Facebook Page
Model Railroad Concept and Standards



Model Railroad Concept and Standards - Layout at a glance




Name:                        Great Northwestern Railway


Theme:                      Regional feeder line built on the acquisition of narrow gauge shortlines in Colorado, specifically the Denver, Southpark and Pacific (DSP&P), and connecting central New Mexico into Utah.  The railroad interchanges with the Southern Pacific near Tucumcari New Mexico; the AT&SF near Albuquerque, New Mexico; and the Western Pacific and the Denver and Rio Grande Western at Green River, Utah.  The South Park District extends from Montrose, Colorado to Denver to interchange with railroads in Denver.  The New Mexico Division constitute the modeled portions.



Great Northwestern Railway Cover.jpg


GNW System Map



Era:                            1975-1981


Scale:                        HO (1:87)



Size:                           Phase I:          20’ long x 2-1/2’ deep with an 8’ long by 12” wide staging yard arranged as an L.

                                    Phase II:         12’ x 24’ room.


Layout style:            Linear walkaround


Layout height:         Phase I:          Nominal 55"

                                    Phase II:         Low of 48” to 70” on 2 decks; 3 decks at staging.


Benchwork:              Phase I:          Open grid covered with extruded foam

                                    Phase II:         Combination of open grid, table top, and cookie-cutter construction as appropriate for need.


Roadbed:                  Phase I:  Extruded foam (the pink stuff) – 1” layer + 1-1/2” layer + ½” top.  Additional ½” layers added or cut out as needed for terrain.  Riverbed and underpasses cut into 1-1/2” layer.


                                    Phase II:  Shaped homasote on plywood, or cork on homasote on plywood.  (I found the foam does not hold over time against the forces of the ground throws on the turnout mechanisms with regular operations.  Nails into homasote are hard to beat!)




SP/D&RGW Coal Train TMEVC is a run-through on the GNW from the 20-Mile Coal Mine to the Wm Nixon Generation Station in El Vado, photographed here passing through Chloride.
(Part of the Phase II buildout)



Track:                        Commercially available code 100 and 83 rail for main lines ~ Mostly Atlas Flextrack


Turnout min’s:         No. 6 for main line, no. 4 for yards and industrial areas ~ Mostly Atlas Custom Line


Turnout Control:     Caboose Industries sprung ground throws


Minimum curve radius:    30" (main line), 24" Yards, smaller in certain industrial areas.


Maximum grades: Phase I:          < 1 percent

                                    Phase II:         3%


Scenery:                   Foam covered with real dirt and other scenery materials.  Some plaster castings and saturated paper towel shell over foam as needed.


Backdrop:                 Masonite




A daily transfer train is run between the AT&SF from Albuquerque to the Valley Gate – West Yard on the GNW Phase II expansion.  Here we see a pair of SD45-2’s leading the AQVGT on a rare AT&SF transfer into Warm Springs instead, photographed passing through Sand Creek.



Lighting:                   Incandescent track lighting ~ it gets cold in the basement in winter!


Control:                     MRC Prodigy Advance DCC, Both tethered and wireless



1791 in Warm Springs Yard2


GNW SW1500 #1791 idles in the Warm Springs Yard, waiting for the next manifest freight to bring the day’s work.  The railroad favors EMD SW and MP type units for yard work.





Back to the GNW Home Page


Back to TrainWeb