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Modelling the ATSF in 1970 in HO


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An idea attributed to @Northroader elsewhere on RMweb is to offer a “State of the Layouts” update for the turn of the year.  I don’t have much to show yet, but with a few days off after Christmas work on my starter layout has begun.  It’s too cold for woodworking in our outhouse, so I’m starting with a background building kit.  The depth will determine the placement of the spur later, and it’s really nice to be building a kit with a clear purpose in mind:

 

191C3D1E-5BA4-498E-BC51-CAE888466DA8.jpeg.0b4dc2e0ccdaaeca47953d9a4d8e059f.jpeg

 

The kit is a Walthers’ Commissary which I’d bought to go with my Union Station model, but I’ll use as a general purpose warehouse / distribution depot here instead.  The brickwork in the kit is quite a bright orange, which I’ve tried to dull with a thin wash of grey paints and white spirit.  It’s not something I’ve tried before and I have been quite cautious, but I’m happy with the outcome.  I also chose a dull colour for the rooftops and shutters for the same reason (actually left-over chocolate from GWR coach kits).  I’ve cheated by not painting the window frames - an uneven finish could draw more attention to them and I’m not a great painter.

 

With three storeys it is perhaps a bit tall for the kind of towns I’ve been looking at, but as I’ve managed to source a grain elevator kit for the other side of the layout I can go ahead with the rural town theme.  I’ve ordered a slightly taller Feed Mill kit for the other background building on the depot / town side, which I hope will also make this look a bit smaller in comparison.  I like the Walthers kits - the mouldings are good and they take paint well, and although the Feed Mill is quite a popular kit, I do like it (it has a bit more detail on it) and I think it will fit this theme.

 

The one thing I don’t like so much with these kits is the absence of a back, but with moulded plastic I realise that would increase the price more in line with the 3-D buildings, for which my budget priority was the grain elevator.  One big advantage of a rural theme is I’ll need fewer buildings - a depot is now the only major structure I’ve not sorted.  I’d like a board and frame combination depot rather than a mission-style building, but the American Model Builder kits I’ve seen are (justifiably) quite expensive and very scarce, but there’s no rush.

 

I’m going to have a lot of questions when it comes to sorting out some of the rolling stock I’ve got, but I’m thinking I may start a “Beginner’s Workbench” thread in the other part of this Forum for that when I’ve finished this building, Keith.

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Nice work.

I used the Walthers Commissary building on my last layout, 'The Marlborough Branch'. I do admire that you painted the window sills and lintels. I didn't on my model. 

 

Look forward to following your progress in the New Year.

 

 

mb 7.12.17 005 new.jpg

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10 hours ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

With three storeys it is perhaps a bit tall for the kind of towns I’ve been looking at, but as I’ve managed to source a grain elevator kit for the other side of the layout I can go ahead with the rural town theme. 

 

There are always exceptions, maybe more in the US that other places, where the railroad or even some private industry ended up building something apparently out of character in terms of size for its location - usually a combination of being over-optimistic in future traffic/business, attempting to impress people, or a change in reality shortly after being finished.

 

Blaine Hadfield (Arrowhead Models) recently did a video podcast interview and his eventual goal is a SF line where the SF built some very large stations for a small towns.

 

Or the NYC built a very large new station in Buffalo NY which opened in time for the great depression, and it never got to handle the traffic levels it was built for.

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Thank you for the encouraging feedback and additional photos - always good to see what can be done (something to aim for one day). I’m happy with how this has building turned out, it just now needs to be left for the glue and final bits of paint to dry thoroughly; signage is for another time:

 

FECCE0EF-C442-4D76-9976-3426B8BAB9F2.jpeg.a7a12f4c375491f5536e1278f71f7abb.jpeg
 

It is a bit more delicate than I’d anticipated, so I’ll need to be careful handling it as it is for a portable layout and will need to be removable, but no complaints at all with the kit.  
 

