Bob wrote a brief introduction to his New Sharon Layout for Exhibition managers and the viewing public which is copied below. A copy is posted in the niche at the right hand end of the layout for the benefit of exhibition visitors.
New Sharon is the third of my Maine (USA) 2ft narrow gauge layouts; unlike Franklin and Megantic, New Sharon has been designed as a purely exhibition diorama style layout. I was inspired by a photo of a wooden trestle bridge on the proposed line linking the Sandy River Railway at Farmington with the sea at Wiscasset; sadly it was never opened despite nearly all the trackbed, bridges, and station buildings being completed and ready for track-laying. I have modelled the station at New Sharon on the assumption that the line did actually open, and consequently built up a healthy traffic in trunk hauls from the large Sandy River system down to the harbour for trans-shipment into schooners sailing up and down the New England coast. The trackplan is simple, with a passing loop and one siding that serves a potato warehouse; hopefully the scene will provide a pleasing backdrop for genuine Sandy River trains, drifting through the village with its New England clap-board buildings and then across the embankment on to the trestle bridge over the Sandy River.
Bob’s model of the bridge that inspired him to build the whole layout.
The control panel shows the track layout. The lower portion is the sceniced viewing area, and the storage yards are at the back of the layout. The end curves are around 36″ radius and are partially hidden from view by niches extending from the scenic areas.The layout is 25 feet long by nine feet wide and stands with the track level at 52″ above floor level. The main viewing area at the front is 18 feet long, consisting of three open fronted “C” shaped modules, each six feet long by 22″ deep and 15″ high. These modules contain all the scenic features permanently fixed, with an integral backscene and top cover with integral LED strip lighting. Each module has legs which fold up into the respective module floor for transportaion and storage. At either end of the sceniced section are niches, the left hand one is the control station fitted with the controls for all pointwork and route selection, and two DCC throttles. The train consists, their storage tracks, and running orders are displayed on the vertical backboard to this niche. The niche at the right hand end has the introduction (above) and a map of Maine showing the location of New Sharon and the line of the proposed Franklin, Somerset & Kennebec Counties Line which would have linked the SR&RL to the Wiscasset line and the sea port of Wiscasset.
The bridge crossing the Sandy River at New Sharon is at the right hand end of the sceniced area. Notice how well the entry point through the curved backscene is hidden by the foliage.
The middle section contains a typical Wiscasset style station and a warehouse. This picture shows the embankment style construction which has the benefit of allowing the Tortoise motors used for switch operation to be totally enclosed within the module structure, which have flush top and bottom surfaces for transportation and storage.
The left hand end section displays some typical Maine/New England icons such as a white painted clapboard church and and a white painted clapboard family farmhouse with front porch, but the space available precludes the usual attached barn structure.
The picture shows Richard “Momentum” Archer Jones at the front operating position favoured by Bob so that he can talk to the public at exhibitions and also allow them to operate the layout.
A view of the layout control station situated in the left hand niche, showing the route selector panel, the two DCC throttles and the list of trains and train operating order on the back.
Trains for New Sharon
Roads 1-5 « Roads 6-10 »
1« Loco #7, 5 WW&F lumber flats, Mogodon caboose.
2« Loco #22, SRRL boxcar 94, flat 359, stockcar 491, pulpwood rack 357, caboose 556.
3« Loco #18, Brown boxcar 11, gondola 437, grey boxcar 63 pulpwood rack 373, caboose 32.
4« Loco #2, 5 EBT hoppers, short bobber caboose.
5« Loco #123, Combine 14, excursion car 20, baggage car 4, baggage/postal car 6.
6» Loco #23, Boxcars 84 and Bridgton un-numbered, gondola 30, tank car, stockcar 490, caboose SR #1.
7» Loco #10, Combine 6, passenger car 5, baggage/postal 7.
8» Loco #12, SRRL boxcars 52 and106, gondola 31, white boxcar 5, work caboose.
9» Loco #9, Grey boxcars 26 and 48, pulpwood racks 215 and 238, flat 325, caboose #3.
10» Loco #24, Bridgton boxcar 65, gondola 408, boxcar 155 pulpwood rack 420, caboose 301.
Spare Loco #8, loco #11, railcar #5, cream car 65, boxcar 75, boxcar 5, boxcar 125, pulpwood rack 213, Canaan Valley caboose 8.
Train order for New Sharon
Road 1 « « « « « « Loco #7
Road 6 Loco #23 » » » » » »
Road 2 « « « « « « Loco #22
Road 7 Loco #10 » » » » » »
Road 3 « « « « « « Loco #18
Road 8 Loco #12 » » » » » »
Road 4 « « « « « « Loco #2
Road 9 Loco #9 » » » » » »
Road 5 « « « « « « Loco #123
Road 10 Loco #24 » » » » » »
The right hand niche contains Bob’s introduction to the layout, explaining that the scale is quarter inch to the foot and the gauge is two feet (not commonly known or used in the UK) and presents a map of the location for the viewing public.
Bob has kindly provided a copy of the map shown in the niche.
A view of the storage sidings at the back of the layout with the crew adding the trains from their travelling cases seen on the table at the right. The trackwork on these sections is handbuilt in situ using code 75 flat bottomed nickel silver rail soldered to glass reinforced pcb ties.
Crew members are John Pearson middle left with Lee Egginton behind. Bob Harper is middle right with Dave Egginton mostly hidden behind.
A view of the yard, now loaded with trains and with the marker labels showing the limits of each siding in position. The layout is operated from the front left corner, approximately the same as the camera position, and the labels are very useful when operating single handed.
Dave Egginton watches closely as the first train departs from the storage yard.
