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  • Dale Darney's Layout


    LEFT: Portions of Dale Darney's HO scale model railroad layout in Reno, Nevada, are still very much in the construction stage (like most model railroads!). "L" girder benchwork and Homasote track base are visible here. The track was planned to scale on paper first and the benchwork built to fit rather than trying to match the track to a given table shape.

    RIGHT: The track on the truss bridge enters a tunnel in the wall and continues in to a specially-made shed hung on the outside of the Darney's garage wall to re-enter the room at a lower level.

    1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 10 1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 11

    One of the real pleasures, in preparing a model railroad magazine, is the chance to share some of the best examples of the skill of model railroading with our readers. The HO scale layout of Dale Darney in Reno, Nevada, is one of the best even though it is only partially completed. Dale is building a model railroad in just the manner we'd recommend to anyone who is about to start his second model railroad layout. Anyone should build a small, oval-style, model railroad as his first attempt - once you've mastered the basic skills of wiring and just getting the track and switches to operate properly you're ready to think about attempting a layout as complex and highly-detailed as Mr. Darney's. Dale followed this path toward his present layout and it shows in the a mount of foresight and planning that have gone into his current "empire."

    TOP: Most of the rocks on this layout were cast in Hydrocal plaster from latex rubber molds pulled from real rocks. The loose rock detail still has to be added around the edges of this tunnel portal.

    BOTTOM: The single track truss bridge is a Campbell kit with extra rivet detail. Engine is a North west Short Line ready-to-run brass import pain ted and "weathered" by Dale. Abutments are carved plaster.

    RIGHT: "Hard shell" (paper towels dipped in Hydrocal-brand plaster) is used for all of the mountains and valleys. The surface is textured with a mix of powdered color and dry Hydrocal dusted over water-wetted hills. The completed (except for the riverbed) "canyon" portion of Darney's layout is really a work of art. The rocks were cast in la tex rubber molds Dale made from real rocks in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

    1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 12 1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 13


    Almost everything that the best modelers in the country have proven to be the most suitable way of building a model railroad is incorporated in this layout. The Dale Darney model railroad was planned careful, and to exact scale, on paper before a saw was touched to lumber. The railroad is basically a point-to-point line (the track meanders about the room and from one level to the next as it works its way from one yard to another on the opposite side of the room). The curves are a minimum 24-inch radius with the ends "easemented" out in progressively larger radius until they connect with the few straight sections.

    Few of the tracks outside the yards are actually straight; they all have very gentle curves of something between five and twelve foot radius - just the type of a route the real railroads used in their paths through the mountains. Once all of the trackwork was located on paper, Dale drew up a scale diagram of the benchwork supports for the trackage, placing just enough of the "L" girder cross members to support the track base without interfering with the planned rivers and mountains - a look down the completed "canyon" area of the layout reveals the wisdom for such careful track and tablework planning.

    Dale used Camino scale wood and milled siding with Timberline-brand window castings to duplicate this Santa Fe sand tower and drying bin. The prototype was used in the Richmond, California, yards.
    1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 14 1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 15

    A portion of the Darney layout will be laid for operation of narrow gauge HOn3 trains. This snowplow is a duplicate of one Dale saw and photographed on the West Side Lumber Co., track her Toulome, Calif.
    1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 16 1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 17


    The pine trees are Boyd Models with hand-shaped wood trunks replacing the plastic ones in the kit. Loose bits of rock-colored Hydrocal plaster are glued in place to simulate the rubble from the "rocks".
    1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 18 1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 19

    The track is laid on individual stained wood ties; each rail hand spiked (with needlenose pliers and scale spikes) to the ties. Campbell HO scale ballast is glued to the area around the ties with white glue before the rail is spiked in place. The rail is the near-to-scale "code 70" in nickel silver. The switches are cut, bent, and filed to fit from individual pieces of rail. The ties are glued to grey "Homasote"; a card board-like wallboard material available on special order from most lumber yards in 4x8-foot panels 1/2" thick. Most of the bridges on the layout are Campbell kits with Vollmer plastic abutments or abutments from hand-carved plaster. One of the nicest features of Dale's pike is that its not complete! There's enough track in place so that most of the projected operations can be carried out (the second yard is not yet complete but a return loop track allows simulated point-to-point operation out of the single yard). The visitor has a "cutaway" view of just how the railroad was built; from bare benchwork, to uncovered Homasote baseboards, to just-glued ties and ballast, to completed trackwork and scenery. Dale has the advantage of being able to see his equipment operate through the sceniced portions of the layout whenever he wants so there's no pressure to hurry and finish the rest. With this type of "progressive" construction, he has the choice of track-laying, wiring, scenery, or locomotive and rolling stock construction to suit his mood. We'd like to return to the Darney home in a year or two and show you more of his fabulous work as it is completed….

    Article Details

    • Source 1001 Model Railroading Ideas
    • Publication Date Summer 1971

    Article Album (10 photos)

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