The Chesapeake & Western is a free lance (imaginary) railroad running from Morehead City on the Atlantic Ocean to Chapel Hill North Carolina in the mountains and basically following along the Neuse River. The client wanted to include on a compact layout her favorite seashore location and the home of the University of North Carolina. She also wanted a great deal of ‘action’ on the layout with a turntable and roundhouse, bridges, yards, and the ability to run several trains at once.
This was to say quite a challenge.
What we came up with was a modular layout using 2′ x 4′ modules of foam, each of which would have the ability to operate independently or in concert with the other modules. The initial plan called for three modules- one representing Morehead City, one representing Chapel Hill, and one in between holding transition terrain and the turntable and roundhouse. Other modules may be added later.
Originally this layout was designed for cab control but this proved too cumbersome and the layout and all the locomotives are being converted to digital.
We used Kato Unitrack for everything because it provides extremely reliable performance and is very easy to install. The track also holds itself together, which makes joining the modules much more convenient.
This is a work in progress but the turntable is in and operational. I had to use a Peco turntable because of the tight space. It also looks better than the Atlas ‘pie plate’. Motorizing this turntable was challenging but by building a gearbox and shaft stabilizer, I was able to use a Walthers motor kit and make it work. The Peco turntable has an advantage in that it can be wired and installed so that it automatically ‘reverses’ itself to avoid needing a reversing switch.