Sunday, January 11, 2015

Layout Home

I started coming out to Argyle about 10 years ago to work and operate on my friend Shane's layout. He had moved the Roanoke T&P section house on to about 2 acres of pasture in 2000 and was building a large, double decked T&P / MKT themed layout in it. This was a regular place for our informal Thursday Night Jazz and Pie Society round robin group to meet. The section house was built in in 1895.

My wife and I spent most of the summer of 2013 looking for a new house on a piece of land. We wanted something between Denton, TX and McKinney, TX. Ideally, I was looking for a place with a metal shop building that I could use as a layout room. I mentioned in passing to Shane that we might be neighbors soon, and he told me he had put his house in town and the land with the section house up for sale and was moving to the piney woods of East Texas. My wife liked the idea of Argyle because it's about a 7 minute drive to her job at Peterbilt Motors in Denton. For me, not so close.

Before I knew Shane was moving, he had ripped out his layout and burnt most of the benchwork. This is what the section house looked like when we decided to buy the property. The two columns are brick chimneys that have had sheetrock boxes built over them.

The section house is roughly 85'x14.5' inside, with the middle taken up by two wheel chair accessible rest rooms and two furnaces. The building was renovated in the 1990s and was used as two separate offices. The insulation was also upgraded at the time.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Track Plan

I worked on this double decked track plan to present at the Spring 2014 LDSIG/OPSIG meet in Tulsa. Click on the image or download a high resolution pdf.

First Post.

Thanks for joining me as I begin to document the construction on my new model railroad. After spending the last 20 years collecting and trying to model the Camas Prairie of Northern Idaho, I'm changing my focus to Northern Wyoming and Southeastern Montana.

The reason for the change? Now that I have the space, I wanted a model railroad built for mainline operation. The Camas Prairie was a very charming branchline in a forested, mountainous area that features 3% grades and giant trestles. While I never had the space to model that part, the switching layout I built based on Lewiston, ID satisfied my operating interests. Like many others, it was heavily influenced by my friend Jim Senese in Claremore, OK - albeit, on a much smaller scale.

Friends operating my Lewiston layout.
As I see it today, the new railroad will run from my home town of Sheridan, WY north and west to Laurel, MT. Sheridan to Huntington, MT was owned by the CB&Q. From Huntington to Laurel, the CB&Q had trackage rights over the Northern Pacific mainline.

Laurel has a large classification yard, roundhouse, icing facilities, grain elevators and a small oil refinery. The NP continues west from Laurel to Washington and the coast. South or Laurel is the CB&Q's line to Casper and Denver through Wind River Canyon. The Great Northern connection to Great Falls was at the east end of the Laurel yard at Mossmain. There were also a handful of branchline jobs that ran out of Laurel like Redlodge and Shepherd.

16 miles or so east of Laurel is the commercial center of this part of Montana, Billings. Besides the typical warehouses and other businesses found throughout the intermountain west, Billings features a sugar factory, two large oil refineries, a coal fired power plant, a flour mill, grain elevators and meat packing. There is also a regional passenger station, a small classification yard, a roundhouse and engine service facilities. The Yellowstone river bisects Billings from the industrial East Billings.

From Laurel to East Billings is double track and governed by Rules 251-254 for directional running, according to the time table. East Billings to Huntley is CTC territory.

Billings and Laurel would make an interesting layout in themselves with plenty of industrial switching and yard operations. The 16 miles between is many times more than most model railroads can accommodate. However, I wanted a significant piece of dark territory that can be dispatched by Timetable/Train Order.

I decided to add the CB&Q between Huntley and my home town of Sheridan, Wyoming. This line wasn't signaled until the 1980s and offers operating interest as a connection to railroads south and east of Laurel.