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Multiple era modeling

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Multiple era modeling
Posted by gdelmoro on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 5:51 AM

Has anyone built a model railroad of lets say the transition era so that the scenery and structures are appropriate for both the 1950's and the 1990's?

The idea is to remove all the 1950's locomotives, rolling stock and other obvious details that would not be sceen in one era and replace the 1950's stuff with 1990's locos, etc. when you want to operate in a newer era.

Great excuse to buy more locomotives and rolling stock! 

Have I lost my mind??   Tongue Tied

Gary

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Posted by peahrens on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 6:41 AM

I model UP in HO and add whatever locos I like, from a 2-6-2 Prairie (maybe an older camelback) to Dash 9s and SD70 range.  It's just how I prefer to approach the hobby.

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 7:22 AM

 

We can probably leave out of this discussion scenes from places like Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, or the plains states where 'nothing changed because nothing changes'.

I lived in Tenafly, New Jersey, which had much of that quality from the late 1950s (when we moved there from Manhattan) into at least the early '90s. -- one of the biggest things changing being precisely the kind of rail traffic and equipment.  It was very probably similar in the years of transition from steam to diesel on the Erie Northern Branch... which I missed by comparatively little. 

The same could be said of some parts of Englewood, the city to the south.  The original cluster of buildings serving the 'broker' community on the East Hill, entered around the Western Union office, stayed as if frozen in time while both residential and commercial development focused elsewhere.  So I learned early and firsthand the value of building once to suit an evolving 'story' of equipment and service.

One key here is to be aware of 'period' touches that can be used to update scenes and buildings relatively easily if you want to 'swap eras'.  Vehicles of course, but also signage, products in show windows, types of renovation or new construction.  You can model real life, where the basic earth scenery and civil layout of a city stays the same but the buildings on certain lots change... it is interesting to watch the ways houses and lots change over time as children are born, grow up, and ultimately leave, for instance; it tells the sorts of stories that can bring an added layer of 'life' to what is otherwise mostly like snapshots even on the most classic of 'human interest' layouts like G&D or CML.

 

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 7:25 AM

We can probably leave out of this discussion scenes from places like Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, or the plains states where 'nothing changed because nothing changes' except the trains rolling by.

I lived in Tenafly, New Jersey, which had much of that unchanging quality from the late 1950s (when we moved there from Manhattan) into at least the early '90s. -- one of the biggest things changing being precisely the kind of rail traffic and equipment.  It was very probably similar in the years of transition from steam to diesel on the Erie Northern Branch... which I missed by comparatively little. 

The same could be said of some parts of Englewood, the city to the south.  The original cluster of buildings serving the 'broker' community on the East Hill, centered around the Western Union office, stayed as if frozen in time while both residential and commercial development focused elsewhere.  So I learned early and firsthand the value of building once to suit an evolving 'story' of equipment and service.

One key here is to be aware of 'period' touches that can be used to update scenes and buildings relatively easily if you want to 'swap eras'.  Vehicles of course, but also signage, products in show windows, types of renovation or new construction.   While probably not 'simple', adding typical '80s cable clutter to street wiring quietly establishes a date era when other  details might be largely unaltered. 

You can model real life, where the basic earth scenery and civil layout of a city stays the same but the buildings on certain lots change... it is interesting to watch the ways houses and lots change over time as children are born, grow up, and ultimately leave, for instance; it tells the sorts of stories that can bring an added layer of 'life' to what is otherwise mostly like snapshots even on the most classic of 'human interest' layouts like G&D or CML.

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 10:13 AM

If you model small towns with brick, wood, and, stone buildings it is easy to claim any era from the 1940s through the 2000s.

As long as there are no 1960s houses, 1970s fast food drive throughs, 1980s office buildings, 2000s McMansions, or other type of buildings that set a "begin date", there is no problem.

Just change out the automobiles and switch the railroad equipment.

Watch for anachronisms like movie titles on theaters, prices in store windows, or "Vote For Ike" billboards. Leave these off.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by gdelmoro on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 11:18 AM

Once i complete the installation of buildings I think I'll consider the rest of the layout scenes so that operation in several eras is possible if i can afford to do it.

