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Schiller Point, Soo Line

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Well as it's a new year, and this layout is due for the TVNAM Show in June, I suppose it's about time I revealed what I've been up to for a while now...




...my new US O scale Shunty-Plank, called Schiller Point, a fictitious stabling yard set just north of the real Schiller park, once the Soo Line's main classification yard in Chicago, now an Intermodal yard.




Ah, hang on.... :unsure: that's the wrong side... :rolleyes:




That's better :D . A funny shaped board, I know... 4ft long by 3.5ft at the wide end and 1ft at the narrow end, with a 4ft fiddleyard to add to that end.


The trackplan is very simple as you can see. The location is meant to be here, in the triangle in these map screenshots;







The idea is that I can show locos supposedly coming on & off trains at the end of the yard "beyond the bridge" which is as convenient a scenic break as ever there was!! As you can see with O scale there isn't much room. <_<


Well, I suppose you've all had a good snigger by now, and are thinking what a lot of pants this little thing is...



But hang on a minute...


I've just missed out one little detail...




You've been looking at it from the wrong "end" ...


Here's the "Punter's View" for exhibition... with a scale Punter in place too B)




Something a little different, eh?


Work has been progressing however, and all track is now in place;





The 'main line' is Code 148FB rail.

The points were hand-made (my first attempts!!) - the usual soldered rail/pcb strip method, using a photocopy of an old Lima 2ft radius point as a template. The sidings were mostly hand-spiked; Code 100 rail on balsa sleepers, with some pcb soldered sleepers amongst them for strength. I've tried to capture that wonderful rickety 'no-expense-met' look of badly-maintained secondary US track.



Well it's turned into a bit of a monster for a Shunty-Plank, but it all dismantles into flat pieces and will fit in my car for transport as well as the three trestles, and stock etc.



Now you've all stopped laughing... what do you think..??

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Hi Jordan,

Looks great!

I should consider investing in some perspex or similar for the viewing port! That's going to be a most interesting viewpoint though, well done! I've never seen an 'end on' layout before although I've viewed many layouts end on anyway!


John E.

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Thanks for the replies so far!!


In response to a couple of Q's, ("multiquote" doesn't want to play it seems!!)


1 - The front fascia lower edge is slightly higher than the tracks, and catches the Buckeye trip pin, so things shouldn't run off the front!!


2 - I'm sure I've posted pics of the Ex-MILW Geep somewhere here on RMweb, but can't seem to find the thread now... :unsure:


So here's some pics of it;


It's a 'kit-bash' of a Weaver GP-38 and Atlas SD40 and GP35 parts, as there isn't a 2-Rail GP40 made as far as I know.


At the "basic" stage - Weaver parts are black, Atlas parts grey;



New longer fuel tank out of brass sheet;



Finally detailed, painted and weathered;





The real #2041 is, AFAIK, still running around in this 'temporary' patch paint job, albeit looking more decrepit than ever, as seen here in

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This looks great, I'm not usually a fan of "foreign stuff" but having been to the states many times you can't fail to be impressed by the sheer size of the trains. Seeing a double decker intermodal in death valley driving between Los Angeles and las Vegas is something I will never forget.

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Hi Jordan,

Looking forward to seeing this one in June.

Nice to see the mini punter is still keen. Hope he will be available as my assistant operator again!




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I do like the end on idea, reminds me of a 2mm layout who's name slips me at the moment.

"Queen Street Goods" perchance?? I've seen that one at shows, although I have to admit not a lot seems to happen...

My inspiration was more from "Villier Street", it was in EM and won a DEMU Small Layout contest in 2003.


Trisonic - I wouldn't know, I've never done a 3- to 2-Rail conversion on a loco, Williams or otherwise. I should think it's very hard, since 3-Rail pilots and steps are attached to the trucks, and the step handrails stop at the frame - terrible stuff! Current Weaver 2-Rail models are based on the 3-Rail body shell, so aren't very good either, for the said handrails error, & crude cast metal steps/pilots; this GP38-2 was an older model with a better shell, albeit with plastic handrails instead of metal on the current ones. Win some, lose some...


