Erie & Pittsburgh Branch Model Railroad 2005 Pictures

Due to popular request, I'm posting some pictures of the layout through its construction. The newest pictures are at the top.

Other pictures

December 17, 2005

The day had finally arrived for the layout's inaugural operating session. This was to be a shakedown run to find any problems before scenery construction begins. The crew consisted of Rich Lewis, Fred Lotte, Brad White, and me.

thumbnail Brad drew the first train, a local from Moravia Yard into New Castle. Here, Brad is starting to build his train at the yard.

thumbnail The first local into New Castle passes Castle Tower and enters the E&P Branch.

thumbnail Meanwhile, train CNC-2 arrives from Youngstown and is about to cross over at Castle interlocking and terminate at Moravia Yard.

thumbnail Brad is busy working the north side of New Castle near Union Brewing and Shenango Ceramics.

thumbnail The first local passes Castle Tower and is about to cross the Mahoning River bridge on its way back to Moravia Yard.

thumbnail A westbound loaded coal train passes Moravia Yard.

thumbnail Rich Lewis brings westbound freight PY-3 up to Moravia Yard to prepare for making its pickups and setouts.

thumbnail The Houston Local for the Houston Secondary prepares to leave Moravia Yard.

thumbnail Brad works the industries off the Houston Secondary on the east side of New Castle.

thumbnail Action-packed at Cherry Street! The Houston Local (with the 9476) holds on the New Castle Secondary Track while the last New Castle Local passes on the E&P main line.

thumbnail We are looking railroad east from the McCleary Avenue crossing on the north side of New Castle, while in the distance the last New Castle Local prepares to make a setout at Preston & McKinley Oil. To the left will eventually be a scratchbuilt version of the Shenango Ceramics complex. The track with the gray covered hopper will be inside the building. Union Brewing is on the right.

May 8, 2005

thumbnail On this day we began wiring the track in New Castle. Here, FP7 4362 is being used to test the track on the Cross Cut Secondary Track at the Castle wye.

thumbnail Fred also worked on the linkage for the pushrod-controlled manual crossover at Washington Street. Here is part of the linkage. The rod coming in from the right connects to the pushrod knob on the facia. It attaches to a floating lever that is then connected to the turnouts--one directly, the other through a pair of bell cranks--so that moving the pushrod will operate both turnouts at the same time.

March 20, 2005

thumbnail On this day, Fred and I were tracklaying machines. The entire E&P main from Cherry Street up to the end of track at the hole in the wall was completed, along with much of the New Castle and Houston Secondaries. This first picture shows the E&P main glued down past Shenango China.

thumbnail Track in place at Mahoning Avenue, including the part of the Houston Secondary. Notice the regular pop cans to the right rear of the picture. We actually ran out of our pop can weights (empty cans filled with sand), so I ran upstairs and grabbed a few six-packs of Coke that I bought earlier in the week at Sam's Club and kept going!

thumbnail This is a lot of pop cans!

thumbnail A wide-angle view of the day's work. The next day I went downstairs and removed the cans and nails, as the HO scale residents of New Castle were getting a little upset at the aluminum wall through their town...

March 13, 2005

thumbnail Today we began laying track in earnest. The first track to go in was both legs of the wye at Castle.

thumbnail Earlier in the week, I began work on the ceiling. I'm using a product called CeilingMAX that allows a tile ceiling to be attached directly to the joists. Since the ceiling on this side of the basement only clears the top of my head by a couple of inches, I couldn't give up any more height by installing a suspended ceiling. So far I'm pleased with how the CeilingMAX has worked out, but I'm holding off installing more until the wiring is complete for the layout lighting.

thumbnail The turnouts at the west end of the New Castle Secondary are glued in place and weighted down.

thumbnail Blaine is applying styrene strip shims to the bottom of a piece of Walthers track that is used to transition between Atlas and Walthers code 83 track. While the rail heights are the same, the Atlas ties are thicker, and this can cause problems, so when we transition between the two brands of track, we shim up one end of the transition piece to mate up better with the Atlas flextrack.

thumbnail The Washington Street crossover, with glue underneath and weights on top.

