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December 2001 - Page 38

Coal Valley

by Joe Faletti

Photos by Chris Lane and Randy Lee

Burlington Northern Santa Fe

A string of Dash 9 BNSF Warbonnets charges beneath Miller Road as it passes a grain train.


his is the story of my Coal Valley B urlington Northern Santa Fe and how it came to be. My love for trains began when Santa Claus brought me my first train set when I was about seven years old; it was an American Flyer set. From that time on I have had a passion for trains, which my father shared with me. Years later, after I had become an adult, m y Dad mentioned that he had always wanted a train layout. That was all it took... from that moment on we were two men o n a mission. We planned and built our first layout in the basement of my parents house. It was an O27 layout that we modeled for several years. But because O27 w as becoming more and more expensive and it took up more room and was not as realistic as we wanted, we made the decision to sell all of our equipment and start a new HO layout, which we called the Coal Valley Santa Fe (CVSF). My Dad and I worked on the CVSF layout and had many memorable and irreplace-

able times together until a few years ago when he was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away after a courageous battle. R ight before he became ill we had both started to acquire a taste for the new BNSF s cheme and had started modeling more BNSF. My wife and I made the decision to add on to our home so that we could move t he layout to our house after my Dads death. We could only go as big as a 28' x 23' L-shaped room, which made it impossible to move the entire benchwork over from the basement, but I was able to bring the staging yard along with all the scenery and buildings. Although it was emotionally difficult to disassemble the layout that we had built together, I knew that my Dad would w ant me to continue on with the hobby that he loved so much. I ended up having to do a triple-decker, since I had much less square footage to work with in the addition. I t took me about a year to complete the p resent Coal Valley Burlington Northern Santa Fe layout from the benchwork on up.

Control and Trackwork
The layout uses SoundTraxx Diesel Sound System infrared throttles and an MRC Control Master 20. With the help of Atlas selectors I can use either the SoundTraxx or MRC for the yard. If I have trains on the mainline I can use the SoundTraxx System. I also used the selectors for blocks on the mainline. I did not block the mains until the track was completely laid. I cut gaps in the rails using a Dremel tool with a cutting disc. When I started the layout I was seriously thinking about going DCC, but I have so many engines that the cost would have been very high so I decided to just go conventional. I am saving my money and someday hope to switch to DCC. T he track is Atlas code 100 flextrack with all of the joints soldered. A 40-watt pencil soldering iron was used with nickel silver solder (lead free) from Radio Shack. To prevent the ties from melting while soldering, cotton balls were submerged in a glass of water and placed on each side of the



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