B&M Milford Branch

Jim Wiggin Jul 12, 2019 at 3:55 PM

  1. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    It's been a long time coming but after years of detailing and painting B&M locomotives, freight cars and buggies (caboose), I'm finally ready to start a layout. This small switching layout is more about a proof of concept as it's design and construction methods will be used for future layouts that are in the design stage. The Galesburg City Job, another N scale layout I designed in 2013 will be slowly morphing into a home layout but will use a lot of the same techniques that will be used here. Even my B&M HO FreeMo modules will use some of the same construction techniques seen here.

    First, how this all came about. Back in 2016, I started an on-line/Facebook community named MidState Prototype Modelers. This was an invite only organization that included modelers from Central Illinois that were interested in Prototype modeling. Scale did not matter, we had a mixture of HO, N and one 2-rail O scale modeler. The emphasis was prototypical modeling and encompassed everything from operations to detailing. We had a few members who were apartment dwellers and did not have room for a layout. The only exposure they had to modeling was the few T-Trak modules they had built. This was great as they could at least run trains, but only on a limited basis at shows. One member quit T-Trak because he was bored with the concept after running a few operating sessions on my City Job.

    I came up with the idea of a Winter Project to help push the members to build something, and this is how this layout started. The concept was easy. Purchase a 3-foot, 14-inch deep T-Trak module and using Atlas or Micro Engineering Code 55 track, build an Inglenook. In all, three of us built N scale versions, and our resident O scale modeler, built an 8-foot sized Inglenook. The Inglenook concept is nothing new, our friends across the pond have been building them for decades and they tend to be a more prototypical switching game or puzzle. You can read more about Inglenooks by performing a Google search.

    With my Inglenook "finished" I started to add scenery and structures, then realized I had an extra 3 foot module kit. Why not add on? And I did, and this is the beginning of the Milford Branch of the B&M layout as seen here.

    The layout as said earlier, is a proof of concept for future layouts and as such it would include the following:
    • The bench work would be made from T-Trak module kits. I did the math, and the cost of purchasing, cutting and designing each module is higher than those offered commercially. Lets not forget the time factor either. Simply opening up the box and assembling the module out of the provided light weight Baltic Birch was far faster and lighter than anything I could design.
    • The finished "layout" would sit in a wall mounted shadow box. This will allow a finished look that can still be taken down in the event of a move yet still provide items like LED lighting.
    • All track would be code 55 with a definite distinction between the main line and all sidings and spurs. Not all the track would be at the same height.
    • Turnouts would be controlled by Tam Valley's excellent servo control.
    • An emphasis on fine scale laser cut or scratch built structures and details.
    • While technically not modeled after a prototype, the "feeling" of a real time and place would be the goal.
    • Standardized wiring for both a DCC and DC bus line would be established.
    • The layout will be mobile and can be removed from it's shadowbox and set up on a table top for exhibition at shows and easily replaced back into it's shadowbox once returned from said show.
    Now a little back story of the layout itself:

    The Boston & Maine Milford Branch
    Set in my home state of New Hampshire, the Milford Branch once connected Nashua to Keene during the time of the woolen mills. Small towns sprang up beside the rivers and rails and with it came industry. Saw mills, textile mills, dairy farms and manufacturing doted the landscape through out the mid to late 19th century and continued into the 20th century. Alas, by the end of WWII, the automobile and truck had made a large impact on the Nashua to Keene branch and by the mid 1960's the line west of Milford was abandoned. Fortunately the small town of Milford, the terminus of the branch, still sees regular freight traffic.

    The town is home to a few large customers on line, such as Steimbeke & Sons Lumbar Which has two spurs that lead into their yard, Blue Seal has been using the old B&M freight house for grain and other agricultural products, a small spur to serve a future customer, Murphy Performance Parts and a team track. While the era is set around 1977 - 1980, not much has changed here. The gas station is pretty much the same as it was when first built in the 1940's and the old colonial houses have survived time really well. Power for the branch is usually a a well worn GP9, still wearing it's Bicentennial nose stripe it received in 1975 in anticipation for the Bicentennial, albeit somewhat faded. You can hear it plying it's way through the New Hampshire over growth, steel wheels screeching on the tight turn east of town, before the sound of the prime mover echos off the stone retaining wall. On any given day, she'll be hauling a few box cars and at least one flat car loaded with lumbar. If the yard master in Nashua has done his job right, the NM-01 (Nashua to Milford train) has placed all the cars bound for Milford, at the front of the train. That means the crew can leave the cars assigned to the eastern end of the line on the siding back in east Nashua. Once they have cut those cars, they pick up their buggy and head west to Milford.

    Now fortunately for the crew, all but one customer has all the spurs facing the same direction. Since Milford is the terminus of this line, the first thing the crew does is to cut the Buggy off from the train, just past old route 3. They'll use the old passenger siding to perform a run around and place the Buggy at the end of the line. From there, all the facing spurs are switched out, then the last customer who faces the opposite is switched and connected to the train sitting on the main. The train now heads back to Nashua yard as MN-02. Sounds simple but, that siding is short! It was designed in the days of Prairie type 4-4-0s and small coaches, not first generation diesels and 50 to 60 foot cars! Also, the crew doesn't want to foul up old Route 3. Sure they re-routed it a few years back, but it's still a heavy truck route. You don't want to be the guy who backs up traffic in Milford!