Dr Gerbil-Fritters - stock and parts are from either - my local Model Shop Tennents of Halesowen; ebay (both .com and .co.uk); or P&D Hobbyshop, Michigan USA, although it's best when importing to put in a bulk order, as Shipping from the US has gone through the roof lately, and the fall in exchange rate of £ to $ has also dried up the "bargains" on US Ebay.com to be honest.

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Hi Jordan,

Looking forward to seeing this one in June.

Nice to see the mini punter is still keen. Hope he will be available as my assistant operator again!


Likewise Dave, I anticipate a most enjoyable day!! - and yes, I'm sure he will!!! ;)

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I think this is really rather lovely. Where do you get your stock from?


I've been mulling over a change of scale lately, thanks to Jack Hill's NCIR and now this...



Dear Dr,


It's actually disturbingly easier and cheaper than you might suspect!

I'd been a long-time HOn30/HO/On30 modeller, and had long held the belief

"O scale's nice,

at eye level really encourages "hands-on" ops,

and that "heft" can't be beat for "the dynamic mass of a actual train,

but could never fit it in my assigned 2' x 4' layout space..."


Then I found myself in the following situation

- I found myself signed up to present a clinic on module building to a group of 7mm (O SG NSWGR) modellers

- with the fully knowledge that if what I presented wasn't "O scale", they'd "switch off" immediately


At around this time, an O scale Central Loco Works brass 2-rail GP35 saw me on eBay, and wouldn't let me go until I'd bid on it.

(had this key piece of equipment not come along, I may not have been "tipped over the edge",

but a Atlas 2-rail SW9/1200 end-cab switcher can be had for a bit over US$300 on eBay,

and makes a "nice starting point",

as well as offering some opportunities for "re-detailing" later on "down the track"...)


The result was ChicagO Fork, as shown recently on Carl Arendt's website






Now, I did approach this layout as I do with many projects, That being

- someone had stated (whatever the scale/gauge/model being built) had the following advantages/benefits

- so I 'have a go', taking them at their word

- while maintaining a "I won't use any tools of techniques that a 'average modeller' wouldn't have on hand when similarly attempting such a 'new thing' modelling challenge"

(I do not have or use an Airbrush, DCC, or a fully-equipped wood/metalworking shop at my dispoal, let alone a dedicated garage/shed area to work in)

- and see if I can re-create the stated 'benefits' of the starting-concept


Now, in terms of sourcing gear, I can't comment on what's available in your neck of the woods, but for Chicago Fork

- Loco from eBay (ended up costing 1/5th of the retail price, inc shipping)

- 4 x cars from eBay (avg cost US$25/car, which is on par with a current _Hi-detail-Spec_ HO car from Athearn, ExactRail, or similar)

- 5 x packets of 1-pair Kadee 805 metal couplers (around the same $$$/packet as a 2-pair pack of Kadee #5s)


Now, I did buy some extra trucks for 2 of the cars, as they were kits, and needed upgraded "modern roller bearing" trucks with the visible spinning-bearing-caps,

(One of the "benefits" of O scale, you can have things like spinning bearing cars very easily and visible),


but given CF's small size, the outlay for O scale equipment ended up being significantly less overall,

compared to the ammount of gear I would have bought and tried to run on the same sized layout area using HO scale...

(and in N scale, I would have been tempted to try and run multi-unit lashups of Kato Diesels, which in one move could have easily exceeded the cost of that CLW GP35!!!)


Track was going to be the $$$ killer for my mind, with "decent" US-style O scale track coming in at significantly more per length than 2x PECO HO Flex lengths.

(Micro Engineering, or Railway Engineering were the reccomended options from the local "O scale faithful").


That said, I've done "pseudo handlaid" track before,

feel pretty comfy with it,

and with the increase in size of O, came the suggestion that "track is a model",

and the detail of the track could be better appreciated.



- Balsa sleepers (Artmil model airplane balsa, available at most hobby shops and craft stores, very cheap...)

