Friends, one of the questions that I’ve asked myself over the years is why
I and many others build models. A few years ago it occurred to me that, as a research psychologist, I know
how to go about answering that question. If you’d be willing to help me out, I have a survey online
at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DNX3QKB. If you, too
are a model builder and could spare about 30 minutes to complete the survey, I’d really appreciate it.
We’ll start the tour in staging. My first attempt at a staging yard yielded 4 east-bound and
3 west-bound tracks, each of which could hold a 7 car train with a locomotive and caboose. As I tried
operating the layout, though, that just turned out to be inadequeate. I’ve since rebuilt the staging
area to bend around the water heater. The new tracks, shown here, include four tracks in each direction,
each of which will hold 10 car trains with two locomotives and a caboose.
A note to non-model railroaders: model railroaders often think about a model railroad as similar to a theater
stage with the trains in the role of actors. If you look at it that way, staging tracks are like the backstage
area of the theater where the actors wait until it’s their turn on stage.
We’ve entered the layout westbound at
. The passenger station was built using a combination
of scratchbuilt walls and the door and window castings from Gloorcraft’s Marlinton station kit. The train order signal is from Tomar and the crossing
flasher is a kitbash of the Oregon Rail Supply kit.
Here we’re at the west end of Louisa looking east. The freight depot was scratchbuilt; there’s
an article on how to build it here. The siding in the right foreground
services the vermiculite loading facility. The tower in the background is a Walthers item and is a pretty good
match for the actual tank.
For comparison, here’s the Louisa station area in January of 1973, as seen from
the rear of Amtrak’s train #98. (LaVerne Brummel photo, used with
This is the vermiculite loading facility in Louisa. It’s a very condensed version of the prototype; there
are only 2 tracks instead of three (I had to cut out the passing track) and the far left track is stub-ended
instead of double-ended. I’m kitbashing a Rix grain elevator into a representation of the prototype
This is the view across the tracks from the vermiculite facility. The sheds are modeled after a pair of
sheds that show up in all of my photos of the area, though they seem to have been moved at least once. The
house and garage were built from N scale kits to help create a sense of distance.
The Doctors Road grade crossing is our next stop. The top photo shows my 1970 model version while the
the bottom one shows the prototype as it exists today. In 1970 the road was gravel and there were only crossbucks
to guard the crossing. The general store that today stands on the corner did not exist in 1970. This is where I used to
watch trains as a kid, so I had to include it on my model.
Here we’ve moved west of the crossing.
This is a view of the Pyrofax siding in Melton from the main. We’re looking west.
Here’s a view of the Pyrofax plant from the road. The building was scratchbuilt. The propane bottles are from
Walthers, ModelTech, and Rix. A few were in my parts box and are of unknown origin.
This is a view of the prototype building in the 1990’s when the facility was owned by AmeriGas.
The tank car unloading stand and the truck loading area were scratchbuilt following photos of the
prototype. The tanks are from the Walthers Central Gas kit with platforms and detail added to match the
prototype. They’re not an exact match, but they’re very close.
Another view of the tanks. I made the Pyrofax decals myself.
This grade crossing is on the outskirts of Gordonsville. I’m trying to work out how to best
represent the Exchange hotel. It stands about 90' from the tracks which, I think, puts it about 6" behind
the backdrop. I think what I’m going to do is to build a model of the front wall, photograph it, and glue
the photo to the backdrop.
This is a view of the freight station area in Gordonsville. The speeder shed is from the Tichy kit. The mockup of
the freight station was prepared from measurements of the prototype.
Another view of the freight station area. Here I’ve roughed in Depot Street.
The Gordonsville wye and a mockup of G cabin. I have one of the
Alkem Scale Models kits for this structure. The
passenger station will stand just this side of G cabin and will be scratchbuilt.
I started construction of the Gordonsville bridge back in 2004. I finished much of the framing at
that time, but put the project aside while I learned how to make rivets. The bridge is now essentially complete and
in place on the layout. The photos show my model (top) and the prototype (bottom). The bridge, the abutments, and
the road are made mostly of styrene and are scratchbuilt. I did use Central Valley bridge ties (but cut them apart
and removed the guard timber in order to get the spacing used on the prototype) and streetlights from Walthers. The
lettering on the bridge is decals that I made. The signal in the background was built from an Oregon Rails kit. The
traffic signs come from two sources. The top sign was bought from an online source (http://www.traffic-signs.scale-train.com/
but the site doesn’t seem to work correctly any more). The bottom sign I scratchbuilt using reflective tape and
a custom decal.
Please note that, due to a huge volume of spam coming in on my email account, I’ve had to change my email address.
The new address is firstname.lastname@example.org (but remove the nospam and the dot before piedmontsub.com).
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