24 March 2024

7th Street Shops - Rails Flanges & Gears Post 2


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

My First Layout

Several years ago one of my brothers handed me an envelope and inside was a strip of 110 negatives. He said, I think these are yours. I examined the frames and said I think these are photos of my old layout that I built when we lived on Pearl Drive. But there were no prints and by then most photo shops were digital. Until recently I was not sure what they were. Then I found a place that could scan negatives and create positive images. And so they were and now I share them with you as a continuation to my previous post about where 7th Street Shops came from.

It was a simple plan I believe I designed myself; very crudely, based upon what little I knew of E.L. Moore's Elizabeth Valley layout. I had previously laid a loop of track onto a 4'x8' sheet of plywood. That was set up in the garage of the new home our family had moved into The door was left open one day and when I went out to play with the trains the few plastic diesels and cars I had were stolen. But I had the plywood and managed to scrape together scrap lumber to build this 4'x6' layout. I was 16 by then.

The track was brass sectional, The plywood was used to make the roadbed and the plaster terrain was laid over wire screen - pretty standard stuff for those days. I learned quite a bit from that layout. I don't remember much about building the structures. Some of them may have been scratch built, but I'm sure just as many were commercial plastic kits. I do vaguely remember building the trestle from perhaps an E.L.Moore article. I also learned about practices I didn't care for; like plaster on screen (and as it turned out using plaster at all). I used oil paints and turpentine to color the plaster. Not recommended either.

All the while I was using my hands to build models out of a variety of materials and the basic skills that were important for developing more advanced skills later.

But I had greater aspirations. Growing up in Colorado I was enamored with Colorado Standard Gauge (36"). It wasn't too long before the Alpine Tunnel and the Denver South Park & Pacific R.R. captured my imagination. I've been a Colorado & Southern modeler and Historian ever since. 

I sold the layout to a friends brother a few years later. 

Narrow gauge locomotives were scarce in those days and my first brass locomotive was actually a Nevada County Narrow Gauge No. 9. I don't remember who the importer was. I painted it with a brush. It was awful. And that was it's lesson to me -buy an airbrush! I sold it before I went in the Navy. No photos of that.

There were a few more false starts over the next decade that didn't go anywhere. I'll brief over them next time.

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