Friday, July 1, 2016

Navy Train Layouts: Track Plans for O27

Navy Train Layouts for O27

I was thinking of military trains and small layouts. Many train makers have produced Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force trains. Lionel and Marx made them in O and O27. American Flyer had a few military type cars in S gauge, and Model Power made an HO Army Train.

As an Army veteran, my first thoughts naturally go to the Army type trains made by Lionel, Marx and Model Power. Marx made olive-drab military trains in both tin-litho and plastic. Many of these are expensive thanks to the collectors.

When looking for inspiration for a military layout, inspiration was almost in the neighborhood. Earle Naval Ammunition Depot is a few miles from here in Colt’s Neck, NJ.  Ar least, that is the main base. Earle also has a smaller installation with a large pier near Leonardo, NJ, on the Bayshore. The pier is used to load military ordnance to ships. It is connected to the main base by a private rail line and a private road called Normandy Road.  The base and the pier are about 15 miles apart.

Making a full scale layout would require 900 feet for 1/87 HO, 1650 for 1/48 O and 1237.5 for 1/64 O27 and S.

I like to design layouts for small spaces. The Earle Ammunition Depot gave me an idea of how to make an interesting O27 layout. It revolves around the concept of a facility at each end.  The loop-to-loop design allows for continuous running and a point-to-point operation.

Our first railway is a simple 3 by 8 foot dogbone type with a pier on one side. Each loop also has its own siding. The area between the loops is where I diverge most from the prototype. Earle’s railway runs through woods and open spaces and past small towns. Our model has two bridges over a small inlet. Bridges over water help contribute to the nautical theme.

The next two are a 6 by 6 by 3 and a n 8 by 6 by 3. They are meant to fit in a corner. Two have the bridges.

Finally there is a 6 by 6 by 3.  It has neither bridges nor pier, but they could easily be added.

These simple track plans allow plenty of action in a limited space. They are ideal for smaller locomotives and rolling stock. Marx train enthusiasts have a choice. on one hand, each layout would do well with tinplate and the 6 and 7 inch tin litho cars. Scale fans could use most of the plastic and tin scale cars. Most of the tin steamers would be fine, as would the 400 and 490. and the diecast 999. For diesel, the 70 tonner and S1 are Ideal.

Those using Lionel type trains might consider the old O27 trains, the smaller K-Line O27 (recasts of Marx) and Industrial Rail cars. K-Line and RMT’s version of the Marx S3 switcher would be ideal. Both the k-Line and Lionel O27 Alcos and the O27 Boxcab would also be good choices.


Making a Navy train ought not be too difficult. One can find cheap cars at shows. The cars will need some work, such as removing rust and general repair and repainting. The Navy paints a lot of its vehicles Battleship Gray. Some of their switchers were painted Engineer Yellow. You can find photos of Navy trains online

Lionel made several Navy and Coast Guard trains.

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