Cramming Action Into a Tight Space
Small Layout Industry: Autumn’s Bobbins –
Prior to beginning the modified loop, which is my current layout project, I made a series of smaller module-esque layouts which fit nicely into the limited space I had available at the time. Fortunately these modules can probably be integrated into a larger layout in the future due to forethought, but for now they just sort of sit around. One of those modules (actually a fully functional micro-layout) is Grace Falls, a free lanced town I originally located north of Lebanon on my Lebanon & Northern line. I had planned the layout to have 3-4 “industries” which would require switching and could be served by a GP7 and 4-5 car manifests. There is a freight house, a feed store, a passenger station (not completed), a team track of sorts, and the Autumn’s Bobbins factory. What? Bobbins? Yes, actually, as it turns out bobbins were once a product commonly made in New Hampshire and probably other heavily forested states. Today I would like to talk about the Autumn’s Bobbins factory because I think it makes for an interesting industry on a micro to small sized layout.
I went back and forth about whether I wanted this factory to make something more interesting, such as ball bearings, but bobbins ended up being a solid choice. Bobbins aren’t particularly glamorous as far as products shipped by rail are concerned. But they once were a fairly common product moved by the B&M and the world certainly needs bobbins to meet its sewing needs. The factory has two loading dock doors facing the recessed spur, from which it is served, so boxcars in with lumber and out with bobbins is a logical traffic flow. The building is a Walther’s Corner Stone kit… Paragon Heating, which was an inexpensive way to get a lot of modular building components when it was still available. I installed the two loading dock doors with a spacing which would allow alignment with either 40ft boxcars or 50ft boxcars so I greatly eased my operating burdens since the majority of B&M traffic was 40 and 50 foot boxcars. As I mentioned, in order to keep the main entrance at street level, I recessed the spur which is difficult to properly photograph but the shot below should give an idea of what I mean.
Here my South Boulder Modelworks S4 (I discussed this locomotive in an earlier post) spots the Trainboard.com Special Run 50ft MI boxcar at the factory. You can see the steep descending grade of the spur, once the car is in place its floor will be at ground level.
Traffic is somewhat limited, one car in or out at any given time, and I admit that the Caspian Mills facility on my modified loop adds much more to general operations, but the operating scheme for the bobbin factory does at least originate and terminate car loads. That in and out car traffic means the factory must be switched every operating day in order to keep up. An added touch is the unique (to me) spur which leaves much of the car at or below street level as seen from the front of the factory. Finally, Autumn’s Bobbins is nice because, while I built the building using kit components, I changed the name, product, and general identity of the industry which will all but guarantee that my little factory remains unique to my layout.
Eventually, I think Grace Falls will become some area in the northern part of Concord, NH when I get the space and opportunity to begin working on my dream layout… a compressed version of the entire Northern Line from White River Jct. (represented by staging) via the modeled locations of Westboro-West Lebanon, Lebanon, Enfield, Canaan, Grafton, and Andover to Concord (also represented by staging). I won’t beat myself up about being 100% prototypical but I really want to incorporate some version of all of those places. Grace Falls and Autumn’s Bobbins could easily fit in with real life Concord, especially within my loose time frame. Who knows… we shall see when the time comes. In the mean time I hope my little bobbin factory encourages anyone looking to put a factory type industry into a limited space on a budget.