our youngest daughter, Norma (nearly 11 years old), left after school on
October 7, 1977 for a Girl Scout camping weekend, her pet gerbil had been
acting sickly, and she feared it might die in her absence. It did.
With the hope of “easing the pain” of the lost gerbil, I decided
that upon her return I would offer Norma - as a replacement for the departed
gerbil - an N-scale railroad layout, to be located in her former bedroom.
Upon her return from the camping trip on Sunday the 9th,
she was quite pleased with the railroad layout idea, and we immediately got
busy on the first steps for the project.
With a preliminary layout plan in hand, we acquired a 2x8 ft.
chipboard and started test-laying track sections, finally coming up with a
layout approximately the same, but slightly different than the first draft.
This is the thank-you poem which the Daughter, Norma, gave to the
Dad for building the D-N-D N-scale layout.
We bought enough Atlas brand sectional and flex-track at a nearby hobby
shop to construct the main line, and we had that operating well before
bed-time that evening, using a power pack and a small train which had been
given to me for Christmas nearly a decade previously as a curiosity when
N-scale started to appear in this country*.
On Monday (a “Columbus Day” work-school holiday), Norma and I worked
together on the project much of the day; Florence (“Tiny”) had been visiting
her mother in Ohio over the holiday weekend, and upon her return that
evening she didn't seem to be “too upset” with our accomplishment -
especially when we satisfied her that the layout was self-contained and
could be moved if necessary. From that point on, work continued almost daily
for some time as the D-N-D (“Dad 'N' Daughter”) - with the large 'N'
also denoting the size, ('N' Scale and Gauge) - Railroad “grew like
Below left: A steam locomotive with its two-car passenger
consist pulls into a Victorian depot (styled upon the old railroad
station at Point of Rocks, Md.) in a diorama on the D-N-D Division
of the NORMANED RAILROAD.
Above right: The first locomotive ever to turn a wheel on
any N-gauge track of the NORMANED RR (a model European shunting
engine by Arnold-Rapido) backs two Blatz Beer and a Carnation Milk
“billboard” refrigerator cars into the Falstaff Brewery's spur
track on the D-N-D Division's expanded line.
On October 22nd,
had we thought of it, we could have decided this family project should be
called the D-D-N-D (“Dad, Daughter 'N' Denny”).That day, Norma and I visited
my brother, Denny (her uncle), at his home in a nearby community, and as an
advance birthday present for her, I purchased from him (for a bargain total
of $30), a variety of N-scale structures, freight cars, accessories and
other components, including two working locomotives (one steam, one
diesel). These were things he had purchased new for a layout he was building
a few years ago, but had never used before he abandoned that effort.
This built-up scale model of the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Railway
Station, with a 2-4-0 steam locomotive on display, was a feature of
the D-N-D Division layout while in active operation at its first home.
It was retained as a “memory” piece when the D-N-D layout was moved to
its current location in 1997.
Diary and financial journal records record
purchases of equipment and supplies still being made through at least the
early months of 1978. Additional structures and accessories
(including a turntable and five-stall roundhouse) remained under
construction until the D-N-D was moved into the attic on August 20, 1978. It
was enjoyed in that venue at various times over the years by various
children, grandchildren and uninvited squirrels.
In August of 1997 - two decades after that project's birth - Dad and
Norma agreed that ownership and management of the D-N-D should be
transferred to my son (and her brother), Ned, and his sons, Marty and
abandoned shack (known to provide occasional shelter for hobos) sits
in lonely decay near a curve in the track on the D-N-D Division
With the aid of a friend of theirs and his pickup truck, the D-N-D was
transported in toto to the Ned Wright home in a neighboring suburb,
where the repaired, restored, enhanced and enlarged layout now is located,
and where Dad (Grandpa) -following a demonstration by the three new owners -
had the exquisite pleasure of again operating the N-scale trains on portions
of the former D-N-D on Thanksgiving Day of that year.
Later, on December 13, Dad, Ned, Marty and Ben spent an exciting day
at “The Great American Train Show” in a domed arena at the County
Fairgrounds, watching and admiring the numerous operating layouts in various
scales, as well as doing a bit of business with some of the dealers.
pre-formed Styrofoam “layout” was an N-scale precursor to the
D-N-D. Upon the move of the D-N-D Division to its current home,
this segment accompanied the larger layout and became an add-on
module in the new location.
More N Scale
The youth group at
the New York Museum of Transportation (NYMT) has begun construction of an
N Scale model of the former Rochester Subway System. Current progress is
examined by the president of the
in the right photo. At left, Norm (on the right) gets an update on the
project from Dick ("Lucky") Luchterhand, coordinator of model railroad
exhibits at the museum. (Obviously, neither Dick nor Norm qualify as "youth
Scale (1:160) trains operate on tracks with a gauge of Nine
millimeters (0.35 inch). Now one of the most popular of all scales,
N-gauge was developed in Great Britain c. 1960 as OOO (“treble-O”) in
a size approximately one-half of the popular
OO (“double-O”) / HO (“half-O”) gauge (19mm / 16.5mm) and scale
(1:76 / 1:87) - a linear scale of about two millimeters (0.08 inch) of
model to one foot of prototype. For a time, American manufacturers
followed their British counterparts, but eventually a slightly smaller
version - the present N Scale - was introduced by the German firm of
Arnold. Its Rapido line - made with a linear scale of .075 inch of
model to one foot of prototype and a scale ratio of 160:1 - earned
high praise from the model railway press, and the proprietary Rapido
standards were eventually adopted as the correct ones for N Gauge. The
original “Mini-Trains” ready-to-run set from which the “D-N-D” evolved
was an Arnold-Rapido product.