GE 44 tonner · Ruminations

Summer days

July has been a busy month for non-railroad pursuits. And work is still consuming a lot of energy. What time I’ve had has remained focused on the GE 44-tonner. I just finished painting the parts of the power trucks that will be visible. I repaired the hood with the detached top and front. After scratch building a pair of MU receptacles I discovered that Bowser carries something very similar so I ordered a set to see if they’re better than mine. Next I’ll be reassembling the power trucks and trying them out. Cleaning the frame and body to the point where I can paint them has been frustrating. My cheap Amazon grit blaster isn’t much good. Twinkle has helped but I’m not happy yet.

Designed vector artwork for decals using “Inkscape”. I layed out enough to letter this 44-tonner, two 70-tonners, a Whitcome 65-tonner (future scratch build project) and a couple of boxcars. Sent it off to Shawmut Car Shops for custom decals but haven’t heard back yet. My herald is based on the W&OD inverted triangle although the 44-tonner doesn’t get one.

Also started rehabing the NYC drop bottom gondola I built from a West Shore Lines kit years ago. Converted the trucks to P48 with a NWSL wheel set, replaced the couplers with Protocraft Gould-Symington “E” type and upgraded a few details. Still a little work to do. Need to change the reweigh dates for the 1953 period and touch up paint and weathering.

This will be the first “completed” car on the D&NE. I think I’ll do a couple of Intermountain boxcars next and maybe an Atlas hopper or two just to have some cars to switch. These cars need trucks converted, new Protocraft couplers, a few detail upgrades and correct reweigh dates. Then I’ll dig into the CN Howe truss box car and get that done. I did get in a beautiful set of Protocraft ‘s Dalman Two-Level trucks for this car.

Spent some time today arranging our trip to the D.C. area late August to attend the SONC 2018 convention and visit some friends and family. Hope to see a couple of Proto48 layouts and spend Saturday helping Jack Keene with his layout tour open house. Jack’s D&H Susquehanna Division takes up an entire expanded basement! Yes, he expanded his basement! A bit of contrast to my humble shortline.

Back to that darn 44-tonner…

 

 

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Ruminations

MetaBlog (A blog about the blog)

I hope this isn’t too boring but I thought I’d share the blog’s progress so far. Work has been very consuming these last 6 months or so and the blog entries haven’t been as frequent as I would like …  mostly because I haven’t finished that many projects! I’ve been making a career out of the GE 44-tonner overhaul and conversion refusing to start on much else until it’s done.

But despite all of that, the blog has grown nicely and I thank everyone who follows it. I started the blog in May of 2017 and attracted a whooping 5 visitors. It grew steadily to 6, 8, 9, 10 by September. (A special shout out to my close friends and family.)

In October – BLAM – 455 visitors. What happened? That was the month Gene Deimling gave the blog a mention on his popular blog MyP48. Thank-you Gene from the bottom of my heart. And around the same time, Trevor Marshall mentioned the D&NE and added a referral link to the “Achievable Layouts” section of his very popular Port Rowan blog. These happen to be my very favorite blogs and I follow them religiously. I’m honored they saw fit to pass this blog along.

Since these heads-up went out to the blogosphere the D&NE has maintained a 300-400 visitor pace every month. Those two blogs continue to send the most referrals with a blog in the UK (rmweb.co.uk) and search engines in general right behind. The visitors come from all over: the USA, Canada, the UK, Oz (Australia), New Zealand, Germany, The Netherlands, France, Sweden and Russia.

Don’t get too many comments. I have published all that have been submitted. They might pick up when I get into more interesting modeling topics in the future. I love questions and suggestions and look forward to attracting more interaction.

So, thanks again to everyone who visits. I hope I can maintain your interest in the days and months to come. Lots to do on the D&NE!

Wayne Slaughter

 

 

 

Layout Construction

Shorty Builds a Pop Out

In Access I had come to the realization that the immediate front of St. George needed a pop out section for access to the deep areas of the yard. The crossover and station area needed much better access than was possible with solid benchwork. So I went about constructing a small section of removeable benchwork to provide that access with only a little nusisance. In any case, the pop out won’t be removed all that often.