The trains enter and leave the scenic section through small holes in the curved backdrop. This shot shows the construction of the scenic modules and the attachment of the framework supporting the backdrop and top.
Part of the scenic section can be seen through the small hole. The small entry and exit holes are fairly easy to disguise or obscure. Take a look at the pictures of the ends of the scenic sections to see if you can spot these holes.
Getting pictures of the trackwork on the scenic sections is pretty awkward, even with “privileged” access. Shooting though one of the entry holes is an option and the above picture gives a view of the hand built track using Karlgarin code 82/7 nickel silver rail spiked to Mount Albert On2 sugar pine wooden ties with Micro Engineering small spikes.
Editors note: the Karlgarin rail used on the layout is a specially drawn rail in high nickel nickel silver with proportions to suit O scale narrow gauge use. Compared to standard US code 83 rails produced for HO track, it has a wider base flange and a wider rail head.
A closer view of the scenic section
The stone farmhouse across the Sandy River.
The boat on the Sandy River.
Train number 5 pulled by SR&RL #23 crosses the bridge at New Sharon.
Train number 5 approaches the farm supply warehouse at New Sharon.
SR&RL #23 eases Train number 5 to a gentle stop outside the station at New Sharon.
Beyond the station is a typical New England white painted clapboard family farmhouse with a front porch.
Opposite the farmhouse across the lane is another typical New England white painted clapboard structure – a church.
Transportation and erection of the layout
The storage, transportation, erection and maintenance of a layout such as New Sharon are major issues particularly when the home base does not have sufficient space to erect the layout and when the layout has not been erected or run for a period of time such as has happened in the UK, when Covid 19 restrictions have shut down the model railway exhibition circuit/circus for the last 18 months or so.
New Sharon has a booking to attend the UK 7mm NGA Exhibition in mid October at Burton-on-Trent. In the following sequence of pictures, we show the “behind the scenes” operation to prepare the layout for its return to the UK Exhibition Circus.
It started in early July at a US running session of the North Wales and West Cheshire O gauge groups meet in the Village Hall at Llanbedr, in North Wales. Bob (who is an occasional visitor to the American running days) turned up, as a visitor, to erect and test the storage yard sections of New Sharon in the restricted space left after the groups layout had been assembled in the middle of the room.;-
Terry Smith’s “train in a bag” in the foreground circulating on the groups sectional layout with Bob in the background with the New Sharon boards behind him, taking a break from trying to track some operation problems.
When I chatted to him, he said that he really needed to erect the whole layout to check the operation. We discussed various options, and I suggested that he looked into hiring the hall privately (the charges are very reasonable) and inviting local O gauge American narrow gauge and other specialist enthusiasts to attend to help defray the hall hire……..and in late August that event took place, followed by another in early October at which the pictures were taken.
The Llanbedr Village Hall is not particularly big, but the space looks big when empty. In this picture the New Sharon curves have been unloaded and laid in place.
New Sharon is stored and travels to venues in a trailer. In this view, the top shelf of the trailer has been unloaded with the scenic sections yet to be unloaded.
Bob Harper and John Pearson unloading the left hand scenic section which contains the bridge. This view shows the outline of the curved backscene which is continuous with no corners.
Bob and John bringing in the last scenic section and placing in approximate position.
Dave Egginton did a really useful job of ridding the scenic sections of spiders and other detritus acquired during the long storage, watched by Lee Egginton.
Meanwhile Bob and John have been busy in the background setting up the yard sections. Note that the first section has two sets of legs and can stand on its own, whereas the other two sections only have one set of legs each and must be attached to the first section to be stable.
A closer look at the underside of the left hand scenic section which has two sets of legs and can stand on its own. Note how neatly the legs store.
The legs were extended while the section was on its back, and the section has been lifted and rotated into position with Dave Egginton helping.
John Pearson assists Bob in offering up the second scenic section (on one set of legs only) to the first section, while the third scenic section lies in the background, legs extended to be assembled next.
Voila! the layout is now assembled. Bob is adding a small G cramp to the top of the fascia joint to provide additional stiffness.
Supporting (some non Maine On2 – continue at your peril) activities in August
Richard (realistic operation) Archer Jones playing with his newly acquired DCC fitted Lionel breakdown crane was among the invitee’s with special interest’s. Note the legs supporting the New Sharon end curve top right.
John Pearson, seen here in the blue shirt supervising Lee Egginton, was a major provider of support activities in August, bringing facilities to run standard gauge and On3 narrow gauge on DCC. Also demonstrating the Proto Throttle for DCC diesels, Protocraft and Kadee couplers and the operating possibilites of a Lance Mindheim style single turnout layout assembled from Atlas track on the table top. Note the Uintah 2-6-6-2 tank engine disappearing bottom left.
On the table along the far end wall Terry Smith provided running facilities for On2 and On3 under DC, Gaugemaster DC Momentum and PFM Sound System controllers. The 5 chime whistle with maximum reverb was a popular (and frequent) request as the system was fitted with a decent extension speaker. Jason Dickie had a lot of fun running the Maine On2 sound fitted loco’s and playing with the Sound System controls to adjust the sounds.
Jason arrived with a car boot full of goodies for sale and did a steady business. Terry acquired additional freight cars so now he has a longer train in two bags – and it looks better.
Terry also demonstarted the hill climbing and run back under gravity capabilities of his kit built On3 Kemtron Shay, which was built some 45 years ago when he and Jason were both members of the Bucks County Model Railroaders. Terry notes that it was Jason’s comments about the Maine Two Footers during the refreshment breaks at that group that alerted him to their charm.