Thursday, January 8, 2015

What comes next?

Well, even if it is twelve below this morning, it's still not too cold to think about what comes next.  We've moved from Massachusetts with the AVR shelf layout in the family room into a home with a large, dry, tall-ceiling, well-lit basement (nice house too).

The old AVR is sitting in my son's basement waiting for me to pick it up and resurrect pieces.  I wasn't going to leave it to the movers to handle this.  So what will the Aroostook Valley 2.0 look like?  Will it even be the AVR?  I've been bitten by a bug to create something new, something that would allow longer mainline trains and a variety of motive power lash-ups - that's not the AVR.  But then I'm the guy who put a paper mill on the AVR, so maybe I'm getting too hung up on following a prototype and need to learn more about freelancing.  Mike Confalone's Allagash Railway is not far from the AVR: is something like the Allagash in N scale the answer?

Here's what my "givens and druthers" look like so far for this new space:
  • Still set in Maine (or at least northern New England) around 1980.  I like running modern equipment pre-graffiti era, with a smattering of first-generation diesels a'la the BAR.
  • DCC - I'm not a wiring genius
  • Modular construction - I may move again someday!
  • While I love pokey short lines like the AVR, I want some big-time railroading too for trains of 20+ cars.
  • Paper and agricultural products will still be the main businesses.  The food processing plant will stay, along with pulp loading and fuel oil businesses.  I like big and small industries but they need to be authentic to the area.
  • Live interchange(s) to add variety.
  • Operations on a point-to-point basis (conducive to operations - the railroad's got to have purpose and a story), but with the option of a loop for when I feel like being mindless.
I'm looking at track plans that have caught my eye over time, and one that keeps coming back to me is the Housatonic inspired plan featured in Model Railroader in 2003.  MR won't allow me to post a picture of it here, so I hope you will find it in their track plan database (type in Housatonic and it pops right up), and then give me your thoughts.

As drawn, the plan fills an 18x12 foot room in HO (I'm sticking with N scale), but in my new space I have the idea of building it free-standing so I can add a staging yard outside what is shown as Pittsfield, looping to connect with the drawn plan at Stearnsville and West Yard.  The remainder of the layout would then continue on as shown until the line gets to Canaan, where instead of a duck under at Specialty Minerals I'd eliminate that industry to allow a walk-in so no one has to stoop under.  The line would then continue on around the perimeter of the layout and reconnect with the staging yard.  By changing the angle of the junction and some trackage at Canaan I could create a live interchange (maybe based on Washburn to bring back in the AVR?).

You that follow this blog, please share with me ideas!!


  1. I would think the live interchange is your opportunity to still model something small like the AVR while having some "big time" railroading come through and work the interchange. The question will be how much small and how much big? Totally agree with option of a loop, I use that all the time (2 loops actually), but it has bearing on actual operating sessions. Biggest suggestion I can make is to allow as much staging as possible. Even if it is just a place to hold extra trains or cars, it is a nice to have. I wish I had extra on my layout in the staging representing Newport VT. My other staging is quite large and it really helps for storing things that are not needed. I've been toying with the idea of adding a staging yard that really has no affect on operations and is just a place to hold some extra equipment, things I can was swap out. Anyway, just one thing I have been thinking of a lot lately. Some of this depends on how much equipment you have! Best of luck in your planning and don;t let it bog you down too much - hopefully you'll be cutting benchwork soon!

    1. Can you tell me more about what you mean by loops having bearing on actual operating sessions?

  2. should read "no bearing" in sentence about loops.

    1. Well, it is still the season of Epiphany, so why not have an epiphany about the AVR? I'm now toying with the idea of keeping the AVR pretty much intact (I'll have to cut it in some places and add curves to go around a few corners), but then attach it what is essentially a long oval of 12-16 feet by 2.5 feet wide. On one side would be the staging / division point yard as above, on the other: a few industries and the junction that takes the AVR off into the hinterland.

      I can run longer trains of the oval to my heart's content, without losing all the work put into the AVR and losing the branch/short line operations I've enjoyed.

      What do you think?