First, I determined the exact location of the pop out and repositioned the joists on either side to be exactly perpendicular to the L-girders. (Have I mentioned that I love L-girder benchwork?) The space between the joists was set at 32″. The joist between those two was cut back to the L-girder.

Next, I added bottom slides by attaching 1x3s to the bottom of the joists. Some bumper stops and cleat supports were attached to the L-girder to help position and support the insert.

The insert (32″ by 15″) was constructed from the same 1×3 lumber as the joists. It slides right in and is nicely supported on 3 sides.

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The joists have been repositioned and the guides and bumpers constructed.
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Pop out partially inserted.
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Pop out firmly in place.
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The pop out is 32″ by 15″

The front industrial siding will cross the pop out requiring two track joints. It’ll snake around to serve a creamery, a run down storage shed for bagged animal feed and a coal trestle. I’m going for a busy lower village setting with a gaggle of buildings lining the tracks. We’ll have to see how it turns out. Maybe a few more building mockups will help.

Model Building · Proto48

Smoky Mountain AAR Flat

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Exciting day at the mailbox! My Smoky Mountain Model Works AAR 70-ton flat car kit arrived and it’s a beaut! Gene Deimling reviewed it a few weeks back so I’ll just say thank-you Jim King for producing such a wonderful kit in O scale. Debating on whether to letter mine for Pere Marquette (they might have been relettered C&O by my era, 1953) or maybe B&O. Protocraft has trucks, couplers and decals for these cars. Weight being a concern with my heavy roster I’ll see if tungsten cylinders from Maximum Velocity will fit inside the center sill. Can’t wait to start on it. Got to get that 44-tonner finished first!

 

Layout Construction · Track Plan

Access

When planning St. George, I went a little overboard on the depth. It’s just over 4′. I needed this much depth — could have used more — to get the scene I was after. In the original plan it was even worse. The industrial siding now at the front of the scene was in the back! Totally unreachable!  I addressed that in Changes to St. George. But still, the scene is just as deep and I need to get back there to build and scenic things. So I left the front benchwork incomplete so I could build the crossover. But the station platform was a pain to reach.

This consumed much deep navel contemplation over many months. The front couldn’t be filled in until the back area was completed. But then what? Finally, the idea came to make a section of the front scene removable! By pulling out the removable section I’ll be able to reach all the important stuff at the back of the scene.

 

 

First step was to cut the existing plywood surface to clear the way. After taping the rail, I grabbed the circular saw and cut right along the freight house track and removed the wedge of plywood. Next, a piece of pink foam board was cut to size to fill in the entire scene. The front industrial track will be on this foam along with a decent sized creamery, a run down shed for storing bagged animal feed and a coal trestle. The freight house is sited at the back and faces the existing siding. To get things right, the plan was drawn full size on the foam board.

 

The benchwork was modified to provide support for the foam board but give generous access when removed. Every other joist was cut back to the L-girder to be replaced by partial joists attached to the foam board that slide in between the plywood and the L-girder.

Homasote roadbed from Cascade Rail Supply will be glued down with Liquid Nails for foam. It’ll snake around a bit as these sidings often do to give the scene a little extra interest. Like the freight house siding, this siding will be code 83 (55#) rail on ties mostly buried in ground. The turnout on the freight house spur is already complete.

Next on the agenda is to build the frame for the removeable section. It’ll need to be keyed in some way for good alignment. It’ll need a plug and socket for the feeders. And I think I’ll round the front edge of the fascia a little for a more pleasing viewing experience.

So there you have it. Procastination pays off as usual. If I hadn’t made that section removable I would have really regretted it down the road. Though Micro-Mark does have this crazy contraption for hovering over your layout…

 

GE 44 tonner · Locomotive · Nostalgia · Research

Where has April gone!

I just noticed I haven’t posted anything this month! Work has been all consuming, I guess.

 

Workbench
Trucks are converted to P48 but more work is needed.

