This is an old HO scale railroad that my brother wanted to build over a desk to run his new MDC Shay about 15 years ago. I helped him with the track plan, then after laying most of the track (Lambert- Shinohara code 70) and fiddling with it for a couple years he gave it to me (probably realized my complicated track plan was way more work than it was worth). I worked on the foam scenery some then got caught up in other things. After we moved to Idaho in 1989, he took it to work on with his kids. They kind of lost interest so the cats got it and liked to sleep on it and stretch on the trestles! Recently I got it back and as I am trying to make the move to O-scale decided to look at possibilities for converting it to On30 as it needed rebuilding anyway.
It measures 2 1/2x4' and uses a level lower loop of about 12" radius around the mill and 'other industry' siding, with an inner loop that winds around on about a 4% grade to the upper terminus. Here there is a siding but there wasn't room for a passing siding (none at the bottom either), so we decided to use an Atlas turntable instead of a switch at one end!
Interesting, but complicated to build. I originally suggested corrogated cardboard for the roadbed (big mistake), so most of it was replaced with 'upson board' - a heavy material like art framing mat board but about 5/16" thick. This is stiff and holds spikes well, even on tightly curved track. The switch on the bottom left is scratch-built (12 and 18" radius curved switch!), the rest are modified Lambert (now Shinohara) #4s. The upper loops are on 1/8" masonite suspended over the lower tracks on small plywood risers with as much room as possible given for working underneath. The upper terminus can actually be removed by cutting the foam scenery and lifting straight up. Later the cut can be covered with bushes, etc.
The framework is 1x2s under styrofoam beadboard (another bad idea for anything but scenery), But I think I can work with what is there, after all it has survived 15 years, 1000 miles three kids and several litters of kittens! All the scenery is beadboard with some cast in place Mountains in Minutes foam rock castings and hardware store canned foam.
To convert to On30 the main problem is side clearance on the sharp curves. The Bachmann passenger cars will not work well as is (the couplers are about 1/2" outside of the outside rail). The freight cars should work once I replace the trucks. If the wheels were made to NMRA standards (.039"/1mm flanges) they would work just fine, shame on you Bachmann!!! I will remove the HO scale tunnel portals and carve back some of the foam rock castings to make the rest fit but this is definately small Porter and Shay territory.
I am probably going to have to add about 3" to the front of the layout and move the lower track out an inch to make it all work without problems. If I feel like hand-laying some more switches, maybe I can add that missing passing track to the front (with switches in the tunnels? nah!) Before I do anything, I am going to plan it all out. If it is more work than it is worth (again!) I will probably just fix the track and trestles, finish the scenery and sell it at a show or something....
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