When we were introduced to command control throttle systems, we liked them so much we tried to get the decoders available then into our N scale locomotives. We were not successful. We wanted command control badly enough that we tore down the Drake & Lawton, sold all our N scale equipment and bought HO scale.
Thus, the Midland Industrial was our first HO scale railroad. It was built in the same 20' x 13' room as the former Drake & Lawton but expanded into the former bedroom next to it where the first D&L had been. We reused many of the L-girders we'd built for the Drake & Lawton but made new cookie cutter style tops.
Since we understood that we wouldn't be able to get much mainline in that space in HO scale we decided to build one city with it's suburbs so we'd never have to be concerned about a train moving through a rural district reaching a second town before leaving the first town. Again we included lots of industries--42 of them this time--with a major yard used to make up the locals that served the various switching districts.
These locals were made of cars that came from our connecting railroads--four of them. The CNW was even partly modeled as if it originated in Alden, served Badger and Cahill, then interchanged cars with the MI at Essex, Jct. The SOO Interchange was modeled to look like the SOO could work it, with one end hidden behind an industry in Holmes, but in reality only the MI's end was functional. Cars were staged there between sessions as if the SOO had worked it while we weren't around. The MI connected to the BN at Dowling and to a railroad at Isle whose name changed frequently.
By now the buildings at the industries were getting bigger but most of them still had only one track to them although some of them could take several cars on a track.
This railroad was designed to be operated point to point but we still felt compelled to have a loop of track so visitors could see trains running in circles. So the connecting track between Alden and Dowling was modeled as an abandoned track and, for operating sessions, a big rock sat in the middle of it to indicate that operators were not to use it.
One of the things we did when we switched to HO scale was get rid of the control panels. Since all our track was now in reach of the operators, it was easy to convert our turnout controls to manual throws and selling all those switch machines made this an affordable thing to do. It meant we had to place structures carefully so as to not block access to turnouts so it became important to plan structure size and placement during the track planning process. Dave was pleased to not have to wire all those switch machines.
MI overview before the backdrop was installed on the peninsula. Note the double faced clock hanging from the ceiling
Operations necessities: the computer, throttles, and employee timetables
Badger in the foreground with Cahill behind it.
Cahill west end
Cahill east end
Essex west end
Essex east end
Franklin east end
Grant engine service
Grant east end
Holmes west end
Holmes east end
The above document was sent to potential operators before they came to their first operating session. It was intended to make operators more comfortable with what faced them and to reduce the time needed for training on site.
For me writing a history of a freelance railroad helps make decisions about the railroad. I showed this to a PR person at BN's headquarters in Havre, Montana, who asked me twice to repeat that this was fiction since it felt very real to him.
I encourage people to try different operating positions on our railroads. This document is one tool for doing that. When a crew member fills in all four time slots for one position, he must work elsewhere until a new assignment sheet is posted.