The Woodstock Model Railroad Club invites you to come along with as together we build an empire. Stay tuned for progress updates, tips and techniques. All comments are welcome. Email

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

First track laid

The thermostat for the furnace has been moved to a leg of the layout, for easier access. 

Both new doors have been installed on the bathrooms, a new seal and connection are needed for the replacement toilet, to get the second bathroom functional. 

The track was laid on the elevated town of the branchline, still needs to be tested. Some foam carving was done on the road up the hill at the back.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The port.


The Port
The port/interchange is the final destination for the branchline, (still to be determined if this is a good idea or not, but it adds a lot of options and length to the branchline run). A turntable will be located there to turn engines as well as a small interchange yard and a passenger spur. The station there will be very busy with passengers from the mainline, the ferry and the branchline. Only the station, interchange and gravel dock will switched by the mainline. Some of the track was drawn in.



The sawmill was set on a piece of foam, as the branchline is only 1 inch higher at this end. An extra piece was cut out to form a log pond. The rest of the sawmill buildings were set on the mainline level, where the lumber will be shipped via the mainline. The branchline will run down from this 1 inch level to join the westbound mainline, to get to the Port, by crossing over the eastbound track.

Friday fun

 The center hill, from the old layout loop, was set in place to see how it looks, what do you think. It was set at an angle so there is the same space on both sides.

Set up some buildings and turnouts to check the fit on the island cutout. A little adjustments were required to  get the correct layout. A road was drawn on the foam. An extra piece of foam was added to create a hill at the back, where a few houses will be located. we will see how it looks when it is set in place, maybe we can add more foam for a house on the hill.

Thursday, June 24, 2021


 My thoughts, please correct me if I'm wrong. 

If the quad units are placed at the middle of the east wall, splitting the branchline and the mainline into 2 sections each, the middle of the peninsula, splitting each side of it into 2 for another 4 blocks, the west wall split into 4, passenger yard and leads, the main yard and leads, the south end of the mainline,  and the turntable,  and the south wall and back of the peninsula, split into each side of the aisle, the harbour and the switching puzzle.

The, loosely twisted bus wires terminate in a terminal block at the end of each bench.

Starting at the main yard, the rail closest to the aisle will be wired black and the other rail will be red. So no matter wherever you are on the layout the mainline  track closest to the aisle,  will have a black feeder on the rail closest to the aisle.

I have read the pros and cons of braided versus solid feeders, what do we want. Also only copper? All the same gauge?

Using the island terminal town of the branchline,  I see no problem with soldering feeders to feeders, as there will only be 1 engine running in that town at a time.

As we wire each section can we not check the power distribution to each rail with a meter? If so we could set a standard and try to correct any area not up to that standard as we go?

Can we use a dc engine and controller to test run trains before we attach each section to the dcc power, and can we check the power supply to each rail?

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Branchline track plan

 Here is the plan, after moving the sawmill back to the corner.

With the corner harbour being part of the branchline, there should be a small yard located there. The mainline, in this plan has 4 westbound and 2 eastbound industries to be switched, plus a passing track in each direction. Probably the lead to the lumber yard should be facing the other way, which would even out the east and west switching.

The branch line story

 The fictional story.

The Huff and Puff Railroad, created by a merger of the Elk River Railroad and the Thatcher's Inlet Railroad, was considering rebuilding their old trestle over Grand River when the CP Railroad offered them the use of the right of way of their trackage from the sawmill, over their Grand River Bridge and on to Thatcher's Inlet. The Huff and Puff would allow them to build a gravel dock in the harbour. The deal was struck, to the benifit of both railroads.

Now for the real story. Parts of the branchline were inspired by the Elk River Railroad and the Thatcher's Inlet harbour, by Bob Hayden and Dave Frary, that were featured in Railroad Model Craftsman. 

I had been struggling with how to interchange rolling stock between the mainline and the branchline and how this would work with our Train Order cards. Sure we could have a interchange siding, but what if the branchline isn't operated in a session, the cars would pile up, and how would the train order to pick up and deliver rolling stock, which may or may not have been delivered, look? Then the idea that the branchline was too long, and occupied too much area, and should be terminated at the corner of the peninsula, surfaced. Too bad I thought, I like the branchline. Then the non-seaport, gave the mainline a harbour. Great lets make the little harbour part of the branchline. 

