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I've been posting here in various forums for a while but I finally decided to have a thread dedicated to my On30 layout and its updates.

The layout is in a 11X10 foot room and takes up a lot of it. I started in 2014 and had the scenery for the most part looking like I wanted it within just over 2 years.

The layout has been in OGR three times so far:

  1. A reader photo in the August/September 2018 issue
  2. A layout profile article in the February/March 2019 issue
  3. A locomotive review for the Bachmann On30 Baldwin 'trench' engine in the April/March 2020 issue

it's been in several other magazines as well over the past 3 years.

I've been told I made more progress in 2 years than many make in 20. The before/after shot is 3 years difference to the day, the upper being the first day the of track laying:

I was never that big on scenery before, but I found I have a feel for it. I love adding realistic scenic elements and scratch building structures:

The layout theme is of a fictional branch line of the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina RR that ran from Elizabethton, TN across the Watauga River, along Stoney Creek, up into the valley northeast of the real-life mainline that turned southeast toward Cranberry, NC. The layout takes place in late summer 1943.

Maybe I'm the only person in the hobby with an actual Army RR Operating unit, complete with insignia? B Co, 796th ROB takes up two sidings on the layout:

So relax trackside and watch the parade of mostly Baldwin ten-wheelers as they go back and forth between Buladeen and Hunter, Tennessee:

More, soon! I'll still also post in the "what have you done on your layout" section as well...

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I'm very happy with my scratch built store which I built during the start of the pandemic when everything was closed down (it even has 'built during pandemic of 2020)'written underneath the base).

The gas station/store is a representation of the J Grindstaff store in Sadie, TN, but more influenced by the store in Carter. First, I had to remove the old structure (a Woodland Scenics pre-built structure I was never 100% happy with), then change the ground around it as the new store would be smaller. The new structure has a full interior and figures, detailed down to the right magazines on the counter for the time the layout takes place, and the FDR portrait on the wall. As it has a much smaller footprint than the original structure in that spot, so I needed to change the gravel area around it. Previously I'd used much too coarse gravel there. I stripped it down with a caulking knife to the base wood and paint, smeared white glue all over the area, then laid in much finer gravel around. I later added things like oil stains and the like. As the glue was drying, I created a set of ruts in the gravel, and it dried like that, alongside the store. I was happy with that result (though it's now hard to see with the ground clutter).

I wanted a 'concrete' base for the gas pump and the front roof supports, so I had painted a section of styrene, and scraped equal dividing lines to show segmented concrete. With the paint already dried, I added small lines of glue along those seams/cracks and put ground foam on that to show grass popping up between the segments and around the outside edge. I also added figures inside while I was waiting for the scenery glue to dry. The first structure on the layout here was close to the road, and this one is much further back, leaving a larger area on which I can park wheeled vehicles. The only thing I didn't like afterward was realizing the outhouse is now much closer than it'd be in real life.

The structure has a full interior with lighting.

Last weekend, I got this gas pump off an eBay vendor. It's 1/43 scale so it's a little bigger than it should be, but it's an excellent rendition of a pre-war gravity fed pump. Texaco was the brand I was looking for as the store I used for inspiration was that brand and it had two of these pumps (one red and other yellow for ethyl gas, though that wasn't very common by the 1940s, so it's just the one pump for now).

20 minutes of weathering with washes and dry-brushing got the desired result of a well-used but cared for gas pump which would be about just over 20 years old by this timeframe:

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I'm very happy with the results.

@jonnyspeed posted:

I am seriously considering doing a modern day Tourist layout in On30 as I still have a bunch of On30 just sitting on the shelves. I have about 24x16 available and your layout gives me inspiration Please post more! Also, what turntables are you using?

Thanks for the kind words. I have two Peco turntables (one is their On30 one, the other their OO, but both work just fine for On30, I just wanted each to look a little different. I re-planked the bridge deck with real wood on one and someday will likely do the same on the other, tossing out the handrails on each).

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As for photos, I love being as creative as I can with shots on the layout:

I also not only love details, but historically-correct ones. I make a point of only including that which I am aware to be correct for the Blue Ridge Mountains area during WW2...

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Cool. really cool, impressive!  I especially like the US Army ROB.  Though I didn't belong to the ROB at Ft. Eustus, Va,, I did serve in Germany with the Transportation Corps in the 49th Transport Group, with HQ in Mannheim.  I was assigned to the Bundeswehr Verkehrskommandantur Ansbach.  We were involved with US Army /German Army convoy clearance.  We "moved millions" of GIs to and from the military training areas, mostly to take part in the spring and autumn war game exercises.  Despite the fact I was a pencil pusher, I did have to take periodic rifle practice with the M14 assigned me.  I'd be interested in purchasing a cloth patch for the 796 ROB if you do decide to produce any!

The late Lee Riley, a prominent employee of Bachmann, was instrumental in convincing the well known manufacturer to begin production of On30 model trains at affordable prices.  It worked too!  I really do miss visiting with Lee when he'd be present at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany, each year.  He'd give me lots of insider information that hadn't been released to the public, knowing I'd keep my big Texas trap shut!  I did too!

In the 80s on leave from my then employer, Deutsche Bundesbahn, I went with my mother and step-dad on a trip to North Carolina, where they had a trailer house in Johnson City that had been purchased from a co-worker of my step-dad.  I talked them into a day trip so I could visit the East Tennessee Railroad where they were operating with some Alco RS32 Diesel road switchers.  The employees were very accomodating and your typically friendly Carolina folks.  I got the grand tour of the office and shop building.

