Model Railroads

This is a view of the freight yard, looking West-bound toward the mountain.

I have been in love with trains for as long as I can remember.   Like so many others, I had a Lionel set when I was a boy but I was always disappointed that the train ran so poorly around the track   Unless all the connections were tight, the track was clean, and the locomotive was kept well-oiled, it would stop and start, lurch and vibrate and look anything but like a real one.   I vowed that one day I would have a real nice model layout that worked properly.

I waited until I built my house in Minnetonka, Minnesota before having a go at my dream.   I had a nice large basement with a room that was more than adequate for my first layout and in 1969 I began to assemble what I hoped would be my perfect model railroad.   Of course, it turned out to be anything but.   I did not know in those days what I know now about locomotives, Kato drives, nickel-silver track, and solder joints.   And so, although I built a very nice large layout, about 16 feet by 12 feet, with lots of extras, the trains ran almost as poorly as before, and I became a bit disconcerted.   

When I divorced my first wife, I decomposed all of the train paraphernalia and packed it away in two large cardboard boxes, to await another attempt.  When Christine and I first moved to Salt Lake City in 1979, I was unable to restrain myself, and soon put together a small layout from parts previously used.   And I began to read magazines and talk to train people to discover the secrets of a smoothly operating layout.   Eventually, in 1985, we moved into a home in East Millcreek and I soon began to plan what has now become my previous construct, a 5 feet on one end, 6 feet on the other, and 18 feet in length layout with 4 separate levels. Although I made some mistakes on that layout, it worked well and I learned a lot that has served me well in building what is now my dream railroad layout.

When we moved again, in 2004, to Price, Utah, I deliberately designed our home to allow me my dream, which was to build a large layout in a large room. The basement room where I am now constructing the layout I have dreamed about for more than 50 years, is about 40 feet long and 26 feet wide, the largest room in the house. The upper level of the house is supported by two steel posts that come down through the center of one of the layout track loops, around the town. I also made sure the basement walls were high enough to allow a suspended ceiling below the joists and still have a full 8-foot clearance. This gives lots of head room and allows me to suspend model airplanes from the ceiling above the train table.

The pictures and descriptions you will see on successive pages show the layout as it currently is, in my Price, Utah, basement, during the fall of 2008. I am now working primarily on scenery, although I still have a number of structures to put together and a considerable amount of wiring. But the track is finished and the trains mostly run well; there are a couple of spots that still need some additional attention. I have the ability to run 10 trains simultaneously and have done that once or twice: two on level 5, two on level 4, two on level 3, two on level 1, and 2 on the loop that runs from the depot on level one, up the wooden trestle to level 2, and back down again. The only problem with running so many is that I have to keep track of some of them to make sure that they don't run into each other, since the ones on level 1 and 2 share tracks together. That is the advantage of DCC, an AC layout and I love it! When I have finished all of the scenery and done the wiring, I will be posting more pictures here, along with a video clip of the layout as it is seen from a locomotive; I have a miniature camera that can image from a train.

Caledonia   OilDepot    long bridge    suspension bridge    depot    engine house       Coal Loading Station    Soccor Field     Levels 3, 4, and 5      Level 5       Lake       Farm

Coal Mine      Challenger      Ferris Wheel     Milwaukee Road        Planetarium       Faller Circus Rides