It's funny how things happen. You can be admiring a friend's layout; just minding your own business, when without warning, the mental die has been cast and you know that your layout is coming down as soon as you get home.

That's the situation I found myself in during the early part of 2005 when visiting Warner Clark's Nickel Plate inspired P48 layout (See the photo to the left). I finally made the decision to switch from HO Scale to O. I'd been toying with the idea for several years prior to that fateful visit by getting used to the differences in size and learning what was available in O Scale and P48.

Unlike many O Scalers, I didn't have any baggage about 3-Rail vs. scale or Standard O vs. P48. There was no question that P48 was the route I wanted to follow, since my last efforts in HO were with P87 standards. Nor did my modeling focus change. The Indiana and Whitewater theme would simply be super-sized to O Scale, letting me more thoroughly enjoy the aspects of the hobby that in- terest me the most.

This book covers the thinking process behind the choices I made in designing a small O Scale layout. It isn’t a nuts-and-bolts description of how I did things, instead it details how to distill the essential elements of a given prototype railroad and incorporate them into a satisfying model. As you’ll see I didn’t strictly adhere to a proto-replication approach, where one tries to duplicate a given scene to the last detail. Instead, I took bits and pieces from all over the line and combined them into a proto-freelanced layout - one inspired by a specific prototype with some freelanced elements - as opposed to a totally freelanced approach. This allows for a degree of design freedom that is quite valuable when working with the space constraints common in O Scale. I also hasten to add that while I choose a branchline operation, you can apply these ideas to any kind of prototype. I also choose to work in P48 for this layout. A finescale approach works wonderfully for a modest sized project like this one. Since there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of work to do on any one part of the layout’s construction, time and effort were lavished in places that wouldn’t be practical in a larger project. P48 modeling is also gaining in popularity. Modelers coming from other scales like HO will appreciate the craftsmanship that P48 allows. Additionally, the appearance of P48 wheels and trackwork is a real joy to behold, with the added bonus that the equipment operates as well as it looks.

Michael L. Cougill

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Copyright 2012 Michael L. Cougill