.
  • The light weight cars all have MDC trucks, so were easier to pull because they were lighter and the trucks were more free-rolling than the MDC.

Blackstone trucks set the standard!

None of my cars have Blackstone trucks on them yet.  But I’ve been planning to put them on my passenger cars and cabooses and possibly some freight cars as stand in’s until I can build the Smokey Mountain Model Works trucks.  Being curious, I put one of the trucks on the tracks and let it roll.  It rolled freely for over 7 feet!  then rolled back 2 feet.  Yes, this truck rolled further than any other set of trucks with a car body (mass) on top.  The trucks roll so freely, they can be used to test level!  I plan to use a Blackstone truck to level my modules at the next setup.


  • 2% grades will be acceptable if I use qood quality trucks and keep the cars light.  My plan has always been to minimize the grades from Farmington to Phillips so that I could run longer 8 car trains with a big forney and 10-12 car trains with a 2-6-0 or 2-6-2 or 2-8-0 loco.  Likewise from Strong to Kingfield, I’d like to be able to run 8-10 car trains.  However, north of Phillips to Rangeley and north of Kingfield to Bigelow, I’ve always planned to run shorted 5-7 car trains and require crews to double the hills when required (just like the prototype).
  • Blackstone trucks are the GOLD standard.  All KD trucks will be replaced.  MDC trucks with nickle wheelsets may be remain.  David Hoffman made an order with NWSL to replace the MDC wheelsets.  I have a few of the Hoffman wheelsets so will test to determine if they are acceptable.
  • I have SMMW truck kits and Tichy trucks that can be converted to a more “scale” Sn2 truck.  But if I’m not able to make them run smoothly as a MDC nickle plated truck, then they will not be used.  I’m more about operations than looks!
  • I will set standards for truck rolling and car weight.  Only if both are met will I allow a car onto the layout (once built).
  • I will have to set operating limits on how many cars can be pulled by locomotives between towns.  The locomotives will take excess wear if crews do not follow the rules.  I do not want to get drivers nickle plated every few years or be required to make new frames should the originals wear out…
  • Onward!  This testing does not deter me from proceeding with Sn2.  Just the opposite, it makes me optimistic.
Posted in Layout Design, Operations, TNT | 3 Comments

Concept for a trackplan – Too many cakes? or not enough?

Some model railroaders have a passion for just one railroad and can just focus on it and go go go.  I on the other hand like just about all models of trains and many prototype railroads and I’m just not sure I one modeling activity will make me happy.  Actually, it would…but can’t I just have a another please?

This has plagued me for some time and causes me to ruminate through the options again and again hoping that optimal and perfect layout will be obtained.  I know perfect is just not possible but still it circles in my mind.  For those that might care, I’m currently wanting to model the following in addition to the Sn2 SR&RL:

  • S-scale Standard Gauge C&O of Indiana or B&O freelanced Steam.
  • HO PRR Eggleston Ave and north through Norwood
  • HO DT&I, the upcoming GP38-2’s are going to be nasty (As my local dealer says)
  • HO modern Free-mo

I want it all…  I know the reality.  Having more than one layout is a compromise and cost (not just financial).

Sn2 itself feeds my frenzy.  Sn2 is  not proven, I have many concerns including:

  1. Will I ever get 2-6-0’s and 2-6-2’s in Sn2?
  2. Will it operate well enough for me to host guest operations?
  3. The trains are not long enough to justify 2-man crews, something I love.
  4. Will the brass locomotives wear out?  Will I always be working hard to just keep it running?

These concerns have been making me look elsewhere, I’m afraid to put all of my eggs into one basket.  This is not the first time I’ve been stuck like this.  I had these same concerns prior to building my first Sn2 layout.  I broke through by planning the top deck as Sn2 SR&RL and the bottom deck as On30 Pennsylvania logging.  I never build the On30, but just having the option let me start on the Sn2 and build for 3-4 years.  Planning for two cakes let me make one cake.  You can read about that first layout here.

