Building the Layout at 575 High Mountain Road

After the 1991 Annual Show, the Old Layout was demolished. That took 3 months to accomplish. The present layout was started in April of 1992. We are still trying to dig up photos from the mid 90s. New pictures of continuing progress in the new century can be found at the very bottom.
Blake working on the Hidden Yard in 1992 600X451 | 787X592
This is where it all began. Blake layed out the west end of the Hidden Yard. The mainline in the background does not exist yet.

Hidden Yard 1992 600X404 | 886X596
The new six track Hidden Yard is completely visible. Most of this track was salvaged from the old layout. Note the bus wires between the tracks.

Hidden Yard 1992 600X403 | 879X590
The reverse curve of the Hidden Yard. Bob must have been checking clearances with his 85 foot Amtrak superliners!

Hidden Yard almost done 1992 600X397 | 884X585
The layout at this point had to make a jog around the chimney. Track 5 was the last to be installed. Note the complete lack of risers, etc. for the mainline.

Hidden Yard east end 1992 600X404 | 882X594
Construction proceeded east to the River Scene with the completion of the throat. In the lower right hand corner, note the legs of the tripod. Also visible, to the right of the throat, is a long ruler with a pencil sticking out. It was made from two yardsticks, and had many pivot holes drilled in it for various radii. This contraption was used to lay out all the curves on the Garden State Northern. Doug is standing on a curved piece of plywood that later supported the track at the end of the second peninsula between Perry and Norristown.

River Scene 1992 637X593
At this time, only about ten feet of mainline was completed into what would become the River Scene.

River Scene 1992 600X402 | 878X588
Looking the other way down the future River Scene. The second and third peninsulas did not even exist. Note the backdrop from the Old Layout.

4th Aisle 1992 600X403 | 869X583
A view of the end of the future location of the fourth peninsula. Blake's table saw was scary to operate, but it always had sharp blades from Precision!

Skip and Tom working in the 4th Aisle 1992 600X404 | 886X597
The very beginnings of the fourth peninsula. Tom is leveling an Lgirder while Skip is plumbing the legs.

The Pit in 1992 600X402 | 890X596
We return to the front door and look into the pit. This was the only part of the mainline in existence going west. In the foreground, you can see the crossover has been installed. Left to right are Tim, ?, Blake, and Doug.
Butler (now Middletown) in 1992 600X412 | 842X578
We begin this second batch of photos from 1992 with a shot of the third peninsula. As you can see, the mainline is complete on the left side. The NYS&W yard in Butler, New Jersey was to be modeled here. This is now Middletown. Note the luan roadbed where the mainline splits in two, current to this day. If you look closely, you can see the pencil centerlines for the east main.

2nd Aisle in 1992 600X378 | 865X545
Back at the front door, we see that the benchwork for the second peninsula is complete. This was the last peninsula constructed. There is no roadbed for the track yet. Bob and Tom are over in Butler discussing trackwork. Note in the foreground on the left is what is to become our famous High Bridge. In front of the column is the east main bypass.

First Control Panel 1992 600X417 | 837X582
Our first panel controlled only the six hidden yard tracks. This is all we had for the first show in 1992! The entire mainline was one huge block.

1st Aisle 1992 600X387 | 855X551
Later that year, from inside the pit, we see that not only has the mainline been completed in the first peninsula, but the roadbed for Albatross Yard has been started. Some of the throat trackage is in place. Due to problems of recycled switches and design constraints, this would later be modified to a new design based on a John Armstrong trackplan. There is no sign of the steam facility on top of the west throat of the now "hidden" yard!
Power packs and meters 1993 600X395 | 880X579
Our first picture from 1993 takes us back to the pit. Two road cabs ran the entire railroad. The panel that holds the four meters has now been incorporated into our present main panel.

Salvaged power supply at site of diesel facility in 1993 600X413 | 842X580
Future site of the diesel servicing facility. This massive power supply was salvaged from the old railroad. Today it only powers the twin coil switch machines in both the hidden and albatross yards.

