Westside 12 at the Colorado Railroad Museum

The Brymston RR – Episode 7 – Loco Trouble

In a literary break from the actual layout we’re on to a loco issue.

The next stage in the layout planning process is to sort out the lower level tracks, access to and the size of the engine shed.

Someone wisely suggested mocking up the buildings. This I intend to do but to do so their first has to be some thought about what is the largest thing to go in the shed. This diorama is the home for my geared loco collection so whilst the Uintah Mallet and a K class have appeared in images they aren’t going to live on this bit. What is needed for the planning process is my largest Shay. This is a model of Westside Lumber #12

There is just one problem. It’s in a lot of smaller parts and needs putting back together and its a bit more complicated than just putting it back together as it has never run in this format.

A little aside to explain my soft spot for #12. When I first went to the USA with two friends our host in Colorado, Ed Gerlitz, was a good friend of Lyndsay Ashby, the operator of the Georgetown Loop RR. We all met up in the old depot which is the opposite side of town to the new depot where the trains ran from. We were having coffee and passing the time when Lyndsay decided we could just make it to the depot in time for the train. A mad dash across town followed, into the employees parking, over a fence and up the steps onto the loco without a real look at the loco. As soon as I was on, it tooted and set of. Only then did it dawn on me that my first proper view of a shay was from inside the cab. Guess which one it was.

When new the Sunset Models Shays had a 1/4″ wide toothed drive belt from the motor to a pulley on the crankshaft. Over time these perished and lost their teeth. You could get spare belts but it took a lot of dismantling the loco to fit them. A well known modeller in the USA, Lee Snover, developed a re-motor and chain drive solution. Sadly, Lee is no longer with us since 2018 but way back on 2009 just the boiler section of my loco took a trip back to the USA for Lee to work his magic on it.

You can see in this image the gear head motor on a bracket and the delrin chain drive into the crank shaft.

The reason its still in bits ten years later is that it keeps going in the too difficult pile. No, that should be the too involved/complex pile. What I plan to do is not too difficult but it keeps getting deferred as taking more time than I can spare just now.

I plan to detail it some more, upgrade the rather poor pickups, add DCC, Sound and a Keep Alive, LED lighting  and then, of course, a full paint job and weathering.

The decision I need to make now is do I…..

  1. Put it back together enough to do the clearance trials with the aim of doing it properly later
  2. Get on and do the mods and installation even if it diverts my personal modelling time away fr0m the layout
  3. Put it back in the procrastination box

Answers on a post card to…….



THE BRYMSTON RR -Episode 6 (I’ve started)

Well, its taken long enough but I have started.

Slightly gung ho and ahead of detailed planning I decided to cut wood. My thinking was this. I have been procrastinating the design of this for ages and have not actually done anything physically and for maintaining my own interest I felt I needed to do something with actual material on the layout.

I refer you to the Plan B plan adjacent. This plan is a plan view. Its 2D and doesn’t show any changes in height. (I’ve been messing with 3D printers too long as I first type the `changes in the Z axis’).  I really want to have different parts of the layout at subtly different heights really. This really reflects that when you build something as big as a railroad you rarely get a large dead flat area. That’t the reality, on the model I don’t want the layout to look like its on a flat piece of plywood.

In the plan point A enters the board at datum plus 2mm. This might yet get increased to +4 or +6. Form their the line climbs from the left hand road of that turnout  to just before the second turnout on the route. Its actually plain track because line B has been deleted. At that point it flattens out at datum +25mm and remains flat to the end of the line.

The line that kicks back towards G is held flat until clear of the turnout and then climbs to datum +40mm which it reaches about where the G is on the plan.  From there to the end of the board its flat. The flat areas are intended so that freight cars put there stay put and its also the best place for coupling and uncoupling.

Construction started with a sheet of 4mm ply I had. This was laid on the boards and marked out using a couple of models and some 0n3 flex track.  The profile was cut out with my recently refurbished bandsaw. I just wish I had noticed that the dust collector pipe had pulled out.

