How to have it all when you don’t have enough space...
We’ve probably all been there, unless you are fabulously blessed with far more space than is good for you; the desire to have more than you can fit within your current boundaries.
For me the desire is and always has been to recreate the long drag freights, extensive TOFC and COFC expresses, and of course the full length passenger trains from the heavyweight and streamline eras. I’m not really concerned with acquiring big steamers, or faithfully recreating freight operations of the transition era, so for the most part the greatest obstacle in my way has been space; space for the mainline run or a proper division-point yard (though that REALLY isn’t necessary). Some of the minor points of ‘want’ include broad twenty-four inch radius mainline curves (though lesser on the inside of double track is a compromise) and sufficient length of run that a train of fifty to seventy-five cars is not catching up with itself as it goes around and around.
Until now. Now I have access to a space that will allow me to indulge my need for wide open spaces, while continuing to build a compact and highly detailed urban-based primarily switching layout with a bit of mainline run. The division of time between two locations; my son’s flat (where I can get the space to build the mainline layout) and home (where I’ll continue to work on the Inland Port and Terminal Railway) really isn’t changing. What is changing is my drive to do something more productive “train wise” with my time away from home that at the same time allows me to indulge some of my “wants”.
So what I am after is:
- Twenty-four to Twenty-two inch radius curves; nice in HO scale, but so far (at least to me) a serious luxury
- The desire to see a long train in the straight away (or gently rolling serpentine ‘straights’). If we figure 3.75” for a 50’ car (let’s call it four inches for the sake of it!), that means the previously mentioned fifty car (or fifty well) train comes out to two-hundred inches, or just under seventeen feet, plus locomotives and cars.
- Simplicity. I DON’T want another project buried in detail work, so hand laid track is NOT the order of the day. I also have a BUNCH of flex from previous years’ of N-Scale, so Code 83 flex and Shinohara turnouts, plus a few Peco if I cannot get the Shinoara turnouts I need to round out crossovers.
- The ability to run the remnants of “N-Scale past”; those locomotives that are just not up to code 55 track and DCC standards, such as my Con Cor SD40-2s, Model Power F40PHs, and some legacy freight cars as well as the gamut of Con Cor passenger rolling stock.
- Prepare for a reasonable place to run properly detailed passenger trains, with working diaphragms and maybe even body-mounted couplers (like the new Micro-Trains heavyweights are threatening to have).
Given a space of roughly thirty three feet by eleven and a half, I drew up this “initial” rough draft:
Yes, THIRTY THREE FEET by ELEVEN AND A HALF FEET! But, it needs to stay narrow, as not to impose on the HO layout growing underneath it. And simplicity means I may actually get it running quickly, considering it is going to be a three day a month or so project...
To be continued...