Bridge scene 1993 600X397 | 886X586
This is what the bridge scene looked like before our landmark bridge was built.

Bridge scene 1993 600X387 | 858X554
A GSN caboose travels across the future site of the bridge.

Bridge construction 1993 600X371 | 881X545
It took members Tim and Jim about 4 months to build the bridge. Note that the bridge section in the foreground has been bevel cut. A Micro-Engineering bridge kit was modified to fit a 34 inch radius.

Original Albatross throat 1993 600X391 | 857X559
Work has begun in earnest on the eastern throat of Albatross Yard. The original design incorporated a 3-way switch. All these switches were recycled from the old layout, and proved to be unsatisfactory. Albatross Yard was re-designed with new switches and finally finished in November of 1994.

Albatross 1993 600X396 | 869X574
This is how Albatross Yard looked when it was only plywood. The mainline has been complete through here since August, 1992. The "golden spike" was driven by Blake and Bob in the far left hand corner of this picture, near where the present Norristown Junction tower is today. Pete, as always, has made excellent progress with his backdrop painting.

Doug Tower 1993 600X397 | 882X584
Future site of Doug Tower. Note the installation of backdrop supports. The entire mainline used code 100 flex track. There were two 14 gauge buss wires that paralleled each track. Every other rail joint was connected to the buss by a thin feeder wire. In this manner every 6 foot section of track was electrically connected to the buss. The remaining rail joints were NOT soldered to allow for expansion and contraction.

Original Bob Tower 1993 600X406 | 868X588
The first set of crossovers at Bob Tower were made up from recycled #8 shinohara turnouts salvaged from the Old Layout. They were so bad that they caused Bob to take temporary leave of his senses. In about 6 weeks, he hand-laid the existing crossovers at home and then installed them on the layout.

River Scene 1993 600X390 | 884X575
Another look at the River Scene and its backdrop. Pete has painted some of his three dimensional trees. The River Scene was the only part of the railroad that had scenery during the 1992 show. Several visitors stuck their heads in the door and left as soon as they saw all the plywood!

River Scene 1993 600X385 | 880X564
The last picture of this batch takes us to the River Scene, which had no river yet. Pete has painted distant mountains on the backdrop. The red rocks were later repainted with a more realistic color.
Albatross extension 2002 378X560 | 550X814
In February of 2002, this new benchwork was installed as part of our Albatross Extension Project. This will give our yard two new stub-ended tracks, to be completed in March.
Altoona yard entrance 2002 373X560 | 700X1050
In 2001, we tore out our old workbenches to make room for a storage yard, bookshelves, and a locomotive repair facility. In late March 2002, the white board was pulled away from the wall so that the track could pass behind it en route to this new development. All of the benchwork for the storage yard is complete as of April 1. You can see where the throat will be in this photo. The bookshelves go in front of the storage yard. The repair facility will go on top of both!

Branchline extension 2002 457X560 | 750X920
Looking the other way toward the aforementioned scene, you can see the lower lead for the yard and the upper lead for the repair facility.

Altoona Yard 2003 370X560 | 550X833
In late 2002, homasote was installed on top of the plywood. In early 2003, all of this trackage was installed.

Bob and Gerry installing Tortoises at Altoona in 2003 517X560 | 700X758
In May 2003, Bob aligns the piano wire while Gerry very carefully screws the Tortoise machines into position. The control panel was completed just prior to the 2003 Open House.
Raystown Lake 2003 600X400 | 1000X667
Construction of Raystown Lake also began in 2003. This photo from June shows the conceptual arches and some magazine photos depicting the mainline bridge over the lake.

Raywtown Lake 2003 600X395 | 1000X667
Rotating to the right, we see where the branch line crosses over the mainline and new foam scenery foundations at Walterville.
Perry Turntable started 600X401 | 800X535
The Garden State Northern interchanges with the Otter Creek and Perry shortline. Otter Creek is equipped with a wye, but Perry has no place to turn a locomotive. Thus in May 2003, Ed and Gerry took on the project of reconstructing the end of our second aisle to install this turntable at Perry.