March 6, 2005

thumbnail Fred, in his role as "Switch Doctor", modified four Walthers no. 6 code 83 turnouts and soldered them together to make this custom double crossover that will be installed at Cherry Street.

thumbnail Meanwhile, cork was being installed on the Houston Secondary. Notice the change on the right from the original prototyping session--I moved the turnout for Pittsburgh Coal & Junk to come off the lead into the large industry instead of off the Houston Secondary itself. This provided a longer lead to the junk yard to allow an extra car to be spotted in it.

thumbnail Bring out your cans! The pop can weights make an appearance as the Cherry Street crossovers are set in place and glued down.

thumbnail The cork is in place for the brewery spur, Merit Oil, along with turnouts going to Lawrence Ice and the south spur of Shenango China.

thumbnail The "Switch Doctor" shows off his latest work--the trackwork at Washington Street. This consists of two no. 6 turnouts for a crossover, a no. 4 turnout off the main going into another no. 4 turnout which will go to the leads to the freight house and team track.

Feburary 6, 2005

thumbnail Now that the cork for the main line and the NC Secondary is in place, it was time to go back and start putting in roadbed for the industrial spurs and their turnouts. Here's me working on placing the turnouts to Associated Box and Elliot Bros. Steel/Mooney Brothers.

January 30, 2005

thumbnail I spent some time "prototyping" what New Castle will look like, including laying out spurs, streets, and structures. I used pieces of flextrack nailed temporarily in place along with turnouts to figure out where everything is/can go. This first view shows the south side of New Castle. The Cherry Street crossovers will be at the left rear where the white turnout boxes are. The yellow structure is Associated Box Company. The two yardsticks in the foreground marks roughly where Mahoning Avenue will go. On the far side of the street at the left are some pieces from a Walthers Vulcan Manufacturing kit that will represent Fleming Structural Steel.

thumbnail Looking the other direction from the previous picture, we see the lines of the E&P main and New Castle Secondary curving off to the left towards Washington Street, and the Houston Secondary and spurs on the right. The large cardboard box will represent an as-yet-undetermined large industry in town (Johnson Bronze, United Engineering, or Pennsylvania Engineering Corp.). The layout of the spurs was slightly modified in the final plan, but seeing it on the plywood helped me visualize how everything would fit together and avoid making the layout too cluttered.

thumbnail Here is my mockup of Grant Street industrial area. The cardboard boxes represent Shenango China. The paint can represents an oil tank on the Shenango China property that appears to have been served off of their northern spur, barely visible on the left. The red building will be used for the Union Brewery, while the blue Walthers box in the background is an Interstate Fuel & Oil kit that will be used for Merit Oil.

thumbnail Let's get corked! Roadbed starts going down near the curve at Grant Street. Notice how the cork was laid along one side of the nails. These nails will then be pulled up so the other side of the cork can go down.

thumbnail Tangable proof of how strong the 1" plywood is--I had to lay on it in order to reach the curve between Mahoning Avenue and Washington Street while laying roadbed.

thumbnail The cork is complete on the Castle wye and the Cherry Street crossovers.

thumbnail And up through New Castle towards Washington Street.

thumbnail Here's the cork in place at the west end of the New Castle Secondary where it joins the main. It shows how we built the cork under switches without using a lot fancy cutting. The extra pieces of cork will be trimmed down later, or left in place to hold the switch stands at the points. The cork going off the left at the top is the north spur for Shenango China.

