Scale Conundrum

Discussion in 'Traction Thoroughfare' started by Torpedo, Jan 20, 2007.

  1. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    When I was a kid, I had a (really) small HO layout. One engine, a few cars, and enough track to do a little switching. Out of the hobby for years, I still remember being absolutely enthralled by photos of Bob Hegge's Crooked Mountain Lines. It was his modelling that got me interested in traction.

    Years later, I am working on a traction layout. So far, it's all in my head, but hey, you've got to start someplace. :D

    The layout I have in mind is a freelanced freight hauling interurban which will interchange with one or more mainline railroads, something along the lines of the Sacremento Northern. There won't be any city trolleys.

    As of yet, I've not decided in which scale to model. I'll lay out my thoughts and observations for anyone who would like to comment. You should know that I am old enough that vision for close up work is starting to be an issue, and it isn't going to get any better. I already have to use a magnifier to do tiny work that I used to be able to do without any vision aids.

    I see three issues with HO.

    1. It is small enough, and the detailing is tiny enough that my aging eyes will be a bit of a limitation.

    2. Most of the photos of HO traction layouts that I have seen show pretty horrible looking overhead. That indicates to me that HO overhead is particularly difficult to erect and maintain, particularly anything that looks scale like. BTW, Interurban's overhead is some of the nicest looking HO work I have come across.

    3. With multiple tracks under wire, as in a yard, it seems like getting a finger or two through for maintenance work would be difficult, let alone a whole hand.

    I think S would be the ideal scale. Big enough for the detail work to not be too tiny, yet small enough that a layout won't consume vast areas of 'real estate.' But there are precious little, if any traction items available in S.

    Most traction modelling seems to be done in O. It is big enough that aging eyes won't have such a problem seeing detail, and the access through the overhead issue should be less of a problem. Unfortunately, it eats up a lot more real estate, and it seems to be quite a bit more expensive.

    My first choice would be S, if it weren't for the dearth of traction supplies in that scale, so I am left with choosing between HO and O. I am leaning toward O, but haven't ruled out HO yet.

    So, am I missing anything here? Are there other factors that I have overlooked or should be aware of? Your comments will be appreciated.

    And if anyone knows of any web sites with photos of the Crooked Mountain Lines, I would love to get the URL(s). So far I have had no luck with Google. I realize that Bob passed on some years ago, but I was hoping someone had posted a photo record.
  2. bill937ca

    bill937ca Member

    My understanding is that most of the overhead hangers available today are actually O scale. This is why overhead frequently looks oversized. But have you seen any modern prototype overhead lately?
  3. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    Modern prototype overhead? I was near some northeast corridor tracks a little while ago, but I didn't see anything unusual about them. At least, nothing seemed to be different from what it has been for the last ten or fifteen years. I don't get to that area very often these days, so maybe I missed something.

    But the HO overhead I am referring to, and I have only seen it in pictures, is very uneven with what looks like overly large and stiff wire that seems to hold kinks. In the photos, it looked very, very unrealistic. I have been assuming it is very difficult to construct realistic looking overhead in HO. I could provide a link to what I am talking about, but I hate to link to somebody's site as a bad example.

    Unfortunately, I live way out in the country, and it is difficult for me to travel to any operating HO traction layout to see the overhead directly.
  4. bill937ca

    bill937ca Member

  5. bill937ca

    bill937ca Member

    Once upon a time the TTC had nice neat overhead. Not any more. This is Russell yard on Queen Street east in 2004.

    Attached Files:

  6. bill937ca

    bill937ca Member


    Your solution may be something like On30. It's not perfectly suited to your Sacramento Northern prototype, but it is suited to modern space and eye sight limitations. Basically you have O scale car bodies that run on HO trucks and track. There is a discussion group for this on Yahoo where you would find other modellers.

    I actually have two layouts. Under my HO layout I have very small O scale two rail trolley layout on a shelf that was originally intended for storage (behind a curtain). I know several other modellers how have equipment in more than one scale.
  7. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    Thanks for the link. I've also had Sn42 in the back of my mind. Trouble is, most narrow gauge interurbans seemed to have disappeared early on, and I am planning on modelling somewhere between the early 30s and mid WWII. I also want to have interchange traffic with a class I freight hauler. Narrow gauge makes that almost impossible to do credibly.

    I'm not actually planning a SN layout. I was just using that road as an example of the type of operation I am looking at.
  8. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Hi Torpedo,

    Bill has give you great advise.:thumb:

    Thanks for the complement on my overhead , Every bit of it is scratch built and as near to scale as i can get it. Using 26 gauge phosphate Bronse wire H O,
    On my "Building a Traction Layout" I am doing more span for the yard.

    I too love the heavy Electrics and have two main lines one steam / Diesel with an interchange track.

    If Eyesight is a problem, I would go with O gauge Lots to buy ready made and great scratch built potential

    Have you seen what Horse Shoe Vally Traction club do .
    I will post a link to the last shows they did with us.
  9. interurban

    interurban Active Member

  10. bill937ca

    bill937ca Member

    There were narrow gauge streetcars at Denver until 1950. There was also the Denver and Intermountain which had interurbans and some freight interchange.
  11. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    Interesting. Thanks for the links. :)
  12. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Along the Line looks back: Crooked Mountain Lines
    Model Railroader, June 1999 page 150

    You need a back issue, It should not be hard to find.
  13. bill937ca

    bill937ca Member

    This may be what you are looking for. From Mile High Trolleys on the Denver and Northwestern Railway incorporated in 1901:

    "The was built west and north to Arvada, then headed northwest to the mines at Leyden. The line was 42 inches wide, the Traways gauge. The company realized the possiblity of shipping coal to other points on other lines, so the line from Arvada Junction to the mines was laid on standard gauge ties with 80 lb. rail and a short time later a third rail, laid to 4-foot 8 1/2 inch (standard) guage was in place. An interchange was built to the Colorado & Southern Railway at Arvade Junction thus allowing standard gauge coals cars to be haudl by the Northwestern trains. Cars of both gauges were often hauled in the same train, a feat made possible by use of radial couplers on the Northwestern equipment, and the third rail remainded until abandonment in 1950."
  14. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Back when I was doing a bit of traction modelling (early 70s) there were several traction magazines but most of the modelling was in O -- there was a wide variety of parts available. HO seemed to have mostly brass RTR, Bowser(Penn Line), and Walthers and Labelle kits. I'm not sure what there is now; I don't see any magazines and none of the Toronto area shops stock traction parts.
    Back to what Vane Jones said :"Scounge!"
  15. bill937ca

    bill937ca Member

    There are at least two traction magazines:

    Trolley Talk

    Scale Model Traction & Trolleys Quarterly

    I got the latest copy of Trolley Talk last week.

    Some vendors like Customtraxx will not sell to hobby shops. Traction parts definelately have to be sourced from scattered sources.

  16. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    For The HO Traction Crowd

    How about yard tracks under the overhead. Any issues with maintenance, coupling/uncoupling, rerailing, etc.? I have always assumed this was a primary factor for most traction modelling being done in O scale.
  17. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

  18. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    I have built many yards , Traction yards and freight.

    I have no problem, When you start to build you will also find a way to do things that suit you.

    Here is a shot from my last layout .

    Get er built.:thumb:

    Attached Files:

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