Welcome to Central Artery, my blog about my HO scale layout and the Boston & Albany. This blog will cover my progress on the layout but will also hit on the prototype, especially in the beginning. Topics I plan to cover include industries, equipment, details and freight flows.
Some background on what I’m modeling and why is in order. My motivation for choosing this prototype probably lies in my contrarian nature making me want to model what others overlook. Many Central fans view the B&A as a separate entity while New England railfans look at B&A as the outsider in a region of homegrown railroads. Those who have spent time along the line, however, know it has a character deserving of recognition.
Like the B&A, the 1960s is a period of time often overlooked by modelers. I also model the NYC during this time because I like a good comeback story. By the mid-1950s the New York Central was bankrupt but didn’t know it. Financier Robert Young won control of the railroad after a proxy fight and brought in a new leader, Alfred Perlman. Under Perlman, the railroad aggressively trimmed its plant, scaled back deficit-ridden passenger operations and fought to regain business with innovative equipment and services. This manifested itself along the right-of-way in Flexi-Van containers, auto racks, Flexi-Flo hoppers and hi-cube auto parts boxcars.
While the NYC had its successes, the forces working against the railroad were too great. Merger into Penn Central, bankruptcy and a government bailout in the form of Conrail followed. History shows that despite the ending, the NYC indeed lived up to its slogan as “Road to the Future” and their story is one worth telling.
I set the railroad in Jamesville because I wanted a yard, but I needed it to be small enough to model. For most of its existence Jamesville was just a place for the Worcester switcher to turn around before going back downtown. However, the freight house, team track, truncated third main and wire factories that surrounded it, gave it the look of a much larger facility. During WWII it is said to have had its own switcher and had all the trackage necessary to operate as a stand-alone serving yard. This gives me a wide latitude for operating and expansion possibilities as the layout progresses.
To keep things simple and achievable, I’m modeling this as a one-town layout. I actually build the yard slightly longer than the prototype to preserve future operating possibilities. Spreading things out and eschewing selective compression reduces the number of structures that need to be built and avoids the caricature look many layouts have.
So that’s the plan. I’ve gotten much of the benchwork and tracklaying done and am finally getting to the fun stuff worth sharing. We’ll see if I can translate that into an interesting blog. Thanks for visiting.