Dick’s TT scale and garden railroad

You all know how much I love an update.

But sometimes the backstory behind a layout is just as enjoyable:

“Al here is my very special prebuilt TT scale layout.

This layout was given to me if I would drive 550 miles one way to pick it up which I did.

A very sweet older lady and her husband were in the military in Germany. This was well before the Berlin wall came down. They would go over and buy TT scale trains periodically and had bought this pre-built layout.

After retirement they came back to the states and settled in Aurora Colorado.

When her husband passed away she had a close friend/relative help her sell the lot.

I bought several pieces of rolling stock when one day she said she had this layout and did not know what to do with it, she thought she would have to toss it, I asked her if she would hold on to it for a month so could come and get it which she did.

Though the track is very dirty right now it is in running condition and very nice.

Does anyone know who might have offered these layouts pre-built like this?

Thanks Al

Dick”

TT scale

TT scale

TT scale

TT scale

TT scale

TT scale

TT scale

TT scale







You’d have to really love trains to drive 550 miles to pick up an old layout.

And fortunately Dick does. He also sent in pics of his garden too – and another great back story too:

“With Spring here, I have brought out the riding train to charge up batteries, get the track gang out to pull weeds and level any rails that need it and regroup the ballast where needed.

In two weeks I will turn 80 years old and I am in good shape for the shape I am in.

Body is not as eager as the brain is to do “stuff’. But do what I can. I now have a new right shoulder which is doing well.

In 2003 I began building the M. E. RR while on chemo fighting a very mean cancer.

Survival was not real good but we made it. This event pushed me to do what I had always wanted to do and that is to build a riding scale railroad in the backyard.

I chose 7.5″ gauge 1.5” scale trains.

I built two Plum Cove Studios Phlatt cars first, I had to wait for trucks for some time. Then next came the very first commercially available box cab electric from Plum Cove studios. A very nice rig with lots of power with a motor on each axle.

With our riding railroad, we have train parties each year weather permitting. Usually the last party may be for Halloween.

The track is groovy track, that is….flat bar set in tie slots. It has been very satisfactory now for 18 years. Contrary to what I was led to believe, I have no wear on my wheels.
Later came another Plum Cove boxcab so now we MU the two electrics.

As you can see, I need to spiffy up everything after the winter dust has settled on all my rolling stock. I have built one turnout so far to go into the train storage garage.

The mainline is only about 240 feet plus the line into the garage. The mainline is shaped as such to add interest.

There is a small grade to climb and is a bit of a thrill to go around the high bank. I also have bought new folding boat seats to install on the flat cars and well cars.

A picture of the dwarf pine is “Harry” named after Harry and the Hendersons.

Because there once was the Montana Western RR, I chose to name this RR the Montana Eastern, only to find out a few years later there really was a Montana Eastern RR owned by James J Hill of Great Northern fame.

Of all my trains and layouts I’ve built, this has been by far the most popular with folks around here.

I have about a 1000 feet of rail with the true rail profile along with 4 more turnouts to build yet. My roundtuit file is full of projects.

I hope this article and pictures might stir some out there to build their outdoor RR which actually can be done without getting a second or third loan on their house.

We have gathering a lot of good memeories involving this railroad.

Sincerely

Dick”

riding train

7.5 inch gauge

7.5 inch gauge

7.5 inch gauge riding train


7.5 inch gauge riding train

7.5 inch gauge riding train

7.5 inch gauge riding train

A huge thanks to Dick for today’s post.

Both of his posts show in spades there is so much more to this hobby than just trains.

That’s all for today folks from Dick, but tomorrow I’m going to share his N scale.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today’s the day you start your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

Best

Al

PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

21 Responses to Dick’s TT scale and garden railroad

  1. Thats a nice garden railway you have built there Dick , one that a lot of us will be envious of …

  2. dan robinson says:

    Love this and still going, strong, and my wife was mad I paid 35.00 bucks for an old set at an auction, some passenger cars and some freight cars and 3 switches, a 3 rail hornby set the box a little beat up. nice work Dick

  3. paul (giddykippa) says:

    the pre made TT looks a bit like what Noch makes certainly the houses are very similar to Vollmer or Kibri houses

  4. Robert Cranfield says:

    Looking good Dick,

    I’d bet that layout is one of the Noch offerings as they did/do quite a number in both N and Z track gauges.

