The Thunder Valley Narrow Gauge Railway is 16 yrs. old. It has
350 ft. of aluminum Code 215 track and is modeled in F Scale:
1:20.3. The track is ballasted with “path fines”. The era is
1930’s in California gold country and represents a small narrow
gauge railway serving two gold mines, a quarry, some logging and
two small towns. It is basically point-to-point, connected by a
loop for continuous running, but with visual blocks, no tunnels,
to avoid the “running in circles” look. The railway is run with
radio controlled locomotives powered either by live steam or on
board batteries with sound. Operations are typically mixed trains
with both freight cars and passenger combines. At one end of the
railway is located a “steamup” area where live steam locomotives
are prepared for running. We have valleys and hills with grades
up to 8 percent. Plants are miniatures, dwarf and other bonsai to
fit the scale of the railway and Zone 9 conditions. A small
stream, dam/pond, and a working water powered mill are included.
In March 2013 my neighbor John asked to see my layout. It had no
pizazz. John had a few ideas. A few e-mail diagrams later we
decided to redo my layout. I tore out all my track, buildings,
etc. The next morning when John arrived the project began. After
many loads of moss rock and fill it started to look like
something. With a few adjustments and the addition of a loop we
were pleased. I have never worked so hard moving rock, dirt, more
rock, gravel, etc. The railroad now includes about 300+ ft. of
track, 2 loops, tunnel, bridge, trestle and a double cross-over.
A forest grows at one end and a homestead is at the other end. We
run track and battery power and can run any size G scale train.
It is still a work in progress. We have some animal issues. Moles
have tunneled under the tracks and moss rock causing minor
landslides. Turkeys like to walk around and leave droppings and
knock over rolling stock. Leaves from the trees clog the tracks,
small rocks jam the switches; same stuff we all experience.
We have about 300 ft. of track with two loops, one double cross
over, two trestles, one bridge and a tunnel. There is a water
feature. Early west narrow gauge is the theme. I run primarily
battery, but track power is available.
We started planning our railroad in 2010 before we closed escrow
on our first house by drawing potential track plans over scaled
satellite views of each house we considered. Actual construction
started with a retaining wall and initial 150′ loop, completed in
2011. In 2012 we added a water feature, two concrete mountains,
and five bridges. In April 2014 we completed our long-planned 500
foot mainline with 20′ diameter curves wrapping around the back
of the house to the front yard.
Our theme is agriculture, shown in full-size with our vegetable
garden as a prominent part of the landscaping. Additional
full-size plantings include grape vines, avocado trees, and other
fruit trees. There are also some miniature plantings around the
mountains and water feature.
Our era is mostly the transition era with modern steam power and
early diesels, mostly Southern Pacific and Union Pacific. We have
a unit train of PFE ice reefers since they go so well with our
theme, and pull long mixed freights as well. We occasionally run
some modern equipment too. Everything is 1:29th scale, mostly USA
Trains. Power to the stainless steel track is DCC with QSI Titan
sound decoders in the locomotives.
The DE&N Narrow Gauge Railway began in 1994 in the front
courtyard and double tracked down the side yard. By 2003 the
railway had expanded around the entire backyard. Today’s railway
is constructed from remnants of a previous layout, several club
projects and many truckloads of broken concrete. It features two
rivers, several tunnels, bridges, waterfalls and custom
buildings. There are two duck-under bridges with 5′ 6″ clearance
crossing the side yard canyon. New this year is the beginning of
a 25′ X 42′ indoor railway and workshop in the attic.
Construction on the HardPan Valley Railway was started in 2005
and is still a work in progress. The layout is currently 22 feet
by 70 feet and operates on two levels. The valley level (234 ft.)
began operation in August of 2013 and the mountain level (200 ft.
when finished) should be operating by June 2014. Trains are
remote controlled with an Aristo-Craft Train Engineer system,
although a battery powered train is in the works. Our layout
focuses on the early 1900’s in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada
Mountains. It covers logging, mining, farming as well as a
vineyard & winery. The layout currently features two waterfalls
feeding a pond, three bridges and a tunnel passing under one of
the waterfalls. The HardPan Valley Railway uses mostly steam
power, however, there is an occasional time warp and GP-7s can be
seen operating on the Valley Line.
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