Friday, July 8, 2016

2016 Front Porch Layout - The MMBEBRy: Make My Brown Eyes Blue Railway

For the fourth summer in a row, I've taken model railroading out into the Great Outdoors. Sure the basement is cool in summer, but it's far removed from the summer sun, the chirping birds, the scurrying squirrels, the laughing leaves, the cheek-filled chipmunks and the warm winds that the summer months bring to our doorstep here on the shores of Lake Ontario. So get out there! But with what?

Next up in my booklist is The Donut - A Canadian History by Steve Penfold. Though I've just skimmed the book, it appears there was indeed a thriving donut industry in Canada as far back as the 1930's. Produced centrally by large companies such as the Canadian Doughnut Company, donuts were popular as everyday snacks or for celebrations, even the subject of vintage postcards:
The industry was on a roll, but suffered a cruller fate when highways gained acceptance and shops appeared to have been sprinkled roadside overnight. There was a sense the donut-industrial complex was not doughing that well. Half-baked opportunities were frittered away. Large operations by the dozens no longer had the dough they once did. Canadians' eyes seem to have glazed over and prospects were crumby as the hole business was filled with changes. But back to the front porch we go!
Fellow modeller and Prince Street Terminal blogger Chris Mears and I discussed some inspiration - a car float operation. The few short tracks promoting lots of operation, a cassette/transfer table/sector plate to save space and track, and a small overall footprint were entirely enticing. An example plan (above)
I recycled the same piece of plywood from an earlier layout - 24x49 inches! I started laying out several spurs. The sector plate is located at bottom right, where it is handy for spinning to change tracks, with a capacity of one locomotive plus one car. Massive space saving over turnouts for each track, as well as compressing the horizontal distance most micro-layouts require. A typical shelf layout would be 2x6 or 2x8 feet to gain the required room for turnouts. Space not available when my wife and I share the front porch with our individual interests! The track is almost all screwed down (below) and I still have to figure out the wiring. Would I have room for a runaround track? Or just facing-point spurs (boring). I added a trailing-point spur at top, and a run-around track, second-from-bottom:
I wanted to have a donut bakery as the modelled prototype: inbound ingredients, outbound donuts and sprinkled trackside industries. As I debated, a Kingston Transit Excelsior rolled by on Route 15:
In terms of wiring, since soldering is not my strong suit, there's always Robertson screws to hold the under-layout wires to the rails. Each track had a black wire/white wire pair, as did the sector track. Everything was maretted together under the layout. The sector track is pointed at the track of choice - there are no joiners, just a small gap and if not lined up exactly right, a derailment ensues! Practice!
The final track arrangement (below). Cars arrive on the layout from the interchange track. They are shifted one at a time to the facing-point bakery tracks, or via the runaround track to the trailing-point industry.
Lined up and ready to choose a track:
I taped a short Video of switching. The sector track pivots on a Robertson screw. To prevent lateral movement, a square of styrene holds the track in place. My DC power pack is wired to the top of the layout. Ready to head to the trailing-point industry track:
Now ready to head to the interchange track:
With backdrop and trailing-point industry, which can accommodate various buildings. Here a feed mill/freight house, alternatively a lumber dealer or team track. Scenery is minimal, but lots of telegraph poles help break up the plywood look.
Invasion of the two-bay covered hoppers. I thought these would be the only cars the front porch layout could accommodate, but was pleased to discover that 40-foot cars can be handled easily. All in just 2x3 feet!
To operate the layout, I place some cars on each industry track. A nearby box contains a dozen more cars. The next car up is placed on-line on the interchange track, then set out to replace a similar car on an industry track. The car lifted is in turn moved to the interchange track and taken off-line. Track designation is flexible. The bakery tracks can alternatively be inbound, outbound, power house and hold tracks.
The bakery is the venerable Superior Bakery kit by Revell. The Canadian Doughnut Company covered hopper acquired from Roy Whitman provided much of the inspiration! A bird's eye view of the entire layout with coffee mug at far left, house pillar, bushes, backdrop, trackage including the transformer cleverly hidden behind two Athearn trailers, and sector track at bottom right. All on my front porch right in front of my lawn chair!
For more front porch inspiration, check out my layouts from 2015, 2014 and 2013. In case you haven't got a round to it, the name of the layout is my take on piano intro'd Crystal Gayle's 1978 hit!

Running extra...

Recent reading: Wolfe and Montcalm by Roch Carrier and Wolfe at Quebec by Christopher Hibbert. Perilous times for both England and France as they battled for control of settlements that would become future donut shop locations!


Steve Boyko said...

So... many... doughnut... puns...

Have fun switching, and I hope you doughn't have a derailment!

Eric said...

I do nut hope to have any derailments, but sometimes my aim is off lining up the sector track. It sure is quick, though!
Thanks for your comment, Steve.

Zartok-35 said...

Talk about Compact! That's some nice trackwork for a small space. I wouldn't be able to run any Imperial Roadways Puptainer laden TTX TOFC or VIA coaches though, so I don't know if it'd be satisfying for me. But I'm glad you're enjoying the outdoors!

When it comes to Crystal Gayle, I listen to "Sound of goodbye" an awful lot. Maybe I should name a VIA layout after that.

Eric said...

Trackwork and scenery on the MMBEBRy are minimalist but functional! With a cassette or transfer table, longer cars could indeed be switched!

Maybe name that train 'The City of Goodbye' like The City of New Orleans?
Thanks for your comments, Elijah.