It just remains to wish everyone a peaceful and a safe New Year, Keith.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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If you used the base that come with the kit, what i do is cut a piece of 9mm ply to sit inside the building and glue it there, then when it's fitted on the portable layout, i drill a couple of hole up through the baseboard into the base of the building, then screw a couple of self tappers in. No need to move when transporting to exhibitions and if you need to move it(for the next layout) it's just a matter of cutting scenery around the bottom and un screwing.

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23 minutes ago, long island jack said:

If you used the base that come with the kit, what i do is cut a piece of 9mm ply to sit inside the building and glue it there, then when it's fitted on the portable layout, i drill a couple of hole up through the baseboard into the base of the building, then screw a couple of self tappers in. No need to move when transporting to exhibitions and if you need to move it(for the next layout) it's just a matter of cutting scenery around the bottom and un screwing.


Thank you - I would never have thought of that: a really excellent idea.

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Earlier in the thread I shared a photo of an 8" sq. 'Cakebox' diorama I put together for a BRM / RMweb competition in 2019.  The competition is being re-run here: BRM/RMweb Cakebox Challenge and I'm going to use the opportunity to try scratchbuilding a board and frame Santa Fe Depot for this layout.

 

There's an 8" sq. max. size for a Cakebox model, so I'll be trialling a smaller version than the #4 Standard Depot at Pauls Valley.  I'll be using card (rather than styrene or plasticard) to see how I get on, as I've not tried scratchbuilding before.  I've set up a separate build thread for the competition: Home Depot - a Lockdown Cakebox so progress will be shown there, hence this placeholder, as it is the next stage of this project too:

 

772191032_Drawing1.jpg.93d6d2b0beaff5136e4c375ccad1f817.jpg

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Q: Station Track Layouts

I was happy with the final schematic for my proposed layout.  Once the switchback had been engineered out, the design looked reasonable and not over-complicated, yet at the same time would be interesting to switch due to the locations of the spur tracks.

 

I'm having to look at a re-plan however as we've been talking about swapping over some of our bedrooms, and the layout idea won't fit any more.  I have a file of ideas for a UK layout, and a good selection of US track plan books I can refer to when a new space is finalised, but I'm left with a question on prototype practice I'd appreciate some advice on:

 

What I'm wanting to check is if there was a recommended / standard / preferred practice for siting spur tracks at the kind of stations in the Oklahoma / Kansas / New Mexico areas I'm looking at:

 

1156735512_Scan1.jpg.33ed062e9b2cb535f12935c15509611b.jpg

I've had a look at some Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, and taken some Google Earth tours, but the maps don't always extend far enough out from the centre of towns to show which direction turnouts faced, and a lot of spurs have now been lifted or lines abandoned.  Logic suggests the arrangement I've drawn above would be the better way to access the two rail-served industries, but in modelling terms this would need more space either side of the station for switching moves.  A more compact way to fit the track into the kind of compact spaces I'm looking at is as follows:

611605113_Scan2.jpg.affb950a5589fc2790e0d5a41fe2c9f2.jpgThis places the rail-served industry a bit further from the Depot, but switching interferes with the Team Track.  If I assume my staging is to the West, I don't need to extend the tracks very far East of my station.

 

But would the additional moving and re-spotting of cars on the Team Track be designed out in reality?  I won't have the kind of space these diagrams infer, but am interested to see how close I can get.  Thanks, Keith.

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Both of the sketches you have are very typical of what you'd find along rail lines in the Midwest and West (in fact all over the country). In some cases, You'd simply have the passing siding and then a long siding that usually ran behind the station and whatever industries there were would be along that siding. Often the customers would be grain elevators or feed mills and perhaps an oil dealer or other customer. Also you'd have team track customers on that siding too. When your local freight worked the town, some customers might be switched from one or the other end of the "industry siding" or perhaps everything switched from just one end, depending on how the local's schedule was. Of course, any cars that were still unloading or loading, would have to be re-spotted. There can be quite a bit of switching involved on such a simple looking plan, but of course you need a lot or room on each end of the sidings in order to work the town - often a problem for us modelers. On my own current "end of branch" track plan, I switch everything from one end of the long "industrial spur", after the train arrives and the power is switched to the other end.