 

 

The 44-tonner, No. 48, is still in pieces on the workbench. After test running the converted power trucks it was obvious the pickups were less than adequate. I’m fashioning new ones from phosphor-bronze wire. While I’m at it I’ll disassemble the trucks one more time and give them a thorough going over. It wouldn’t hurt to recheck the gauge on the converted wheelsets. I noticed one wheel was wobbling a bit. It will get a new insulated bushing. The trucks frames are painted with a coat of nasty black gloss I’d like to strip. It doesn’t make sense to leave any problems as performance depends on these trucks being first class.

 

CS boxcar
SONC 2018 convention car

 

A week or so ago my SONC 2018 convention car arrived. It’s an Atlas X-29 lettered for the Canandaigua Southern, the late John Armstrong’s famous O scale railroad. It’s a beauty. All I’ll do is convert the trucks to P48, replace the couplers and give it some light weathering. It’ll join the Delta Lines box car as my only novelty stock. No Olde Frothingslosh reefers on this railroad!

After dithering for some weeks I finally placed an order for a Smoky Mountain AAR 70 ton flat car kit. The critics are raving! Protocraft has the trucks and decals for these cars. I’d like to letter mine for an upper Midwest line, likely Pere Marquette or maybe NKP – they both had them. It will bring in a load of farm tractors now and then and maybe haul out rough lumber that’s heading westward. Biggest issue I see is getting it weighted up enough to operate with my relatively heavy fleet.

Also, just received a copy of the B&M Bulletin, Fall 1974 with a comprehensive article on Elmwood Jct. that was located not too far from Bennington, NH. It’s where the lines from Manchester to Keene and Peterborough to Contoocook crossed before the floods of 1937. After the floods, these branches were severed with no through routes. On my journeys along the Hillsboro branch I tried to pin down just where Elwood was and I did identify the location along Rte. 202. Alas, there’s nothing left. Oh, well.

So, I’m bearing down on the 44-tonner until it’s done. Then maybe on to the French river bridges and some more trackwork.

 

 

Layout Construction

Salad Days

 

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A little ground cover at St. George. Station platform has timber sides filled with plaster. Finish will be cinders. The station mockup is not long for this world. The tracks end at macadam Depot St. crossing. Still lots to do! Can’t wait for static grass!

There is so much to do on the Dominion & New England. I’ve been working a lot these days and time has been a little hard to find. Still I make some progress even if it’s only 20 minutes after a late dinner. Finished with benchwork on the opposite wall and set the roadbed for the turn back curve but this area will likely lay fallow for some time as I focus on St. George proper.

It’s that golden time with the layout in its salad days. Lucky for me, this will be the case for years to come as the D&NE grows organically around the room. Everything is going on at once — trackwork, wiring, scenery, model building  — and the room looks it! Once St. George has enough trackage to operate, progress will likely slow as attention shifts to building rolling stock and switching out St. George!

I tend to get lost in too many projects at once. I’m in a bit of a rush to get some portion of the layout presentable with a little operating equipment on the track. Remembering that adage, finish what you start, I’m setting some priorities for the next few months. Here is what I’m focusing on right now:

  1. Initial scenery. I want to get some shape and color going on the north end of St. George to see how things will look. It’s also nice to have some area a little finished so visitors can get an idea of where you’re headed. Have a nice start on that. Needed to get some ground cover at the rear area behind the station so I can add the front siding. Reaching back there is going to be tough once that siding is in.
  2. Get the 44 tonner on the track! I went off on a tangent with the idea of converting to a micromotor/crossbox drive but since have come to my senses. So it’s back to finishing the P48 conversion with the original can motor/worm drive. I’ll wire the motors in series to slow things down and join the pickup leads from both trucks so it has full eight wheel pickup. Might as well get the sound decoder and speaker installed while I’m at it. The only thing needed on the body is to fashion MU connectors for the end platforms so it can run in tandem with the 70 tonner. The body needs a good cleaning, an etching bath in white vinegar and gray etch primer. For paint, I’m leaning toward a dark blue color with a cream hood top and red dividing stripe. (Shades of the L&N?) Lettering will be sparse until I get artwork done for custom decals. Oh, and glass in the windows.
  3. Scratch build the St. George station in styrene. Based largely on the B&M Peterborough, NH depot, this building will be a little worn but not down and out. Styrene is a great material to work with for structures of this type if care is taken to knock down the sheen. Siding will be New England clapboards laid up board by board in 0.015″ styrene. The windows and doors are mostly Tichy but many with extensive modification. Color scheme for D&NE railroad structures is deep yellow, dark green windows, doors and wainscoting with white trim boards.
  4. With the 44 tonner in operation I’ll need to get the DCC buses strung and connect the drops.
  5. Final touch ups on the trackwork with oil washes and pan pastels.
  6. Finally, add roadbed and trackwork for the front siding and attach the first bit of fascia.

