Is Your Layout Freelance or Prototypical


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For myself I started out with strictly prototypical ideas of operation, based on railway operations in my local area. A mainline supplying two industrial spurs. The idea was good but as I tried to implement it in the area I had available to me, it became all but impossible. I continued building a more scaled down representation only to realize that the towns could not reasonably represented, the river would be in the wrong place. The more I thought about "what if?", I realized that was the answer. If I went back to the 70's, used a more rural area everything would fit into place. The names of the places will be real, locations of places fairly CLOSE :D the only oddballs would be the tunnel portal and trestle which can be justified since the spurs I'm modeling never existed. The mining town exists today however the mine is long gone. The power plant elevation is a little high, but with freelance, that's acceptable.

Any that's my excuse, err STORY, what's yours? :D

Cheers Willis
Proto-lanced. I'm inspired by a prototype and a location, but there is no way I could carry it off in the space and models available.
JeffShultz said:
Proto-lanced. I'm inspired by a prototype and a location, but there is no way I could carry it off in the space and models available.
Well unless you're modeling the Ballard Terminal RR, or a similiar shortline, that's probably true of just about any prototype inspired layout. Railroads are large, and so is the environment they operate in. Even if you choose a specific scene to model, in most cases you'll need selective compression to fit it in. Often what would be considered a small yard in real life is still too big for all but the largest model railroads.

N and Z scale can help, but it's still difficult, especially for modern railroads where mile long container trains are common. Scaling 5280' down to HO means that train is 60 feet long!

We just built a new container train facility for the Port of Tacoma. Want to model a nice intermodal facility? It would be a good one, as it's fairly compact as these things go. So what's compact? Roughly 3,000 feet long and 500 wide. It has 12 loading tracks and 7 storage tracks, great for you modern ere modelers. Ready to build a scale model of it? Width won't be a problem, it scales out to less that 6 feet wide. Length will be a bit more of an issue, it's about 35 feet long. That's just the load-out area, now you'll need some mainline tracks to go along with it. Maybe you can find an abandoned subway tunnel someplace?

What, you say you want to try shortlines? OK, back to the BTRR, which is roughly 1-1/2 miles long, give or take if I recall correctly. You could accurately model it with about 100 lineal feet of benchwork. That's possible I suppose...
Well, yeah, but it did sort of annoy me that even with the limited area I chose to model, I still had to make quite a few compromises.

And so far nobody has seen fit to produce the GP39-2 in plastic....

And I'll be doing a few other things like blending portions of Oregon in, whether actually on the Willamette & Pacific/Portland & Western or not.
As far as engine roster, car roster, names of towns, buisness's will all be as close to proto as I can get. The track layout is close but not perfect. I had to add more sidings just to make it less boring!! :eek:
Hi modelbob, I would imagine that just about everyone has to use some selective compression somewhere on their layout, even if like me doing freelance, there just isn't enough room. If they use the names of real places places compression is a must. For instance Sutherlands River ( which is represented on my layout by the entrance gate ) is a few feet from Little Harbour the next place on my layout. Little Harbour is actually miles from the bridge. Usually all that is required to seperate the two points of interest, is an uninteresting section between. In a lot of minds the observer sees what they want to see. All that is required to set the location of scene is something that reminds the observer of something in that specific locality, it doesn't even have to look like an actual structure that is there. For example,
I had a MR friend tell us once that he just purchased a CB&CNS model loco, it had the right numbers and roadname and that it even had the name John Galt and was the same as the one switching the power plant where he worked, he saw what he wanted to see. Fact was his purchased model was a SD40-2 with CB&CNS decals, the CB&CNS never had a SD40-2 , and at that time, all their locos were MLW Alcos, but he was happy and I kept quiet ( now that was selected compression ) :D

Cheers Willis
The Knippa, Lytle and Western is purely fictional. About the only thing real is that Knippa and Lytle are real towns in S Texas.

The scenery is "appropriate" for S Texas (sparse), and appropriately you'll see mostly UP power but with some MKT, SP and MP power showing up just for grins. The KL&W even has some power of their own and plenty of rolling stock to support a few local industries.
Why do we look at the prototype ? For me, it serves mainly as an inspiration for modeling. I can't imagine the possibilty to make an exact-to-sale model of a whole shortline or branch, even a spur to a lineside industry would be hard to do. So what we usually do is making cut-outs of a scaled down prototype. Using "selective compression" we add together a string of single scenes. We can, however, catch the atmosphere of the desired railroad by placing specific structures and elements relating to the prototype on our layout.
"it serves mainly as an inspiration for modeling. "

excellent point. If I try to be "exactly correct" I'll never get there, and frustration results. For most of us it's a liveable compromise, and rarely the same level of compromise as anyone else on the planet.

Plus the fact that I'm too bull-headed to do it anyway but my way ;)

It may also explain why I never got into operations, too much work to me. But I'll spend hours and hours building one tree....
Mine is also based upon a line that was operational until about 10 years ago. Now it is a Tourist attraction. My obvious reductions were the scaling down of the miles between cities. My Bridge over the local river is only one span instead of the real one's three.

However, in the 25' foot span I am covering close to 80' miles and i can keep 4 people really busy working it.

Bob A.
Does Freelance include Purely Imaginary??? :D That's the only way I'm going to have a yard, station, farmland area, wilderness, and an industrial spur in 35 linear feet using a scale that's roughly half-inch to the foot. (I can hear NVTiny laughing all the way from here!)

But things are looking up! The Husband couldn't wait any longer. The track is down, ballast in place, just waiting for me to tamp it between the ties and water it in. Then you'll all get to see the most amazing innovation in motive power. ;)
L_R you got it imaginary = freelance

Mine is a freelanced model RR. That way I can run on it what I want when I want and how I want. If you do not like it then there is the door and don't let it hit you in the arse on your way out. LOL LOL LOL

"The CEE Line RR serving the length of Indiana from Chicago to Evansville through Emporia"
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MODERN FREELANCE. Was 18 by 18 ft., but, couldn't get all my buildings to fit that size, so, I added another 18 by 18ft. I like Diesels of all kinds, big buildings, lots of trucks,
equipment, machinery & tons of scenery. I have mountains, tunnels, bridges, steep grades, large cities, heavy construction scenes, & miles & miles of track. I run
short & long engines(half the time, can't remember what the engines are)(write the model # on the bottom w/typewriter eraser ink). Then when I get done w/this section(about 4 years) I've got another table that is 2ft. wide by 36ft. long to add-on.

Anyone that would like to drive to Arcadia, I'll find a spot for you in my train room to build your layout.
Any takers?

Larry, if I ever make it to Florida, it will be because my dream is to see your layout "up close and personal." :D
Claudia, It's not that far from Calif. to here. Just don't come in the hurricane season.(4 this summer in 6 weeks).
Just bring your digital & do a layout of photo's for me. If I win the lottery(18 mil)this week, I'll send out a jet for my
audience. LOL

Freelanced. I grew up with the Milwaukee Road and the Northern Pacific in the 50's and enjoy both of them. Rode on both lines as a kid with relatives working on both railroads. The problem is that due to the size of them, modeling even a small subdivision would be difficult. My freelances railroad runs from Logan, MT where it connects to the Northern Pacific to Gallatin Gateway, MT where it connects with the Milwaukee Road, and another freelanced railroad that a good friend, who has passed away had, that ran south to West Yellowstone MT, where it connected with the Union Pacific. With these connections, both Milwaukee and NP units are quite common on my layout.