Building a massive HO layout like Ray and Renee Grosser’s Soo Line that is designed solely for display at a model train show calls for a lot of creative planning before the first tie is laid.
Watch as the couple describes how it put as much planning into designing a layout that could be easily packed up for transport as it did in the design of the track plan.
Durability was the name of the game, and substructure was built for setting up (one and half hours) and breaking down (one hour) at shows. With the help of two out-of-town friends, the Grossers can quickly prepare the layout for transport in a trailer, as it was totally designed with that consideration in mind. Nuts, bolts, ¾” dowels and wheels help guide the folding and stacking of the layout on an eight-foot cart for rolling up a ramp into the trailer. Fragile parts and larger structures are safely secured in their large trunks, each carefully identified for easy set up at model train shows.
Ray uses Sculptamold over styrofoam because of its superior strength but lightweight features. Still, the two sectional parts of the Waite Park scene is a 2-man job to lift, roll and pack away.
Ray tells Allen Keller that building and operating his layout is a way of keeping alive the memories of his father who worked for the railroad for four decades, and when he travels and displays at Soo Line conventions he often meets members who remember his family.
Their Soo Line layout runs on a Digitrax DCC system, of which Ray has nothing but praise. He’s begun installing sound decoders in some of his locomotives, and he’s extremely pleased with the added dimension sounds brings to the experience especially when displaying at model train shows.