Welcome to the Ann Arbor Railway, in HO Scale

Located in Walterboro, S.C., The Heart of the ACE Basin.

I am modeling the Ann Arbor Rail Road on a Saturday afternoon in the Fall of 1950. Is that specific enough? First, for the date. I can still run steam and the Ann Arbor ran football specials to Ferry Yard in Ann Arbor Michigan. There have been several recent articles about these Special. The great thing is there was varnish from the C&O, NYC, B&O, and Pennsylvia railroads pulling into the yard to drop fans off

Why the Ann Arbor? Having watched Ferry opertions on the Great Lakes, I wanted to model it. The Ann Arbor was a bridge line, had a senic yard on Lake Michgan, and several unique interchages along its route.

Watch here for progress. My first project is a 72" O.D. helix to span between my two levels. Trains will rise 18" through the five revolutions of the helix. I will be posting my tips, tricks, and insites on helix construction here. I have posted a helix calculator that I developed for my dodecagon helix at My GitHub Page.

Bench Work
In the begining there was benchwork.

A quick update on the helix construction. In the works I have a Youtube Channel--Work's 4 Me. Well, the dodecagon (12 sided) helix design didn't Work 4 Me. The problem was making reproducable 30 degree angle cuts on reasonably large pieces of plywood. I have therefore elected to change my plan to an octogon design. This will require 45 degree cuts, which are much easier with standard guides. As the number of sides decreases, the minimal radius for the inside track increases. The above Helix Construction calculator will still work, no matter the number of sides.

In the meantime, work progresses on the bench work, storage, and backdrop that will support the lower level of the layout--The Toledo/Owosso Division. The bench work for the Helix is done and work has started on the trapazoids for the helix. The helix and lead in tracks with represent Owosso and provide a mid-run staging area. The lower level is planned to have Toledo with the Willis Jeep Factory. There will be a return loop around the factory to allow out and back operations. The car deck of the Ann Arbor #7 will lower into the Willis Plant.

Joining Trapazoids
Helix Construction.

Heading out of Toledo I plan to model Milan Tower and Ann Arbor. I have always found the Annie's crossing of the Huron River with the NYC running along the river a great photo op. The upper deck will go through Claire, with it's Witch's Hat Depo, though Cadillac with my wife's cottage, and then the Boat Yard. My plan for the Boat Yard includes a scale model of the Ann Arbor #7 car ferry. This will be 3D printed and over 40 inches long. The car deck will be a mobile unit that will descend to Toledo, below. With a full crew, the plan will be for point to point operations with two west bound and two east bound freights per session. A daily east and west bound passenger train will be thrown in too, unless its a Football Saturday. Prior to my move I built the car deck with a linear actuator to control its movement. Its controlled with an ESP32.

First Car on Tracks
A car on the the Tracks!

News Update. On June 28, 2022, a Detroit, Toledo, and Irontown SW1 traveled all three tracks of the first three decks of the helix. In honor of the founder of the Ann Arbor Railroad, the Helix has been named Ashley. On the Ann Arbor, the town of Ashley is to the west of Owosso, like the helix. Watch for a video soon on my YouTube Channel, Work's 4 Me.

I know that the Ann Arbor looks like a North/South line. During the ownership of the Walbash Railroad, the period that I'm modeling, trains were classified as east and west bound to stay consistent with the parent corporation