Considering my current state, I’ve been thinking a “multi-Cake” approach would get me an Sn2 layout.  The rest of this post the design of the Sn2 cake.  But before I do, I think I need to answer one question:  “Why model in Sn2 at all?”  Because I must, it’s sort of a right of passage.  It’s been in my blood for nearly 20 years (yes 20…since 1997) and I’ve studied the SR&RL and know it like the back of my hand, and I have been instrumental in the Sn2 community.  I simply cannot walk away from it today.  I feel there is incomplete business, I must try Sn2 before I move on.

Interesting quandary, I can not go forward with Sn2 alone and I cannot walk away from Sn2.  So I feel I must compromise and make it possible for multiple model railroad adventures at once.

Two or three cakes!

To have more than one cake, I must do justice to the Sn2 SR&RL and provide for other and future opportunities.  Here is what I considered:

  • Unique themes per deck – This worked for my first layout, as the 12×24′ space was too small to enable Sn2 trains move from one deck to another.  But I just could not make it work in my present space.  A single deck Sn2 SR&RL just did not meet all my desires and it would fill my room to the brim making it hard to get passage to the modeling bench.
  • Single space multiple themes on each side – This seems natural, as the entrance to my railroad room is in the middle of a long wall (15′ from one side and 12′ from the other).  But I just could not figure out how to get Sn2 into a single side.  It would result in multiple decks and a space eating helix
  • Create a wall and divide the space – This is what I’m proposing in this post.  I will use 3/4’s the room (22×24′) for Sn2 and 1/4 (8×24′) for other projects.  Mentally it works for me because it provides a separate room to play with my other interests.  A space to incubate them.  Yes, I’ll probably have 3 decks in the small space, so I can try S-scale, HO Free-mo, some thing else.  What’s even better, in 10-15 years when my son has moved out, I can blow-out the wall of the incubating room and expand some 30+ feet down one wall, giving me an effective 8×60′ space (actually it’s bigger than that but I promise my wife I’ll not take it all over)…

The Sn2 Cake – A Proposal

In these posts, I shared some of my Sn2 layout dreams.  Many of the Givens and Druthers still remain so I will not repeat them here.  Some of my be proposals were two and three decks, so this one is no different.  It’s the only way to come close to obtaining all my objectives.

General Design

The layout is a “nolix” design.  Rather than a helix to get from deck to deck, the trains go around the room to get between levels.  Essentially there are two climbing decks going around the outside of the room and three flat decks in the middle.  From no one aisle location can more than two decks be seen.  The entrances to the room and entrance to the incubation room require double deck liftouts, dropdowns or gates of some sort.  That is a concern and the incubation room doubles the challenge.

  • 36″ radius in most locations
  • 33-34″ radius on some of the reversing loop areas
  • #8 turnouts throughout (no curved or sharper)
  • Multiple reversing loops for continuous running and staging

Lower Level – The F&M

The F&M went from Bigelow south to Strong.  This is the lower deck of this design.  It includes Bigelow (my Sn2 Free-mo module), Carrabasett, Kingfield (with it’s junction) and has space for other location along the way.



Bottom Deck – The F&M from Bigelow to Strong

One of my concerns with multi-deck layouts his how to establish a continues run for display or just running on my own.  To aid in continuous running I have designed in reversing loops on all three decks.  The one at Bigelow connects the Sawmill back to a logging branch that connects at Carrabassett.  This might enable loads in/loads out operation.

Evaluation of Lower Deck

  • CON – The Bigelow Sawmill is on a curve.  It might make it hard to build as a free-mo module.
  • CON – Kingfield stub will be short.  I’ll have to work the sidings in on the old K&DR like to Bigelow.  Still not much different than some of my best proposals.  The stub branches the right way.
  • PRO – Long run of 100 feet from Strong to Bigelow.
  • CON – Bigelow will be just 32″ off the ground, so rolling stools will have to be used.
  • PRO – Reused Free-mo modules of Bigelow and Carrabasett River.

Middle Deck – The SRRR

The SRRR ran from Farmington to Phillips.  The railroad followed the Sandy River and mostly kept moderate grades.  As such, was mostly level.  On this deck, I’ve also included some of the P&R north of Phillips towards Rangeley.  Those portions are on significant grade.  It’s likely that Madrid and possibly one other location will be added to the line.


