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CPR Galt Subdivision

Is Bigger Better?

In Model Railroading today, the trend for many modelers is to run to longer freight cars and larger locomotives that require large radius curves to operate smoothly. This trend is partly because we often model what we see, and what we see nowadays when we are waiting for a train to pass at a crossing are large locomotives and equipment.

Not everyone has the space available to devote to a large railway. Many modelers live in apartments, townhouses, or houses with limited space or a small yard. However, these individuals need not be excluded from the hobby because they do not have large rooms for their model railways.

Before our system of roads developed and truck transport became the norm, many industries had their own railway systems to transport raw materials to processing facilities, or from the plant to yards where the goods could be transferred to mainline trains.

These "light (duty) railways" used a lot of really small home-built equipment. Light railways were used for harvesting agricultural products - sugar beets and sugar cane, lumbering - logs, finished lumber or timbers, or mineral products - salt, gravel, ore, etc.

Light railways were also used, and still are, for construction projects like dams and underground aqueducts or sewers. Some were even used to transport goods and ammunitions up to the front lines during wartime.

Many light railways also carried passengers on cars modified to make it slightly more comfortable than riding in a multi use freight car.

What does this mean to us as Model Railroaders? Light railway equipment was built to be temporary, take tight curves, and steeper grades. This means we can do the same in a small interior space or garden. An entire light railway complex could be built in the confines of a closet, or within a space only five feet wider than the average patio. Using the smallest radius of curve offered by the manufacturers adds to the fun of light railways.

As for equipment to use on light railways: For an indoor railway think about the new lines of On30 (O scale, Narrow Gauge) equipment from Bachmann and other manufacturers. For the garden, LGB's field railroad (FRR) equipment, LGB's Grizzly Flats cars, or Hartland Locomotive Works mini kits, are good places to start. Once started you are only limited by your imagination.

What if you prefer to model a modern railway but have limited space? All you need is one wall to create a modern switching layout with a small yard or interchange track and a few industries that will keep you entertained for hours. Such a layout also provides the opportunity to do some fine scale modeling and create an interesting display. A variety of rolling stock can be used for each operating session. You could even have a change in motive power to deliver the goods to your industries. With a colourful backdrop and an attractive fascia, a small switching layout could be attractively installed in a recreation room above the furniture, out of the way of your family and guests, but handy for you to operate or work on after a hard day at the office.

Dare to think smaller, not bigger. Explore the idea of light railways and small-medium size switching layouts. Visit Credit Valley Railway and talk to us about your modelling plans. We’re here to help you get started with that dream layout. We’ll even help you design one.


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