Saturday, August 04, 2012


One of the major gaps in model locomotive rosters has been a quality mass-produced N Scale Alco S‑1/3 or S‑2/4, a fact with which I have bored readers before – and before that. S‑2s, in particular, were on hundreds of different railroads' rosters from 1940 to the present day.

So it was extremely welcome news from the National Train Show yesterday when Atlas announced its upcoming model of the Alco S‑2. In an embarrassment of riches, Bachmann also announced an S‑4 model in N scale at the same show. I would have made do with either, frankly, but the S‑2 is terrific. (Yes, some may grouse that one of the manufacturers could have kicked us down an S‑1/3 instead of similar-appearing S‑2 and S‑4 models – but let's not be bitter.)

 Depending on road names and liveries, I'll have some S‑2s on order as soon as possible. And maybe an S‑4 or two for good measure – they fit my 1955 modeling era as well.

But it does raise a question for me. I had considered modeling the prototype Alameda Belt Line (ABL), which was exclusively S‑2 powered in my era. But partially due to the lack of a mass-produced model of the Alco switcher, I developed a proto-freelance theme instead. Atlas is doing different versions of the S‑2, so one of them will probably be pretty close to the ABL's units (after some custom painting, of course)

So now … stay proto-freelance? … or ABL?

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Layout Design SIG

In my last blog post, I referenced my article from the Layout Design Journal (LDJ), published by the Layout Design SIG (LDSIG). I was surprised to receive a couple of emails from blog readers who were not aware of the SIG and its magazine, or didn't realize that the SIG was still active and vital. So here is a bit more information about the LDSIG.

For anyone interested in model railroad track planning and layout design, I think the LDSIG is a fabulous resource and well worth membership (full disclosure, I edit the LDJ). Besides the quarterly magazine, the SIG also sponsors programs at regional and national meetings.

"Samplers" of a few pages from recent issues are available for free download as Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) files. I'd encourage those who aren't yet SIG members to take a look – there are many interesting layout design ideas in every issue. Back issues of the LDJ are also available.

LDJ-47, Summer 2012
- Planning the Newcastle-Fassifern Railway with Layout Design Elements (LDEs)
- Improving a Classic John Armstrong Plan in N Scale
- The Continuous Model Railroad: More Railroad than your Room Can Hold
- Proto-Freelance Midwest NYC Layout Inspired by Published Plans
- Weighing the Scales: Experienced Multi-scale Modelers Discuss Pros and Cons
- Benchwork and Fascia Ideas from LDSIG Tours

LDJ-46, Spring 2012
- Three Crossings at Newburgh, Ohio
- Small and Portable: Baltimore's Wicomico St. on the B&O
- Designing a Busy Chicago Passenger Terminal, Multi-deck HO
- Planning for Signals, Part 3: References
- Oakland, California's Howard Terminal in N Scale

LDJ-45, Winter 2012
- Breaking Marley’s Chains – On2 to S for CN Branch
- SP on a Shelf – Houston's Clinton Branch
- Heavy Switching Design Challenge from Tulsa 2011:
  - The Copper Belt Railroad in N Scale
  - Kansas City Southern in Neosho, Mo.; 1956
  - The Pittsburgh Transfer Railway
  - Johnstown and Union City – Mushroom "cut-and-paste" design in N Scale
  - The Terminal Dock Railroad – Northeastern Rail-Marine
  - Electrasteel Corporation
- Gooseneck, Bottoms and Bluffs – Multi-deck HO design for Kansas City's West Bottoms

LDJ-44, Fall 2011
- Sectional, modular and portable layout focus:
  - HO Sections Designed to Move – and Do!
  - HO/HOn3 FREMO Modules for Home and Road
  - Compact OO English Terminus Display Layout
  - N Scale Free-mo Modules as Layout Design Elements
- What would you do differently?: Tips from five successful layout builders

LDJ-43, Summer 2011
- Designing a “Three-way” Layout Design Element on the BN
- Lessons Learned: Phil Monat's Multi-Pass Delaware & Susquehanna
- Three stories on lightweight benchwork ideas from Gatorfoam™ and Luan
- Planning for Signals, Part 2: Model Implementations
- Signal Repeaters

LDJ-42, Spring 2011
- Designing the California, Oregon and Western
- Thoughts on Multi-Pass Design
- 90 Feet more Mainline on the Idaho-Montana Railway & Navigation (UP)
- Layout Design Challenge -- Road Warrior Revisited:
  - B&O’s 26th St. NYC Yard
  - Central California Traction in Stockton and Lodi
  - SAL, ACL, A&W in North Carolina, 1925
  - Timetable and Train Order “Trainer” Layout
- Design Considerations for Prototype-action Couplers

LDJ-41, Winter 2011
- The Ultimate 4X8? RGS in HOn3
- Garage Bay Passenger Ops Design Challenge: Calif. Bayside Commute and Reading Lines in Philadelphia
- Modeling a Mile: Layouts for W&LE / Nickel Plate; B&O; WM
- Planning for Signals, Part 1: Prototype Practices
- Design Ideas from Milwaukee 2010
- “This Column does not Exist": Support Column Ideas