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The Old Plan

Herein is an overview of a layout that no longer exists. It was destroyed in the process of being shipped from Denver back home to New Jersey.

The James River Branch presented a tiny snippet (literally just a few hundred scale feet) of fictitious Reading Railroad branchline, located somewhere in the rugged Appalachians of northeastern Pennsylvania, in the late summer/early autumn of 1975. The Reading was nearing the end of its life, about to be swallowed up—along with its sister line, the Central Railroad of New Jersey, amongst others—by Conrail. Like some forgotten relic who didn't know it was time to quit, an aged GP7 with an outdated paint scheme was left to drag a few rusty old freight cars around to the last surviving industries which, like the Reading, were about to evaporate.

Measuring a mere 15 by 36 inches, the James River Branch layout was dominated by the town of Naughtright; the balance of the layout was verdant countryside with a farm on a hillside overlooking a river with waterfalls. The layout was designed for continuous running only, with two short segments of visible track, as shown in the plan below.

There was considerably more hidden track than visible track: the quasi-figure-eight was joined by a pair of helices—hover your cursor over the image above to see the hidden portions. Surprisingly, sharp curves (<6" r) and steep grades (~4%) did not adversely affect performance.

Visitors have expressed interest in the track plan, but adapted for commercial sectional track. Because of the limitations of sectional roadbed track, some compromises are necessary; here's how to do it for Rokuhan track.

Click to enlargeOriginally intended to be a "stopgap" to hold me over until I could build a new permanent N scale layout, the James River Branch subsequently became my primary modeling focus. This was its second incarnation, the first having been abandoned as unsatisfactory. The second time around, I attempted to raise the bar for Z scale modeling, albeit in a very modest space. The greatest challenge was keeping such a small layout realistic, and avoiding the "circle in a music box" feel.

Probably the most notable feature of the layout was handlaid Code 25 track, which included a switch. There was also a number of unique detail items, such as a working crossing flasher and a working Type "G" signal.

This website features many articles describing the layout's construction, from the base to the buildings, including track, scenery, rolling stock, detailing and animated effects. Below is an interactive map of the town of Naughtright; hover over a structure to see its name, and click on it to access the page on its construction.

Click on a structure for construction details.

If you've arrived at my website for the first time, the next logical place to go would be the construction page, which divides the building of the layout into chapters, and presents the fabrication of items on the layout, such as bridges and structures, as individual detailed projects. Have fun!

Feel free to contact me with questions or comments. Also be sure to visit my other modeling websites and resources.


Copyright © 2007-2013 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.