Roundhouse and Roundtable Renovation
Roundhouse and Roundtable Renovation
Wye track section
Passenger siding section
Classification yard section
NS #9823 D9-40CW
Southern Loco Local Freight
Southern Serves the South - #6133 FP-7

PD ~ Beta 2.0

a brief history of my layout

Ryan Boudreaux

Ryan Boudreaux

Welcome to my model railroad layout web site The Piedmont Division! I am Ryan Boudreaux, and I hope you enjoy viewing these web pages as I continue to update them on the progress of my HO scale model railroad and layout.

The train room is located on the 3rd floor of our house, it was an attic converted by the previous owners into a fully built out room with AC and carpet. So there was virtually little room prep needed to get it started. A small window unit AC was installed in the spring of 2006 as it does get a bit warm in the "attic/train room." My original plan of painting the walls above the benchwork levels for the sky effects has been scraped and have opted to plan a hanging fascia section to approximate the museum style window box effect. In addition to installing track lighting to illuminate the upper level deck I will also incorporate lighting behind the upper deck fascia.

Drawing Board

My layout had been in the planning stages for over two years, and is not the original plan as it has evolved over time and many hours of research have proven a plus in the "final" plan. I use 3rd PlanIt track planning software to design the layout plans, and I have been using it for almost 4 years now and find it a useful tool in creating accurate scale drawings. The plans can be rendered in 3D as well; this helps in the creativity and building stages, and is a great guideline when it comes time to actually build out the benchwork, roadbed, track, etc. I also print out the 1:1 drawings and use them as templates when cutting sub-roadbed and laying down roadbed and track, a very helpful tool!

While I am currently about 95% completed with the track for the lower deck and the around the walls section leading up to the upper deck I have already decided to re-draw that level. Construction on the upper deck has not been started yet, so I feel it necessary to re-design and re-draw that level again. I have learned more since the initial plan was made, and want to incorporate that into the upper level plan.

Current Layout

You can review the detailed progress of my layout construction including bill of materials, building progress entries, or other updates that I will post as they occur from the Construction page and also you can view updated images of the same progress on the layout from the images Gallery Intro. Just click the links for a quick diversion. After accessing the Gallery Intro page, click the Main Gallery link to view the photos page. The original photos page was getting too large with over 150 images, therefore it has been expanded to include separate photos in three month increments. Click the link to the main photos page to browse all the separate pages.

Suydam Roundhouse and Atlas Roundtable - circa 1970's

Update! The focus and main attention to detail and progress on the layout at this time is on the Roundhouse Renovations Project. Minor ongoing wiring and electrical updates on the layout will continue, and to see more of the current updates click the link to Roundhouse Renovation Project.


Updates to this site

September 28, 2007

September 27, 2007

September 19, 2007

Click the Updates button from the menu above to view all archived updates!


The Prototype

The track plan is not based on any prototype track arrangements per se, but has it's roots in typical prototype operations using a lot of compression. After reading many articles, books, and forums I have devised the plans below with much influence from the designing for realistic operations angle.

As stated earlier, this plan as been in the works for over two years, having originally created a plan based on local operations in the New Orleans, LA and south Louisiana area that included many features and operations that I have chosen to omit on the current plan. Having relocated to the Raleigh, North Carolina area in January 2006, mainly due to Hurricane Katrina, I have had to be a bit more creative in my overall operations plan since there are no Kansas City Southern (KCS) tracks near this area.

I have chose to keep the Southern and Norfolk Southern (NS) railroads as the main feature for operations on this layout, as there are many NS lines currently in use in this area. CSX is also a major player here, but at this time I have not considered it for inclusion. I will keep the KCS as a through freight and off site running only for added operation session interest. I will also have Amtrak passenger traffic moving between two stations as well there will be simulated off site activity. I will also have KCS and Southern passenger traffic mixed into different operating sessions.

Norfolk Southern

I am researching the Norfolk Southern track arrangements in the Piedmont Division with a very nice acquisition of NS track charts dated 2003, with thanks to Robbman from the forum.

