Christopher Brimley updated April 28, 2011

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  • The South Rockwood & Toledo Railroad

    by Terry Carver

    Photos & track plan by Larry Wright

    The mechanics at Dewey's Auto Repair appear to have plenty of work on their hands. This scene is an example of the level of detail on the SR&T.
    Model Railroading - January 1992 - Page 36

    Being a member of a large model railroading club with a big operating layout isn't necessarily for everyone. I found that out the hard way when I first began to get serious about model railroading.

    I wanted to build a small home layout, and I was looking for some helpful hints. Unfortunately, what I found at the club didn't translate into what I wanted to do at home. For one thing, the club layout was mostly complete. The wiring had been done years ago and bore little or no relation to anything I could or would do at home. And besides, no one in the club could remember how the layout was wired anyway.

    I also found myself getting too impatient with the little bureaucratic and administrative details that are necessary to running a large club.

    Don't get me wrong. This isn't a diatribe against club membership. But it wasn't what I was looking for.

    Luckily for me, I found what I needed while attending a meeting of Division Six of the North Central Region, NMRA. I met some modelers who had their own Friday night round-robin group called The Midnight Pocatello Yardmasters (complete with attractive bowling shirts, I might add).

    The Yard masters were deeply in to operation. They had two layouts far enough along to operate and several more under construction. (The two operating layouts have both been featured in Model Railroading - Larry Wright's Beaver Valley Railroad in January 1991 and Roger Parry's Great Northern in June 1991.)

    The South Rockwood yard tower is at left. The background, a combination of kitbashed flats and commercial backdrops, gives the SR&T the gritty feel of urban railroading.
    Model Railroading - January 1992 - Page 37

    They invited me into the group, and I quickly found that each had his own modeling specialty and was not reluctant to share it. That was what I was looking for. And best of all, there are no dues.

    I starting building my own railroad the South Rockwood & Toledo - three years ago. I didn't have the basement space to house an empire the size of Roger's or Larry's, but I did have a spare 9'x10' room that has since become known in my family as "The Train Room."

    Operating on the other Yardmaster layouts gives me the opportunity to run long trains on long runs, so I felt I could concentrate in my spare room on building a layout that encompassed the features I enjoy the most - a lot of switching, an urban setting, and small diesel switchers in a shortline operation.

    The benchwork was built with 1/2" Homasote glued to 1/2" plywood over L girder construction. The trackplan presented some problems. I was committed to a point-to-point plan running around three walls because I wanted to avoid a duck-under at the entrance of the room. Plus, I needed the fourth wall for my workbench. With these limitations I found myself unable to come up with a satisfactory track plan. I couldn't make the yard tracks long enough. Finally it hit me. If I removed the closet door I could extend the yard tracks three feet into the closet. Now I could start laying track.

    I used Code 83 f1extrack with Number Four turnouts. I set a minimum curve radius of 24". The operating scheme involves making up trains to service the seven industries that form the reason for the SR&T's existence. Electrically, the railroad is a two-cab operation - a yard cab and a walk around throttle - and is divided into seven blocks. This allows one person to use the yard cab to make up trains while another operator, using the walkaround throttle, can switch the industries and bring the empties back to the yard.

    Even Terry was surprised by the realism of this shot. This is an area of the railroad behind foreground buildings that is difficult for visitors to see, but that didn't stop Terry from detailing it.
    Model Railroading - January 1992 - Page 38

    SR&T motive power consists of an Alco RS1, an EMD SWl500 and a GE 70-tonner. Rolling stock is what you would find in southeastern Michigan in 1980, with a special emphasis on my two favorite roads, the Detroit Toledo & Ironton and the Detroit & Toledo Shoreline. I painted and lettered most of the motive power and rolling stock myself.

    Almost all of the structures on the layout were scratch built or kitbashed. This has become my favorite part of the hobby. And sharing your favorite part of the hobby is what makes being part of a group something special. Last year I kitbashed a collection of industrial building flats for the town of Woodward on Larry Wright's Beaver Valley.

    Building the SR&T and becoming a part of the Midnight Pocatello Yardmasters has been a learning experience. The railroad is not big but it has brought me a lot of enjoyment over the last three years.

    And there should be more enjoyment to come. The SR&T was taken down and packed away recently as we moved in to a new home. The new place has a larger basement. It's time to start thinking...and dreaming....

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