My last layout

I guess that title could have been a little less dramatic perhaps. Anyway, we’re into this post now so on with the show.

My Dad and I are on this really fun email thread back and forth remembering old layouts we built. Thoughout it all we’ve uncovered some really amazing milestones, many of which are his. I’ve mentioned Dad’s Sorry Valley Railroad before on here as being probably the most inflential railways I’ve ever been exposed to. In two years he will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of that layout’s first operating session. That’s forty years folks on an N scale model railway. I can’t think of many “real” shortlines that have enjoyed such a history and it’s been really enjoyable seeing old photos of his railway from it’s earliest years and reflecting on how much N scale in particular, and the hobby in general, have changed in four decades.

Somewhere in digging out these old photos he found some we took of a layout I built. We figure these were shot in 1991 as we loaded the layout into the van to display at the first model railway convention on PEI at UPEI’s now demolished rink. We brought both of our layouts to the show and these flanked out club’s tables. Since both of our layouts were designed for operation we brought along stacks of car cards and switchlists and we ran trains and switched cars. We met some terrific modellers and had a blast sharing our work with them. Soon after these photos were taken this layout was taken apart and would be succeeded by two more in the same space. Neither of these two layouts were ever finished to the same level of detail as this one.


I remain, even twenty-odd years later, extremely proud of the level of finish and the quality of work here. I still love how awesome the water looks in the sunlight. The entire line was flanked with telephone poles and even in N I strung wires through each one. About half the structures on this layout were scratchbuilt and the balance were very heavily kitbashed. Everything was painted and appropriately weathered.

The layout itself was built in N scale and based on a plan from Kalmbach’s 101 Track Plans book. It was a switchback that started at the harbour and worked it’s way uphill to a town and mill area. It was a blast to operate. The main motive power was a pair of Minitrix H12-44 diesels occasionally supplanted by an early Atlas (Kato) RS-11. I never cared for the Kato and preferred the Minitrix engines. My Dad had built a really nice pulse-power controller which really made operating the layout nice and even those three-pole motored engines crept along the sides of the mountain realistically.

As I get ready to start my next proper layout, it’s really fun to have a memory of one I finished and am still really pleased with to reflect on.

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