This site is dedicated to my model railroad, the HO scale Virginia Midland Railroad. This layout comprises a 12X9 room with two levels. The upper level is complete and the lower level scenery has just begun.

I do a handful of train shows in the Virginia/Maryland region with Makin Tracks.
I also can help you find that freight car/locomotive or other hard to find item.

Email: virginiamidlandshops@gmail.com
You tube videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/Virginiamidlandrr/

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Back dating the layout?

Well, not much time on the layout as usual but still doing some model railroading things like shows and a RPM meet.  The main thing I have been contemplating is a possible back date of the layout.  How far you may ask?  I'm thinking the mid 1980's.  I'm currently in the early 1990's.    Why would you backdate it?  That is the magical question isn't it?  One reason is to possibly get older cars on the layout. Another is to get some older locomotives on the layout.  I've grown on F units in the last year and would like to still have them living out their last days on the layout.  A good friend of mine is a F unit fanatic.  That doesn't help either.  I also want to incorporate a few of the Kadee PS-1 50' boxcars too.  I think it is a great transitional time in railroading.  I have even been "floating" around a way to add a car float to the layout!

What's has to possibly change?

The track work is fine for this change.  The industries would have to be examined but I think most are fine.    I'll have to look at some of the freight cars that might be too new for the era.  Of course, I'll have to buy a few new cars like the PS-1 50 footers but when did 40' boxcars quit showing up in the 1980's?  Vehicles seem to me like one of the biggest time setters on the layout.  I'll have to look at each and figure out which can stay and which will need to be sold.  Vehicles for the 1980's are already a black hole.  Not much is out there.  Locomotives will also have to be looked at.  Most of my power is older but a 1984 short line would not have a SD40-2.  Still would have a lot of 1st generation Alco's and EMD's.  That fine with me!  This would let me incorporate the F units on to the layout.  A RS-3 in VMID paint would be a nice touch.  My GP10 still would be OK on the layout.

This is a easy attainable change for the layout.  Not a whole lot of work.  But is it worth it?  I don't know yet.  More research is need and I'll talk to a few other people about it.  But its definitely an easy change to do!  Let me know what you think in the comments!
How do you not like the many different paint schemes of F units?  Possible paint scheme of the Virginia Midland?


  1. Shannon, why stop at the mid 1980's???? If you want F's and RS-3's, get back in the mid 1970's when these units were just hanging on by a thread but still doing honest work!!! I too love F units (probably my favorite first generation diesel) and early ALCO's are hard to beat as well. Of course, I know you are pretty heavily invested already in the 1990's so it might take a bit more purging to get back 20 or so years, but man the possibilities!!! Not what you want to hear probably, but food for thought. Back date man, full speed ahead.

  2. I have to agree with Mike G on this one. I would think back dating to the mid-1970s wold be a better option than mid-80s. T think the prevalence of the older first gen units would be higher, and 40 foot cars would also be more common at that point. I think 50 foot cars were pretty much the norm in the mid-80s so shorter cars, while the made an appearance at times, were FAR less common by then. I also agree that the look of road vehicles can really set the time period. I for one couldn't tell you the difference between a 50' car and a 40' car most times unless couple together, and types are lost on me. Building types set the era too, and depending on the timeframe they can vary a lot. I say go for it no matter what you choose. NO matter what you're modeling and that's what's important.

  3. The 80's were an interesting time in railroading, as were all eras with their distinct changes.
    My experience with that time was in New England, whose railroads had particular characteristics of their own.
    Shortlines were well established: some thriving, some declining. The mixture of rolling stock was amazing. Some boxcars still showed up with roofwalks. 40' boxcars carried bagged grain for many feed dealers. Occasionally friction bearing trucks would roll by. The variety of locomotive types should please most folks.
    Bottom line: Go for what you want it to be. After all , modeling should please the individual making the effort !
    Some folks will change eras over certain time periods- Not my cup of tea, but certainly an option.

  4. I think changing to the 80's or even mid to late 70's would be a great idea. I too love F units, first generation EMD and Alcos. 40 foot boxcars could still be seen until the early to mid 80's. Cabooses too! You would be able to include some cool fallen flag freight cars as well.

  5. Definitely do it! My Alabama, Georgia and Gulf is set in the mid 80s and I love being able to run ancient wood racks, stump gons, converted chip hoopers, 40 foot boxes right along with more modern boxes, center beams, etc.That and Alcos, caboose, patched RI equipment!