Sunday, September 10, 2017

Teeswater & Walkerton in HO Scale

I recently mentioned I was exploring a set of ideas for a small layout in a diminutive room that will eventually be available in my house. Among many options, I revisited a classic branchline terminal in Ontario called Teeswater which is well documented in a series of articles on Old Time Trains and in many printed books.

The main interest of Teeswater is it got everything you want in the steam era in a small surface area. Name any popular idiosyncracy of the "good old time" and you're bound to find it in that remote place. Let's dress a list:

-3-stall Roundhouse
-Coal bin with crane
-Bunk in a converted boxcar
-Wind mill to power a water pump
-Tool and speeder shed
-Enclosed water tower
-Stock pens
-Elevator & feed mill
-Team track
-Ice house
-Passenger depot and freight station under one roof

Now, even if I'm not fan of the "I want it all" mentality, such diversity in a realistic context is bound to interest many people.

While the layout could be built exactly to scale, the small putative room can't handle it, so for the sake of design I simply bent the track plan over the corner. Also, I decided to locate the roundhouse on the other side of the track. It saves space, looks better and is not a hindrance to operation. From a scenic perspective, the station would be well framed between the taller structures (elevator and creamery) hiding the wall and the lower stock pens and ice house. As for the roundhouse scene, it would have this "lost in the middle of nowhere" look that would make it a very neat backdrop.

Operation is all about mixed trains and traffic is small but diversified. I don't consider staging would be required but a length of track is provided and partially hidden by trees. This is where the train can emerge from the outside world and enter the terminal. I didn't look into details but timetables are available. Motive power would consist of CPR D10 4-6-0 which are available in brass and soon in plastic by Rapido.

Another great terminal would be Walkerton in the same style, era and type of location. While Walkerton is less crowded, it has the same basic features that makes it an interesting little prototype for small space (or even large space too). Given the engine facilities were located on the other side of Saugeen River, that could make a very neat layout made of two sections divided by a large and neat river scene with a three span long truss bridge.

In my case, I dropped the engine facilities and replaced it by a "hidden" manual turntable that can be used to reverse the locomotive or other cars (caboose, combine, etc.). On the other hand, I kept the bridge since it was used as the lead track to switch cars in the small yard and was located right by the first turnout. Take attention how the public road grade crossing would need special attention by the crew, adding another layer of interest and the possibility to use the whistle.

I've drawn the plan using commercial turnouts, but I firmly believe most of them should be handlaid to ensure smoother transitions and a continuous flow of the track.

As for myself, I believe both prototypes have their own merits. If I was building a larger layout based on the Bruce lines, I guess my choice would be to have Teeswater as my main terminal. On the other hand, I think Walkerton would be better choice in term of space, scenery and action for a shelf layout. Sure it is diminutive, but the scene is more attractive and less gimmicky. You will also remark a gradation between low structure and scenery at the front and larger and taller structure in the background. In my eyes, this can make a layout far more interesting to operate. And speaking of operation, working the small yard must be a real treat!


  1. Terrific plans! Thanks for sharing them, Matthieu. Cheers!
    - Trevor (Achievable Layouts blog)

    1. It's always a pleasure to revisit the Bruce lines. They are a gold mine and well worth sharing the results in term of layout planning.