- PECO N scale SL14 trackspikes (AUD$3.00 for 1000 ;) )

- and donor Code 100 rail from the cheap-end "wouldn't use it for HO in a pink fit" GT-flextrack

(remember, we're working in O scale, so Code 100 is actually "Finescale rail size"!!!! ;) )


plus a very rough-n-ready O scale trackgauge made up from 2 pieces of styrene,


and all of the track you see on CF was laid, for about the same $$$ as using PECO HO flex.

(and admitedly, took a smidge more time/foot-laid, but I don't mind spiking rail,

particularly when it's soo easy with the PECO spikes and my fave pliers...)


Now, wanting to prove the "extra mile"/extra size benefits touted of O scale, I also added:


- resin sleeper/tie-plates from Wiseman's Models,

- and joint-bar/"joiner" details from Grandt Line,

- as well as deliberately laying the rail in prototypical 39' rail sections,

(for the "wiggle" and the "clickety clack" of US "neglected secondary main" trackage),


but that's optional, you don't need to go there to "just get trains running"...


In short, for the average "HO experienced" modeller, a 1' x 8' O scale "micro layout" is very do-able,


will almost certainly not cost more than an equivalent HO layout in the same area,

(and very likely cost significantly less, if you're canny about it...)


does not need any additional tools or equipment to be obtained,


and definitely provides a much more "up close and personal" viewpoint/interaction with the trains,

(particularly if they are displayed at or near eye level...)


There won't be room to fit anywhere near as much scenic or structural "stuff" as one can cram onto a HO layout of same area,

but due to the size of each structure/model,

and thus the ammount of stuff which is _conspicuous_by_its_absence_

(you never really appreciate how much detail we leave _off_ the average HO model,

simply because at that size, the detail can't be consciously seen,

and thus we don't notice that it isn't there...),


there's more than enough "play value" in the lesser quantity of individual models

(time spent dividied by $ spent/layout-area-eaten),

to keep a modeller going for quite a while...


As some other US O scale inspiration, check the AORairoad pages and forum











(Check the 1st two pics in this thread!!!! :blink: :D )



(RE Rail code)


Hope this Helps...


Happy Modelling,

Aim to Improve,

Prof Klyzlr

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  • 4 weeks later...

Work has been a bit slow recently due to the inclement weather, and I can't post any progress pics at the moment as my digital camera has broken, but some work is being accomplished... the yard is now ballasted, although the main line still needs to be done (different ballast I have yet to buy!). I spread the dilute PVA one day last month when the weather had warmed up... it then fell below freezing again and the PVA took a week to dry out... :blink: :rolleyes: :angry:

I have a hut built and painted for the foreground; it's assumed to be a Driver's 'bothy' - or whatever the US equivalent is!!??!! :unsure: and I could do with a 1980's Pick-Up Truck as a Maintenance vehicle to park next to it; I've seen some in prototype photos - white with red doors and the slanted SOO logo on them.

Now I'm working on the wiring. There's going to be a surprising amount of it just to supply separate control to the two lines, one from a handheld controller; live-frog points; and two MRC Sound box systems... :blink:

yeah yeah I know... it'd be a lot simpler with DCC (apparently), but I reckon it'd also cost around a £1,000 more to do it that way - from adding a Booster to my basic NCE Powercab, to adding O-scale-rated Chips to every loco plus the extra cost of sound... and at the end of the day all I would really achieve over and above analogue 12vDC on this layout (I appreciate there might be more benefits on a larger layout) would be that the loco lights would stay on, and the sound could be more type-specific (the MRC being a somewhat "generic" sound)... As things stand, I'll take the cheaper-but-more-complex-wiring route, thanks.... <_< ;)

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Interesting layout that you have taking shape here.

Did you use a bought-in 32mm track gauge with the code 100 rail or did you make your own - I did see the one you used for the fiddle yard track on your other layout ;)

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Track gauges were home-made, as per Withyn Reach. I once got a very strange look from a Trader selling O scale track components at an Exhibition, when I asked him if he did 32mm track gauges to suit Code 100... :rolleyes: :D ;)

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Looks great. Nice to see US outline over here on the layout page.


I've been thinking about doing one of those triangular layouts for a while now. I'll add it to the ever-increasing list of layouts I'm going to build. Maybe I could kill 2 birds with one stone and do mine as Swedish outline O-gauge ;)



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