HO Scale Layout

An HD&O commuter train crossing a trestle bridge with a truck in the background.
A Commuter Train on the Gladstone Branch of the HD&O


The Club’s HO scale layout takes up most of the floor space in our 11,000 square-foot facility. It has now been under construction for over 40 years. Like the building it’s housed in, the layout is being built in phases as time and money permit. There is no formal timetable for completion but there is a basic track plan and a general sequence for construction. Work is expected to continue for many years to come.

Track plan of the original layout
Track Plan for Phase 1. Courtesy of Model Railroader Magazine

The Railroads

The layout includes three fictional railroads, the Class 1 Hudson, Delaware and Ohio; the Trenton Northern, an interurban and traction line; and the Rahway River, a short line. Each railroad interchanges with the others but has its own operating crew and procedures.

A passenger train lead by two engines pulling into a small station
An HD&O Passenger Train at Bellefonte

Upon completion, the Hudson, Delaware and Ohio (HD&O) mainline will run from Hoboken, NJ to Pittsburgh, PA, where it interchanges with the Baltimore and Ohio. There is a branch line which runs from Summit, NJ to Gladstone and other branch lines are also planned. Interchanges with the Trenton Northern are located in both Jim Thorpe, PA, on the HD&O main, and Bernardsville, NJ, on the Gladstone Branch. In Jim Thorpe there will be another interchange with the Mauch Chunk Terminal Railroad which is still under construction. In Summit the railroad links up with the Rahway River.

Trenton Northern coaches in a coach yard. Reefers sitting at an ice house in the background.
Trenton Yard

The Trenton Northern Transportation and Light Company’s line runs from Trenton, NJ to Northhampton, PA. Branches run to Jim Thrope and Bernardsville with the previously mentioned connections with the HD&O. The Trenton Northern also has an interchange with the Rahway River in Allentown, PA.

A Rahway River switcher in front of the railroad's depot and servicing facilities.
Rahway River Engine Number 8 at Kenilworth Station

The Rahway River is an independent short line that begins in the small town of Kenilworth, NJ and runs to Allentown, PA, with a short branch to Summit, NJ.

members operating trains on the railroad
Operating Session, July 30, 2013


Prototypical operations is an important facet of the hobby for us. We have regular operating sessions every Tuesday evening from 7 to 10 PM. We also occasionally hold special operating events for guests.

We do not utilize a fast clock, although we have discussed introducing a fast clock in the future. Instead, we use a Time Conversion Table, where 8 operating hours is compressed into 3 actual hours. Hence, it takes 3 operating sessions to complete an operating day.

We use a variation of the tab-on-car waybill system for car routing. We have found this to be the best system for our weekly operating sessions.

A map of the Trenton Northern lit with various indicators. It is above a desk with a schedule and keypad on it.
The Trenton Northern’s Dispatcher’s Panel