White River & Northern III

Layout Summary


Northeastern US, mid-20th Century




10.5 feet diameter (round)


handlaid Code 40 and Code 55 turnouts, ME flex


not selected


extruded foam insulation over steel 2x4s


Sculptamold over extruded foam insulation




~25% complete


long gone

A Complete Misfire

After playing around with a stopgap Z Scale project, I started working on plans for an N Scale layout in the second bedroom. Admittedly the plan was rather bizarre: an eleven foot diameter circular layout was suspended from the ceiling on counterweighted cables, permitting it to be set at any height from three to six feet above the floor. An opening in the center allowed for viewing and operation, so it sort of resembled a giant floating doughnut. Benchwork was nearly as strange (for its day): foam insulation board topped a frame made of steel two-by-fours.

Odd as it all sounds, it worked. Why round? It wasn't a throwback to the first WR&N; it was to create a cornerless layout with a continuous, perfectly seamless backdrop. But it was the backdrop that ultimately doomed the project: I couldn't devise anything that worked with the layout at every possible height. I tried soft light blue fabric (always got wrinkled) and telescoping foamcore rings (complete and utter disaster), among other things. Most frustrating.

The track plan was embarrassingly simple: two loops, double-track on the lower level and single-track on the upper, embellished with a small yard and a couple of industrial sidings. A pair of connector tracks tied the upper and lower loops together so I could mix things up if I felt like it. All the layout needed was a big Christmas tree in the middle, right?

I'd already started tracklaying before the layout was scrapped. I'd handlaid a few Code 40 turnouts, and also built a bridge and a station based on a scene roughly two blocks from my condo. The bridge and station were recycled for the WR&N IV; the bridge was recycled once again for my "Somewhere in New Jersey" diorama, along with the Code 40 turnouts.

Incidentally, I didn't own camera at the time; the few images that survive were taken with a disposable camera, which explains why they're so terrible. After hanging idly in the bedroom for a couple of years, the WR&N III was torn out in preparation for its successor.

Layout Index

Copyright 2017-2020 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved | Site Map