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Homage to Fred Soop and his Chicago Amtrak Layout

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  • Member since
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Homage to Fred Soop and his Chicago Amtrak Layout
Posted by chipset35 on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 2:20 PM

I finally was able to obtain all the information I needed on Fred Soops Chicago AmTrak layout. Mr. Soop and his layout are the inspiration for my current layout and my passion for model trains at the moment.

Originally, I was going to do a 1930s-60s version of his layout using all the classic trains such as the MRW Olympian Hiawatha, PRR Broadway Limited, NYC 20th Century Limited, etc. Even  throw in Kato's nice C&NW 400 train.

But then Amtrak and Metra fever struck me and I am trying to figure out how to construct a layout similar to Mr. Soops but with more emphasis on running as his version 1 layout did before he reconstructed it several years ago.

My thoughts are since I am running N Scale I definately have the space. But the challenge will be how to run two different periods on the same layout. I might try using hidden staging when I want to switch time periods on the fly from the 60s and earlier to the modern Amtrak and Metra period of the 1990s to present.

Basically, hide the trains from the period I am not using in hidden staging and vice-versa.

Also, Mr. Soop mentioned the North Concourse as "Commuter" and that got me thinking to run my Metra and CNW 400 trains out of the north concourse and my classic trains and Amtrak trains from the South Concourse.

I will post some photos when I get a chance, but wanted to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Here are some links of Fred Soops layout for reference:

http://www.ldsig.org/s/ldj_46_sampler-7sr2.pdf

https://foxvalleydivision.org/images/semaphorefiles/semaphore201811.pdf

  • Member since
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  • From: Dearborn Station
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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 5:41 PM

Your layout plans are ambitious, to say the least. You mention that your emphasis will be on running trains. What destinations do you have planned?

I clicked on both links to view Fred Soops two layouts. That first one is interesting with the “traffic circle” loop for turning trains as well as continuous running. The second, newer layout is really neat.

You are going to take a lot of liberties with the use of the North and South Concourses of CUS, but that's OK. Even on bigger layouts, designing and running passenger trains is a challenge. On my Dearborn Station themed layout, I have devoted 25 x 42 feet to the station, the large freight houses and the coach yards. To simulate destinations, I have a double track mainline all around the perimeter of the layout.

Good luck with your layout and keep us posted on your progress.

Rich

 

Alton Junction

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Posted by chipset35 on Thursday, November 17, 2022 6:46 AM

richhotrain

Your layout plans are ambitious, to say the least. You mention that your emphasis will be on running trains. What destinations do you have planned?

I clicked on both links to view Fred Soops two layouts. That first one is interesting with the “traffic circle” loop for turning trains as well as continuous running. The second, newer layout is really neat.

You are going to take a lot of liberties with the use of the North and South Concourses of CUS, but that's OK. Even on bigger layouts, designing and running passenger trains is a challenge. On my Dearborn Station themed layout, I have devoted 25 x 42 feet to the station, the large freight houses and the coach yards. To simulate destinations, I have a double track mainline all around the perimeter of the layout.

Good luck with your layout and keep us posted on your progress.

Rich

 

 

 

Hi Rich!

Glad to see another Chicago layout modeler!

Dearborm station was always my first choice, but like an idiot I dropped, broke, then discarded a really nice Walthers trainshed I could have used to represent Dearborn station.

My 2nd choice was Union Station, and both stations come after 11 years of constructing to 50% completion and then tearing down several times of an O Gauge layout of the NYC&HRR New York City 1875-1920.

Sadly, it took 11 years to realize that O Gauge was too large for my train room and although I am obsessed with the NYC&HRR, it was like fitting a square peg in a round hole with tons of frustration due to the space limitation.

With N Scale, I can just about do anything I want with relative ease.

My problem is I love Amtrak and Metra just as much as the famous trains from the 1930's tjru the 1950's. Which creates a round peg square hole of another sort.

I purchased first Walthers Union Station and then Custom Model Railroads (CMR) Union Station and Concourse. Although, all of them especially the CMR's are high quality products, I hate model building and am not good at it. Although, i was able to build them, I ended up turning the CMR Union Station and concourse 90 degrees because I felt it hid all the beautiful trains, lights etc. Also, the station is a "Facade" and not the full building as CMR products are just too pricey for me and like I said I hate building models. Thus, by turning it and relocating it, the facade looks much better, the tracks and station more functional and better looking.