Now both lines exchange rolling stock in the harbour, except the mainline gravel dock, and the branchline has its own train orders using rolling stock at the harbour and the 2 branchline towns. Each line operates with or without the other. An added bonus is the branchline gets  a longer run for both the passenger and freight service. Note the Grand River Bridge may or may not be built in the narrow area near the end of the peninsula. 

Topics of discussion

 The non-seaport idea has had wide approval, overall. The fact that the ship and the travelling crane are protected is a big selling point. The steel mill, which would be mostly a backdrop picture, augmented by a warehouse, ore unloader and coal towers, has also had no negative comments. An elaborate passenger terminal seems to be a non-starter, as people want to focus on freight operations. So it will probably be nothing more than a couple of passenger trains on passing tracks, like we had on our old layout. There has been some push back on extending the branchline down one side of the peninsula. One reason is that what you gain on the branchline doesn't equal what you loose on the mainline. Another concern is the 100 feet the log train's geared locomotive would have to travel, creeping along for "scale" hours. 

One of the next steps will be to locate the mainline curves in all the corners and loops. The track at the back of the loops will have to be laid, ballasted and wired, early on. The branchline benchwork location will also need to be worked out so the mainline in front of it can be located. Some of the branchline can be put together and then set into place.

I would be remiss not to remind members, that this blog is my sounding board and as such, I rely on your comments, especially during covid times. If all I get as replies are likes, I have to assume the plans submitted are accepted to develop them more. As an example, its shocking that I still have to explain the basic "flattened oval" track plan! It is the foundation, discussed months ago, that hours of planning have been based on. Construction continues, based on this concept, I hope everyone is happy with the result.

Ongoing projects

 Doors for the washrooms are being replaced with doors from our old layout.

Buildings that were in storage are being unpackaged.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Ore unloader

 Simple ore unloader.

We could model up to the upper conveyor house and situated it to sit in front of a picture of the blast furnace backdrop.  So the ore train could slowly pull the cars through the unloading house and then return them to the ore train storage plant.


The third topic in the series is a seaport. 

The non seaport. Somewhere on the west side of the peninsula. The ocean would be painted on the background, framed by 2 high buildings like grain silos, fish processor, or a cold storage. Between these a cargo ship would be placed, in front of that would be a harbour crane. Reference the pictures below.

Steel mill

 The next topic is a steel mill. Steel mill

It has been suggested that we put a steel mill on the bench on the south wall,, from the fire door to the furnace. Coal, ore, lime, junk in and steel rolls, wire coils, beams, and pipes out.
With some parts like the blast furnace as backdrop, coal towers, coke ovens and warehouses in the foreground it could be an eye catcher. Here are some ideas.

Jobs for our layout.

 This will be the first in a series of posts regarding future operations on our layout.  This is your chance to help plan our layout, let me know if your interested. We will soon be laying track, so this is urgent or the opportunity maybe lost

The first topic is passenger service, something I know nothing about. I best I could design would be a 3 track, double ended yard to hold 2 passenger trains, in front of the station.

Do we want to set up a an in-depth passenger service, with different consists and train lengths? If so, is there any volunteers to research what we would require as far as hardscape and track arrangements? I  would think there would be room for a passenger terminal on the west wall, I would be glad to work with you on the track plan. If someone would like to take this on and present different options and requirements to our members, it could add another operational  dimension to our layout. 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Foam painted.

 Foam roadbed has all been painted. The cabinet, castings, electric supplies, and shelves were stored under the benchwork. Some buildings were unboxed. Starting next week all the major industries will be, as we find them, will be put into test locations so a track plan can be finalized. Actually the loop by the door can be laid, wired, and ballasted, as it's location is fixed.

The branchline island was test fitted.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Trailer Cleanout - Thanks Doug Brown


Since the mid fall of 2020, some of our dismantled layout has been stored in a former Erb Transport reefer trailer on Doug Brown Welding property on Dufferin Street in Woodstock. A friend of Don Stoddart, Doug was very gracious in allowing us the use of this lockable location when our backs were up against the wall in having to remove the layout from its Devonshire location. This spring, Doug pulled the trailer out from its background location, took the wheels off it and plans to store incoming metal products in it. Hence, our need to clear out our stuff and take it to our new Woodstock Fairgrounds location. Don Stoddart, Rick Owen, Rob Ross and Glen McDonald did that task on Tuesday, June 15, 2021

After some shuttling of items back and forth from the trailer to the Fairgrounds in our three vehicles, we are down to the last item, Don is ready to help Rob carry a table formerly in the Devonshire layout office to Glen's van. Then we can shut and lock the trailer doors for our last time and Don can thank Doug Brown one more time and we are "outa there".  

