Lancaster County Layout

I’m a serial layout builder. I’ve often found myself designing a new layout in my head while building the project at hand.

At the end of 2019, I was paging through Model Railroad Planning and found some inspiration on their Winston-Salem Southbound project. I also wanted to practice scenery techniques like trees and static grass.

I decided to merge the self-contained curved valiance idea from the Winston-Salem Southbound with the recent trend of building layouts on top of Ikea IVAR benchwork. The result was the “Lancaster County Ry.”

I knew I wanted to model somewhere in SE Pennsylvania, one of my wife and I’s favorite places to vacation. I decided to model a small slice of a lightly used branch somewhere in Lancaster County. I envisioned that this small slice of the former Pennsylvania RR or Reading was cast off by NS and is now operated a couple times a week by the East Penn RR. The crew drives over from a neighboring branch to do the hour or two of switching required. Jack Hill’s blog on his old O scale switching layout was a big inspiration in the concept.

Lance Mindheim’s blog on “the one turnout layout” helped with industry selection. Since there was room for only one layout, I knew it would need to be car-spot driven. By modeling a food processing plant (based on Univar Foods on the Middletown & Hummelstown RR) I could switch corn syrup tank cars, covered hoppers, and the occasional box car.

Construction was straightforward using Peco track, two kit-bashed Walthers kits, and cheap track lighting from Home Depot for the lighting! I used a big mix of Silflor and Heki static grass, ballast from Arizona Rock & Mineral, and Scenic Express Super Trees.

Operations are simple but often take up to 25 minutes to sort out the cars. Its enjoyable in large part thanks to the wonderful Atlas East Penn locomotive with LokSound and custom weathering by Maine Modelworks.

My wife loves the lighting and book storage it brings to the living room, and I enjoy being able to leisurely switch trains while we spend time together in the home. The drink holder on the fascia was a great addition!

You can check out an operating session on the layout on my YouTube channel:

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