The Ponderosa North portable layout.
Back in 1994 the club decided to construct a small switching layout which would not only give the club members something to run during shows but was designed to only be worked on at the shows to demonstrate how you build a layout. Over the next 3 years the layout was completed. The layout was designed to be expandable and during the next 4 years that is what happened. Realizing that just switching trains may have been fun for the club was not a big interest to small kids who just like to see trains run. Some of the club members built side modules that extended the layout but did not yet give us a full circle.
In 2001 after 6 years of service it was decided to scrap the original 2 modules as poor storage and wear and tear took it's toll. The original intent was to rebuild the 2 modules. During Railfair 2001 track was laid and for the first time we had a continuous loop. Shortly after Railfair the club decided to take the new modules, split them and make loops to have 2 mainlines of continuous running with the ability to switch. 2001 also saw a change in how the layout was assembled. We were using tables to support the layout but that was proving not to be too reliable. Legs were constructed out of 2X4's.
In 2006 the side modules were cut down in size to fit in a small pickup truck. Mike Janik built 4 new curved end pieces to make the layout wide enough to have more than 1 person operation inside. At this time new legs made out of PVC piping were also installed. After Railfair 2007 the layout was not looking good. The side modules were about 10 years old and the reduction in size made them look ever worse. It was decided that for the club to properly represent ourselves and the hobby a new layout would be built.
The new layout
Using what was learned from the past 2 versions of the layout, this version of the layout was built to last longer and be tougher. The layout was constructed with the same box style construction with the blue insulating foam on top that served us well in the past. Changes to the box frame construction included using 1X3's instead of 2X4's for the sides and adding hard board siding to the modules to protect the side of the foam from getting damaged. Door hinges continue to be used to connect the modules. To aid in assembly time and for durability 9" sections of Atlas snap track is used to connect the track on the modules. Only the curved sections use a different length.
The layout is powered with a club owned NCE DCC system.
Matt created the track plan that would allow both continuous operations and switching for club members. As our layout is to be only used the club the layout does not hold to N-Trak standards. The towns of Barcus and Stilts would consist of 3 modules each. Two 5' 9" long modules around a 4' module. There would also be a new 2' module between the curved sections to widen the layout even more. With the issues of electric switches and the damage to the hand throw switches, we originally planned to use Peco turnouts as they are spring loaded and snap in place. With the cost of the layout rising, George found an old Model Railroader article describing how to make Atlas turnouts work like a Peco. With Atlas turnouts costing less than Peco and as we had some Atlas turnouts from the old layout we, chose to modify the Atlas turnouts.
Construction began in February 2008, and as planned the layout debuted at Railfair in October 2008. The overall performance of the layout was spectacular outside of self induced DCC problems. Work will continue to get the turnouts all modified, add wiring and start on the permanent scenery.
The first layout
The Second Version
The current layout