Iona Free-mo Module
My Iona module is a freelanced scene designed and built as a father-son project.
Eric wanted structures that "trains could drive into", and the Walthers lumber warehouse
and cement plant kits fit the bill. He also wanted a pasture with horses. Why not?
After searching for real locations using Google Earth, I found a place on the BNSF main line in California's
central valley where an industry with lots of storage tanks stood on one side of the tracks, and another with
warehouses stood across from it. The rural road leading to this site is called "Iona Ave" - and the name stuck.
The Iona module is 48" long, single straight main track, with two industry spurs. Although the module
does not have signals, it does include both current and optical detection for the Modular Signal System
that NorCalF uses to animate trackside signals. All the strutures have working lights, mostly LEDs
but some incandescents too. A power switch below decks turns them on/off.
Note: Many photos were taken by others - if you see one of your photos here,
please accept my gratitude for allowing me to present it! In a few photos, distracting
backgrounds (people, furniture, weird venue wall decorations) have been "painted out".
Above: Here is the entire module including the cement plant office (front left), cement plant (front right), lumber warehouse (back left),
and lumber store (back center). The horse field is just visible to the right of the cement plant.
Below: Overview scenes of Iona at various Free-mo layout events.
Below: The cement plant is mostly stock, but LED lighting has been added including red flashers on the two rooftop bins.
A ladder and "cage" was added for rooftop access. The Calaveras Cement Co. signs, along with most other signs on Iona,
were created using Microsoft Visio for artwork, printing on decal paper, and overspraying with gloss paint.
Above: The cement plant office is made from a Pikestuff brand kit with extra details added, including a large A/C unit and
window blinds to beat that central valley summer heat, and LED lights. Iona is a great place to show off HO scale vehicles,
whether they're right out of the box or custom built such as the UPS parcel van and the Bobcat front loader seen here.
Below: The Beaver Lumber warehouse is the center of the action on Iona, with customer
vehicles dodging the multiple forklifts as they unload flat cars or move materials around
the facility. The interior is fully detailed with racks of fresh lumber and overhead lighting.
Below: The back side of the store, where
the restrooms are conveniently located.
Left: The horse pasture has a shady tree, some old
tractors, and a pile of rough-hewn fence posts. Here,
the ranchers are loading up their prized stallion.
Below Left: Iona fits in my car along with all the
other stuff that goes to every Free-mo setup.
Below: My son Eric having fun setting out
vehicles on Iona before a setup.
Above: Iona is made from high quality Baltic Birch plywood.
It's a simple box - sides, endplates, and top with no interior
supports necessary. The endplates have two small hand-holds,
leaving the center area intact for C-clamping to the adjacent
Free-mo modules in a layout. Also visible here are the styrene
outlines into which the structures are set. This locks them in
place so they don't shift around, and minimizes the unsightly
gaps between module surface and building foundations.
Above and Below: These overviews show the base ground cover in
place - a mixture of real dirt and dental plaster sprayed with water to
harden it in place. The road and parking lot are made from rolled
asphalt roofing underlayment. This material is thin so it can be torn,
modeling the rough edges of asphalt roads. Note the structures are
very basic at this point - no details, signs, lights, etc.
Below and Right: The cement plant is taking shape. Putty
was used to smooth the vertical seams on the cement silos.
Left and Below: The lumber store after
basic assembly and then painting.
Below: The parking lot has space for several automobiles and
features a propane refill station. The fence is a Walthers kit, the
razor wire is a product used in military and gaming models.
Left: A working Walthers plug-in streetlight stands out
front the store, here being serviced by PG&E. The light
turns on with the rest of the building lights.
The guardrail at the end of the road is a Pikestuff product.
The camper was customized from an old Lindberg model
to capture the family RV from my childhood.
Below: This propane refill station is a recent addition to the Beaver
Lumber parking lot. The pump box, bumper posts, and signs are
scratch-built, while the tank is modified from an Evergreen Products
item. Custom decals were made from images found on the web.
Below: The lumber store is included with the Walthers lumber
warehouse kit. A false interior was made by printing out a
"store scene" found on the internet, bending it into a curve,
and placing it behind the big front windows. The sidewalks
are another Walthers product. Note the storm drain in the gutter.
Below: The lumber warehouse after basic assembly. All the interior detail, custom painting, and weathering
is yet to come. The roof panels are left loose so they can be removed to show off the interior.