There are a number of people on the Internet who model the Rio Grande Southern. Those who would be happy to hear from you can be found below. Please do drop us a line.

R.G.S Modellers
Charlie BrownYesNoAtlanta U.S.A
Craig StewartYesNoU.S.A
Craig SymingtonYesNoOntario, Canada
Doug HitchcockYesNoKansas City, USA
Ernie ValentineYesNoU.S.A
Greg HileyYesNoSydney, New South Wales
Gregory PostaYesNoDallas Divide (CO) U.S.A.
Joe FussYesNoPensylvania U.S.A
John HumphreyYesYesPerth, West Australia
Josh LevineYesNoGeorgetown, (CO) U.S.A
Steve HarrisYesNoSan Diego U.S.A
Steven HaworthYesNoChicago U.S.A
Steve ZonayYesNoLiberty (SC) U.S.A
Ted WieseYesNoKirtland (OH) U.S.A

If you would like to be included in this list, then just let me know your details.

What's New

I've recently "removed" the HOn3 layout described below. In it's place will be a new RGS layout. This time though the layout will be in Sn3 rather than HOn3 and it will depict the turn-of-the-century era.

I've pretty much decided that I'm going to model the Dolores area, and maybe part of the timber line. See below for some pictures and info on progress so far.

My Model Railroad (as it used to be)


I live in Perth, West Australia, so modelling the Rio Grande Southern might seem a bit strange. Actually it is, but as many people have found out, once that narrow gauge bug bites you, you're hooked.

I constructed my HOn3 layout in a purpose built room in my backyard. It occupies approximately 20' x 22' of real estate. The walls of the room have been lined and a drop ceiling (complete with fluorescent lights) installed to reduce the effects of our summer sun, and light up the interior.

The layout represented the RGS from Placerville, through Vance Junction and Ophir and on to Lizard Head. The branch from Vance to Telluride is also included. (Please read the Brief History of the RGS to view the route map). The track plan is a linear design which uses hidden staging yards.

View of the track plan. (15K)


The railroad was built using 2" x 4" studwall style construction, with the typical L-Girder style of plywood sub-roadbed. No other material such as cork or homosote was used for a roadbed. The line went from 52" to 61" above the floor.

A backscene was constructed from masonite which went nearly all the way to the ceiling . This provided a very effective view block whilst still allowing space for airflow. A good friend, Rod Wyman then painted the backscene for me. He does a much better job than I could ever do.

Image of the backscene (33K)
The valley behind Vance Jct (45K)

The trackwork was a mixture of Shinohara turnouts and RailCraft code 70 flex track which when painted and ballasted is difficult to tell from hand-laid track. Turnouts are controlled by either Switchmaster slow-motion motors, or Caboose Industries N-Scale sprung ground throws.

The scenery was constructed using both a substructure of styrofoam (beadboard) and/or the traditional cardboard web. On top of all this goes a layer of plaster and rock castings for texture. A clay type kitty litter is used to represent the talus and gravel, with Woodland Scenics ground foam for the grass.

View of some scenery (37K)
Vance Jct Yards (42K)
Lizard Head under consruction (28K)

Evergreen trees are constructed using the "bottlebrush" method, whilst aspens are built using Harry Sages' techniques from Model Railroader Magazine. Water is created by painting the river surface, and covering with layer of gloss meduim.

Nearly all of my structures were scratchbuilt using plans from Mike Blazek, or from those published in magazines. They are all constructed using Evergreen styrene, Grandt Line details and Campbell's shingles. The only non-scratchbuilt item so far is a Durango Press water tank.

Image of Vance Jct Section House (45K)
Image of Vance Jct Coal Drops (44K)

Locomotives and Rolling Stock

All of my locomotives were brass imports, which were re-motored using Swiss made micro-motors and gearheads. This gave the locomotives a much smoother performance, and more importantly, a top speed of about 20 scale mph. It took my locomotives about a full minute to travel 10 feet flat out.

The majority of the rolling stock were kits from MRGS, RailLine, GrantLine and Precision Scale. Other items were kitbashed, and some, such as caboose 0400 were scratchbuilt.

Image of a locomotive #460 (35K)
Image of boxcar #3633 (26K)

Control and Operation

The layout was controlled using the Digitrax brand of command control system. This system is DCC compliant and provides excellent operation and features for a very affordable price.