At one point I wanted to have Chicagos Union Station, Dearborn, and C&NW stations all on the layout, but I realized it was not practical.

Union Station in and by itself will be enough.

I like Fred Soops firt layout as it allows the running of trains, whereas his 2nd layout is more for yard and staging operations, and requires more than 2 people to run, whereas his first layout can be one or two operators.

I do not plan to make exact duplicates of his layouts. In fact, the mushroom helix and traffic circle are out of the question. The best I can do is use a round around track. This is due to a gap in my layout, which allows me to walk into it. No lift gates or bridges and no crawl or duck unders. I dont have the expertise or know how for the first 2 and am not physically capable of crawling or ducking.

My biggest challenge right now is how to hide the 2 different periods from each other when each is not in use.

One thing I do know is that I will be buying the modern Chicago backdrop:

https://railroadbackdrops.com/

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  • From: Dearborn Station
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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, November 17, 2022 7:37 AM

chipset35
 

At one point I wanted to have Chicagos Union Station, Dearborn, and C&NW stations all on the layout, but I realized it was not practical.

Union Station in and by itself will be enough.

You're not alone. At one time, I fantasized about leasing a 100' x 100' warehouse to build a layout with all six downtown Chicago train stations in the 1950s. Eventually, reality set in, and I settled for Dearborn Station.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by chipset35 on Thursday, November 17, 2022 7:49 AM

WOW! Good thing you and I don't live near each other. I would have gonna half on the insanity!

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Friday, November 18, 2022 12:18 AM

The union station layout with the full post office is incredible.  Can't imagine how long it would take to build something that size.  

Sounds like I'm not alone imagining getting a big warehouse or industrial space to set up and also keep the mess out of my house.  I'm along the Ravenswood viaduct and there's several dozen multi-tenant industrial spaces but practically everything is full.  Anytime there's an opening, it's only on the market a week two.   

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, November 18, 2022 4:36 AM

One of the limitations of a passenger train oriented layout is space. To do it justice, you need a large train station, a train shed tp protect passengers from the elements, several passenger station tracks, and a coach yard.

In my case, Dearborn Station in the 1950s had 13 large structures (inbound and outbound freight houses and freight offices) to service the six railroads that owned or leased space at the station complex. So, a freight yard would also be required to handle LCL freight cars.

All of that requires a fairly large layout, and you still need space to run trains to, or at least toward, their destinations.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by NorthsideChi on Friday, November 18, 2022 8:44 AM

It's one of the reasons I settled for a fantasy suburb in NW Chicago.  Somewhat built like Oak Park where it has the infrastructure and architecture of the city, but the stations and height can be scaled down and still be very convincing  My Metra trains are stiil like 7' long, but in real life they don't even fit in the suburban stations, so at least I could argue that point.  

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Posted by chipset35 on Sunday, November 20, 2022 8:50 AM

Yep Chicago either as a prototype or fantasy is always a great place for basing model railroad layouts.

  • Member since
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  • From: Dearborn Station
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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, November 21, 2022 6:30 AM

NorthsideChi

It's one of the reasons I settled for a fantasy suburb in NW Chicago.  Somewhat built like Oak Park where it has the infrastructure and architecture of the city, but the stations and height can be scaled down and still be very convincing  My Metra trains are stiil like 7' long, but in real life they don't even fit in the suburban stations, so at least I could argue that point.  

I have always felt that selective compression is the key to modeling passenger train themed layouts.

Depending upon what you are modeling and the era, you probably want a downtown station and shed, at least a small coach yard, one or more freight houses, and a REA building.

Trackwork in and out of the station is critical, and it must be somewhat complex to be credible.

If space allows, a destination point is highly desirable, such as a small town or suburban train station. Or, better yet, a second downtown station as a destination. If you are modeling more than one road, a destination for each road is highly desirable but probably impossible because of space constaints.

One solution is a space to hide trains until you plan to return them to their original location. If you have the space to turn them around to return in the same direction back to their original location, so much the better. 

Just some basic observations on passenger train modeling.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by Outsailing86 on Monday, November 21, 2022 6:43 AM

Do you have a trackplan?

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Posted by chipset35 on Monday, November 21, 2022 6:58 AM

Outsailing86

Do you have a trackplan?

 I am using Fred Soop's track plan as published in the July 2011 issue of the "Operations Special Interest Group" magazine.
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However, here is his publically available track plan of version 1, which he tore down to build the newer one. Mine is a hybrid of both:
 
Go to page 18...
 
 
 
 

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