The final loads arrive from the trailer to the Fairgrounds location and Rick Owen is right there to help Rob park and carry the items in to our new layout location. There are still many bins of layout content stored in member basements, garages, etc. that will be brought back at times needed during the layout reconstruction. Pandemic numbers are falling as we get vaccinated and soon we can get back to regular work sessions.   

Cutout island

 The outline of the branchline island, elevated town was cut out. As it covered parts of 3 benches, they were removed from the layout, taped and glued together.  It was flipped over and 1 x 4's were glued to the foam, using the lines of the benchwork that had been traced on them. The mainline will be laid and scenery will be applied before the island is put in place. The island will also be finished, wiring and all, before it is permanently put into place.

It was decided that the ore train staging track would be a siding, not a passing track, with the turnout near the throat of the loop. This siding will be electrically separated with an on/off switch, so the engine can be stored there.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Upper level benchwork.

 I like the idea of tracing the frames and maybe dabbling on adhesive to hold the foam and benches together.  My idea for the raised town, inside the loop area is to cut it out, glue the foam together, about 3 feet, flip it over on a table and build a new frame on top of it. That way we get it bench as close to the curved edge as possible. Flip it over on a table and fully complete it, wiring and all before adding back to the layout. A narrow strip of thin plywood or foam, that sits on the lower foam, but attached to the upper bench, would support the cliffs, when it is moved. This could be applied to all of the raised areas. The wiring will have to be self contained using holes and a block terminal at one end. See the illustration for a cross section view.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Idea plan

 An idea plan. Note the ore train staging track in blue, this train would be hidden behind the town site. Suggested roads are orange, the green lines are contour lines. This town is an island, 4 inches above the mainline, with an access hole to get at the back mainline track. The tunnel on the left suggests that the branchline continues. Suggested buildings and industries are in red. The black lines are the mainline. I will use this colour scheme in all my plans.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Friday fun

 Who says you can't have fun by yourself.  I painted all the backdrops blue and blended into pre-painted ones where possible. I also mixed a lighter ground colour  paint and painted the loop on the west wall and all of the east wall foam board.

Turntable relocated

 With the branchline track moved to the front of the bench, Ricks idea, there is room for some town buildings behind them. Ricks simple comment allowed for a much longer passing siding and better access to the turnouts and sidings, don't hesitate to speak out. We all get lost in our own thoughts, and then someone observing interjects the perfect solution. Of course, this layout, came about when Don P., for 1 said they liked the original plan, for this area the best. 

After relocating the turntable I painted the track location with dark brown and painted the rest an earth tone. I think this is a better option, as it allows for a passing siding coming out of the loop, on the mainline. Sites for the coaling tower, water tank, station and a sand house were painted in.  Moving the turntable and engine house  also allows the branchline track to move to to the right which aligns better with the Spar tree spur. As you can see I also painted the white backdrop on the peninsula blue.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Branchline planning

 Brought in some buildings to see how they might fit.  The branchline terminal town, at the loop on the east wall was laid out. First the mainline loop was drawn on the foam board. The radius turned out to be 29 inches not 30 as planned, oops. The various turnouts and structures were positioned several times to get the best fit. It was surprising how easy elements became out of reach. Now looking at the picture, the turntable and engine house may fit better on the lower left of the photo. The spar tree and lumber camp was set in place, after being removed in 1 piece from my home layout. Because of its track layout, the log train will have to go into town and be pushed back into the lumber camp, adding more interest to this switching job. As a line was drawn around this town, it became apparent that a new bench, 5 inches high, should be built to support this upper level. It can then be moved to a table and be completely wired and scenery added before it is set back into place. The tail of the passing siding will go over the mainline on a bridge and disappear into a tunnel. The slope down to the mainline can then be added, finishing up the area. The back side will be left open to get at the mainline at the back of the loop. Things that went into planning this town included, length of the passing siding, being able to reach turnouts and rolling stock, structures not in the way of turnouts or rolling stock,  length of sidings and structure locations, and is still up for revision.

The sawmill was set up somewhere close to where it might go. As far as space goes, it takes up a lot of space, so it's final position is still undecided.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Here is a novel idea

 Opportunistic switching.

