The Design of Small Model Railways

Iron Mountain Line - revisited

Iron Mountain Line - revisited
[190×80 cm²]
 Interchange track
 Signal Cabin
 Run-around loop
 Team track
 Storage track

When I installed a new bed in my work- annex guestroom, I wondered what I could do with the space occupied by the bed. A spare bed isn’t much used, so why not make a foldable layout on top of it. The bed measures a rather small 190×80 cm², about 6′4″×2′8″. It’s in fact one half of a double bed. Some children’s beds have this size too.

When I started thinking about the space, it became evident that an oval wasn’t feasible. The depth of the layout is too shallow. I’m talking H0 normal gauge 16½ mm. I could have explored the possibilities of smaller scales or narrow gauge, but I remembered a layout from E.S. Seeley Jr.: “Iron Mountain Line” [Hayden, Bob: Track Planning Ideas from Model Railroader]. This plan shows a small railway of 7′×2′ (210×60 cm²) in H0 scale. Its main purpose is to show the possibilities of selective compression.

When you compare Mr. Seeleys plan with mine, you see that the basic setup is the same. Two end stations connected through a zigzag line. The original plan had a difference in elevation between both stations, leading to quite steep gradients. I left the gradients out because they tend to cause problems and limited the possibilities for folding the layout. Anyhow, my version doesn’t have two stations, but an interchange, called “Edison’s Junction” and a goods yard, called “Iron (Industrial) Park”. (The names are chosen in honour of Mr. Seeleys design.) The operation of this trunk line is quite simple. Freight trains arrive at “Edison’s Junction” and have to be transported to “Iron Park”, visa versa. The trains have to be pulled and pushed between both stations, thus careful track laying is necessary. You’ll find run-around loops at both ends, so the complexity of the shunting is limited.

The track is from Atlas. You can use either Code100 or Code83 Snap-Track. All turnouts are the 18″ radius ones. All curves are 15″ radius. If you’ve got some more space at your disposition, you can start enlarging the curves to a more spacious 18″. If my model railroad design software isn’t fooling me, everything should fit together using standard track pieces.

I’m quite satisfied by the way you can get a lot of operation value on such a small space. The zigzag seems illogical, but increases the travel time between both stations.

 This narrow gauge train at the Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Site in Bishop, California, USA, is very suitable as a model for an American-style small model railway. Photo taken on June 1, 1995.

Engine #9 and freight cars in The Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Site

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