Tag Archives: design

Site Seeing – the Model RR to Go edition

Good day readers wherever you may be, and whatever you may be doing. It has been a while since my last post. That’s mainly down to my work schedule being all-consuming, and the days being long and the start times being all over the clock face. Nine months into my new role as a tram driver I’ve just managed a couple of weeks off and needed every moment to recover.

While recovering and looking around for some layout baseboard design ideas today I stumbled across Rick De Candido’s Fillmore Avenue Roundhouse blog.

His section of layout concepts (click this link to open a new window) has several great ideas. He really thinks outside the box on many of his designs. There is such creativity from this space starved modeller.

POST UPDATE – August 8, 2019
It appears that Rick’s WP site has been removed. I’m trying to contact him through multiple sites to see if there is a new site for this layout. I’ll do my best to keep this post updated.

His terminal layout is something to see too, and can utilise up to 6 operators on the layout during each 2.5 hour operating session. Well worth the time to visit the site and take a long read through the many useful posts there. Thanks to Rick for sharing his passion.

Rick’s Fillmore Avenue Roundhouse layout

Unfortunately I have no contact details for Rick, and there is nothing on the site where I can post a comment to let him know that I’ve profiled his site. If any of you can help with getting me in touch with Rick would you please reply to this post?


Site seeing – 10 September – All you ever wanted (or needed) to know about Inglenooks

Since we’re on somewhat of a roll with the Inglenook this week and it’s uses in small layout design let’s go to the source of all things Inglenook.

Site 1: Adrian Wymann’s “The Model Railways Shunting Puzzles website”

If you’ve not heard of Adrian’s site before then you are in a for a treat. This site has everything that you ever wanted to know about shunting puzzles, including the Timesaver and the Inglenook.

Image courtesy of Adrian Wymann
Image courtesy of Adrian Wymann

Of interest for those of us thinking of building a layout using the Inglenook design is the discussion on the design of operation and movement for the layout. Additionally there is the mechanics of designing and building the layout also. Very well worth the look.

Site 2: Adrian Wymann’s layout “Little Bazeley-By-The-Sea

Putting the Inglenook to work Adrian’s great little layout deserves a look. Well designed, well executed and well presented Adrian walks you through the design and build process and provides a lot of insight into the process.

Image courtesy of Adrian Wymann
Image courtesy of Adrian Wymann

Head on over to the websites and do a bit of reading – you’ll not be disappointed.

Site Seeing – April 9 – Small O scale layouts 5

While tooling around the Broadford MRC’s site looking for information on Glen Bogle mentioned earlier this month I found our next contestant for a small O scale layout well within the reach of anyone interested in the larger scale.

Site 1: Chard Creamery O gauge  8′ by 2′ (Richard and Sue Andrews)

Chard Creamery layout (8′ x 2′) – Richard and Sue Andrews

When it came time to build a new layout Richard Andrew’s thoughts turned to his boyhood memories of the S&D Railway to Basinbridge Milk Factory. Andrew says that “as I love small shunting layouts I decided to see if I could build a O Gauge layout representing a milk factory with either a river or as it turns out a canal running beside it in a 4′ x 22″ wide baseboard”.

With mock ups made Andrew decided he could put three tracks on the board without turnouts to give a loading/unloading bay for the milk, a centre road for coal and other goods, and a front siding which went to another loading/unloading bay for dry goods, butter, cheese, etc. He stresses that the layout is not a copy of Basinbridge, and chose to make the buildings of similar but freelance design.

Chard Creamery – O Gauge in a small space

The name Chard came about because of the canal that used to run from Taunton to Chard. While that canal is now long gone and Andrew had a Skytrex Barge built and painted in need of a home this seemed the ideal situation.

Skytrex Building Flats fill in the background while all main buildings are scratchbuilt out of card with a Slater’s brick overlay. The pub scene replaced a former building now relegated to the background and helps to block the view of the fiddle yard.


Site update – January 7

Is there no end to designing a layout? I sincerely hope not, I’m having too much fun!

I’ve added a page to the 12 foot layout modelling project for the design process. It’s been really good to check the images from a distance (and not standing at the layout board) and seeing where things could be improved. I’m going to make changes and get to the Mk III design later this week.

It’s nice to know that I’m getting closer to an ideal layout design that will keep me happy switching and let me enjoy the layout for the next few years.

Keep an eye out for updates to the page later in the week.

Site update – January 1 – Happy New Year edition

I’ve added a new Modelling section – My 12 Foot Layout.

This will provide a Work-in-Progress report of what’s happening in the layout build process. For now there’s a front page. It provides my overall thoughts and a photo showing the proposed design (already laid out in track).

As I stated on the page there’ll be more coming in the future including:

  • Track laying,
  • Building construction,
  • Detailing,
  • Operations design, and
  • A session report or two

Looking forward to getting this underway this month.

Site seeing – August 10th

Yesterday was all about passenger service; today is all about freight. Chris Gilbert pointed this video out, on his YouTube page. However the producer is ChicagoJoe28. But enough words let’s get to the video.

Site 1: Mike switches Batory Foods Chicago Terminal railroad

Video 1: Batory Food Switching on the Chicago Terminal

A little history

Located at 2234 W 43rd St, Chicago, IL 60609, Batory Foods began trading in 1979 when Abel Friedman opened Chicago Sweeteners. As a single source supplier of basic food ingredients such as sugar, flour, salt, starch, milk, oats, honey and corn syrup. Chicago Sweeteners expanded its product offering over time, as food manufacturers sought to develop healthier products.

