HOn30″ by Gerry Hopkins MMR
The layout was dismantled in early 2000 due to a household move. It is provided below just “for the history”
My Version Of History
For fifty years the Rangley Lakes area of MAINE, in New England, had been served faithfully by the ‘Sandy River and Rangley Lakes Railroad’. The small network had been built to connect the towns of the area with the “broad” gauge railways of the outside world. The major exports of the area were hardwoods and hardwood goods. The major import was ‘people’, visiting the many recreation areas around the lakes. By 1936, due to the increase in trucking and the effects of the depression, the “Maine Two-Footers” had almost disappeared.
The out break of war in Europe brought a big demand for the hardwoods of the area. Rather than build new roads or railroads, the ‘Powers that be’ decided to resurrect the two foot gauge network. This meant that some of the tracks would get upgraded, rolling stock would be repaired, and the buildings again opened! Some of the rolling stock and locos were beyond saving, so locos were sought from across the U.S.A……..even diesels!
To satisfy existing safety laws, signals of assorted types were installed throughout the system, replacing the old ball signals. The name for the reborn railroad became the “FRANKLIN, SOMERSET & KENNEBEC RAILROAD”.Trackwork
The trackwork is a mixture of Railcraft code 55 Flextrack and hand laid code 40 on Clover House ties, with a few circuit board ties for extra reliability. The track is laid on 3mm cork. The cork helps to give the correct shape to the roadbed and helps the sound insulation of the track.
Most of the turnouts are No.6, ( some are being replaced with No. 8 ) most of them being built ‘on the bench’ and then being placed on the layout. Although all the rail joints have fishplates, all the gaps are fitted with jumper wires for electrical continuity. I learnt MANY years ago not to rely on fishplates for electrical continuity. The turnouts comply with the N.M.R.A. “N” scale track gauge and have never given any trouble.
The turnouts are operated by PFM/FULGAREX motor drive switch machines, and Switchmaster geared motors. The latter being very positive in operation and draw a low operating current. The PFM units have plenty of spare contacts for signals, track switching and interlocking while the Switchmasters are driven through multipole switches. When sections of the track are laid, an airbrush is used to spray the sides of the track with Floquil Rail Brown. The paint is allowed to dry for 48hrs. The tops of the rails are then rubbed with a Peco track rubber to remove the paint from the running surface. ALL my rolling stock and locos are run over the finished sections to make sure there are no trouble spots on the trackwork.Scenery
The scenery is built using the method of hard shell on webbed cardboard. This method has been described in detail in the Dave Frary and Bob Hayden book, REALISTIC MODEL RAILROAD SCENERY so I will not go into detail here. Once the shell has set, it is painted earth colour with latex paint (Taubmans Plastic paint). As the paint dries, Woodland Scenics ground foam is sprinkled on. The colours used are Earth and Soil. These gave the base textures to which all the other grasses are attached. Woodland Scenics and Timber Products ground foam are sprinkled on in almost random patterns. Mixtures of Weeds, Grass, light/medium/dark fine and coarse foams are used. The darker colours are where the more moist soils would be found and the lighter colours where the grass would be worn or bleached by the weather. Wet water is then sprayed over the lot and P60 ( by Simply Glues, Aust. ) is dripped onto the surface to hold it in place. Diluted matt medium will work in this situation.
Take a walk through the bush/countryside and you’ll see what I mean! Plant types may vary from area to area or country to country but the general colour doesn’t change much. The trees are 60% Woodland Scenics and 40% scratch built. The trees range in height from 10ft up to 60ft. These larger trees dwarfed the little narrow gauge rolling stock.Structures
The buildings are made up from an assortment of Craftsman kits and others are scratchbuilt. The bridges are scratch built from stripwood and one Micro Engineering Trestle. The buildings I made at the start were constructed of scribed wood and stripwood with Grandt Line windows and doors. I now build them out of Evergreen scribed styrene with Grandt Line door and windows. The reason is quite simple, painted wood is too rough for the appearance I want, the painted styrene has a better representation of painted buildings. I still use stripwood for bridges and fences etc.
