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Chas Chemicals Track Plan

Minimalist Model Railroading Case Study #14

Chas Chemicals

Capturing the Essence of an Industrial Railroad

Track Plan At A Glance

Layout Theme: Industrial Railroad
Layout Type: Permanent Layout
Size: 12'x18'
Scale: HO Scale
Era: 1990s
Track: Code 83
Turnouts: No. 6
Min. Radius: 30"

Article by: Jim Spavins
Posted: June 28, 2016
Published: December 31, 2012

An industrial railroad offers an interesting theme for a model railroad. While often times the modeler who chooses these themes are lacking in space, some industrial facilities are incredibly large and could easily fill a much larger area. For this reason, I wanted to present a plan with this theme to show how a single essence of railroading can be modified to fit the space available.

Before we start the design, a reminder from earlier that the essential features of an industrial railroad should be:

With a little bit more room, there is space to model an industrial operation which is a bit more substantial than the one presented in some of the other Minimalist Model Railroading case studies. In this case, this is a model of a chemical company which has capacity for almost 40 freight cars. If they cycle through a car every two days, the industrial railroad would handle over 7,000 cars a year. That is a substantial customer on any railroad and will certainly keep a crew busy switching cars every day.

Operating the Railroad

At the beginning of an operating session, the crew would pick up the switch list for the day's activities. After perusing the needs for the day, the crew would take the locomotive, parked inside the facility, and head down the branch to the interchange track where the connecting railroad has spotted a number of cars for the industry. The crew would pick up the loads and head back up the branch and spot these cars in the holding yard. Then the crew would head inside the plant and begin to switch out and shift the cars at the various unloading/loading points. Any cars headed for the interchange are spotted and blocked in the holding yard. Once the crew is done with its switching, the cars for the interchange track are pulled down to the branch and left to be picked up later. With up to 60 cars to switch, this session could keep a crew entertained for several hours.

Presenting the Railroad

The layout is designed so the focus is on the industrial facility in the middle of the room. The center island is fairly wide (up to five feet at certain points) but all the track is within easy reach from the aisles. Since there is plenty of space, the buildings should be built to dwarf the trackage - an industry which will process 7,000 carloads needs to be big! The line to the interchange winds along the back wall of the room on a narrow shelf and provides the backdrop for the entire layout. The lighting set up should probably be fairly bright and encompass the entire room - instead of the shadow box effect some layout builders use. Since this is a switching layout, the crew will most likely have a lot of paperwork to read and will need to be able to see car numbers and reporting marks on the rolling stock.

Industrial Railroad

An industrial company switcher basks in the summer sun at a chemical facility in the 1990s. | Photo by Jim Spavins.


Resource Use on the Railroad

This is a railroad which would work well for someone who enjoys switching as well as building, detailing, and weathering freight cars. As for the other resources needed to build the Chas Chemicals design, here is how they break down:

Time would be spent...

The Space would be used for...

Money would be spent on...

The Skills required to build the railroad are...

Minimalist Model Railroading Case Studies

Capturing the Essence of Railroading

Introduction - Minimalist Model Railroading

Case Study #1 - Claremont Concord Railroad
Scale: O Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #2 - CP Rail's Kicking Horse Pass
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #3 - Trolley Museum
Scale: O Scale        Size: 2'x6'

Case Study #4 - N&W 611 Excursion
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #5 - CS Industries
Scale: O Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #6 - Sono Tower
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #7 - Boston and Albany Railroad
Scale: N Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #8 - Central Yard Engine Terminal
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #9 - Iron Horse Railroad Museum
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #10 - MM&R Timber Co.
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #11 - Springfield Metro
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #12 - South Station, Boston, MA
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #13 - Canaan, CT
Scale: N Scale        Size: 10'x11'

Case Study #14 - Chas Chemicals
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #15 - Westerly, RI
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #16 - Connecticut River Drawbridge
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #17 - Valley City Viaduct
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 12'x18'

Case Study #18 - Wood River Railroad
Scale: O Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #19 - Portable Shortline
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #20 - Charter St. Steam Plant
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 8"x15'

Case Study #21 - Eastern Scenic Railroad
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #22 - West Springfield Yard
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 29'x44'

Case Study #23 - Good Ol' 4x6
Scale: HO Scale        Size: 4'x6'