Wabash 1.0 Tear Down


Back in early November, I visited Pierre Oliver and together we installed Frog Juicers for every switch on his double-decked HO scale Wabash Railroad.

So what are they now doing in a box, along with all the Bullfrog switch machines? And why does Pierre have so many shelf brackets?

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Regular readers know the answer. But in case you missed it, Pierre called me shortly after that session and said, “You and I have to stop working on the layout, because every time we make progress the prospect of a move rears up!”

And sure enough, Pierre and his wife are planning to move. This time, they actually found a new house – so Wabash 1.0’s days were numbered.

Over the past couple of weeks, Pierre has been packing up rolling stock, structures and other details. The layout looked pretty barren yesterday, when Chris Abbott and I made one final visit to Wabash country:

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(Delhi, Ontario on the lower level, while the flex track in the upper level staging yard – representing points east of Jarvis – has been salvaged)

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(Courtland, Ontario lies under a big bag o’ packing peanuts)

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(Simcoe, Ontario at upper left – Renton at upper right. Aylmer is below Renton, while the lower – west-end – staging is under Simcoe)

We didn’t arrive empty-handed, however: Chris and I were on deck to help Pierre tear out the layout and stack it in the driveway, ready to be binned.

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(Chris preps to destroy)

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(Nice helix – although a choke point for operations: We’ll try to design around it for Wabash 2.0)

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(Pierre watches from safety as Chris bites into the helix)

The tear-out went surprisingly quickly. Perhaps it was the excellent lunch provided by Pierre’s wife – including awesome home-pickled onions – but the afternoon went even quicker than the morning. Chris tackled the task with grim determination, as demonstrated here:

(You can also watch this directly on YouTube, where you may be able to enjoy it in larger formats)

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(I don’t think the Freds care anymore whether they’re unplugged)

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(The mainline east of Jarvis, tilted up and ready for sectioning. Pierre moves to cut wires to mark where he’d like the saw cuts. Courtland cowers below: its time will come)

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(And there goes Cortland! Delhi to the right)

In the end, it took just five hours – including a stop for lunch – to remove the layout:

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(The Courtland / Delhi side of the basement)

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(The Simcoe / Renton / Aylmer side of the basement)

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(Ready for the bin, which arrives Monday)

Fortunately, it takes roughly the same amount of time to build the basic benchwork for a new layout – as demonstrated when Pierre visited my house a couple of years ago to perform his Benchwork in a Day trick.

While it’s always sad to see a layout go, we’re looking forward to designing and building a bigger, and better, Wabash 2.0.

As Pierre would say, “It’s all good!”

9 thoughts on “Wabash 1.0 Tear Down

  1. Sorry to see layouts go but I guess a solid reason to consider building modular segments. Designed my own to be modular for that very reason since a move in 5-10 years is likely. At least modules can be transitioned or repurposed, something I’ve already done with mine. Surprised that given his construction method, that he didn’t opt to cut them into sections to be reused instead of going into the dumpster. Would have thought that some sections could at least be saved by cutting via a saws all

    • I made the decision for full destruction for a couple of reasons.
      The main one being that the route out of the basement precluded moving long sections intact. Modules were never considered in the first place for much the same reason. One must remember that at the time this house was built it was mainly meant to be a place for the furnace and it’s requisite coal supply.
      The new home will require a different approach to the trackplan. So there didn’t seem to be much point in saving stuff. And frankly, I didn’t want to spend untold hours salvaging stuff. It was more economical in man hours to saw it up and say goodbye.

    • Hi Ken:

      I think the decision to build in modular segments is a personal one – and while it can have its advantages, it can also have its drawbacks.

      As an example, my previous layout was a Maine two-footer in On2, and I built it in segments designed to be moved. A few years after I started the layout, I did move it – from a small room in the west end of the basement, to the larger room at the east end (where Port Rowan now resides). The move proved two things to me.

      First, that it’s darned easy to move a layout if it’s designed in sections. No argument there – the move took an evening and the layout was back up and running.

      Second, that it’s darned hard to make best use of a given space if one is reusing portions of a layout. The relocated On2 layout fit in the new space, but I didn’t actually gain any layout in the process. What I gained was a bunch of useless space between my layout sections and the room walls. To make best use of the space, I would’ve had to rebuilt the On2 layout anyway. Instead, I opted for S scale.

      There’s another factor in favour of building fresh versus re-using – again, a very personal decision. I learn a lot of things every time I build a layout. And since building even a simple takes years – during which many advances are made in materials, tools and techniques – building fresh allows me to take advantage of those.

      For example, I used long grass on my original On2 layout, but it was made from sisal. I didn’t have a static grass applicator – they were either too new at the time, or not yet available in my local hobby shops. By the time I moved the On2 layout, I had a static grass applicator. And by the time I started my S scale Port Rowan layout, it was an essential tool for me.

      Again, the decision to build layouts as permanent structures in the layout room, or to design them to be easily moved, is a personal one. Personally, modular design for a home layout just doesn’t work for me. And it wasn’t going to work for Pierre in the case of Wabash 1.0. But others will have a different experience.


  2. Good luck with the new layout. As I’ve also taken down a layout, it always surprises me how quickly they come down as compared to the time spent putting them up.
    Cheers, Gord

    • Hi Hunter:

      I know we’d discussed going down another day, but Saturday just seemed to work best for us. We’ll get you involved in building the next Wabash layout, I’m sure…


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