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Posted in Layout Designs by Rob Chant. (Last activity on Sunday, January 02, 2022 at 10:07:37 AST.)

HO SCALE: Soo Line (Branch Line & Interchange)

This concept design was done back in March of 2018 for an owner of a partially completed N-scale pike who has grown weary of the level of operations required on the layout. The N-scale layout occupied this space, but had been dormant for a few years. The owner was considering moving up to HO, and from modeling mainline operations to a more relaxed branch line setting. After seeing some of my branch line designs posted in the Railroad Line Forums, he wanted to see what I could envision in his space.

I knew from the beginning that I would love this project after reading the owner's list of "Givens and Druthers." This would have been his first HO scale layout, and although he had plenty of space, he wanted to keep a high ratio of scenery to track since that was what he loved most about modeling in N-scale (I actually had to scale back my initial first draft since it included too much track.)

The owner also liked simple scenes, prototypical track arrangements, and interchanges with diamond crossings. He wanted a mid-west theme that included lots of crossing with other lines, and lots of grain traffic. He wanted a branch line theme that was capable of being operated by himself, or with only 1 or 2 other operators at most, and also included industries that would be easy to switch. He also didn't want any hidden track, and although I show a fully scenic staging area, the owner said it wasn't a priority for him.

Track Plan:

2020.05.09L-001.gif (58747 bytes)

TAGS: Theme: Branch Line Railway, Design Feature: Interchange, Layout Size: Medium Layouts, Staging Options: Staging Yards, American Railways: Soo Line

User Comments:

Posted by Alan Marshall on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 at 8:19:47 PM.

Bob - One of my favorite layout designs that you've done from the moment I saw it. I love the point to point linear design with the numerous interchanges. I suspect that if more layout builders subscribed to this type of design, they would be far better off and happier than with all these complex double and triple deck, helix designs that seem to be the rage these days. The cost to build would be far less, better chance of success, less resources needed and fewer overall problems that ultimately lead to layout dissatisfaction!

Posted by Robert Chant on Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 8:48:54 AM.

Hi Alan ... I always liked the simplicity of this design as well. I wish I could say that the design was eventually built, but the client I designed if for decided to stay with his N-scale layout and reduce its complexity. As you mentioned, I think it would offer a "minimum hassle" layout with lots of operating potential. Take care, Rob.

Posted by Drew Cannon on Saturday, January 01, 2022 at 1:09:12 AM.

Bob -- In case you are still monitoring reader comments related to this layout, may I make a rather "bold" request? Would it be possible to view the original "...included too much track" version of your layout design for this client, mentioned in the introductory remarks above? The conceptual footprint of the above design is very appealing to me and would fit quite efficiently in the layout space I have available. I also enjoy the mid-west theme, simple scenes, prototypical track arrangements, and lots of grain traffic. Plus I think I would enjoy what might be a slightly more complex operating scheme of your first draft . Thank you for considering my request.

Posted by Rob Chant on Saturday, January 01, 2022 at 5:57:44 AM.

Hi Drew,

I don't have the original version with "the too much track" ... but it included more track for each of the interchanges, and a gran elevator at Chatsworth, Terrace Crossings, and South Larson ... it also included a lumber yard and oil dealer at Chatsworth ... those are the only differences that I can remember. I envisioned 3 to 5 trains per day ... but he only wanted 2 or 3.

Take care,

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