Sunday, July 12, 2015


Pryor to the layout now under construction I had built a smaller Berkshire theme layout at a former residence. An available finished 12'x18' basement room with a drop ceiling provided a pleasant atmosphere for this layout. After not having a layout for more than twenty years this gave me a place to run acquired New Haven rolling stock and a home for some structures that I had built. I prepared the room with ample above ceiling florescent lighting covered by clear diffuser panels.

That layout was my first walk-in around the walls type and also included a center peninsula. DCC control and a more eye level bench height were tried for the first time, I liked both. The layout was built with the standard "L" girder benchwork using dimensional lumber and plywood for the roadbed platform. This layout featured three of my favorite locations on the Berkshire, had stub end storage tracks at both ends and could offer continuous running.

Initial thinking was that I would be satisfied sipping a nice cup of tea while watching my rolling stock travel thru these favorite locations one to the next, and I was, for a while. Mimicking the prototype the three modeled towns all had passenger stations, one with a freight house and siding, one with just a bulk siding and the third and favorite location on the Berkshire had no siding at all.


I did enjoy seeing the once static display shelf models now running as they were intended on that layout. Watching freights roll by and making station stops with passenger trains was an interest, but I soon found myself gravitating more and more to those two sidings on the layout. Making up small freight trains in the storage, now more aptly named a staging area, then switching out the cars at the two sidings became the activity that I enjoyed the most about the layout. Although that layout was not very small, the operational short comings of what I had built soon became painfully obvious. I guess it is simplistic to say this is how I discovered operation, but it was.

The Berkshire Line offers many opportunities to model photogenic rural scenery between station stops, but I found that the rural in-between again had no operational interest to me other than watching a train roll thru a scene. I realize that time elapsed between locations is important to represent a sense of distance traveled in the modeled world, but I was no longer interested in modeling the in-between physical distance. I would need to find a solution where I could concentrate my efforts modeling only prototype locations that satisfy my newly found interest in operation and still have a physical connection to each other without having to actually model the in-between.


I would have torn down that layout and started anew, but with a planned future move to another home I "operated" the layout for a couple of more years while planning the next. That layout was not built in vain for I had fun, and more importantly learned about the world of "Railroad Modeling". That layout also gave me the time to explore the complexities of DCC, build additional equipment and comprise a short list of personally subjective dislikes about the old layout that had come to light (literally) that I vowed not to repeat on the next if at all possible.

List of druthers...

#1  Choose locations on the Berkshire Line to model that offer more and prototypical operations for both freight and passenger service.

#2  Much more staging, reverse loop staging, stub end staging does not suit me.

#3  Indirect lighting. I had good lighting on the old layout, maybe too good, I usually found myself wearing a brimmed hat to cut down on the glare.

#4  Have less supporting legs for the benchwork. It seemed that I was always bumping a knee or kicking the front legs and that they were an obstruction to maneuvering large building materials and vacuuming.

#5  Have a permanent outdoor place to cut building materials and paint to keep the mess out of the house or garage.

# 5 was addressed first after moving to the new location. Utilizing the support posts of an existing second story deck to likewise support a new 12' workbench. A ground fault circuit interrupter outlet supplies power for tools and a small compressor. Working outside all year is possible unless of an accumulating snow fall.
Extra points were achieved because this also serves as a potting bench for my wife's gardening endeavors.

The support method of this bench is also a prelude to the solution of cutting down on the number of layout supporting legs, but that is for another post.


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