Pennsy Yard Photo Gallery

Above: A freight train passes the dairy on Stu Dom's Pennsy Yard. Photo Credit: Jim Spavins

Pennsy Yard

The Pennsy Yard, as it now exists, is an improvement of a module design that I built in 1989, and used successfully in our club modular layout for about 15 years.  It now rest in the home of one of our club members, and still is in good working condition.  Improvements to the original design include the use of more scenery that represents the hilly and wooded countryside of the central part of Pennsylvania, and improved access of mainline trains into the yard area.

While this type of yard, with the scenery and terrain that it contains, could be found in almost any central or western Pennsylvania city, I have chosen to label this as the Enola Yard.  The primary reason for doing so it that when in our club layout, it normally adjoins the famous Rockville Bridge, where trains cross the Susquehanna river when going from Harrisburg, PA to Pittsburg, PA and beyond.  The real Enola Yard is located on the south side of the Susquehanna River just west of Harrisburg, PA.  CTC control for the real Enola Yard is handled by the Harrisburg Yard found just east and north of the Susquehanna River, and the yards are connected to each other over the Rockville Bridge module built by Jim Spavins.

The set of modules (6 in total) contains two mainline tracks and one local track that interconnect at the ends to other modules of our Mohegan Pequot Model Railroad club.  In addition, it also has two passing sidings that are accessible to all incoming and outgoing tracks, as well as a double ended yard that has 6 tracks, each of which is at least 12 feet in length.  Not shown on the layout schematic is an industry on the right hand side that is modeled with the Walthers Sterling Consolidated Dairy kit, which is partially completed at this time.  In addition, the outside mainline track passes through a mountain that is open for viewing in the front to allow for a great deal of elevation change.  Numerous trees (many still in the growing stage) cover the mountain scenery and much of the background scenery at the ends of the module.

While the original module consisted of 2 – 36” x 8’ models with another narrow 8’ yard extension, the current Pennsy yard consists of 4 – 36” x 6’, and 2 – 36” x 4’ modules for a total length of 32’. The move from 8’ long modules to 4’ & 6’ modules was necessitated by the lack of ability for our older club members, including myself, to successfully handle the modules without breaking our backs. And, by this measure, the design of these new modules fits the bill quite nicely, as every effort was made to make the benchwork as light as possible. The modular grouping can be reduced, if necessary for space reasons by eliminating the 2 end 4’ modules, and still retain full functionality when inserted into a layout design.

As we look at the module from left to right, the first module in the group (Module A) is primarily a transition piece between the Pennsy Yard and the next module, normally a module with a sawmill theme. This module will contain several sawmill company houses and a small country store. This module is very rural, but has several turnouts to enable a smoother transition into and out of the east end of the yard when space allows the module to be used. Most of the work has been completed on this module, except for building the sawmill company houses.

The next module in the group (Module B) is the West end of the yard, and contains the ladder tracks for the yard and a small engine house. Access to the yard can be gained from either of the mainline tracks or local track (3rd track from the outside) that most of the club modules contain. This module is a very busy place as it has a total of 12 turnouts. This module also includes a bridge crossing a small stream for the outside mainline track. The inside mainline track does not cross the river, but instead makes a turn to follow the south side of the river.

Module C contains the bulk of the yard trackage, as there are no turnouts on the module. This module also contains the West tunnel portal for the outside mainline track that runs through the tunnel for a length of about 16’. The mountain that the train runs through is a lift off assembly to aid in transportation. In addition the mountain has a cutout in the front so that spectators will be able to see the trains running through. I also use the spectators expressions to determine if I am about to have a rear end collision in the tunnel, as they seem to enjoy seeing these things happen. It must work as I have yet to have any rear-enders. I have not finished planting the trees on the mountain, as this is a rather monumental task.

The next module (D) contains the continuation of the yard trackage, plus most of the ladder trackage for the East end of the yard. The front (spectator side) of this module has a hill, covering the entire front part of the module, wherein, the outside mainline tracks are positioned. A small stream follows along the back of the mountain and naturally separates the mountain from the flatter yard scenery. The control panel attaches to be back of modules C & D, so operation is from the middle of the module set, which is made much easier with homemade handheld throttles. We still use DC block control, so all wiring to and from the control panel is routed through these two modules. And that represents a lot of wiring.

Module E is my favorite. The primary landscape in this region represents a large cut between high hills through which the yard lead tracks and necessary crossovers are placed, the East end tunnel portal is located, and the Dairy plant previously id placed. There is a great deal of photographic opportunities in this section as trains flow through the cut, into and out of the yard, as mainline trains pass uninhibited into and out of the tunnel portal and along the small stream. This section is almost completed, with the exception of cleaning up the scenery around the dairy plant.

Module F is a transition piece between the Enola Yard and the Rockville Bridge, and contains only straight through trackage. There will be a continuation of the dairy plants on the west end of this module as well as a large country store, and a nice home that overlooks the Susquehanna River and the Rockville Bridge. I believe that the owner of this is the home is the proprietor of the country store, and may be affiliated with the dairy plant.

As I indicated before, our club still uses DC block control, so control of this set of modules requires the use of many block control switches, and due to the overall length of this module set, remote control of the turnouts. There are 4 throttles in all controlling the flow of trains through the module, 2 of which are located on the control panel face, and the other 2 are handheld walk around throttles. So this station can clearly be operated and should be operated by more than one person.

The control panel can be seen if Figure 1, and contains control for all turnouts (with position indication signals) and blocks for the Enola Yard, as well as similar controls for the Rockville Bridge. This panel hooks onto a slot on the back of the modules C & D and provides input and output to and from the layout through a total of 4 – 37 pin circular connectors. The top of the panel is hinged for easy access while building but has not been opened since. The power supplies for the control panel and all throttles are mounted to the underside of Module C, and no AC power comes into the panel at all.

Setup and teardown of the module set is quite easy as the control panel simply hooks onto the modules, and wiring is connected from the layout into the control panel by screwing 4 connectors together. Additional circular connectors allow interconnection between all modules, so this part of the setup also is relatively quick. More time is consumed during setup due the need to install nearly 50 – 6” track pieces to connect the track between modules.
All parts needed to complete the module setup are stored in specialized containers for protection during transit and storage. For example:

I hope this article gives you some insight of the modeling of a somewhat typical double ended yard. It took 6 separate modules to make this all come together, and much work by myself, and many of my fellow club members. I would especially like to thank those that helped me the most in my efforts – Jim Spavins, Dan Delany and Don Counsellor. Without their help this assembly of modules would be nowhere as complete as it is today. This project started back in 2005, with the assembly of the module benchwork, and it was finally put together, although without scenery and a temporary control panel in January 2007. Much work has been done since then, and still more needs to be done to finish the project, although it may never be considered complete.

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Module at a Glance

Scale: HO Scale
Size: 3'x24'
Number of Sections: 6
Builder: Stu Dom
Type: Straight
Mainline Tracks: 3
Years Constructed: 2005
Era: 1950s
Features: Yard, Enginehouse, Dairy
Status: Active