Milepost 122 to 123 at West Missoula…

Finally reached the end of the yard and the first corner of the layout. I loosely placed track and made up the formation to check the fit with the corner location, a task that took a surprisingly long time. Milepost 122 to 123 is the location of the junction and cross-overs where the 2-track mainline leads away west to Desmet. In real life, this bit of MRL mainline is straight. In my world, to avoid shooting it off through the wall of the building and into the garden, it has to be ‘unprototypically’ curved. Also, the inevitable compression closes distances down too, but this yard throat is a Layout Design Element (LDE) which had to be included…and consequently I decided to allocate a little more space to it than on my original paper plan. Still, there’s still a good 12 feet of mainline run to the cement terminal and crossovers at Desmet.

A slot has been cut into the plywood to accommodate a small creek which flows under bridge 122 which is located between the cross-overs at West Missoula and the yard throat. Note my 16 inch radius gauge cut from mounting card – this is used to check my minimum radii measurements when laying track and introducing easements into curves.

This area of the layout hit the corner due to several reasons. Firstly, the need to maintain a minimum yard reception line length of 10 feet because they also act as a partly scenic staging yard for staging trains in the open,. There will be another set of storage sidings behind the yard, separated by a back scene. I also compromised on the number of lines entering the yard. At the real location, there’s four including the mainline, leading to five by the time the first highway bridge is reached. I brought another up through the bridge to create six for capacity. The mainline is clearly separated from the yard tracks by a wide strip of unoccupied land used as a dirt access road. All I need now is a picture of bridge 122…to fill that gap!

The empty space in the corner will soon be host to the end of the storage yards.

There’s some interesting signals to place at this location too because MRL’s 4th Sub is signalled with CTC.  Finally, before you ask – why is the baseboard top so flat? Simple: this area is fairly industrial and the line west of West Missoula passes the airport and more industry including three which are rail served. The mountain terrain will soon be apparent in the design, with lots of track bed on risers, but not yet!

With progress stopped for a while to assess progress and check some details, I have been installing the track bus under the lower level. There is a great example of this task on the following site:

Thanks to Chris at Digitrains of Lincoln, I have the opportunity to try this new to the UK digital system. DCC-ers will be familiar with the CT-Electronik name. Its a wireless set shown in this photograph and I am sorely tempted – as if I don’t have enough systems to play with as it is! For more details, visit


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