Various strands of thought combined to make the concept that has ended up as Laramie Engine Terminal:
- ‘Small is beautiful’. Having built a large main line exhibition layout (Blea Moor, 4mm/ft, 16.5mm gauge, Settle & Carlisle main line in the late 1950s approx 30ft x 10ft) that had featured over the years at most of the major model railway exhibitions in the UK, I was keen to built something that was smaller and more manageable and didn’t involve endless trips to van hire depots!
- ‘Less is more’. When designing a layout there is a strong temptation to overcomplicate – to fill every last corner with detail. This doesn’t necessarily result in a better layout, just one that looks crowded. Blea Moor stuck to the principle that less can often be more – a length of double track main line crossing a stretch of northern England moorland with a couple of loops and a small group of buildings – and I think it worked!
- ‘Build something different’. There are many essentially similar layouts on the exhibition circuit (the Great Western branchline being the most often repeated) – wouldn’t it be better to do something different?
- ‘Build something in a larger scale’. For many years I had wanted to build a layout in O-gauge and have a considerable collection of kit and scratchbuilt stock in Scaleseven (the UK equivalent to P-48) but the designs for layouts always end up huge. The up side of this scale is that O-gauge models of locomotives etc. are a beautiful size both in terms of their shear mass (heft) and the level of detail that can be included but a layout to run them on almost inevitably is also going to be big! Essentially this comes down to train length: even a short branchline train in 7mm is going to be getting on for 6ft long – it needs to come from somewhere (fiddle yard/staging), have a stage to run across (the actual layout) and then have somewhere to go to (more fiddle yard/staging). As I and others have found, with the best will in the world any design for a 7mm layout can soon reach 30ft long! Many have combined solving this problem with a love of motive power and built models of engine sheds/motive power depots. Then the train length is 1 loco and the total layout length suddenly becomes much more manageable.
- But how to combine a motive power depot scene (of which there are many model examples) with my desire to build ‘something different’?
- Enter Laramie, the Union Pacific and the Big Boy (see origins page for an account of where this idea came from)
- Initial thoughts of modelling the engine terminal in HO were soon overtaken by the combining of all the thoughts above to produce: why not do it in O-scale?