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10 hours ago, LNRR said:

Both of the sketches you have are very typical of what you'd find along rail lines in the Midwest and West (in fact all over the country). In some cases, You'd simply have the passing siding and then a long siding that usually ran behind the station and whatever industries there were would be along that siding. Often the customers would be grain elevators or feed mills and perhaps an oil dealer or other customer. Also you'd have team track customers on that siding too. When your local freight worked the town, some customers might be switched from one or the other end of the "industry siding" or perhaps everything switched from just one end, depending on how the local's schedule was. Of course, any cars that were still unloading or loading, would have to be re-spotted. There can be quite a bit of switching involved on such a simple looking plan, but of course you need a lot or room on each end of the sidings in order to work the town - often a problem for us modelers. On my own current "end of branch" track plan, I switch everything from one end of the long "industrial spur", after the train arrives and the power is switched to the other end.


Thank you - really helpful.  Keith.

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In my Jan 28th post above I explained we’re re-arranging several rooms in our house, and I’m now looking at a space in the attic room where I can set up portable layouts.  It means I’ll have to carry the boards up a further flight of stairs (with a dog leg), so the size and number of the boards will be governed by that rather than the available space when I get there.

I already have on file ideas for a UK layout that will fit the revised space, but it will need new baseboards.  Using some boards I already have, and making minimal adjustments to them, I have 8’4” x 5’4” for a compact U-shaped US layout on four boards.  It’s the other way round to the space I had before, but I’m quite happy with this - there are plenty of excellent layouts in this Forum in smaller spaces than that.

I had a number of attempts at trying to design a station with an industry siding  / team track running behind the depot (per my Jan 28th post), but I couldn’t make them look convincing.  I therefore went back to first principles and started again.  I’ve been greatly helped by following advice from @James Hilton, and it’s clear to me that one of my key drivers remains the model railroads I remember growing up, pouring over my Dad’s Model Railroader magazines and Kalmbach plan books.

Layout design has moved on, but re-creating those memories has been the entry point for my renewed interest in US outline modelling, so I had another look through the books I bought (again) a few years ago and came up with this as an idea:

 

1588602782_Drawing3.jpg.d923ea1cef2014ab9b217dad40bde1c6.jpg

I should explain I did my initial drawing in Anyrail, so I know it fits.  I've also given myself the additional constraint of using track I already have: I don't have a large budget, and supplies are still limited anyway.

 

The points I've noted are these:

  1. The length of the Cassette staging track is constrained as the door opens into the space - a longer removable cassette might be possible, but there is enough room for a four car train to be hidden behind the Grain Elevator.
  2. Ideally, the Grain Elevator spur would be longer, so cars can be pushed through for loading, but I may just have to pretend.
  3. For me, a requirement that is always high on my list of "Givens" is for trains to "go somewhere."  This open curve is all I have room for,  and requires curved joints at either end of the board, but I do have some DCC Concepts alignment dowels to make it feasible.
  4. The small interchange yard doubles as a run-round, and is a feature I got from the plan I based this on.  Each track takes just three 50' cars, but allows some yard switching (my previous plan didn't have this).
  5. I don't intentionally go looking for ways to include switchbacks - honest! - this is a function of the switches I have and the placement of the baseboard joint.  It's probably fair to say that 'old-time' layout designers were more inclined to include this kind of arrangement than would be done today, but I've managed to leave an open lead track (in front of the mill) to make this easier to use.   The #1 Combination Depot I'm scratchbuilding doesn't have any loading bay doors round the back, so I've run the spur up to the loading dock at the side of the building instead.
  6. I'm imagining the line continues off-stage in front of the Depot to the interchange (not modelled).  Looking at Sanborn maps, this seemed to be the arrangement on the SF Alma Branch, which I looked at after seeing a video of an amazing model of that line.

There are still a number of compromises in the design, but it gives a sense of the layout I'm working towards, Keith.

