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AaronV
New Hire

46 Posts

Posted - 01/15/2016 :  4:25:50 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Starting a thread to document and share my progress on the construction of a small HO scale layout. Progress has been slow to date, but I hope to make 2016 the year I kick layout construction into a higher gear.

The layout is a small continuous loop with some spurs and a short branch line. It is 5 feet long and 3 feet 10 inches wide. The layout size was determined by the maximum footprint that could fit in the back of a vehicle that I previously owned. I hope to someday take the layout to shows, if it reaches a point of scenic and operational completion that I am happy with.

This is the first layout I have ever built, so I have an awful lot to learn.

The layout theme is a protofreelance Maine Central branch in northern Maine in the early 1950s. A short branch line represents the fictional Penobscot Timber & Stone, a standard-gauge Maine logging and quarrying railroad.

To date, I have completed some benchwork, laid most of the roadbed, and am getting ready to lay track.

In my initial posts, I plan on sharing the trackplan, describing some of the protofreelance history I developed for the layout, and describing construction to date, which included construction of portable tabletop benchwork (legs not yet constructed) almost entirely out of foamcore.

I've been a Railroad Line Forums lurker for at least several years, and have learned so much and been inspired so much by the forums already. I'm excited to become a more active participant and start to share what I am working on.

Comments and feedback welcome!

AaronV

AaronV
New Hire

46 Posts

Posted - 01/15/2016 :  4:49:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Here is the track plan. I consider the track plan to be pretty much final...certainly there are compromises that had to be made but I'm satisfied with it given the small size. As you will see in a subsequent photo, I've already built the benchwork and laid out most of the roadbed to follow this track plan, so be gentle with any suggested track plan changes! Scenery and structures are certainly still being refined though.



AaronV
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Tyson Rayles
Moderator

USA
12444 Posts

Posted - 01/15/2016 :  4:50:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Looking forward to following along. Congrats on becoming a poster instead of a lurker! [:-thumbu]

Mike
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AaronV
New Hire

46 Posts

Posted - 01/15/2016 :  5:07:27 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
And here is about how the layout looks today (I've subsequently added some more roadbed to the back edge and built one more foamcore platform to carry the line across the bog).



This is looking from the town side of the layout. Eventually there will be a double-sided removable backdrop that mostly separates the two sides.

With the small radius (18 inch on the "main line" loop and 15 inch on the branch line) I'm quite accepting of the fact that I will be limited to short locomotives and cars. There are no track grades on the layout, though foam hills will be added, and there are areas that are lower than track level for a short harbor shoreline, a stream valley and a bog.

My biggest issue I wish I could change is how close the track is to the edge of the layout. I may add some sort of clear shield, especially if I end up taking the layout to shows. I certainly will not be running any brass locos, given the possibility of a tumble to the floor (not that I own any pricey locos). I wish I had a few more inches to add around the edges, but the layout footprint was fit down to the inch, based on what would fit between the wheel wells in the hatch area of a vehicle I had (ironically I now have a larger van). I even built a full-scale cardboard mockup of the layout 3d footprint, tried putting it in the back of my car, determined that it didn't quite fit, and slimmed it down further to arrive at the final dimensions. And I didn't want to go below an 18 inch radius.

AaronV

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TRAINS1941
Engineer

USA
9364 Posts

Posted - 01/15/2016 :  5:59:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Glad to see you posting your work.

Looks like your off to a good start.

Edited by - TRAINS1941 on 01/15/2016 6:01:50 PM
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AaronV
New Hire

46 Posts

Posted - 01/15/2016 :  6:16:12 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
And to wrap up the intro, here is a map I developed to support my protofreelanced concept for the railroad Ė though this small layout represents only a small part of the ďMaine Central - Chesuncook DivisionĒ drawn below.



