Saturday, May 16, 2015


After receiving several requests for a photo or two of the entire layout, I thought I'd share this in the traditional MRR format.

November 2003: The Benchwork, of which there are 25 sections, was built by RailDreams out of Wisconsin. They laid 95% of the track and wired the layout with the DCC system.

Size: 21’ x 35’      Height: 48”

Prototype: Western & Atlantic RR, Atlanta GA to Chattanooga TN

Era: 1863, August

Style: Walk-around; point-to-point

Benchwork:  1.5” pink insulation foam board over ¼” Luan

Track: code 83 Flextrack

Mainline: 130’

Minimum radius: 18”

Minimum turnout: no. 4; Shinohara; stubs by BK Enterprises hand laid

Scenery: Plaster, Sculptamold over plaster cloth or cardboard strips. Ground cover – GA red dirt… yes, from GA

Backdrop: painted ¼” Masonite

Switch machines: Tortoise

System: NCE DCC tethered and wireless

Structures: BTS, Railway Design Associates, DPM, Bar Mills, Main Street Heritage, Branchline Trains. 36 are scratch built from photos and illustrations.

Figures: Musket Miniatures, Prieser, Airfix, Thomas, Merten, Model Power, Life-Like

First off, the reason for calling this the 'North Branch' is that fellow modeler and contributor, LeBron Mathews, also models the W&A… in Georgia. Hence we refer to his layout as the  ‘South Branch’. 

Additional contributors include:  
  • DC Cebula (MANY, MANY scratch built structures, bench work modifications, scenery)
  • Christopher Eldridge (Lee & Gordon’s Mill, Barnsley Gardens, blockhouse)
  • Brian Kammerer (backdrops) 
  • Andy Salcius (trees, structures, videos and fascia skirt)
  • Chris Comport (structures) 
  • Brent Pearson and Pete Culos (figures)
  • Garden State Central Model RR Club, in particular Jim Judge, (track work and electrical) 
  • Ku’uipo L. Radice (trees and crew vittles)
Here is my design after about 30 iterations back in 2003. Last month Bernie Kempinski took this plan, which was done in pencil, and using a graphic software drew up the table top with track. 

Below Bernie did a beautiful job adding scenic contours, towns, etc. which gives the viewer a more complete sense of the floor plan.

In the beginning... DC and I cut away two areas of the bench. The first photo below shows the original Wye bench work as delivered and reconstructed by the folks from RailDreams. I contracted with them to complete the tables, install track and wire the entire layout. I knew relatively little then and thought this would speed up the process. It did. However, you know the story, knowing what I know now I... 
Here the reach was clearly too far and required change.
This next photo shows reach enhanced by trimming the bench and re-routing the track, all with the help of my good friend DC Cebula.
Track heading to the top of this photo is going south to Big Shanty and Atlanta. Track heading to bottom left goes north to Dalton and Chattanooga. Bottom right goes to Rome, GA. The Rome RR is one of six interchanges built into this layout including ET&G (East TN & GA), the M&C (Memphis and Charleston), N&C (Nashville & Chattanooga), A&WPt (Atlanta & West Pt.), GRR (Georgia RR) and M&W (Macon & Western). One plan is to build a gate to provide staging from Rome. We'll See!

Due to the selective compression requirements, you can get an idea on how we needed to alter the plan based on this diagram. This also shows the placement of locomotives during The Great Locomotive Chase. The General might very well have made it back to Union lines had it not been for the extra trains coming out of Chattanooga, marked here as the Second and Third Sections. Locomotive William R Smith did participate in the Chase until Bill Fuller met up with the Texas.

Two of my favorite people and contributors, DC and Lebron, April 12, 2007 conducting a test run.

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