What inspires you?

WFOJeff Jan 26, 2017

  1. WFOJeff

    WFOJeff TrainBoard Member

    I see many Model railroad enthusiasts have names of areas/junctions/towns and such that they share in conversations and photos-unknown to me if these names are what you come up with or are copying a real-life scenario.

    Since I am now in the process of building a new layout does anyone have suggestions if not modeling a copy of real world?
  2. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

    Suggestion: Model a fictitious MRRing world..Design your RR making main line curves wide as is possible and track furthest from bench edge as possible (not less than about 3-5 inches, and keep grades as shallow as pos. (below 2.5-3%). Grades on curves add drag to train and will cause train to 'see' a 3.5-5% grade and slip..Use switches on the main with most acute diverging route as pos. (#6 OK and common. #8 and up better). All polarity reversing track must be found in plan, gapped and wired correctly. Finally, if in HO, use code 83 or lower for rail height..Atlas code 100 is archaic and ties are out of scale..If N scale Atlas 55 is OK.....M
  3. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    My road is a freelance line, and town names and points on the line are ones that strike my fancy. They're not goofy, but have historic reference and meaning to me. Like many modelers have done, a number of my lineside industries are named after friends.

    Although the industry isn't on my road, a friend replicated the famous 84 Lumber red ball, but created 42 Lumber instead with a small sign below reading We're Half As Good.
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  4. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

    Originally I was designing a proto-freelance layout and I was pulling names from the towns around the area I was trying to replicate. I wouldn't recommend that as I knew what those towns looked like. My friends knew what they looked like too and we all knew some didn't connect. After a while I ended up abandoning that and going the straight prototype route.

    I liked the Tony Koester approach of finding a route on a map that wasn't being used by a railroad and filling in a backstory. That way you have real town names to use, but no formal reality to follow.
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  5. montanan

    montanan TrainBoard Member

    My layout is also a freelane layout. I grew up with relatives working on both the Milwaukee Road and the Northern Pacific and had the opportunity to have ridden in the cabs. I was hooked at an early age.

    With the space I had available, I really couldn't do justice to even a part of a subdivision of either railroad so freelancing was the solution for me.

    I chose to model the area right where I live connecting to both the Northern Pacific and the Milwaukee Road. This way power from both railroad could show up on the layout. I chose to model the transition era, 1957 to be exact as I enjoy both steam and first generation diesels. The towns on the layout are actual towns but using a bit of modelers license, I modeled what COULD HAVE BEEN if the railroad had existed, using industries that either did or could have existed in this time period.
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  6. WFOJeff

    WFOJeff TrainBoard Member

    That's a lot of great insight, helps me to be creative going forward. Much appreciated folks !!
  7. Tom L

    Tom L TrainBoard Member

    I Model a prototype railroad in a un-prototype world! My rolling stock is accurate to my time period and things like cabooses and stations are scratchbuilt to match my prototype, but the locations are fictitious. I spend a lot of time looking a proto photos and then try to replicate the general look o f my time period and general area.

    I chose Midwest, late fifties, secondary mainlines/branchline through small towns because after years of reading about railroads, those are the ones that are most interesting to me.

    I guess th only advice I would give is to, at minimum, pick a time period and stick to it. Nothing ruins the illusion, to me, than running equipment from wildly different eras together.

    Tom L
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  8. dalebaker

    dalebaker TrainBoard Member

    I found a good candidate recently for a fictional railroad based on an actual historical route. Long ago, along Route 66 going west out of Amarillo Texas there was a rail line. It served small towns like Adrian and Vega Texas as well as others. There are grain elevators, bulk fuel and other customers that would need rail service. The rails are now gone but the towns and elevators and such still remain. This could be a good candidate for a line if you have the room.

    My uncle grew up out there in the depression and dust bowl days, his stories are quite interesting. If I had the room, I'd love to do it. BNSF is in Amarillo with quite a large yard. That would be a good starting point then going west to New Mexico.

    Look around, there all kinds of places like that. Good luck!
    WFOJeff likes this.
  9. jdetray

    jdetray TrainBoard Member

    The late, great John Allen was the master of clever (some call it "corny") nomenclature, and he has served as in inspiration for me. My layout uses a modified track plan from his original Gorre & Daphetid (gory and defeated) Railroad, where trains ran through the Helengon Gap.

