Lately I've become more active in my HO modeling, and I've actually gotten a "real" layout under construction for the first time in about 20 years!

New photos are in cells with a lighter background. NEW photos last added January 3, 2011!

Would you like prints of most any of these slides? Go to for details!

first_train.jpg (57794 bytes) Here is my brother Jim and my first model train layout, which was on a 3x6 foot piece of plywood that rolled under the bunk bed. I took this photo in 1960 with my 620 roll film camera when I was 11 years old. This and the following 2 layouts were in Menominee, Michigan.
model2.jpg (210043 bytes) This was my second layout, built in 1963 after we moved to a house that had a basement. This is a 4x8 sheet of plywood, with a doubletrack mainline, one 15 inch radius and the outer track 18. This photo was taken in May of 1964.
akane.jpg (195354 bytes) This is an Akane model of a 2-4-4-2 that belonged to my friend Joe Seidl, and this is a time exposure taken on his layout in May of 1965.
model3.jpg (188625 bytes) Later on, I decided to build a bigger layout (of course!) and used the 4x8 sheet of plywood from the above layout as the end piece on this layout. June of 1965.
mudhen.jpg (150357 bytes) This was my first narrow gauge engine, which I got from Hobby Horse in Milwaukee, Wis. Another time exposure taken on my layout in Sept. of 1965.
cp_cliner.jpg (203683 bytes) Here is a Fairbanks-Morse C-Liner engine in Central Pacific colors, posing on a bridge in May of 1966.
trans66.jpg (164732 bytes) This was a special car that traveled across the country in Dec of 1966 and the first part of 1967 and was called "Transcontinental 1966". Here the car is on my layout before being interchanged (sent by mail!) to the next railroad on the list. Shown here on Jan. 13, 1967.
layout2.jpg (187152 bytes) Later on I decided to redo the wooden trestles on this layout, and here on July 18, 1969 they are shown under construction. This was while I was at university, so the only time any work got done was during the summer break, and that was after working at summer jobs to pay for these toys.
layout3.jpg (172329 bytes) Another view of the same layout, from the other end of it. July 18, 1969. This layout was torn down in 1970 when my Mom sold the house, and I was only a year from graduating from university.
soo_layout1.jpg (199047 bytes) It was then 10 years before I could start another layout, this time in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. I had just bought my first house there, and so promptly started another layout. Here is the spiral tunnel being built in May of 1981.
soo_layout2.jpg (193814 bytes) By February of 1982 I had made some progress and was running trains, although without much scenery. Here is a string of Algoma Central boxcars, along with some other equipment. Note the huge pile of "white fungus" by the basement window - the one thing I don't miss from the north country!
soo_layout3.jpg (181687 bytes) Seeing as how I was working for the ACR at this time as an agent-operator, I had to have some models of the ACR on the layout. Here are an Athearn gon and boxcar that I painted and lettered for the ACR. Feb. of 1982.
soo_layout4.jpg (177643 bytes) While I did paint the cars myself, a friend of mine from Green Bay painted this engine, and 2 others, for me. I still have these cars and engines, and they will be used on the layout I am now building here in Mesa, AZ. This photo was taken in Feb. of 1982.
After just a few years of delay, I've finally started my so-called "real" layout...and here is my first ever digital photo! This is a small temporary layout that I built to run trains and experiment with new modeling ideas while the "real" layout was being drawn up. Sept. 2, 2002.
This is a shot of the loco area with some of the engines being tested and run-in. Sept. 2, 2002.
And here is what I hope will become a centerpiece of the layout....a set of 4 Walthers Iron Ore docks built together as one unit. I mounted the dock on a sub-base so that if I have to move it I can do so without damaging it. Sept. 2, 2002.
And here is a shot taken today (the 30th) of recent progress...finally eh :). August 30, 2003.
This photo was taken on September 19, 2003, showing some more progress around the Pangisini Taconite Pellet Mine.
The next two photos were taken November 21, 2003 showing the town of Frater, with a VIA Rail Canada train in the station track, and a passing freight with 2 Super Rodents and a SD40 in gray and maroon trailing. The track runs along the outside walls of the basement, while descending a 2.6% grade to the lower level, seen here to the left.
The freight engines are Kato, and the VIA Rail engine is an early (brown box) Proto 2000.
Here's an update on the progress to date...January 17, 2004.
And another one, looking the other way from the above photo...January 17, 2004.
And yet another one, this one right behind the other photos, showing the track headed to the lower level and going through the stairs! January 17, 2004.
I've just now finished the "Steelton Staging Yard" and thought I'd post a few photos before starting construction of the upper level benchwork that will mostly cover this area. March 30, 2004
Looking the other way. The track is all Atlas code 100, and the turnouts are Shinohara and Atlas (some really old *plastic frog* even!) all salvaged from the temporary layout I tore down a few months ago now. March 30, 2004.
I may extend the yard 3 or 4 feet further to the left once the rest of the benchwork is in place. March 30, 2004.
An overall view...yes its blurred, but I didn't realize it until after I had removed all of the cars and buildings!
Here are a few more shots taken on May 19, 2004 showing some more progress on my layout. Here is a view looking at what will be Canyon on the right and the area on the left bottom is Hawk Jct.
Another view showing the north switch Canyon and a train headed south.
The ore dock is nearly complete...after adding 4 more sections and the approach ramp. Soon it will be in service.
Anyone who has been to Shawmut, AZ on the Espee will recognize this scene!
My friend Steve Pickarts has a really good digital camera and here are a couple of photos that he recently took of my layout. Here is a view of the Steelton Staging Yards, along with the RIP/Aux track. May 30, 2004. Photo 2004 by Steve Pickarts - used with permission.
