The Previous Model Railways



Previous Layout

In late 2008, after operating the layout for several months, and a visit to my friend Lee's layout, I decided the current layout was not meeting my expectations. Specifically, I wanted a longer mainline, allowing meets with other trains as well as having more switching locations. I have drawn up a new plan that is posted on the layout page. The only problem is that it calls for a larger space, which means an addition to the train room. Silly me, I thought it would only be a few weeks so I tore down the existing pike. I found building an addition is a slow process. In June 2009 after plans to expand the train room were rejected by the city because the expansion would encrouch on the utility easement, I decided to go with HO in the existing space. After rebuilding the benchwork and putting down a few feet track, I came to my senses and abandoned the notion of returning to HO. HO TrackPlan for the never-built HO layout.

In 2003, the previous version called the The Empire Division, minus any duckunders was begun. The mainline has a 72” minimum radius, while the hidden branch line track has a 36” curve, limiting it to lighter motive power. This version features wider aisles, more industries for switching and a larger and more accessible engine terminal. Right-O-Way switch components have replaced Old Pullman switches, but the Tortoise switch machines, Aristo-Craft throttles and PFM sound remain.

In the last few years I have acquired a taste for GN electrics. Thus, the layout’s mainline setting has shifted from Spokane to Wenatchee and Cashmere. Again, no attempt is made to duplicate actual trackage although the main yard is curved like the real Appleyard just south of Wenatchee. Fidalgo, the switching penisular, is representative of the many small Puget sound ports served by the GN. The wooden Howe truss perhaps reminds some of the approach to Anacortes. Instead of an eight track single holding yard, this layout contains two single ended, four track yards. Each are interlocked to a matrix. A single rotary switch aligns the tortoise switch machines and assigns power to one track only. So far there have been no snafus!

By November 2005, the pike is far enough along to host an open house for the annual Houston Area Fall Layout Tour. Much still needs to be built, but the railroad is far enough along to allow some switching and the introduction of a card order system. More open houses have been held March and November 2006 and November 2007.


2009 2010

Above freshly painted Pacific 1459 and Mikado 3307 , represent what I have been doing for the past year- working on equipment. After tearing down the old layout I months were spent waiting for building permits that never came.

2007 2008

June 2008 Layout Photos

December 2007 Layout Photos

November 2007 Layout Photos

July 2007 Layout Photos

April 2007 Layout Photos

February 2007 Layout Photos



2005 2006

December 2006 Layout Photos


October 2006 Layout Photos


August 2006 Layout Photos




June 2006 Layout Photos




March 2006 Layout Photos


Nov. 2005 Layout Photos




Track Plan, Previous Layouts & Other Pikes

Current Trackplan

Previous Trackplan

Earlier Layout pictures and trackplan

My Friends Layouts


O Scale West

The Original Pike

The first layout, from 1987 to 1995 was basically a double track loop with only one town modeled. All bench work was brought from Seattle where it had been used on an earlier layout. The mainline and holding tracks featured code 148 flex track with Old Pullman switches. Yard and secondary tracks were hand-laid code 125. Some industrial sidings were even laid with code 100 rail. All switches were powered with Tortoise switch machines. Scenery was Hydrocal covered with a mixture of ground foam and dirt imported from the Northwest. Three mainline cabs combined Aristo-craft throttles and PFM sound units. The engine terminal and switching areas had separate local cabs. Started in 1987, it was up and running for the 1989 NMRA convention in Houston. This layout emphasized passenger operations. Since the GN switched most passengers trains at Spokane, Washington, it was chosen as the location for the model railway, although no attempt was made to duplicate GN's actual Spokane trackage. The layout featured a depot with several setout tracks, a freight yard with reefer and stock car servicing facilities, a large engine terminal, and several local switching locations. The original layout had eight hidden holding tracks from which trains were dispatched. Leaving the holding tracks, the mainline followed the line around the outside wall where the scenery would depict the Idaho panhandle. Then, it passed a switching area named Fort Wright, entered the depot area and continued to the freight yard, called Hillyard. It then passed a switching area called Cannery Row and passed Nippy Hollow before re-entering the hidden holding tracks. The seeds of this layout's demise were planted in the holding yards design. All turnouts were separately thrown and power could be assigned to several tracks at the same time. As a result of the design, there were several 'snafus' and crumpled crummy platforms.

The Second Design

In 1994 Larry Muir, a close friend and fellow O scaler, passed away. I was especially fortunate to be able to purchase his 10 car Joe Fisher built heavyweight Empire Builder from his widow. When I put it on the layout, none of my locomotives could pull it up the steep grade from the holding yard. Thus, the second version was planned. In 1995, a rebuilding project was begun with a longer mainline and easier grades. The revised track plan had a 60" minimum radius and a maximum grade of 1-1/2%. Never really satisfied with the track plan revisions, this pike did not actually progress much beyond the benchwork and basic track phase. In late 2002, after several years of inactivity, I finally scrapped this version. No worthwhile pictures of this pike exist.





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