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John Arrowsmith

My love for Modelling the Santa Fe Railroad began when I was 7 years old, and was given my first HO scale model railroad for Christmas from my parents. In fact I still have that first Tyco switcher and 3 cars in perfect working order today. Dad had made up an 8 x 4 foot layout for me with hand made station and overbridge, and oval of brass code 100 rail, along with a river and hand made overbridge and tunnel.

From that 1st introduction to model railroading, I caught the bug. Next birthday a Santa Fe GP20 arrived, and later some Amtrak Passenger cars that set the scene for me selecting the early 1970´s as my era. The layout grew to two ovals and a siding. Buildings sprung up along the road way, and more and more freight cars were purchased with my pocket money savings.

By the mid 80s the layout still 4 x 8" was now a busy little town, and I worked with dad to extend the layout by a foot on each side to form 6 x 8 feet. Along the outside of the main line I had loco facilities and a tram way that horse shoed around the main line and down the new busy main street. This layout lasted until the late 80´s when finally the chipboard in the baseboard gave way, and layout #2 was under construction.

The new layout had a solid pine frame and 12mm ply baseboard, again 4 x 8", but this time a lot of planning went into the track design, which accommodated longer trains, an entire mountain side and small township with several busy railroad industries. Still all dc powered, there were carefully designed track blocks, signalling and electrified turnouts throughout. The problem I had however was my ever expanding multitude of trains was outgrowing the layout. I maintained this layout until 2003 when I sold it to my good friend Alan.


Layout #3, began construction in 2004. It filled the perimeter of a 3 x 4 metre bedroom. The layout consisted of a large yard based on the old Barstow yard, and the township loosely based on Victorville. The main large bridge is of timber and brass and has been modelled on Canyon Diabolo Bridge on the ATSF in Arizona. The bridge is hinged and was used as a doorway into the layout room.

The yard can handle 10 trains, along with loco facilities, on 4 spurs and one spur used for car maintenance. Victorville has a mainline station, and branch off to a small yard leading off to three industries. The township is modelled on the 1950´s with Route 66 running through the township. Matt has now taken ownership of this layout, with plans for upgrade and expansion.

Recently I have sold off all my 1970´s era equipment, and have changed era to 1952-1954. The idea was to be able to model the late steam early diesel transition, along with the streamlined and heavyweight passenger trains that have a character of their own second to none.

Layout #4 is currently being designed ready for construction in the second 1/2 of 2009. The layout will be 30feet x 14feet. This layout will be my interpretation of the Santa Fe 1st District Arizona Subdivision. Inclusive of Needles, Topock Bridge, Kingman, Hackberry and Nelson, Kingman Canyon and Crozier Canyon. The layout will be early 1950s era, using NCE DCC, Peco & GT Code 83 track. I am endeavouring to reproduce scenes based on photos of the area from the 1950s era, to achieve as realistic a layout as possible. Track plans have been sought also to copy as closely as possible to the prototype.

During this time I have been a member of the NMRA and the Sydney Module SIG, which was based in Kellyville in Sydney´s north west. The modular concept led to be building a set of modules myself, and learning a great deal from members of the group. Since early 2006, the SIG had to move out of Kellyville, and interest waned. Three former members of the SIG, Jason, Matt and I decided that we should take the modular concept and grow it, and hence the Mid West Model Railroaders has been formed.

With our interests being ATSF, CNW, GN & UP early 1950´s, we needed a layout big enough to accommodate, and hence the birth of the exhibition layout design on these pages.