Layout and Track-work for the Hannibal Branch

The proposal at a glance is to occupy most of the garage. The beginning of the journey is to move the wood workshop into a different location in the garage (insulated for winter in Wisconsin you know) so the first leg of the project can be started. As of October 2002, the garage portion where the cars will be stored is completed including drywall and sunken overhead lighting. A slight change has taken place since the original concept, and the wood workshop will have to be shared with the cars. We will need the power tools, so they can't go too far...

Model railroading can be a life-long ambition. For some, it starts as a kid with the first Christmas train set going around the tree on Christmas morning. It could have even belonged to a brother or a neighborhood friend. My set was a Marx that was under the tree and I was 7 years old. I played with my train so much the wheels fell off. Making tunnels out of books, trees out of green paper, and letting my imagination go wild is what started it for me. My wife just happened to be an innocent bystander on my quest for information.

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    Without having a basement, there demands a need for layout space. Fortunately there is a large 32' x 54' garage nested behind Granny's place. This building has been a collector of many things in the past, but now it has a mission. Trying to allow vehicle parking indoors with the dream layout is very taxing on the soul. The summer rummage sale is over now and we are packing up the remaining items so construction can begin on the first leg of the layout.

Budget constraints and grandchildren helped define scale. First we had to determine the level of scale and that would be defined by the creators for the operating crew. The crew would consist of the immediate family including 7 grandchildren, some friends, and neighbors. Based on the probability of engines and/or cars and scenery taking a nose dive to the floor, yet the desire to recreate a part of an area that a few could recognize, the results were determined. We had built a HO layout for Christmas three years ago and found that it was nearly impossible to put the cars back on the track by the kids with their eagerness, so a more suitable scale had to be determined. G was the most appropriate scale for the kids, but expense of the size and the amount of room that it would take for portraying the era just made it inappropriate for this project. O or S was the next set of options. We chose S due to availability of background items in 1/64 from toy manufacturers like ERTL and Hot wheels. Flyer stock is also still readily available due to the volume produced for the baby boomers in the early fifties. After reviewing the product Gilbert designed, it appeared to be the best choice due to scale appearance and it was 2 rail which allowed nickel-silver code 100 HO rail from atlas to be used. An Atlas flexible sections are 3 feet long and can be laid for less than 2 dollars. Can't beat the price, so the budget was met. A Pacific style engine can be purchased on line for 60-90 dollars in good shape, diesels run a bit more in the 70-130 dollar range. Rolling stock runs from 6-30 dollars for most, which makes it similar to HO in cost.

Now I can try to explain our definition of "Freelancing the Prototype". We needed to spend enough time and detail on recognizable attributes for a "no doubt" look for now and later add additional detail to simulate a higher level of scale as the little ones get older. Sound is a must, as well as DCC as an option that can be turned on or off. Using American Flyer stock, it should be left optional for running AC high rail with the younger ones that need to see motion on stock that is readily replaceable. The one thing we learned on the Christmas layout regarding the thought process of kids under 7 was if the train stops, there must be something wrong. To add additional variation and additional movement to the theme for the kids one must understand that some things that were just memories in the early fifties will be part of the layout also along with additional traffic. Double track mainline for multiple trains may also have to take place. 

The layout will begin in the old workshop area depicting the line from just South of Jim Falls and proceed to Arnold. Donald through Hughey along with the rest of the polygon will have to wait until the rear of the garage is built up to support heat in the Wisconsin winters, but for now the space is being reserved.

I hope to finish off the old workshop and begin bench work this winter. The garage portion has been insulated and dry-walled for comfort when it is below freezing outside.

Old workshop area

First leg of the Omaha from out-side Chippewa Falls Wisconsin, including the Wisconsin Ruby & Southern (the logging railroad from Holcombe to Ruby) will start in the old workshop area. The area to displace is 9 feet wide and 27 feet long. This layout is intended to be on two walls with two levels, first level being slightly below eye level in a chair, second is slightly below eye level while standing up. Using plywood sub-roadbed, cork roadbed due to the possible moisture issues, and hand laying spikes on rails from HO nickel silver code 100 track, this adventure should be time consuming, but that is what hobbies are supposed to be..

Final layout should include the rest of the polygon utilizing Chicago Northwestern and Soo Line, interchanging cars at Ladysmith and Chippewa Falls. Additional Logging railroads were found outside of Bruce and Weyerhaeuser. Another was located near Spooner heading South towards New Auburn. More logging towards Ladysmith if time permits.

The Stanley Merrill and Philips short line Railway ran from Stanley to Gilman. It never made it to Philips. Maybe it should...