April 1, 2012

The guys over at Modutrak are hard at work on their latest prototype scene and offered to provide a little background information to Model:160.

While Modutrak has had a pair of endloop return modules since their first show, they have always remained bare plywood and haven’t been sceniced to model a specific location as the rest of the modules do.  Well, that is changing now as they finally located the perfect Milwaukee Road inspired scene to fit in with the rest of the layout – Tunnel City, WI!

Tunnel City was the first tunnel westbound on the Milwaukee Road’s Milwaukee to the Seattle mainline.  Sparking a small settlement, Tunnel City was just west of Tomah in west-central Wisconsin.  The C&NW also had a mainline through town, and their own tunnel for awhile.  But when the C&NW’s tunnel collapsed, the two mainlines were joined and both railroads ran through the one tunnel.  Check out this arial photo showing the old C&NW alignment and the connection to the Milwaukee Road:

With a little modeler’s license, the Modutrak end return loops can incorporate two tunnel portals as seen at Tunnel City.  They will just both be active mainlines with the loop occurring within the hill itself.  Bill Denton quickly threw some foam scraps together to see how it would all lay out:

While that would have created a neat scene, the guys were starting to grumble that it would really be a lot of work.  There’s a lot of foam to carve, and the static-foam-dust mess that comes with it.  Then there would be two portals to model.  And trees, ugh, think of all the trees it would need! 

But that’s where our friends at Life-Like came through.  Life-Like used their beaded foam cooler technology to create the perfect N scale model of Tunnel City.  This outstanding model incorporates two concrete tunnel portals, the entire mountain, and realistic colors to depict not only trees but the underlying rock and snow capped peaks that any ideal mountain should include.

Straight out of the box this tunnel is ready to impress. So it was dropped onto the end loop and Modutrak was off and running.

And here’s a short video capturing the action as a Milwaukee Road freight train emerges from the tunnel: