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A little Maine in Michigan


shelves. The sections are constructed following a plan designed by Ian Rice, and each is a box made up ¼″ plywood with two-inch foam laid inside to pro- vide the base. Lighting is supplied by compact fluorescent bulbs mounted on a valance, and control is by Digitrax radio control throttles. One part of the plan was to build a five-inch wide shelf along the front edge of the layout. This has proved to be a great feature and provides a place for the crews to put their paperwork, cups and elbows. It also protects the control panels from accidental body contact and the layout itself from the need to put anything on it but the trains.


Scenery is not one my favorite parts of the hobby. Only about 50 percent of it is done, and it is said only the mills of the gods move slower. What is com- plete is meant to hopefully show early fall in upstate Maine. While I have done most of the work on the layout, I could not have gotten this far without the help of Al Bigelow and Thom Post. Thom has painted and weathered sev- eral of the Monson’s engines and other rolling stock, and Al is responsible for painting the backdrop that gives the railroad its depth. You can also see Al’s work on Bruce Chubb’s well-known HO scale Sunset Valley Railroad. What I really enjoy is operating the


layout. Operations center around the two slate mills and their local quarries. A little pulpwood, potatoes and general freight is thrown in to keep things in- teresting. During an operating session there are two Bangor & Aroostook mixed freights working through Mon- son Junction. Two other trains run on the Monson. One goes to the north end and works south making setouts and pickups, ending at Monson Junction. Interchange is with the BAR. The other job works just the opposite route, with


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The Monson’s operating crews have a clipboard which describes the work the train does at different locations; in this regard it acts as an employee’s timetable. Coal and water use are also built into the sessions. Timers indicate how much coal and water is being used and crews have to keep an eye on this during their runs. Locomotives need to have the water in their tanks replenished more often than getting coal added in the bunkers.


both usually meeting at Monson vil- lage. A maintenance-of-way crew is also run each session to some part of the railroad for track work. Each Monson crew has,what I call a


crew board. This clip board contains the basic operating rules for the railroad and two timers, one for water and the other for coal. Each crew must keep track of their water and coal consump- tion. If the amount falls too low an alarm sounds and everyone knows you have run out of something. This has led to one of the basic rules on the railroad: never pass up a water or coal stop. All this keeps three two-man crews com-


fortably busy for 2½ to 3 hours. While the railroad is operational, there are still plenty of projects to keep me busy for some time to come. Among these are completing some new build- ings. Both turntables need to be worked on following Irv Schultz’s treatment of his Atlas turntables on the St. Clair Northern, and, alas, I do need to make progress on scenery. The Monson will be open for NMRA members during Grand Rails 2012, the NMRA National Convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 29 through Au- gust 4. See www.gr2012.org for more information.


JUNE 2012


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