• layout photographs

    The main driver was to get the layout to an Operations-Ready stage to host guests for the invitational VanRail Operations event here in September and we are on the verge of commencing Operations on phase 1 of the layout.

    The BIG item of work was the completion of the swing gate that crosses the main room entrance. It was tempting to install a “temporary” duck under – however, since the temporary duck under existed on the previous layout for nearly 10 years - we decided to bite the bullet and complete a swing gate before formally commencing operations.

    The construction of the layout is continuously evolving, but the following is a sample of some of the progress. Watch the website regularly, and keep an eye on the What's New section of the latest updates.

  • April 2017 cpr rossland subdivision staging yard construction
  • This prototype subdivision was very busy and generated a lot of traffic for the CPR, particularly in the early years. CPR timetables in the late 50’s and early 60’s showed several trains going in and out of this subdivision daily! It was determined during the earliest planning stages for the layout that this would be modelled as a staging yard, although the exact location and design was not established at that time.

    The following series of photos provides a progressive overview of the construction and implementation of the 12 foot long, 6 track Rossland Subdivision staging yard. The turnouts will have switch machines installed and we intend to use a power routing strategy to align them and also provide power to the tracks. This work will be completed this summer.

    Here we see Ken C assembling the various plywood framing components that were pre-cut in the garage/shop.

    This shows the completed framing with the plywood top installed.

    The roadbed material has been glued down with white glue and has been clamped firmly in place until the glue sets.

    The roadbed is done and has now been painted flat black so it is not too obvious when the Slocan City upper deck is installed above it.

    Track installation is proceeding using Micro Engineering code 70 flex track and #6 turnouts. The track is glued down and the turnouts are spiked down – in case we need to pull them up in the future!

    Here we see the track feeders protruding above the layout.

    This is a view of the underside of the module while it is actually on its side. Each staging track has its own bus wire.

    It is our practice wherever possible to complete as much under layout wiring while we have modules upside down or at least on their sides. It certainly saes us from the need to crawl under the layout to do this – at least most of the time! Here we see Ken C completing the termination of the bus wires into the terminal block.

    This photo shows the overall length of the entire staging yard with all the bus wring and track feeders installed. It is now ready to flip upright and be secured in place.

    This is the completed yard now in service with a few trains staged in it. It is still pretty thin on freight cars, however that will change as we add more to the layout.

  • Dec 2016 to Mar 2017 - Nelson west modification
  • One of the unique elements at the west end of the Nelson yard is the two curved tracks that the railroad used for cleaning out various freight cars. These tracks were typically quite full and usually had a debris field around them – particularly in the earlier years.

    After mocking up numerous configurations on how these could be incorporated into the available space on the layout, we compromised a bit to maximize the length of these tracks at the expense of the turnouts being in exactly the correct prototypical arrangement.

    We then proceeded to remove several existing turnouts that needed to be modified to be DCC friendly and we also removed a spur that was installed during the original yard construction but was not really correct and would interfere with future scenery objectives in this area.

    We are quite pleased on how this modification turned out, and it has certainly added to the Nelson yard work load.
    Here are some photos of the work and completed configuration.

    We have removed the Nelson brewery spur and associated roadbed and turnout.

    The roadbed has been repaired and everything has been painted with the standard ground colour. Two mainline turnouts have also been removed to be modified to be DCC friendly.

    This is a photo of one of the many track configurations we experimented with.

    This shows the revised and added cork roadbed material installed for the new turnouts and track for the clean out tracks. To transition the levels, we taper the cork with a sure form tool and use standard drywall mud compound.

    This is the same area as the previous shot with everything painted and now ready for eh track to be installed.

    Here we see the Route to Nelson Clean Out Tracks cards that we insert into the car cards on top of the way bills. We add, or remove these between op sessions as part of the restaging process.

    These shows the new clean out tracks from different vantage points. (Photo 1)

    (Photo 2)

  • august 2016 progress photos (Fascias)

  • Here we see John G fastening a section of facsia in place along the GN line.
    These 3 photos show the progression of the installation of the fascias, backdrops and skirting. The upper track Is Tunnel siding on the CP mainline, and the lower track is Salmo on the GN line.

    Photo 1.

    Photo 2.

    Photo 3.
    These 3 photos are the view as you enter the train room, again showing the progression of the installation of the fascias, backdrops and skirting.


    Photo 1.
    Photo 2.
    Photo 3.
    These 2 photos show the current state of the centre area of the layout.
    Photo 2.

  • august/September 2016 progress photos (cOTTONWOOD CREek)

  • This shot shows the rough framing and basic construction of the Cottonwood Creek channel.
    The roadbed is installed on either side, and the channel is being test fit into the framing.
    The channel has been painted and debris installed along the bottom of it.
    Installing one of the many layers of Modge Podge to create the running water.
    Overall view of the channel with a couple of the short timber “bridges” being test fit across it to carry tracks to the diesel shop building.
    This shot was taken by Mike Barone in the 1990’s and shows the channel quite clearly. Many of the “bridges” across it are now removed due to ongoing abandonment of the rail facilities located in Nelson.

  • june/july 2016 progress photos

  • Here we see Ken C lifting up the 12 foot long temporary west staging yard module after we have removed it in preparation for the mainline extension.

    We separated the staging module into a 4 foot and 8 foot section, and here we see the longer one on its side so Ken C can complete some wiring revisosns to it prior to it being reinstalled at the next location.
    This shows the temporary west staging modules reinstalled. Note that there is a bend in them to accommodate the wall angle. This is why we separated it into an 8 foot and 4 foot section.

