Micro Layouts for Ease of Moving
This HO scale micro layout was one of 3 proposed to be built to replace the Dolton / Illinook / Blue Island / Barr layout. With the possibility of an impending move some time 2020, I decided that it would be best to minimise the layout moving stress and dismantle the previous modules in favour of some smaller and easier to move modules.
The “Petra Pizza” is a 600mm x 600mm square layout, with a single circle of track, with mountainous scenery, and very tight curves (for HO scale). It represents a small quarry branch to a small fictional town called Petra somewhere in Maryland, which is also the location of a quarry which is the main industry on the layout.
The curves on the layout are around 11 inches on average (which means there are some parts of the circle tighter than that)! You might be tempted to think this limits the cars and locos that can run on it. Well, it does. But not as much as you might think. As far as motive power, a Bachmann DCC Onboard EMD GP 4 axle loco works ok, and the shorter wheelbase Alco S series switcher also works ok. As far as rollingstock, I have some 22 foot mineral hoppers and 40 foot open hoppers which serve the quarry, some 40 foot MOW cars which run as a tourist train, and some other carefully selected 40 foot cars that can handle the tight curves.
I am hoping to purchase a small Plymouth switcher to operate the branch, as it will look a lot more at home than the longish GP locos.
Operating a layout that is just a circle of track might seem somewhat boring. But I have worked out a relatively interesting way of operating it none the less. A train including some open / mineral hoppers starts off somewhere on the layout away from the stone loader, representing Petra Junction, the place of interchange with a class 1 railroad. The train is started, and makes it’s way up the mountains, passing through many tunnels, for a set number of minutes, then it arrives at the Petra stone loader. At this point the train crew has to align each hopper under the stone loader so they can be loaded. Once all cars are loaded, any extra cars (eg box cars or fuel tankers) are moved to the trackside shed / depot a little way from the stone loader for unloading. Once that is done, the train starts again back to Petra Junction.
The operation of the weekly MOW cars as a tourist train is operated in a similar way, starting at the Petra Junction depot, and running to Petra depot up in the mountains. But instead of stopping for each cra to be loaded under the Petra stone loader each car has to be stopped in front of the Petra depot due to the high rainfall causing undergrowth to grow just about everywhere except in front of the depot.