Model Corner & Soapstone Modelers

Soapstone Modelers:  Pre-empting my own plans shown below, I'm here mentioning Mark Chase of Richmond, Virginia who has modeled his own brand of soapstone railroad in On30.  This is a quick reference and his site online can be found at: and if you haven't seen it, it's a must see site!  I had planned to visit Mark and his East Blue Ridge Railway during July/August while in Richmond, but a very tight schedule I was on prevented it.  I'll come back and expand on this site and Mark's modeling more as I'm planning another trip to Richmond.  We may have to add some video clips to this site to allow viewers to see his work. 
Model Corner
While this space has been reserved for sharing information on modeling the Nelson & Albemarle Railway, soapstone railways in general, or any other quarry related industrial short line (though this is STANDARD GAUGE, NARROW GAUGE is always welcome), there hasn't been a lot of time to comment on my own progress. 
September Update:  Esmont platforms/rough grading is completed (2 modules) and Warren platform is in final stages of construction.  This will allow the extension to be placed on lower Esmont platform to accommodate the C&O turntable as well as the arm extensions that reach out to provide supports for the grade between Warren and Esmont (wish I had room to show siding at Boiling Springs, but don't).  Compressing 17 or 18 miles of actual length into an overlaid track plan trying to show the major areas and interchange (C&O, Southern), is a difficult task.  I've used the RR Track planning program and will discuss it later this year as it helped tremendously over my old planning program.  I'm sure that there may be better programs, but this has worked very well for me.   I've also made it a goal to have the C&O and Southern have operating trains so that action is always taking place while the switching is taking place on the N&A.  The C&O plan is for automation allowing two trains to share the same track and operate in different directions (coal drag & local).  For the Southern, there will be two trains, but one will be limited to moving back and forth with what would appear to be switching duties, while the other would simply provide amusement by circling around and around, pausing out of sight to provide the appearance of long times between trains.  Sounds like fun!  I've just acquired some additional benchwork supports for the Schuyler area and will be working on that as time permits.  Alberene (though abandoned), has a platform supporting it's crumbling building(s) and roadbed.  Though this was originally planned to be off-layout and unfinished (i.e.: dead stub to nowhere), I've put together a mill building out of cardstock and mat board.  Rudimentary, but passable from a very long distance. 

Modeler's Techniques

Placeholder for what will become "Modeler's Techniques" where we will discuss modeler's techniques used to create models for your train layout (for discussion on MODELS and TRAIN LAYOUTS in general, see MODEL CORNER in the sidebar....
Idea's for techniques and vignettes for the Nelson & Albemarle layout:
1) coal handling (delivery, storage, loading onto various engines)
2) engine maintenance (washing, cleaning, ash pit, etc.)
3) use of soapstone slabs for various buildings, abutements, etc.
4) quarry operations including donkey engine(s), crane, flatcar spotting, sawing, etc.
5) overhead crane operations (from flat car to gang saw carts on rails, spotting blocks in yard, automation so that it can be operating independently of other various activites)
6) gas station scene at south end of Esmont on road to Porters (yes, I haven't mentioned Porters before, but it is east of Esmont in Albemarle county), associated trucking of supplies, various period automobiles/trucks, there is a siding that takes off just south of the gas station to service the Blue Ridge Slate company in Esmont (goes westward).  This isn't in my plans, but a short siding could be added to show this.
7) crusher at Damon (though not shown on my layout plan, this is another building where rubble from operations could be delivered in gondolas and then boxcars could leave the crusher plant with bags of crushed soapstone for interchange.
8) Howardsville (my mother's home town and across the river from where my father grew up - though he lived in Howardsville for a time also) could include a siding (it was the longest on the James River Line of the C&O) and Baber's store - a landmark, as well as a couple of hotel like buildings and my mother's home and the Methodist church building if there would be only enough room and time to build!!!
9) Warren - the depot, the store, the ferry (if room to show), two houses behind depot, the roadway behind and in front of depot.
10) whistle stop at Boiling Springs - yes, there is none shown now, but this would be an easy 2 night project to add a roadway and shelter at the crossing and there is room on the layout to throw this in without sacrificing the out-in-the-country look and feel.
11) Esmont - the focus of much of the layout - bank building, post office, depot, ice house, general store, hardware store, a church (at north end of Esmont), 2 houses above average just east of depot and behind the ice house, 3 houses below average on the low end of town.  No houses west of tracks - only east.  For view with C&O, a 56' turntable and siding south of roadway crossover just south of depot.  (see Model Corner for view of Esmont).
12) Guthrie - the "Y" between where C&O line ended and route to Schuyler begins.  No structures, only scenery.  Route to Alberene should be code 55 as it was abandoned and later taken up, so show as usable so layout can use the 2 sidings, but rough looking with grasses coming up between ties, etc.
13) Alberene - 2 buildings only - the assembly factory and the station - I don't have room in the plan to support the large number of company-owned housing that was in Alberene, but may put a model of the Serene Mansion up as a note of respect for the president of this line.
14) Schuyler - main factory, station, engine house, gang saw building, store, lead off tracks to only quarries that will be shown on layout, power station on line toward Rockfish. 
15) Rockfish - depot, sidings, post office, house or two, bridge over Rockfish River, interchange to N&A.
The primary goal has been to have a constantly moving Southern Railway train continuously run through Rockfish (and under other parts of the layout while stopping for a set time before continuing the circle tour back through Rockfish).  The same goes for the C&O Railway - except there would be an eastbound coal train that would circle that segment, periodically stopping for a set time, to allow a doodlebug to show going westbound.  Should be fun to set up.  For the N&A - there would be a point-to-point operation with much operation while the other trains continue to go their merry way.  While this limits the actual interchange with either the C&O or Southern, it does allow for a lot of operations getting cars to and from their destinations.
Warren, Esmont, Schuyler, and Rockfish are main focus of layout planning ideas, though an inclusion of a 1917 version of Alberene for which there are photos to utilize would be nice to include in the early-50's plan being shown (with a pre-flood early 40's route to Rockfish)
Rob Peters,
Apr 22, 2009, 10:03 AM