Thursday, August 12, 2021


Some new exciting additions to the layout by two very good friends from out of town

The most recent is the first shipment of period Sylvan automobiles from Rick De Candido. The colors are fantastic, and have a great softness to them that are not only era specific, but they also fit so well into the gritty mood of Hoboken I am trying to convey with the layout. Rick should do a clinic on the windshield techniques he's tried and now perfected. The wrap around style of the 50s is especially challenging to the process, and the results are impressive. I'm asking Rick to build as many as he wants to. It's such a luxury to have him doing this!

Also in the first photo is a finely crafted Rock Island boxcar by Rick with great weathering and details (and came in its own special foam lined box!)

Busy corner of 11th and Hudson Streets, Hoboken, NJ in 1959
Busy corner of 11th and Hudson Streets, Hoboken, NJ in 1959

The first test build pickup truck across the tracks from Pennsylvania Railroad's Marine ship yard. 
Be alert! billboard from a kit I used to produce.

A few months ago, another very good friend Tom Pearson commented that I could use throttle holders, and then they showed up! These are 3D printed of white PLA with the appropriate logos for the different railroads of the PoNY. At first I thought I'd have to paint the embossed logos in a contrasting color - maybe like pressing into paint like a stamp pad. But it turns out the shadows are more than enough to make the logo legible. The pockets fit both the CVP T5000 and T1300 OPS throttles. One more for the Lehigh Valley 28th Street Station is in the works. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have customized elements on the layout. It really ties the layout together and makes it a more considered environment. Now I just need to do all of the basics like fascias, scenery, backdrop...! 

At the USDA Inspection building along the docks

On the Erie Harlem Station

Hoboken Yard

At the float yard

I have painted most of the track in preparation for installing cobblestone and asphalt streets, which is a direct result of a stream of autos heading my way. I've also been inspired to figure out the fascias since I have nice throttle holders now. These are nice external nudges that encourage me to make progress in the best possible way. 

It's such a pleasure to have the help of good friends. It is a huge boost to my layout morale and inspires me to work on the layout, and it's like being a kid at Christmas when a package arrives. It shows that there are ways to be involved in far-flung layouts in a real and meaningful way. This is especially nice during Covid times when we aren't gathering locally and can't share layout experiences in person. 

Being in the same headspace of a layout with someone is a very rewarding experience even when you can't be there physically. With technology making virtual relationships a larger part of our lives, the shared headspace goes beyond empty casual social interactions on social media. It's the part that came along naturally from being together in the physical space of the layout together and talking about the prototype, working on the layout, and operating. Sharing that headspace makes the message more important than the medium, which is the way it should be. 

And I think Marshall McLuhan would be OK with that in this case.

Monday, March 1, 2021

More Mock Up Buildings and Some Track Realignment

Part of my overall track laying strategy was to temporarily lay track then revise after operating and fitting in buildings. This process continues on the stretch of track at the docks on the 6th and 7th Street piers.

I moved the switch back at 7th St to be able to get the two tracks into the pier headhouse. Of course, there are conflicting accounts in different maps about the exact arrangement - but I'm over that, and I am comfortable taking my best shot at the most prototypical and operationally optimal arrangement. 

Original configuration:

And here's the track with switch moved back and the warehouse with four 40' car capacity.

I also mocked up Campbell Stores at the adjacent 6th St pier to the left and the East Asiatic Import/Export Company (long warehouse) to the right. Some issues with viewing cars and such, of course, so some trial operating will need to be done. The East Asiatic warehouse is especially a problem, so some sort of cut away representation may be in order.

At Campbell Stores, dock doors provide a target spot for operators from the inside. An interesting view point as well as an opportunity to model the interior of the building. Not sure how to handle the section cut yet. 

Along River Road and Hudson Streets, there are several multistory rowhouses that will essentially provide a view block. Because of compression of space, these particular ones will probably represent different buildings on each side. 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

More Maxwell House

Buildings 1 and 5 mocked up. Building no. 1 is the tall roasting building with building no. 5 stretching across the tracks housing the American Can Company. Building at right is #2 which is the storage building on the river. Barges would unload there. There are eight total buildings in the complex, but I'll only be able to model 5-6 of them at about 3/4 ish size.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Maxwell House Coffee plant mock up

I mocked up more buildings today and I laid out the grounds for Maxwell House Coffee. There are several building in the complex, and I have to cut a couple of the them due to space.

I'm also having a bit of a think on whether to extend the layout to get in the coffee barges on the river. They are essential to the scene and understanding of how the plant functioned, but I don't want to pinch down my aisle too much. I just need to find the proper balance.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Happy 2020!

I'm alive, the railroad is alive, and there may be more posts this year?! :)

A few operating sessions per year since the last post, but not much on the layout itself is new. 14th Street switching tracks have been reshuffled to allow for a track to get to the engine house (see below) and US Testing.
New non-operable track to the engine house. Perhaps a curved crossing could be scratch built to make it a working piece of track. The 14th street trackage is actually supposed to be behind the engine house, but that is out of reach. Compromise is the uncomfortable, but necessary at times.

Reconfigured 14th street track. from top right to left, the engine house, Kelly Springfield Tire/Xzit/National Cleanser, then finally Continental Baking (Hostess Twinkies) All buildings are very close to actual prototype size gotten from historical maps and Google maps measurements.

US Testing is almost in the correct orientation. It should be perpendicular to the yard, but there isn't enough room to curve the track properly. More compromise *sigh*, but, it's very, very close...

Recent activity is turning towards sketch buildings to ensure the track alignments are good. These will also provide good templates for final models.

Engine house with brakemen waiting for assignments. The shack is the scale house.

Engine house (left) and (right) Xzit/Kelly Springfield Tire/National Cleanser

Kelly Springfield Tire/National Cleanser (left) and Continental Baking (Hostess Twinkies) (right)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Op session No.8 + stuff

A foam core and Photoshop mock up of the small freight house.

Lots going on at the PoNY, and not enough extra time to talk about it as of late. We've hosted another op session and progress is being made on lighting, scenery, structures, photography, and operations fronts. 

The highlights include Op Session No.8 that is in the books. Our regular crew from David Barrow's slipped in a session on the PoNY during the regular op night. I managed to take no pictures, which could mean things were so bad I was scrambling putting out fires, or that it was so enjoyable it didn't occur to me to snap any pics. I'm happy to report it was the latter. A crack yard crew proved that a full work shift is possible, and job balancing seems to be consistent across the board which makes tweaking possible now. 
track tools employed at 14th St
Before the session, I realigned the 14th St track towards the front of the layout to make reaching it easier while making it possible to get in the track to the engine house and US Testing. The great thing about gluing down track is that it is easy to move.

I also started testing LED strips for layout lighting on the 27th Sta. module. This one that I had on hand from another project is not bright enough. The challenge here is that there is a 19 story building that is going to be on top of it. That mean some hidden lighting to operate in the buildings as well as the general lighting. Interesting problems.
Behind the scenes

While I've been at all this, I'm also getting familiar with my camera and lights for shooting photos for articles. LEDs are a game changer here as well, as they are getting cheaper, produce daylight color temperatures, and don't get so hot like the old photo floods did. 
Assembling the mock up small freight house

Workers don't seem to mind that it is only a mock up. They are already hard at the business of the railroad - moving stuff.
The small freight house mock up only took a couple of hours to put together. I found some corrugated metal textures at, arranged them in Photoshop,printed and pasted for a satisfying stand in/test fit. I'm not going to tell anyone that I accidentally made it too big. That's what happens when working while under the influence of allergies late at night. I can fix it easily enough, though.
Don't these guys ever take a break?