The History of the Grovemont Branch-Introduction and layout pictures

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by AndyWS, Aug 28, 2006.

  1. AndyWS

    AndyWS Member

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    Hello The Gauge, :wave:

    I apologize for barging in and making posts without properly introducing myself and my layout. I am a 20-year old south-central Wisconsin resident. When I was about 3 years old, I received a Bachmann HO scale train set called "The Diesel Hustler". It included a circle of track, power pack, AT&SF EMD F9 locomotive, 2 freight cars and an AT&SF caboose. For about two years that was the extent of our model railroad. Then my dad (with the 4/5-year-old me's sporadic and often overenthusiastic help) built a slightly expanded layout on a 3' x 3' or 4' x 4' (forget which exactly) wooden table. The track plan now consisted of a "square with cropped corners"-each quarter-circle curve section was seperated by a short (18") straight section, and there were two turnouts forming a passing siding from one end to the other.

    Our locomotive fleet now included an Athearn Milwaukee Road EMD GP9 and a Bachmann Great Northern Consolidation. Ultra-prototypical we were not at this stage, I often built structures for our layout such as bridges, tunnels, coaling towers and water tanks out of Lego blocks.

    The reason for our restricted railroading was straightforward-we lived in a small house with no room for a proper model railroad. The train table was placed on the floor of the small sun porch at the front of the house round about the beginning of December, the Christmas tree placed in the middle, and the trains ran until about the middle of January before the table and all rolling stock was packed away for the rest of the year.

    After about two more years, we decided to try and squeeze the absolute maximum amount of trackage out of this situation, and built a new layout on a 4' x 6' platform. The track plan was taken from an Atlas snap-track catalog. It has a single-track mainline that crosses over itself so the train makes two loops-a "twice around" pattern. Both the inner and outer loops have a passing siding and there are three dead-end spur sidings. We were still restricted to holiday-season only operation with the requirement that the tree be in the middle, so that track plan was a logical choice because it left a large open space in the center, and the layout was built with no terrain scenery whatsoever. The platform was constructed in two pieces that latched together so the layout could be more easily transported and stored. The only drawback to this track plan is that train length is restricted to slightly less than that of the inner loop-else the train crashes into its own rear end at the 30 degree crossing!

    Six and a half years ago, my family moved to a larger house with much more room in the basement. The plans for a large and permanent layout complete with landscaping scenery, mountains, tunnels, rivers etc have somewhat been put on the back burner, but at least we can now leave our old one up and running year-round.

    Our layout is titled "The Grovemont Branch" after the name boards on our Bachmann lighted station. Original, huh? I have determined that were it a real life railroad it would be a "crossover" branchline type that mainly ferries traffic between two Class I railroads while serving some small towns along the way with industrial freight and perhaps commuter trains to the big cities on the Class I lines. I decided it is this type of railroad since it does not have the latest and greatest in motive power and rolling stock (whether I am running it in the diesel or steam era) and its equipment bears a mish-mash of road names since it is nearly all secondhand. I get the feeling that they do a lot of business with Chicago & Northwestern though, so that must be one of the connecting railroads.

    If we ever do get around to doing a full on layout it would be designed to more accurately reflect this type of railroad.

    Here are some overview shots, the perspectives (front, back, right, left) are described from the point of view of the operator standing at the control panel. And yes, I collect wasp and hornet nests in addition to model trains. :)

    This first view is from the front-left of the layout. On the left is the "maintenance yard", for storing cars and engines in need of TLC ranging from getting a detail piece glued back on to having stock horn-hook couplers swapped for (usually) Kadees to a major mechanical overhaul. Near the front-center of the layout (right edge of the picture) is the control panel, with a map of the track plan showing how the electrical blocks are broken down. There are two "cab controllers" (power packs) and each block has a toggle switch to enable it to be powered by either one. There are also two Atlas switch controls for throwing the two switches at the back of the layout, up against the wall and unreachable by hand.

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    View from the back-left corner of the layout.

