Building Mason's Bridge Yard

Mason's Bridge Yard is a small American HO Scale Switching layout. It sets out to depict a small freight yard in a downtown area of a large town, somewhere in Virginia.

The main railroad serving the freight yard is the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O). This railroad is better well known for it's lengthy coal drags in the Appalachian mountains, but it also did serve large towns like Richmond and Newport News, VA and even some of the large cities like Detroit and Chicago, where they had lines which served some of the smaller industries.

Other railroads that feature are the Baltimore and Ohio, which with the C&O and the Western Maryland (WM) formed Chessie System and became eventually CSX (along with Seaboard Coast Line).

The Baseboards

The layout itself is 9'6" x 1', split into 3 baseboards; 2 x 3'6" and 1 x 2'6".

The construction method used is quite unusual in that the main baseboard structure uses foam-core board. Once the foam-core board is glued together with plenty of strengtheners, a very strong, but light, board is created. The sides were then faced with 6mm ply, and 3/4" x 3" softwood was used at the ends.

Baseboards are joined using our tried and tested method of hinges, modified with a removable pin. This enables the baseboards to be joined and aligned without any other devices required.

The Trackplan

The trackplan is based upon the late Jack Trollope's 'Box Street Yard', which I found on Carl Arendt Micro Layouts website. Like his plan, to keep the layout as small as possible, a sector plate is utilized as both the fiddle yard, and also the 'switch' at the end of the run-round loop. However, I have used large radius points, and also added a short siding to serve the power stations. The main tracks have also been set at an angle to the front of the layout. In fact the only sections of straight track parallel to the front of the layout are the short section by Jim's Printing and at the front of the Mason's Manufacturing building.

Mason's Bridge Yard Layout Trackplan

The Wiring

From the outset, the layout was intended to be run using DCC. Therefore, 2 BUS wires were run the length of the layout, with the Black wire to the front and Red to the rear of the layout. Standard American 2 Pin Mains plugs are used to join the BUS wires between boards. From the BUS wires, feeds were made to all sections of the layout, with all switches isolated at the crossing end.

The Scenery

To bring areas up to the same level as the track I used 5mm foam core board, as this matched the height of the foam underlay. Once these areas were glued into position, a mix of plaster, glue and earth brown paint was made up to blend all these areas in. The rest of the layout base was also painted earth brown.

Areas to be scrubland or grass were then covered in earth brown flock. Weeds have been added using old toothbrush bristles painted green or brown. Bushes are rubberised hair covered in flock. The 4 trees were made by my father using Woodland Scenics armatures, and various grass mats for the foliage.

Now As you would have guessed with a city based freight yard, buildings are most prominent. To create the small factory at the front left of the layout (Jim's Printing), I used a DPM Drywell Inks kit. I am impressed with the amount of detail that DPM put into their kits, and with the amount of detail parts included, which have been used elsewhere on the layout.

The Virginia Western Meat Co. building is essentially a plasticard shell, with a facade made from various Walthers Cornerstone Modular building sets. However, it was the facade that was made first, then the shell made to support it, as I found it easier to create the openings for the rail tracks working with the individual building pieces.

The small yard office was completely scratchbuilt, using planked plasticard, loosely based upon Chesapeake and Ohio prototypes that I have seen in photo's. Whilst perhaps it might have been easier to copy an actual prototype, I found it difficult to find one to fit the space available, so I just set to make it appear as prototypical as possible. Inside the building I have place wall dividers with the hope in the future to make a full interior with lights.

With only a short timescale to build the layout before it's first appearance, my father has helped with building several of the other structures on the layout, including the imposing Power Station Buildings and the huge Mason's Manufacturing factory which covers the sector plate. Both of these buildings again use the Walthers Modular system, plus a lot of plain brickwork sheets.

Details on the layout come for various sources, the railroad crossbucks are from JL Innovative Designs and the telegraph poles (which if life were long enough, I would string with wire) are Rix Products. People are from the excellent Scenic Accents range from Woodland Scenics, plus a handful of handpainted Dapol figures.