Thursday, January 22, 2009

Layout Tours

So this past weekend, my wife and I loaded up our car and headed to Plano, TX for the North Texas Council's annual Plano Train Show. The show featured more modular layouts but less vendors than I recall from years past. All in all, a pretty good train show.

The real highlight of this show for me was the self-guided home layout tour. There's nothing better than seeing first-hand how other modelers have built their layouts. A real gem on this year's layout tour was Mr. Smith's Rock Island layout. The layout depicts the Graham Branch of the Rock Island from Bridgeport through Jacksboro to Graham, all in the state of Texas. The most remarkable feature of this layout is its simplicity: there's no yard, no engine terminal, no signal system, no spaghetti bowl of track. The result is a small layout that accurately depicts the branchline operations of the Rock Island in Texas.

The layout goes around the walls of a small bedroom and tunnels through closets to reach an adjacent guest bedroom where the staging yards are located. The track schematic is basically a loop with a wye to the outside of the loop. Operation starts in the Bridgeport staging yard. Trains run from this yard into the main layout room, which features a depiction of Jacksboro, TX. Jacksboro is the main attraction of this layout and it features all of the industries that the Rock Island switched over the history of the branch. Mr. Smith commented that modeling Jacksboro during any particular period would have resulted in a town with very few industries, so he decided to model all of the industries in Jacksboro as though they existed concurrently. This creates about 8-10 industries to be switched, which is very reasonable for the space. After switching Jacksboro, trains continue on to the staging yard that represents Graham, TX. After switching out the cars (to represent work done at Graham), the train is turned on the wye and retraces its tracks back to Bridgeport.

Here's some pictures for your enjoyment. You can see more of them at my Webshots page.

After seeing this layout, my wife is open to the idea of allowing me to put a staging yard in a spare bedroom! That's something I couldn't have convinced her of without her having seen it in person.