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Welcome to the Utah Colorado Western

Introduction

Hi this is Lee Nicholas

The history of the HO scale UCW, located in my basement, started in 1970. The layout and the basement have endured a number of rebuilds over the years. The layout now occupies an area 30 x 33 feet (roughly the original size of the basement), and the crew lounge, dispatch office and shop area occupy a 14 x 25 foot space excavated after we added on to our house in the late 70's. It would have been easier to excavate before we built onto the house but not nearly as much fun.  I highly recommend completing all that before starting the railroad building process. Anyway, the UCW survived and it now occupies the entire downstairs.

UCW Track Plan

The last major modifications started in October of 1995, when two of the four peninsulas, Crusero to Cobre, were completely removed and rebuilt. This was a tough decision to make because the prior layout was about 98% complete, and had operated in that state for a number of years. 

The overall foot print, of the layout, would not change so what were the driving factors in making the changes? A new staging/fiddle yard (MOLE), improved modeling skills, the chance to try out some new construction techniques, increase the layout height, add a helper district, more closely define the operating principals of the UCW, add new lighting and the opportunity to include some of my good friends and operators in the remodeling process were all the factors that were considered.

Improved Modeling Skills

I am fortunate to have some very talented individuals associated with the UCW. Kelly Newton, Jim French, Dave Schen, Jon Robinson, Bob Gilmore, Rob Spangler, Gary Waite and Rod Loder have all donated their time and talents to the project. Thanks also goes out to the rest of the UCW operating crew who have contributed and faithfully support the operation once a month.

Kelly for his superb efforts in taking a few hundred pounds of plaster and several yards of cheesecloth and carving away everything that did not resemble rocks.  He is also instrumental in providing input into the operational philosophy of the UCW.

Rob as spent many hours painting the beautiful backdrops (See Keller Video #27 about the UTAH COLORADO WESTERN) that grace the layout. He and Kelly worked hand in hand while combing the 3-D and 2-D scenery elements. 

Dave and Bob have applied their talents to planting trees, building crib work, pouring rivers and adding hundreds of detail parts to enhance the scenery. 

Jim has applied his talents in building some of the kit and scratch built structures and signals, helping with track design and providing input into the operational philosophy behind the UCW. He also spent many hours authoring the UCW Timetable and Operating Rules handbook.

Jon spent hundreds of hours designing, programming and building the first CTC computer interface. He spent untold hours and wore out the knees in more than one pair of pants, crawling around under the layout hooking everything up. Although his efforts provided the UCW with a reliable interface for a number of years we decided to install a system I could maintain and program and converted to Bruce Chubb's C/MRI system in 2000.   

Rod has been the inspiration behind the CTC machine's that have been and are in use on the UCW. He is also responsible for suggesting the current lighting source used on the layout. 

Future

The future looks bright for the UCW to continue as a major bridge route between Salt Lake and Denver, providing its customers with the best service possible. The UCW serves a large, on line, business base which generates a fair amount of traffic and revenue and provides excellent interchange service with a number of other railroads. This represents a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication by the UCW operating crew, who make it happen. We started operation in Oct of 1996, just one year after reconstruction had taken place. Was the decision to start anew worth the time and effort? YES! All the design changes have proven to be a success and the operation just gets better and better.

Summary

I’m sure my parents, when they gave me a train set for Christmas at the age of six, had no idea what kind of seed they had planted in their young son. This love of trains, both prototype and models, has become a part of life for almost 46 years. My wife, Kris, who has supported and tolerated my efforts for many years, had no idea what she was getting into when we were married. Three married sons plus 7 grandchildren have all survived the TRAINS!!! Does this "Love Affair with Trains" sound familiar? I'm sure to some of you it does. HAPPY RAILROADING!

Welcome
Enter
Overview
Geographic Profile
Train Control
Construction
Lighting
Links
Staging/Operations
CTC
Photo Gallery
What's New Kelly's Scenery