Perry Turntable nearly finished 2003 600X395 | 800X527
The new Perry turntable is for all intents and purposes complete in this June 3, 2003 photo!
New Norristown Junction started 488X560 | 800X918
Another major project was underway in the late spring of 2003. Led by Bob Savino, Norristown Junction was completely rebuilt! The reason for this project was twofold. For one, the branchline benchwork was in very poor shape. In this photo, you can see the brand new benchwork making its way around the backdrop. Second, when the Norristown industrial scene was connected to the old River Junction, a lot of trackage became redundant. You can see in this photo some of the track templates used to lay out the entirely new junction. The bridge in the background will not be used but is there to show the concept of the fictitious railroad that crosses the GSN at the diamonds in the foreground. The track swinging to the right will form a wye with the GSN mainline, allowing more flexibility when routing freight up the branchline.

New Norristown Junction construction 600X421 | 850X596
This photo really shows what the final track plan will look like. You can see the redundant trackwork. The switch off of the mainline just in front of the crossover split into two tracks and headed up the branch. You can make out the bare plywood to the left of Walter's mockup station. The two Norristown yard tracks connected and then also headed up the branch. To eliminate this excessive trackage, the two yard tracks are going to swing to approximately where the two track templates are! The mainline switch is going to be reversed as shown and an REA track will be installed at the new station. Note the red pins in the top left corner holding down the track that will form the wye discussed in the above photo.

New Norristown Junction trackwork completed 2003 455X560 | 800X984
With the trackwork completed by Bob and Rob Savino and all of the tools put away, one can much better understand the new track plan. Note that Walter has completed his two story angled station structure. Another view of the new junction can be seen on the Norristown page of our Virtual Layout Tour!
Branchline electrification 2003 600X374 | 800X498
Walter is at it again! He has completed electrification of Crystal Lake, and with the branchline trackage completed, he will soon be continuing electrification of the entire shortline.
Car Shop in progress June 2005 600X393 | 900X589
The Garden State Northern was in need of a car shop adjacent to Albatross Yard to service cars. As of late June 2005, this enormous building is in place, the tracks are connected, and the roof is off for interior detail work.
New Tunnel east of DOUG Tower June 2005 600X400 | 900X600
This tunnel between DOUG Tower and Middletown was in need of a facelift. Chris tackled the project and has a considerable portion of the work completed in late June 2005.
New BOB Tower switch June 2005 600X422 | 900X633
A new passenger station was erected just east of the BOB Tower interlocking and so it was decided to lay a station track for REA service. Since the entire interlocking was handlaid in 1994, Bob decided to hand lay this switch. So far just the ties are in place.

New BOB Tower switch July 2005 600X461 | 900X691
The new switch is completed in early July 2005. Soon after the rest of the station track was handlaid and a tortoise motor was installed.
Approach toward Middletown Mining Company Mine July 2005 600X427 | 900X640
The Middletown Mining Company's coal mine in Middletown was closed in early 2005 and a power plant is under construction at the site. Thus, the Otter Creek & Perry shortline was extended north of Otter Creek to tap the new mines that will feed that power plant. In July 2005, the roadbed is in place and trackwork is underway at the mine. If you scroll up roughly a dozen photos, you can see the total absence of the benchwork on which this right-of-way exists.

Middletown Mining Company Mine July 2005 600X400 | 900X600
This reverse angle photo shows the mine tipple. The tracks will pass beneath the structure and swing across those two fans on the left. There will also be a small yard here to store hopper cars. The large white spot in the left foreground will be made into a lake.
New mountains for Albatross April 2007 600X399 | 900X598
El constructed these mountains at home and brought them to the Club on April 15, 2007 to install along the backdrop behind Albatross Yard.

El setting glue for new Albatross Mountains April 2007 600X399 | 900X598
He sets the glue in place behind the mainline.

