David Trussell, designer of the Greeley Freight Station Museum believes it’s very important to have exciting visual elements when running something for the public. One example of this is the forest fire scene, which is extremely popular because the public gets a chance to initiate it by pushing the button. This feature is something that people can remember and come back to when they bring their friends and relatives.
Darrell Ellis demonstrates and describes this feature, as he spends most of his time underneath the layout. As mentioned, one of the interesting features of the layout is the forest fire, and for forest fire there has to be smoke. For this, they use a smoke unit from a number one gauge locomotive that they have built in a special little reservoir and tray for mounting for the fire simulation.
They use LED fire simulation lights from Evans Design for control of the entire system and use a basic stamp module made by Parallax Inc. This does all the timing, all the control, and even counts the number of times the fire has been activated. Since they have to mount smoking units somewhere where they can be easily refilled, they choose to add a shelf that can be pulled out and refilled, and then put back in.
The smoke goes up to the chimneys to the points in the layout where the smoke comes out. They had to use an aquarium air pump as an air supply to continuously pump air through these chimneys to get them to draft properly, as they did have a problem with the smoke not being hot enough to naturally draft.
For more videos like this, watch more from Allen Keller’s Great Model Railroad series in the Model Railroad Academy archives.