As some of you may know, the layout is partially gone. Some home improvement required to dismantle it and I know longer have the luxury to have a layout in that room.
However, some space in the basement makes me able to move forward. I'm actually building a 4' x 8' table out of junk wood that will serve as a starting base (more on that later).
Building and operating the original QSSR layout was an excellent way to better understand my needs.
On the positive side, I found out a single turnout layout was more than enough to sustain enjoyable and realistic operation for a decent amount of time. Also, I may now confirm I love to model rural town and that kind of railroad traffic. I grew up in a small rural community and it's impossible to sever these natural ties.
On the negative side, I discovered I like my trains to travel some scenery before doing their switching chores. Honestly, I hated the way a staged train could would enter the scene. I was blinded by the fact our club layout - Hedley-Junction - is quite large and continuous running isn't required to get the feel you are going somewhere.
It was also quite evident I like to sit down and watch my trains run freely in nice landscape. I've always been a model railfan since my younger years. I would put my eyes at track level and watch the train run over and over for hours. To me, it wasn't silly. It was a thrill. I want it back!
Meanwhile, I enjoyed reading some recent blog posts made by Lance Mindheim. Isn't doing nothing exciting right now, but his insights about his customers is highly interesting. Two things struck me as essential: doing what you like (sounds cheesy, but any model railroader knows the dreadfulness of getting side tracked) and to see "poverty" as a blessing.
As you know, Hedley-Junction is now set firmly in modernity... a.k.a the mid-80s. That means a LOT of rolling stock and locomotives I own are now totally obsolete. And Canadian Pacific is now totally out of the picture. At the same time, canadian dollars took a serious plunge during the last year and new stuff is now unaffordable. I scavenge and upgrade everything I can and the process is actually fun, rewarding and help to develop skills.
The New QSSR
The new layout draw inspiration from many railfan trips in Quebec's Eastern Township, a well-known area with strong railway action. Canadian Pacific was the driving force there until the 80s.
I'm keeping the grain elevator/feed mill theme. However, since the layout is now set in the 50s, I'll will add a small engine facilities, a station and a team track.
The big challenge is to make a realistic switching layout out of a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood. There's been a lot of badmouthing about that kind of layout plan. But honestly, I can't put the layout on any wall. A shelf layout would be better, but I just can't fit that geometry. I'm left with an island model railroad. And no, it's not that bad since I want continuous running.
The track plan is a classic twice around and by pure coincidence, the track plan ended up similar to John Allen's original Gorre & Daphetid! Well, there's a thousand solution.
At first, I thought I would make the twice around run over the mainline and cross it with a trestle. But some 3D modelling quickly convinced me it would be toyish and not practical to operate at eye level. So I now settled with a subterranean loop. It leaves more space for the town scene but also makes more sense. There's a lot of embankment and cut in the Eastern Township. I'll now have the occasion to model it realistically without have a Rockies look.
Inspiration is drawn from many southern Quebec localities served by CPR: Waterloo, Eastman, Magog and Cookshire. Many of them had strong topographic features, interesting track arrangement and very small turntable.
This proto-freelanced road will be quite similar to the ex-Maine Central's Raspberry Branch in Cookshire that was operatd by CPR after 1927.
Also, Trevor Marshall's S scale Port Rowan layout is a big influence on me. Getting that low track density out of a twice around will prove to be quite a challenge.