    - Jeff
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  10. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Here in Central Illinois, we have a town called Cimic...where the Chicago & Illinois Midland and the IC crossed.

    On my layout, the 1970s era (prototype) Peoria and Pekin Union Rwy, I've modeled the 4 major cities served by the P&PU on the upper deck and 13 cities throughout the midwest that sent trains to the Peoria and Pekin area in the 1970s. The lower deck cities are connected by a regional mainline, but I've divided it into subdivisions, some of which are named for the RRs that use the mainline in that portion of the lower deck:
    Norwit Sub = Norfolk and Western + Illinois Terminal
    Pesfic = Peoria and Eastern + Santa Fe + Illinois Central
    Peic = Peoria and Eastern + Illinois Central
    Peic used to be Pandeic = P and E + IC but, since I'm lazy, I shortened it up to Peic because it was easier/quicker to type on my forms and write in smaller boxes.

    I've given the name, Highland, to the sub serving the partially hidden staging yard in Decker Montana (where many of the BN coal trains coming to the Peoria and Pekin area originated in the 1970s) and the visible staging yard in Terre Haute Indiana (representing a PRR/NYC/Penn Central source of traffic). (Terre Haute is French for high ground or high land).

    Other regional subs are named for a single city along that portion of the regional main that I'm modeling trains coming from (Galesburg, South Pekin, Allentown). I've used actual town names found in RR atlases or RR system maps to label some of the points or junctions along my regional main (Emory, Rowell, Kenney); and named my ficticious Knox Jct just east of my Galesburg Yard, after the real Knox County and Knoxville city east of the real Galesburg Illinois.

    I've also named my 4 helixes:
    The Kellar Helix leads to my rendition of the actual Rock Island's Kellar Branch that used to run up to the north part of Peoria before being converted to a bike path/trail.
    The entire Peoria Helix is named Pimiteoui Sub (native Indian name for parts of the Peoria area) and I've shortened the name into Pimi Jct for that part of the helix that connects my major yard with the regional main. Other sections of the Peoria Helix are named for towns (Union), roads or townships (Camp, Radnor, Adams, Molitor), and actual railroad labels used to describe tracks in the south part of Peoria (Highline, Lowline, Long).
    The Bartonville helix is named the Tuscarora block after a road in the area between the prototype PPU's actual blocks of Moffat and Wolschlag. On my layout, the B'ville Helix (Tuscarora) connects Moffat on the upper deck with Wolschlag on the lower deck.
    On my layout, the Pekin Helix is just a little south of downtown Pekin, so I called it Schaeffer, a shortened version of the real Schaefferville Township which is located on the south side of the real Pekin.
    WFOJeff likes this.
  11. mrnosal

    mrnosal TrainBoard Member

    I'm pretty sure I read this advice in Model Railroader a few years back. You should write a little backstory for your railroad - where is it located, what time period is it set in? Why does that location even have a railroad? What businesses does it serve? What's the daily timetable like? Make it fairly detailed, but above all, make it consistent. This will give you a much more realistic setting for your model, and will help you avoid incongruities or anachronisms in your model, such as putting a steel plant next to your dairy farms, or building a Grand Central Station in a Podunk town. Refer to this history often as you choose what locomotives, rolling stock and buildings to use.

  12. Ocklawaha

    Ocklawaha New Member

    Wanting to model Florida's big four railroads in the early diesel (pre-merger) era left me little choice unless I wanted to recreate Jacksonville Terminal and there was no way I could even get a close to believable 500+ turnouts, cross-overs and 29 station tracks... I found a solution when I ran across the history of the Ocklawaha Valley Railroad, the only other road to connect with ACL, SAL, FEC, GS&F (SOU). Trouble is the little road was a hard-luck shortline and it was pulled up illegally in 1923. So enter the story board idea, loyal Baldwin Customer, a story of closure, salvation and reopening, becoming something of a 1950's early 60's small industry magnet, Silver Springs still creates a pre-Disney passenger load and interchange and the bridge route gives me an excuse to run darn near anything 1960... alas ''tis all in boxes now," but a new house is rising and who knows, the OV's Babyface and VO's may rumble again...

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