This week is the final part of my overview of the layouts at this year’s National Model Railroad Association (British Region) annual convention which was held in Bournemouth. You can find the previous two parts here and here.
I have four layouts to share with you and to start off we are going to Stevens Point, a HO switching layout built by Chris Prior.
‘Stevens Point is a mid-sized town in Central Wisconsin approximately 250 miles north of Chi-cago in the Mid-West of the United State. In railroad terms the town is better known for be-ing on the former Wisconsin Central (WC) main line and acted as its’ operational base. How-ever, the other railroad in town was the Green Bay and Western (GBW) at least it was taken over by the WC in 1993.
The inspiration for this layout was a picture of an Alco C-424, 312, switching the paper mill in 1987, shortly after the WC (my other road) started operation. I didn’t know that this section of railroad had existed, despite living in Stevens Point for a year, as the area in the picture was abandoned and paved/ grassed over when the paper mill was expanded in the late 1980’s.
Industry in the Stevens Point Downtown area and rail- served by the GBW included the Con-solidated paper mill which has its’ own hydro electric power plant using water from the Wis-consin River, Vetters, a window and door manufacturer, the Pagel Mill, a seed and feed dis-tributor, Bake Rite, a bakery (who’d have guessed) and most importantly the Point Brewery! With variety the industry on the layout most US car kinds can be seen being spotted for load-ing/unloading. The rolling stock comes from all the major US manufacturers, although I have a particular liking for Exactrail!’ (X2014 News, NMRA (BR) Convention Guide, 2014).
The season for the layout is early Fall and the trees are starting to turn, some have already started to drop their leaves creating a lovely scene for the trains to rumble through.
Here is Chris’ C-415 recreating his scene from 1987.
Although compact, the layout gives a nice sence of space and offers plenty of switching between all the industries.
Next we switch to N Scale for the largest layout at the convention; Black Diamonds’ huge modular layout.
I don’t have an overall shot of the layout, it was too big, but in the photo below you can see part of it in the background with the blue State Of Oregon banner on the side. In the foreground is the British Region HO Modular Setup and the Bearwood Group HO Modular Layout.
‘The Black Diamonds modular setup comprises a number of modules. Starting from the East end we have “Salute Yard”, this is our six track holding area which has had extensive work done to it and now looks very different to the bare boards shown before and is in the position it was designed for as entry to the “Station” the second major module make its début as part of the layout. This is based on Ogden, UT.
The next is Warehouse Junction with the junction track giving access while the main heads into another new module “Oregon City”. This module is based upon the depression area and the trestle bridge that runs through it. The model has a 2m long trestle running through the industrial sector. At each end of this section are the new boards that connect our two track standard to the FreemoN standard. These adaptor boards will enable us to connect with the many FreemoN boards across the UK. Following Oregon City we have “Q Tower” and the “Creek” leading into our third end loop.’ (X2014 News, NMRA (BR) Convention Guide, 2014).
I have seen this layout in several configurations before, each time with new sections. Below is the updated “Salute Yard” and the work that has been done makes it look very good, although it is fundamentally the entrance to the staging area and reversing loop, having ballasted track, yard and engine facilities and a station make it into a scene in its own right.
The road bridge is positioned perfectly to hide the actual staging area.
This then leads into the huge new station area which is based on Ogden, UT.
Here is a Penssy 4-6-2 passing through with a local passenger train.
Here is the 2m trestle running over the Oregon City area.
This was a good spot to get some video. Here we can see the SP tugging one of Black Diamonds’ lovely long trains over the trestle.
Coming the other way, the BN works a long mixed freight; it came to a stop because it was waiting for a clear line at Warehouse Junction.
Warehouse Junction runs in front of and between the two warehouses in the picture below.
This long train of tanks powered by the UP also made several appearances.
Here we catch up with the SP again as it passes in front of Warehouse Junction.
The Black Dimonds’ layout is great for showing big vistas.
