Rob’s new layout

“Hi Al,

As you may remember you have posted a number of my works on your site under the Farland Howe title. In addition to Farland, I have also been working on an N scale project.

I only had a tiny area I could work in so I settled for a 2 foot by 16 foot layout. I ended up extending the the 180 degree curves at both ends beyond the width of the table, however. It turned out the 11 inch radius curves I bought at my local hobby store were not big enough to accommodate longer locomotives or rolling stock as they climbed up a 3/4 inch incline and made the 180 degree curve.

It was not a real problem and I solved it. Larger locomotives run around the layout with ease now. They do this only on the outside track with it’s big curves. The inner track was originally supposed to be a trolley line or interurban line. I had two problems with that concept. One, I could never find Interurban electric cars to my liking and the ones I did buy were not very reliable. I had hopes of making new bodies that were more to my liking but with undercarriages being unreliable I decided to punt and made it my steam line and have a little Baldwin 4-6-0 making merry loops around the layout pulling some freight cars while I run the bigger trains on the outer loop.

Very early on I decided I wanted the track to return around behind the backdrop or back scene instead of having two visible loops in front of it. That way you could always be surprised when a train showed up out of nowhere. I built scenery at both ends to hide the end of the table and to help with the mystery of “where did the train go.”

The intent was to show trains running along parallel to and in front of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and out 15 miles or so from the actual mountains. I wanted the fore ground to represent a somewhat barren and partly desert landscape with a little higher elevation and greener areas as well. I pretty much wanted to show everything I know about Colorado on the layout at the same time.

Learning to work in N scale was quite difficult at first. My instincts for the relative size of things was well developed for Farland, but this N scale stuff was a different beast entirely. It is also difficult to see things like fish plates/rail connectors at this scale and found myself using magnifying glasses quite a bit, but eventually I learned the skills needed for N scale pretty well.

I guess my greatest victory was when I cut into the already ballasted mainline track to insert a turnout without destroying the track I wanted to keep. It worked well and I was able to add a siding for a newly acquired grain elevator.

Finally I had great fun and enjoyment painting mountains on my backdrop/back scene.

1 layout backdrop
Here it is seen from the right end.

2 farm scenery for layout
Here is the grain elevator.

3 railroad bridge
My narrow cut.

4 railroad river
The inner and outer loop share a bridge over the river.

main station
My main station.

Here is a little video showing some painting and running of the trains.



Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

A huge thanks to Rob – and I’m pleased to announce he’ll be the latest member in the Hall of Fame, in the next day or so.

(There’s also another new member too – who I’ve been meaning to add for some time now).

Don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if Rob’s inspired you to get off the armchair and have a go – after all, that’s what it’s all about.

That’s all this time, folks. Please do keep ’em coming.

Best

Al



16 responses to “Rob’s new layout”

  1. James Malins says:

    Very Good. I particularly admire the river; you can almost hear the water rushing through.

  2. Ken C says:

    Rob, I could not tell that you haven’t been an n scaler for years. Very well done and an exacting eye for scaling scenery details. Welcome to n scale!

  3. Pete says:

    While I will be modeling ho scale, this layout is very nicely done!

  4. Joe Howe says:

    Alastair — This fellow Rob McCrain is a four-dimensional artist! He makes the layout in three dimensions then somehow creates a fourth dimension of ambience of another time and another place! Amazing! I had no idea (well, I have no ideas about most of this!) that N-Gauge could afford so much opportunity! Thanks, especially, for the excellent video! The article put me in mind of Gulliver’s Travels, with Rob’s 1940s Burlington Silver Bullet and 1920s Baldwin 4-6-0 freight consist having driven out from behind his mountain into the Land of Lilliput! First time I’ve thought of Gulliver in probably 70 years! Thanks, Rob and thanks, Alistair! Joe

  5. KR says:

    Terrific scenery! I envy your painting skills. I’ve had problems finding mid 20th century vehicles in N scale… Can anyone recommend a source?

  6. Harvey Kahler says:

    Beautiful work, especially the grain elevator scene.

    The tracks coming together at the bridge brought to mind the parallel WP and SP mains in Utah, albeit with separate bridges and tunnels. The WP painted everything a funky light blue,

  7. Chuck Bartunek says:

    I really like this layout,simple and neat,easy to detail.

  8. ted grimm says:

    I had same problem with turns being to tight some years back. Found 19″ radius is good for most trains in n scale. I am getting ready to create a layout with 2′ by 4′ sections in a L 10′ long and 4′ long leg.

  9. d j howarth says:

    Good work Robv , been watching you with the progress on the Colorado layout , it sure has progressed good …Dangerous Dave

  10. Cornell Carr says:

    Just wanted to say “thank you” for this web site and to all my model railroading brothers for all their tips, ideas, and insights. I learn so much from people like Rob and have used the concepts I get on my layout.

  11. being an N scale modeler my self , I would say fantastic work of art Rob !
    Although I do not yet have DCC plans for my tinny layout I am still trying to
    talk the wife (oops) Boss into allowing a space for it and an expansion on both ends that will come later ? I might have to empty my shed out and put in some form of heating system for winter time to relies the expansion idea I hope to be able to do things before I pass on !
    I am loving the work every one is doing with their trains here !
    George

  12. mark st john says:

    yeeeow Rob wotta kooool layout….
    I look at alla your McFarland vids and you are a master train layout builder
    you have the best detail ever water rocks especially ‘scenes’… all of it
    that N gauge stuff is really cool but waaay too small for my old eyes and hands
    great layout again Rob
    keep ’em runnin fellas
    stjohn in long beach calif

  13. Ian Mc Donald says:

    enjoyed the how to on painting the back drop. the video very nice .certainly a pleasure to watch plenty of tips, great craftsman. thanks for sharing.

  14. John Reynolds says:

    Very nice and makes me want to consider N-scale…

  15. Clay Short says:

    Rob, to have a fraction of your artistic expertise and craftsmanship. I am working
    on it. Great layout. It was fun to watch. Will keep the video for a little while.

  16. A great job well done. I believe I can use some of your ideas for my layout. I’m using the middle to late 1860’s to 1900.

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