Monday, December 30, 2013

MN FreemoN at the RiverCentre

I am exhausted today. This weekend was the big Choo Choo Bob Train Show at the RiverCentre in Saint Paul. MN FreemoN made its largest layout to date, measuring in at 65' by 35'. I'll get a layout plan posted as soon as I can get it. My rough math puts our main line between 5 and 6 scale miles long.

I want to say it was awesome getting to meet those of you that frequent by blog this weekend. I think it really is the people that make this hobby fun, so thank you all for tracking me down. For those that didn't make it, I'm going to split this topic into a couple of posts. In this one I'll overview the layout we had, the other will be more Skally specific. MN FreemoN is not a "club" per say, we are a small group who build our modules to the FreemoN standard and then bring them together for shows like this.

Here is an overview shot of the layout. I'll start the tour on the module right in front of the camera. That is the coal loop, built by our youngest member, Joe B. It needs a little tuning, but our trains get around it.
Moving down the line we get to one of our anchor yards. Chris K. built Valley Park, based on the UP yard in Shakopee, MN. This yard is great for flat switching, building trains and having meets between trains. It also includes a small engine service are and a couple of industries to switch out.
A short train ride through the countryside brings us to University. Chris also owns this module set. This is the largest Wye on our layout. It also includes the large elevator on the left. This is a great representation of the popular railfanning location in N.E. Minneapolis. It also gives us the ability to have a branch line or just turn engines and trains as we did this weekend. The passing siding here is also a popular spot to plan meets.
Around the bend from University is Imperial Paper. Here there is a small passing siding and a couple of industries to switch out. Imperial Paper gives us plenty of business moving boxcars. As you can see we had a nice mix of freight and passenger service over the weekend. The passenger trains are always a hit with the younger model train fans who like to see things moving briskly down the main lines. The switching action seems to keep the attention of the operations minded model railroaders.
After Imperial Paper you come to my Hinckley, MN module. This weekend it was the junction onto the Skally Line (as it was built to be). I'll show more of the Skally pics in a later blog posting.
The corner brings us to Chris's Bender Grain module. This rural elevator supplies grain in small cuts to the large elevator at University, which in turn supplies wheat trains to the Skally Line.
South of Bender we roll past my old MN Transload module (now owned by Chad S.) an into Oakland California, where Peter K. is recreating (exactly to scale) Jack London Square in a 30+ foot module set. Like the Skally, this is a work in progress. Peter just finished hand laying some #12 crossovers for the ends of the large siding here. This double track section really helps keep traffic moving.
 Here is a shot of a skyway Peter just mocked up.
And here is a close-up of his signals and some of his building work. Each building is being CNC'd in styrene to to an accurate representation of the prototype.
After leaving Oakland, we pass Ted M.'s Beaver Lumber, one of the main lumber customers on the layout this weekend.
The final corner brings you into the Roseville Yard. This gi-normous yard is our other anchor and has 14 tracks of fun that let us hold trains up to (and over) 20 feet in length. Here you can see most of the MN FreemoN crew, well worn from a weekend of running trains. An hour after this picture was taken, the layout would be packed up and out of the RiverCentre.
This is a great bunch and I am glad they let me run with them. The layouts have certainly grown in the couple of years I've been hanging with the crew. If you didn't make it this week, parts of this layout will be on display in Eagan in March, hopefully we'll see you there!


  1. Great looking layout Karl. Surprised to see so much California modeled in Minnesota. Was that a Caltrain baby bullet I saw in Roseville yard ?

    We have our show this weekend, two Ntrak clubs and the local FreeMoN group so N will be well represented. It's in a place called Richmond at an old Ford factory is is not all that far from Oakland / Jack London Square.

    Regards and Happy New Year

  2. Brad, the Caltrain was tucked in there. Peter K. is a big fan of the SoCal rail scene. Thanks for checking it out!