Well, we rolled right through August with nary a thing completed. However, I did get a new shed installed at the house that will now be my main workshop in regards to heavy machining; grit blasting; sawing; drill press work; ect., I am installing a mini-split a/c and heat pump unit in this building; as well as as electric and insulation for maximum comfort. I don’t think I’ll move my paint booth to it until I test the mini split a/c to see if it can hold water and keep the humidity out.
Allison will take ownership of this shed once we move to our new property location; which has been acquired; and a new home will be placed there. This place has a large land plat with it; and I will have the luxury of deciding which way to go with it…with either a separate morton building; or use the basement under the house for a train room. I am leaning towards the Morton building at present; as it allows for maximum design flexibility. The issue now will be what to design? Am I sticking with West Frankfort and the surrounding area; only designing it closer to scale? This means that I’ll build both mines and accompanying trackage; along with the mine branch; sidings; road crossings; and the like. This would likewise re-create the country road crossings and flagging that took place at the siding right before “Freeman Jct.” on the branch; In fact, the branch could be an entire layout by itself. So, that’s where I’ll start with the current space. I can see the oil and chipped “Old West Frankfort Road” crossing with two tracks near the Johnston City “Arrowhead Lake” right now…it’s pretty exciting, actually. (I know…I’m a nerd).
Benton Junction will exist with an active ICG interchange; hopefully some Tangent Scale Models Coal hoppers to put there, too. West Frankfort will be done pretty close to scale; and will allow for the full yard to be built as it was in 1978-1980. I will indeed animate my dad’s car at the Main street crossing…to show him making a u-turn in frustration when the 409 train began building its’ trains daily to take to the mines. I will also model part of the line as it leaves West Frankfort and heads north…crossing the Big Muddy River over a cool steel bridge combo that includes a deck girder and a pony truss bridge…along with a run besides IL HWY 37 to Benton…as I remember fondly ‘racing’ those coal trains and locals north to Benton…while riding with my Dad on his way to Benton to mail a letter.
Other questions are…how far south do I go? I was thinking Johnston City (for sentimental reasons); and possibly Marion (interchange). I will need to measure and photograph those buildings for modeling…as I am getting a laser cutter to help me do the buildings in these towns to scale…and in styrene. I might launch my hobby business as well after I get my stuff up and running. If so, Little Egypt Models will focus on buildings that are specific to our area…but can be made into generic buildings for any layout that depicts small town USA. I might offer custom building design and cutting as a service too; But, only after I have my layout up and running. The first building to be cut is the old freight station that sat behind the West Frankfort Depot until around 1981…it has the same footprint as the current depot.
So, for now, I am proceeding ahead with the mine branches and downtown West Frankfort to run some trains…and designing the coal mines in such a way to allow them to be plugged into the new layout. As as result, much of the scenery might be left off until I move in a two years or so. I will bend the main track around a curve that goes through a scenic divider to accomplish the yard at West Frankfort without a curve in it…and allow me to keep the ladders and extend it on the larger layout. I want to finish my article for RMC and see if they will do the layout as a starter plan…and built for expansion. That way it can serve the hobby as a catalyst for a person who is planning on a future move.
The IVAR shelving can go with the layout; and I simply have to unbolt the L-girders off them and remove the individual straight modules. I doubt that I’ll keep any curved modules; as the radii will be much broader than 32″ on the new layout area.
Visible staging on the new layout will most likely be Joppa Power Plant and Joppa Cement…for just some additional traffic storage areas…and I could foresee myself modeling Neilson and perhaps Vienna Junction, too. This stuff will all have to happen after retirement. But, are we getting into that “givens and druthers” ; as well as how much can one guy operate and maintain? Sure, we all have those dreams of the huge layout…but such a layout would be a maintenance task that is both daunting and time consuming. For those reasons; Maybe I’ll just plan on keeping these areas as visible staging…and Neilson as a “maybe”…because I really love that old trestle that is just south of it.
At any rate…I am finally getting some time off from work…and will be able to post some progress and track laying photos…as well as some engines running. I have yet to hook up my proto-throttle and am eager to operate train 409 with it…the proto throttle is based on a GP15-1 control stand; btw. Did I mention that I LOVE GP15-1’s? Thanks to Athearn Genesis; I have 6 of them. I will finish the weathering on the West Frankfort Depot as well…so I can post photos of it…and I’d like to get some area buildings placed around that location for photos…so I will probably build a bit of scenery for interest and practice. It’s been 10 years since I’ve done any real scenery work…so I am definitely rusty.
The pandemic rolls on…and we are near the crossroads for our country. Will we EVER get back to a sense of what was ‘normal’? I think so. Anyway…please stay safe…and look out for each other.