NASG Switching Layout

The NASG had a switching layout that could be found at many train shows throughout the country, and especially at the annual NASG Conventions. This page was created to capture as much information about this layout as we can gather.

What Is It?

The NASG switching layout was not a John Allen-inspired "Timesaver" layout. It was a switching layout where people could try their hand at switching industries modeled on the layout. This allowed children and adults to get a hands-on feel for what model railroading was about, to practice learning how to do switching operations, and to see what S-scale is about. The layout was also used to demonstrate the application of DCC to an S-scale layout (DCC was relatively new to S-scale in those days).

The NASG switching layout was designed to represent an industrial branch off of a railroad's mainline. The mainline was built to the NASG's S-MOD standards, so that these modules could be integrated into a larger club layout, if so desired. Such integration happened a few times, such as with the Southeastern Michigan S Gaugers' club layout at the 2007 NMRA convention/National Train Show.

Its Creation

Several people were involved with the creation of the NASG switching layout. Their known contributions are covered here.

John Foley started this project. He was heading up the NASG's Promotions committee at the time. He contacted several S-scale manufacturers for donations of product for use in the construction and operation of the layout. The modules' framework was donated by a vendor, and John put them together. The construction work was started in Dave Heine's basement in the winter of 2002/2003.

Jamie Bothwell constructed the interlocking tower, the "Bud Ice" icing plant, and "Angelo Bova Produce" structures. The latter two were Lehigh Valley Models kits ("Continental Canning", also found on the layout, was also a Lehigh Valley Models kit). The interlocking tower was an American Model Builders kit (part #78).

Dave Heine worked on the electrical system and provided the scenery materials. From what he remembers, the two mainline tracks were wired separately, but then combined before going into the DCC system. This allowed the whole layout, when it was set up in a stand-alone display, to be operated as one DCC district. The wires could be disconnected when the set of modules were to be connected to a larger setup (where the two mainlines are usually separate DCC districts). The Wangrow System 1 DCC system was donated by Don Wangrow along with two decoders. An S-Helper Services switcher was donated by Don Thompson, and Dave installed one of the DCC decoders into the engine.

Bert Mahr helped during the construction phase, as did Fred Rouse. The modules were moved to Fred's work shop, so that several guys could work on it during the daytime hours, in an effort to speed up the construction phase. Donated freight car kits were also constructed during this period.

Its Journeys

The photo below is from the front cover photo of the October 2003 NASG Dispatch showing the layout and some of its original builders (l-to-r) Dave Heine, Fred Rouse, Jamie Bothwell, and John Foley. The 2003 NASG Convention in Oconomowoc, WI was the first public showing of this traveling layout. There is no additional information or photos of this layout in that Dispatch issue itself.

After the initial showing, John Foley took over management of the layout, and replaced the DCC system with one from MRC.

At some point the original modules were rebuilt, but the same general track plan was preserved.

Alan Evans took over the management of the modules, and personally took it to many train shows. He was always there to help guide the show's attendees how to operate the layout, and offer suggestions if one got "stuck". Jerry Poniatowski shares with us photos he took of the switching layout at the 2010 Spring Spree. Alan is the one in the center wearing the blue cap. Seeing that the layout has no greenery applied, this might be an early photo of the rebuilt version.

The photo below was taken by Peter Vanvliet at the 2013 NASG Convention, showing Alan supervising the little boy operating the switching engine. Several onlookers were video-recording the action.

When Alan retired in 2017, he took the layout to Des Plaines Hobbies, where it has been prominently displayed in the store's window.

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