January 30, 2009

Origins of the Layout Idea

I have always been fascinated with the railroads in the American Civil war (ACW) . In the past, I tried to build ACW themed model RRs in N and HO scale, but in both cases was stymied by the lack of available motive power. In my first project, I hand laid stub turnouts in N Scale using soldered pc ties. These worked well, at least if I ran diesels. The N Scale 4-4-0 locomotives had trouble running on straight track, let alone a stub turnout. I tried HO and even developed a line of freight cars for sale
through my company Alkem Scale Models, but still could not find suitable, good running and nicely detailed locomotives for early 1860s.

I built this HO scale diorama for the Lyceum, the Alexandria City Museum. But it was a non-operational display model for their permanent collection.

While I love scratch building, having to make all the locomotives for the layout was more than I wished to tackle. The situation changed when Dave Schneider starting developing and importing his line of exquisite O scale 4-4-0 locomotives and freight cars www.smrtrains.com . At first I resisted purchasing any of these beauties as I reasoned that I did not have room in my house for an O Scale layout. Heck, I had hard enough time with N in that space. But, as Dave released more locomotives, I could no longer resist the urge. Over the past two years I have purchased a pair of 4-4-0 locomotives, with a third on order.


Aside from the locomotives, one of the appealing factors for this project to me is that just about everything for the layout will have to be scratch built. There are very few commercial kits and parts available that are suitable for very early railroads. But, I am a modeler at heart, so the opportunity to build more models actually excited me and I did not view it as a deterrent.