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Keith Lyons
Northern Pacific Tacoma Division
in N Scale

My layout is inspired by the Northern Pacific Tacoma Division centered in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. I had the opportunity to add a second floor onto a large addition to our house and the design ideas for the railroad came fast and furious. My concept was to have a two-level operation that would add more mileage through larger scenes to capture more of the feel of what I love about the Pacific Northwest. The upper level was intended to have very little switching (as it is up high enough to mandate standing on a step-stool for all but my tallest friends) and be operated and best viewed by standing back. This concept played well into the rest of the scheme as the majority of the switching is done on the main level and those operators must stand close so as to do the switching. This means both sets of operators are able to be out of the other’s way most of the time.

To bolster the concept I planned wide aisles of up to 4 feet wide where multiple people will need to stand and/or pass each other. This has been one of the best decisions I think I have made and encourage others to plan that way as well.

The layout is still under construction. The upper level is structurally complete and operationally functional. There are only a few areas where scenery still needs to be added and a couple where the scenery will be changed slightly. Many scenic details and buildings will still need to be added. Oh, and only a couple more thousand trees, but I’ll get to that in other articles.

The “Main” level is under construction and the main freight yard at “Auburn” is operational. There is a junction at Auburn that connects North-South mainlines to East-West mainlines. Those North-South lines are directed to hidden areas that connect to each other again under the main level as a staging yard (operational) with reversing loops at each end meaning a train going south can reappear again from the south going north. And vice-versa. And there is another junction still under construction that will become the former Seattle, Lake Shore, and Eastern line going up the east side of Lake Washington and up to the Canadian border at Sumas. This line will have most of the switching as it will contain Renton, Bellevue, Kirkland, Woodinville, Maltby, Snohomish (with a line going out to Everett), and up to Sumas.

The aforementioned hidden staging track level beneath the main level will continue as a shelf all the way around the layout. Several trains can be stored there for future appearance on the layout and it acts as a bridge line for Everett and Bothell/Kenmore.

I intend to dispatch the layout with the aid of JMRI control panels and signals.

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