Sometimes   My 'eyes are bigger than my stomach' if you get what I mean.

Gary

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Posted by Motley on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 11:29 AM

I plan to do exactly the same for my new layout. I'm gonna swap out all the equipment, 1950s and 1980s and 2020's. My focus will be D&RGW 1989. Half of my layout is scenery/mountains. And rail yard will include turntable/roundhouse and modern deisel house.

Oh I know what you mean, I have the same problem, I like everything.

Michael


CEO-
Mile-HI-Railroad
Prototype: D&RGW Moffat Line 1989

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 11:37 AM

My layout has to be reassembled after a divorce and move, but yes, that's the idea.  I've always been Late Transition Era, but I started adding stuff from the 1930s so I could have an excuse for steam.

I've picked up a few steamers, plus a number of obviously older box cars with high brakewheels on vertical shafts.  I've assembled some Jordan vehicle kits, ad I have a few more in waiting.  I have replacement structure kits for a few obviously newer buildings, too.  I've got a set of gas pumps for the gas station for easy era.

I don't worry about built-in dates, and I don't seek out era-appropriate people, but between locos, rolling stock and vehicles I think I get the sense of era across pretty well.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by snjroy on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 12:03 PM

Yeah, I cheat a lot on era. Modelling rural areas and short lines help a bit to broaden the time span. I model the 30s through to late 50s. In addition to a short line, I also model Canadian Pacific, that was a late adopter of diesel (they had a 4-4-0 run until 1960!). I have a logging line, that used older engines as well. But I also have more modern equipment that I run at the local club during operations nights and open-door events, in addition to a few "fun engines", like a Big Boy, a military train, Harry Potter and Thomas, that get zero runnning time at home. 

It's not about being insane, it's about having fun!

Simon

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Posted by angelob6660 on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 12:50 PM

Well I'm picking a few locations that rarely changes on the New York Central/ Conrail layout. A river with abandoned textile building, decorated art deco bridge crossing a highway. (If might get replaced with something more modern.) A NYC switch tower which stood watching trains goes by now a boarded up building.

Some buildings will interchangeable off and on replacing one or two. Like the switch tower, the city's train station destroyed for a new Amtrak style station.

Making the passenger car stub end facility/maintenance yard into a small freight yard in the late years of NYC. Also the yard needs to be converted back if it's backdated. 

Tracks: hoping for a 3 track mainline into 2. Since Conrail removed unnecessary rails.

Modeling the G.N.O. Railway, The Diamond Route.

Amtrak America, 1971-Present.

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Posted by angelob6660 on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 1:27 PM

Burlington Northern/ BNSF

Pine Spears is a small town in Washington state that has little growth. It's basically a two door design N scale layout half of which is the yard, with two industries, town, tunnel, and incline making up the mountains. Perfect little layout. Locomotive helpers, mainline traffic, nonstop Amtrak Empire Builder. 

The only thing that didn't make it was the man made lake.

Modeling the G.N.O. Railway, The Diamond Route.

Amtrak America, 1971-Present.

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Posted by Engi1487 on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 1:54 PM

Overmod

You can model real life, where the basic earth scenery and civil layout of a city stays the same but the buildings on certain lots change... it is interesting to watch the ways houses and lots change over time as children are born, grow up, and ultimately leave, for instance; it tells the sorts of stories that can bring an added layer of 'life' to what is otherwise mostly like snapshots even on the most classic of 'human interest' layouts like G&D or CML.

 



A triple era layout, mostly focausing on scenery and genertic towns and citys with little changing buildings is soemthing I wish to do and plan an idea for Overmod, athough I am figuring out how. Know of any multi era layouts that where featured and shown in Model Railroader Magazines history?
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Posted by Lastspikemike on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 2:02 PM

There was a very interesting article in MRR a few months ago about building interchangeable scenic modules. The UK modellers do this frequently especially with space limited layouts. You get to build more buildings that way plus if you change the "industry" with the module you change operations as well. In June issue I think there is a great article about a mountain RR from the Pacific NW which used a similar idea for access lift outs. Carefully done even mountain scenery can be cut to lift out. Using the same are almost any section of a layout could be built to utilize this method to change the era. 

