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  • Railroad in a Trailer



    1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Fall 1971 - Page 33

    Model railroaders are resourceful if nothing else; particularly when it comes to "appropriating" the space for their miniature railroad empires. Spare rooms, basements, and attics are the typical spots where most modelers locate their layouts but a lack of such space hasn't prevented others from building layouts that fold up into walls, reside beneath coffee tables, hang and hinge down from ceilings, roll beneath beds, or even operate around the top of backyard fences. More affluent model railroads have constructed separate buildings, complete with air conditioning and dehumidification plants, behind their homes. One of the cleverest, though, is one Jim Girard in Phoenix, Arizona. Jim's 27 x 8-foot HO scale railroad is built in a converted 33-foot house trailer that, for now, sets on concrete blocks behind his home. Jim wasn't the first modeler to hit upon the idea of using a house trailer to house his model railroad and the idea is so sound we're sure he won't be the last.

    The most obvious advantage of a model railroad in a mobile home is that you need never have to tear the layout down when you move; just hitch the trailer behind your car or have one of the professional mobile home movers pull it to your new location. Used mobile homes can be purchased, in fine rolling condition, for anywhere from $400.00 to $4000.00. Many are equipped with both heaters and air conditioners. Their size ranges from about 8 x 25-foot (a minimum for a model railroad and aisle space) to 12 x 60 feet. The larger sizes are, of course, the most attractive and, often, they aren't any more expensive than the smaller trailers. The problems lie in the eventual move; trailers over 8-foot in width require a special permit and a truck (or even a professional transport company) to move in most states. You'll have to check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles to be certain of the law in your area but, generally, the law will allow you to pull a trailer of up to about 8 x 40-feet or so providing your car or truck has the power. The trailer may have to have operating brakes and lights too, so check both out before you buy. You may find that some of the trailer builders will build you a "shell" of a mobile home, without the interior you don't want any way, for as little as $2000.00 if you don't want to search for or modify a used trailer.

    Jim Girard removed the interior paneling, kitchen, and bathroom as well as all of the interior partitions from his used mobile home to prepare the unit for his new model railroad and shop. The walls were recovered with wallboard and insulated against the Arizona desert heat. Jim chose to leave most of the windows but many modelers would have preferred to block off all but those in the "shop" area to leave an uninterrupted background for the railroad's scenery. Jim then drew a scale track plan to fill 27 of the trailer's 33 foot length; leaving a central access pit for operating the layout and the one end of the trailer free for his workbench and a couch for visitors. The actual railroad table was screwed together from 1 x 4 lumber to support the track subase and scenery. The HO scale layout is now about three-fourths complete with all of the 165-feet of track in place on Tru Scale-brand roadbed and most of the scenery in at least a semi-finished state. Most of Jim's equipment is patterned after that used by the Southern Pacific but lettered for his own Arizona Pacific Railroad. His friend and helper; P.O. Putnam, operates his own Great Northern Railroad-prototype locomotives over the line.

    LEFT: Another of P.O. Putnam's Great Northern locomotives in action on Jim Girard's HO layout-in-a-trailer. This MDC-brand 2-6-2 was modified from its Santa Fe prototype to look like a Great Northern locomotive with proper numbering, herald, and a tender from PFM's "Sierra" engine.

    There is little to indicate that Jim Girard's HO scale 8 x 27-foot layout is housed in a 33-foot house trailer. Here, P. O. Putnam (who helped build the layout) operates the main control panel.

    RIGHT: A number of clever bridges, adapted from wood and plastic kits, carry the highest portions of the mainline over the lower trackage and the river valleys. Trees and bushes are next on Jim's schedule.

    1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Fall 1971 - Page 34 1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Fall 1971 - Page 35

    PAGE 36: The Arizona Pacific serves a number of lineside industries including this scratchbuilt mine tucked in to one of the sceniced corners.

    The main terminal on Girard's Arizona Pacific has yet to be detailed. Most of the trackage is either TruScale or flexible Lambert track on cork road bed. The track makes over two laps around the room.

    PAGE 37: Jim assembled this cattle pen from Northeastern scale strip wood. The rocks are plaster poured in to latex rubber molds made from real rocks. Later the seams between the rocks and the stone wall will be filled with wet patching plaster and Lichen moss "bushes" will be added.

    This PFM "Sierra" 2-6-6-2 was modified and detailed by P.O. Putnam to match the type of locomotive used on the prototype Great Northern. The tender is a Kemtron brass kit. The rockwork is carved plaster.

    PAGE 38 P.O. Putnam model of the wood trestle background a painted this rare PFM-brand imported brass Great Northern's 4-8-0 steam locomotive. There is a Campbell kit and the steel truss in the Vollmer kit.

    1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Fall 1971 - Page 36 1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Fall 1971 - Page 37 1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Fall 1971 - Page 38




    Article Details

    • Original Author 1001 Model Railroading Ideas
    • Source 1001 Model Railroading Ideas
    • Publication Date Fall 1971

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