Whilst at it with the saw I cut up an old softwood drawer from to make the stand offs for the raised sections. Other bits of MDF were cut to make thinner shims and offcuts of the ply made joiners for the larger bits of ply.

Its all just been screwed together for now.

Right so the end of Sunday – ie Dinner and time for some festering in front of the TV – it looks like this.

The ply raised surface is temporarily screwed to the spacers which shows the height differences. More supports will be added, particularly ones custom cut to support the sloping sections. The ones near the turnout at the top of the grade will  be left loose until the point is built as there will be an operating mechanism to install and you know Mr Sodde and his laws would result in the inevitable if I glued them down.



First picture shows the raised siding that will be behind the shed.

I haven’t decided if the drop will be wall, sloping embankment or just the back of the shed. I’ll have to wait and see how the shed plan turns out.


The other end has a flat area which will have some further increase in Z above rail level when I decide what is happening.

The siding may be a dead end or it may be another way off this module to the `rest of the world’


Finally for this evening is a couple of shots with some track and rolling stock placed on the layout to give some idea of context







The problem now is that I have my modelling mojo back and I want to crack on with it but tomorrow is a work day. Alright for those with forced separation from their layouts but this is also my workplace. Its going to take some effort to leave it alone.


THE BRYMSTON RR -Episode 5 (a name at last)

(up to this point on the forum the layout had no name)

The layout with no name, has a name, I think…….

The Brymston Railroad.

Its bugged me since I started this that I didn’t have a name for it. I always fancied a name like Updah, amusing and with a life of its own but I couldn’t think of one and when I did think of one there was a reason it had come to mind, someone had already done it.

Then I got to thinking, well, reading and I was in the tiled reading room. The book in hand was Slow Trains Down South by Mallory Hope Ferrell. [incidentally, I only have volume 1, if anyone has a vol 2 they’d like to part with let me know]In it there are loads of shortlines that ran all sorts of odd services that ran out of habit more than demand.  One caught my eye, The Brimstone Railroad. It ran Shays, I hauled lumber and stone and the crunch for me was there was a picture of the two shays stood outside the loco shed.

I’m not building a model of a prototype just looking for ideas and all the best ones are stolen, or someone has had them first. I just want a credible back story to somewhere to run my geared locos.  I looked up Brimstone in a thesaurus and when you got past all the film references there were some alternative spellings and the anglicised version is Brymston.

So, now we have the Brymston Railroad which is a subsidiary of the Brymston Railroad and Navigation Company. Other subsidiaries are Brymston Logging Company and the Brymston Mining Company.

I now need to decide a name for the location of the loco facilities modelled. Given the thesaurus let on that the German derivative of Brimstone is Bernstein that might have to be the name. For some reason Bernstein Wharf appeals apart from the fact that its not very American, I suppose there it would be Bernstein Landing but even then, I have no plans to add any form of wharf or landing.

Where did my line run? Well, like the real thing probably from Sulfur to Brimstone, probably with branches to Hell and Damnation with the never built extension to Sodom and Gomorrah

In February 2019 Two alternative slants on the same news emerged.

V1.     Evil multinational corporation raids embryonic railroad funds leaving the Brymston Railroad coffers depleted leading to concerns for its future. Railroad management seeks to assure customers and employees that all is well and that the current cash flow crisis is short term.

V2.         The Brymston Railroad is delighted to announce an addition to its loco roster through good offices of noted auction house Echo Bay of San Jose, California. The new locomotive will serve the Railroad for a good many years. Concern has been raised regarding the financial state of the RR but management has assured interested parties that whilst there may be some short term deferral of other capital projects the RR is on a sound footing.

The truth is that if you’re flogging stuff on eBay to finance your new model you really shouldn’t do searches to see what’s for sale. However when you find a seller that doesn’t know his 0n3 from his 0n30 its to your advantage

The Brymston Railroad has acquired, on very favourable terms, a 40 ton Class B Climax manufactured by The Car Works. Delivered to the Railroad today it has undergone initial trials on the extensive one yard of our main line and appears to be very satisfactory.