Track Chart Sample - PDF

Click on the sample to the right, it is of page 1 from the Piedmont Division Danville District Greensboro-Cary track chart, and this page exhibits mile markers H0 through H5. The entire chart renders trackage rights from Greensboro, NC to Raleigh, NC to Cary, NC. This particular track chart features the H-Line and covers a total distance of 130 miles of NS trackage rights. The complete track chart for this section of the Piedmont Division is 28 pages, and by comparison the entire Piedmont Division encompasses a total of 53 track charts.

Each track chart contains documentation for seven main elements that relate to the placement of the track as it traverses each mile as represented on the chart. The elements include:

  • Maintenance - Track Class (CLASS 1 Track, CLASS 2 Track, etc..)
  • Rail - Single or Double Mains designated
  • Traffic Density Management - N/S or E/W traffic flows
  • Track Layout - Line Segments, diverting tracks, signals, bridges, crossings, etc..
  • Curvature, Alignment, Elevation - right or left turnouts, sidings, turnout number
  • Freight Speed Tangent Curve - MPH speed limits
  • Grade - listed in percents + or -

So why is this information so important? If you are really interested the nitty gritty in-depth information on the Piedmont Division of the Norfolk Southern, click my new Blog page and follow along with me as I search for the prototype.


Please see my Piedmont Division You Tube account to view the latest videos of the layout and rail fanning.

The Plan

"The Plan" has been a work in progress and it continues to evolve, as I am sure it will even as the track is being put down. The latest updated versions are represented below in the lower deck and upper deck images. There is also a 3-D view of the lower deck, and all of these are produced from 3rd PlanIt Track Planning Software.

Lower Deck

Upper Deck

3D View

3-D View


Current layout progress

Updated highlight images as of September 22, 2007

Current Layout

Turntable / track alignment

Current Layout

Testing the track with styrene

Current Layout

Painting the turntable rails

Current Layout

Turntable right-side view

Click on thumbnails for larger view



I would like to point out many of the positive influences that have assisted me in creating the current incarnation of my model railroad layout. They are listed in chronological order.

Rock Island Bulkhead Pulpwood Car, HO Scale - Circa 1950's

My grandfather, Mafflin Christoffel (1917-1990) who first introduced me to HO scale model railroading when I was just a little tike coming down the pike. He modeled his layout in the 1950's and early 1960's after the Rock Island railroad with pulpwood operations centered around a prototype that he and his father ran. He owned the Pioneer Timber Company in Pineville, Louisiana and provided pulpwood to local paper mills in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. His father was also a dispatcher for the L&N railroad at the Eunice Depot in Louisiana for many years. I need to pick my mother's brain for more details on this railroad family history.

My parents, Joe and Martha Boudreaux, who gave me an HO scale railroad, set for Christmas one year in my pre-teen days. It was the carpet floor model, but my dad soon recognized that it needed to be lifted up and soon I assisted him with my first real layout back in the 1970's. It was a 4X8 plywood express in the shed and then we added another 4X8 attached to the first with 2X2 sheets of plywood and the control panels in the middle. We had a lift up bridge and it was mostly just running trains around, with little switching. This layout was dismantled after I moved out of the house and attended college at LSU in Baton Rouge, LA.

Model Railroader Magazine and the many Kalambach books that I have read over the years.

All the Model Railroader Forum members that frequent the Coffee Shop (a place to talk) since 2004. They are all a great group and give great support to all who enter. A toast to them all. "Cheers!"

Last but not least I want to thank my wife Monique and my son Benjamin from whom I get my current inspiration, energy, fuel, and support to continue in this hobby. Without the blessings from the CFO this project would not get off the ground.


Model Railroader
Layout Design Contest

I entered the Model Railroader Layout Design Contest, submitted my entry by mail on Friday, October 6th. Now the patient wait while we wonder who will win. Winners were announced in the May, June and July 2007 issues of Model Railroader magazine. I did not win, so feel free to critique my entry!

To view my entry, click on the following link: Carolina Coastal Freight


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