How about a layout plan?

Well, if you insist…

This is the preliminary plan, although close to final. Some tweaking will take place as I do more research and actually begin construction:

Port Rowan Layout Plan

(As a suggestion, you can click on the image to open it in a separate window on your browser, so you can refer to it while reading the rest of this)

Here are some notes on the design:

I’ve drawn the plan to the scale of two squares = 12 inches.

I’ve used a 42-inch minimum radius (equivalent to 31 inches in HO or 56 inches in O scale), although in practice I’ll ease the curves.

Similarly, I’ve drawn the plan with #8 switches but I may use a combination of #7 and #9 switches instead of the #8s everywhere, since I’ll be hand laying my track.

The front edge of the layout is not written in stone. I need to think about things like reach-in distance to switches.

Starting along the bottom of the image, I have a six-foot sector plate. It would require a cassette or integrated turntable for turning the steam locomotives, and it could be extended to eight feet if I make it removable when I’m not using it.

An apple orchard and tobacco kilns would hide a hole through the backdrop.

Next, we have a midway station based on St. Williams. I’d use part of the siding as a team track (coal unloading, produce boxes inbound, apples, tobacco and corn outbound). The spur in the lower left of the plan was not on the prototype, although there was a spur further along that served a feed mill. I’ve drawn a coal shed and an old grain storage building, because I’ve already built a model of the grain storage building:

Cheltenham grain storage building.

This structure used to stand in Cheltenham, Ontario – 174 kilometres away from Port Rowan according to Google Maps. But photos of the building from the early 1950s show it without any protective siding over its cribbed wood construction. I enjoy projects like this and now that I’ve built it, it’ll be great to find a place for it on the layout.

The south end of the double-ended siding at St. Williams can be used to store any outbound cars after switching so they don’t have to be dragged into Port Rowan itself.

The line loops around the upper left corner of the layout room – here I’ve borrowed elements from elsewhere on the line from Hamilton. Stone Church Road is a neat little bridge from near Rymal, and I put it here as a neat photo location, but any small bridge over a road would do. Meanwhile, I’ve moved the Lynn Valley slightly west from the adjacent Port Dover branch to allow me to model the water tank used by locomotives working the Port Rowan line.

The mainline finally heads between orchards, across a farm track, and into Port Rowan itself.

The first switch leads to the elevated track for unloading coal. The coal dealer also receives tank cars (he has a Cities Service franchise) and accommodates hopper cars of gravel on the elevated track. Apparently, the facilities consist of a pair of open-sided bunkers under the rails – like a capital “E”. The dealer then shovelled coal into his truck for local delivery. A derail prevents cars from fowling the main if they roll down the grade.

The track next to the coal track is a team track. One of the customers that uses this is a local lumber yard, which is across the street from the end of rails (right end of the peninsula). There’s a barn next to the track in the photos I have. Apparently it’s not a customer but it’ll make for an interesting structure.

A section house with handcar set-off sits next to the short runaround track. It should actually be further left, facing the main in the angle between main track and turntable lead, but I don’t have space there.

At the end of the line we have the large station (passenger and express), a garage in the field across from it, then the Leedham feed mill (grains, fertilizer, building materials). One reference says a freight shed shared the end of steel with the feed mill but I have not found any photos of it.

This is not an ambitious plan but it has the right, relaxed feel, a sense of going somewhere (I think – especially with a 15 mph speed limit on the branch), and enough switching to keep a two-person crew busy for 45-60 minutes.

In that sense, it’s very much like my recently torn-down On2 layout. But among its many advantages, it’s local: I can drive to the area in less than three hours, which will help with research trips. In fact, I’ve already been down to photograph and measure some tobacco kilns:

Tobacco kilns in Scotland, Ontario.

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