Portability, Inspiration & Design of the Soo Line

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A layout as large as 34′ x 18′ that is portable enough to display at model train shows is fairly unique in model railroading, so Allen asked the Grossers from what did they draw their inspiration for the portability and design of their massive Soo Line pike? They visited the Midwest Valley Modelers Club in St. Louis years ago and were impressed by the level of detail, so they borrowed some ideas but improved on others, such as leg supports and ease of construction. While their layout is heavier, it stands up to the wear and tear of being transported to and from shows in a trailer. Of course, they couldn’t transport it alone; they enlist the support of good friends who come from as far away as St. Louis and Memphis to help them set up at shows.

The Grossers tell Allen of their enjoyment in meeting like-minded railroad aficionados at model train shows, as well as their fun of building the sectional layout. In fact, little remains of the 24′ x 8′ layout that Allen visited at the NMRA National Convention in Atlanta in 1995. The Grossers went back to the drawing board and designed end modules which allowed them to introduce broader curves, and they reduced 3% grades to less than 1% – more fitting of a granger railroad in Minnesota.

Renee provided Ray’s first HO scale model train when he retired from farming, was recovering from a stroke and hip replacement and needed a hobby! Ray immediately built a layout on which she has modeled her childhood street and other familiar railroad structures. The layout has grown from there to accommodate Renee’s love of structures-building. She draws from a deep depth of knowledge – her childhood home was located across from the Great Northern car shops in Waite Park, MN, and both her father and grandfather worked for the railroad for more than four decades. For her, it’s like creating the past and visiting cherished memories but with the benefits of being in the future!

Tags: Allen Keller, Layout Planning, Model Train Shows, Premium Videos

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