Back to Fatjack's Home Page This is a new department for Fatjack's Place. Dave is in the process of building a really unique Model Railroad. He is documenting the process with photos and comments and these will be posted and added to in these listed departments as work progresses. Please check regularly. Track Plan
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Southern Colorado Land Navigation & Transfer Co.


Colorado & Western Railroad Co.

Southern Colorado Land Navigation & Transfer Co.

Due to my age and serious health issues, the concept of the C&W and SCLN&TC is rather simple, and that is, keep it simple.

Why narrow gauge?  I have always liked narrow gauge railroads, and over the years have acquired quite a collection of narrow gauge photos and publications.  But for modeling I have resisted the temptation of modeling narrow gauge due to the cost.  I always said that if I model narrow gauge it will be On3 scale, but the only locomotives in O Scale have been brass, and I could not justify the expense.  Bachmann Industries changed all of that when they began releasing On30 scale locomotives and rolling stock.  This stuff is affordable, and O Scale – what a deal.  The first piece I bought was a T-boiler Shay.  When I opened the box I was totally impressed, and when I ran it I was really impressed with the smooth and quiet operation.  Now I was definitely hooked.  But due to our business it would be about 4 years before I could begin the railroad.  Then my health went seriously downhill and we reduced the business and made room in the office for a small railroad, and I was on my way.  Needless to say this will be my last model railroad, and I hope I live long enough to see it completed, but only time will tell on that.  Due to my limitations progress moves along very slowly.

First and foremost is the overall size of the railroad.  It’s built in the middle of our office and the space was limited to 14’-2” long by 9’-4” wide.  In O Scale that is pretty small, but it will work just fine for On30 Scale narrow gauge.  It’s built in a “U” shape with an “L” at one end the full width of the space.  There is a 36” wide walk-in space between the end of the U and the end of L.  There is a walkway on three sides of the railroad and Durdy Dawg is against filing cabinets.  I might add that the walkways are wide enough so someone can walk next to the railroad without bumping into it.

The railroad is totally freelance, but prototype narrow gauge operations are used for reference.  It is also built per my Timetable No. 4, which means that the SCLN&TC is the predecessor to my contemporary Colorado & Western RR.  So all of my station, town, and location names came directly from my timetable, which is very important to me.

During my life I have built 3 or 4 model railroads, all contemporary, that is, contemporary for the time they were built.  I always concentrated on operation, thus trackplan, with scenery being second place in the planning.  This time things are different.  For one thing, since it’s based in Southern Colorado, scenery is foremost, but only after the trackplan is designed to fit the space.  Generally speaking it’s a single track operation.  There is a passing siding at the north end of Durdy Dawg and at the south end of Westcliffe, which are the two furtherest points on the railroad.  In fact, due to restricted space, the passing siding south of Westcliffe is actually in Frisco Canyon, which is pretty neat.  Planning the trackplan and laying down the track went rather quickly, but designing the scenery has become quite an adventure, mainly because there are some scenery features that I absolutely have to have, and also I wanted high mountains to dwarf the trains, and that has become a monumental task.  Another scenery adventure was designing the towns as I don’t want them on a level surface.  I’m an old student of Malcolm Furlow and he always built his towns “vertical”, meaning on steep hills.  Then in the March/April 2007 issue of Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette there is a railroad built by Bruce Longwell which features a vertical town to the extreme, and I fell in love with it.  Yes, this concept is caricature modeling, but it does add a lot of interest to the railroad.  However, I suffered two more minor strokes in the summer of 2011 and could no longer work at the workbench building structures.  So now what?  I had to make several major decisions.  First I decided to change the concept of the railroad to all scenery with no structures and this worked out very well, except it was a big disappointment for me not to have the neat structures that I had planned on using.  So at this time, since I wasn’t going to have any structures, I also decided to bring my Colorado & Western Railroad Co. back to life.  This was easy as I still have all of my locomotives and rolling stock from previous years of model railroading.  HO scale runs on the same gauge track as On30, so no problem there.  I left the narrow gauge track and turnouts in place and simply live with wide tie spacing.

Frisco Canyon turned out to be an engineering challenge.  The passing siding track came within 3” of the edge of the benchwork, but yet I wanted a tall vertical canyon wall.  So the west side of the canyon was built in 2 removable sections and is truly vertical rock walls.  Due to the work, the mess, and the weight of using plaster, this is where I changed to Bragdon Enterprises Geodesic Foam scenery process.  This stuff is great and I have never looked back to using plaster.  More on this in my scenery department.

The track is level; no grades.  The scenery rises sharply above the track, and at places below the track, so the railroad has a good appearance of unevenness.  I’m certainly not the best track layer around, so the trackwork has some dips in it, and also straight sections of trackwork are not dead straight, which means there are slight jogs in the track.  But all of this works very well for both gauges.

My electrical is straight DC, not DCC, for several good reasons.  First, I don’t understand installing DCC, and not knowing how long I have, I didn’t want to spend my precious time dinking around with de-coders and learning how to program controllers.  Second, I am not about to start tearing apart my HO gauge locomotives just to install de-coders, and that’s not even to mention the cost of doing so.  Third, I understand DC block control wiring, and it has served me very well for many years.  Linn Wescott came up with this concept way back in the 1950s and it still works today.  Both of my throttles are hand-held units made by GML, and these are great.  I made two control panels, one at Durdy Dawg and one at Westcliffe.  The nice thing about the hand-held throttles is that I can sit down to operate, which is good for me.

I realize that my concept and theories certainly are not for everyone, but they work very well for me.  And the most important factor is that I’m having fun, which is what model railroading is all about.  In fact, I believe I am having more fun building this railroad than any other railroad I have built in the past

D. A. Bontrager: Owner