Sn2 Free-mo: 2005 Midwest NG Show

The narrowtracks website is going off-line.  For posterity sake, I’m make a few posting to record history.

David Keith and Lee Rainey celebrate the first train crossing between their modules. This CR&N train ran most of the day, pressuring the SR&RL track gang to lay more rail. (Jim Amato photo)

The first Sn2 Free-Mo setup was held during the 2005 Midwest Narrow Gauge Show. 15 feet of modules were brought by Lee Rainey and David Keith. The goal was to prove that the concept worked before embarking on 2007 National Narrow Gauge convention.

  • State of the Modules:
    • Damariscotta Station (4’x18″): Lee Rainey’s Damariscotta station module had completed trackwork and structures and basic scenic forms. Full wiring.
    • Damariscotta Mills (4’x18″): Lee’s Mill module had temporary trackwork, enabling trains to run the full 4′ of length. Full wiring.
    • Kingfield (5’x44″): Dave brought the first of 5-7 sections that will comprise Kingfield. The section lacked rail at the time of the meet. No wiring. Some rail was laid on this modules Saturday.
    • Baker Stream Bridge (2’x10″): Dave’s Baker stream bridge mini-mo is the first of 3 sections to comprise the SR&RL Baker Stream covered deck bridge. The section is simply foam roadbed and ties at the start of the meet. Dave was able to lay rail on it Saturday so that trains could cross between Lee’s and Dave’s modules. No wiring.
  • Successes – Dave setup his Kingfield module on Friday and Lee arrived on Saturday with his modules. After getting the modules on their feet, it only took a about 10-15 minutes to get the modules aligned vertically and clamped together. The clamps seemed to work well, as Dave’s mini-mo (has no legs) remained clamped and aligned for the rest of the day. We were able to install the fitter rails and have trains running most of the day. Several fellow Sn2 modelers looked on and drooled as Lee’s locomotives and cars rolled along.
  • Challenge #1: Lee has some trouble with his fitter rail between his two modules. He had a bit of a dip. We debated if the ties below the rail joiners of the fitter rails should be carved out. The spec is not clear, but does indicate trenches should be carved. We never did complete this step, but it should be completed on all modules before the next event.
  • Challenge #2: Getting rail laid at Kingfield. The SR&RL crew attempted to lay rail Friday night, but curious parties kept asking questions about Sn2, Free-Mo, and more. As a result rail did not get laid as hoped. Saturday’s progress was again less than hoped. But the fact that any progress was made during the hounding by the CR&N road crew is a credit to the diligence of the SR&RL track gang. Repeatedly, the CR&N crew raced their short work train up to the edge of progress and scowled at the SR&RL men. The CR&N crew kept shouting something about the large book of standards. In the end, the SR&RL crew crossed the Baker Stream and got rail laid into Kingfield and the CR&N train was able to approach the station area. Next time, the SR&RL will have more rail in place to keep the CR&N crews happy. If not, it could be a bad event for all involved.
  • Lessons learned: Bring shims for under the feet (2″ square 1/8″, 1/4″ and 1/2″ wood scraps). This will enable the modules to be leveled on extremely uneven floors. We extended one of Lee’s feet to its full extent, which made it a bit wobbly.
  • DC: DC power was used during the setup. Dave had not had time to add DCC to his Forney’s or railbus.
  • Concerns: Linear setups with narrow modules are apt to tipping. Dave’s Kingfield is 44″ wide, so provided an anchor for the modules. However, the remaining modules were 18″ or less wide. An 18″ wide module is easy to tip over. Contributing to the problem was the carpeted floor. Dave bumped the far end of one of Lee’s modules, and the result was a car came off the track. The stability of modular setups comes from anchoring the narrower modules to wider or curved modules. I mention this as a caution to setup planners. Planning ahead will ensure a stable layout for running the trains. Adding shims (2″ square) under the feet of narrow modules would also improve the stability.
  • Conclusions: Both Lee and Dave felt the setup was a success. Both are looking forward to Portland in 2007. Additionally, both Lee and Dave got significant value out of attending and setting up at a meet, with other modules. Dry runs such as this will prove very valuable when we all setup in Portland
  • Parting Shot: Arguing over email about a standard for Sn2 Modular railroading is a pain, but a friendship gained by teaming up for an Sn2 Free-Mo event is priceless!

    Damariscotta Station is PLW Bigelow station kit built by Lee Rainey The engines and plow are Lee’s

    An overall view of the Damariscotta Station module


    An overall view of the Damariscotta Mills module. The mockup of the mill is at the rear, the trackwork was temporary. The near structures were for display.


    Lee Rainey’s Kingfield Paint shop sitting on Dave’s Kingfield section

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