was been building his basement model railroad ever since 2011-2012. The
highly detailed plans were drawn up during down time on many of his
out-of town engagements as a professional musician and orchestra
conductor. Clearly the work put in at the planning stage is being
translated into some excellent modeling. The model railroad is based on
his observations of the railroads around Hampton and Norfolk, VA, as a
teenager, when his Dad worked for the railroad. Essentially a series of
vignettes modeling what he is interested in and feels appropriate,
rather than following a protoype. It will eventually cover the mountain
coal mines all the way to a harbor transfer section. Charlie told me he
models what he wants to do and when he feels like it. No set timetable
and when it fits in with his professional activities.
Being a work in progress, visitors got an opportunity to see some
excellent, earthquake-proof open frame, multilevel construction in
dimensional lumber and ½" ply, along with 130+ Tortoise switch motors
and some really neat wiring. Charlie is modeling in N-scale, and the
scope for multilevel main lines, sweeping curves and storage/switching
yards under the main lines is being fully exploited. The layout is DCC,
and visitors were treated to some custom sound installs (ESU loksound)
in the diesel-headed trains that were being run by Charlie and his
operator team, all of whom were more than happy to slow the trains down
and have a chat about what was going on.
This is a big layout divided into four main sections - the coal mining
areas in the mountain gorges, complete with company towns perched on
steep hill sides, line side industries and urban areas, including an
impressive cityscape, the locomotive depot complete with roundhouse,
turntable, freight car staging, along with some impressive servicing
tracks for the diesels, and eventually the transfer dock in the harbor.
Plus some bridges along the way. Charlie had the opportunity to start
with a blank canvas, in this case a basement that needed extensive
reconstruction, which he did himself.
This was a great layout tour in what was National Model Railroad Month.
If you couldn't make it you missed a real treat. I personally want to
thank Charlie and his team of enthusiasts for making this a memorable
open house. I learned a lot.