East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

On30 Railroad that Shrinks - 2

As much as removing the Winwood shadowbox seemed like the right thing to do, I was even more determined to remove the Piedmont section of the layout from my office.




Breaking the electrical, track, and roadbed connections between Piedmont and the main body of the layout was easier than I expected.



The Piedmont section of benchwork was soon removed from the cabinets, where a section of one layout or another had been for 20 years



Next task was to remove the backdrop, also done quickly and easily.



After wall repairs and painting, my office will have a lot more space available.

The On30 Layout That Shrinks

I can remember when Kalmbach Publishing released this book:


HO Railroad that grows

The assumption being that a bigger model railroad was a better model railroad.


After working in my shop for a few years on a big project, I started getting the impression that my layout was too big. There were terminal sections in two rooms adjacent to the room the layout occupied. Operationally, extending the layout into the office and shop was a great idea, and that was how things remained for over 10 years. During that time, I saw my entire shop building's primary purpose as being to house the layout, with some space allocated for other things.

Over the last year I could not operate the layout at all, spending all my shop time constructing a display for a garden in Nelson County. When time allowed me to once again turn on the track power and run some trains, I found I had gotten out of the mood to operate, and was much more interested in building. There would be plenty to build in the train room alone. I considered deleting Winwood and Piedmont, and operated the layout as if they were gone. The truncated track plan still accommodates a reasonable amount of interesting operation, and I could have a lot more free space in my office and my shop.

Winwood no backdrop
Winwood loses its backdrop

Initially, I had been planning on making revisions to Winwood that required rebuilding the shadowbox. But when I took the old shadowbox down, I decided I liked the shop better without a Winwood shadowbox at all.


Winwood no shadowbox
Winwood loses its shadowbox

So the demolition began, and is currently in full swing.

Repurposed Bridge Parts

Deciding to keep the Homasote sub roadbed spanning the creek limited my choices for the type of bridge to install. A girder type bridge would work, simply installing girders on either side of the Homasote might look reasonable.

Way back when I built the roadbed in this corner of the layout, I had a large inventory of HO scale components from my previous layout. One of the HO items I saved was an Atlas through girder bridge kit. I used the girders from that kit to determine how wide the bridge in this corner would be.

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I dug out the old Atlas girders and placed them in position after I had narrowed the roadbed across the bridge span. Everything fit just fine. The girders hid the Homasote with room to spare along the top for cross ties. Just like I had planned it all those years ago. Only problem was that I did not like it.

My impression of a right and proper bridge for a soapstone operation has been affected by seeing flatcars used as bridges. Flatcars were used as bridges in at least two locations that I saw myself.

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In the mill campus at Schuyler, an old fishbelly steel frame flatcar was used as a bridge to cross Ivy creek, and a few miles away another flatcar was used to bridge Sharon Creek. Neither of these bridges was used to carry the railroad across the creeks, but they still inspired me to try something creative as a bridge span on my layout.

Rummaging around in my collected bridge and crane pieces and parts, I came across a
Walther's N scale heavy duty overhead traveling crane kit. The profile of the crane spans appealed to me. I could see how they might be used for my bridge, with a backstory about resourceful repurposing of an old overhead crane or perhaps a (very small) standard gauge turntable bridge.

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The N scale overhead crane was too short to span the creek on my layout. I cut it up to create one long span out of the two that came in the kit.

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I used the lengthened bridge girder as a pattern to cut another one out of 2 mil PVC. The crane kit girder will be on the side of the bridge that faces the aisle. The PVC copy will barely be visible on the back side.

Time for a Bridge

With the card stock fascia in place, I saw that working on the bridge in the corner would be easier to do before the fascia was installed. The bridge is in a horizontal and vertical curve, with the track to the right dropping down the hill and the track to the left being level. I decided to leave the Homasote roadbed in place to minimize kinks and bumps.

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Handlaid code 70 track comes up to the bridge from either direction. A short section of ME code 70 HO scale flex track makes the connection over the bridge site.

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In preparation for doing track work, I traced the railhead location across the bridge site and removed the HO flex track.

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Since the Homasote was going to stay, it had to be trimmed to the approximate final width of the bridge. Since the track curves here, the bridge would have to be wider than it would be if the track going across were straight. Thinking about how wide to make the bridge, I used a section of O standard gauge flex track to determine how wide the bridge would be if it had originally been a short standard gauge bridge that had been moved here by the soapstone company to use on their 30 inch gauge line. A saber saw was used to trim the Homasote down to the revised width.

Fascia Mockup

Eventually blocks were added to all the joists to support the fascia. Along the front of the Ariel Church and Horse Mountain sections of the layout, I approximated the height of the fascia at each joist and cut posts for each location.

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I attached the posts to the joists temporarily, and tiled together a large piece of cardstock to create a pattern for the fascia.

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Everything was taped and thumb tacked together in a flimsy fashion.

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I sketched a profile line along the cardstock and trimmed it out. Then left it like that for a while to look at it over time.

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The more I looked at the fascia mockup, the less I liked the places where it rose up high.

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Over time I trimmed the peaks down lower and lower until I was happy with the profile.