With this work done, the layout will have a small area in something closer to a finished state and I can run some trains. Then it will be on to the French River crossings.

 

Model Building · Proto48

New Power for the D&NE!

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D&NE 57, a RY Models GE 70 Tonner, Phase 2

New power in the form of an RY Models GE 70 Tonner, Phase 2, has arrived in St.George. The boys in the shop have a little work to do. The locomotive is gauged for standard O scale (Ow5) and will need it’s axles machined and wheels replaced for P48. The couplers will be replaced with new “E” face couplers.

It needs a few minor details. The end platforms will get MU connectors as I plan to get another unit one day. I could just do the cab end as they’ll always MU cab to cab. Actually, I’ll MU it with the 44 tonner too. (Did you know some 44 tonners were MU equipped? W&OD 58, Aroostook Valley 11 and 12 come to mind.) Maybe that’s all I’ll do.

After a thorough cleaning, it will get a coat of etch primer then black Scalecoat, lightened somewhat and with a dash of blue. White stripes on the end of the hood and white handrails. Lettering, once I get off my duff and do the artwork for the decals, will be yellow (imitation gold?) and much in the style of W&OD 57. I plan to hijack my herald design from the inverted triangle used by the W&OD.

My other GE unit, RY Models 44 tonner number 48, has been languishing on the workbench. After converting it to P48, I had started to repower it with Faulhaber 59:1 micromotors and 2:1 climax gearboxes which I had on hand. It works but I’m not sure the delrin gears and crossbox will hold up. And thinking ahead, I’ll want to MU it with the 70 tonner so the speeds should match. So I’m going to go back to the original drive on the truck I converted which means machining a replacement axle since I machined the original for the crossbox. Oh well. That’s the way the story goes. First your money and then your clothes.

The slower running I was after can be had by wiring the motors in series and I’ll do that on both units. They’ll both get DCC sound decoders and LED headlights.

Number 48 will need an MU connector on one end. It will be painted in the style of W&OD 48, black with a gray hood top and a thin red stripe separating the colors. I always wondered if it was dark blue and gray (you know, civil war, blue and gray) but the color photos I’ve seen show black and gray. I’ve also toyed with the idea of painting the hood top cream. We’ll see.

I have thought about more colorful paint but in this period I don’t think it wasn’t all that common on shortline switchers. I just need to back off the black a bit with a little blue so they don’t appear as dark blobs.


 

As a side story, I bought this unit from a fellow modeler over ebay. When he shipped it from Colorado, the P.O. clerk mistyped my Zip code (08109 instead of 03109) and then picked a house in Merchantville, New Jersey that was number 170 on a street that started with “P”. I watched the in transit details for over a week as it bounced between the sorting center in Nashua NH (20 miles from here) and Merchantville NJ. I stopped at our local P.O. and got them to bring up the package label scan and saw what had happened. After some encouragement from the seller, the P.O. quickly redirected the package and I got it the next day. Talk about Charlie on the MTA. I would have never seen that package. And thank goodness the resident at 170 Prospect St. in Merchantville NJ 08109 wasn’t an O scale modeler (I hear they’re in N scale).

 

Nostalgia · Proto48 · Ruminations

My Influences

“Who are your influences?”

“Hmmm. Well, Bob Dylan for sure. Big Bill Broonzy. The Mississippi Sheiks. Oh! Oh! You meant the trains. Well…”

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We all owe a lot to those who came before us. Clearing a path. Paving the way. I was raised on HO scale trains by my grandfather who taught me the art of scratchbuilding and handlaid track.