It shouldn't be difficult to adapt this idea for multiple era modelling.

This is similar to modular layout but the track and its underlying support stay in place. What changes is a piece of scenery, usually with buildings on it and sometimes replacement track which fits into a footprint space recessed into your base layout support. You create a footprint base for each interchangeable set of buildings, track and scenery. Lift one footprint base out and slip the new one in. 

We're planning on using a variation of this because we need to be able to keep the layout profile down to about 5" high in case we need to change locations on short notice. Most buildings and some scenery will need to be built to lift out easily while fitting tightly enough so as not to move and to look the part, so to speak.

This also facilitates modellers who wish to keep building but have no space for a bigger layout. Changing eras with the modules  should be simple.

 

 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 3:50 PM

Most of my layout would've been suitable for the late '50s and very early '60s, but that's not a time that holds much interest for me, so I backdated my layout to the "late '30s" (with a few anachronisms).
This involved selling-off most of my diesels and streamlined passenger cars, and a bunch of too-modern freight cars. 
However, I re-detailed, re-painted, and re-lettered several dozen freight cars into older versions, mostly using the original roadnames...

...while some cars simply received new re-weigh and BLT. data to backdate them, like this Espee boxcar...

...however, after a little research, I learned that the Athearn car, shown above, could be made into a very acceptable-looking model of a prototype car actually built in the late '30s...

I've found that researching these older cars is very enjoyable, and it's even more enjoyable modelling them, as I now have a pretty good library of books about these older cars.

Wayne

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Posted by Da Stumer on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 8:57 PM

I recall reading an MR article about a dual era layout maybe five or six years ago. It had modern day BNSF along with narrow gauge Rio Grande steam. They were mostly separate parts of the layout, but there was an interchange area if I recall correctly.

I’m trying to figure out how I can do a multi era and country layout, but I think I’m probably pushing it with that.

-Peter. Mantua collector, 3D printing enthusiast, Korail modeler.

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Posted by gdelmoro on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 6:15 AM

Thanks for all the replies!

It seems this plan is feasible. Thanks for the pictures and info about other layouts.  

This opens up a whole new prospect for my model railroading.

Anyone who is operating in the multiple era scheme please post photos and more information about what and how you do it.

Gary

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Posted by kasskaboose on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 12:05 PM

Doesn't local economics play a role about whether an industry gets remodelled?  It seems that some buildings are still rail-served despite being 50+ years old.  Thoughts?

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 2:54 PM

FWIW I had an article about this published in RMC back in 1983, "The Fast Time Calendar". There have been people who alternate eras just by running steam engines one session and diesels the next, leaving everything else the same, but my idea was that you would model say 1940 for a year, then take a few days or so (maybe between Xmas and New Years?) to update everything - autos, rolling stock, billboards -  and for the next year model 1952...then the next year, 1964, etc. Kinda like a 12-to-1 'fast time' clock extended to the calendar.

Stix
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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 5:16 PM

Many of these "rail spur" buildings hardly changed at all during their useful life often because the ROW restricted space on the land so redevelopment of the site made no sense. Changing the apparent use or era can be as simple as a sign change. 

kasskaboose

Doesn't local economics play a role about whether an industry gets remodelled?  It seems that some buildings are still rail-served despite being 50+ years old.  Thoughts?

 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 6:07 PM

kasskaboose

Doesn't local economics play a role about whether an industry gets remodelled?  It seems that some buildings are still rail-served despite being 50+ years old.  Thoughts?

 

IMO, most buildings on a layout could stay.  Maybe swap out a 50s 60s diner with a modern Taco Bell, or replace an old textile mill with a modern concrete warehouse, etc.  Other small details would have to be swapped, or avoid having too many of them in the first place.

I think it comes down to mainly locos and rolling stock.