Part of the layout was shown at the local model railroad exhibition (Australian for RR Shows). I displayed the Vance Junction yard area, with a "train length" turntable at each end for staging. The layout ran for eight hours a day, for three days for the public and was judged by other modellers during that time. The layout won three awards.

  • Best model of a railroad.
  • Best model railroad scenery.
  • Best presented stand / exhibit.

Photo of me with some of the awards in front of the layout. (54K)

During the show, Ian Chadwick (one of the guys who helped run the layout over the three days), took some very fine photos. Here they are.

#41 Departing Vance Junction (75K)
#41 at the Coal Drops (71K)
Overall shot of the scenery (83K)
#461 pulling into Vance Junction (76K)

My Current Sn3 Model Railroad


My new Sn3 layout will be a model of the Dolores area in the Sn3 (hopefully fairly accurate), with a freelanced timber line representing the Montezuma Lumber Company. All of this will be set in the "turn of the century" period so I can run those small locomotives with balloon stacks.

In order to test out some new skills for this layout (such as handlaying track) I thought I'd better start with the freelanced timeber line. That way any small mistakes might not be quite so noticable.


The railroad is built in lightweight sections to allow for future moves. Most sections are 18 inches to 2 feet wide, and between 6 and 10 feet long. They are constructed from a light frame of 2"x1" pine, covered with 4 inches of styrene foam. The sub-roadbed is 1/8" MDF which is laminated to the top of the foam using liquid nails. The backdrop and overhead valence is supported by a frame of 1 inch square aluminium tube.

Scenery is made using more layers of styrene which is then carved to shape. Rock castings and a thin layer of plaster is then put over the styrene to give texture and a surface to stain. Clay type kitty litter is embeded in the wet plaster to represent the broken up rocks found in Colorado. The top layer is the fairly standard Woodland scenics ground foam, polyfibre and plain old dirt (etc).

Locomotives and Rolling Stock

At the moment I have only two locomotives. Both of which are made from the excellent Railmaster kits. These kits consist of an etched brass frame, peweter body components and lost wax details. They are powered by sagami can motors and use a NWSL gearbox.

Locomotive #15 is a C-16 class locomtive constructed to represent an early baldwin locomotive. #42 is a modern C-17 class locomotive which has been painted with a green boler jacket. Not in period, but I just like it.

Most of the rolling stock has been constructed using PBL plastic kits. These kits are excellent value for money as they are some of the most detailed plastic kits that I have built. They all include tcompensated trucks, kaydee couplers and the decals. All the modeller needs to provide is some basic tools and paint. As an example of the level of detail included in these models, the 3000 series boxcar even includes the timber bracing on the inside of the car.

Control and Operation

My layout is still controlled using the Digitrax brand of command control system. This system is DCC compliant and provides excellent operation and features for a very affordable price.

The locomotives are fitted with Soundraxx onboard DCC sound systems. After running a layout with DCC sound (which was one of the reasons I moved to Sn3 in the first place), I don't think I could ever go back to a "quiet" black based system.

Some pictures (at long last)

Looking down the tracks at Camp 8 (69K)
#42 through a stand of young aspens (79K)
#15 in front of the MOW shed at Camp 8 (70K)
#42 arriving at Crowley Tank (75K)
Looking down the tracks at Crowley Tank (75K)
#15 approaching the tank for water (80K)

Other Model Railroads

Hopefully I can convince some of the other R.G.S modellers on the 'Net to let me have some pictures from their layouts. When I do I will place the images here.

The Pictures

Charlie Brown
"San Juan Southern" layout plan
Freight train
Ridgway Yard

Dave Conrad
HOn3 diorama

Joe Fuss
#40 in Sn3

Steve Harris
Butterfly trestle mill
A view of Lightner Creek
Arriving at West Durango

Steve Zonay
Layout under construction
Double deck benchwork
Planning the butterfly trestle
Some finished trestle work

There are bound to be a few other R.G.S modellers on the 'Net who'd like to see some of their work "published". If that's you then send me an image. If you just have a photo, that's fine, I can always get it scanned. Just drop me a line and I'll let you know my snail-mail address.