researching a layout

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by Kim Paynter, Dec 31, 2004.

  1. Kim Paynter

    Kim Paynter New Member

    I am new to this hobby and I am trying to come up with Ideas for my layout. I have all ways been imppressed with a rail line that served, the mining community in the southern interior of BC from 1892-1914 This being the Kaslo & Slocan (K&S) Railway. Serving about 23 -25 miles of some of the most chalnging terain ever to have track laid on it. The elevation from the lake head at Kaslo to the town at the end of the rails is all most 3000 feet difference. The rail line was originaly built by J. J. Hill & financed by the Great Northern it was built with 3' gauge rails. Originaly they had 3 locomotives a 2-8-0 Baldwin and two 2-6-0 Baldwins. I have trying to research these and It seems the 2-6-0's are exclusively narrow gauge trains. And as of yet I can't find one in any scale but I think I found something like it in HOn3.

    In 1914 the CNR bought the K&S and re-layed standard gauge rails

    How they got around the tight corners I will never know?

    My thoughts were to build both ends of the line like the original and make joining single track section representing some of the most dramatic tressels, tunnels and cliff faces. And there are a few small mining camps and mines along the route for more interest?

    What kind of grade is acceptable for models I don't want to burn up my locomotives?

    Any ideas as to how I can go about trying to maintain some integrity without getting into an expencive narrow gauge situation. As I think in the long run I would be happier with an HO setup?

    Might I regret modeling for the 1900's when choice of engins was so limited?

    Might I regret a layout with only passenger, mining & forestry for traffic and no connections at one end? (Kaslo is serviced by a steam ship) Actualy there was a CNR connection at Sandon the original terminus of the K&S but it was a different gauge and freight (Ore) realy only left the area by rail nothing realy went through.

    Any input others may have on my delima is appreciated.

  2. Tad

    Tad Member

    If you are interested in N scale you should look into the MDC 2-8-0 and 2-6-0. They are based on Baldwin prototypes from 1889, I believe. They would fit right into your era. I have one of the MDC 2-6-0 Moguls and it is an outstanding locomotive. The 2-8-0 shares the same mechanism and I hear very good things about them.

    You can view the MDC 2-8-0 Consolidation here: 2-8-0.htm

    and the 2-6-0 Mogul here: 2-6-0.htm

    2.0% Grades are about the steepest recommended, but some folks have steeper.
  3. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Wow, a narrow-gauge mining railroad...should be fun.

    Narrow gaugers are a crafty and ingenious lot...the first thing I'll say, kim, is that narrow gaugers generally either scratchbuild or kitbash a lot, or spend quite a bit on brass locomotives. You might find deals on eBay for some of what you're looking for but it will generally be rare, yes.

    But don't let that dissuade you! If you like to build models with tons of character and unique style (plus they're generally cute!) and don't mind doing the work yourself, then narrow gauge modeling is for you.

    Narrow-gauge lines in the mountains often faced steep grades--you don't really need to worry about burning up your engines, the main limitation is realism. You could probably put 4-5% grades on your line and not be too far off the mark.'s a link to a book on that railroad, which you may know about or not:

    It looks like they were actually owned by the Great Northern Railroad, and mined silver? Interesting...kind of like a northern version of the Virginia & Truckee.

    Have you considered On30 as a possible gauge? That's an O scale narrow gauge, using engines that are 1:48 scale with a 30" gauge--they run on track that is identical in width to HO standard-gauge track. It takes some space but it's very easy to work with (due to the larger size) and Bachmann makes a neat 2-6-0 (see for more info.) Also, I found a link for a company that makes an On30 Kaslo & Slocan boxcar kit:

    On30 is a new but growing scale that has a lot of support and is relatively inexpensive. It costs more than HO, but less than HOn3 (and less than O), it fits in about the same size as a similar HO layout, and you don't have to shell out big bucks for brass. And while it isn't the same as 3' gauge, it's close enough to work, and there are quite a few On30 modelers out there who model 3' gauge prototypes using On30 equipment.

    I'm not sure if anyone does an On30 2-8-0 yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if one puffed around the mountain before long. There is also an 0-4-0 Porter, a Shay, and a diesel switcher available. Bachmann also makes cars lettered for Great Northern, but decals are pretty easy to make.

    And here's a link to a historical society with an interest in such things that might be helpful:
  4. Eonflux

    Eonflux New Member

    Another BC railroad, The Dolly Varden Mines RR, had simliar set up to Kaslo & Slocan. About 18 miles long, one section with 5% grades, no outside connection except by boat, mine had to send the ore to the railroad by cable tram something like a ski lift.
    In Model Railroader Magazine, in March 1997, Dick Patterson built a HOn30 5' x 8' version of the Dolly Varden, tall mountians ,cliffs, very interesting track plan. Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette, Nov/Dec 1991, has a article this layout also. Don't regret the 1900-1920's timeframe, although I don't have a layout right now, I've been building MDC, Keystone shays for a mining railroad like the Dolly Varden , someday I'll have space to build.
  5. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Indeed, 1900-1920 is pretty much the "sweet spot" for narrow gauge. Many that lasted past the late Twenties was either out of business or converted to standard gauge, there aren't a ZILLION things available for that era but they can definitely be found, and there are lots of opportunities for structures and scenes with gobs of character.
  6. Kim Paynter

    Kim Paynter New Member

    Wow thanks for all those Links guys! Who would of though that some outfit is making box cars for the K&S I saved that image for my collection. I have that book on order it looks like it will be a realy good asset.