But the O scale bug bit me quite young. It was those All Nation O scale 40′ box car ads. Every month a new lettering scheme. I wanted to build every one. I saw those cars full sized on the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad and particularly remember the CN maple leaf box cars bringing Canadian lumber to town.

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Under my grandfather’s layout, among the stacks of MRs, RMCs and Trains, was a Fawcett book featuring Frank Ellison‘s Delta Lines. I read that book cover to cover many times. I still have it. In those days, O scale was a mixed bag of cardboard sided reefers, crude castings and Lionel conversions. But Frank Ellison took us beyond that and introduced us to operations: way freights, hot shots, division yards, timetables. “Green lights to Donaldson!” I don’t go in for novelty stuff too much but I do have an NMRA heritage box car lettered for Delta Lines.

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My Wabash mogul built from a Kemtron kit, builder unknown. Will be converted to P48 and repainted as D&NE 20.

B&O claim agent Mel Thornburg scratchbuilt wonderful O scale locomotives with just basic hand tools. His Thornburgh Builds a Wabash Mogul series in MR (beginning Jan ’59) was as complete a treatise on locomotive building as one could hope for. Kemtron released a complete kit for the mogul with the article series. I love the lines of this locomotive and picked up a built model at SONC 2017. Yes, it needs a new motor, DCC, fresh paint and conversion to P48. Still I’d like to find another in kit form. I’ve always wanted to scratchbuild a locomotive. Maybe this is as close as I get.

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Ultra Scale 50′ box car and Mar’71 MR with Bill Clouser box cars on the cover and his interview with Bob Hegge.

Another name that pops to mind is Bill Clouser. A professional model builder from St. Louis, his work appeared in MR during the 50s and 60s. You had to read the captions to be sure that it was MR — not Trains — you were reading. He was casting highly detailed freight car and traction models in metal filled resin way back then. He found that with seven interchangeable parts he could build a variety of 1938 ARA boxcars. His models were built to 1/4″ AAR meaning O scale built to prototype standards — including the track and wheels. We know it today as proto48. They were sold commercially at one time as Ultra Scale. I have a Clouser 50′ box car.  A treasure to me.

Some of you might remember Paul Larson who edited MR in the late 50s. A master modeler, his HO Mineral Point & Northern layout and his model craftsmanship was ahead of its time. St. George owes a big nod to that full page color photo spread of Mineral Point way back in Dec ’59 MR (see lead photo). Later, when Paul was writing for RMC, he had moved to O scale. His article on detailing track in RMC Dec ’68 was decades ahead. The freight house in St. George will be based on the one he described in RMC Dec ’71.

IMG_20171229_161408275Perhaps my biggest O scale inspiration was John Armstrong. I met him several times on visits to his Canandaigua Southern in Silver Spring, Maryland. I never got to know him. I don’t know why. Maybe I was just too much in awe. Living in Alexandria, Virginia for many years, I could have joined the O scale gang up that way but was up to my eyeballs in On2 in those days. If time, money and basement space were no object, I would build a rendition of the CS centered on the CP division point yard at Newport, Vermont circa 1953. While attending the SONC in Washington DC some years ago we got word that John’s health was failing. He was heartbroken that he couldn’t be around to have the layout open. At his behest, his family and the CS operators took over and invited folks to see the layout one more time. What a bittersweet afternoon. He passed not long thereafter. Later, much of the CS was auctioned off. I started to bid on his Cementipeed 200 ton covered hopper but was quickly out paced. Atlas is doing up their X29 in CS lettering for SONC 2018 and I have one on order.

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I would be remiss in not mentioning my good friend, the late John Peterson, of Annandale, Virginia. I met John in the Tulsa Lines narrow gauge hobby shop in Alexandria one Saturday morning somewhere back in the late 70s. He introduced me to modeling the Maine two-footers in On2. John was, I believe, the first modeler to appear in Great Model Railroads twice — once for his On2 SR&RL layout and again for his O scale B&M. A New Englander, John was a master modeler and his locomotive roster was something to behold. Steam or diesel, everything was re-detailed, beautifully painted and equipped with sound. John was a real inspiration to me and a great friend. In the days before brass imports flooded the On2 world, John converted an HO Mantua 2-8-2 into a wonderful On2 2-8-0 locomotive, SR&RL 25, utilizing the cab, superstructure and tender  from a NB&W mogul. It has PFM sound, of course. Jack Keene and I borrowed it many times to power our On2 portable display railway. It now sits proudly on my display shelf.