Except for pre-set trains like the log train, ore train, and coal drag, make up any train you want with available cars in the yard, not longer than 6 feet. Travel around the layout, switching at any or all locations you want. At the end of the run, all cars are stored in the main yard.
The benefits. NO PAPERWORK, no lost cars, no switching errors, every train is different, everyone gets to make up their own train, NO PAPERWORK,  no checking starting locations for all rolling stock, multiple car types per siding, do as much or as little switching as you want, oddball loads are OK, NO PAPERWORK, could have yards at each town, (not easy to plan for with a card system), quantity of each type of rolling stock not important, Could start and stop trains at any yard, NO PAPERWORK.

Drawbacks. Congested main yard while making up and breaking down trains. Realism is lacking, but you almost need to go to car cards for that. Would need to adhere to one train per town rule. More bottlenecks. Lack of structured running, except for unit trains. Only a few pre-set trains ready to be run.

Any thoughts or comments, send to 

Layout thoughts

 Coal mine/power plant cold be located at the mid point of the east wall. They will be separated by an outcrop from the upper level, with a pass through tunnel. They will be switched from the aisle track, with long turnouts to aide in switching. The empty coal train will be held in the main yard. It will go to the coal mine and swap for the loads. The loads will travel the entire route and swap for the empties at the power plant. It will take empties back to the main yard. Note the loads could also layover at the main yard, so there would be 2 coal trains.

Historically Wellington, on our old layout, was one of the least switched locations. This could be because of how high it was, or the long reach, but I believe people did not like picking up their train, just to start switching at the same spot. This could also be the case on our new layout, and it's main yard location. However, the southwest corner could be modelled after a time saver layout. It would be treated like a branchline, and could be as complicated as we want.  I wonder if a Wye could be included? This branch could occupy all of the non-yard area of the west wall and be an interesting and challenging switching area.

The branchline will be continued on 1 side of the peninsula with the sawmill located in the center loop. Besides creating more area for 2 level scenery, the extra length will separate the towns on the branch and allow them to be narrower, leaving more room for the mainlines and industries.

The harbour could also be at the end of a long spur, maybe with a cargo dock along the spur and separate from the harbour itself. This could be used as another separate train, with only 1 or 2 stops on the rest of the mainline.

As a result of all of the above, 1 to 2 operators on the time saver, 1 or 2 operators on the elevated branchline, 1 operator for the coal drag, 1 operator on the harbour job,1 operator for the log train, 1 or 2  passenger trains, and 2 or 3 mainline trains. If we also have an oil train, and an ore train, there could be 15 people operating at one time. Possibly not, but you get the idea. Up to 9 operators not blocking the mainline.

The mainlines, main switching areas, would be located from the east of the furnace, to the end of the peninsula or about 100 feet. But there would still be several, equally spaced, isolated industrial switching areas, along the rest of the layout. All the mainline trains could be multiple drops, at large industries, like Zorra Cement, team tracks, lumber deliveries, ADM and other mills. Switching leads and passing tracks will be a necessity at these locations.

What about an ore train. Well we have no ore mine nor a steel mill (I think the south wall by the fire exit would be a great place for a steel mill). The ore train could arrive via an interchange siding and the steel mill could be represented by photos and background buildings like coal towers, coke ovens, and a warehouse. Lots of traffic.

This is presented as a primary layout and operating plan.  As such it is open for debate, changes and welcomes comments to my email, which is . This has been developed, taking in to consideration our operating system, congestion,  variety in operations and train types.  

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Discussions about the eldvated Branchline

 Everyone seemed to like the idea of the elevated, branchline on the east wall, some even suggested running it down 1 side of the peninsula. To do this the coal mine would need to be moved and adding more branchline reduces switching locations on the mainline, so there is a plus minus to keep in mind. 

Comments also seem to suggest that the original location for the branchline terminal town, with the mainline loop surrounding it was the best location, as it gives the longest passing track possible, and doesn't cause any congestion in the aisle.

Thoughts about wiring


Having a discussion on wiring the layout, in terms of wire gauge and com and control location, Joseph sent me this.

further to our conversation from last night about the bus wiring, this is straight from a Digitrax command station guide:

3.3 Recommended wire sizes
On an average size layout Digitrax recommends that the power bus from the booster be at least 16AWG. When feeding areas up to 50' from the booster, we recommend using 12AWG wire for the power bus.

If we distribute our boosters properly around the layout, with one at the middle of each section on a booster, we shouldn't even come close to a 50' from a booster; more like 25' maximum in either direction by using our quads properly.
So we should be able to get away with 16 gauge without any problems and reduce the cost of buying any additional cabling.

Both Don and Joseph also felt the comand center should be under the end of the central peninsula.