Another photo taken by Steve, showing the staging yard with the Shawmut loop over it, and the start of the peninsula down the middle of the layout room. May 30, 2004. Photo 2004 by Steve Pickarts - used with permission.
This is the ore dock, now nearly completed and ready to have the rail laid and the approach tracks built. May 30, 2004. Photo 2004 by Steve Pickarts - used with permission.
This is a view looking over the layout away from the staging yard shown above. May 30, 2004. Photo 2004 by Steve Pickarts - used with permission.
OUI! La Spike d'Or!  Finally, after just over 20 years, I have a "real" running layout! I completed the main line loop on Saturday Sept. 18th at 3:30 pm. I do like to run really long trains, and so far I am up to 106 cars with 6 powered units. The maximum grade is 2.75 % northward and 2.5 % southward out of Hawk Junction. This view is of that 106 car train with the van just crossing the north switch Canyon, and you can see the lead engine on the next higher level.
The head end is just crossing over the siding at Ogidaki (and its own train) as it continues to climb. This part here is the ruling grade, being about 2.8 % for about 15 car lengths before nearly leveling off.
Another of the train as it crosses over towards Frater on the flyover (this will be replaced with a high steel bridge like the one at Montreal Falls).
Same train in the same position as just above, but here from the other end of the peninsula.
And once more the same train. This is the future siding of Mekatina, which I hope to install soon. All 5 of these photos taken September 19, 2004. ***Update late Sunday nite 9-19***  Train Length is now 118 cars, and 6 four axle lokies. The train nearly stalled on Ogidaki Hill, so another GP lokie is in order, and 125 cars seems quite possible.  ;) ..... I'll need to get a few six axle lokies set up on DCC will be interesting to see how much, if any, difference in train speed uphill they will do. I do remember how 3 six axle units on the ACR went up Frater Hill nearly twice as fast as a set of 6 GP7's - same horsepower, different number of drivers on rail.
Some more progress has been made! Here are 5 photos of the Steelton engine facility as of December 27, 2004. This is an overall view of the engine area. Note the space for the turntable - once Walthers gets their 130 ft table in, I'll be installing it.
Some of the various power consists. I tend to like groups of 3 or 4 engines for road freights, and 2 engines for road switchers.
The soon to be roundhouse is already full!
Some of the power ready for work.
The site of the future backshop.
A couple of months ago now I finally received my Walthers 130 ft turntable, and here it is temporary in place, although I will be removing it soon so I can paint it. Photo taken June 18, 2005 with a **cheap** digital camera...time for a better one I think ;).
Another view of the turntable.
These tracks will eventually become service tracks for outgoing power along with a small coal chute for the few steam engines still in service.
And here is the Walthers ore dock finally placed into service about a week ago now. It is connected to the rest of the layout via a temporary spur and set out track. June 18, 2005.
I used a curved Walthers Code 83 turnout just off to the left of the photo to connect to the main line.
A different view of the ore dock.
Contrary to certain rumours, scenery work is being done on my layout, and here is photographic proof! This is Mount Shawmut, and will be the one area of the layout that will be representing the desert Southwest area of the country. April 22, 2009.
Closer in view of Mount Shawmut. April 22, 2009.
My first attempt at painting rock castings...using watercolour paint and thinning it out somewhat....just slopping paint around to see what happens..... April 22, 2009.
Those freaking foamers are everywhere it seems.... April 22, 2009.
This is Brient yard, the staging yard for the ore dock (off to the right of this photo). Note the ramp up to the dock...I used the Woodland Scenics 4% grade Styrofoam ramps. April 22, 2009.
And here is Shawmut, Arizona...just a short branch line away from the real world that I am modeling (Northern Ontario). Oct. 26, 2010.
Another view of Shawmut.
The station is the Walthers Mission Depot kit with freight house. This kit went together quite nicely and looks good.
The Shawmut scene.
This is Brient yard - the 4% grade to the ore dock is in the background. October 26, 2010.
Someone wasn't watching out for obstructions on the track....
Oops!! Good thing the train was running slow and that the lead unit lost power when it tilted off the track. October 26, 2010.
This is the Oil Spur - modeled after the Oil Spur on the ACR at Wawa. Again these are Walthers kits.
Another Walthers kit is this engine house at Mongoose.
This is the pulpwood and wood chip loadout area at Mekatina. October 26, 2010.
More of the Walthers 9 stall roundhouse is well under way here. October 26, 2010.
Another view -  this is made from two complete roundhouse kits and 1 of the add-on kits. October 26, 2010.
Rear view.
And now the roundhouse is nearly done! Just a few little items on the punch list to be taken care of. October 27, 2010.
Another view.....
The back side....I extended 2 of the stalls to hold 2 six axle units at once. October 27, 2010.
And now it is 99% finished! A little Woodland Scenics ballast and various shades of turf add a lot. November 3, 2010.
A close up - and yes, I did manage to put an N-scale decoder in this little critter. November 3, 2010.
A view of the back side...the one thing that I need to fix is to remove the seams somehow, but still keep the roof removable for maintenance when required.
More evidence of scenery work being done....
And another view of the roundhouse from the other side. November 3, 2010.
Work is progressing along just dandy fine is the Steelton Engine Facility pretty well finished with the detailing and ballasting. January 2, 2011.
This is Mount Shawmut after another coating / slopping / flinging of paint, stain and so on in various shades of desert reds, yellows and browns. The cork pads are where the station will go (see above). January 2, 2011.

Back ] Home ] Next ]

This Web page and all photos on it are 1999-2011 by Ted Ellis. All Rights Reserved.