Iíve long been interested in the railroads of Maine and the rest of New England, even though I live in the Midwestern U.S. When I developed the track plan, I planned to use a freelanced fictional Maine railroad, with a somewhat generic geography. It would be set somewhere in rural Maine, perhaps on the coast somewhere, perhaps in the interior forest.
Iím aware of the prototype Maine two-footers and the great work that has been done in HOn30 and other model narrow gauges (Hayden and Fraryís Thatcherís Inlet and C&DR, Trevor Marshallís Monson / Somerset Railroad, and Troels Kirkís Coast Line RR are just a few that wow me). But for my first layout, I wanted to stay with standard HO gauge, given my learning curve and the HO equipment Iíve already acquired. I came up with the idea of the ďPenobscot Timber & StoneĒ a shortline that has a backwoods flavor but is standard gauge.

Iíd also been studying the Maine Central for a while. The most reliable HO locomotives I currently own are an SW7 and a 44-tonner, both of which I want to repaint in the maroon-and-gold Maine Central colors (both these locos were regularly found on Maine Central branch lines).

Then I stumbled across some info on the Eagle Lake and West Branch Railroad, a short-lived standard-gauge logging railroad in northern Maine (including some stranded steam locomotives that can still be found in the remote Maine woods). And I started to learn more about logging and settlement in this part of Maine, about the rivers and lakes that were used for transportation, about the logistics of logging and industry and transportation in this mountainous area where the Penobscot, Kennebec, St. John and Allagash Rivers all originate. And I mixed together my ideas and research in a mental stew Ė and the result was the Chesuncook Division of the Maine Central. When time permits, I want to further explain some of my protofreelance concepts a bit, as I really enjoyed the whole exercise.

The basic concept of the MEC Chesuncook Division is that the Maine Central built a line from the north end of Moosehead Lake to Chesuncook Lake. This line is connected to the rest of the Maine Central by carfloats or barges on Moosehead Lake, via the end of the Maine Centralís Somerset (Kineo) Branch at Rockwood. The Maine Central really did have a station and dock on the shore of Moosehead Lake at Rockwood (Kineo Station), though in real life the line from Moosehead Lake south to Bingham was removed in 1933. One hub of the division operations was at Seboomook (also known as North West Carry) at the northwest corner of Moosehead Lake, where the carfloats and barges docked. The main line ran east to Chesuncook Lake, eventually reaching Ripogenus Dam. A branch was also built north to connect to the Eagle Lake and West Branch Railroad, forming a rail-and-water link with the Allagash watershed and far northern Maine. A branch was built west to connect to the Seboomook Lake and St. John Railroad (which actually ďsort ofĒ existed) and to the logging outpost of Pittston Farm. In my protofreelance history, the Maine Central eventually planned to construct a line along the shore of Moosehead Lake to connect the Chesuncook Division by rail to the rest of the system, but traffic never reached a level that supported such an investment, and so the water connection over Moosehead Lake remained.
Anyway, those of you that know Maine may readily recognize what on my map actually existed and what is fictional.

In terms of era, Iím primarily interested in transition-era 1950s modeling. This allows the use of shorter, early generation diesels, shorter rolling stock such as 40 foot boxcars, and also allows for the possibility of some steam locomotives still in use on shortlines and branch lines. It also makes more plausible the idea that some of the logging shortlines and branches were still hanging on (in reality, the Eagle Lake and West Branch Railroad only ran from about 1927 to 1933, but perhaps it would have had a longer life if it had a rail connection).

This small layout represents only a small slice of this systemÖit is intended to represent one of the small waterfront villages on Chesuncook Lake, where the Maine Central met a branch of the Penobscot Timber & Stone (such as the fictional lakeside village of Caribou Landing at the south end of Chesuncook Lake).

Tentatively, Iím setting the layout in the year 1952. From 1951 to 1953, there was a major real-life construction project just south of Ripogenus Dam Ė the McKay Power Station. This allows me to imagine that there would have been a boost in traffic on the line in this time period, as construction materials, equipment and personnel were transported to the dam/power site. (the dam itself was built in 1915, and in my protofreelance history was a primary driver for the extension of the Maine Central line to the south end of Chesuncook Lake).

