Has anyone tried interchangable industries?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by mhdishere, Jul 29, 2003.

  1. mhdishere

    mhdishere Member

    I posted this on RR-line too, but I thought I might as well get some more opinions.

    As some of you know I've been in the planning stages of a layout for quite some time. First in the basement, where dampness and comfort are issues, and now upstairs in a room that currently holds the book cases and whatever we can't find place for elsewhere.

    One of the design problems I'm encountering is that I can only fit a hand-ful of industries and I'd like more, both for building enjoyment and for operating interest. I can pretty much fit one large industry, one medium, and a couple of small industries, the small ones strung along one siding.

    I had a thought this morning (my wife would reply "Uh oh!"), would it be feasible to make the industries removable and interchangeable? For instance, a large industry would be a coal-fired power plant, but if I build it in such a way that the whole plot could be removed (leaving the track in place), I could take it out and put in, say, a foundry. Take out the (medium) coal and oil dealer, drop in a scrap yard. Voila, twice the industries (although only half of them in use during any one op session), and twice the traffic.

    Has anyone tried anything like this? If it's practical, I might actually be able to start building! It seems to me that blending the edges of the industry "modules" would be the hard part, but no harder than for an access lift-out.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. billk

    billk Active Member

    I'll have to check whan I get home, but I think Iain Rice's book Small, Smart, & Practical Track Plans has an example of this very thing. Certainly doable and a neat idea, with a bit of careful preplanning.
  3. Have I got the answer for you, Mark! :D

    While I have never tried your idea myself, there's an excellent article on it in the October 1981 RMC by Joseph Pontius titled "The Ultimate Module." In the article, he describes how to construct "structure modules" that are interchangeable in three different sizes.

    He did it for the exact reasons you've described above. By changing industries (sometimes even in the middle of a session), he was able to open up whole new operating possibilities as well as changing the appearance of the layout. It was a way to expand his layout even when there was physically no more room for expansion.
  4. farmer ron

    farmer ron Member

    I do that with my some of my industry spots. I cut out my base material (homosoate or whatever you are using) and build an industry on it, I also cut out several more base material boards of the same size and build other industries on it. This way I can just pop out the one that is on the layout and pop in the one that I want to replace it with. A great way to keep my interest going on my small layout plus gives an oppertunity to utilize other rolling stock on the layout. Two of my spots I put the industry and track on the board and use rail joiners. The trick I learned on that one was to place a blank board in, put your track down making sure that where the rail joiners go you have a little or no gap at all, spike the track down then remove the board and track and build away.. You can scenic the area as what you want on the workbench and when you put the building down on the layout just take some scenery material and cover up the crack lines and it will blend in with the rest of the scenery and you will not notice that it has been lifted up and replaced, do not glue this down so you can easily lift it up out again and replace it with another one. Ron..
  5. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    While I haven't done so yet, I intend to do this with houses on the Garfield branch. Because the houses will be on the aisle side of the track, I want to be able to remove them and replace them with empty lots for photo purposes. Also I am going to use cheap Model Power houses with just minor mods and paint at first, then scratchbuild replacements later. Could make a lot with old foundation, etc. the first time I saw this idea in print was back in the 70's in Model Railroading. I believe they called the series the time machine. They're concept was to build, for instance, a model of a depot new as built, then another with modifications added, then another with boarded up windows, and finally one with just foundation and weeds.
  6. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I think it's a neat idea! Like to know what ideas you come up with to hide the, ummm, crack. :D :D :D
  7. farmer ron

    farmer ron Member

    What I use is just same scenery material that you have done the area in, I put it down loose so I can easily get out the scene when I want to later. If it is ajacent to the tracks just brush a little loose balast on. Ron..
  8. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    I'm not doing it but I think its a great idea. I saw the concept a few years ago in a Model Railroader photo spread of a layout (club layout, I think) that had interchangeable structures so they could change the era and location of the layout from Pennsy steam to modern BN diesel. It looked like a terrific idea!
  9. mhdishere

    mhdishere Member

    Thanks all!

    It's good to know it's not completely off-the-wall, as so many of my ideas are. Since I really enjoy building structures, it'll give me a chance to build more than I could fit on my layout too.

    I'll let you know how it goes when I finally begin construction!
  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think I even saw a picture in Model Railroader once of a layout that had a three sided spinner in the scenery with three different structures on it. By unlocking it and turning it a different structure came up!
  11. pjb

    pjb Member

    MODEL RAILROAD JOURNAL in its first year , when Bob Schleicher founded it , did a several editions series on a small midwestern prairie farm center in several different epochs. Over time the businesses in place , and the structures represented , changed as the socio-economic conditions behind them did .

    So applying the same techniques to a different venue to represent differing forms of communities in the same epoch can be done. The larger the number of warehousing , light manufacturing , food distribution related firms there are involved- the easier this becomes. The more related to mining , raw materials extraction and processing , and heavy industry your railroad is oriented to - the harder this will be to do , and maintain a realistic appearance.

    If their is a single foundry say , you probably can effect changes representing new technologies and this will require new structures and also newer ways of using existing track . However , for the most part that meant expanding the size of the area occuppied by such firms .
    Lets face it , most modern light manufacturing , high tech stuff , does not use rail carriage , with the possible exception of Piggyback stuff.
  12. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Another thing you could do to save building (and $$) is to get a fairly generic looking factory building - a curtain wall such as the Smallman St Warehouse by City Classics or one of the many Walthers kits and merely make different signs for the roof. Then you just swap signs to go from an auto parts manufacturer to a meat packing plant to a paint warehouse - well, you get the idea.

    I think the modular approach is way cool, but this idea is a little more instant gratification!

  13. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Val,That would work..I believe that would be the better approach then removing the building its self..:D
  14. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    We've grown to expect no less from our multi-talented genius/barroness :D :D :D

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