January 23, 2005

thumbnail A view of what will become New Castle after all of the blocks, clamps, and screws were removed.

thumbnail To transfer the lines of the curve drawings to the plywood, we put nails into the wood on one side of where the cork will go. These nails were then used to lay one side of the roadbed. Afterwards, the nails were removed, and the other side of the cork was put down.

thumbnail Sometimes, curve centers end up being out in space, so we have to build up a base in order to mark the curve center to use the trammel to draw the curve. This contraption was assembled to draw the curves west of the Cherry Street crossovers. The wye at Castle is in the background.

thumbnail The E&P main line (on the right) and the parallel New Castle Secondary Track (on the left) are drawn in place north of Grant Street.


thumbnail The first picture is the easement curve west of the Cherry Street crossovers. Nails were driven through it with the edges of the nails on the center line, to be used to position the cork roadbed. The second picture shows me carefully removing the drawing from the nails. This technique helped us to avoid pasting the drawing to the plywood and laying the roadbed over the paper, as we had done between Moravia Yard and Wampum Junction previously.

January 16, 2005

thumbnail thumbnail Here are two examples of the trim pieces we put on the edge of the double-layer plywood. I cut these from 1x2 strips by using my table saw to notch out part of the wood in order to fit onto the plywood. You can see how they make the edge of the plywood look better, plus they give me a place to attach the facia board that will hide the staging yard tracks. (The facia will be hinged to allow access to the yard.)

thumbnail Fred brought this drafting machine to use to start laying out the track diagram on the plywood. Once the center lines of the tracks are drawn, the cork roadbed will be laid on the lines.

thumbnail Over at Moravia Yard, here is a lineup of motive power. The engine on the left is a Kato SD45 in PRR paint. Next to it is an Atlas U23B in PC colors. To its right is an old Atlas FP7 with a Roco mechanism that I installed a Digitrax DH121 decoder in. On the far right is an old Atlas C425, custom painted for Penn Central, which received a Digitrax DH163K0 decoder.

thumbnail Fred gets ready to work on drawing the crossovers at Cherry Street while Blaine looks on.

thumbnail Fred sharpens his drawing pencil. Most teenagers today would have no idea what kind of pencil it is or how he is sharpening it...

thumbnail Sometimes, we make mistakes while drawing. Unfortunately, erasers usually don't work, so you have to get out the sander...

thumbnail As on other parts of the layout, we sometimes use full-size printouts of the CAD drawing to lay out complicated areas of track. Fred is examining the drawing for the Cherry Street crossovers.


thumbnail The last pieces of plywood for the upper level were glued, clamped, and blocked into place.

January 2, 2005

thumbnail The theme of this day was "Fun With Glue", as we glued together two more sheets of plywood for the upper level. This is me carefully spreading glue in the section between Castle wye and Mahoning Avenue. The lower level staging tracks were covered with newspapers to protect them from dripping glue.

thumbnail Glue, glue, everywhere...

thumbnail After the new plywood was set in place, the wood was held down was glue, clamps, and screws. This shows the clamps in place at the duckunder.

thumbnail While Blaine and I got our fingers sticky with glue, Fred was cutting in the new rerailers at the Youngstown end of the staging yard. I'm testing them out using a boxcar from my Suicide Fleet.

thumbnail Afterwards, I drilled holes in between the rails for the phototransistors that will be used for the detector circuits in the yard.

thumbnail The finished rerailers.

thumbnail Before gluing in the next sheet of plywood, I used my shop vacuum to clean any dirt off of the lower plywood sheet.

thumbnail Blaine and I, spreading glue.

thumbnail Loving' every minute of it...

thumbnail Blaine starts spreading glue on the bottom of the top piece. For best results, always coat both surfaces with glue before putting them together.

thumbnail Time to go wash my hands!

thumbnail Fred and Blaine check the alignment of the plywood before putting the two pieces together.

thumbnail After the pieces have been stuck together, I put screws into the sheets to attach them to the supporting benchwork and to help hold them tight together while the glue dried.

thumbnail The end result. Next time we'll take off the blocks and clamps and glue down the final piece.



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