We have three layouts that are on display in the museum, two were built by us and the other donated by a generous benefactor.
The “N” scale layout had a revitalization sometime ago and for the better. The frame and pedestals remained, but everything above the plywood sub base was removed. The layout had a few deficiencies, failures with operating turnouts, deterioration of the foam sub-base (foam does not fair well from elbows; the roadbed had one too many dips from elbows). There were also issues with track size, turnouts, general trackplan and electrical theories that never came to fruition.
So, it was decided to remove the foam, install “Homasote”, lay larger track, use turnouts that do not break (what a concept), create a switching operation, and in general be happy. Midwest cork was used again for the roadbed, Atlas Code 80 track was used this time in the hopes that it could withstand those elbows which are always present and turnout control will be done by hand. There is no geographic location, all of it “freelanced” to encompass hometown America. Electrical control is wired to accommodate both DC and DCC on three independent loops thus allowing continuous running without cornfield events.
The HOn3 (Coon Creek South) layout was donated to us by a long time NMRA/SSR member here in South Florida, the late Mr. Ruben Aversa. The Coon Creek Railroad, an empire originally built in Melbourne, Florida by the late Lou Ulian, Lou granted rights to Ruben to build a southern extension known as the “Coon Creek South”. With Ruben’s move to Daytona Beach, the layout needed a home and we became the caretaker and have since put it to good use in the museum. The Coon Creek South is a Colorado based narrow gauge railroad with through tracks of the Denver & Rio Grande Southern.
The layout is a basic double dogbone with industry switching, measuring at its deepest, 40 inches and a length of 30 feet, it was built as a shelf layout with custom cabinetry supporting the shelf. It really is a piece of fine cabinetry with an award winning layout sitting on top of it, a stand alone piece that we decided should be showcased. With kit built or scratchbuilt rolling stock and K 27’s from Blackstone, Shays and Heislers from PFM, the layout comes alive with the controlled dawn to dusk lighting. As with the rolling stock, all of the structures on the layout are either craftsman kits or scratchbuilt with high emphasis to detail. This donation has provided us another view in miniature of the railroad industry during the turn of the 20th century.
The HO layout is making progress slowly, very slowly, but steadily, with emphasis on the steady. The locale for the layout is the Appalachia’s, we hope to capture the look of the area with scenery and structures that are prevalent for West Virginia, Virginia, and Eastern Pennsylvania.The plan has always been for two working levels assisted by a staging level under the main level and so far that has been accomplished. The plan also called for the luxury of mobility and with all the wheels under the benchwork that has been accomplished. The sub-level staging has a capability of staging up to 20 trains dependent upon length and is currently switched manually. The helix is complete from staging through the first level to the second level (although the second level is invisible) and back down again. A reverse loop has been incorporated into the plan providing more operational ability to the helix, we will have the ability to run both east and west utilizing the helix. The original concept was to use the helix as a means to get from one level to the other but now it can be used to increase operations. If it were not for DCC the wiring of this would be a headache, turning the entire helix into a reverse loop would be a wiring nightmare
Added to the plan has been the incorporation of the passenger station, its associated yard, commissary, Railway Express warehouse and freighthouse. The addition of this area vastly reduced the engine facility real estate, but we have enough area to represent what an engine facility looked like during the steam era of railroading. Also, with the addition of passenger service, head end cars, diners, sleepers, coaches, the operations opportunities increased three-fold. A two track mainline on the first level, one exiting from the helix and the other around the helix and through a river gorge is the prominent feature.
Industry switching on the first level will increase the busyness of the layout and provide jobs for operators during a operating session. The branch line on the upper level will have the coal industry to supply raw materials to those industries located on the first level, providing a logical movement of equipment from level to level. Finished products from the first level industries will move to the rural team tracks found on the branchline, again providing a logical movement of equipment. The time frame remains the transition era to early second-generation diesel. With the release of more and more equipment, DCC ready and appropriately detailed for specific railroads, such as the Pennsylvania, Norfolk & Western and Chesapeake & Ohio in particular. The layout will be a fitting backdrop for, PRR I1s’s, M1a’s, J1’s, N&W A’s, J’s, Y3’s, Y6b’s, C&O T1’s, H4s, H5s and H8’s and diesel power for all roads.