Well, I've procrastinated long enough dabbling in the Horribly Overscale, and I've sold my entire HO collection and my layout to make space for a new N scale project.
I've tentatively called it James River, after the waterway in Virginia, but I wanted to make a rail/marine layout for a while, and figured why not? I've also been gawping at video and pictures of George Selios' Fanklin and South Manchester, and figured why not set this one in the transition era, to allow me to run my growing collection of steam locomotives?
On top of that, my wonderful wife Laura has allowed me to make use of some of the unused space in one corner of her crafting/computer room, so I've been able to set up my St. Charles, VA. layout up in there. This will allow me to expand on the operations of both layouts, with the St. Charles layout being the source of coal and lumber being delivered to suitable industries on the new project, and vice versa.
Here's St. Charles in it's new home:
A nice bonus here is that I can now get access to the unscenicked coal mine scene on St. Charles to progress the build on that part of the layout.
So, I had a tentative plan for the James River layout by combining a couple of Iain Rice plans, as you can see here:
As it stands, I'm thinking of going back over the long section of the plan and completely re-doing it to put it all on a curve that comes out of the board at the front, like a mini-peninsula, to give me a bit of space at the back for some F&SM style city scenery. I think what I'll do there is build the benchwork to the space I actually have available, then figure out a trackplan that will actually fit into the space I have, rather than the space I THINK I have!
In the mean time, I've been working on some structures and the basic land forms for the harbour area, and I'm getting to a rough mock up that I really like.
Ignore the woodland scenics riser supporting the underneath of the truss bridges, I put that there temporarily so I could confirm that the gradient would actually clear the lower level tracks enough to not foul them if I ever wanted to run high cubes or autoracks.
Some of the buildings I've been working on will be posted whenever I am able in this thread, but here are a couple to get the ball rolling...
Have you also looked at Iain Rice's Coalport Layout? that's a nice plan with lots of purposeful trackage for an HO 5x9 foot layout. Byron Henderson also designed a 6x1 foot layout in N Scale (Alameda Belt Line) that M.C. Fujiwara built with a sight tweak to the plan. The ABL layout folds in half for easy transport. M.C. Fujiwara takes it to shows.
I would love to build the ABL in HO (12x2 feet) as a transportable 6x2 foot layout (hello roof rack), but I don't have 12 feet of space anywhere.
N scale fits a lot more bang for your buck, but OO/HO is a lot easier to model all those card kits I build, IMO.
I just prefer N scale as it allows for a much more realistic level of railroad to scenery ratio.
Beyond this, I thought I'd take a moment to explain the general idea of the theme of the layout(s).
The St. Charles layout is based - as previously mentioned - on the Southern Railway branch from the small yard at Appalachia to the mines surrounding the town of St. Charles, Virginia. There were over half a dozen coal mines served by the branch, the largest ones being at Pocket, Benoit, Mayflower, and St. Charles itself.
At St. Charles, there is a wye for turning locomotives, where the line splits into two more branches serving the various mine runs. It is still in use today by the Norfolk Southern Corp, though coal isn't as booming as it used to be. Just "south" of Pocket the line splits at what was known on the Southern as "L&N Junction", where the Louisville and Nashville branch into the area joined the Southern - the L&N having trackage rights to serve the mines in the area as well. This was - until recently at least - still in practice, but by L&N successor CSXT. With CSX's downturn in coal traffic, I've no idea if they still actually serve St. Charles.
The layout I have built is based on the Model Railroader project layout - the Virginian - with a few tweaks. Where the MRR plan had a spur coming off the layout leading to removable staging, I've got an additional short board with the St. Charles triangle and depot spanning both it and the corner of the main layout. The leg of the triangle that heads "off layout" will lead into staging, however I need to get that part of the layout built to fit it's new home, and get a DCC auto-reverser to wire into the triangle to avoid shorting out the layout. As such, the triangle itself isn't wired currently.
The yard on the layout represents the sidings at St. Charles, with the branch that runs up and over the main tracks on the plan representing the Mayflower branch - the mines of Dominion and Mayflower will eventually be represented on the layout. Dominion by the Walthers Diamond Coal Company kit, and Mayflower by - I hope - an N Scale Architect Lackawanna Mining Co kit (if I win the ebay bid I've got going!)
The only structure on the layout that's accurate to the prototype is the depot at St. Charles, which I kitbashed from a Blair Line Gerald Depot kit, using reference photographs of the actual depot I found online. The depot itself burned down in the early 1970's and was replaced by a smaller brick structure, but that's just boring compared to the old Southern wooden structure, in my opinion.
Operations will be represented with a little modellers licence involved. Real ops on the line were performed by the road power - St. Charles didn't have any dedicated switch engines. I'll be doing things a little differently.
The plan is to have road power from both the Southern and the Louisville and Nashville bring in empty hoppers and take away loaded ones, with a small switch engine - likely an MP15DC or a GE 44T - doing the actual mine runs and switching the yard. There will also be a local manifest freight which will come and go to make things interesting, serving the various company towns, team tracks, and a couple of freelanced industries added for interest - moving coal hoppers to and from staging will get boring real fast!
I'll add the plans/ideas for the harbour layout in a separate post. For now, here's a couple of video logs I added to YouTube last night:
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