- Douglas

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Posted by Paul3 on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 7:45 PM

IIRC, The Model Railroad Club of Union City, NJ models a different era every month.  In January, they start with all steam.  Each month they add newer models and remove older ones until by December, they are modeling modern day.  I've also heard they switch out old brick and stone buildings with modern sheet metal and concrete ones to update the layout looks.

When January comes back around, they back date the entire layout back to old steam, and do it all over again.

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Posted by gdelmoro on Thursday, August 6, 2020 5:48 AM

kasskaboose

Doesn't local economics play a role about whether an industry gets remodelled?  It seems that some buildings are still rail-served despite being 50+ years old.  Thoughts?

 

 
 
YES! Another reality that helps the concept 

Gary

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Posted by gdelmoro on Thursday, August 6, 2020 5:50 AM

Wjstix - Thats another good idea.

THANKS

Gary

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Posted by gdelmoro on Thursday, August 6, 2020 6:04 AM

Thanks for all the comments and ideas.  

My railroad is set in the Virginia mountains and has track that runs out to the bay. There's not a lot of city type structures. There's a large farm area, a small port and adjacent country town, a logging operation, sorting yard and roundhouse/turntable and engine facility so I should be in good shape.

 

Gary

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Posted by Lakeshore Sub on Thursday, August 6, 2020 8:53 AM

Hi Gary,

My layout is set in the early 1950's and my son is interested in a much more modern era around 2000.   The biggest change in buildings is switching wooden grain elevators for more modern steel silos, removing the coaling and water towers and changing the cars and trucks on the roads.   Most of the rest of the buildings stay in place.

The other major change is the railroads themselves.  In the 50's the 3 railroads were the CNW, MILW and Soo.  By the 2000's they were the UP, Wisconsin Southern,Canadian National and Amtrak so my son has a small collection of 2nd generation road diesels and a GP-9 rebuild for the WS.   It also takes fewer cars to populate the layout since most of them are 50'+60' cars instead of 40'+50' cars so the sidings fill up quickly.

Every couple of months the transition era comes to an end and everything switches over to the modern for a couple of weeks of operating sessions.  It's a nice change and gives me time to inspect and work on the transition era rolling stock.

 

From the description of your layout, a few well place building and equipment changes would make a believable era switch possible.

Scott Sonntag

 

 

 

 

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Posted by gdelmoro on Friday, August 7, 2020 5:44 AM

Thanks for the reply Scott.  Useful information  

Gary

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Posted by Jetrock on Sunday, August 9, 2020 12:26 AM

I'm a "transition era" modeler, and my layout is gradually traveling backwards in time. Initially when I got into the hobby (17 or so years ago) I planned on modeling 1960s diesel operations, because brass interurbans and freight motors were out of my price range, scratchbuilt locos and overhead wire beyond my modeling ability. Gradually I decided to model the 1950s because I got a couple of freight motors and decided to add poles to the layout but not overhead. More recently, I have become more interested in the interurban passenger era, and was fortunate enough that, a decade or so later, I could afford a few brass pieces and my skills increased (as did availability of 3D printing and kits to upgrade older locos to modern operation standards.) So now I have two or three eras to model: 1960s second-generation diesel freight, 1940s-50s freight operation using both electrics and diesel (my prototype stopped using electrics in 1953), and now I'm adding passenger operation, which ended in 1940, so my third era will be the 1930s at the latest! Fortunately most of the buildings on the layout fit any era, with the exception of an early 1950s warehouse that I may either ignore, or make replaceable with a lumberyard that was on the site in the Thirties. Change out the automobiles and trucks, roll in different rolling stock, and I can vary between a 1930s passenger run using Niles cars and a 1960s switching session with an S-1, or a first-generation SW-1 sharing switching duties with a General Electric steeplecab. Because my operation includes interchange with two Class 1 railroads, those roads can be represented by steam or diesel equipment, although most of the interchange track is solely for display rather than operation (I use an overpass and a grade crossing as scenic view blocks.)

Overhead view of electric passenger equipment in yard

 

Diesel & electric freight locos in yard

 

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Posted by gdelmoro on Sunday, August 9, 2020 5:26 AM

Thanks for the reply Jetrock

Gary

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