LAYOUT PROGRESS NARRATIVE FOR THE NY&LB RR IN HO SCALE

 

12/5/2010

It's been 15 months now since I first began construction of my HO scale layout of the New York and Long Branch railroad in my basement.

At first, I had no intention of posting the progress of this layout on the web and only photographed the early stages of construction for my own personal references.
After seven months, I decided that a project such as this should probably be available to those that might be interested in the prototype, or more so, get some
inspiration from a fellow modeler who has very little experience building a project of this magnitude and using only those tools readily available to all.

My layout of the NY&LB, now known as the North Jersey Coast Line, is being built with operations in mind.  The prototype was mainly a double track commuter line
with the daily freight drills interspersed as the schedules allowed.  The NY&LB between Amboy and Bay Head during the 1950s had numerous local sidings, team tracks
and freight stations.  There were also six active interchanges with the line as well (C&A, Raritan River RR, Freehold, Bayshore, NJ Southern and Freehold & Jamesburg).
The entire line was double tracked with ABS.  Three significant yards were active along the NY&LB during the 1950s...at South Amboy (PRR), Red Bank (CNJ) and at Bay Head
(joint CNJ/PRR).  Bay Head contained a balloon track which turned westbound trains for the eastbound return trip.  It contained a coach yard and modest engine servicing
facility. (Even though the NY&LB geographically ran north and south, the CNJ determined that south trains were westbound and north trains were eastbound).  The Red
Bank yard was at the junction with the CNJ's line south through central New Jersey to Lakehurst and eventually Winslow Junction.  This was a mainly freight line after 1953.
The South Amboy yard was a bit more involved and included a steam/diesel servicing facility, a diesel/electric facility and mu storage tracks.  There was also an interchange
with the PRR coal docks and dumpers.

The New York and Long Branch RR was jointly owned by the Central Railroad of New Jersey and the Pennsylvania Railroad (after 1930) and ran NO rolling stock or
motive power of its own.  All motive power was either PRR or CNJ as well as most of the passenger equipment.  This set-up is what made the NY&LB unique.

 

1/5/2011

After dedicating one half of my basement to the railroad, I proceeded to cover the concrete block walls with moisture-resistant sheetrock and close off the exposed ceiling with
12x12 inch interlocking ceiling tiles.  Since my house was built in the mid 1920s, I had to deal with a number of irregularities with the walls, floor and ceiling.  (The house has been
in my family since it was built)  Since the layout had a definitive beginning and end as the NY&LB, I decided to start with the Southern terminus of the line at Bay Head Junction.
The next hurdle was where to locate the balloon track and yard where it could be reached from both sides while keeping the track radius within reason for passenger equipment.

I ultimately ended up locating Bay Head Junction in the middle of the layout with the mainline heading into one half of the basement on the lower level.  Construction of the
bench work was pretty easy since this part of the line is flat as well as the surrounding terrain.  A 1x4 grid topped with 3/4 inch birch plywood has been the construction method
right through Sea Girt and the entrance to the helix which will bring the layout to the upper level.

I would have to say that my layout is a bit unconventional in the fact that it starts in the middle of the whole scheme...while it has a staging track along the front edge of the layout
leading to a live interchange.  But...I do like challenges.

 

2/10/2011

The lower level of "phase 1" of the NY&LB is now finished as far as basic track work goes.  I have to say that I'm fairly happy with how the layout has progressed so far.  As it stands
now, the layout (lower level) has filled one half of the basement.  After the helix, the upper level will bring the mainline through the towns of Belmar, Bradley Beach/Neptune, Asbury Park
and Interlaken on this half of the basement.

The second half of the basement is being jelled out now, with the second level continuing into Long Branch, followed by Little Silver and then Red Bank.  In the meantime....

The existing track work continues to be put through its paces as the kinks and flaws are corrected.  The visual progress of the layout may be a bit slowed down in the coming weeks while
these items are attended to.  But, on the other hand, I'll probably document these mundane chores as well.  I'm hoping to open the layout to visitors sometime next month if all goes according to plan.

 

3/30/2011

When I was a kid growing up in the 1960s, I lived only three blocks from the NY&LB line in Point Pleasant Beach.  I remember me, my younger brother and a close neighborhood friend listening for the
distinct sound of the CNJ local freight (usually an Alco RS3), followed by our hasty trek via bicycles to the team tracks to watch the switching of the lumber-laden box cars and beer-filled reefers.
What a thrill!  We would then go back to my house and drill freight cars on my rather crude layout...pushing dummy locos by hand since the track work was beyond running anything reliably via the MRC
Power Pack with the new-fangled pulse control!  I wish I still had the photos of that long-gone layout.  What memories!

I also remember going for Sunday drives with my Grandparents.  We would occasionally go past the grade crossing at Allaire Park, which was the old PRR Freehold & Jamesburg Line.  The
tracks were still there and my grandparents would comment on the strange motorcar that would pass by twice a day. (the PRR doodlebug run between Trenton and Red Bank).  This was in the early 60s.

My layout has brought back a load of early memories of living at the Jersey Shore for the past 50+ years.  Hey, I was conceived the same month steam ended on the NY&LB.  A connection?

 

9/21/2011

The past four months have been a roller coaster ride for me and, unfortunately, the layout construction took a back seat.  But with fall settling in, I have picked up the pace a bit and progress should become evident.