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    That's enough for this post. Next post will contain close-ups of each scene around the layout. Thanks for having me here at The Gauge.

    Andy
  2. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

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    WELCOME to the Gauge, Andy!:wave: i liked the "history" of your layout:thumb: . NICE engines:thumb:, :D THANKS for sharing;). :D -Deano
  3. AndyWS

    AndyWS Member

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    Close-ups on the Grovemont Branch

    Just saw your reply Deano. Thanks. :)

    Here is the nerve center of it all, the Grovemont depot. On a protypical railroad, Grovemont would be the hub of the branch line, roughly midway between its interchanges with the Class I railroads. It would be a moderate-sized town of 10-20,000 and contain the locomotive sheds and maintenance houses, freight yard, turntable etc. Express commuter services directly to and from the Class I termini (is that a word?) as well as locals stopping at all the other small towns along the line would run out of Grovemont. The station is a Bachmann built-up structure with a light (that no longer works, fine by us since it was so bright it glowed through the walls).
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    The other end of the depot with a preserved steam locomotive on display nearby-removed for obvious reasons during steam era operations.

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    The two siding tracks that represent the Grovemont engine yard. All four road units seen here are EMD GP9s. On the left siding are two ex-C&NWs (by Life-Like Proto 2000) and on the right siding are (from the front) ex-WSOR (by Walthers), ex-Milwaukee Road (by Athearn, our "Old Reliable" engine) and and ex-Milwaukee Road GE center-cab switcher (by IHC). The Milwaukee Road caboose is
    old, just sitting around. It's the F.R.E.D. era now.


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    Here, former C&NW F-M Trainmaster #1905 (by Athearn) leads a freight past the "Giant Spike Monument" at the front left corner of the layout. Told you the GB doesn't have the latest and greatest in motive power, they're still running these things (along with the GP9s) in 2006! In fact, they've received several inquiries from the local railroad museum about making it into an exhibit! The "real" Grovemont Branch would also have an SD40-2, but as I noted in another thread the Trainmaster is the only one of our 6-axle locomotives that doesn't balk at our widespread 18" radius curves.

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    The tractor convention at the back left corner of the layout. Not all of the tractors are exactly to scale, but the ones on the truck and flatcars are and the rest are fairly close.

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    I took two pictures of several of the following scenes, one with flash (to eliminate grain and illuminate detail) and one without (to show the scene in its more natural colors and light).

    The Grovemont signal house, built from an Atlas kit.

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    Mickey's Fruit Stand (from a Model Power kit), its entire inventory delivered on a Grovemont refrigerator car. Not sure what breed Mickey has. Looks like a mutt.

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    Your friendly neighborhood Ford dealer, Wallschlager Motors (from a Walthers Cornerstone kit). "Good day, what fine set of wheels can I put you in today sir"?

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    The house with addition under construction is a Model Power built up building.

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    The Refreshment Stand, another Atlas kit. "May I take your order, Ma'am"? It is sitting on top of the electrical outlet in the middle of the platform that used to power the Christmas tree lights.

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    Venerable local hangout and gossip center Al's General Store, now owned by the founder's grandson Al III. It is a loyal customer of the GBR and has a loading dock right up against the railroad tracks. This was a kit, can't remember what manufacturer.

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    Here is the display case upstairs for all the locomotives and rolling stock not currently in use on the layout. Right now we are running in the diesel era so most of our steamers as well as the diesels that don't fit are stored in here.

    The locomotives from top to bottom:

    AT&SF F9A by Bachmann
    Great Northern F7A unpowered dummy by Athearn
    AT&SF F9A by Bachmann
    UP Consolidation by IHC
    C&NW Pacific by IHC
    C&NW Mogul by IHC
    AT&SF 0-4-0 "Old Tymer" by IHC-the car behind it is supposed to be part of the train on the shelf below, but the case isn't long enough.
    UP 4-4-0 by IHC
    Southern Ry. 0-4-0 switcher by Model Power with same mechanism as IHC 0-4-0.

