North Forest Lines

Mudkip Orange Sep 12, 2020

  1. Mudkip Orange

    Mudkip Orange TrainBoard Member

    Planning and build thread for my "intermediate term" N layout.

    This is the dining room of a 95-year-old "fixer upper" house I am slowly renovating. Given enough time and money I will eventually get rid of the 70's/80's wall textures, repaint and add some built-ins... at which time the layout dies. But that's a ways out, so until then, trains in the dining room.

    The layout is a freelanced double track line line with DC electrification through a forest preserve with a small, outer suburban village and a branch line to parts unknown. Most of my inspiration comes from Japan, but it could also represent American railroads in any of several parallel universes. For example, what if...

    -The MILW declines to commit corporate seppuku, instead extending the electrification east from Othello to Avery to create a continuous electric district for fast freight intermodal that competes favorably with the BN. By 2020 the 3kV has been extended as far east as Aberdeen and there is a separate 1.5kV system in the Chicago-MKE corridor. Hiawathas operate under wire at 125mph, and there have been studies of running a crosstown service by tying Union Station into the old IC Electric with a new connection near the St. Charles Air Line. Or perhaps...

    -North shore politicians cancel the Edens Expressway and I-94 is routed over what's now the Tri-State. The CNSM limps into the 70's and is absorbed into RTA as a separate division. In 1984-87 the original Insull overhead is upgraded to 1500VDC to allow for eight-car trains. Two Silverliners are modified to operate off the new wire and are sometimes seen on fan trips. IRM still owns 801-802, but 803-804 currently serves as a Near Northside pizza joint which is periodically threatened by proposals for a supertall on the site. Its long-term fate is unknown, but Rockhill Trolley has expressed an interest.

    That's enough BS, on to the benchwork:


    The layout is 3'4" x 13'6". There are two modules of 1/4" plywood over 1x3s, 40"x88" and 40"x74". These sit on two 2x4x14s spaced 39" O.C. and screwed into the home's original shiplap walls. 1x3 "paddles" prevent the modules from sliding off. Four cheap curtain rods are mounted on the back of the front 2x4, allowing the underside to be used as storage. The front 2x4 had a noticeable sag after construction, so I added a 2x6 leg.


    The rat's nest of Kato track is just there to run trains for the time being. I have most of a box of Peco Code 80 flex I bought 10 years ago which I intend to use. When I run out of turnouts I may continue buying Peco 80 or it might be a mix of 80 and 55.

    I packed up my trains towards the end of 2016 and most of them have been boxed since then. So far I have an F40PH that's missing a snowplow, an E531 with a destination sign that doesn't light, and who knows what else lurking in the cases. I reckon I should process the RIP track before I get into foam inclines and flex, so that's where this setup will remain for a bit.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
    eposte12, BNSF FAN, badlandnp and 7 others like this.
  2. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    Nice floor for a fixer upper house!
  3. Randy Stahl

    Randy Stahl TrainBoard Supporter

    The North Shore did operate 8 car trains all the time during the war. They had enough substations to prevent voltage drops. The problem was the platforms were too short in most places. A six car train had to doubled out of Milwaukee station for example. They were usually put together at Harrison Street. 8 car trains were the norm for MD trains.

    Looking forward to seeing the progress!!
    Mudkip Orange and Hardcoaler like this.
  4. Mudkip Orange

    Mudkip Orange TrainBoard Member

    Current track plan. Comments / criticisms / diss tracks welcome.

    BNSF FAN and badlandnp like this.
  5. Run8Racing

    Run8Racing TrainBoard Member

    I do like this plan. Double track main(y). Busy-looking junction(y). Potential for push-pull commuter trains(y) (from Chicago area, GOTTA' have that !!!) Seems that West (or Left) loop would have some serious grades, especially with the branch line going through it. Might have to switch roads. The GN mountain goat may come in handy !!! :) What are the dimensions of the rectangles on the drawing ??? Almost looks like an HO plan on two 4x8s. I really do like it. If I had the space, I would probably "steal" most of it !!!
  6. Run8Racing

    Run8Racing TrainBoard Member

    Still looking. LOTS of places for towers !!!(y) At least one crossing at grade(y). Room for a creek / river(y). I would add a couple spurs to that "passing track thingy" near East (or Right) loop to keep a local freight busy. Not sure of your scenery plans, but if the branch drops as the West loop rises, that would work. Would like to see West loop elongated and / or opened up. Of course, more space would solve ALL of our problems !!!:) Just seems to be a steep grade with tight curves. GREAT for a woman, but not a layout !!! :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
  7. logging loco

    logging loco TrainBoard Supporter

    Nice runner layout!
    I like the gentle sweeping curves on the main. Long trains will look great snaking around them.
  8. OlyPen

    OlyPen TrainBoard Member

    Nice flow to the design. Are you using some sort of switch machine/manual remote throw for the yard switches? Otherwise they'll be a pain to line being that far away.
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Looks good. Only thing I can see is your yard has no way for trains to head in, power first, then allow it to uncouple and escape. All yard action will need back up moves.
    mtntrainman likes this.
  10. Mudkip Orange

    Mudkip Orange TrainBoard Member

    Revised plan:


    Added runaround capability within the yard. Yard has more and longer tracks. Spur within the right loop, which was originally a tank car load/unload, now bends and crosses the main just east of the station. Shades of the old CA&E/C&NW at Wheaton. Also frees up space inside the loop for scenery. The station is a standard design of the old Japanese National Railways, which built hundreds of them. They allowed for three-way meets on the original single track lines.


    I don't plan on really doing any local freight switching on this layout, but a team track opposite the station is pretty common. Might take it back out during construction if things start to look too busy. The thought with the branch is to have it climb steeply after it leaves the main. Doesn't fit Chicago, but archetypical of the Osaka/Kyoto private operators.

    I'm not sure how I'll power the yard turnouts. My current thought is either to engineer something using knobs, dowels, and piano wire or buy a 3D printer and build some homegrown Tortoises. I might also just buy a bunch of Tomix turnouts. I'd lose a yard track to Tomix's 1.46" spacing (vs 1.2" in this plan), but it'd be completely hassle free.
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  11. Mudkip Orange

    Mudkip Orange TrainBoard Member

    No layout progress. The Kato track was disassembled in November and the train board has been staging for various electrical and plumbing projects since.

    But I did manage to get my office looking somewhat presentable...


    Kato needs to release this train already.
    BNSF FAN, badlandnp and MK like this.

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