Anyway, thatís enough for now. Not sure how exactly how frequently Iíll be updating this thread Ė multiple posts in one day probably wonít happen very often, but thanks for allowing me to introduce my project.

AaronV


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thayer
Engine Wiper

232 Posts

Posted - 01/16/2016 :  02:17:00 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Aaron,

Given that you now have a larger vehicle, would it not make sense to add a couple more inches for insurance and additional scenery?

Also, looking at your track plan I see one area that I would recommend you consider changing. If you can, I would convert the crossing right next to the words "Transfer Yard" to allow a runaround track.

I have a similarly small project under way in On30 and after a few late night "does everything work" operating sessions in its current format, I find that I wish I had added runaround capability without making an extra lap. Doing so destroys any fantasy that the train is going somewhere as it orbits the main loop.

You can see my track plan at the bottom of this page.
http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=44247

And a bit of the track work about half way down this page.
http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=44328&whichpage=14

I've thought about adding the runaround bracketing the turnout that leads to siding A, but I think it would too tight at that point. The only difference between the drawing and the final track is that I added another turnout in the upper right corner for future expansion, which can be seen in the previous link above.

Thayer

Edited by - thayer on 01/16/2016 10:51:52 AM
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Neil M
Fireman

Australia
2451 Posts

Posted - 01/16/2016 :  05:58:49 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'll second what Tayer said, a runaround siding would add to the plan you have and make running trains more fun.

You can still have an interchange track (if that's what you mean by the transfer yard) at the front right of the layout (and I think that would be good as a rail destination that can accept pretty much any type of wagon). Maybe adjust the line of it to give it a slight curve, to break up the section of track paralleling the edge of the layout.


Built a waterfront HO layout in Ireland http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=22161 but now making a start in On30 in Australia
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Dutchman
Administrator

USA
29989 Posts

Posted - 01/16/2016 :  08:40:36 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Aaron, I enjoyed reading the 'back story' on your MEC Chesuncook Division. I'll be checking it as updates are posted.

Bruce

Modeling the railroads of the Jersey Highlands in HO and the logging railroads of Pennsylvania in HOn3
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westernmaine
Engine Wiper

156 Posts

Posted - 01/16/2016 :  12:06:33 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Aaron,

As a student and modeler of the Maine Central I think that your idea is quite plausible and original. I at one point entertained a similar concept, that of the "Allagash & St. Croix", a line that would have connected with the Eagle Lake & West Branch near Umbazooksus, and strike off to the southeast to Millinocket and on to Vanceboro. Though I ultimately selected another part of the MEC, I'm glad that a fellow modeler has taken up the challenge of modeling that part of the world. I've spent time up inn that part of the Maine woods, let me know if you need any photographs of the scenery. Looking forward to seeing your concept take shape.

NORTHERN TERMINAL COMPANY - The mainline to the Maine Coast

Edited by - westernmaine on 01/16/2016 7:46:02 PM
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nhguy
Fireman

USA
4763 Posts

Posted - 01/16/2016 :  1:14:19 PM  Show Profile  Visit nhguy's Homepage  Send nhguy a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Hi Aaron. Welcome to the forum. I read your story and have looked at your track plan. I like both the 'history' and the track plan for your small railroad. It looks simple and functional. I think that you actually need to operate it for a bit to see how it will work with switching the cars. That way you can make the determination if you need to add the runaround, which I think you probably find out you will, in the location the others have suggested or not. Being a New England modeller myself I can appreciate your dilemma on modeling a standard or two foot gauge in the state of Maine. Both are interesting. Do not be afraid to change the track arrangement if doesn't work (see my thread on the New Haven as I have just done this). If it does work then don't change it. Just try and change it BEFORE you put scenery on it. It much easier to get yourself to just tear out track. I will be following along. Thanks for letting us follow your progress. And post lots of photos and narrative. Bill

