A Railroad with Relevance

Connector #8

Written By: Alan - Mar• 27•16

The connectorconnect 8 that passes through the wormhole between Michigan and Maryland is complete and installed on the layout. This is the longest connector on the layout. It is also the only connector that has accessory and control bus wiring owing to its length.


The big curve nearest in the picture above and the section of the Lapeer module penetrating the wall will be inside a mountain and not visible. The connector track will enter a tunnel portal just as the curve begins. How about some quick down-n-dirty Photoshop work to help visualize.


coal mine

Cut me some slack here. A total of maybe 10 minutes was spent shop’in the photo with images found on the first page of Google searches. Crude as it may be it does convey the basic overall scenic arrangement. I’m hoping the tunnel entrance angle and having 90% of the curve hidden will disguise the fact the train is making a big 180° turn around the end of the wall. So many model railroads have the big blob curve at the end of a view break. I don’t care at all for that look. It screams “toy train” to me.

The tunnel through the big ole mountain has a secondary benefit of allowing me to use a relatively sharp 24″ radius curve inside. If the track was visible it would be viewed from the outside of the curve. Sharp curves viewed from the outside look bad because the sharpness of the curve accentuates the spacing between the cars. Viewing sharp curves from the inside of the curve okay, sharp curves viewed from the outside of the curve not okay. The 24″ radius curve then permitted relaxing the curve radius on the Lapeer side to 30″ making it look better. The curve transitions from 30″ to 24″ after it goes through the wall.

View from the Lapeer side:


Next up – module #13 Kitzmiller MD. With it, the upper deck trackwork will be complete!!!

I’ll close for today with a few build pics.




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  1. jrobdove says:

    I like the almost pun of the Michigan to Maryland connector being the longest on the layout. That is a long ways! Your art work on the turn back curve looks just fine to me and that will present a very realistic scene to the viewer. I do not think it will look at all toy like. Along the Ohio River valley there are lots of curves going through a hill side that could be represented via a turn back curve. In the town I will be modeling there are several that would qualify, as well as prototype reverse loops, bridges right out of tunnels, major industries right next to tunnels, etc. Lots of features that one expects to see with models more so than with prototype but they are here and in a space of less than 10 miles.

    It is great to get the email notifications of your progress, I enjoy following your accomplishments.

  2. Clark Cone says:

    no need to apologize for that PS render…Looks pretty awesome to me. Looks like a lot of tree-making in your future…have you thought about that?

  3. alan says:

    Thanks for following along. I agree real railroads sometimes have track arrangements that mimic model railroads i.e. turn back curves, reverse loops, etc. You must admit however they are rare compared to conventional track arrangements – tangents and curves. And if modeled I believe they have to be done in a very accurate fashion so the viewer recognizes the location and expects to see the unusual track arrangement. Tim Warris’s Bronx Terminal is a great example of this. The prototype LDEs modeled on my railroad have no such unusual track arrangements. A viewer familiar with my prototype areas would find a turn back out of place. I am already exercising a great deal of artistic license as it is. If I throw in odd track arrangements then I may totally destroy the illusion of place. Sometimes I fear I have gone too far already with the adaptations I have made.

  4. alan says:

    Yes, I have thought about tree quantity. More accurately, I have dreaded tree quantity. 🙂

    With half the layout set in Appalachia I will need a lot of trees. Hmmm…. wonder what my wife would think about making trees…. 😉

  5. John McNamee says:

    Looking great. Thanks for the update…

    Message to self … “I will be making lots of trees in the future.”

  6. Jason Miller says:

    Not only are your model railroading skills, electronics and engineering skills at master level…

    But so are your Photoshop skills too!!!!

    That mine tipple scene is fantastic, finally get to see the finished scene from you minds eye.


  7. alan says:

    Thanks for the compliments Jas but please do not take the above example as representative of my Photoshop work. I literally threw that together in a matter of minutes while writing the post. I thought it would be cool to show an approximation of what I imagine the finished area will look like but at the same time, I didn’t want the picture to turn into a project in and of itself.

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