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The Elk Canyon & Western Railroad

      The ECW&RR is a portable switching style layout using a track plan inspired by D&RGW trackage at Ouray, Colorado.  The layout you are looking at is an “S” scale narrow gauge (Sn3) layout.  The layout is powered using digital command control provided by EASY DCC from CVP Products.

The layout is a “Narrow Gauge” layout.  Narrow gauge means the distance between the rails is less than the 4’ 8 ½” standard gauge measurement.  Here, narrow gauge is 3’ between the rails.  Prototype railroads, such as the Denver & Rio Grande Western, Rio Grande Southern, Colorado & Southern and West Side Lumber Company, built their railroads using narrow gauge track.  This allowed these railroads to be built faster using lighter weight equipment with tighter curves.  Narrow Gauge railroads were in a hurry to get into the mountains to haul out valuable gold and silver ore. They also brought timber down from the mountains to build towns in the expanding western United States between 1875 and the 1950s. 

‘S’ scale is 3/16” to the foot or a ratio of 1:64; thus, the real object is 64 times larger than the ‘S’ scale model.  ‘S’ scale is larger than ‘HO’ scale in which the real object is 87 times larger than the model.  ‘S’ scale is smaller than ‘O’ scale in which the real object is 48 times larger than the model. 

Sn3 is frequently described as the “perfect” scale.  Details, such as steam valve gear, handrails and grab irons, actually become visible but are not oversized as often happens in smaller scales.  Besides the bonus of being 36% larger than HO scale equipment, an Sn3 layout can be constructed in virtually the same space as an ‘HO’ standard gauge layout.

The ECWRR is powered using a DCC system.  Each engine contains a decoder, which receives a signal transmitted by the command station.  The signal is carried through the rails to the engine.  The beauty of a DCC operated layout is that you are no longer limited to running a train in one direction based on the polarity of the electrical voltage.  Each engine is operated independent of track polarity.  Using DCC means you can have two engines move toward one another if you want to risk an old-fashioned cornfield meet.  Engines on the ECWRR house a Tsunami decoder produced by Soundtraxx.  Tsunami decoders provide a variety of steam and diesel sounds.  In today’s world of model railroading, you can now operate with realistic sound and movement just like the prototype.

The ECWRR uses engines imported by PBL with rolling stock manufactured by PBL.  Each engine or car is an exact model of the real thing.   

The layout

Construction of the ECWRR began on September 6, 2009.  Being the third layout built by the NTxNG, a lot of thought based on lessons learned went into the design of the layout.  The layout was designed to be transported by a small number of group members. We wanted the layout to be of furniture grade quality in order to convince spouses to allow the layout to be set up inside a home rather than out in the garage.  Finally, we wanted the layout to include its own lighting.  The goal was to illuminate our modeling for all to see. 

Group members cut and milled maple for the woodwork in the layout.  The design of the module box includes a self-supporting roof.  This design allows unobstructed photography of the layout.  Each module is joined together using pattern makers steel dowel pins imported from Great Britain.  This makes set up a simple matter of plugging the modules together.

Lighting on the ECWRR is a combination of fluorescent and low voltage halogen bulbs.  Gerry Cornwell, a professional lighting designer and owner of Mt. Albert Scale Lumber did the lighting design.  The layout utilizes undercounter T5 fluorescent fixtures.  The bulbs are color-rated for 3500 Kelvin.  The fluorescent fixtures provide a neutral illumination to the layout.  The low voltage (12 volt) halogen lighting is from an outdoor garden lighting system.  These halogen floods provide warmer lighting to accent structures and other features on the layout.

Another idea from Great Britain is the transfer table on the left end of the layout.  Most modelers in Great Britain have very limited space in which to create their layouts.  By necessity, British modelers developed a transfer table or “fiddle yard” to allow them to move trains on and off “ stage”. The transfer table represents the “off stage” area of the layout.

Please see the Gallery pages for images of the Elk Canyon & Western.



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Last modification 01/01/2004 10:56:39 by Duane Richardson, MMR
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