There are a lot of other influences not O scale. Allen McClelland — I still remember seeing his first photo in MR’s Trackside Photos as a young teen back in the early 60s. I’d never seen such realism. I got to see his original V&O and it was just as stunning in person. Frary & Hayden and their scenic HOn30 layouts. I loved the funky charm of Thatcher’s Inlet and the original Carrabasset & Dead River. There was Witt Towers and his protofreelance Alturas & Lone Pine. Remember his wonderful articles on operation in MR? Jack Work and Al Armitage. What exquisite model builders. Gordon Odegard‘s Clinchfield layout was perfection in N scale. Linn Westcott‘s Twin-T detectors, TAT-IV transistor throttles, L-Girder benchwork and zip texture scenery — all innovations.

In this current millennium, fine scale modeling has been taking a bigger place in my model railroading interests and I’ve made the transition to Proto 48. I haunt Gene Deimling‘s P48 blog and slobber over his latest scratchbuild. The D&NE is intended to be an incubator for fine model building. I hope my skills improve with age ’cause Lord knows I’m not getting any younger.

 

Achievable layout · Layout Construction · Track Plan · Trackwork

Just Around the Corner

With a few days off over the holidays, track bed has pushed forward around the corner from St. George. Laying out the last two turnouts at the south end of St. George requires that the 52″ radius curve at the end of the room be precisely set. That entailed construction of the first section of benchwork on the opposite wall up to the outside entry door and then a hanging section spanning the end of the room connecting the two sides. The new benchwork is a traditional four legged L-Girder table 10′-6″ long and varies from 3′ down to 2′ in width. I didn’t trust wall supports here as the framing for this wall is hung on the concrete foundation with power nails. It was never intended to support much more than the drywall. The hanging section at the end of the room is lighter 1″ x 3″ L-Girders mounted to the outer 1″ x 4″ L-Girders of the opposite walls. No legs.

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New benchwork looking from site of covered bridge. .

 

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Trammel in operation on connecting benchwork. St. George is to the right.

A joist was strung across the room at the approximate radius center from the end wall and a trammel erected. With the trammel, laying out the curve and plywood roadbed was easy. My trammel is a piece of lath with holes drilled at various inch intervals.

I didn’t intend to get into all this benchwork right now but that curve controls everything and needed to be set. You could argue that I should have started with it. The curve dominates the track plan on the opposite side of the room. I’m still working out the details but the main line will “S” curve to parallel with the wall and stop squarely at the end of benchwork. The basement entryway will need a removable span and I’m favoring a covered bridge — there were so many on these Northern New England short lines.

A long spur will be constructed back towards the inside of the curve. For what I’ve yet to determine. A quarry or a lumber and coal business? A hilly, scruffy area or a village setting? Hmmm. (Although I have a general idea of how the layout will evolve, I enjoy letting it grow organically around the room.)

 

TRQ

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The quarry I have in mind (based somewhat on Trap Rock Quarry on the W&OD) would have a loader track, a couple of storage tracks and handle six or eight cars easily. That would require an additional dozen or so gondolas and hoppers on the roster. Maybe too much.

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The lumber yard is winning out. I’m leaning toward a village setting named Nottingham. A second shorter spur would fit nicely on the backside of the “S”. Could site a creamery there. Another milk car every day. Shades of the nearby Montpelier & Wells River.

Well, that’s all a ways off. This area will serve as poor man’s staging area for a while. Lots still to do in St. George.

So, after straightening up the room, I’ll be back on the trackwork in St. George and build the river crossings. But I want to lay the roadbed on the curve and mark out guide lines for the ties before I dismantle the trammel. Unfortunately, I ran out of Homasote roadbed and need to order another batch from Cascade Rail Supply.