Layout

The first version of this web site detailed the house renovations and layout construction of the Brewer Avenue and Pacific Railroad at our retirement home in Winter Park, Florida.  Since the “completion” was in 2004, I decided to revamp the web site to detail where it is now, rather than how it got here.

The layout is plywood over a frame of 2 x 4’s.  Track is Atlas Nickel Silver with Atlas switches.  The switch motors are Z-stuff with Z-stuff relays for switch-related signal control.  The control system is Lionel TMCC/Legacy.  The control system is for train control only.  All switches and accessories are controlled by remote controllers.

Operation is single direction (clockwise) only.  This is to reduce operational complexity and save space that reversing loops would require.  There are three ovals.  Two are lower level (Southern Division and Union Pacific Division) with extensions to the upper level and one is upper level only (Western Pacific Division).  There is an independent yard (Winter Park Yard) and one that is a part of the Union Pacific Division (Portland Yard).  The ovals are connected so that a single train can travel anywhere on the layout.  Each Division and the Winter Park Yard has their own control panel.  

Grand Central Terminal (really a station in this case) is located on the upper level and sports three tracks.  It consists of the Lionel GCT structure (the smaller one) and the Harry Heike base.  Some of the older videos and photos show the MTH station that used to occupy that space.

Minimum curves are O54.  There are some O72 sections.  Switches are all O54 except for one O72/O54 curved switch.  Power is provided by six Lionel 180 bricks and TMCC lockons and is delivered to 10 blocks.  A PW ZW powers switches, signals and lights, while another one powers all accessories.

Several changes were made from version 1.0 of the layout.  The first changes were to accommodate the LionMaster Big Boy (which I no longer have).  The cab overhang hit several tunnel portals and one upper platform support member (that was fun to fix!).  The descent from the WP to the Southern (upper right side of the drawing) was changed three times to eliminate stringlining, the last change moving the merging switch to the mouth of the bridge, which necessitated changing the bridge to the wider Hell Gate bridge.  Finally, the addition of the Lionel FEF 844 required some more tunnel portal adjustments and the long, unforgiving wheelbase of this Northern found many kinks in my track joints.

Layout Plan for Web


Click on image for full size view.

My guiding philosophy was/is “operational fun.”  I like operating accessories and they are typically placed near the edge of the layout along with their controls.  Accessories include the 97 Coal Elevator, 164 Log Loader, Culvert Unloader/Loader, Barrel Loader, MTH Service Station, Lionel Reactor, MTH Fire Station (highly popular), Oil Derrick, Oil Pump and bubbling Oil Field, Barber Shop, Bascule Bridge, Freight Platform, Water Tower, TMCC Crane Car, M I Jack crane, Magnetic Crane, Back Shop, Rocket Launcher, the always popular Milk Car and the never working Cattle Car. 

Another aspect of the “fun quotient” is the inclusion of family personal stuff on the layout.  I have many “look alike” figures made by Marce Urbanski as part of her former Trainsformations business.  I have also customized buildings to reflect things important to family members.  These are detailed on the Family Scenes page.

Jeff Sohn has done several custom painting jobs (additional CZ cars, additional Portland Rose cars, UP E3 AA’s, a Brewer Avenue & Pacific NW2).

My scenery technique is not one that would withstand close examination.  The intent is to give the viewer the scenery concept and let the mind’s eye fill in the rest.  Scenery is not my strong suit.

I have an electrical substation built by Mark Borchardt and an icing platform built by Allen Mason.

The makeup of trains on the layout changes.  I usually have two trains of only operating cars so that all accessories could be run during a single operation session (mostly for visitors).  One is headed by a UP GP7 and one by a WP/UP Heritage SD70ACe.  These are kept on sidings in the Portland Yard

I like passenger trains and I have more than I can have on the layout at a time.  I also seem to like them long and have gone to great lengths to achieve great lengths.  Off the layout right now is The Southerner:   Lionel E3 AA’s in green and white and a four car train behind them.  This is a very handsome consist.  Also off the layout is my Super Chief.  This  has the ABBA F3’s from the anniversary set, cars from the anniversary set (with new trucks) and recent cars.  This is a 10 car train.  

Also off the layout currently are two UP passenger trains.  The City of Portland is comprised of Lionel E9 AA (both powered), MTH Railway Express Car, Baggage, Combination, two coaches, two diners (one a StationSounds car), 2 MTH sleepers, two dome cars and an observation.   The other train is the Portland Rose, which, when running, isheaded by the FEF 844 in grey with an auxiliary tender, also in grey, a Weaver RPO car, and K-Line Heavyweights in two tone grey (two baggage, four coach, two diners and an observation).  The cars painted by Jeff Sohn have been named for rivers in the area where I grew up in Oregon (Columbia, Willamette, Clackamas, Yamhill, Tualatin).

Running on the layout now is the WP section of the California Zephyr with Lionel WP ABB F3’s and eleven CZ cars from K-Line and Lionel (additional cars renamed by Jeff Sohn).  The CZ is my granddaughter’s favorite.   It is nearly prototypical with the ABB configuration, baggage,five dome coaches, two dome lounges, diner, two sleepers and dome observation. The train has been converted to LED lighting by RoyzTrains and includes a prototypical Red MARS light on the observation car.

Also on the layout now is my Afternoon Hiawatha.  This is powered by a Weaver Baltic Hiawatha converted to ERR by GunRunnerJohn.  The consist is a MTH Express Reefer, K-Line baggage, coach, parlor, diner, full dome and skylight observation.  I also have two MTH full domes.  I know the Milwaukee ran only one dome per train (and probably none on the Afternoon Hiawatha), but i run three!

Current freight on the layout, in addition to the operating car trains, are a consist of “interesting loads,” pulled by a LionMaster Challenger and the Beer Train, consisting of billboard reefers pulled by the FEF.  

A Lionel L & N  0-8-0 handles switching in the Winter Park Yard.