    I think anything over HO scale would just get to big for the space I will be using.

    I'm glad to see a 4-5% grade is acceptable as thats about what they had on the K&S

  7. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    How big is the space you will be using? One advantage of On30 is that it takes about the same space as a comparable HO layout.

    Modeling such a line in HOn3 is of course possible, and there are pieces out there to behad--but HOn3 engines tend to be brass, and a tad expensive.

    Not that I'm the world's biggest On30 advocate--I model in HO myself--but for an economical and relatively simple way to model a narrow-gauge line, it's a pretty good choice.

    Back to your original questions: Passengers, mining and forestry is a pretty good mix of traffic. The ship connection just means you have the opportunity to build a neat dockside scene at one end. Plenty of model railroaders focus on single-industry railroads, and it sounds like this prototype has even more to choose from.
  8. Ken Clark

    Ken Clark New Member

    I've been a fan of the Kaslo and Slocan for more years then I care to mention,
    The Skyline Limited is a great book covering the line, contributed some photo's and plans to Bob & Dave for the book. presently working in On30, have built a few of the K&S Boxcars in HOn3, Sn3,On3 and On30, one day need to build a couple of F/G
    scale versions. I usually manage one or two trips a year into the West Kootenay's.
    Presently working on an article related to the "Silversmith Mining Group" operation
    in Sandon and their powerplant built in 1916, which still operates.

    It is an interesting line, being Great Northern owned and operated. Using a switchback to gain elevation coming out of Kaslo, a planned switchback up to the
    Silversmith mine/mill, and had plans to extend the line to Silverton on Slocan Lake.
    Lots of could have been thoughts to add to a layout.

    Ken Clark
    Calgary Ab
  9. Kim Paynter

    Kim Paynter New Member

    The Skyline Limited

    Great to hear there are more fans of the K&S and one actualy modeling it. I never realises that there was a switchback coming out of Kaslo. I have been avidly examining all the pictures in that Fantastic Book and the plans they show whitch I admit they say are not from a real plan but a reconstruction based on the avalible photos of the area don't seem to have any switchbacks in there.

    What got me first interested in this RR was Bill Barley's show Gold trails and ghost towns. I love that show I must of seen every one 8 times but I always try and catch it on sunday mornings.

  10. Ken Clark

    Ken Clark New Member

    What I mean by a switchback is the line running from the wharf & station upgrade to the yard where direction was reversed for the train to depart for Sandon. The plan drawn (pg 192)was from what photos had come to light ( none had a clear shot of the yard, just bits & pieces). Orginal K&S plan's indicated they had intended to split the main line above Kaslo with one leg built as drawn, the other would drop down to lake level and enclose the town before jioning up again at the wharf station site. This would ? prevent the nasty Canadian Pacific from establishing a landing piont at Kaslo.

    I also try to catch the Gold Trails & Ghost Town's program if I can.

  11. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Attached Files:

  12. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Or eres an Sn3 Shay from PBL
    they also have 2-8-2 's 2-8-0's etc

    Attached Files:

    • shay.jpg
      File size:
      36.6 KB
  13. Kim Paynter

    Kim Paynter New Member


    Regarding the switch back I see what you mean by the photo on page 193 it appears to be 1/2 again the height of the sawmill so it must of been 25-30 feet above lake level and I am sure it would have gone down to within a few feet of lake level to facilitate loading of all the steamers.

    Do you have a layout of the K&S in your basement?

    Tileguy those are pretty good looking locomotives but probably a nice price goes along with them. Have you seen any 2-6-0 Baldwins in HO in your surfing?

  14. Ken Clark

    Ken Clark New Member

    Check photo pg 76 to see how close to the water the line was. The lower leg climbed 38ft to switch. Close onto another 200 ft gain in elevation before the K&S
    left town. Total climb to summit would be 1770 ft in a distance of 21 miles, last 8 miles was level. Never have managed to complete a layout based on the K&S, bits and pieces only (Payne Bluff/Payne Ore House/Sandon Station)(Sn3).
    With Bachmann coming out with an outside frame 2-8-0 in On30, may build another
    K&S scene, likly the Payne Ore House, always liked the way it was hung on the side of the moutain with the K&S mainline running between the Ore House and the mtn, with the spur to serve the mine.

