Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Free-mo Update

A while back, I wrote about my Free-mo modules, but I have not given too many updates. Well, I have been working on them pretty steadily since January to get ready for a display at the Timonium, MD train show on April 9-10. You can see my previous Free-mo posts using the Labels listing at the right.

Started in 2 years ago in the Spring of 2009, my modules were designed to be self-operational as I was the only one who would have any in my geographic area. I have been bringing them out to various NJ Division NMRA Meets since May of 2009. After getting the 2 main modules constructed, I built a small third module to complete the set and have to ends with standard Free-mo interfaces. Here is a trackplan of the modules:

After getting the basic benchwork done, using the ideas presented in the August and October 2008 RMC articles, I completed all trackwork and wiring before moving on to scenic elements. I painted all the track, highlighted individual ties and painted the rails. I then set to start ballasting all track. This always takes a while to get down properly and then totally cleaned up, removing ballast particles from rail sides and on the tops of ties. But it is well worth the effort and really makes the track look great.

Knowing I had the show in April, where I would be connecting my module to those of the Capitol Free-mo group, who in turn would be connecting to the larger (250' x 75'!) Sipping & Switching Society layout, I wanted to get some base scenery and structures in place and finally stop looking at the plywood pacific of the last 2 years. I used ground foams, real sand, static grasses and Siflor weed clumps to get a base layer in place. Then I spent some time building a few structures. This included a DPM freight depot I purchased around 1984 (prince tag was $6), finished of a LaserKit Yard tower started years ago, a Rix shortline enginehouse and a Walthers background building for a rail served warehouse. I took time to paint all of these so they would not necessarily look like the pictures on the box.

Finally it was time to drive down to Timonium. I left my place real early and headed down I-95. The good news here is that there is a lot less traffic to deal with instead of leaving later when I go to a regular show as an attendee. I met up with the Capitol Free-mo guys and quickly integrated my module into the layout. For the rest of the day and Sunday, I had fun running trains on the Free-mo modules as well as taking my train out onto the big S&SS layout where I was gone about an hour traversing their 1000+ foot branchline track. Lots of fun!

I also had some time to walk the show floor and caught up with some manufacturers, such as Scotty Mason, James Harr at Stella scale models, the guys at Nick & Nora Designs, the guys at Yankee Dabbler (great prices on model railroad stuff!) and others.

I stayed the night at my buddy Anton's place, catching up on his layout and watching some Canadian Pacific Alco DVDs. Anton is also a member of the Four County Society of Model Engineers and he was there at Timonium with his club as well. All in all a great model railroad weekend.

Here are some pictures from the set up. I hope to return again in October for the Fall show.

For now, I will put the modules back into their storage location under the layout as I want to get back to working on the layout after spending most of my time on the modules. But I wil get them back out before the Fall for some more work as I hope to also take them up to Rhode Island for the NER convention, plus local NJ Division NMRA Meets, and the October Timonium show. Hopefully I can get most of the scenery completed and maybe start work the remaining structures. That would pretty much complete the modules. Either way it will be fun just to operate on them, alone or part if a larger layout.

For more info on my modules as part of NJ Free-mo, check out the NJ Free-mo web site. And for more info on Free-mo in general, check out the main Free-mo web site.