Rocky Mountain Pacific in Fn3

Rocky Mountain Pacific Logo-1

The Rocky Mountain Pacific is Bruce's Fn3 garden layout. Fn3 uses 45 mm (typical garden railroad) gauge track and a 1:20.3 scale ratio to model accurately 3 foot narrow gauge railroads.

The name is registered with the NMRA. It came from the idea of southwestern Colorado narrow-gauge railroads that were always short of cash and long on ideas. Everybody seemed to be planning on running to the coast or Mexico, when really they didn't have enough cash to get over the next hill!

The reporting marks for the Rocky Mountain Pacific are RMP. That can also stand for Real Money Pit.

This is being built in our back yard here in Goodyear AZ. It will use an NCE 10 amp radio DCC system.

Track plan

I finally found the software that will allow me to draw my track plan as I want it to be on my Apple Mac computers. I have it on my MacBook Pro, so that I can go out to the yard and measure and input the data directly, instead of running between the office and the back yard as I was doing previously. I also have it on my iMac in the office, so I can use the dual screens and increased resolution to enhance and label things.

The software is know as Railmodeler Pro and is available in the Apple App store.

Here is the first pass of the layout. I have NOT tried to be totally accurate, but to show the relative relationship of the various track elements. Click on the image for a larger view.

RMP Track Plan

The red track is the outer loop (mainline). The green track is the auto-reversing section, both a teardrop loop and a wye. The blue track is the inner loop (town)

As the structures and operations plans evolve, I’ll be posting revised versions of the track plan with more details.

Lots of wiring done

The good weather held - highs only in the 70s and a bit of rain one evening (actually, quite a bit - ½ inch). Thus, I was able to get all of the drops connected to the rails on the entire layout. There are a couple of sub-buses to install in the yard and a few drops left to solder to the bus in the inner loop.

Since I needed to re-lay the track to the depots (freight and passenger), I actually went ahead and graded it and leveled it.

Look for the information on how this wiring was done in my July 2015 column in Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine.

Back to wiring!

Well, last winter slipped away without getting any major work done. Yes, winter. Here in Arizona, I don’t work on my railroad during the late spring, summer or early fall.

This winter, I had plans to get the track work done. A bout with shingles in my leg torpedoed those plans and I’m just getting back to where I can work on it as the temps are rising.

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This week I got back to wiring the outer loop. Once that is done, I can level (right to left) and grade the track.


Back in September, I got an iPhone. I was playing with the panorama-photo mode of iOS8. Here is my photo of the layout at that point in time.

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Piles of dirt

Today, we had landscapers remove some of the rock and dirt that surrounded the flagstone walk around the north side of the layout. A new sand base was installed and the flagstones releveled. Then dark brown ¼- rock was brushed in around the flagstones. The resulting walkway looks great and will be an approximate color model for the layout. I plan to use the dark brown ¼- for ballast and a tan ¼ - for the general ground cover on the final layout.

In the photo, you can see the (gray) conduit with the DCC bus wires coming under the new walkway.

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During that time, I was sifting the dirt from the rocks in the mix that was removed. I’m using the ¾” rocks (Madison Gold color) as fill for the track support and then putting the dirt over it. When the track grades are all established. Then I’ll shim the track up ¾ inch with stakes and ballast it.

Wiring was started with the reversing loop all bused together and connected to a PSxAR auto-reverser. Wiring of the two districts and installation of PSx circuit breakers is next on the wiring list.

Into Construction season

Well, we are now out of the triple-digit temperatures and outside work can start again.

I cleaned the track and ran a few passes. 

Made some photos and video for my Model Railroad Hobbyist column - CLICK HERE TO READ IT.

I did some coupler work on cars and tuned up the C-16 for a You Tube video - CLICK HERE TO WATCH IT.

Next comes track wiring, followed by leveling and grading.

Evening View

I waited until twilight last evening to take these photos. No shadows to deal with. The first one is the overall view, similar to what I've been posting since track work began. The second one is the area of the relocated rock and relaid track. Leveling and grading continues, but a bit more slowly, as daytime temps are in the mid to upper 90s and we even broke 100 in late April. See the weather panel in the sidebar.

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Track Plan is complete

Today, two days of marathon track laying resulted in having all the track down.

The outer loop (out of this photo on the right) needs a bit of realignment after a large rock is slightly relocated. Locos that are 1:24 will fit through the curve, but 1:20.3 units will hit.

Now the tweaking, leveling and grading begins.

I also got a storage shed. It is currently full of gandy dancer materials with a few cars. Eventually, it will store the RMP rolling stock.

The RMP even had a revenue run with midgets (1:24 folks) running behind old #4, seen here in front of Big Springs Lake.

Two Loops functional

Today, I spent some time on the yard, engine service facility and a few other issues. I can now run two trains on DC on the two loops, they are isolated.

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Outer loop of track done

Started out to do a couple of hours of track work today.

As progress was becoming addictive, it stretched into 8+ hours. At the end, I was running on the outer loop!

Just some spurs and the reversing loop left to lay.

Then on to leveling and grading.

Copyright © Bruce F. Petrarca 2007 - 2015; All Rights Reserved