There’s always a lot of Pennsy action on the Black Dimond layout. Here is a huge 2-10-4 J1 pulling a long passenger train.
Here we see the J1 running from Warehouse Junction to Ogdon Station. Coming the other way is a mighty B&O EM1 on a long coal drag. Chasing up the J1 is an Amtrak Passenger.
One of the interlopers I spotted on the Balck Diamonds’ layout was Dirk Jan Blikkendaal’s 4-6-2 made by Pecos River Brass. It is a model of ATSF 3420 and here is what Dirk has to say about it.
‘It is a nice model but was a poor runner and Hans Starmans (Nstars) designed and made a new tender-drive with a lot of lead as a bonus. This left the boiler and firebox empty……
Then I put a Tsunami 750 Micro Medium Steam decoder in the firebox. In the boiler I put a Soundtraxx Currentkeeper, just in front of the decoder (I had to widen the slot in the bottom of the boiler a little bit with a Dremel but all wires and electrical devices are invisible).
The headlight is an LED. On the main driver axle I put a camdisc against the remaining large gear to synchronise the exhaust.
Sound comes from a Zimo sugarcube speaker 8 x 8 x 12 mm which I put in the tender just on the cab side. There are 6 wires (2 pickup, 2 motor, 2 speaker )running from cab to tender, all black and very small, therefore hardly visible…… They came from (www.ledbaron.de).
Next to the Currentkeeper I put some lead strip in the boiler, to give some extra weight on the front driver for better tracking.
It runs well and pulls over 70 cars on my layout and it pulled 54 hoppers on the Black Diamond layout with ease.’
Here we can see Dirk’s ATSF 3420 pulling out of Salute Yard with a Pennsy freight. (Well I did say it was an interloper!)
And just to show you how strong this loco is, here it is coming back pulling two trains combined.
Another interloper I spotted also belonged to Dirk. It was his ATSF doodlebug number M-183.
Dirk says ‘I bought 2 Bachmann cars, splicing and lengthening them to the correct car length. In the process I used both drive trains, in real life these motor cars would pull freight cars and a caboose every now and then on their trips.
I also modified the rooftop mufflers and cooling coils to look like ATSF and I replaced the motor with a better one….
Then I added a Digitrax SDXN136PS 16 bit decoder with a new uploaded soundscheme M190 by John McMasters (this can be found in Yahoo group DIGITRAXSOUND).’
Here it is running on the Black Diamonds’ Layout.
Next we are back with HO and Fulton Terminal, Brooklyn, NY built by Andrew Browne.
‘Fulton Terminal was situated on the East River operated by the New York Dock Railway and was one of a large number of similar rail terminals, around the Upper New York Bay and Hud-son River area, connected together by the river. In 1954 railroad companies employed almost 2000 vessels in this trade tugs, barges, car floats (a barge fitted with rails) and various special craft, all bar one closed following the takeover of containerisation, Fulton Terminal closing in 1982.
The model is closely based on the original and is full size, it is not intended to be an exact replica, I have altered various details, and Pier 12 was not directly rail served. The line con-tinued south to serve Piers 17 & 18, and north to team tracks (public sidings) together with the Jehovah’s Witnesses “Watchtower” printing works.
It is Sunday morning, the docks are idle as dockers have the day off, ships crews have a day in port, ship owners fret, maintenance crews are at work, the lines north and south are closed for track repairs, even the Brooklyn Queens Expressway is quiet. Hard at work are the Fulton Terminal switching (shunting) crews and tug crews, a chance to earn overtime and to catch up on repositioning freight cars and car floats ready for a busy Monday.’ (X2014 News, NMRA (BR) Convention Guide, 2014).
As all the barges are movable this makes the switching operations very interesting and I think gives a really unique twist on a switching layout.
One of Andrew’s passions is model ship building and that really shows in his beautiful vessels. He said he built a lot of the boats and ships before he built the layout.
At the head of the layout, where the line would connnect to the rest of the network, is a city freeway which makes a great vew block, a biker and a Greyhound bus are heading off on a road trip
The BEDT has a small engine house near the throat of the yard.
