Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Marcola Branch: Part 1 - Introduction

Over the past 3+ years, with life taking me away from my family home and the Cascade Sub Layout, I've focused primarily on weathering locomotives and rolling stock for myself and others. However, the layout building bug has bit again and I am very near to starting my next layout build. 

Introducing the Marcola Branch!

The Marcola Branch will be a modular switching layout representing UP's industrial spur in Springfield, OR. The railroad serves numerous customers both directly off of the mainline in Springfield and off a branchline that formerly extended to Marcola, OR. Customers include Arclin and Borden chemical manufacturers, Rosboro, Sundance, and Swanson Group lumber mills, Kingsford Charcoal, International Paper, and Amerigas Propane. UP runs a daily local, the "Weyerhaeuser," from Eugene to service the line. 

The layout:

My layout is designed to be built in phases, adopting "The One Module Approach" (TOMA) popularized by Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine. The first two modules will include UP's mainline and small yard through Springfield, Rosboro Lumber, and Swanson Group Lumber. The third module will include the first section of the branch itself and Amerigas Propane.

Isaac Fabris expertly brought my vision into reality, rendering rough napkin sketches into the above trackplan. As noted on the plan, the layout will be 9'x 13' along two walls of the Shed Studio. I plan to use Micro Engineering code 83 track for the mainline and code 70 for the sidings and industrial spurs. Turnouts on the mainline and in some select sections of secondary track will be #8s with the rest #6s. The minimum radius will be 30". As designed the layout includes 8 car spots (2 off-spots at Rosboro) across 3 industries, providing adequate operating capability for short solo sessions.  

While the layout's operations will only represent a sliver of the full industrial switching operations of the area in this initial footprint (6-8 modules and more space would be required for the entire branch), I will focus primarily on the art of building a layout. To that end, trains may not run in any meaningful way until expansion of the branch line is possible. Regardless, the layout will serve as a great backdrop for my weathered models and a test bed to hone my skills in track laying, scenery, and structure building. 

In the coming months, I plan to continue the initial prep of the room for the layout and the construction of two large cabinets that will support the railroad and store various supplies and equipment. From there, I will begin work on designing and constructing benchwork for the first module in the shadowbox style. 

Stay tuned, more to come. 

- John

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