  5. Hoooooo Boy!
    Sooooo much wonderful stuff.
    Dick, Yours is the first premade TT scale layout that I have seen. That said, there have been several premade layouts over the years — All from Germany as far as I know. Robert Cranfield mentioned Noch and their layouts in N and Z. I had an uncle that once had one for N scale that had been made for Rapido. I am familiar with ones made for Marklin and Fleischman as well. Many of these were made for Hobby Shop windows to promote the sale of their model trains.

    Your outdoor railroad is AMAZING. I know that a lot is said about groovy track and wheel wear. The issue is the fillet on the wheels. What I have been learning is that a lot depends on the type of steel or iron that you are using for the rails. Apparently with some varieties of iron or steel that is softer, the wheels will roll a small radius into the rail — this is good!!! The problem is that other steel can have a work hardened edge that wears the wheel instead. There may also be an issue with the iron in some cast wheels that gives Groovy Track its bad reputation.

    Your Plum Cove “Generic Electrics” are the best! You did yourself proud with that paint job and I would bet that they would love to use pictures of your two locomotives for their advertising. I really have seen only one other as well done. Loved seeing the “toybox caboose” I remember when those were popular in the n1970’s but they seem to be getting pretty hard to find now.

    I too have a “backyard/garden railroad” that Al has featured. I am using the Accu-Tie system and have about 150 feet or so of track down right now.

  6. Richard Chapple Sr says:

    John Reynolds….Hi John thanks for the thumbs up. The bar rail I used is cold rolled steel, I used a grinder to round the inside edge of all the rail. I too read all the comments before using groovy, it saved me a fortune in cost at the time. Fortunately I have no evidence at all of wheel wear. Those Fesco cabooses are so cool, I have two of them complete in perfect condition, another rountuit in the drawer to convert these.
    I would enjoy seeing your setup too John.
    Dick

  7. Erick says:

    I always wanted a out side railroad but i would be afraid of the outside element would mess it up.

  8. Johnny Free says:

    Your Garden Railway is Great. I would love to build one in my Yard. With 14 Acres to do it in the Cost is extremely high. Thanks for sharing, It is Great.

  9. Great story. What a well rewarded trip. And I complain because my nearest “G” scale shop is 60 miles away. You didn’t say if any trains were included.

  10. Ruben Simon says:

    Never heard of TT scale before, “teeny, tiny” coming to mind. 😀 Looked it up online and it’s actually a respectable size as “table top”. Learn something new every day! Thanks for sharing, Dick.

  11. Brian Rockey says:

    Inspirational garden railway Dick.
    Brian, Wokingham, UK

  12. Richard Chapple Sr says:

    Hi Carl:
    I had met this lady through her listings of TT trains and rolling stock on ebay. I won as many auctions as I could. Through emails then is how she mention the layout. When I met her in person it was like meeting an old friend, such a swell person. I did acquire a lot of rolling stock, buildings and track from other TT listings as well.

    Hi Eric: My track has been in the elements for 18 years now and no problems at all other than annual weeding, leveling and regrouping ballast. Then I built a storage shed using free wood pallets for the train. I gathered lots of 2 x 4 leftovers for free, ripped them to 2 x 2’s then dado in slots for the rail. My initial cost for the shed, 600 feet of rail, truckload of 1/4″ minus gravel, 2 flat car kits and one boxcab kit totaled about $3000.00.

    Johnny: I would have loved to have your space, wow. I would have spread the cost out over a long period of time and built some track as I could afford it..
    Carl: I know you’ll think I am a real nut, but once I drove to Florida from Montana to bring back a huge garage sale of G scale trains I bought sight unseen. About a 5000 mile trip. Phew!!! Over 20 years ago. It filled my old motorhome and a large UhauI trailer full and hauled it all home. It took 6 days. I am still selling off what I have left which now is just small parts.