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    There's more to come, I just wasn't able to take ALL the pictures tonight.
  4. AndyWS

    AndyWS Member

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    Grovemont Branch Roster

    Prior to the next batch of close-ups, here's the GBR locomotive roster.

    KEY:

    Original road name:type:road number:photo link:-notes:(model brand name)

    Steam era (last engine retired in 1960 and donated to local railroad museum):

    Union Pacific 2-8-0 Consolidation #6045 photo -last to be retired, see above; both Consolidations used primarily for freight (by IHC)

    Great Northern 2-8-0 Consolidation #1257 photo -first to be retired (in reality because our pre-Spectrum Bachmann model ran crappily)

    Chicago & Northwestern 4-6-2 Pacific #1617 photo -express passenger engine (by IHC)

    Chicago & Northwestern 2-6-0 Mogul #293 photo -local freights or helper with one of the Consolidations (by IHC)

    Union Pacific 4-4-0 #119 photo -of Golden Spike Ceremony fame, used on commuter services and locals (by IHC)

    Central Pacific 4-4-0 #60 photo -also of Golden Spike Ceremony fame, never actually ran for the GBR but is now on display outside the Grovemont depot (cheap plastic unpowered toy engine that fit on HO track, combined with a Mantua tender purchased at a secondhand store)

    AT&SF 0-4-0 #18 photo -Backup for #119 on local passenger trains, helper on freights or in the yard

    Southern Ry. 0-4-0 #6636 photo -yard switcher, banker engine on long freights up-grade

    "Mighty Mack" 0-4-0 photo -not actually a GBR engine due to novelty status but can't not mention it here, it came with a Model Power limited edition "Mack Bulldog Express" train set we bought in 2003 (Mack Trucks is my dad's employer).

    Diesel era (first locomotives aquired in the mid-1950s):

    AT&SF EMD F9A (2X) #215 (no photo available) and #307 photo -we have two of these cheap Bachmann engines, one is a replacement for the one from our original train set which broke down, and one came in a "loco and caboose combo" with an AT&SF caboose. Both of them originally carried the number 307, so they couldn't be run or displayed together. The one pictured as #307 is actually now #215. Here's why: These locomotives are now getting old, and the last digit of the number on both sides of one of them wore off. I decided to rub those numbers completely off and call it by the number molded into the clear plastic numberboards up front, 215 (yeah the discrepancy shouldn't have been there in the first place but it worked out nicely).

    So the engine that was once #307 is now #215, and the other one that had been in storage was brought out as #307 since it still carries the number on the side, and conveniently enough it has blank number boards on the front.

    Great Northern EMD F7A #678A photo photo 2 -this locomotive never ran for the GBR, in 2006 it was towed across GBR tracks to be displayed at the railroad museum (Athearn dummy)

    Milwaukee Road EMD GP9 #2387 photo -This locomotive doesn't carry a number, but I call it by a number that MILW actually used for a GP9 that fits in nicely with the number of our IHC Milwaukee switcher. It is one of the first diesels aquired by the Grovemont branch after the original F9 #307, and is still in service today.

    Wisconsin & Southern EMD GP9 #4494 photo - GBR got this locomotive cheap when WSOR sold off a bunch of its older motive power (in reality, #4494 was scrapped). It was rebuilt with a low short hood for better visibility. This is a Walters model.

    Chicago & Northwestern EMD GP9 (2X) #1719 photo and #1720 photo -These are recently aquired Life-Like Proto 2000 models.

    Canadian National EMD GP9 #4235 photo photo 2 -This is actually GBR's latest motive power aquisition, I bought it at a flea market just last weekend. However I found out through a member of another model railroading forum that it is almost as old as the prototype itself-it is an Athearn dating from the 1960s. It has no flywheels and runs very poorly, so it is currently in the maintenance yard awaiting a major overhaul (cleaning and lube first, complete mechanism replacement if necessary).

    Toledo, Peoria & Western EMD GP18 #600 photo -This was one of GBR's earlier diesel purchases, but suffered a breakdown after a few years in service and was donated to the railroad museum to display as their example of the popular EMD "Geep" (A slip of the soldering iron melted the driveshaft while attempting to install a new headlight wire, and the LLP2K model has been consigned to its shipping box ever since).

