Starting Over

Once again, I’ve gone far too long between blog updates, but this time I’ve been busier then usual. Five years ago we moved into our current home and I started preparing the basement for my layout. A few short years later the layout was built and operational, and I was looking forward to starting scenery.

As time wore on, several issues in the layout design begun to wear on me, and there were certain elements that I just wasn’t happy with. The design issues caused a drift from my goal of prototypical modelling, and to me the layout had started to become more proto freelanced then I had wanted. Some of the issues I had with the layout were:

Chetwynd Yard: The model ended up looking nothing like the prototype, and was located in a less then ideal area of the basement. Trains running north to Septimus/Fort St. John had to back down a yard track to clear the crossover with the main line, which is something I did not like!

The Helix: I’ve learned over the past few years that a helix is very boring. My design had trains spending far too long inside the helix, which extended the mainline run but was not operationally appealing.

Staging yard: The upper staging yard (Prince George) was built oversized, which ended up reducing the mainline run

Dawson Creek: Although I enjoyed switching Dawson Creek, I soon found the area to be too compressed when I started to plan on building structures.

 

As you can probably guess, I have decided to rebuild the layout, and have a new, but rough plan drawn out. I estimate at least 90% of the old layout will be demolished, but version 2.0 should be a better design!

I’ve currently removed most of the upper level and the Dawson Creek Sub, and have started to built the “new” Chetwynd yard along one long wall of the basement. The new yard will be almost 100% prototypical when it comes to the trackwork, the only major difference being the absence of the wye.

The helix has been relocated, and will consist of a series of independent loops stacked on top of each other. I’m adding multiple decks to the layout (5 in total including the lower deck) and adding the Mackenzie branch, which includes the mills and pulp mill at Mackenzie.

The Dawson Creek sub will be a little shorter then the first design, with the town of Dawson Creek being relocated to the opposite corner of the basement. I’ll post a rough sketch of the new plan in the future, as well as some construction photos.

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Starting the Woodchip Gondola Fleet

With the layout operating well, I’ve started to focus on getting the freight car fleet up to snuff. BC Rail had a large fleet of open top woodchip gondolas, many built by the Squamish Shops under the Railwest Manufacturing banner.

Over the years I’ve aquired a few of the Kaslo Shops resin kits for the cars, and I have a bunch more on order whenever they are produced again, The kit went together surprisingly well, with a few extra details like coupler cut levers, grab irons and ExactRail trucks added to the basic kit.

The kit assembled and ready for primer and paint. (those Kadee trucks are incorrect, but I was using them as “shop trucks”

Ready for paint

 

And now painted and weathered, ready for service on the layout:

BCOL 904446 Complete

I still have to build a load for the car, looking at prototype photos the chips were loaded higher then the interior cross pieces, so the load I build will have to be notched to clear them. I think I’ll build a removable load using some foam insulation board cut to shape and covered with sawdust.

There’s still a long way to go to get a representative fleet of chip cars running on my layout, thankfully the Kaslo kit is quite well designed and fun to build!