Middle Deck – The SRRR from Farmtington to Strong to Phillips and beyond

Farmington, Strong, and Phillips are not detailed yet.

Evaluation of Middle Deck

  • CON – Farmington is on two curves and there is not quite enough room for the upper yard.  The prototype Farmington had three distinct locations elements, I call them 1) The depot, 2) middle yard, 3) upper yard.  The upper yard was three double ended tracks.  In the plan they wrap around the end of the peninsula, so cannot be double ended without curved turnouts.  Operationally the turnouts can be omitted, so I think I’ll leave them out.  The capacity of the tracks is required.  I’ve not yet completed the design of the middle yard and station area, but I think an acceptable representation is possible.
  • PRO – Probably sufficient space to represent Russel box factory if desired.  That is the spur just outside of Farmington
  • PRO – Probably room for Baker Steam covered deck bridge, a signature structure.
  • PRO – Optional reversing loop is not too distracting from prototype track arrangements.
  • PRO – Strong can be complete and operable from both sides (SRRR and F&M).  I’ll have to do more to finalize the plan.
  • PRO – Sufficient distance between Strong and Phillips to have Dicky Road over pass (model built, existed on last layout) and Salmon Hole bridge.  The Free-mo module of Salmon Hole bridge will not fit.
  • PRO – Space for International Mill in Phillips as a flat on the wall.
  • CON – Phillips and it’s engine facility will have to be compressed an squished and more.  It needs to fit without conflicting with Kingfield.  Additionally,  it must fit under the stairs.
  • CON – Access to the “incubation space” will be between Kingfield and Philips.  This would be the prime location for the Covered Bridge over the Sandy River at the north end of Phillips.
  • PRO – There is significant length between Phillips and Redigton (on the upper deck) to have 1-2 other locations.  Probably Madrid and a generic passing siding.

Upper Deck – The P&R

The prototype Phillips and Rangeley ran from Phillips north to Rangeley as it’s name suggest.  There were several branch lines into the woods for logging and many sawmills along the line.  It ended in Rangeley the resort town on the lake.  To me, it is more important to capture the logging operations and branches than the resort operations of Rangeley.  The long run should give that feel, and the space over Kingfield and the Rangeley loop can both be used to represent logging branches.  For me, the loop is better than ending at Rangeley as the loop can server multiple purposes.  The town of Reeds and Redington are just lables.  I’m picturing Reeds as 1-3 stub ended tracks for loading pulpwood and Redington as a sawmill location with passing siding.  These are more freelance than prototype.


Upper Deck – The P&R from Redington to Rangeley

Evaluation of upper deck

  • PRO – The upper deck is mostly a reversing loop, so that trains north out of Phillips have a place to go.  By that measure it achieves the objective very well.
  • PRO – Include more representation of logging
  • CON – Marbles does not get modeled, but possibly I could hae a representation if I sceniced the loop.
  • PRO – Rangeley is not actually modeled.  But should the desire arrive, a representation could be put inside the loop, similar to Bigelow.  My first thought is to model the whole area more like Eustis Junction with a few tracks to hold 3-4 trains.

Getting from Deck to Deck – The grades!

With a layout like this, grades are a concern.  This is compounded by the limited pulling power of the Sn2 brass Forney’s.  The forney’s do best on the flat.


The grades from Bigelow to Strong to Rangeley

The maximum grades are close to 2%, I think that should be OK.  Testing may be required.  To keep these grades some intermediate locations will have to be on the grade and require “working brakes” to prevent cars from rolling.  While not perfect, they could be manageable for limited operations.  Certainly the prototype had to apply brakes from time to time.

The lowest points are 32″ and will require roll around stools.  The action is contained to a single aisle so should be OK.  The highest point is 64-65″ which is OK for me (I’m 6’4″ tall) and probably not bad for others.  I could put small steps at Redington and Reeds.  With only a reversing/staging loop at Rangeley, it’s OK to be high.

Parting Comments

This plan is more “model railroady” than some of my other concepts.  The aisles are tighter, but mostly kept to 36″ and above.  The smaller foot print seems less daunting than the designs that fill the whole room.  Should I decide that I want more Sn2 and I’m dedicated to it; I can get rid of the incubation room and move Kingfield and Phillips 8 feet over, then extend Farmington and main peninsula.  Bigelow, Strong and other locations would not be impacted much.

