Layout Standards - Most construction, electrical work, scenery, etc. has been done by the owner.

The layout was re-located in July of 2006 to a 28'x52' basement that has two alcoves, for over 1700 sq ft of room. This was the eight location for the original bench work and track work. And this is the largest space I have had. Additional sections are being constructed to "fill the gaps" that have been created in the existing layout.

While the benchwork standards have evolved from the beginning (1983), the current standards are:

     HO scale

     Sectional design - for ease in moving, see the leg assembly to right.

     standard sections are 6 ft long and 24" or 30" wide

     currently there are 44 sections totaling over 500 sq ft of bench work

     average layout height is 54", Mason City is at 50"

     backdrop is 24" Masonite painted light blue

     Clouds were painted by my wife using stencils from New London Enterprises.

     Terrain is painted black or brown using latex paint. The brown is mixed with white ceiling texture paint, which gives a nice texture to the foam.

     Current bench work construction is 2" extruded styrene foam (blue or pink board) on an open grid framework of 1x4's

     Older sections use traditional plywood/homasote sandwich on L-girder

     Current roadbed, where used, is 1/4" extruded styrene foam or Woodland Scenics new foam roadbed. I find the WS foam roadbed is quieter, but as it flexes I am concerned about derailments at my section joints. I need to experiment some more with the product. I suspect that ballast and glue will remove much of the flexing.



Track varies, I use a combination of handlaid code 70 track & turnouts or Micro Engineering code 70 Flex track & #6 turnouts. Shinohara code 70 #4 turnouts are used in the Marshalltown 8th street industrial area.

Staging & main Yards are mostly code 100 Atlas flex with Peco large turnouts (had the materials on hand from a former club layout).

Atlas code 83 flextrack and #6 turnouts were used in the newest additions to Albia.

All flex track is installed on the foam using latex caulk. I prefer brown caulk, which gives a nice color under the track. I lay a small bead of caulk, then spread it out, the thinner the better. Then lay the track in place, pressing into the wet caulk. The caulk begins to dry in minutes, yet is easy to peel up for realignments.

A NOTE OF CAUTION: I have discovered not all latex caulk is free of volatile ingredients. Where application of caulk was spread a little thick the track has sunk down into the foam, creating a rough leaning track work. This is prototypical for spurs and branches so in most areas I have not bothered to relay the track. But I have learned to read labels better and spread the caulk thinner.

Handlaid track is on homasote or Homabed. I handlay track using needle nose pliers as well as a KADEE spiker. I have also glued some hand laid track on the foam. It works, but I am not satisfied. I think I will use Homabed and traditional spikes for most future hand laying projects.


Control: DCC

I use Digital Command Control (DCC) which permits running multiply trains on the same track. My DCC system is - EasyDCC by CVP Products (Keith Guiterez). Most components are kits built by the owner.

Decoders are from Digitrax, NCE - North Coast Engineering, Lenz, and TCS - Train Control System

Currently there are seven tethered walk-around throttles, two stationary throttles on the base unit, and six CVP's radio throttles. The radio throttles are naturally the favorites with everyone.

Rolling Stock

Steam is slowly beginning to dominant the railroad as manufactures continue to produce nice running, affordable, engines that fill the needs of the IaC. 2-8-0's and 2-8-2s will be the dominant power, with 2-6-2s. 4-6-0s and 4-6-2s providing additional motive power. Nice quality 1st generation diesel are also prevalent, with Alco RS-1s, EMD FTs,F3s, F3's, E7s, and GE 44 tonners found on the layout. Over 40 locomotives are DCC decoder equipped.


Locomotives can be found from the following manufactures: Broadway Limited, Athearn Genesis, Lifelike-PK2000, Stewart, Bachman Spectrum, Atlas, Walther's, Model Die Casting, Mantua, as well as some early brass. A few odd ball items can be found on the shelves.


Rolling stock includes: scratchbuilt, Accurail, Lifelike, Walther's Train Miniatures, Athearn, Model Die Casting, Central Valley, AHM/Rivarossi, Lionel, LaBelle, Branchline, AMB and others. There are currently close to 500 cars on the layout. A stash of resin kits from Westerfield and Sunshine await building. This will upgrade the quality of rolling stock.



Structures are a mixture of scratchbuilt, kitbashes, wood craftsman kits, plus an assortment of the usual plastic and resin kits. Most have been built by the owner. Several are product reviews done for Railroad Model Craftsman. Some are NMRA Merit award models. A few buildings have been built by others. Many more structures are needed. Research is currently being done to collect information, photo’s, sketches, maps, etc help identify and place specific industries and structures. In many areas I have decided to use building flats for industrial areas to allow room for tracks and operations.