Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Coming nearer a new layout

The neat thing about a blog is you get to see what you were thinking when, and how if may have changed over time.
In my last post, I talked about a layout based upon a plan developed in Model Railroader featuring the Housatonic Railroad.  I still think that's a pretty nifty layout plan, but recently I took stock of the motive power I've accumulated over the years and noticed that it's pretty evenly split between Maine-based railroads and Vermont-based railroads.  I still like the idea of a layout featuring a freelanced railroad, but since a number of the locos on hand are ones I worked hard to custom paint, wouldn't it be nice to find a place where I could plausibly have them run on and off the layout as well?  And instead of scrapping all the hard work put into and careful deconstruction of the Aroostook Valley Railroad, wouldn't it be nice to re-use what moved with me?
So, while my "givens and druthers" haven't changed too much, I am now thinking of moving the location I model from Maine west, into the Connecticut River Valley.  What's caught my imagination is the area between St. Johnsbury and Newport, Vermont, and/or the tracks from St. Johnsbury, Vermont and Groveton, New Hampshire.  What will need to be built will be modules (so they can be moved again, not necessarily taken to shows) that reflect St. Johnsbury and staging, and some new trackwork to connect the AVR pieces together.
My current thinking covers an area 14x10 feet, in the shape of an upside-down U that will be accessible from all sides (the advantage of a big basement).  For a virtual tour, we'll start on the right-hand, outside leg of the U, and travel clockwise (railroad north): 

·    Staging yard –scenery depicts a rail yard a’la New Madrid on Mike Confalone’s Allagash Railway

·    St. Johnsbury, Vermont – trains coming out of staging travel around the bottom of the peninsula, passing a farm (I have a round barn and farm I will borrow from my Ntrak module when not at a show), an oil dealer, and then into the yard that stretches most of the way up to the inside corner.  Trains from the south represent my fictional railroad and any Vermont-based railroad (Vermont Rail, Green Mountain) I want to give trackage rights up to St. J.  At the northern end of the yard, one track goes off to the left to the rest of the layout, and the other loops back into the staging.  The track back into staging represents the old Maine Central Mountain Division, giving me a rationale for running my Maine Central and other Maine-based motive power out onto the layout.  These Maine trains come into the yard at St. J, interchange cars with the other railroad(s), swap power and crew, and then head back “north.”.  Between the daily train from Maine, my fictional railroad’s trains from the north and south, and the Vermont-based railroad’s train, I suspect I’ll assign a dedicated switcher for the town.  It’ll be a busy place!

·    The space between St. Johnsbury and the next town is pretty much a transitional space for trains to run through.  Scenery only.  I want to avoid too much switching work in this section to avoid fouling the switching needed in St.J.

·     A small town comes next on the downward, inside leg, with a couple of industries.  Perhaps the woodchip business siding I had on the Aroostook Valley and/or the food processing plant, that would receive tank cars of vegetable oil and send out an occasional reefer of frozen food.

·     On the other side of the peninsula will be the paper mill from my Aroostook Valley (see Model Railroader, August, 2013).

·     The top side of the layout will be mostly just scenery, but over towards the northeast corner the track will re-enter staging, giving me three ways in and out of staging. Here I want to put in a grain mill inspired by the Poulin Grain mill in Newport to receive traffic.
Let me know what you think!