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Tim Garland’s Seaboard Central layout



This month I had the opportunity to visit Tim Garland and see his new Seaboard Central layout. Tim recently moved, and is building a new and bigger version of the Seaboard Central that was featured in the June 2023 issue of Model Railroader magazine. His new layout will eventually fill most of his large basement, but he is working on one section at a time, building and adding scenery to each section as he finishes it. This is the TOMA (The One Module Approach) method of building a layout touted by Joe Fugate in MRH. As Tim mentioned to me, it allows him to get sections done, hold operating sessions, and take his time building the rest of the layout. As I see it, Tim’s layout will take several years to build to completion, so this is a great way to build a large layout. By breaking up the construction it keeps you motivated to keep working on the layout instead of being overwhelmed with each task. Many times model railroaders are in a hurry to get everything finished. Model railroading is a journey, not a quick trip, so slow down and enjoy the process of each step of construction.


The ADM switcher has just set out out a DDG covered hopper at the facility.


As grain cars are unloaded they are shoved through the facility to the end of the sidings.


My friend Brandon accompanied me on my visit to Tim’s layout. After getting tour of the layout we began an ops session. I worked the industry switcher job at the ADM facility. The task was to sort loaded cars to the unloading spots under the shed roof, and then move the cars as each was unloaded. Each car had to be positioned at the unloading spot for 2-3 minutes to simulate unloading, and then the next car shoved into position. Once I had a cut of unloaded grain cars they were moved and swapped with loaded cars from the storage yard. Inbound loaded cars are stored on three sidings that run along the outside of the unloading shed. Tim also stated I had to pull and spot Dried Distillers Grain (DDG) covered hopper cars on track 1 inside the shed after four grain cars were unloaded and new car was to be spotted. The goal at the end of my shift was to have two cuts each containing four empty grain hopper cars and one loaded DDG covered hopper car on two tracks in the yard for the local to pick up. It was a fun switch job in a nice compact space. This one section of Tim’s layout could be an entire layout for someone if they don’t have a lot of space for a layout.


Brandon and Tim work the yard job using the ProtoThrottle.


While I was switching the ADM facility, Tim and Brandon were sorting cars in the yard in the next room. They arranged the cars so that it would be easier to work the ADM facility later in the ops session. Working long cuts of cars added some challenges to the ops session. By using drive hold on the ProtoThrottle, Brandon was able to notch up while keeping the speed slow, simulating an engine working hard to get the cars moving.


The Seaboard Central yard office where the crews begin and end their day. Note the mud puddles in the gravel parking lot.

After both switch jobs were completed, Brandon and I teamed up to work the local that switched a cement facility and then ADM. When we worked the ADM facility Brandon remained the room where the locomotive was, while I was on the other side of a wall at the industry. This added another level of prototypical operations as I had to call out the moves and car lengths to a coupling as Brandon could not see the end of the train. This was great fun and simulated the radio transmission between crew members just like a local switch crew has to do. The local job also has to switch the tank cars at the ethanol rack, which added a little more work for us with pulls and re-spots. Once we had the ADM facility switched, we returned the cars to the yard and set the locomotives out at the yard office.


If you would like to see more about Tim’s layout check out his YouTube channel;


Overall the entire ops session lasted about 1.5 hours and everyone had a great time. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the layout comes out. Tim has done an incredible job with designing and building his layout. I hope to be back soon and can’t wait to operate on his layout again.


Until next time, stay safe and keep model railroading.

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