Spindler's Ridge is born..

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by CSX-er, Oct 15, 2005.

  1. CSX-er

    CSX-er New Member

    This is a story of the trials and tribulations of condo living and the final solution ... to build and run a "tiny empire" in a small room. My dilemma was to create a working layout in a 12' 6" X 8' -6” spare bedroom in our Condo. Due the square footage of the Condo and the dual purposes of this particular room (sewing, exercise, over-night guest parking, etc) any around the wall or centre of the floor arrangement was totally out of the question. So....I put pencil to paper and tried to come up with something that resembled a working road in less space than most folk use to store their golf clubs! Even using “N” scale I knew my task was going to be a real corker!

    My wish list included

    1) A long main-line to show off the big iron.

    2) Hills…valleys etc to make things interesting

    3) A long main-line….

    4) Some sort of yard to “park” all the “stuff” I’ve been collecting

    over the years (Impossible!)

    5) A long main-line…

    6) Industries to support the railroad

    7) A long main-line…

    8) Towns to house the tiny people that live there

    9) Yeah…you know…

    10) And perhaps most importantly - an interesting layout

    that wouldn’t become boring over time.

    Initial investigative design showed a limitation of 30” maximum width...whoosh...that ain't much folks! First kick at the cat was a loop that left little to the imagination let alone prototypical operation. “Lot’s a bun and no beef” - as some would say. Almost a month was spent trying different loops whirls and whoop-de-dos and nothing satisfactory came to mind. Then.... one night after one too many coffees....came that Eureka moment and the "Aha I've got it !!!! " that each of us only experience once in a lifetime! So was born the SPINDLER'S RIDGE SUB-DIVISION of the CSX located somewhere in some far off corner of West Virginia. It’s based on my recollections of months spent working in W.V. some twenty years ago and the violent time the railroads had operating throughout that state. I remember the rails having to give way to the hilly terrain…the rivers the valleys and all else that got in the way of normal operation. There was very little of twin main-lines and a whole pile of singles to carry the load. . Perhaps my fondest memory was on a “back-road” shortcut between Beckley and Roanoke Virginia. I got to drive on the rail right of way because they both “shared” what looked to be a 20 foot culvert perhaps 200 feet long, between two valleys. There was a traffic light to control traffic! On the Beckley side the sun was shining on the other it was a spring snowstorm!

    That “Eureka” I spoke of was an E-L O-N-G-A-T-E-D and FOLDED dog-bone looping twice around the layout whilst putting the central yard FRONT and CENTRE. Suddenly that long main-line (well almost) became real….and the rest just fell into place. Now we had a layout that was 34 square feet of operating glory…YAHOO! This design allowed for two passing sidings of about 7 feet each that opened up all kinds of operational possibilities. You can be making up a local in the yard while the big iron blasts through right next to you on the main and you can pull a siding for a face-on meet. Since the main-line is 54 feet long any chance of a 20 car lash-up chasing its tail vanishes. And with 3 points to be served ( Spindler, Willyville and Keester Flats) there’s be plenty of switching action. The grade has been held to 2% so as not to affect the running capabilities of locos. Also, - buried in the track-work are 2 reverse loops for turning things around, but we’re big kids and we don’t do that kinda stuff….DO WE ?

    Construction is well under way and kept intentionally plain and simple. When your 60+ years old sometimes simpler is better. The frame was 2 – (31 ½” X 6’) boxes made of 1X4’s with stringers 18” o/c, then bolted together at the middle. Keester Flats is basically a 4’ X 6” extension of the sub-roadbed situated above the control panel. I used braces downward to the wall at 60 degrees to eliminate anything obstructing the floor – besides which, we need all the storage we can scrounge!. Sub-roadbed is cut from ¾” Poplar Cabinet plywood (1 sheet) Glued and dry-wall screwed to the frame. I’m using Atlas flex and their # 6 Custom turnouts since this is what I bought maybe 15 years ago for another layout never built! . Since the majority of curves are hidden, I didn’t really worry about them too much but the tightest is 12 ½” inches …so …not terribly bad. Those that you do see are 24” inch radius just because you do see them! I plan to use Styrofoam to build up the terrain, and then cover with some sort of hard-shell. Because this design is stretched none of the switch locations are super critical, there’s lots of “slop” built in. I will be wiring for twin cab (after figuring out the blocks!) but not DCC. So…that’s about it for now … just hook up ‘yer 15 or 20 container car or coal-liner strings and have at it! All of my construction foibles are posted at if your curious….have a look!


    P.S By the way…that coffee I was drinking? Malaysian “Kopi –O” ….Black…..no sugar.

    Attached Files:

  2. Papa Bear

    Papa Bear Member

    Nice layout, CSX-er! Looks like you're off to a great start. :thumb:
  3. Tad

    Tad Member

    Looks like a good start.
  4. CSX-er

    CSX-er New Member

    Small is good!

    Papa Bear....I see that your going for the minamalist look too!
  5. Papa Bear

    Papa Bear Member

    Yes, indeed. :D But even so, it really surprised me how much there was to do in building a small layout. Once you start building landforms, planting trees, and adding structures, it looks a lot bigger. And there's always more detail that could be added.

    Your wish list looks a lot like mine. Especially item #1 (and 3, and...) ;) Keep us posted with your progress.
  6. CSX-er

    CSX-er New Member

    What's your opinion?

    I've reached the stage where switch machines are about to go in. Layout has 23 turnouts. I have 16 Atlas (#65) switch machines the rest are goin' to be Caboose Hobby #206-S manuals. Here's my question....would any of you "dump" the #65's and only use them on the un-reachables....or would you agree with my original plan?


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