    Here we have installed the 66” long drop module to support the McCormack Creek trestle. We are using the cardboard trestle mock up to verify geometry.
    Here we are installing the new spline roadbed west of Castlegar.

    This is a view looking down the aisle west of Castlegar where we are installing the tracks to reconnect the mainline. Coykendahl siding can be seen on the upper right of the photo.

  • May 2016 progress photos
  • Refer to the plans of the two decks of the layout located under the LAYOUT tab of the web site for help in understanding where these photos were taken.

    Overall “helicopter” view of the new mainline running westward from Tunnel siding towards the summit at Farron. This line is ascending at approximately 1.8% and will require pushers.
    Troup Junction and the East Staging yard which are on the CP Nelson Sub. east of Nelson can be seen on the lower deck of the layout.








    Standing in the near Castlegar looking up the centre aisle of the layout. Tunnel siding which is located at the west portal of the Bulldog tunnel is on the upper deck, and the yard area for the GN at Salmo is under construction on the lower deck.



    Standing in the aisle near Castlegar looking up the dead end aisle towards Eholt. The new section of the mainline is on the left and the 2% ascending grade will commence where the black arrowhead is. From this point to the summit at Farron will add about 130 feet of mainline to the existing 200 feet.

    This photo is taken from above Castlegar looking at the end of the newly constructed peninsula where the helix is located. The helix represents the 2900 foot long Bulldog Tunnel. Although there is about 26 feet of hidden track in the helix, the fascia will have slots in it as can be seen in the cardboard mock up piece on the right of the photo.

    This view is taken from the Eholt end of the dead end aisle looking back towards Castlegar. The new mainline rises on the right ascends at 2%, passing behind the photographer, through Coykendahl siding on the left, and into the east end of Bulldog tunnel in the distance.
    This shot is taken from the other end of the centre aisle looking eastward to towards Tunnel siding and the west portal of Bulldog tunnel on the upper deck. The GN line to the USA passes through Salmo on the lower deck before passing around the end of the peninsula under the helix and into a modest staging yard on the opposite side of the peninsula.

  • SEPTEMBER 2015 progress photos

  • Temporary staging stub track representing the GN 5th Subdivision trackage. This will eventually be replaced with a longer line down the yet to be built centre peninsula.

    Temporary trackage representing the Slocan Subdivision destinations of the lumber mill and the rail barge slip at Slocan City.

    View looking down the aisle towards South Slocan. The Taghum bridge will be on the left where the truss bridge is located. Preliminary framing for the upper deck can be seen on the right side of the photo.

    Overall eastward view of the Proctor yard area, which represents the east end of the layout and will eventually be home to the 3 track barge slip that operated there until the late 70’s.

    Easterly view looking over the west end of Nelson yard. Most yard tracks are installed now, however, several ancillary tracks are still to be laid. Several local industries are represented along the back wall of the yard with flats.

    Westerly view of the temporary west end staging yard. It is a 12 foot long module that is designed to be unscrewed from the wall and relocated as the mainline progresses west ward. It is currently at the 200 foot point of the eventual 500+foot mainline.

    Overall view of Castlegar yard area. One leg of the Rossland Sub. wye can be seen just to the left of the station where the boxcar sits. The fascia in the upper part of the photo represents roughly where the upper deck will be at Grand Forks.

    Looking over the mock up for the diesel shops at the east end of the Nelson yard. Some of the placeholders for the industrial buildings can be seen at the back.

    View of the Kootenay Forest Products mill site (KFP – no – not KFC!!). Building mock ups made from foam core and painted with rattle cans suffice for now.

    Overall easterly view of Nelson yard taken from the west end. In the photo can be seen numerous building mock ups. The large collage photo on the wall is Nelson taken in the mid 1970’s.

    Dispatchers area in a room adjacent to the main layout room. The 4:1 fast clock is located in the upper left of the photo.

  • April 2015 progress photos

  • Nelson yard – west end. A westbound C-Liner led passenger train departing while an SW unit switches one of the few yard tracks.

    Proctor/East staging yard looking very tidy under the hand of yardmaster John G.

    Temporary west staging yard looking pretty full at the end of the session.

    Castlegar area – the mainline to the east is in the upper left corner.

  • january 2015 progress update

    Departing the temporary west end staging yard.

    Running past the Castlegar station (yes – I know that really isn’t the actual station). The line to the Rossland Sub branches off just to the left of the station, and some of the yard tacks can be seen beyond the train in the background.

    Running past the South Slocan station – again, a substitute building at this time. This is a location of a wye and the junction with the Slocan Sub. – the yellow TH&B car in the background is on one leg of the wye and the other leg is just to the left of the station.

    Crossing a mock up for the main truss span of the Kootenay River bridge. The total bridge on my layout will be about 6ft long – and that only includes 6 out of the 9 spans!

    Crossing the swing gate at the room entrance - yay!!

    Crossing the swing gate. On the right hand end – you can see some of the hardware that Ken built to assist in fine tuning the vertical and horizontal alignment of the gate.

    Running into the west end of Nelson yard – we will have numerous industrial flats along the back wall – like the Shell bulk fuel mock up that is in the background.

    Approaching the Nelson station – you may recognize this slightly worn mock up from the previous layout. The freight shed and ice house can be seen in the background – also mock up buildings from the previous layout.

    Running through the Kootenay Forest Products mill site – yes the mainline literally did run right through the mill site!

    Taking the main in the Proctor/east staging yard. Lots of trains in there right now. This will be an active yard and will eventually have the 3 track rail barge slip that serviced Kaslo, Lardeau and a few other locations up the Kootenay Lake. This barge operation lasted into the 70’s.

  • early layout framing