I think I can continue to explore this design and I should test out my locos on grades!

Sorry about the rambling and fact that I’m not proofing this entry at all….I just want to get it “out there” so others can see what I’m thinking and provide negative or positive feedback!

Posted in Layout Design, Trackplanning | 3 Comments

Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad and Predecessors, Volume 4

Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad and Predecessors, Volume 4, the latest book from Jerry DeVos should be available around Sept 5, 2015.  The retail price is $60.00 including shipping is US. Canada including shipping is US $83.00. All others including the UK and Australia is US $95.00.

Volume 4 completes the presentation of the equipment:

SR and SR&RL built equipment, “Snowplows” built by Joseph M. Whittier, Unknown Builders and Miscellaneous builders

Rosters: Eustis, F&M, P&R, SR, SR&RL

The format, page count, etc. is identical to previous volumes in this series.

Previous books in this series have been very detailed with sufficient pictures.  Most of the pictures used have appeared in other books.  Jerry stands behind his books.  Book 2 or 3 was had poor quality printing, all images were dark and he got them all reprinted at no charge to his readers.

If your interested in book, contact Jerry direct via email:  jdevos99 @

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

TNT in the Iron Age

As I may have mentioned five ex-Eastern Loggers (or in-active…) have joined forces as an informal group nicknamed TNT.  We’ve had a wonderful success rate, missing no more than 3 weeks in 9 months.   Most weeks, we work on Paul Miklos N-scale B&O layout.  We are trying to get it ready for the Op till you drop weekend of SWOOPS. But the group also meets to work on Don’s switching layout and has helped on my railroad room ceiling.  A few weeks ago we visited Phil’s place and ventured into the Iron Age.  Phil is an electrons guy with many interests.  Model railroading is just one of them.  But for the past few years he has been assembling his Iron Forge and now has a blacksmith shop in the shed.  TNT took a visit to learn and do.

Phil works the fire while Paul turns the fan that fuels the fire.  It was interesting to learn how coal is piled near the fire to convert it to coke, and the coke is what goes into the fire.  All fumes are drafted up through the hood and duct.

Phil works the fire while Paul turns the fan that fuels the fire. It was interesting to learn how coal is piled near the fire to convert it to coke, and the coke is what goes into the fire. All fumes are drafted up through the hood and duct.

Phil shows us how it is done, how to "move metal".

Phil shows us how it is done, how to “move metal”.

Paul is now is now showing his guns in moving metal.  Might I say that Paul has shall we say, more finesse than Phil.

Paul is now is now showing his guns in moving metal. Might I say that Paul has shall we say, more finesse than Phil.

An overall view of the shed/setup.  Don and Chris are watching Phil at work.

An overall view of the shed/setup. Don and Chris are watching Phil at work.

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2015 Sn3 Symposium – Wrapup

I often go solo to events across the country.  My job is managing a team of 17, and then there is family.  I enjoy them both, but some times it fun to just do my thing.  Also going solo is an opportunity, an opportunity to me new people.  1998 National Narrow Gauge Convention, meet Pete Smith and the Gang from St. Louis and repeated that again at Sn3 Symposium in Pasadena.  2011 National NMRA convention, meet Rene Gourley.  2012 National Convention in Hickory, met John Rogers.  The 2015 Sn3 Symposium, met Steve Cox of Cascade Rail Supply.  Ah yes, had breakfast with Pete Smith and St. Louis gang and a few others too!

My second day of layout tours was a lot of fun.  Steve and I took in a number of layouts and talked about Sn3, kids, layout planning, etc…  At the end, we grabbed dinner before heading home for the evening’s clinics and such.

Here are a few photos from those layouts…

The Engine Terminal of Bob Christopherson's Pinoche and Western.

The Engine Terminal of Bob Christopherson’s Pioche and Western.  EBT Lee Rainey muzzle got into the picture.