Though I'm a onetime Colorado railfan from Dallas, TX, I must agree with you, in that the Rocky Mountain narrow gauge has been blown out of proportion.  OK, no complaints from this long time member of the Peanut Gallery.  It sells, and remember, all the manufacturers and their employees like to enjoy three hots and a cot, just like most human beings do.  However, I have developed an interest in the East Broad Top, as well as the Strasburg Rail Road, and remain a big fan of the Pennsylvania Railroad too.  I'm a fall guy for the GG1!  I do remain loyal to my home base having switch the huck finn out of box cars for Cotton Belt as well as Santa Fe in the D/FW area in the 60s and 70s.

About me: visit www.railhopeamerica.com  The Railroad Evangelistic Assn. prints All Aboard, a magazine not just for railroaders, but for anyone interested in the Holy Bible and trains as well.  The REA was founded in the 1930s by an Atlantic Coast Line locomotive engineer.  I'm also big on the ACL and SAL too, but that's another story altogether!  Anyway, the REA links will enable anyone to read All Aboard for free and in the Summer 2015 issue, on page eight and nine, editior Joe Spooner (a former Burlington Northern employee) printed an artical about yours truly.

Item: All Aboard is seeking short articals from model railroaders as it now has expanded to include a model railroad page or tow in each issue.

I look forward to your updates and thanks for sharing your layout with OGR railroaders.

73

Joe

The late Lee Riley, a prominent employee of Bachmann, was instrumental in convincing the well known manufacturer to begin production of On30 model trains at affordable prices.  It worked too!  I really do miss visiting with Lee when he'd be present at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany, each year.

In the 80s on leave from my then employer, Deutsche Bundesbahn, I went with my mother and step-dad on a trip to North Carolina, where they had a trailer house in Johnson City that had been purchased from a co-worker of my step-dad.  I talked them into a day trip so I could visit the East Tennessee Railroad where they were operating with some Alco RS32 Diesel road switchers.  The employees were very accomodating and your typically friendly Carolina folks.  I got the grand tour of the office and shop building.

Joe, I so badly wish I could have met Lee Riley. He's single-handedly responsible for getting me back into the hobby. I'd left in total disgust after a series of insane experiences with a modular group in my hometown in Florida. Years later, Riley's Baldwin ten-wheelers came out in On30, the very prototype I'd always wanted in a scale smaller than G (I'd had one of those, too but it was too big for a layout). Were it not for him, I might never have gotten back into the hobby and met a lot of great people!

As for the RS-32s, I have a photo of one of them going past the Porter Fireless 0-6-0 at the North American rayon mill at Elizabethton. My parents grew up just east of there so we'd go up there every year to visit. the place is like a second home to me.

Thanks for the kind words, everyone!

" .....I'd left in total disgust after a series of insane experiences with a modular group in my hometown in Florida......"

I hope my friends here will pardon this comment on a website that is supposed to be free of negative stuff. I fell this is relevant for the future of groups connected with the hobby.

I live in a town of almost 1/2 million. There were two different societies focused on Orchid growing, one of which was founded in the early 50s. The other started in the early 80s because of alcohol fueled hostilities in the first society. The second finally folded because of an obnoxious woman who ran everyone off. Alcohol caused the first society to succumb.

There is another society, a musical one, barely holding on because it is run by a covert narcissist.

My point? In today's world, we are all picky about where we spend our free time. Most of us will avoid functions that create more stress than the "real world."

Many thanks!!!!

Nice layout! The vignettes on your layout remind of scenes from the tv show "The Waltons."

In a way, that ironic as they filmed the show in California (split between the Warner Brothers lot and Hollywood Hills), but I get the point and appreciate the compliment. The original concept of the show was in the area of Schuyler, Virginia, more toward the Chesapeake area than the Blue Ridge.

Thank you all for the kind words!

The ET&WNC (and Stoney Creek) is in the extreme northeast corner of Tennessee, take place in Carter County, just east of Elizabethton. There was a real railroad there, which was yanked out around 1932. In my concept, my fictional layout line (the Stoney Creek Southern) competed with the real one and drove it out of business, then flopped during the depression, when the ET&WNC bought them out (soon regretting so, once the big hurricane in 1940 washed a lot of stuff away).

I've long had two dreams throughout my life that involve railroads;

  • I would wake up one morning in my childhood home in Florida to the sound of a train (we were miles from the nearest tracks, even logging line in the past) and see a train going down our road, right on the opposite side of the road from the house, with current at the time rolling stock and a black/yellow Seaboard GP on the head end (yes, it was that detailed of a dream)
  • The ET&WNC had a branch line on Stoney Creek, and on visits to the area as a kid, my brother, cousin and I would discover it was all still there, slowly rusting/rotting away

I think the latter was based on our seeing the Doe River Gorge tracks when I was about 10 or 11, which looked like they had only been used last a few years previously (which surprised me to find many years later that the operation there did run into the mod 70s, we had no clue at that time).

This layout was something I'd felt the drive to create for most of my life, but only once Bachmann made the ET&WNC ten-wheelers in On30 was it attainable (as there was no way I could scratch build one to my standards).

I know plenty of people in the hobby want the layout first, then go looking a concept (or just don't have a concept at all, and just run whatever they want). That make no sense to me at all. In my own case, it was always about what I've done. Sure, there are other concepts I would have liked, but it was always going to be this.

I placed my gopro camera (which I have hardly ever used since I got it on our European cruise in 2018) inside the Grindstaff store, put the roof on and used the remote shutter on the app.

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Not the best shots ever, but it's neat to see how a O scale person would see it normally inside.

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For a while, I'd wanted more correct pilots for my ten wheelers and only today realized bachmann gives you the earlier one in the extra parts bag.

So, I painted and weathered three of them and installed them all tonight.

In order is today, the 30s on a real ones and how the models used to look...

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