An Ambitious Number of Windows


Above is the trackplan for my previous, un-achieved layout, the Manhattan Terminal Railroad. I was corresponding with Chris Mears over our mutual interest in densely packed little bits of industrial railroad somehow I committed to posting the plan, so here it is.

The plan is on a 1 foot grid, the scale is still 1:48, the main entrance is through the drop leaf at the top. The overall concept, as suggested by the title, was an offline(accessible only by carfloat) terminal operation on the island of Manhattan, somewhere on the west side in the 30th-40th street range. (40th was the PRR, the Erie, B&O and several others were also there. I cherry picked the bits I liked to produce a proto-freelanced line that would fit my space. The ruling curve around the end was a flange squealing 38″ so fit was tight and the location provided the excuse for the intense switching I desired.

In no particular order, here are some things I like about the plan:

  • The carfloat based fiddle yard: instead of hidden cassettes, I imagined waterline model carfloats with felt lined bottoms manually pushed over the resin “water”.
  • Water covered drop leaf. I generally wish to avoid this sort of entrance blocking compromise but a surface merely for sliding floats across would be quick to raise and replace.
  • Plausibly scaled carfloat and pier warehouse. The proposed carfloats would be over 250 scale feet long which approaches prototype dimensions and would hold about 15 40 foot O scale cars. You can see why sliding is indicated!
  • Multiple routes through the trackage. The float bridge can be switched from both a front and back lead. One could conceivable have two switchers going at once.
  • Working a landmark, the expressway in. Most of the prototypes had to cross under that expressway to get from shore to the trackage that earned the money.

What killed it? Other than life distractions that may have provided an excuse, the scope of the structures required matched against the prospect of an eventual move. The backdrop would need to be 40+ feet of multi-story masonry buildings with the exception of the merely tall single store pier warehouse. I shudder to think how many windows that would require in the days before 3D printing was a thing. I am sure others could get it done but it eventually became obvious to even me that I was not that guy, at least not then.

As a contrast, Comstock Road is mobile, not just movable and will have, depending on whim, no more than 5 major structures. It offers much less scope for switching operations but, other than rolling stock, it is operational now. It took me (this is where a blog is handy to avoid rosy recollections) Roughly two calendar years to go from trackplan to operable with no scenery or structures yet in sight but momentum has been preserved.

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