    Chicago & Northwestern EMD GP38-2 #4623 photo -One of GBR's more modern locomotives, if something from the 1970s can be called modern. It often MUs with one of the GP9s to haul freight across the Grovemont branch. Model by Athearn.

    Chicago & Northwestern EMD SD40-2 #6935 photo -On the fantasy-land Grovemont Branch, this is their biggest and most powerful diesel-electric freight locomotive. In HO scale, we can't run it on our 18" curves. Model by Athearn

    Chicago & Northwestern Fairbanks-Morse H24-66 Trainmaster #1905 photo - Second-biggest hauler behind #6935, this venerable machine still hauls freight over the rails on the Grovemont Branch. Model by Athearn.

    Chicago & Northwestern EMD E6A (2X) #5005-A photo and #5006-A photo -Once again, were the Grovemont Branch a real railroad these along with the F-M Erie Builts below would be the passenger serivce fleet. On the HO scale layout, they don't run since their 6-axle trucks bind up on the curves, and the matched set of IHC C&NW "400" coaches for them to pull overhang so far on the curves that they knock over trackside signs, people, etc. These are Life-Like Proto 2000 models.

    Chicago & Northwestern Fairbanks-Morse Erie-Built (2X) #6001-A photo and #6001-B photo -These Life-Like Proto 1000 models are in the same boat as the E6s.

    Chicago & Northwestern Fairbanks-Morse H10-44 #1054 photo -GBR's first switcher, brought in when they realized "hmmm, maybe it would be more efficient if our road power didn't have to sort and collect their own cars". Still in service. Walthers model.

    Chicago & Northwestern EMD SW1 #1212 photo -Brought in to help out #1054 in the freight yard. Walthers model.

    Chicago & Northwestern "Hustler" switcher #46 photo -Switched industry sidings for many years, now awaiting an overhaul in the maintenance yard (the rubber bands in the belt-drive Athearn model snapped, they have already been replaced once).

    Milwaukee Road GE center cab switcher #2397 photo - Intended to help out #46, now doing its entire job. Model by IHC.

    We got to built that expanded layout...that's way too many locomotives for a 4' x 6'!
  5. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

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    Andy, THANKS for the layout tour, and VERY DETAILED engine run down:thumb:. you have some NICE engines in your roster;) . THANKS!:D -Deano
  6. AndyWS

    AndyWS Member

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    Thanks again Deano. :) Got around to finishing the pictures tonight.

    Here's more from Al's (which also serves as the local watering hole):

    "Go home, Garrity! You've had enough for tonight!"

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    The railroad loading dock at the rear:

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    The Old Grovemont Schoolhouse, the first public school opened in the city. The model is a Bachmann "Plasticville" kit.

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    The signal bridge at the Grovemont Yard, powered from the signal house nearby. The Tyco kit is also supposed to be a pedestrian crossover, but there's no room for the other stairway between the tracks.

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    Finally, some more mainline action. Ex-C&NW GP38-2 #4623 hauls a freight past the tractor convention and the detrius in the maintenance yard:

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    This train features an unusual caboose in the form of Great Northern #678A, an old F7 that was coupled to the train to be towed to its destination, a display track at a railroad museum. The Grovemont Branch would have purchased it for operation (as seen above they roster two ex-AT&SF F9s) but its prime mover (diesel engine) had already been removed and scrapped.

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    You might be wondering how the Grovemont Branch can get away with still running F units, F-M Trainmasters and the like. The Grovemont Branch is owned by a coglomeration of citizens (mostly businessmen) from Grovemont and other towns along the line who recognized the potential benefits of their own railroad and bought the line when it was threatened with closure. They purchase second or third-hand motive power and rolling stock dirt-cheap when big roads are looking to upgrade, and maintain it in excellent condition. This group of dedicated local backers keeps the line open and immune to absorbtion into the large Class I railroads it ferries traffic between.