Film may emerge later of the test runs but for now there will be a few more trials to evaluate the new acquisition and decide what adaptations may be required for Brymston RR service.  It will almost certainly be converted to an oil burner as the RR is trying to phase out other fuels because of the fire risk. Modern lighting and a turbo generator are likely addition. The loco is already air braked which is a saving. It will gain sound and control modifications in due course.

Well, that has got the Brymstone RR blog up the point we left off on the forums a year ago. I’d better go and do something to the layout so as to create some new content


THE BRYMSTON RR -Episode 4  (first contact)

Well, the layout with no name went to its first show on Saturday which was all a bit fraught as on Thursday morning there was no track on it.  Truth be told it went more as a display shelf but a versatile one.

A single point was made and then a length of PSC code 83 flex track added. It was a versatile layout being either DC or DCC as the only connections were by crocodile clip so it was easy to swap.

Actually, none of the track is going to stay where it is. The point was the first one made with the fast track jigs and is best considered a practice for getting my eye in. As is often the case I end up making two of things as the first one just tells me how I want to do better with the second one!

I am currently scheming ideas as to how to build the turnout in the jig on the PCB ties, then add temporary gauging strips on top so I can remove the PCB’s ties and spike the track down to all wooden ties.  If this were an extensive layout I wouldn’t bother and just slap some paint and camouflage on the copper. That may well happen on the ties at the rear of the layout or the one behind the shed but the ones near the front are I think worth the effort. A better tie bar design is fermenting in my head at the moment too.

A length of dual gauge track was also nailed to the front of the board just to display some 16.5mm gauge items and, bizarrely, a bit of H0/H0n3 dual gauge was the first bit to hand. On the way from York to Derby it was just pinned but, on the way, back it had added blue tack.  I didn’t pin right to the end and on the way there in the car it kept going boooinggg!!! like you used to do with a ruler on a desk at school. It was getting right on our wick!

You will also recall that the purpose of this layout is to provide an exercise ground for my geared loco collection which has previously just sat on display shelves. In the last-minute nature of this commitment to take the layout to the 7mm NGA open day I got three shays off the shelf and all of them decided to throw a tantrum. One went to the show. One got a repair started that wasn’t complete in time and the third needs a new gear sourcing so is a longer term casualty.

The one that got fixed but not in time has just had a test run. The loco has a Grandt drive in which a gear head motor points down through the floor with the male part of a UJ on the motor shaft. This bit is Delrin and it used to be a press fit but it had relaxed. The torque involved was too much for Dr Mikes glue, so the fix used slow setting araldite. I cross drilled the Delrin part and then roughed up the shaft with a cutting disk to give a key, smothered it in glue, pressed the Delrin on making sure glue extruded out the holes, wiped the surplus off and set it aside to harden. The theory is that even if the glue doesn’t bond to the Delrin its now effectively a keyed fit. I’ll leave you with a video of its test run.

Incidentally all the track laid for this outing has been lifted as it was just thrown down for the day



THE BRYMSTON RR -Episode 3 (still catching up)

Yes , still catching up to what was posted on the modelling forums a year ago. This instalment should get the words up to date so I can start posting some new stuff.

This episode deals with layout planning, well, the initial efforts as things and thoughts have already moved on as will be discussed in coming episodes.

As is traditional with model railways Plan A tried to cram too much in. To some extent this was forgivable as one of this boards reasons for existing is to provide a home for my geared locos and I have got rather a lot of them due to my habit of collecting them.

This version featured standard, but short, turnouts, too many of them and too much track. The three locos in the foreground are “on shed” and the headshunt to the left of them (where the circle thingy is) is too short to be off any use. Basically, this version is all turnout and no room to move.

A quick aside – Turnouts:   Having said short I should quantify this. In the USA turnouts have a number be it #4. #6 or #9. What this number denotes is the angle of the vee be it 1 in 4, 1 in 5 or 1 in 9. It only sort of equates to radius as a) radius of turnouts is something modellers have dreamt up and b) the diverging route is only curved between the blades and the vee.