An old barge ramp sits in the yard awaiting repair or the scrap man’s torch.
None of the tracks on the barges need to be powered as no motive power is allowed on them, the heavy locomotives would cause the barges to sink much too low into the water. Instead a switcher’s truck is used between the locomotive and the stock on the barge as shown below.
The ships are also all movable and on the Sunday morning the large ship had moved to the other side of the dock. This is a really nice touch as it makes the layout different every time.
The BEDT have several switches that were working the harbour.
A piling rig waits in the dock for its next job.
The tug boats position the barges near to the loading ramps, then the dock crew attached ropes that pull the barges into the dock. You can see Andrew’s models of the rope winches and a docker in the photo below, there is a winch for each side of the barge.
Each side of the layout is framed with the warehouses which are built on the docks, some of the doors are open so when you peer through the holes on the layout facia, you are looking out of the warehouse doors.
This layout was great to watch and gave an interesting new element to the fun of switching trains.
The final layout at this year’s convention is an Hon3 Layout, Sawpit Creek built by Neil Lancaster.
This layout is simply stunning, the attention to detail is wonderful, there was not an area that did not have the same level of work and skill given to it to make the overall realism come true. Here is what Neil has to say.
‘This is my first venture into Hon3. Until recently, modellers had to scratch build most of their needs but the introduction of ready to run locomotives and rolling stock, together with available turnouts and track, has made the scale increasingly popular.
My layout, Saw Pit Creek started life as an 8ft x 6ft test track for the superb locomotives and stock which had recently become available from Blackstone Models. It was soon extended along the left hand frontage to add operational variety and more space for my scratch built buildings and scenery which is of particular interest to me.
I have recently added a further 4ft module along the right hand frontage which is being exhibited for the first time at this Convention.
The layout depicts my interpretation of the Denver & Rio Grande narrow gauge in the late fifties. It is based on nowhere in particular. Saw Pit Creek is ‘my place’ USA. It’s certainly not for the narrow gauge purists!
As mentioned, all locomotives and stock are manufactured by Blackstone (a division of Soundtrax). Not surprisingly therefore all locomotives are equipped with sound. DCC operation is via a Digitrax radio control system. Track work is by Micro engineering and Peco.’
Neil’s passion, apart from attention to detail, is structures and it really shows in this layout. All the buildings look like they have been there for ages and the railroad has grown up around them.
The boiler works are busy with their current workload and the detail goes all the way to the back where you can see a small steam boiler freshly painted.
The crew from the local farm supplies shop are servicing a tractor.
At the junk yard they have just about everything, even a bath tub!
Even the sides of the layout have been used to add detail to the scene.
Every building had detail all through, this fabricator’s shop has a welder working at the back.
This machine shop has all the workings and machinery visible, along with all the tools and even a cat sat on the barrel, useful for keeping the rats away.
If you look at the back wall of the workshop you can see the fire buckets hanging on the wall.
The building to the right of the engine house spans the joint in the base boards, but as Neil wanted to position the building there, it splits apart when the layout is dissembled. It’s not square to the cut either which was impressive.
As Neil said the locomotives are made by Blackstone and are beautiful to watch. Here is a 2-8-0 in D&RG Bumbel Bee yellow.
And a train of matching coaches.
Here it is running through the layout.
The freight locomotive are not so clean, they have been fantastically weathered by Steve Knight of Model Railway Solutions in Poole.
Here is a video of a freight working its way through the layout.
This layout kept me occupied for a long time as there was so much to see and I reckon I didn’t see it all.
And that is it for the layouts at this year’s NMRA (BR) convention, a big thanks to everybody who brought layouts and came to see the show. Next year the convention is at Derby and I will be there along with my club, the Gosport American Model Railroad Group and our N Scale club layout, Solent Summit.
Next week I will be getting back to posting about some of my new products I have been drawing and developing over the last month.