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  • Paul Brennecke’s Grand Road

    By Robert Schleicher

    Paul Brennecke’s layout is built by following a track plan based on “It’s (Almost) Magic” 9 x 8-foot layout from the original Model Railroading magazine that we have reprinted on pages 42-45 of this issue of “The Journal”. Paul started with that 8 x 9-foot plan for a super-compact HO scale model railroad, but he took advantage of the plan’s 24-inch radii and built it in N scale. It’s an exercise in getting the most from an N scale layout design in the least space. There’s an index of previous articles on layout design on our website at www.railmodeljournal.com

    We no longer feature model railroads that are not based strictly on a prototype. Paul Brennecke's Grand Road, however, is an exception. It is one of the finer N scale model railroads in the country. It was featured in the May 1991 issue of "The Journal" (before we adopted the modeled-from-the-prototype layout tour policy). The layout was one of those on tour at the National Model Railroad Association National Convention in 1991. In 1991, the raw scenery was partially complete. The scenery and lineside superdetails are now finished, and it's time to take another look.

    Paul was able to expand the original 8 x 9-foot plan to 8 x 12 feet because that happened to be the size of his layout room. Instead of building in HO scale, with a minimum radius of 24 inches, however, he built the layout in N scale using the same minimum radius. He also opted to avoid the duck under entrance to the layout and installed four drop-leaf panels so he could walk into the layout room. The drop-leaves are only necessary when he wants to operate over the entire system; construction and maintenance can be carried out without the panels in place.

    The scenery, as you might guess, is pure Colorado Rockies. For the backdrop, Paul used color slides and projected them on the wall to get the shapes, which he traced. He then matched the colors and painted the backdrop in acrylics. He matched the colors of the backdrop to the colors of the scenery. Of course, real crushed Colorado rock is used for all of the smaller boulders. The massive rock faces, however, are all cast from molds made with the rubbery liquid plastic used to make children's plastic worms (some toy stores sell it as do some fishing supply outlets). The rubbery material captures rock detail better than the usual latex molds and does not tear as easily. He stained the faces with acrylics, again to match real rocks. The lakes and streams are all decoupage casting resin.

    All of the diesels have been rebuilt with wire handrails soldered together from .010-inch brass wire. All of the equipment is fitted with Micro-Trains body-mounted couplers, and most of it is weathered for a circa-1998 railroad.


    The lineside details include a variety of telephone boxes, electric switch machines and relay boxes scratchbuilt from strips and scraps of styrene. The signals are Bachmann, superdetailed with Gold Medal Models ladders.

    This photo was also taken from i nside the access hatch for the helix. The trains average about 40 cars, long enough to stretch out of sight as they travel through the Colorado Rockies scenery.

    The helix is hidden inside the mountain to the left center of the photo.The mountaintop is open inside the helix for access to the helix itself and the visible track in this corner of the layout.

    Article Details

    • Original Author Robert Schleicher
    • Source Railmodel Journal
    • Publication Date August 2002

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