Wolfgang Dudler



Oct 1, 2011



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With my narrow gauge Silver Valley RR I have a lot of fun. It's the route from module to module.

And here's the problem. With modules you have problems to get any grades. So I came to the idea to build a permanent layout in this room. It was the pdf-file from an article from the late John Armstrong in MR Jan 1962, "To Hardscrabble, the hard way: a track plan". There he describes the PUEBLO & SALT LAKE RR in a 11 x 12-foot room. This layout plan hooked me! It has a staging yard, a dual gauge yard, three small stations and at the other end a station with wye and two staging yards. This design is similar to my current SILVER VALLEY RR, from staging yard via Salina to the wye at Silver Creek.

With this new railroad I will have to build a lot of turnouts, dual gauge turnouts and narrow gauge turnouts. I will be busy for the next years with track work, structures and scenery. And I can operate this layout, as lone wolf or with friends! This old time narrow gauge layout will be an alternative to my current 1975 - 1985 "modern" Westport Terminal RR. And there will be more than 100' (30 m) main line to run narrow gauge trains.

I've made a few sketches and here's my latest idea for my 13' x 16' (4m x 5m) room.




Following the idea from John Armstrong

It was the time when Otto Mears had finished his railroad empire, when you could ride 3-foot-gauge Denver & Rio Grande track all the way across the Rockies to Grand Junction and beyond. Nevertheless, when thinking of narrow-gauge American railroading, we are likely to recall only decrepit branches with twice- or thrice-a-week mixed trains rattling over weed-covered right of way.
Branches and short lines make fine models, but suppose your primary interest is in running and watching lots of trains--interweaving stock extras. Ore drags and parlor-car-equipped passenger runs on a single-track mountain railroad—operating in the way made vivid by Gil Lathrop's stories of busy days on the big hill. Let’s see what can be done to catch the spirit of a narrow-gauge line that really moves traffic.
Our space is an 13x16-foot basement room. We'll model a 3-foot-gauge prototype. in HO this makes the track gauge .418" or HOn3.
For our heavy-traffic, dispatcher's delight pike, a point-to-point main line which has quick-turnaround provisions at each end is the ideal, so we must try to work in either a loop or a wye at both terminals. Since narrow-gauge trackage is usually a sightly and mostly hand-crafted affair, we will try to devise some reasonable, prototypical basis for leaving most of these turnaround tracks and turnouts exposed to view. The strategy of building cheaply and deferring permanent construction has been called "placer railroading." It may have been the only way to finance railroad construction in the West, but it came at a price. While placer railroads themselves risked bankruptcy and takeover, their passengers and freight faced more immediate physical danger. A railroad entrepreneur told potential investors that initial building costs per mile were significantly lower in Colorado than those in Europe, partly because construction was expected to last only ten years. Operating profits were expected to pay for subsequent upgrades and replacement costs.




© Wolfgang Dudler