    Do I have your attention? I hope so. Let's get started.
     
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  2. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    [​IMG][/IMG] [​IMG][/IMG] [​IMG][/IMG]
    Here we have the humble beginnings of what will be the Milford Branch of the B&M. This particular kit was purchased by T-Kits which unfortunately is no longer in business. Unfortunately the owner, Terry, passed away last year. Masterpiece Modules however makes exceptional kits like this and are available on-line.
    The image above shows my method of keeping things flush and true while the yellow carpenter glue cures. The module size is 3-feet wide by 14.5 inches deep.


    Track work has started. I'm using Atlas Code 55 along with #5 turnouts and one Y. The mainline is glued down to the cork roadbed and feeders have been soldered to the track and routed underneath.
     
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  3. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    In order to make the illusion complete, I needed to place my siding and subsequent spurs in "the weeds". Main lines are built with drainage, ballast and generally have to withstand higher speeds. The spurs are usually laid flat on a graded path to the customer and in the case of the B&M, the only ballast used was cinders and some ballast. The transition I used was a simple piece of balsa commonly used for model airplanes. I cut a 1/16th piece the same width as the cork roadbed and then made a second cut about six inches long. Using a sandpaper T-bar, I carefully sanded a bevel or grade.


    Here we see the finished transition glued down to the module awaiting it's track.


    Completed track for module one or the "Inglenook" end. Under the module, I have a barrier strip on either end. both a DCC and DC bus main run between the barrier strips and connect to track feeders or DC powered items. Each end of the module has a pig tail which uses Anderson Power Pole connectors, just like FreeMo.


    I used Rustoleum Camouflage Brown to lightly spray the track and get rid of the shiney brown and silver. of the track. This makes for a good base for further weathering later. You'll also notice the skirt I had made for the layout, complete with the B&M McGinnis logos embroidered on either end.
     
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  4. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Next I wanted to give the modules a finished look so I sanded the fascia down and applied an ebony stain to it. I like the dark black color and it will match nicely with the skirt. Once the stain had dried, I applied a poly clear coat for furniture. This hard finish looks better and holds up better then latex paint. I also built a simple transport box. Both modules, plus a staging area and spot for the freight cars allow me to make one trip from the car to the show.


    And here it is at it's first show. Last summer I was honored to show the beginnings of this layout at the 2018 St. Louis RPM meet. Despite the lack of scenery, I did get many positive remarks. As an operating layout, it has just enough to keep it interesting.
     
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  5. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    Cool, I spent three years growing up in Milford from 1962 to 1965. We lived on the west side of town on Highway 101A or Elm Street. The old house is gone now and is some woodworking business. The neighbor's house is a Wendy's. The B&M tracks were on the other side of the highway up the hill a little way but I could still watch trains go by from by brothers bedroom window upstairs. Usually an RS-3 or an F unit in the old Minute Man paint scheme, a few box cars and a caboose. Here is a newspaper article I saw years later about a collision at West Street just east of where we lived.
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Excellent Jim! I like your transport box. I've seen so many different attempts at transporting T-Trak modules, some better than others, and I still have not seen an optimum design (to my standards). Things still get broken off or lost (e.g., fastening bolts, etc.). Yours is getting close! :)
     
  7. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thank you sir, I know it is not perfect but it is evolving. The owner of T-Kits used to make an excellent transport box for the modules but unfortunately this too is no longer available.
     
  8. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    BM012.JPG

    With the modules built, it is now time to make a simple shelf system that will allow me to set the modules on it, and have a valance with lighting. Yes, I could have gone to the big box store and purchased a simple metal track system with hangars but I wanted something that was built for my purposes. Again, this is a proof of concept, and since the new City Job will be bigger, rather then use legs like I currently do, I want to use the rack method.

    The B&M layout consists of two 14 X 36 inch modules for a total of 6 feet of length and 14 inches deep. The "middle" of the layout is where the two T-Trak modules both together, so the middle of the wall mounted rack has to be wider to allow the two sets of leveling feet under the modules.

    BM012.JPG
    I measured and cut two 1X2 and one 1X3 pieces of dimensional lumber then made 12 1/4-inch thick, 1.5 inches wide by 14.5 inches long plywood shelves. The other blocks you see in the above image is the ends or terminus of the selves. Not pictured are the 1.5 X 1.5 leveling blocks that the modules will sit on.

    BM013.JPG

    Here is the finished rack system. You'll notice the middle is wider so as to accept the two modules that will be connected. The bottom has the small ledges or platforms for the leveling feet of the modules inserted between the two ply wood shelf braces and the top is largely hollow. I left it like this until I determine what type of LED light system to use, and this will allow me some flexibility in mounting. A one inch "tab" of material is enough room to allow a mounting screw to screw the assembly into a wall.

    BM014.JPG
    Another view of the system before it is mounted to the wall. You can see the legs of the old City Job in the back ground. This is where this layout will be going for now until the new City Job gets built.

    More to come.
     

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