Before arriving at the final trackplan I built a mockup
of the proposed layout
showing the curved trestles across Cascade Slough, the location of the hills behind
South Jackson and the routes taken by the twice-around mainline.
Here's a link
to one of the few "overall"
pictures of the 4x8 BC&SJ layout.
The main town is South Jackson which has the only station on the layout and
most of the industry (Machinery Repair, South Jackson Mfg, Brough-Caan Glass
Co, South Jackson Feed & Mill, a ware house and an open air team track that
doubles as an engine service facility.
The JS Barge Service Co is located on the shores of Lake Webster and ships and
receives many different types of goods. There is a very short branchline ending
at what can be a limestone mine, log loading facility, or oil field.
Operation uses two engines. One engine goes round and round stopping at South
Jackson to drop off and pick up cuts of cars then hiding in the long tunnel. The other engine is stationed
in South Jackson and does all the local (and some not quite so local switching).
The double switch back in South Jackson can make switching a real challenge.
What did I do right with this plan
This layout was built in lieu of the On3 South Pacific Coast
which I finally deemed
too complex to build and too small to ever really replicate the mainline operation of the
SPC. Although it looks like a railroad it's really a classroom! I knew I wanted
industrial spurs, as long a mainline as I could manage, a continuous run option,
and a number of scenery options including a creek or two, a lake, a town, and some
mountains. I also wanted a couple of crossings.
Although I didn't know it at the time I found that a 4x8 island layout can also
make a really good photo prop!
What did I do wrong?
Since I built the 4x8 BC&SJ I've operated on a number of other layouts and joined
the Layout Design Special Interest Group. Things I think are missing from this
- Lack of staging - there's no place to stash extra cars let alone an extra
- Only one passing siding means that only one mainline train can run at at
time - two sidings are needed to have meets. When I built it I never thought
I'd want more than 1 train at a time (even though it was wired for two cabs!)
- No way to turn locomotives except that giant sky crane
- The siding is needed as a runaround track for switching operations. Unfortunately
the South Jackson switcher has to foul the main to access it. This means I
can't even work on industries in South Jackson while the mainline train runs