Winter 2009, completed Winter 2011-2012

The objective in building my HO-scale model railroad layout was to recreate the Lehigh Valley RR as it passed through the village of New Woodstock in 1944-45. I had access to accurate track maps for this area and the rectangular layout, about 16 by 4 feet, accomodated this prototype area, including the mainline, sidings and spurs, as well as all the important trackside industries.

To provide for continuous running, as well as prototypical operation, a closed loop had to be created. Adding a 4x4 foot drop in unit on a dogleg provided just enough room for this (see below)

This 4x4 unit was designed as a generic service yard, incorporating a mainline track, a long siding, and several spurs into the yard. The yard had to be somewhat compressed to fit available space, and designing a layout that accomplished everything, without compromising the 18" minimum radius curves took lots of thought.

Injecting a generic yard here was appropriate to the period 1944-45 and the Lehigh Valley RR. This is because the actual branch that New Woodstock was located on had a turntable and service yard at its north end, at Canastota, and another turntable and service yard at its south end, at Cortland.

By allowing trains to be turned on this 4x4 module, I could duplicate prototype operations, with a morning train running north, turning, and running south in the afternoon, turning again and running north the next morning. The actual structures in the module were generic, and not copies of any actual structures at either terminus. But, 
it represented actual conditions on the line in 1944-45 and a tremendous amount of research and meticulous effort went into the trackside structures to make sure that what I was looking at on the layout was as close as possible to what existed at the time on the railroad in that location.  LVRR photos from the period 1940 to 1955 served as guides for selecting structures to model.

The yard included a coaling tower, an equipment storage shed, a yard control tower, a wooden water tower, a yard office, a maintenance shed (old boxcar), a track and wheel handling facility, or RIP area, and several outhouses (above).

It also included a sand house, a sand tower, an ash pit, an inspection pit, a caboose maintenance facility and a water tower serving a watering standpipe at trackside. Again, everything was very much compressed into the very limited space.

At the periphery of the yard was a turntable, which was designed to allow locomotives to be reversed to run the line in the opposite direction. And for some reason I decided to scratch-build it as a manually operated unit (below).

From period photographs taken in the East Ithaca yard, (see below) which was close in time and space to my prototype, I knew it was a short table, barely able to hold a small ten-wheeler, and most commercial tables were either too short or too long. Also it was an Armstrong turntable, which meant it was manually moved using manpower, and it seemed appropriate to make mine the same.

The basic structure is mounted on PVC pipe fittings that allow it to turn accurately, and the rest was built of styrene, using photos of a surviving table that were emailed to me. The endless tiny rivet strips and panel members were a chore, but once painted and "rusted", ended up convincing. I placed an unused 2-6-0 engine as a static display to stand in for the LVRR 4-6-0 J-25 in the 1940s photo below, left ("Lehigh Valley Memories" by David Marcham, 1998, page 58. Photos taken 1941-1959). With headlamp relocated to the front and some cursory weathering it is close enough for now.

The central structure in the yard, both in size and complexity, is the coaling tower. As guide, I used a period LVRR photograph ("Lehigh Valley Memories" page 48), which shows a wooden structure similar in design to the widely photographed tower at Chama, New Mexico (below, left).

As far as I could tell at the time there was no HO scale kit on the market, or maybe I just didn't want to spend all that money. So I located some plans for a large scale model of it on the internet and spent a VERY long time creating my own HO scale plans, and building this very complex model (above, right).

AND THEN......a couple weeks after the paint dried on my scratch-built tower, I got a Walthers flier in the mail announcing this..

But I have no regrets. I am happy with the result and it anchors the entire yard. And with a conveniently placed outhouse, it makes a nice place to work, in spite of the coal dust.

Central to this section of the yard is a control tower that was scratch-built from plans in a modeling magazine (forget which).  As always, management (on the stair landing) and labor (gesturing from the ground) don't always see eye to eye.

On the right is a utility building with equipment and materials storage. This structure was originally made for the prototype area of the layout, but was later found to be slightly out of scale... a bit too large. So after spending a couple years on the shelf, it has been recycled into this area, where it works very well.

On the left is a standard wooden water tower, which was made straight on from a kit. I generally shun kits, but in this case there were few good alternatives.

In the background are some freight warehouses that run along the track, allowing direct unloading of incoming boxcars.

One of my modeling mags had an article about an actual caboose maintenance facility that could be modeled. I liked it as a challenge and decided it had a place here in the yard.

The complex includes a coal shed (left), a raised kerosene tank and a small tool shed. The ash pit being cleaned out in foreground and the concrete engine inspection pit on the right, are copied after prototypes.

On the far end of the yard are located the yard office (top), a converted boxcar used as a maintenance shed, a RIP (Repair in Place) section, and a double-door outhouse, at the bottom (pardon the pun...).

The yard office was copied from one built for a modeling magazine article. The converted boxcar was a conversion and upgrade from a dis-used boxcar my brother had, and donated to the cause.

Unfortunately, the low swampy area behind the yard is being used as a dump, causing the already stagnant water to be infiltrated with oil and ash disposal. NO FISHING.

The water standpipe on the right is a ready-made piece that duplicates a 1940s prototype shown in LVRR photos.

At lunch time (above) the yard workers like to collect at the yard shack, where they can cook on a small fire in the nice weather and talk about things. The guy rushing down the track must have left his lunch in the shack, and the MP is discussing spotting a military car at the siding later in the week.

We created a family outing to the U-Pick pumpkin patch, since it is late September, and included everyone. (Click the images below for a closer look.)

(Left) The farmer keeps a wary eye on the family dog, while the little girl shoes a goose away from the one she wants. Grandma has selected a nice pie pumpkin, and a friend watches from the fence. (Center) Mom picks out a prize-winner while Grandpa carries off a few smaller ones to decorate the house, and the other family dog sniffs out something on the ground. (Right) Dad loads up a few more for the local firehouse Halloween party.


To the model railroad front-page
E-mail me
E-mail me