This is a freelance N scale layout that follows North American prototype, inspired in part by scenes from the International of Maine CPR shortline and embodying an international flavour with my love of the Yorkshire moors. Overall, the aim is to give it a North American prototypical appearance, while allowing me my subliminal memories of other times and other places. (For some observations on our wonderful hobby, go to Basic Model Railway Insights, and for some additional commentary by a confirmed N scale modeller, More About N Scale.)
For some years at the outset I tried to make modelling in 2-rail British-prototype 00 scale work, but just could not quite get to be at home with it. My hobby watershed came with the appearance of N scale - and I knew I was hooked. With an eye to taking it to shows, in 1975 I built a double figure-eight "mountain module" on a 30" by 94" frame that I still have, somewhat altered and expanded, to this day.
For a number of years that module appeared at Toronto-area exhibitions, and because it had to be transported on top of the car with a huge lid, it was very soon nicknamed "the coffin". With my fascination for N and a discovered acceptance of the North American prototype, I happily sold off my extensive British 00 scale. With career and family pressures, for 15 years "the coffin" languished in the garage, until it finally found a new home in half of a spare condo bedroom. Surprisingly, after a good cleaning and the replacement of some nibbled wiring, the layout came back to life: the Hammant & Morgan powered switches resumed operation and the motive power started to move as if the whole thing had only just been packed away. I am very glad that I hung onto that layout and all the kits, tools, and bits and bobs that one acquires over the years.
My Eagle Lake & Northern has now expanded from its previous spare condo bedroom dimensions to a respectable (for N scale that is), basement space, using much of what I have kept over the years, incorporating the "mountain module", the marshalling yards, and various trestles, including two built many years ago by my friend Peter Dobell before he became addicted to EM Gauge.
The overall layout shape is now essentially that of an elongated "flipped" letter G. Control is by conventional DC (mostly MRC and Hammant & Morgan). There are three main circuits - the layout main line - the "mountain module" double figure-eight - the mountain module lower circuit. The main line has six long passing sidings to permit opposing passenger and freight train movements. There are two roundhouse areas with turntables and a total capacity of 55 locomotives, as well as two major and two minor marshalling areas with a combined working capacity of around 150 cars. The roundhouses are still to be built, and scenery needs to be added at the other end of the layout.
In addition to the static control panels, there are also in total seven walkabout controllers at strategic points around the layout, together with three sound stations (two MRC 312s and one Symphony 77). The walkabout controllers vastly enhance the operational experience and convenience. There are two Gaugemaster Model Ws and three Britannia Models BM4Ms that handle the main line and the mountain modules - all with a 16V AC power source. The two main yards can be switched in with a Hammant & Morgan CU 1 and a custom-built controller, both with a 12V DC power source.
There are 15 bridges and trestles of various types, of which 8 are scratch-built. Of the 129 turnouts and 5 slips, 108 turnouts and all the slips are remotely controlled. There are 22 blocks, and the mainline run is approximately 99 ft, or at the N Scale ratio of 1:160, just about exactly 3 real miles, and it takes a freight train almost 5 minutes ( a scale speed of around 36 mph) to cover the distance. The track is Code 80, mostly by Peco™. The layout is wired to allow up to four guest operators to be switched in. With tracklaying and wiring just about complete on the new section, the ongoing priorities are maintaining the system and then detailing the scenery and a very serious structure building program that is long overdue - my original scratchbuilt buildings (some still in need of further detailing) date from 40 years ago! In fact, upon reflection, this railway, given the hobby's digital state of the art today, is rapidly becoming a museum piece in its own right, with what might be considered the obsolete block and cab systems of DC control. Not to mention some of the vintage equipment and rolling stock.
Finally, where did Eagle Lake & Northern come from? All the place names, stations and features are named after favourite spots, family and friends, some coincidentally legitimately with names such as "Norwood", "Spencer" and "Dagmar", and the MacMillan Yards have been fudged into the McMillan Yards. You can change trains at Percy Junction, or dally at Cooper's Creek or Dobell's Gulch, take an excursion from the Adamerica Mine, take a side trip to Erin's Springs, yodel across the valley at Murphy's Folly, contemplate the hills at Moore Falls, look around town at Lillianstown or Normanton or Bunt Meadows, or trundle over the trestle to view the spectacular Emily's Falls. They all know who they are, except for my good friend David Norwood who has, alas, passed on.