Bob Christopherson’s Sn3 Pioche and Western was very nicely done.  This free-lanced railroad fit in 1/2 of a two-car garage.  It was one of the smaller layouts I saw, but it was one of the most complete and consistent layouts.  It told a single story.  Bob’s layout impressed Steve, as it showed what could be done with Sn3 in a smaller space.

The P&W's primary purpose is to haul minerals from mine to crusher (or smelter or some such). The detail on teh layout is quite nice.

The P&W’s primary purpose is to haul minerals from mine to crusher (or smelter or some such). The detail on teh layout is quite nice.

Bob has a nice town scene on one side of the backdrop.

Bob has a nice town scene on one side of the backdrop.

One of the mining scenes on the P&W

One of the mining scenes on the P&W



Bob uses this crew signup board. It is made out of styrene. It's nice to be able to make use of the evergreen I-beams to form slides for name plates.

Bob uses this crew signup board. It is made out of styrene. It’s nice to be able to make use of the evergreen I-beams to form slides for name plates.

Dave Woodrell has a wonderful RGS layout.  It was my second time to see this layout (1998).  Again, his detail is very nice and the layout seems to run very well.  One thing I learned this time is that his layout has a provision for continuous run by going around an adjacent room.

Ridgeway on Dave Woodrell's RGS

Ridgeway on Dave Woodrell’s RGS

Here's a shot of the layout looking toward Ophir. That's Steve taking in the scenery

Here’s a shot of the layout looking toward Ophir. That’s Steve taking in the scenery.  Dave hosts operating session on the layout and must operate with a fast clock above.

Caboose 0404 on one of the trestles above Ophir.

Caboose 0404 on one of the trestles above Ophir.

Max Maginness was kind enough to open his Sn42 layout.  Inspired by New Zealand prototypes of his home country, this layout was a pleasant surprise.  Again, a smaller three town layout, but it was plenty interesting.  The locomotives and rolling stock were a contrast to the US prototypes had been seeing all day.

The depot at Rewanui on Max Maginness' Sn42 New Zeland Layout

The depot at Rewanui on Max Maginness’ Sn42 New Zealand Layout

How about a narrow gauge 4-6-2?

How about a narrow gauge 4-6-2?

A mine scene on Max's layout.

A mine scene on Max’s layout.

The last layout we saw was Russ Segner’s Coal Creek Lumber Co.  This free-lanced Sn3 layout rambles about a lofted family room.

The sawmill if fit into an alcove in the layout room. This full-size S-scale model dominates one end side of the layout.

The sawmill if fit into an alcove in the layout room. This full-size S-scale model dominates one end side of the layout.

The switchback branch goes up to the mining district. Cars are exchanged in this yard.

The switchback branch goes up to the mining district. Cars are exchanged in this yard.

That's Russ, behind one of his wonderful tipples.

That’s Russ, behind one of his wonderful tipples.

Thanks to all who put on the 2015 Sn3 Symposium.  Another great event.  The Sn3 Symposium’s are great modeling railroading events.  I’d suggest them to anyone who can attend.

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2015 Sn3 Symposium – Paul Scoles

The Symposium was the last time for modelers to view the late Paul Scoles model railroad.  He had passed a few months prior and his widow was kind enough to keep the layout open for one last show case of the layout.  Quite a gesture to keep the layout and host all of us in the home. The local modelers ran a few trains and talked to all of us who came to visit each day.

The free-lanced Sn3 layout represents a 1895-1900 railroad running inland from the Northern California coast.  It has been well published in many model railroad magazines including NG&SLG, RMC, and MR and MRP (probably more).  Additionally Paul created and sold DVD about his scenery techniques and operations on the railroad.

For posterity sake here are my best photos from my 2nd and last visit to the model railroad.  The photos are order from east (the desert) to the west (Or maybe it’s from South to North). Most of the photos can be clicked on to see the high level of detail that Paul obtained.

This map was on Paul's wall. It shows the railroad as originally envisioned in one room (before expansion to Silverado). In what follows, I describe the railroad from East (or maybe South) to West (North at Klamath)

This map was on Paul’s wall. It shows the railroad as originally envisioned in one room (before expansion to Silverado). In what follows, I describe the railroad from East (or maybe South) to West (North at Klamath)

The east staging yard was above Paul's workbench.

