Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Sunny Model Railroad In HO Scale

The Sunny Model Railroad is a layout I built in the tiny backroom of my apartment. Based on the Fleischmann HO Profi-Track system, the entire layout measure 6' 3" by 3' 6". The baseboard is 3/4" plywood with a 2" wooden frame all around, with lateral bracing under the board for extra rigidity.

The main feature of this model railroad is that it consists of two separate and independent track loops, laid out in a split-level. The two track loops are on separate controllers, enabling independent control of the trains on each track.

HO Train Layouts
Overview of The Sunny Model Railroad in its earlier stage. There is still much left to be done!

I got this brilliant idea from a Japanese N scale train magazine DVD that illustrated this concept so perfectly-- talk about squeezing maximum train action into a minimum amount of space!

I initially set up my little single loop and sidings on a temporary, unbraced 6' by 3' piece of plywood that I place on top of a couple of cardboard boxes. Considering the size of the room that was about the maximum amount of real estate I had to work with! And there wasn't much HO scale track one could fit onto that.

Frustrated, I all but left my little layout largely abandoned in the back room. Peering in to the room now and then, I lamented having spent several hundred dollars on tracks and trains just to see them lay there on the bare baseboard. I didn't even bother to attempt any landscaping or scenery.

And then came the turning point.

Before a gig -- I'm a musician playing at a local blues-rock club -- I was browsing at a Kinokuniya bookstore when I spied, on a solitary display rack, a magazine and DVD pack about N scale model trains -- in Japanese!

Bearing in mind, that at this point, I had more or less lost all interest in the hobby.

On impulse, I bought the magazine anyway, telling myself that since it came with a DVD it must be worth the 40 bucks. Right?

Let me just say, it was the best $40 I could have spent on this hobby!

Now, I had done my fair share of research on the internet -- several hundred hours worth -- and bought many issues of every US and UK model train magazine publication I could find. I was hungry for layout and scenery ideas and track designs for small spaces. I wanted to know how to create realistic looking rock-faces and mountains. Some of the information was good but most of it was useable only if you had some 20 square feet of space to dedicate to a model railway.

And I found answers to every one of my burning questions in that little Japanese mag -- and then some!

N Scale Layouts
The Japanese model railroad magazine in question. If you can find it, buy it!

The DVD that came with the magazine became my regular late night viewing before bed.  I watched it several times over, browsing through the various chapters, remembering what I had watched the night before, and going back to it the next night to watch it again. I learned something new every time I put that DVD on -- that's how much of a revelation it was!

Starting with a bare 6' by 3' board, the two Japanese men hosting the show brought me from a single loop with one siding on a bare plywood baseboard to designing a split level layout that incorporated tunnels and bridges with realistic looking rocks, mountains and trees.

And to this day, I don't even know the title of the magazine because it's in Japanese!

Needless to say my enthusiasm and imagination were piqued. Within two weeks I had laid the foundation for what you see today -- split-level track design, landscaping and scenery.

This was my very first attempt at landscaping a model railroad, so if you like what you see, bear in mind that you can do it too!



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