I also had to deal with my web site host, Verizon, pulling the plug on updating the web pages.  What a dumb move and a slap in the face to loyal customers like me.  I now don't have any access to the site, or two other
sites I have up on their servers.  I have managed to find a new host and have migrated the NY&LB site over to them.  The web address is now www.nyandlb.com.  Since I can't post the new address on the
Verizon server, I'll need to get the word out on my own on the forums and emails.

As far as construction of the layout goes, I have started trackwork again in the Belmar section which will be posted on the construction pages shortly.

 

2/6/2013

Wow!  Has it been almost a year and a half since I last updated this narrative?  Well,  a whole lot has happened to me and the layout since then and it's all good.

Layout progress has been in spurts of activity punctuated with lulls while I have been going on with my life.  I met a wonderful woman and what started as just a friendship blossomed into a romance and is now leading
to marriage this June!  It is just incredible how quirky life can be and you never know what is just around the corner.  I'll admit the relationship has indeed taken up a lot of modeling time but things all seem to
balance out in the end.  Besides....I'm really in no rush to "complete" the layout (or first half of it).  I will admit , though, that I'm itching to continue the line from where it ends right now into the other half of the basement.

My main goal right now is to finally finish the Shark River bridge so I can run trains again.  I also need to install the upper level turnout controls and the 12VDC power buss on both levels. 

So much to do and I'm loving it!!!  Until next time.....cheers!

 

10/12/2013

I went down to the layout today with a ruler and proceeded to measure just how much mainline track has been laid so far.  The grand total is 308 feet!  (That includes 58 feet of track in the helix and don't forget that
the layout is double track.  That total is out and back from Bay Head using the helix total only once since it is single tracked.  And I did not include the temporary loop on the other end)

On a personal note I am now happily married and have been very busy with renovations to the rest of the house.  Layout progress has suffered but I'll catch up once things are squared away.  Hard construction on
the layout (bench work, track laying, etc) is now morphing into scenery work and installing signals.  I am going to do this next phase of work on the upper level....getting the track ballasted, basic scenery done...before
doing the same on the lower level.

I am also pretty close to photographing and posting photos of my stable of motive power and rolling stock on the web site.  The second half of the layout is still a way off but the planning has already started and my biggest
layout challenges are ahead.

 

11/16/2014

I just recently had my first "open house" of the layout and I am very encouraged from the reaction of my fellow modelers.  At present, all trackwork is completed on the first half of the Layout (and one half of my basement).
Most of the trackwork is functioning perfectly and there's just a few sticky spots that need some attention.  I resolved a major issue with my two reverse loops as well.

Scenery has begun on the upper level over the Bay Head loop, as well as installation of signal/crossing circuits and block circuitry.  I'm basically working in reverse of construction with scenery.

As for the second half my NY&LB model........I have most of the scheme planned out.  This includes a full representation of the complex Red Bank Junction with the CNJ Southern Division, the Navesink River Bridge, a two track helix
to the lower level which will hopefully include Matawan and the junction with the CNJ Seashore Line and Freehold Branch.  Then its off to the Morgan draw (my third) on the lower level and on to South Amboy.  I plan to include the South Amboy
engine and coaling facility along with the MU and Motor storage tracks.  The junction with the Raritan River Line is also planned.  The mainline will then cross the Raritan River over the swing bridge into staging.

Also, I am committed to assemble a track plan of the whole layout once I have finalized the second half, and as soon as it's done, I will post it on the site.

 

12/19/2016

The past two years (since my last update on this page) have been filled with life's trials, tribulations, and triumphs as most of you reading this can relate to.  My multi-year home renovations have winded down, although there always seems
to be a honey-do project lurking around a corner.  Down on the layout, scenery work continues on two levels in the same physical section of the layout.  The Bay Head loop and approach tracks are getting my full attention to scenery right now.
The upper level over this area is also getting finishing scenery work at the same time.  I really enjoy this phase of construction as it brings a whole new dimension to the bland track and painted terrain I've been gazing at for years.

In the coming months, a forest will sprout in the center of the loop...engine servicing facilities including buildings, spouts, signals, water tower, floodlights and offices located in two passenger coaches will appear at the loop...Bay Head station and
Ferry Lumber will rise at the loop entrance, and hopefully I'm being realistic while I'm being tugged and pulled by work and family.  But that's OK.  My agenda really has no agenda most of the time.

Looking ahead, I'm finally ready to move my workbench, work tables, and shelves out of the other half of the basement and into the garage this coming Spring.  Many have asked where will I will do my modeling?  The answer is... wherever I can.
As I stated in my previous discussion two years ago, the second half of the layout will be a really great journey.  I've been tweaking the plan but it remains essentially the same as before.  The junctions with the NJ Southern and the Freehold
Branch at Matawan are being hashed out.  Matawan looks now to occupy the top of the helix while the bottom of the helix will dump into the Morgan Draw over Cheesequake Creek before entering South Amboy.  I'm facing a lift-out
section on the lower level over my slop sink and another possibly hinged section of the layout at South Amboy at the wye with the C&A line (to get the motive power into the engine facility).  The present temporary loop may become a
permanent reversing loop after the Raritan bridge with staging in the center.  The present staging tracks on the lower level off the Bay Head loop (built on foam as an experiment) would be removed and a single track off the Raritan Bridge
would run through this area and back to Bay Head for continuous running as needed.  This would also facilitate better access to staging in the center of the new reversing loop.

This is where my plans for the layout stand right now.  It's all in my head.  Next year it will all go on paper (hopefully) and another chapter in this saga will unfold.  (But don't hold your breath as most of you already know :-)))