IF you want to do a model railroad that is a "freelance prototype" , there are a few things to consider.
great to do research on what type of ballast and signals was on the
right of way, but before you get down in the weeds (literally) there are
a few things to hash out first.
I see that you mention steam and
BN. What era do you plan on doing? If you are doing steam, is it going
to be regular service or some special rail fan excursion? I am doing
transitional era and trying to do it as close as I can get to the real
railroad, but I will fudge it a few years here and there in order to run
steam and keep the facilities (coal chutes, water tanks, ect)
Different RRs went diesel at different times, but pretty much between
1950 and 1960 will put you in the ballpark.Try to get your rolling stock
to match the time period you want, Paint schemes, running boards,( or
lack of ) types of caboose reflect the time period. If you are starting
out find a time period and try to stick with it, otherwise you have a
jumble of equipment that you spent money on, that you could use for
something better that pops up. BN had no steam.
You might want to do
some research on the railroads you mentioned, see if they have
historical societies that have data they could share. There are usually
people in those societies that model too. I have gotten information such
as track charts, that show what was used as ballast and when it was
changed. Mine was cinders/slag and later parts were gravel, and as it is
a coal route there would be coal and coal dust everywhere.
around you could see what kind of signals, or even if they used signals
at all. I know signals are gee whiz and cool on a model layout but can
get expensive very fast, and if they are really not
needed, the money could be used for engines and rolling stock.
more you dig around and do research on the real railroads, the more fun
it can be with your models. You dont have to be a rivet counter, but you
can run a pretty good little railroad just as good as the HO and N guys
GVSTATVS SIMILIS PVLLVS !
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