Easy Outs For Proto Freelancing

Looking back at my last four layouts, two have been purely prototype based, the other two proto-freelanced.  I can’t say one type offered more enjoyment over the other.  From a scene composition standpoint though, proto-freelanced projects such as the LAJ can be particularly challenging.  Left to our own imagination there is a general tendency to end up with implausible, overly compressed, toy-like scenes.  The best way out is to scour the landscape for a prototype scene that would fit your theme and simply copy it.

The LAJ is proto is proto-freelanced.  I used the Horn Lead as a general guide but have not modeled it exactly.  What I have done is pour over photos from surrounding blocks and then picked structures that do actually exist.


I’d been struggling with what to put on the inside of the curve in front of Sweetener Products.  A weedy gravel lot would be an easy out in that it would give a clear line of sight to the rolling stock while I’m operating.  What I really wanted though was something that was more “signature LAJ”.  By that I mean the ubiquitous curved spurs diving into a narrow alley between two structures.  Back to Bing Maps “Birdseye” to scan the landscape.


It didn’t take long before I found a perfect fit in a scene a few blocks from the Horn Lead at 5610 Alcoa Avenue, a complex housing Modern Pattern and Foundry.  With a few minor adjustments I can almost copy it to exact scale and plop it right into the vacant footprint on the layout.  The depth will need to be reduced but depth compression is much less noticeable to the eye from standard viewing angles.

Proto freelanced layouts can be highly convincing if we can train ourselves to select prototype scenes that “fit” and simply copy them.


Their are a number of features of this scene at 5610 Alcoa Avenue that are highly representative of the LAJ: the one story brick structure, the sawtooth corrugated steel backshops, and the track curving into a narrow alley.