Del Norte, the east staging yard was above Paul’s workbench.  The connection though the backdrop was for the reversing loop connection back into Silverado for continuous run.


Going east, Silverado was the first modeled location on the railroad



Silverado was a substantial town with multistory buildings


Looking west through Silverado

This trackplan sat above Paul's workbench. Use it to follow your way on this tour.

This trackplan sat above Paul’s workbench. Use it to follow your way on this tour.  (Click on the image to see full size)


Silverado grew into the aisle

As the layout evolved, Paul was known to add bump outs when he wanted just one more industry or structure. Luckily he planned his layout with ample aisle space for such expansions.

As the layout evolved, Paul was known to add bump outs when he wanted just one more industry or structure. Luckily he planned his layout with ample aisle space for such expansions.


A head on view of Silverado.



The first bridge crossing in the Diablo River canyon


A trestle over a tributary of the Diablo River. At this point, the river canyon was behind the railroad.



Paul added the lime (or some mineral) plant after the railroad was built. It was located before getting to Big Trees.


A better view of the plant. On his operations DVD Paul described how he ran special trains to this plant. They were run as extra’s and were optional to the operating scheme. The freight cars were in captive service, so could be run or not. The trains looked like a great way to see the railroad and experience a running an extra on a TT&TO layout.


The Big Trees area of the layout was quite impressive. I think there was a NG&SLG article on building the large trees.

The Big Trees area of the layout was quite impressive. I think there was a NG&SLG article on building the large trees.


The Big Trees depot area



A train emerges from the tunnel between Rio Dell and Big Trees. The tunnel got trains around the stairs and between the two rooms that housed the layout.


Engine #11 is waiting to depart Rio Dell for Big Trees


The Rio Dell depot

An overview of Rio Dell

An overview of Rio Dell


A water level shot of the Rio Dell tank and bridge.


The Bridge at Rio Dell


Humboldt Landing


A shot of the car ferry. This too was an article for NG&SLG.


Humboldt Landing from the West.


Trains passed from Humboldt to Pelican Bay by passing under the arched road bridge in the background. Here we see the Pelican Bay engine house and turntable.


The servicing area of the Pelican Bay engine terminal


This down low view of the servicing area really shows off Paul’s modeling talents.


Pelican Bay yard and depot in the background of this shot. My memory is that in 1998 Paul and mockups for a large city behind the depot. He must have changed his mind, I’m glad he did as the hills make the railroad seem much more remote.


A few buildings were still mocked up for the West end of Pelican Bay.


Along the coast toward Fort Nash


A dry wash and more tunnels as the railroad fought it’s way along the coast.


The train led by engine #11 emerges at Fort Nash.


The west end of Fort Nash


Out of the tunnel and onto Camp Riley. Paul added bridges everywhere and had inlets and creeks. The constant crossing of changing terrain added interest and realism to the railroad. The railroad itself was flat, no grades. But the terrain was not.


Above Camp Riley sat this mountain farm


Camp Riley is in site


Camp Riley’s main reason for existence was the mine in the background (Distorted by the camera). Another wonderful bridge with a combination of wood and metal so right for the time and the span being crossed.


Arriving at the Klamath Falls wharf. What a great catch of solder fish on the dock. Paul used a combination of paint and natural wood look on his structures.


Another view of the wharf.


A water view shot


The leads to the wharf. Trains enter Klamath via the tunnel at right.


An over view of Klamath. The main line proceeded around to the left, infront of Fred and into staging under the town. The track at right was a cut-off connection to form a reversing loop for continuous run.


Klamath Sawmill and town on the hill.


An end view of the saw mill



The main street to the town of Klamath.  Trains passed under the bridge and entered staging yard was  at lower right, after

It seems fitting to end this tour at Paul's workbench. The dispatching magnetic board mounted above on the fascia of the east staging yard

It seems fitting to end this tour at Paul’s workbench. The dispatching magnetic board mounted above on the fascia of the east staging yard

It’s my understanding that the layout has now come down and been auctioned off in some way shape or form.  I know one person who was very appreciative to acquire two of his locomotives and some rolling stock to get started on his own freelanced railroad!



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