Modeling – The recent past – The Allendale Layout

As I mentioned on the last page of Construction Progress (2009) of the Cove Road layout, I transferred to North Charleston, South Carolina with my employer, The Boeing Company, in late 2010.

After nearly a year and a half living in a rental property, we bought a home in Allendale, SC and I was able to start on the latest version of The CB&Q in Wyoming.

In March 2013 planning was far enough along to begin construction, so we'll pick it up at that point.

I never developed a detailed plan for the Allendale layout. Instead I created a general arrangement drawing, locating major locations along the line.

This was a radical departure from the Cove Road layout.  The basic concept was the same - NP Transcon with interchange to the Burlington in Laurel MT, and the Burlington mainline from there down through Wyoming to all the familiar locations. Included were the branchlines to Lander and Cody. This layout was a single deck with the exception of the Cody branch, which was on an upper deck.

There was no giant helix this time. Building one once was sufficient for me! But here I had space - the layout covered an area about 60 feet long by 31 feet wide! By comparison, Cove Road was 33 feet by 29 feet.

On Cove Road, Laurel was a small interchange yard. I knew it would be a bottleneck with a lot of trains swapping cuts of cars there, but I had no room for more. In Allendale, Laurel became a centerpiece on the layout with a huge freight yard and large engine facility. You'll see how that came together further on.

Unfortunately, the Allendale layout was not long for this world. You'll learn about that as well.

The Allendale train room was by far the most nicely appointed train room I ever had. It was all you see here, plus the two bedrooms on the far wall.

The house itself was about 10,000 square feet in size. There were five bedrooms on the first floor, and another five on the second floor, plus this huge central room. Just the right size for two people, wouldn't you say?

March 2013

Construction began on the 23rd of March. Five members of the operating / construction group I'd become associated with in Charleston came out to help in my first work session. What a huge help they were! By the end of the day we had completed the majority of the Laurel benchwork!

Here's a shot sighting down the risers looking for any high or low points. Looks good to me!

Here's my construction crew. Left to right we have Allen, Phil, Jim, John and Jimmy. In four hours we accomplished what would have taken me weeks! They said they'd brave the two-hours-each-way drive again in the future, but that was as they were all running for their cars!
Thanks, guys! 

April 2013

In early April I got started on Laurel at the engine facility. Plywood was laid down on the risers and cork roadbed was going in on the curve around the future roundhouse.

By late April track was going down! The lead engine is my brass NP Challenger. Behind it a loco with a short string of cars sits on the super-elevated 36" radius curve.

Here's that loco on the curve. Boy that superelevation sure looks good!

May 2013

May found me busy laying out and beginning construction of the Laurel yard throat near the engine facility. I also started building turnouts, which is just something that had to be done. No photos of that.

June 2013

In mid June I had another work session. Attendees this time were, left to right, Jim, Jimmy, me (of course) and Phil.

Phil and Jimmy helped me put up the rest of the Laurel peninsula benchwork.

Meanwhile, Jim put together the DCC command station center.

December 2013

For about six months I didn't take any photos of the layout, but that didn't mean there was no progress.

I worked steadily on Laurel yard and the servicing facilities. Often I would only have about 15 minutes or so to work on the layout during the week, but that added up to a lot of track laid over time.

In November I had another work session, with Jim and Phil coming out.

The following pictures, all taken on December 28th, show what was accomplished in the second half of 2013.

This is the current state of the engine facility. Cork underlayment was placed in the area, and the roundhouse floor assembled and placed temporarily.

The bulk of the work was in the classification yard. The mainline and Arrival / Departure track are complete through both yard throats, and the classification tracks are mostly laid.

Here's a closer view of the completed east end yard throat. The switch off the main and the one into the A/D track are #8's, while the yard ladder are #6's. Over several months I built all these switches and several more for the other end.

Here the terminal-end yard throat is still under construction.

January 2014

In early January I finished the terminal-end yard ladder. The runaround track and leads to the engine terminal are yet to be installed.

April 2014

By April the 130' turntable was in place and the roundhouse floor was permanently installed. Roundhouse tracks were being laid.

Here's a close view of a few of the installed roundhouse tracks and the edge of the turntable pit.

May 2014

By mid May all the roundhouse tracks were installed and wired, and the turntable fully programmed. The runaround track on the yard ladder was finished, and one turntable lead was in place. Locomotives could travel between the roundhouse and the yard.

Here's an overall view of the Laurel peninsula.

In May I also started building the Casper benchwork along the long wall. You can see it to the right in this photo. As you can also see, a temporary L-Girder bridge was constructed to bridge from the Laurel peninsula over to the Casper benchwork. The bridge was built by Charles and Jimmy, who came out along with Phil and Jim for another work session on May 17th. Jim and Phil added the 120 volt wiring and outlets visible below the joists on the Laurel side of the aisle.

August 2014

There was another three month gap in photos, but work did continue, with the extension of the Casper benchwork all the way to the far wall.

By August 10th I was deeply embroiled in building a lift-out section to replace the temporary bridge Charles and Jimmy constructed in May.

September 2014

By September 3rd the liftout section was completed.

Through most of September I split my efforts between working on the roundhouse and adding electric feeders to the Laurel yard (a very un-photogenic activity). Here's the roundhouse with the structural support members going in.

I also completed wiring for the liftout section.

October 2014

In October I cut a pass-through for the tracks to run from the main room into one of the far bedrooms. Here it is from the main room side.

And here it is from the bedroom side.

I did start building benchwork on this side, but never took any photos.

November 2014

Here's an overall view of the layout in the main room as of November 1st.

On November 14, 2014, my wife was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer.

We relocated closer to my employer so I could care for her while still working. Thus began another hiatus from model railroading - this time for about 3 1/2 years.

The Allendale layout was disassembled in early 2015. Everything salvageable was kept, including the benchwork.

My wife died on 27 November 2015.

November 2016

In November of 2016, I moved out of the rental house where I cared for my wife through her illness. At that point I discarded all the benchwork from the Allendale layout.