December 4, 2011

Inspection Trip to NJ Model Railroads

Sewell, WV on Ted Pamperin's layout
With the quiet that accompanies winter quarters on the Aquia Line, Pvt Martin McGuirk accompanied BG Kempinski on a two day inspection trip of the railroads in New Jersey. The objective of the trip was to visit various railroads to learn the latest techniques in railroad technology and design. The culmination of the trip was an operating session on Tony's Koester's Third Sub of the Nickel Plate Railroad  where we experienced the latest in Train Order and Time Table Operation.  All in all it was a great trip. We got to see 4 great layouts and operate on one of them.
Mike's shelf fascia under St Johnsberry

Our first stop was at Mike McNamara's Northern Kingdom Layout. Although situated in southern New Jersey, Mike models the area in and around St Johnsberry, VT. For more information about his layout see his blog. His layout set in the 1980s features beautiful fall scenery complemented by the colorful diesels of five different railroads. Mike builds a shelf into his fascia with clear pine creating a very pleasing "furniture" look to his benchwork. 

St Mary's Yard
(L to r) Marty, Perry, Tony
The next stop was at Perry Squire's 1920s era Pittsburgh and Shawmut line. This gorgeous railroad is set in the 1920s and features numerous prototypically correct steam engines, structures and layout design. Perry was recovering from shoulder surgery, but he graciously allowed us to visit.

The scene at the left is St Mary's yard on Perry's layout. This is as fine a scene as you will find on any model railroad. 

Ted and Marty by Sewell
Thurmond on Ted's Layout
Third stop was Ted Pamperin's C&O New River and Alleghany Subdivision layout. Ted set his layout in winter and his mountain scenery just nailed it. His version of Sewell is the best I have seem. He also has a great representation of Thurmond that incorporates the Loup Creek branch as an active Branch. This is very hard to do, but Ted's design accomplishes it. As a bonus, Ted's layout features an upper level that models the Mann's Creek narrow gauge RR.

Tony briefs the crew at the start of the session.
Eric Hansman at one of the operator's stations
After a great dinner with Ted and Tony, Pvt McGuirk and I went to Tony's layout to get an hour long orientation and inspection.

On Sunday morning, after morning physical training (at least for me, Marty stayed in bed and watched "Hell on Wheels" on AMC), we met some of Tony's operating crew at the Andover diner for a big breakfast.

Then it was off to Tony's for an intense and enjoyable 4.5 hour long operating session.  Tony built the huge double deck design especially to allow his collection of NKP steam engines to reach speeds that are normally never seen on operating scale model railroads.  They didn't call it "High Speed Service" for nothing.

It was a toot operating the layout, literally, as the dozen or so grade crossings, meets and station required near constant use of the horns.

This is a layout of incredible scope and execution. It is amazing. We had 25 operators in Tony's basement and everybody was busy.  I always admire guys that take on such large projects and Tony is pulling it off.
That is Frankfort yard. Yes, it is about 60 feet long.
Marty proudly wearing his USMRR T Shirt

On our drive back to Virginia, we contemplated what we saw, heard and did. We had a great time. We both were re-energized to get our layouts going, confident that the layout choices we made for ourselves are just right. I look forward to a return trip to NJ in a few years to watch as these amazing layout progress.


  1. Wonderful photos. I have actually been to see both Perry Squier's and Tony's layout back in 2001. At that time, Perry's son and I worked at the same company. Tony's layout was still very much work in progress - its great to see how good it looks now.

  2. Wow, those shots of Sewell and Thurmond are stunning.