  13. La says:

    Regarding Dick’s TT setup…..I’d love to see photos of the trains as well.
    The outdoor RR is great!. I once considered building one but it seemed much too daunting a task. I just put together a small clockwork layout in our Florida house. Not much room there. Have to store it in my bedroom closet when not in use. I took a short video but have no idea how to send it! Love your site. I look forward to it every day. So inspiring! Maybe you do do a short piece on how to submit photos and videos. Larry in Nashville

  14. Jack Repass says:

    what would we store our stuff in if it wasn’t for milk crates?
    What a nice tour! I’m 81 and, due to moving, building my 2nd 3 rail in 50 years. Sold 2 cars so I could use 1/2 the garage for my layout. I’d send pics if I knew how.
    Keep the good stuff coming.
    Jack from Arkansas

  15. Andrew in Oz says:

    Which clock gives the correct time Dick? There appears to be a discrepancy of an hour between the clock on the model and your wall clock!! Best wishes from Down Under

  16. Andrew in Oz says:

    Which clock gives the correct time Dick? There appears to be a discrepancy of an hour between the clock on the model and your wall clock!! Best wishes from Down Under

  17. Peter Braun says:

    Hi Dick !
    I am Peter , live in Southern Alberta and collect European trains , mainly Trix Express and all the others . Somehow I got a TT high board car that is not in sink with my collection . It is Yours if you can get hold of me .

  18. Rod Mackay says:

    We visited Budapest in the late 80s and I came home with a Berlinerbahn boxed set of 0-8-0T loco, two coaches, two wagons, and a motor and trailer railcar set for just £12, along with a few extra wagons and some building kits. A 7’ x 1’ layout, called Kurzhaus, duly followed with a little terminus and a fiddle yard concealed in a mountainside (not a good idea unless you have eyeballs in your fingertips) and won the trophy for best 3mm scale layout in the Bristol show – guess how many TT layouts there were in the show that year? Yep, just mine! Sometimes it pays to be in a niche.
    Berlinerbahn, which also made N gauge trains, was nationalised under communism in East Germany but after the wall came down it was handed back to the original owner, a Mr Zeuke, by then in his eighties I believe. There was some very nice stuff made for TT by Tillig and Roco, but of course at Western prices. Still, it’s a lovely scale, big enough to see clearly and work on, small enough to fit a decent layout in modest spaces.

  19. Richard Chapple Sr says:

    Hi Andrew: Man what a sharp eye for detail. That’s cool…now if I could say my garage straddles two time zones that would explain the clock time difference ..hahaha.
    Rod: interesting info I had forgotten until you shared. I have a lot of Berlinerbahn, Tillig, and some others. I need to look through all of the rolling stock again, take some pictures to post here.
    Ruben: I was 5 years old when TT came into existence in 1946 simultaneously in the USA and abroad. I was enamored by TT when Model Railroader shared an article about a TT model railroad I think in a 1947 issue, not certain without looking it up again. It actually is a really nice size. The introduction of OOO(N scale) really put the brakes on TT in the US. There are still a few TT scale fans out there though.
    La: I will take some pictures of my TT rolling stock and post them.
    Again thank everyone for your comments. Please don’t hesitate to post what you have or are doing with your model railroad hobby.
    Let’s keep Al real busy.
    Dick

  20. Susan Cannon says:

    Dick: I have a ton of “roundtuits” in my drawer if you are in need of one. Ha ha! Thanks so much for sharing! I am in total envy of your outdoor set. We will be moving to mountainous North Carolina later this year, so I will have to admire your outdoor layout from afar. Meaning our land is too steep to have any sort of layout outside. Best wishes for continued healthy operation!!

  21. Ernest Neill says:

    It was 1949 when my mother, God rest her soul, asked me if I wanted to see the open house of the new streamliner. Well, I was beside myself and couldn’t wait until we took the bus from Albany, California to Emeryville just outside of Oakland. When we got off the bus, there she was: The California Zephyr with diesel engines and vista dome cars. Mom said: “Wouldn’t you like to take a trip on this train.” Oh Boy! Would I. The next year Mom, my sister and I watched our train pull into the Western Pacific station in Oakland, and we climbed on board on our way to Chicago. I was six years old. And still, at the age of 76, i regard that trip as one of the great highlghts of my life. BTW, the WP route we took through the Feather River Canyon, cannot be matched anywhere in the world.

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