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Tehachapi Pass in 600sqft (N scale)
Posted by ChrisKLAS
on Sunday, April 28, 2013 10:00 PM
This is my first post to these forums and, firstly, I'd like to thank everyone here for providing an invaluable resource to everyone in the hobby. I've had a great time reading back through older posts, checking out other folks' designs for inspiration, etc.
First, a little background on myself - I am 32 years old and live in Las Vegas, NV. I started modeling in HO scale around the age of 7 or 8 but got away from the hobby, outside of visiting train shows or clubs every so often, when I moved west in 2003. Fortunately, life is settling down at this point and I'm ready to dive back into the hobby (full-bore, as you'll see).
As some of you may know, we don't have basements out here in the dessicated desert, so space can be an issue. I'm fortunate enough to have the use of all three bays of a 20x30ft climate controlled (two AC units - yes, it does get really hot here!) garage.
The layout will be set in the Spring of 1994, allowing me not only to run a cool mix of power ranging from torn, tattered SP tunnel motors to gleaming new ATSF Warbonnet GEs, but also to cover the imposing hills around the Tehachapi Pass in their resplendent green that's only present for about 6 weeks every year from March to April. Manned helpers will also be a big part of the railroad since DPU power was still mostly a pipe-dream in '94.
My primary interest is heavy-duty mainline running - long(ish) trains, meets, etc. Local jobs and switching is much less of an interest, but I do still enjoy it (and know other operators will, too) so there's a much industry as I could fit prototypically between Mojave and Bakersfield, such as the produce packing plants at Magunden and the death plant (as we call it) at Monolith. To be honest, though, my interest in building this layout rests as much in the construction process as running trains; I just love creating pretty, twisting mainline running through pretty scenery and detailed city/landscape scenes. Running trains is a bonus!
The plan is to use Atlas code 55 track and turnouts with a minimum mainline curve radius of 24 inches. Minimum mainline turnout will be #10, #7 in yards and industries. The layout height ranges from 39-66" above the floor; benchwork will be L-girder and simple shelves in a few places, and will be the only aspect of the layout's construction that I will have professionally completed for me (I am acutely aware of my lack of carpentry skills, and I don't want to lose a hand, or worse). The layout is 2/3 stacked levels in places, and trackage on the attached plan is segregated by color. Track heights (above the floor) are noted on the plan in the corresponding color font. Layout will be DCC of course, with automatic block detection (resistored-wheelsets) and a fully functioning searchlight signal system (prototypical for the SP in 1994).
As with all projects, there are some drawbacks to the plan. The siding at Rowen is missing. Cliff and Woodford have been combined to make one siding (N Cliff at one end, S Woodford at the other). As much as I'd love an even longer mainline run (this one is an eyelash over 13 scale miles) and a more prototypically correct line, I couldn't find a place for everything, and S Cliff/Rowen/N Woodford are amongst the most inaccessible portions of the real pass, with little comparative notoriety as a result. I wanted to include the far more famous locations such as the horseshoe curve at Caliente, tunnel 2, Bealville, Cliff, tunnels 14-17 along hwy 58, and, of course, Walong itself.
All that said, here's the plan I've come up with so far. This will obviously be my last layout for some time, so PLEASE feel free to pick it apart, and let me hear everything I've done wrong! I'm very open to suggestions and critiques which will lead to less regrets, and more fun down the road!