California Dreaming

Glacier Park Models SP 2-6-0 in 1:48: A perfect locomotive for an achievable layout in the King of Scales.

I’ve been to California a few times – mostly for hobby-related events but also for work – and it’s always been a great experience. I’ve often thought it would be a great subject for a layout, too.

California is baked into the hobby consciousness. At least, it is for me.

When I was an impressionable lad, many of the desirable hobby products came out of California. I didn’t realize it at the time, but California-based hobby manufacturers – which were major influences on just about everybody’s layout at the time – often offered models, kits, and materials based on what they knew. For example, many Campbell Scale Models and Suydam structure kits were inspired by California prototypes. And on my first trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, I realized that the hills, grass, and bushes were what Woodland Scenics landscaping supplies were designed to reproduce in miniature.

California-based modellers were also highly influential. These include pioneers like John Allen and Cliff Grandt, but also latter-day modellers such as Jack Burgess and the members of the La Mesa Model Railroad Club at Balboa Park. There’s an incredibly active, incredibly innovative critical mass of hobbyists in The Golden State – and I’m fortunate to call some of them friends.

For a brief time after modelling the 24″ gauge railroads of Maine, I considered building an O scale layout based on the Southern Pacific in California. I acquired a fair bit of equipment for it, plus structure kits and other goodies. And because I enjoy electric railroading, I also picked up some models of Sacramento Northern equipment. But I always had trouble trying to squeeze 1:48 into the layout space I had at the time.

That’s not a bad thing because eventually I shelved the SP California plans and looked for another, more achievable subject. The result was Port Rowan in 1:64. (As an aside, my explorations also influenced my good friend Pierre Oliver to switch focus to the SP Clovis Branch in HO scale, and he’s doing a terrific job of modelling it.)

But times change. My layout space has changed. It’s much larger than it used to be. Is this the time to scratch the Proto:48 itch?

SP 0-6-0 1294 from Glacier Park Models
Southern Pacific caboose in 1:48

I continue to work away on the start of an S scale layout based on the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway – and I continue to build models for the Edwardian era Great Western Railway in 7mm scale. But since I also have an SP-in-California-in-O-Scale Layout-In-A-Box, I should probably explore that possibility too.

As I share thoughts on this, I’ll do so under the California Dreaming in Proto:48 category. Enjoy if you visit!

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