Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Al's Fantastic Layout!!!!

Like all great living things, layouts tend to reflect the hands that created them. If you are lucky enough to be in the TCA, you can meet the great man that created this layout and also view his wonderful collection.

This is Al Merris' layout and part of his collection. He dedicates the bulk of his display space to McCoy gear. Al is the gentleman that put together the Steeple Cabs some years ago that many collectors still avidly look for today.

It's better if I let Al tell you about his wondeful layout and collection in his own words:

"I've included an overall shot of the layout that better explains the concept. I've got two standard gauge lines. The main line (the articulated is on it) climbs over itself and has 072 curves and the grade doesn't exceed 2%. It is point to point and the articulated can handle 8 cars uphill (an E-2 can pull 10).

The interurban line intertwines the main line and has steep grades and sharper curves, but the steeplecab can handle 5 cars with ease. I will also be running McCoy interurban and trailer sets on this line and hope to someday have operating catenary. Between the McCoy carousel and the lake on the upper level there is an interchange track between the two lines per prototype. The articulated was made from McCoy components (two little chief chassis) by my friend George Perry in Portland. George was a very good friend of the McCoys and is also responsible for the OWR&N artwork on the boxcars in the forground. This is my favorite McCoy car. The bottom steam engine was Bob Jr's rework of the venerable Chief Seattle. He felt that after 20 plus years it could use an upgrade. I think total production was 9 units. He also created a new look for the passenger cars to match the engine and they are stunning as well.

In the broadside shot you see an open space in the collection....the REA boxcar behind the steam engine normally lives there. In the first shot you'll notice a large rock behind the pilot of the articulated. That is a chunk of Mt St Helens which was delivered to me by USGS helicopter in the early 80's, still warm. In the overall shot you'll notice I have a "groove" around my layout with a loop of Lionel "O" so I can run those trains too. You'll also notice a loop of "G"gauge going around the edge of the ceiling soffit. I like all trains, manufacturers and gauges. I have restricted my shelving (600 ft of railrax) to McCoy exclusively and have about 30 items in storage that won't fit. "

Al is going to be showing off his layout and trains at an upcoming TCA Event. I will ask that you respect Al's privacy. If you have any questions feel free to post them and I will forward them on to him. He's a great guy and I am honored to have his contribution and interaction with the blog.


PS Click on the pictures to blow them up. This layout goes to show not everything needs to be toylike or prototypical to still be amazing (the ends of two extremes).

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