Set Sail for the Skull Rock & Neverland

Second Star to the Right and Straight on 'till Morning

The HOn30 Skull Rock & Neverland Ry. is a pure flight of fancy. Now in the early development stages, this little layout will seek to answer the question of just what kind of railroad a fantastical land of Lost Boys, pirates, mermaids, pixies, and Indians might have. Most folks don't know this, but one of the more valuable ores mined in Thunder Mesa Country is the extremely rare and magical Neverlandium, a volatile, glowing mineral that can cause children to fly when accompanied by the thinking of happy thoughts. Naturally, most of this ore is shipped off to the Skull Rock & Neverland where it is used for everything from powering the locomotives to fertilizing the lush island plant growth. Perhaps this valuable ore is what first drew the attention of Captain Hook and the crew of bloodthirsty pirates who plague the island to this very day.

For the uninitiated, HOn30 (or OO9) is basically 1:87 HO scale trains running on 9mm N gauge track. It's most often used to model the 2' narrow gauge lines that once ran in Maine, but I've long been fascinated by the possibilities of this scale/gauge combination, and see it as an ideal jumping off point for something with a British flair. I've also been wanting to do something with a pirate ship - specifically Captain Hook's pirate ship. I grew up with Captain Hook's at Disneyland where it housed a tuna restaurant at its anchorage in cool, scenic Skull Rock Cove. That ship has been long gone since the '83 redo of Fantasyland and it may never come back, but I can have my own version with my own Skull Rock in a little slice of Neverland. This project will be built across the aisle from the Thunder Mesa layout in a narrow 2' x 6' space near my workbench. Much of Neverland itself will be conveyed by the backdrop, and the railroad will wind it's way along the waterfront of Pirate's Cove. Minimum radius for the curves is 9" and the grade is to be determined.

Hope you'll follow along as this project develops!

Update: Aug 15, 2023

The Skull Rock and Neverland is an idea that just won't go away. Shelved since 2018, I've recently been thinking about making a start on it again. I've ordered some British style OO9 equipment and am currently mulling over the track plan and where it might fit in my studio. I guess I just don't ever want to grow up. Stay tuned!

8 thoughts on “Set Sail for the Skull Rock & Neverland

  1. NICE Dave!! Looking forward to following your progress on this little gem, Hey maybe the boys working the Payless Shafts might run into a vein of Neverlandium!!!!

    Rich White/Payless Mining Company

  2. Wow! Do you think this could be done in On18? We are looking at building a small demo layout to promote O scale narrow gauge. We could possibly add a On30 loop. I could see this done in perhaps a two piece modular layout.
    Any thoughts or guidance would be appreciated.
    We are following your work on the Thunder Mesa and will be anxious to see the progress on this new layout.
    Cheers from the Spring Creek Railway, Montrose, CO.

    1. It would be possible to do it in On18, I think, but the grade for the up and over would need to be steeper to achieve clearance. You could add an On30 loop around the outside but you’d want to make the layout wider. What you can fit in a small layout really all comes down to the minimum radii, grades, and clearances your equipment can reliably handle.

  3. Dave you’ve probably seen this already. But if not check out the Hon30 Baldwin that Bachman of UK produces, really beautiful little loco with a slight European flair to it. As always can’t wait too see the progress on the layout.

  4. Dave I seem to remember a model kit of Capt Hooks pirate ship from Disneyland. It was produced in the early 1960’s by Revell model co. I think the scale was 1/72nd or 1/80th ,close enough for ho scale . You could probably find one on eBay, if you already don’t have one.

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