The Model - Trackwork
Original Plan
Adkins Version

The track plan goes back to the old "round the Christmas tree" format that was my first model of a railroad (and likely for many others reading this).   My last several layouts were more lifelike and representational of the prototype, in that they were point-to-point.   But as a hobbyist whose main passion is building realism into my endeavors, sometimes I just like to sit back and watch them do their thing without my having to interact.  We all have our different interests, and this mode seems to fit me at this point in my life.  Most modelers frequently operate their model railroads, sometimes with others, and I hope to be able to do this in a simple way.

The yard at the wye is reminiscent of Chama, New Mexico, yet represents a fictional Santa Fe near Cerrillos.  One of the challenges will be to incorporate Pueblo style architecture into my "small town mountain" type of buildings I currently have.  Nothing like a new challenge!  I'm also adding elements of Bill Adkins' version, in the form of a small visible staging yard on the peninsula to enhance operational possibilities.

I plan to re-use my built-up Pro-Patria mill and Hukill Mine models, which I saved from my past layout.  Moving those across country was quite a feat, with some damage, but I'll find a way to put them at the right side of the layout plan to provide switching and scenic interest.

To the left are a few photos of the initial stages of my tracklaying and the methods I am using on this, my last, layout.
During my hobby history, I have tried many of the standard methods of replicating railroad track, and I won't go into all of those.  My first attempt was Lionel O-27 around the Christmas tree, and I have somewhat improved over the past 60 years.
My primary goal is problem free track, followed closely by realistic appearance.  The second one is trickier, since each of us views the same prototype trackage differently.   I was seeking a D&RGW branchline in the prairie southeast of Santa Fe, and the only trackage still existing in that area is the BNSF mainline that goes through Madrid on its east-west passage through the area.  So I mostly emulate, as far as possible, the historic Chili Line from Antonito to Santa Fe, which exists no more.
I love hand-laying track, and did that extensively on my last model railroad ( ).   I'm using mostly the FastTracks system on this particular layout, and like it very much so far.  I photocopied turnout templates on fairly stiff photo paper to help in laying out the track (see white template to the left), and predrilled holes for the electrical feeders and the throw-bar actuator wire that way.
I used Homabed, with wooden ties, and sprayed everything, including the prefabbed turnouts, with Krylon Camouflage Sand color as a base for subsequent weathering  (to help blend in the circuit board ties and wooden ties), then added grain with various types of saw blades, followed by an alcohol stain with brown/black leather dye.
For ballast on this branch line I used dirt from the area which the Turquoise Line travelled through, which also happens to be where my studio/hobby room was constructed.   Lots of sifting through various sizes of kitchen implements obtained online followed by a baking in the oven to remove unwanted pests and other bacteria resulted in what you see to the left in the last photo.
The color seems a bit reddish, when viewed with the LED lighting system I constructed, but in fact the dirt in this area is of this hue.  It does serve to illustrate the uniqueness of this area in which the fictional Turquoise Line was constructed so many years ago.
To the left is the drop-leaf section that crosses in front of the only door to the studio.  I used a similar approach as I had used on my previous layout, and wanted to keep it as simple as possible and yet have it perfectly align the rails each time it was raised.
     I used simple hinge and bolt hardware to do this and so far it is working perfectly, after some adjustments.  The greatest problem is to prevent rolling stock and locomotives from plunging off the track when the leaf was not in use.  I'll post conspicuous signs for me and any other operators as a reminder, plus a simple dowel inserted at each approach to physically prevent any errant locos or cars from entering the bottomless chasm.  Although not absolutely fool proof, it worked before, and I have avoided more difficult solutions (for me).  We shall see!
     Now the tedious and yet very interesting work begins:  track laying.   I'm using mostly Fast Tracks template built turnouts, and filling in special cases with handlaid track over wood ties and/or templates.
To the left you see a part of my visible staging yard consisting of two tracks, served by a wye, that will be partially separated from the adjacent main yard by generic industrial warehouse type buildings.  In addition, I'm using a different (Cumbres and Toltec style) ballast on the staging yard, compared with black/gray cinders in the yard, and native sifted, screened and sterilized dirt.   This adds interest and helps define the different areas.
    To the right is a photo of the yard throat with ballasting complete and most track laid.   I wanted to obtain the effect of cinders, but am working on how to tone down the stark black color so they appear to be well used and weathered.
    Tortoise switch machines have almost all been installed and the remainder of the yard, including the turntable, will follow.
    Most of the yard turnouts and all the track is being handlaid for necessary flexibility and to fit the space.  
To the left is the yard with the coaling tower and turntable beginning to be installed.
     I'm using a Walther's HO Scale turntable kit and modifying it for Sn3, which will barely accommodate my current locomotives.
     I have a Monster Model Works Durango Roundhouse tucked away that I'll build for this area later on.
     The manually operated turntable has been installed and the photo above shows the first locomotive to use it.  I opted to use an "Armstrong" turntable due to the difficulty of getting the Walther's HO Scale turntable (modified to be an Sn3 turntable) to operate properly.   Since it is easily accessible, this was an easy compromise to make.
     This also marks the official end of tracklaying for this layout, and subsequent updates to this website will discuss scenery and buildings.  It has taken about 18 months to get this far from the end of construction of the studio and beginning of benchwork and special lighting for the layout.
As of today, September 8, 2020, my model railroad is being demolished and the salvageable structures and rolling stock will be for sale through Rocky Mountain Trains.  
See additional comments and photos after demolition at the Scenery page at .
All model railroads eventually come to an end, as does life, except that with model railroads one may again recreate the golden moments of full scale railroads based on one's visions, whims, and desires.
I have been fortunate to have been a part of this great hobby, as it allowed me to better understand the physical universe, leading to my profession as a an engineer and builder.  Most importantly, I have discovered a diverse group of interesting people who share my love of railroads, to my great delight.
It has been a great run, as all last runs are meant to be, and I am peaceful and thankful for all that I have done as part of this hobby and the people who also enjoy it.
Full speed ahead!
Michael McCaffery
Santa Fe, NM  
September 20, 2020
Other websites of a more personal nature that might be of interest to the reader:​

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