El installs new mountain section April 2007 600X399 | 900X598
El carefully reaches across Albatross Yard to install the second of the three mountain sections.
Fresh fascia paint July 2007 600X399 | 900X598
The Club decided the layout needed a facelift for its 50th Anniversary and decided to repaint all of the fascia. Here El rolls one of the last sections by the High Bridge on July 1, 2007.

Plexiglass cleaning July 2007 600X399 | 900X598
Ed Fred works hard to clean the plexiglass which had to be removed prior to painting.

Plexiglass reinstallation July 2007 600X399 | 900X598
Jack and Walter reinstall a clean piece of plexiglass at Perry.
West Albatross August 2009 600X450 | 1000X750
In August 2009, the tracks at West Albatross were reconfigured for the new plastic pellet plant, lumber yard, and grain facility. The brewery was renamed and relocated to DOUG Tower.
East Main Realignment 2014 800X532
During May 2014, the eastbound mainline hidden behind the Viaduct on the westbound mainline was totally reconstructed. Since 1992, this track was squeezed to the right of the lolly column and certain locomotives would actually hit the column! This photo shows a cardboard template cut to 30" radius laying in a much smoother alignment to the left of the lolly column.

East Main Realignment 2014 800X532
The plywood under the Car Shop had to be removed to access the eastern end of this track. An existing seam allowing access to the Hidden Yard throat was utilized. When the Car Shop was built, a three-way switch and extra track to access the turntable were installed over this seam. They were removed.

East Main Realignment 2014 800X532
The plywood was removed. Two garden tracks off the turntable were removed. An extra cut was made in the top left corner to preserve turntable leads from the coal tower. The Hidden Yard throat can be seen underneath to the left. The mainlines separate underneath going to the right. The closer of those two tracks is the westbound mainline to the Viaduct. The rear track is the eastbound main to be realigned.

East Main Realignment 2014 800X532
One new piece of plywood was all that was needed. The two yardsticks screwed together laid every curve on the GSN mainline in 1992 by swinging them on a tripod! The centerline is for the 30" radius track and the lines to either side will be cut to make the new roadbed. Plenty of clearance has been left for wide swinging locomotives and rolling stock.

East Main Realignment 2014 800X532
On the opposite end from the Car Shop, the eastbound main has been cut beneath the Passenger Terminal and the original track and roadbed disconnected. The entire curve was removed in one piece like the new track will be installed. Several portions of this old track were found badly out of NMRA gauge.

East Main Realignment 2014 800X532
The new plywood roadbed is clamped in place for a test fit. The pencil lines show the concept of an easement, in this case one-half inch. Instead of running straight into the curve at the tangent, the track will slowly bend, or ease, into the curve.

East Main Realignment 2014 800X532
It was decided to lay the new track on cork simply because the old track on this end was on cork. The new roadbed was removed, cork installed, and put back in place for additional fitting.

East Main Realignment 2014 800X532
Here is the final assembly of the new piece. The track is installed. Feeders were soldered in place. 2 inch cardboard strips were hot glued to prevent equipment from falling to the floor off of the new hidden mainline in the event of a derailment.

East Main Realignment 2014 800X532
Installation was a complete success! President Jack's articulated D&H steam locomotive, which always hit the column, led the first train through the new track.

East Main Realignment 2014 800X532
The massive D&H locomotive emerges from the other side of the now realigned eastbound mainline!

Car Shop Rebuild 2014 800X532
After reinstalling the plywood for the Car Shop, the Club decided to cut the Car Shop building in half, allowing for a much improved view of the turntable and roundhouse. Instead of reinstalling the extra lead to the turntable, the three-way switch was reinstalled to serve all three tracks of the Car Shop. An additional track was installed to allow the wreck train to be parked in a prime viewing area.

Car Shop Rebuild 2014 800X532
This is a reverse look at the new trackwork. None of the switches were laid on the plywood seam that allows access to the throat underneath. Several new sheds and structures were to be placed by the turntable and scenery is was to be completed for the 2014 Open House.

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