It does still mean that my bendy shays will go across a #4 but my K36 2-8-2 doesn’t stand a chance needing a #6 as a minimum or a #9 to look prototypical.  It does also reflect the space they take up which I will illustrate in the future. Another handy thing for the ancient industrial layout is the sub turnout. Instead of fixed stock rails and moving blades the stub uses moving stock rails as in the picture. These were common but not suited to any sort of speedy running to they died out except in yards and on ancient none passenger industrial railroads. One really handy feature for fitting a quart into a pint pot on a layout is they are shorter than a bladed turnout,

Right back to the layout.

What comes after Plan A, plan B of course.

Plan B evolves. Since the original plan was posted I have revised it using a couple of wyes and a 3 way

  1. Point that connects to the rest of the world. Needs to be in this front corner at datum level to connect to future plans.
  2. This siding originally came off the back road. It may yet go back there or get deleted
  3. Water tank and pump complex – something like the Argent one
  4. 3 way stub turnout, because I can and it allows the access to Siding E
  5. Sand facility. May lead to siding B getting deleted (I have a Durango sand house kit looking for a home
  6. Fuel facility.
  7. Loco shed reduced to two roads. Two engines inside and two outside. Losing one track allows wider spacing and for the shed to feature a workshop lean to.

Turnouts in the diagonal route will be standard bladed turnouts whilst the 3 way and the front right one will be stub turnouts

Since that proposal was put to the group on the forum siding B has been deleted. The back siding has been moved nearer to the back and its turnout downgraded to a stub for space winning reasons. One of the design constraints/requirements was to make sure that a loco and bogie wagon would fit in the headshunt behind the shed (or as illustrated a Uintah 2-6-6-2 mallet fit in it.

Currently there is also some rethinking with regard to the length of the headshunt at the front that gives access to siding E. This will be discussed in future episodes as a design constraint that didn’t exist a year ago has presented itself.

I may also change the last remaining bladed turnout at the entrance to the board to a stub so that all on this module are stubs. I suspect that the fiddling with the access to line E the inch or two that being a stub gains may be crucial.

The centrepiece is likely to be the three way stub that gives access to the shed and headshunt.

I am currently toying with an idea to build all the track in sheets of 2mm MDF for a number of reasons. The main one is that once I have the alignments off the layout I can build the details of the turnouts on the workbench where the tools are and I can twist and turn the build to work at the best angles.

The other reason is that I want to mess with the ground level heights in the model. Nothing massive or alpine but I don’t want a flat layout. Raising the track, even if only 2mm allows some ground to be below track level.



THE BRYMSTON RR -Episode 2 (belatedly)

Well, I don’t know what to say. More than a year since I added anything to the layout theme here on the blog. Truth is not a lot has happened but I didn’t even finish the bringing things up to date as of  a year last February.

I’d better put that right, at least with the catch up to where we were on the forums with Episode 2.

OK, so having identified where the module is going to go there was a small problem. It was a flat surface, so it was naturally covered in Junk. A major tidy up was required to prepare for construction.

For the scenic part of the layout/diorama/module I ordered a 152cm x 45cm Scenic/photo plank kit from Tim Horn Baseboards. The attraction of this was that it meant it came with both an back board and a valance/frame or whatever you call it. This would mean that it would create a frame that supported lighting effects for the layout but it would also frame the view out of the surrounding view of my cluttered work room.

I could already see a potential issue with having a layout which presented a large flat surface just as you walked in the room carrying something you needed to put down. I had a plan for this but I still haven’t enacted it and its since come back to bite me as you’ll see in following episodes. Continue reading

The Brymston RR

This will be the tale of the Brymston Railroad and its allied companies Brymston Mining, The Brymston Lumber Co and any other subsidiaries that come to light.

The Brymston RR is a 3ft gauge line built and operated for the mining and lumber concerns with extensive trackage. It also acts as a common carrier on some parts of its route.

One day the full history of the line may get written but for now any similarity with The Brimston Railroad in Tennessee is purely coincidental.

The first section of this tale is really a second telling. The first version was told on the NGRM online forum and copied to some other places too. After a while I decided to re-tell the tale in my own blog and then copy extracts to the various forums where comments and interactions would be encouraged.  So, on with the catch up. Continue reading