Bill Shanaman
New Haven RR
Hartford Division
in Colorado.
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jbvb
Fireman

USA
5243 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2016 :  08:48:34 AM  Show Profile  Visit jbvb's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Interesting premise. I've hiked areas south and east of Moosehead Lake in years past, but know most of your place names. Had it actually been built, the MEC might have started buying diesels earlier, due to the cost of shipping locomotive coal that far from the ports.
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George D
Moderator

USA
14017 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2016 :  09:00:42 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Aaron, I know nothing about railroading in Maine, but I have a better feel for it after reading your concept for the layout. This looks like and interesting thread and I'll be following along.

George
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Bill Gill
Fireman

USA
1790 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2016 :  1:00:12 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Aaron, Welcome to the forum.
Your layout has a number of similarities to my Connecticut & Vermont RR (very loosely inspired by the Central Vermont). The C&V is set in the early 1950s. The layout is 5.25 ft x 4 ft. with two corners cut back at 45 degree angle. There is a tall tree covered hill that is a scene divider along the center of the long axis. A tunnel cuts through it at one end and a rock cut at the other. On one side of the hill is part of a small town, on the other is a small sawmill and the entry to a quarry.

I agree with those who suggest adding a runaround track/passing siding close to the town if you can. I have two, on diagonally opposite ends of the layout. They allow running two short trains and switching the spurs without making a complete loop around the layout. Perhaps there might be a way to fit a runaround here on your layout?


The other thing I like is the tall hill. The tops of the trees are above eye level. I can stand and only see half the layout at a time. That greatly expands its overall size in my imagination.

The top of the benchwork is about 48 inches above the floor. The track varies slightly in height above that. I can sit and watch trains roll by at eye level.

Edited by - Bill Gill on 01/17/2016 1:11:13 PM
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AaronV
New Hire

46 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2016 :  11:01:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the comments everyone.
I was planning on using a loop around the oval as a de facto runaround track. I think I will look a bit harder at the track plan and see if I can find a location for a prototypical runaround track. It looks like geometrically it would work to replace the diamond crossing with one end of a runaround track - I think the reason I didn't do this originally was because I wanted the two additional car spotting locations on the spur that is part of the diamond.
Maybe I will initially build the track as currently designed, but not put any ballast and adjacent scenery down until Iíve done some operating on the layout and decide whether Iím willing to use a lap around the loop as a runaround.

I enjoy hearing from others who are modeling Maine and other areas in New England. Although Iíve lived my whole life in the Midwestern U.S., Iíve made numerous trips to urban and rural New England over the years. In Maine, Iíve taken a couple trips up the Maine coast, making it as far as Acadia. Iíve spent a couple days in Portland and got to visit the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum. Iíve also spent a bit of time around the Rangeley Lake area, although at the time I knew very little about the history of two-foot railroads in the area Ė at that time I was more interested in the brook trout fishing in the area. Iíve actually never been to the Moosehead Lake or Chesuncook or Allagash areas, Öbut that sounds like a good excuse to plan a trip back to Maine. Would love to make it to Mt. Katahdin one day tooÖ

Aaron
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thayer
Engine Wiper

232 Posts

Posted - 01/18/2016 :  12:24:13 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Aaron,
The area you are modeling is absolutely gorgeous, and well worth some on site research. I grew up in Camden, along the west coast of Penobscot Bay. In driving time, it is roughly half way between Portland and Acadia. If yo drove up Rt.1, you would have gone right through the center of town. If you are in that area again at some point, be sure to stop in at the Owl's Head Transportation Museum. While not strong on rail content, the collection is very impressive. http://www.owlshead.org.

Your idea of trying out your track plan before ballast and scenery is a good one. You may decide the extra lap works for you or you may not. Either way, you will be more sure of your decision. To be honest, that question is one of the reasons my layout hasn't proceeded beyond raw foam yet. That and my head fireman's school schedule over the last year.
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