 

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Yeap ability to have another train staged and ready to roll will greatly increase the operating potential. One of the biggest mistakes I made with Vimes Street was not providing long enough or enough staging 

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1 hour ago, enginelane said:

Yeap ability to have another train staged and ready to roll will greatly increase the operating potential. One of the biggest mistakes I made with Vimes Street was not providing long enough or enough staging 


Hi there, I think we may be talking about two slightly different things: extending the grain elevator spur onto the cassette would allow me to push a cut of hoppers through the loading shed so each one can be loaded in turn (the curved track means the elevator won’t shift to the right along the spur).

 

Adding a second staging track for another train would be a bit different.  As I envisage it, a branch like this one would only see one train a day (mainly freight, but just possibly a mixed train a few times a week, although most had ended earlier than my period).  It might be an idea to have multiple cassettes made up for alternate trains (less stock handling), but I only expect to need one at a time.
 

I agree a longer staging track would be good: it would enable me to add another car to the train, which would add to the operation (and still fit the runround at the Station).  It may be possible, I’ll need to see how it all fits around the door opening.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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Alternately, stick with the current single track cassette and have a removable/fold up or down track extension for the grain elevator - this keeping the cassette more manageable for moving when loaded with rolling stock.

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15 minutes ago, mdvle said:

Alternately, stick with the current single track cassette and have a removable/fold up or down track extension for the grain elevator - this keeping the cassette more manageable for moving when loaded with rolling stock.


Nice idea thank you - It’ll be a little while before I get to that stage but I’ll try out these suggestions when I get there.  The Grain Elevator will also be the first thing people see as they come up the stairs into the attic room (which is not a conventional viewing position!).  It’s an impressive building - I have a Walthers’ kit but haven’t started it yet - so it could make a good ‘signature scene’, but I’m jumping ahead of myself a bit: today’s task is scribing diamond shingles for the Depot roof.  Thanks again for the ideas - all good stuff, Keith.

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I spent quite a lot of time last year planning a UK outline GW Branch Line layout.  Each time I thought I'd got there, things unconnected with railway modelling caused a change of plan (I don't have a dedicated layout space, so modelling fits around family life).  I'm getting closer now, but had to make another change following our half-term project to reconfigure various rooms around the house.  We've been more successful than expected (which is good), but this means more access will be needed behind the proposed layout space in the attic room.  I've therefore had to shorten the longer side of the layout so we can get past.  Experience tells me that, once the ruling length falls below 8', options become much more constrained, so I've gone for something quite simple, again loosely based on a Kalmbach Model Railroader plan from some years ago:

 

713064629_PlanB.jpg.f2f4fc75d2461292c2cd818fdbcf1935.jpg

 

As before, I drew it up in Anyrail first to check it all fits, but I find redrawing is a good way to confirm my ideas:

  1. I've used the opportunity to remodel the Grain Elevator Spur part of the plan and make it longer.  I can't extend the staging cassette further because of the door / doorway, but that's the compromise.
  2. I've lost the space at the Depot end of the layout for a small town scene, so may move this to the open curve.  It's not an ideal spot, but I built a row of Walthers' shops as a first try at one of their kits last year (photo below).  As this is really a starter layout, i could use them to get started.  I've not tried detailing a building interior before, but this could be something else new for me to try at some point:
  3. As indicated above, the station layout has changed to give me the maximum length industrial spurs and run-round I can fit in.  I'm happy it doesn't look too cramped, and by keeping the Depot at the far end of the layout, I can get a Team Track to run behind it: effectively I'm modelling the East end approach to a small town station.  Looking at Sanborn maps of Pauls Valley, it appears that the sidings behind the Depot were split from the mid-1920s onwards, stopping either side of the Depot rather than being continuous.  Although the rest of the plan is not based on Paul Valley specifically, this should be OK.  Two of the three tracks across the middle board joint are now angled, but all are straight.

After the different false starts I've had, something quite straightforward seems to me to be a wise choice.  I think this should work?

 

577555248_MerchantsRow.jpeg.dd610a78bf9c8f03195f2aa6e78e3163.jpeg

 

(this photo was shown on RMweb last year on one of the BRM lockdown modelling threads)

 

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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  • 1 month later...

