Sunday, October 6, 2013

Switching Layouts on the CP Rail Manitoba & Minnesota Sub.

Overhead view of Nance. That's the Fort Frances
engine yard on the lower level on the right.

In an earlier post, I noted that if I had to do it all over again, I might just build a small switching layout.

In fact, the CP Rail M & M Sub. contains three "switching layouts." By that I mean there are three areas on the layout that, by themselves, are like small switching layouts. Each of them can be operated as if they are not part of a larger model railroad.

One is the Peace River paper mill in Fort Frances, Ont. (five spots, plus a two-track yard).

Nance on the top, Peace River mill below.

The others are in Fort Frances itself (10 spots) and at Nance (four spots, with a two track yard).

A view in the other direction.

In this post, we'll look at Nance. It occupies a one foot by 17-foot section on the upper deck of the layout.

The interesting thing about Nance is that it is the interchange point with the Peace River Northern, a shortline that, on the layout, doesn't go anywhere.

If I want, I can use a wayfreight to switch the industries in Nance, or I can operate as if all the trackage in the town belongs to the PNR--just drop off and pick up cars, and then go on my way.

Two spots in Nance. The area behind
the feed mill isn't normally visible--
hence, no ground foam.

Nance also features an industry that isn't there. It's a paper mill (quite literally--it's made of paper) off in the distance that receives empty cars for shipping out paper and cars of chemicals.

Cars for the mill are dropped off in the interchange yard. Between sessions, they go to the mill and back again--in my imagination, at least. (They could also sneak off behind the scenery on a tail track, if I was so disposed.)

The industry that isn't there.

The next time a train stops by, the formerly empty cars are filled, and the formerly filled cars are empty. All are ready to head to Fort Frances.

Depending on how I decide to operate Nance, it can take a few minutes to drop off and pick up cars, or 10 minutes of switching. Either way, this small switching layout helps provide a bit of operational interest when I grow tired of running mainline freights.

Look--a caboose! What's that doing here in
in the early 1990s?


  1. While some model railroaders like to linger near the loco shop or circumnavigate circuits of the layout, I much prefer to simply switch. So, if you're able to make some switching moves on the M&M, that sounds like fun.

    My favourite assignment on my previous layout was switching the meat packing and flour mill district with three runaround/interchange tracks to work with. It could take 30 minutes, even switching at moderate speed. That's why my last two layouts have centred on industrial switching. Fun.


  2. where did you get the bell and nose headlights for the GP38?

  3. They are from Miniatures by Eric--brass parts that I painted and added to the unit a long time ago. They are still available: