The new layout project for the hobby room is taking shape. One of the main goal is learning to master operation tools (switch lists and car routing via JMRI OperationPro) and fine tune locomotive decoders. The goal is to start small to get a better understanding of basics, then move on accordingly.
The layout plan is based on the work of a British modeller knowns as Mog on YouTube and RMweb who dabbles in North American modelling. His simple track plan is versatile yet extremely mundane and typical of North American small town railroading. Better, it is car spot sensitive, meaning each move makes sense in the grand scheme. Dedicated sidings serve a team track, a logistics warehouse and a feed mill and a runaround track provide some variation. Train length is about 5 cars plus a caboose if required. Operation represents a switcher turn from a staged railroad yard to an industrial district.
While small, this layout allows exploring specific operation patterns, including car spots, schedules, off spot storage and other interesting concepts. In my mind, it is primordial this project can be built and put into operation quickly. Better, I like the fact this layout can then be realistically scenicked then be expanded later on. I’m not looking to replicate a particular prototype, but rather a vibe and something that can be used both as a test bed for ideas and plain enjoyment.
Having collected over the years a lot of unused freight cars fitting this project scope and era, I know it won’t be boring. I also want to take this opportunity to better understand the electronics, mechanics and programming behind locomotives. This is also the kind of project that would lend itself well to experiment later with ProtoThrottle.
While some could see this project as a washed up version of anything I had in mind, I must admit I’m tired of planning elaborate projects and not enjoying my trains. Streamlining the design allow me to reach interesting steps quicker and it certainly doesn’t mean I’ll water down the level of craftsmanship, not at all. Basically, this is what Quebec South Shore Railway has always been about. Hedley-Junction is already a formidable tool of prototype-based modelling. No need to pursue two hares at a time.
About the setting and locale, I’m seriously thinking about a fictional town located on Quebec/New England border. For the sake of variety and modelling interest, I’m thinking about rotating the railway identity from time to time, including Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Central Vermont, Maine Central and Vermont Railway. I already own several locomotives in these paint schemes that doesn’t fit Hedley-Junction and which I have no interest in reselling. Most of them are first generation ALCO/MLW and EMD locomotives. In particular, Central Vermont is interesting because by the late 1970s, new and old paint schemes could be seen and “foreign” power from sister companies such as CN and DW&P were common.