After a month without posting an update,  it's actually encouraging to see this thread has 'slipped' quite a way down Page 3 of the Forum: it suggests there's plenty to discuss (it's been enjoyable catching up with my reading this morning too :)).

 

I've been working on my first Scratchbuild: a small Combination Freight and Passenger Depot made out of cereal packet and packing card for the BRM / RMweb 'Cakebox Competition' and built from plans in a November 1979 Model Railroader article.  The full story of my build is posted in the Competition Forum (Home Depot - a Lockdown Cakebox), but here are some duplicates of photos I took when I just had the card edge corners still to paint:

 

209051776_FrontLeft.jpeg.46ce5b7b2002281fab666ee9458fc7d4.jpeg

 

1469234510_FrontRight.jpeg.324fbbf5e72c6f53c56de9b3bb256f17.jpeg

 

284599690_RearLeft.jpeg.fa6dede6df834c1b85ec353c631517f1.jpeg

 

1564938118_Righthandside.jpeg.c152aee46de75251aec0a933f832b72d.jpeg

 

Needless to say it's turned out far better than I expected - to fit it into the 8" square allowed I only had to shorten the rear loading dock.  I know the Train Order Board arms are too short (I think they were sometime shortened or removed when decommissioned, but I've gone for an earlier colour scheme so it would probably still have been there?).

_______________________

 

By way of a general update, my previous posts described the latest iteration of plans for a starter layout - having also exceeded all my expectations when I started this thread.  Layout plans have however now paused, as I found that carrying everything I needed up and down the attic stairs more onerous than enjoyable: a condition of using the space is that it can be cleared of all evidence of modelling when needed as a guest room.  My long term aim to model the Santa Fe in 1970 in HO remains unchanged, but for now I'm looking at something in Narrow Gauge in the space instead.  I think I've satisfied myself I'm comfortable in HO Scale, but I'd like to build something more compact, so that'll be my next short-term modelling project while I continue my research.

 

Keith.

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Also the funky little lite on the top of the signal blade is odd, makes it look like somebody repurposed a British or European semaphore.

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23 minutes ago, dave1905 said:

Also the funky little lite on the top of the signal blade is odd, makes it look like somebody repurposed a British or European semaphore.

 

Hi Dave, fair point - I was trying to find a design I could copy and cut out in basic cardboard.  It was supposed to look like this:

Cumbres Section House Signal  (which I recognise isn't a Santa Fe design anyway).  I hadn't originally planned to include a train order board at all, but as a diorama it looked like there was something missing without one - because there was. 

 

I'm not sure I'll have time to re-do it for the Cakebox competition, but for layout purposes it would want replacing. 

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8 hours ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

Layout plans have however now paused, as I found that carrying everything I needed up and down the attic stairs more onerous than enjoyable: a condition of using the space is that it can be cleared of all evidence of modelling when needed as a guest room.  My long term aim to model the Santa Fe in 1970 in HO remains unchanged, but for now I'm looking at something in Narrow Gauge in the space instead.  I think I've satisfied myself I'm comfortable in HO Scale, but I'd like to build something more compact, so that'll be my next short-term modelling project while I continue my research.

 

The good news is that you have remembered that this hobby is supposed to be fun, and found a way to continue in the hobby while waiting for better circumstances for the dream.

 

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The RMweb ‘Cakebox’ competition has gone to overtime (we’ve been given a few more days over the holiday weekend), so I’ve had a second go at the Train Order Board for my Depot model.  I used some thinner card that was easier to cut into a more complex shape - and tried to glue the arms to the mast more in line with the pivot in the photo I’d copied (link in a post on this above):

 

04C48A08-0CD3-45D7-A0F3-16BE2EE265AE.jpeg.fa97761be343660654dfae415ad45dc9.jpeg
 

98A73C9E-43E3-40BC-86DD-B0AA86EA146A.jpeg.057c7245718e654f55ab886e9d91b388.jpeg

 

I don’t know if I’ll get chance to redo my “Final” photos in daylight over Easter weekend, but at least I know I was able to have another try (I had some unplanned free time today).

 

(These photos are also on my Cakebox thread).

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