This is the fifth year I've done outdoor model railroading. Each year starts the same way - take a very vaguely sketchy idea, add a piece of wood, some track, some Robertson screws, some wires and before you know it you've got a front porch layout. A couple of differences for the fifth annual: a new patio and a pizza box. Let me explain. One type of micro-layout is a pizza box layout, so called because it fits in a pizza box, almost always just a loop of track. It is really tricky to fit a circle of HO scale track in anything but the most humongous pizza box. A couple of inspirational examples:
I had saved two Paradiso Pizza boxes, but they were not humongous. It was at that point I started to think outside the box! Instead of using just one side of the box, why not open it up to give myself twice as much room? I had a good-sized piece of plywood that would just fit. But would it work? I tried my annual mix of switchbacks, diamond crossings and shoehorning:
And ended up with a concept - a materiel yard that would have a central through track and a couple of parallel tracks from which On Company Service cars could be loaded and unloaded:
I applied some liquid inspiration, some ale for my ailing imagination, some homebrew for my home layout, some quality quaffing. But I had to stay focussed. Some loyal Trackside Treasure readers have told me that their summer doesn't begin until they see the front porch layout. Back to work!
I should describe the space I'm working in. After years of discussion, we decided we would rather improve the front of our house than the back. The front is where we spent our time, enjoying nature and spying on our neighbours, formulating imaginative stories to go along with any observed coming-and-going activities! We found Valeira Construction and Taxis Contracting at a nearby home show, and before the summer truly began, we had a nice front patio to replace a former shrubbery-filled garden and we'd added some nice outdoor living space:
Coffee in the morning, cool beverages in the afternoon. You get the idea!
Sun's out...Robertsons out.
And the die was cast! Er, the layout was taking shape.
The opened pizza box, the plywood...and the attaching black brackets, all firmly affixed with Robertson screws:
Pizza box side:
Layout side, with inside of the pizza box also spray-painted.
There's room for the transformer in the corner of the box. Out came the diminutive 44-tonner that gifted porch layout-enabler Chris Mears had gifted, plus a new toy, a Walthers American crane in CP Rail paint, purchased from Roy Whitman. This latter piece of equipment gave me the idea for the materiel yard, as it can cover the tiny trackage quite methodically.
I had some scenic material that was as bright as it was historic. Still bearing a long-out-of-business Leisure World price sticker; I finally got it used. The black paved areas are adhesive foam from Michaels:
Didn't look too bad! I had yet to convert that American crane from nasty Kadee couplers to the more familiar and aesthetically-pleasing X2F's:
The working name for this layout is the Paradiso, Pepperoni & Pacific Railway. Watch for an upcoming post as the layout progresses while the chipmunks chatter, the cardinals call, the squirrels scatter, the clouds scud and the neighbours...hey, what are the neighbours doing? Are they getting take-out again tonight? Hey, is that a pizza?
CANADA 150 continues though Canada Day has come and gone. Some Canada Day +2 trainwatching netted a somewhat patriotic framing of CN 4713 switching here in Kingston:
Hope your Canada Day (and Independence Day for those living 'downstairs') was festive, patriotic and got you thinking about the virtues of a country that encourages people to get outside in the great outdoors and build a layout. Surprisingly, early indications of this year's front patio layout netted responses from modellers preferring a cool basement. Now there's Two Solitudes, though not a cardinal sin: