A new project in form of a basement-size H0-layout has been initiated during the turn of last year. Now, in 2013, it is time to start the planning phase.

After a couple of discussions with the customer, it turned out that he wanted his old layout to be dismantled and re-built in a new location. Our customer is a huge fan of the Great Northern Railway; the time period is set around the the late 1890's to early 1920's. That means steam only. Since he owns some very nice brass rolling stock, minimum radii of 24" are a must.

To start with, the customer emailed me a sketch of his new basement:

To view an image full size, please left-click on it. To close the full size view, simply click anywhere in the dark grey area.


01-20-2013 01-23-2013 01-30-2013        
floorplan sketch
Floorplan pencil sketch
floorplan computer model
Floorplan computer model

This sketch was turned into a computer graphic and emailed to the customer for verification

space usage
Space usage

After we received the confirmation from the customer, a space usage model was drafted into the plan.

revised space usage plan
Revised space usage plan

A "must" on the customer's wish-list was aisle widths of minimum 36 inches (91 cms). Another aspect to consider were the wishes of the customer's wife... These wishes ended up in one module being re-located to a wall and a duck-under to access a wine cooler.

whitefish 01
Whitefish No.1

With the givens and druthers in place, planing started for the first module: the top level section named "Whitefish" is loosely based on its namesake in Montana. The initial plan was to keep this section at 52" (132 cms) above floor but more to that later...

An eight foot (244 cms) long freight train had to fit into the station track. This, in conjunction with the minimum radii, posed a challenge since the width (or depth) of the shelf is not to exceed 36 inches (91.5 cms). So curved turnouts - a lot of them - would have to be used. The first iteration of Whitefish can be seen above.

whitefish 01 -3d
Whitefish No.1 3d-view

Here is a 3D-view of Whitefish's "birth"

Since this was the first refinement of a concept, I knew that more changes were to expect. The customer wanted

  • 1. a stock yard
  • 2. an icing track
  • 3. a repair-in-place (RIP) track
  • 4. a lumberyard

to be incorporated in the design for Whitefish since these were the main industries at the given time period. On top of this list, the customer wanted to use the utility room for "hidden" staging and incorporate double-ended classification tracks into the design. So I came up with the plan seen to the right.

Whitefish no6
Whitefish No. 6


whitefish 06-3d
Whitefish No. 6 - 3D


The changes mentioned above required that the Whitefish section be raised to 56" (142 cms) above floor in order to clear the electrical panels in the utility room. This also meant that the complete scenery mesh, including mountains, tunnels, grades, etc. had to be redrawn. All in all, 7 iterations went into just this partial design. The last one was a minor change: The icing track in the upper right corner was too short for our customer's taste and so I bent it around the corner. Now it holds seven 50 ft. reefers. Here is the final version of Whitefish:

whitefish 07-2d
Whitefish No. 7

And this is the 3D-view:

whitefish 07-3d
Whitefish No. 7 - 3D

The next station to tackle is Havre, Montana.

While Whitefish is approached from the West, trains enter Havre from the East. "Must-haves" here are:

  • 1. REA
  • 2. RIP
  • 3. Grain elevator
  • 4. stock yard

A first concept looks like this:

Havre 01











Havre 01 3D

There's not much room for industries and yard tracks in this design, The customer also wanted to hide the curving track down to staging underneath Havre. This meant a complete re-design which - after some tinkering - also offered more space for industries. However, to squeeze in some yard tracks, the turntable will have to go.

This the status quo as per today (01-19-2013). Once the customer comes back with his thoughts on the design, I will continue this report. The 2D-plan is shown at the right and the 3D-view is shown in the below.

Havre 02



Havre 02 3D


Sunday, 01-20-2013

havre alternative detail 2d
Havre alternative with classification tracks

Just received the basic "OK" for the Havre design from the customer and set forth to draw the alternative with classification tracks instead of the turntable and open engine stalls. The results are shown right and below.


havre alternative overview 3d
Havre alternative overview 3D


Well, it didn't take long for the customer to get back to me with a proposal:

A connection between the left stock yard track and the orange main line would enable him to turn locomotives (like in a wye).

Not a bad idea at all, only I used the caboose track as origin of the connection because this way, the capacity of the left stock yard track remains unchanged.

See the detail and 3D-image below:

havre rev 4 detail 2d
Havre revision 4 detail 2D


havre rev 4 detail 3d
Havre revision 4 detail 3D



Wednesday, 01-23-2013

A minor addition to Havre was made.

We lacked an engine storage (at minimum) or engine facility. So I came up with a hybrid - not a full fledged engine facility with roundhouse but more a kind of engine storage with service capabilities (water tank and coaling bunker).

Rev. 6 detail
Added engine facility


Rev. 6 detail 3D
Added engine facility 3D-view


Rev. 6 overview
Rev. 6: Added engine facility


Rev. 6 overview-3D
Rev. 6: Added engine facility - 3D


Due to the new track layout in Havre, the staging underneath also had to be re-designed. It now offers 4 staging tracks of up to 160" (about 4 meters) length:

Hidden staging under Havre
Hidden staging under Havre




This is a catch-up post about the evolution of Shelby, Montana on the customer's layout.

Shelby rev 2
Shelby rev 2 - 3D


It started out as a pretty simple track layout with just a few spurs and a roundhouse. The challenge here is that 3 lines go into Shelby on a narrow shelf. These lines have to visually separated to create the illusion that a train is not going through the same scene twice.

Shelby rev 3
Shelby rev 3 - 3D


I looked up Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for the era to be modeled and was taken back by the amount of track that existed in Shelby! In the given space, only some of that trackage can be realized. In the late 1920's, Shelby boasted an oil refinery, several well drilling suppliers, a stock yard, a flour mill, and much more. I settled on a couple of small oil dealers with loading platforms, the flour mill, a small stock yard, and some suppliers along the track.

Shelby rev 4
Shelby rev 4 - 3D


To create some staging tracks which serve double duty as classification yard, I moved the stock yard inside the loop and also relocated the flour mill. A major oil loading platform shares the track with the stock yard. I also added passing sidings on the line out to Havre.

Shelby rev 5
Shelby rev 5 - 3D


The customer wanted the stock yard as a separate switching location and consequently it relocated back to the wall. Two short spurs provide staging space for additional stock cars. The oil dealer's tanks serve as view block to hide the double track main at wall a bit. All main line tracks within the staion boundaries can hold trains of up to 8 ft in length.

shelby track separation
Shelby Track Separation


The customer wanted the refinery located in this area to serve as view block. However, the shelf 3 ft deep here and the tracks are on separate levels, thus creating grades which already add to view obstruction. Since there is definitely no space to add a refinery here, I opted for a densely forested area that effectively hides the trains behind the trees.

to be continued...