Some of the buildings have full interiors, lit with grain of wheat lamps run on a reduced voltage for longer life. Before the buildings and trees are fixed to the layout, the ballast is added to the track.
Timber Products ballast is used. The ballast is wetted with the usual ‘soapy water’ and P60 ( diluted Matt Medium) is then dripped onto the ballast.Detailing
This can be the slowest but most satisfying part of building a layout, too many modellers build the layout, add trees, add buildings and finish there. I only do one small area at a time, this way I get close to finishing each section but never quite! Woodland Scenics make a very good range of detail parts, as do Easyway (New Zealand), F&G (Australian) also make a large range of parts which come already painted. Just have a browse at your local hobby shop, its surprising the odd little packets of ‘things’ what you can find on the shelves. Take a slow stroll around you own area, it doesn’t have to be near a railroad, make a mental note of the things laying around the local garage, panel beater, or light industry if you model branchline or heavy industry if you model the mainline.
A close inspection of my layout reveals that only small areas have been heavily detailed, but as the eyes pass along, the mind is tricked into ‘seeing’ the detail that is not there.Locomotives
The steam roster consists of 3 Baldwin 2-6-2’s #18 & #16 (Sango), 1 Baldwin 2-6-2 #23 (Car Works), 3 Baldwin 2-6-0’s #2 & #3 & # 4 (Sango), a Baldwin 2-4-4 Forney #10 (Flying Zoo), an 0-4-4 Forney #7 (Car Works). Extra pickups have been added to ALL the locos to ensure reliable running. Kadee couplings are fitted throughout and give very reliable operation.
There are also a number of diesels on the roster. No.25 is the usual variation on the Minitrix FM switcher in N scale. No.26 is a centre cab kitbashed from a Kato switcher. There were also a pair of boxcabs, these are scratch built bodies on Kato Chassis. The newest additions are two Dave Frary/Brick Price brass kits on Life Like SW1200 chassis.Rolling Stock
The passenger cars and some of the cabooses are brass kits from Sango, the remaining cabooses are F & C kits. Four of the boxcars are also brass kits, 100 units (approx) of the freight stock are scratch built from stripwood or styrene with Grandt Line detail parts. Trucks used:- Kadee and Grandt Line. The wheels in the Kadee trucks are being slowly replaced by the newer ‘low profile’ wheels from Kadee, besides looking better they also rolled a lot better and are more reliable on the hand built turnouts.
All rolling stock uses body mounted Kadee N scale couplings at the normal Kadee height, they are more reliable than truck mounted units when pushing rakes of heavy brass rolling stock over numerous turnouts.Control Systems
In August 1999 the whole layout was converted to Digital Command Control. The chosen system being EasyDCC from CVP Products in Texas. This choice was made on the basis of cost and ease of installation and use. The system has to be transportable as it is also used on my HO standard gauge modules.
A pair of heavy-duty feeders was run around the whole layout. As the block switches were removed, the feeder wires to the track were connected to the two new bus wires.
A length of 75-ohm coax cable ( standard TV aerial cable in Australia) was run behind the facia right round the layout. The throttle connections consisted of 6.5 mm mono phone jacks and were mounted at strategic points around the layout. At some points near yards 2 sockets were mounted side by side. At $2.00aus each, there is no need to scrimp on mounting these from the beginning.
Once the system was installed and showed no errors the next task was to install decoders in each of the locos. The 4 diesels were first; it took an evening to do the 4 units. The original Digitrax DH121 have now been replaced with real decoders. The decoders have the handy feature of being able to set the top speed of the loco.
The 6 tender locos were next. The decoder was mounted in the tender and the 4 wires were run underneath the draw bar. This simulates air lines and steam hoses. Each loco was tested and had its top speed set. Few of the locos currently have headlights so this made the installation easier.
All the decoders were later updated to TCS decoders as the Digitrax decoders had many problems and were very frustrating.
Isolated sidings and passing loops were made active to increase the operating potential. Toggle switches control the turnouts, which in turn controlled the signals and the power to the frogs.
The EasyDCC Command Station had two throttles mounted on the panel. These were used for just running trains at non-operating sessions. The Three handheld units were used as to walk with the train.