I recently completed my N Scale Layout #4 (The Ultimate Roundy-Rounder), and as is my wont, I got bored with it about 10 seconds after I'd finished it. But unlike in the past when I've finished layouts, I didn't have a singular direction to take for the next one. Usually I have all sorts of complaints, gripes and regrets about my most recently finished layout, providing me with a lot of definite ideas about how "The Next Layout Is Going To Be Perfect!" Unfortunately, with the (aptly named) Ultimate Roundy-Rounder, I actually wound up scoring bullseyes on just about all of my model railroading targets, and once completed, I didn't really have a laundry list of strident objections that would serve to drive me towards a newerer and betterer layout design (that is, apart from some vague notions about wanting to go smaller).
What can I say? After four layouts, I've pretty much figured out what I like, what I don't like, and how to go about planning a layout that I'll ultimately be able to enjoy building and be proud of. So really, my layout choices have basically boiled down to theme and scope.
Unfortunately, once I got to thinking about potential themes, I found myself faced with inspiration overload. Namely, two completely divergant ideas for new layouts. My first thought was a small logging layout that would allow me to make use of Atlas's way cool "Shay" steam locomotive. Further, I've always wanted to build a timber trestle bridge on a layout, and what better place than a tree-infested, mountainous one? My second idea was a larger, more industrial layout that would allow me to make use of Walther's new (and way beyond cool) steel mill structures. I mean, who hasn't gandered the new Cornerstone Blast Furnace kit and not drooled over the prospects?
Crikey! What to do??
Honestly, I had no idea which idea I liked best. Worse still, I had no idea how I might get started on either layout (as far as structures, a basic track plan or anything else goes). Given the rigors of my last couple of layouts, I think I'd fallen victim to LDF (layout design fatigue). I had the basic themes in mind, but I just wasn't envisioning paths to any sort of actual implementation. So, feeling stuck, I decided to check out a few books and see if I couldn't find something to get the ol' creative juices flowing.
So, I picked up a couple of track plan books at Ye Olde Local Hobby Shop and lo, there it was! Tucked away in Model Railroader's "Basic Model Railroad Track Plans" book, I found the perfect layout design. Namely, the "Kootenay Lake Navigation Co." The minute I saw the plan, I knew at a gut level that this was exactly the layout I wanted to build. I then quickly rationalized all of the reasons why I should:
- Logging theme - a place to play with my Shay!
- Small (6' X 3') - After the URR, I was more than ready to scale back to something smaller, cheaper and less complicated.
- Simple track plan - a nice roundy-round with one main loop and some interesting sidings? Yeah, I'm ready. I think I more than satisified my "run a million trains at once" fetish on the URR, thank you very much. Better still, no 9.75" curves in this plan, so hello Code-55 track!
- Lakes, log ponds and an honest to gosh "Car Float" for interchange? Now that sounds like something new and interesting to try!
- A finished plan that I can follow (and modify as I like), rather than having to invent the whole thing myself? Yeah, sign me up. When you're tired and the trip is long, it's nice to have someone else to share the driving.
- A few structures, but not too damned many of them? And I can actually light 'em up without having to notify the local power company first? Oh yeah, I'm on board with that. Basically I get all of the features I liked best about the URR, just blessedly reduced to more manageable levels.
- More widespread appeal. When I design my layouts, I tend to forget that I'll eventually want to sell them. So this time, I'm thinking that going with some interesting switching along with a couple of expansion-friendly interchange tracks should broaden its overall appeal and enhance its future saleability.
So, decision made, the first thing I did was head down to YOLHS to do a little Code-55 recon work. And what I discovered right away is that I'm not going to be able to totally replicate the KLNC track plan using Code-55 track. For whatever reason, Atlas doesn't have 11" or 19" radius curves in 55 (nor do they have #4 or #6 turnouts). No problem there I guess, as I can certainly freelance my own track plan using the KLNC plan as a basic guide. But it does mean that I can't start by building a base for the layout first, since at this point I can't say with any degree of certainty that 6' X 3' is going to accommodate what I ultimately wind up building.
So, I guess the smart thing to do is to start out by acquiring and assembling all of the buildings I'll need, then mock up the track around the buildings, and then build a base to accommodate all that.
The KLNC plan actually has specific suggestions for which building kits to use. Unfortunately, I've already used a number of their suggested buildings on previous layouts, and I really hate repeating myself. So, as I've been putting my shopping list together, I've had to come up with a few alternatives. Here are the kits I've selected to match the structures in the KLNC plan:
- Walthers Cornerstone "Farmers Co-Op Rural Grain Elevator"
- Woodland Scenics "Fill'er Up & Fix'er" built-up
- Heljan "Bank Block"
- Heljan "Movie Theatre"
- Model Power "Star Journal"
- Life-Like "Rural Post Office"
- Walthers Cornerstone "Mountain Lumber Co Saw Mill"
- Model Power "Lumber Yard Building"
- American Model Builders "Transfer Building"
- Model Power "Gantry Crane"
- Republic Locomotive Works "McCabe Lumber Log Dump"
And here are some additional structures that I plan to find room for:
- Walthers Cornerstone "City Water Tower"
- Walthers Cornerstone "Golden Valley Depot" built-up
- Walthers Cornerstone "Golden Valley Freight House" built-up
- Walthers Cornerstone "Timber Trestle"
- Woodland Scenics "Harrison's Hardware" built-up
- American Model Builders "Miner's Cabin"
So, wow, lots of stuff to buy and build. I guess I'd better get started!
Part 2 - Base construction, tracklaying & wiring (and more buildings)
Part 3 - Roads, lighting and scenery (and yet more buildings)
Part 4 - Scenery, detailing (and yet more lighting)
Part 5 - Trees, detailing, and the end of the line
Bill of Lading
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