A left over piece of MDF, some inexpensive HO scale Brazilian models, and some extruded polystyrene foam means another micro model railway layout with many firsts.
A left over piece of MDF produced the idea for “Yet Another Micro Layout”. My youngest daughter recently acquired a new bunk bed for her room, and wanted a place to do some painting without painting on the walls of her room. My wife purchase a large piece of MDF for that purpose, and had it cut to size at the hardware store, and a 1200 x 240mm piece of MDF and a few extra pieces about 70mm deep, were left over. My wife specifically said to me “can you use these for a model railway”. Of course I can, I thought!
But how to use it? I perused the various eBooks by the late Carl Arendt until I settled on an expanded and customised track plan based on the “Tramways de Chamies-Les Thurs” track plan in the “Creating Micro Layouts” eBook. That track plan is only about 600mm x 300mm, whereas the track plan I will be using will cover 1200 x 240mm.
The next thing to do was to decide on a prototype / theme. I had thought of a tram / streetcar layout like that suggested for the “Tramways de Chamies-Les Thurs” track plan in the eBook, with the possibility of a Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) Tram layout. But in the end I settled on a Brazilian themed layout.
The reason for this is that I have a limited budget, and a Melbourne Tram model was over $250 (Australian) – a huge chunk out of my model railway budget. I had previously come across the Frateschi HO scale models, made in Brazil. So I did some research about them and from what I read they seem like reasonable models, and very reasonably priced. I went onto ebay, and found a model of a Brazilian G22 Bo-Bo diesel electric locomotive with an RFFSA (Rede Ferroviária Federal, Sociedade Anônima) paint scheme which is about 7 inches long, for $99. And so I purchased it. To make the most use of available space, I purchased 2 Peco short radius Y turnouts to minimise the space needed for the layout’s switchbacks. The combination the reasonably short locomotive and Y turnouts should give me some space to also have up to 2 freight cars attached to the locomotive to able to move through the switchbacks on the layout.
Not only is this the first Brazilian themed layout I have built but it is also the first one where I employed multi-use foam board (called XPS insulation board) which is very similar to extruded foam board used in the USA. Because of the use of XPS foam board, it is also likely to be the first layout that I use no nails or screws on!
Rather than the layout being a passenger switch-back between multiple tram stops like the original “Tramways de Chamies-Les Thurs” track plan, this layout will be a freight switching layout, with a small 2 track yard, the switch backs, and various industries on the different legs of the switch backs. This should give a fair amount of operational interest in a micro layout space. Because the RFFSA only operated between 1957 and 1999, and the layout will be run with an EMD G22 diesel rather than steam motive power, the era is fairly well defined to between 1967 (when the G22 was introduced) and 1999. This era is about the same as the other model layouts I have, and is purposely broad to allow for the use of more types of rollingstock. A well as the locomotive, I also purchased some Frateschi rollingstock: a reefer, covered hopper and boxcar.
After testing the G22 locomotive and rollingstock on one of my other layouts, I am quite impressed with the quality and running ability of the Frateschi models I purchased. I’m particularly impressed that the locomotive and 3 cars cost less than $200 (Australian) total, that the locomotive is all-wheel drive and all-wheel electrical pickup, and that the cars have metal wheels and are reasonably close coupled when connected together.