With success in the greater Chicago market, the Company brought its broad line model to food manufacturing centres around the country. Some of the growth came with the original business; some by way of acquisition with:

  • Sugar Incentives bought in 1995,
  • Ingredients International in 2006,
  • Quality Ingredients in 2008,
  • LSI in 2009,
  • Industrial Ingredients in 2009,
  • Massey Fair in 2011, and
  • Mac Source in 2011.

Recently, the various names were consolidates into the single name: Batory Foods.

The layout idea

The site’s switched as an Inglenook. The two on-site spurs lead to undercover augers (I’m assuming here of course) for unloading powdered or granulated product.

Batory Foods Chicago - An Inglenook you can model

Image 1: The unloading spots (courtesy of Bing)

The storage track goes to other industries further down the track, but does not show recent use from my quick look. The loco has to push the cars into the site so you have a simple, prototypical Inglenook that won’t take up too much space. It is small enough that you could model any date from 1979 on in HO, S or O scale.

SCORE! What are your thoughts?

Thanks to Chris Gilbert for the vision, and to ChicagoJoe28 for filming it.

Decisions made, regrets cast aside


I have toyed with  track plans for some time to see how best to fit a layout into the current space that I have. I’ve drawn out 50 different track plans, all of which will fit my needs and space, none of which really grabbed me emotionally.

I took another look at a layout I’d designed early in 2014 last week. Designed to be portable and to be taken to exhibitions. In the space I gave it (8 feet or 2400 mm long) the design was right on the perfect size if for me just a little short of perfect. There is nothing wrong with the layout design or operations plan; it works exactly how I’d designed it to work and with the attached fiddle yard it will be a cracker of a layout to work for extended periods at an exhibition.

It will be:

  • Easy to work by one person,
  • Take about 30 minutes per show (operating session),
  • Allow short bursts of work, interspersed with periods of talking with the people asking questions about the layout), and
  • Worked from the front of the layout.

To get a sense of what I’m aiming for take a look at this video from Model Railroad Hobbyist:

MRH shot the video on Mike Confalone’s layout (I loved it so much I bought his video and book set – they are really worth their weight.) Watch the thing and you’ll be hooked.


The layout is a fictional end of the line switching area. I’ve long been a fan of a little layout call Iota from a long ago RMC article. But while I wanted to make a larger version of the Iota, and have devised several track plans to do just that I’ve never been able to get it to work for me in my space.

You can see three of my published designs here:

  1. The Iota Shortline
  2. Iota in 8′ x 6′
  3. Room Sized Iota

I’d even thought about doing Box Car Haven (link here) as I have the space and boards ready to go. However, I wanted something simpler, with enough work operationally to allow me greater play time, and less staging and management.


The fact that my location and layout is fictional means little to me. I have thought about the location, its history, and its present in-depth. There’ll be a sense of abandonment, growth, decline and then regrowth in the scenic treatment; buildings will also show this time of change on their surface, with old parts, and new construction giving the viewer a sense of time having passed.

The layout sits at a datum of 49 inches off the floor. This is about right for my son’s eye height at the moment. My wife and daughter are a couple of inches shorter than my son and so for now the layout stays where it is. I’d like to have the datum moved up to my eye height of 66 inches above the floor, but then no one else would enjoy the show.

I’ve designed lines of sight into the layout to stop people from being able to see the entire layout at any one time, and forcing them to move, change their viewing angle, look around corners and peer through building alleys into the layout.

The layout though small works on the principle of a two person crew. So even through the engineer cannot see the distances he has to go, his conductor is on the ground guiding him in – just as in the real world of railroading.


I’ve changed all the freight car bogies over to Kadee fully equalised trucks. Proto-weighted the cars to their cubed scale-weight equivalent, and weighted them heavy down low but glued weights along the tops of the cars in the corners to ensure that I’ll get a little rocking motion; it’s not perfect or quite how I’d like it but I cannot fully scale down the physics. In this way the cars move in a very prototypical fashion along the rails – especially Boxcars and Covered Hoppers.

During testing on the mocked up track plan I had a couple of months ago, the cars moved pretty much like you’d expect a real car to move. My switcher strained to get cars moving (so I’d get to feed power in to take up the slack) and then I could ease back on the throttle to keep them moving. In HO scale (I also model in O scale) you have no idea how sweet it is to see a switcher stretching a train and watching cars fight the move until inertia takes over. Once the load stretches out you have to drive the locomotive like the real thing.

The last thing on my list is to limit the speed of all loco decoders to around 25 MPH. And I’m going to drop the output level of the bell, and the sound decoder in general.


As a whole package the design will work, at least for me, to allow a simple and easy to set up switching session any night that I want to for around 30 minutes worth of fun. There’s little management time required and the fun starts with only a limited amount of set up time. There are additions I’ll be adding to the layout to extend the run around the second wall of the garage to extend the switching room and to lengthen the operation time to about the 60 – 75 minute mark for longer operating sessions.

Added to that the CV changes I’ve made to make sure that trains simply do not stop but roll on means that all along the way I’ll be happy working the model to give me and the other operators a sense of what it really means to work my layout.


Gritty, run-down, rebuilt and modernised, the Hunter Valley RR will be a lot of fun to run. I’ve got to spend some time working the track plan out in AnyRail over the next week. Once I have that completed I’ll post a copy here and see what you think.