  15. Kim Paynter

    Kim Paynter New Member

    Yea that Ore house at the Payne mine is quite something I am curently working on a little expansion for my Father inlaw but once I get that finished I am thinking I would like to build up a K&S layout maybe just get Kaslo, Sandon, McGugain Tressel, Payne bluff and a few concentrators or Ore houses as you call them aswell as a few sidings along the way. 30 miles of track would be a bit much to layout. You would need to be in a model railway club situation to do a full layout like that. I hope to get something wraping around one room. Maybe start out a Kaslo and climb up along another 2 walls then hold it level for another 1 wall if I can work it out right I will end up with Sandon about 3 feet over top of Kaslo and have the track wraping around the other 3 walls of the room.

  16. Ken Clark

    Ken Clark New Member

    Kaslo & Slocan

    Understand the layout, the first 25 miles were really not much interesting
    to model. My plan? was/is to model Kaslo on one wall, with the line coming back along the wall (hidden) then coming around the end of the yard above the Kootenay Ore Mill and starting at McGuigan for the run to Sandon & Cody
    on the other 3 walls. Cody would end up above Kaslo.
    Hopefully attached two photos of the Payne Ore House (title of the orginal
    photo by RH Trueman) After model was done (within 2 month) better photos came along which showed it had never been painted and much rougher then My model.

  17. Kim Paynter

    Kim Paynter New Member

    Hey that sounds like a great way to lay things out I have to agree all I can seem to find mentioned about the first 20 miles of track is that spring a few miles out out town and I think there was a stop before Whitewater. But I aggree probably the best place to model is from McGuigan to Cody. And laying it out the way you have gives you Sandon, Kaslo & Cody right in one spot and thats a good idea.

    Sorry them pictures didn't come thru. I think to attach a picture you have to have it stored on the web on a server

  18. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    2-6-0's were made in HO but not in narrow gauge that I am aware of.
    The PBL engines have a price tag yes.5-800.00 is pretty normal for smaller engines with the Mikes and Connies at the upper end and beyond if i recall correctly.
    Of course, you dont need many engines now do you ;)
    I have around 30 Locomotives for my n layout(i dont want to think about how much i spent)
    The differance of course is i spent less for each one and it would be like you going out and buying 7 or 8 of mine to get 1 good Sn3 brass. of course you only need 3 right??
    1 each year for the next 3 years means 40 or 50 dollars per month out of your fun budget.
    The great thing is this.These are likely to increase in value rather than decrease over time.Consider it an Investment :D
  19. Ken Clark

    Ken Clark New Member


    If you can, consider On30 for modelling the K&S, there are a couple of HO 2-6-0s
    which could be converted with bigger cabs and detail, and the Bachmann engine due later this year makes a excellent #3, some of the orginal spec from Baldwin
    make reference to the Mexicano engines. Track's & Trains make a K&S boxcar kit. I
    could not wait for them and built 2 in a week for a groups display layout for the Calgary show. Built on Bachmann flat cars as the orginal cars done by the K&S.
    Rather then being abondoned in 1910-1914, my thought were/are to keep the
    K&S operating longer and let the Canadian Pacific become abondoned<G>.
    One (of many) project's on the go is to build a model of the rotary (xRGS #1). Need
    to shorten current project list first.

    There was not much along the line from Kaslo to the Summit worth? modelling, some
    station's did not even have passing track's just the building (lack of room/business)
    The only orebin located (CPR) was for a bog Manginese? operation, which only shipped about 250tons in 3to4 years, during the WW1.

  20. Kim Paynter

    Kim Paynter New Member

    Say does that On30 gauge use HO track? The reason I am thinking to do the layout in HO is mainly because I live out of town (2hr to Edmonton) and I have a hard enough time getting stuff. And to be honest with you all I have seen in my travels is HO & N scale stuff. I dont want to be totaly dependant on Mail order for supplies. Another major reason is size of layout and yes I understand that the track may be similar in size from On30-HO but all the buildings and trees ect. would all have to be O scale and when I think of the size of the last HO coal mine I built I don't think I could spare the room for a layout in O. I am still toying with the idea of doing things in HOn3 as this will give me the proper perspective of the narrow gauge. But would be quite limiting in respect to not being able to splice into the CPR unless I went ahead and built that with HO and did a custom 3 rail track from Whitewater to Kaslo.

    Tileguy I like the Idea of investing in Model Train Locomotives but my wife is stuck on RRSP's for our retirement. I have to admit that though there not as attractive as a brass locomotive but when you want some money I think they would be easyer to cash in then a 2-6-0 Brass Baldwin. Where do you sell the old engines of yours? E-Bay?


    As for the CPR taking over I have thought about that aswell and concidering the fact that I havent even started the K&S yet I think it will be a ways down the track that I will be thinking about the CPR taking over but I aggree from what I have seen in the Skyline Limited the K&S is a far more romantic layout to have and if I was to add in the CPR I would probably just splice into the K&S line at Sandon and forget about the run from just above Three Forks to Whitewater.

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