In 1999 a company move brought Keith Stamper to the North Texas area from near Chicago. Before moving, Keith contacted Gary Rush through the Internet. Keith and Gary agreed to meet and discuss the possibility of forming a group to build a portable layout in Sn3. Gary had modeled in Sn3 previously, and Keith was looking for something new after spending years as an On3 modeler.
After making contact with Keith, Gary made connections with Marc LaChey and Tim Kerfoot. Clark Womack, who had also just relocated to North Texas joined the group and the die was set so to speak.
We met at Keith Stamper’s home and decided on a somewhat elaborate multi-level track plan. The theme would be Colorado Narrow Gauge with some Westside logging thrown in for good measure as a result of Tim Kerfoot’s interest. Just as the group began construction, Tom Petrick joined the group. Construction was started in a warehouse/studio that Gary Rush maintained for his commercial art work.
After about a year’s hard work, the folly of a double deck portable layout became obvious. We had made some mistakes in construction of the modules and in the use of masonite for a solid spline roadbed. We decided to moderate our expectations and developed a smaller single level track plan. Clark left the group at this point to pursue his interest in On30.
We focused on something we felt was “achievable”. We realized that we had to forego a bit of operational capability and work toward what we describe as a “display” layout for Sn3. The current trackplan does have some operation capability while the layout as a whole provides a very nice setting to show off the strength of Sn3 as a model railroad scale. Throughout the building of the layout, we have utilized the member with the strongest skills for the particular task. This has allowed us to create something beyond what any of our individual members could have done “on their own”.
Our first public showing of the layout took place at the Ft Worth Holiday Train show in November, 2001. As a result of this showing, we gained another member, Paul Cleveland.
The showing of the layout at the Plano, Texas Train show in January, 2003, was another step forward in the progress on the layout. For the first time, we had no bare Homasote, and had begun to add “detail” to the layout. We were so busy during the show answering questions, that we were doing good to keep two trains running in the same direction at one time. There was a tremendous amount of interest in our scenery, courtesy of Gary Rush. Our layout features an operating turntable with a drive designed using Keith Stamper’s mechanical skills. Paul Cleveland is building the lumber mill and Tim Kerfoot provided requisite Shay locomotive. Tom Petrick is responsible for many of the trees. Tom is also the proprietor of the ACME Mine which provides “ore” to hold down the rope stanchions we use to keep the crowds at bay. Marc LaChey’s mom made the bags for the ore along with the skirts for the layout. Marc also keeps the engines running with the support of CVP’s EASYDCC system.
The mountains are one-piece lift off sections that were made from Blue Styrofoam. A skeleton was made up and covered with a coat of paper and diluted yellow glue. The larger mountain is filled with expandable foam injected into the bottom of the skeleton. Once this “shell” had set up and become stable, a coat of Sculptamold was applied. While still moist, aluminum foil was pressed into the Sculptamold and by pressing gently a rock formation was made. On setting up, the foil was removed and the final details blended with knives.
Gary Rush has also completed the scenery on the layout with the help of Tom Petrick and Marc LaChey, who made up most of the trees. Gary also made the river by carving out the Homasote and then pouring the river using commercial products. Once set up, Gary painted the white caps with acrylic paints. Most rocks and dirt are the “real thing” gathered both here in Dallas and other parts of the country. A blender (not my wife’s) was used to grind the dirt into a fine powder.
As they say, no layout is ever truly complete. We are now turning our focus to detailing the mini scenes on the layout. We may revise some track work, and we need some additional structures.
Best of all has been the relationships established between six guys who enjoy the hobby, share common interests, and can kid each other over our various mistakes and foibles. After all, if you’re not having fun, why do it?
covered with 3/4” plywood and Homasote
Legs are regular ABS plumbing tubing and are permanently attached and folded up for transportation.
The layout is made up of 6 sections .Each section measures 3’ x 6’
When set up, the layout measures 18’ x 9’ wide
Track is a mixture of code 70 flex with handlaid turnouts
Train control is by Easy DCC with turnouts powered through Tortoise machines.
A scratch built turntable is controlled by a small geared motor driving a disk mounted below the bridge.
All turnouts are wired so as to reverse polarity through the built in micro switches on the Tortoises.
Locomotives and rolling stock are all P-B-L imports with a few other manufacturers thrown in.
The Layout is currently set up in the home of Keith and Claire Stamper in Denton, Texas. This has turned out to be an ideal venue allowing the group to work most Saturdays during the mornings. We welcome visitors and if anyone is in the Dallas/Fort Worth area they are welcome to stop by and view our layout.