An O Scale (1/48 th) switching layout

The project

The MRS layout (formerly GJM, purchased in 1999) has been under construction since 1996 by a group of modelers whose number varied from 3 to 4, depending on the time period.
Our goal was to showcase other scales than the ones practiced by most modelers. We started with "N Scale" (see : FHHT which has been dismantled, since) and we are currently trying to emphasize "O Scale", which is new for most of us.

The layout is currently assembled in Christophe's house and will be seen only during exhibitions

MRS System map

MRS is a freelance Railroad Company located in Michigan, north of Lansing, the state Capitol. The action takes place in the middle of the sixties and this bridge railroad sees a lot of freight traffic between the towns of Coleman, Midland and Mount Pleasant, traffic headed for various directions : Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ludington, Lansing... Several Companies (Chesapeake & Ohio, Grand Trunk Western, New York Central, Ann Arbor) share the tracks in this crowded industrial environment.

Some facts about the layout


Authors
Christophe Le Corre
Marcel Jeanson
Jean Soukiassian
Gerard Rodriguez
also participating : André Hernvan
Scale O (1/48th) NMRA.
Layout size 12.00 m (40 ft) x 0.80 m (2.7 ft) + two 1,80m (6 ft) extensions.
Structure L girders, sectionnable, made from MDF and Plywood.
Track and turnouts Handlaid using code 148 and code 125 rails.
150 ft of track and 17 turnouts.
4800 handmade ties.
18500 spikes, including a "golden spike".
Track laid on 8 mm (0.3 in.) cork strips.
Tortoise switch motors
Maximum grade 3 %
Layout control DCC with sound in the engines.
Equipment from : Digitrax/NCE/Soundtraxx/Zimo.
Signaling NJ International/K.Line operating with cells in the track and track occupancy detection.

Track plan

(Clicking on the track plan will display an enlarged version [45 kb] in a separate window).

Click to enlarge

The layout has been originally inspired by one of the "101 Track Plans" published by Kalmbach Publishing : the "Small Shelf Railroad". This track plan has been freely adapted in order to fit our needs.

This is a layout dedicated to switching in a congested industrial area where many industries with various activities require all sort of railcars types. A small engine facility allows to service the switchers operating in this area and some street running is required because of the lack of space in this crowded neighborhood.
A hidden yard, located at the back of the layout, as well as some hidden tracks in the left part of the layout allow for storing and exchanging rolling stock between appearances in the visible part of the layout. There is also provision for two 6 ft. removable fiddle track which connects to the right and left part of the the layout, for added operational flexibility.

Globally, a "small" layout (with regard to the scale) offfering many operating possibilities and able to keep busy several operators during an operating session.

Scenery - Rolling stock

The whole scenery (mostly buildings) has been completely scratchbuilt, using commercial parts (bricks, wood, windows, doors, roofs, etc...). Most of these buildings have been built based on photos of actual buildings, the remaining ones being "imagineered".
Some of the buildings, close to the viewers, have full inside fittings and furniture with realistic lighting.

Click to enlarge The motive power, currently being superdetailed, will be composed of a GP9 (Red Caboose), an RS3 and a GP38 (Weaver), an SW9 (Atlas), as well as a switching engine being kitbashed from various commercial equipments and parts.

The freight cars stable will be composed of a mixture of different equipments, including boxcars, tank cars, hoppers, covered hoppers, reefers, flat cars and gondolas, in order to fulfill the needs of the various industries located on the layout and beyond.
Click to enlarge All these equipments come from various sources (Red Caboose, Intermountain, Weaver, Atlas), some cars being kitbashed.

Each piece of rolling stock is weighted, superdetailed and weathered before being put into service on the layout. Each car and engine is equipped with Kadee couplers, the uncoupling being done using retractable magnets (manually controlled) located under the track.

Operation

Operation of the layout is handled manually, freight-car forwarding being done using car-cards and waybills. All operating sessions are performed under "fast time", using the "fast clock" provided with the DCC system.

The above drawing, shows all possible destinations for freight cars, beyond the layout :

  • The rear yard (to Midland) is used for trains coming in and going out (one train coming in = one train going out). Capacity : approx. 35 freight cars on the three tracks.
  • The left tracks (to Ludington) are used to hold a switcher waiting for a train to switch to the various industries defined on the waybills. These tracks can hold between 12 and 18 freight cars.
  • The track named "MRS Yard" (foreground right) is used as a layover track, when needed for car switching (6 cars max.).
  • The track to Mt. Pleasant extends on a fiddle yard outside the layout which can hold entire trains up to 12 cars.
  • Finally, the hidden yard at the left of the layout (to Grand Haven) is used to store cars to/from this direction. The total capacity is approx. 25 freight cars.

There is no "0-5-0" handling of cars on the visible parts of the layout, all moves being handled by switchers in this area. On the other hand, manual handling of cars is possible at three places, hidden from visitor's view :

  • Midland : rear yard
  • Grand Haven: hidden yard on the left of the layout + removable extension (fiddle track) on the left
  • Mount Pleasant: removable extension (fiddle track), on the right of the layout

The number of switchers required to operate the layout is a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 4, so as to avoid tying up the tracks. This implies a minimum of 2 operators using radio communication (one at the front and another one at the rear of the layout), and a maximum of 4.
The number of freight cars present at the same time on the layout should be between 30 and 40, for all types of cars. Full train handling schemes will be developed during future operating session, in the Club or during exhibitions.

Our rule is to always have the engine (switcher) heading the train (whenever it's possible). This implies the use of additional switchers to participate to the various moves.

Hope you like this prototypical type of operation which is commonly adopted on US layouts.

Some pictures...

(Click on the photos to see them full size and click on the full size photo to close it).

1. General views of the layout

Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir

2. Details of some buildings

Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir

3. Close up's

Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
Cliquer pour agrandir Cliquer pour agrandir
More to come...

And now,... the video :

Top
1300 RR Drive Rural Valley

Page created by Jean-Louis Simonet,
Photos : Gérard Rodriguez,
Maps (layout and location) : Fabrice Fayolle
Logo : Christophe Le Corre
Last update : 11/09/2003
© 2003, Jean-Louis Simonet,
Gérard Rodriguez,
Fabrice Fayolle
Christophe Le Corre