Pennsy Switching Puzzle

I’m not sure you can ever call a model railroad layout, even a shelf style layout, done, but this one good enough to run trains on again. This is a an 8-inch wide by 52-inch long layout – yeah I know the length is weird, but it’s due to me originally figuring on using all the track that came with the yard set I purchased. I quickly altered the yard legs to fit the rules of the puzzle, which left me with lots of “mainline” space that became a small river basin and an opportunity for a bridge.

Here you can see the main yard legs, the little creek and the puzzle cards I made to randomize the freight car consist. The DCC Controller is there too.

I choose to make this whole process one large practice run for when/if I decide to build a proper layout. Things I need to work on are making the benchwork, wiring, and rivers at 1/160 scale! Things I would like to add or work on with this puzzle include trees and electronic turnout control. I also just hot melt glued the track in position. This will become permanent if I run gravel and white glue (although with enough persuasion and hot water wash, anything done with white glue can be undone!), or semi-permanent if I just cover the glue points.


For now, I’ll just have fun running puzzles and continuing to learn all the little things I can do with a full DCC control system. (DCC is Digital Command Control, which pushes instructions along the powered rails in a square-waves which is linked to a specific microprocessor added to each powered locomotive.) This system allows you to operate more than one trian on the same layout independent of any other loco on any other section of the layout. It also gives you access sounds and very small motive increments. Lights and horns and bells are only the beginning!

Pulling the finished 5-car freight train over the creek

At the moment I have good running track, even with a little “hump” across the first turnout, some ground cover down, and a small (and way too blue colored) creek for a bridge. I would like to add gravel to the yard and tracks, but I am unsure if this will be permanent installation, a stand alone puzzle or if I will tear it down and reuse the track for a bigger layout in the future.

Whoa but that creek is too blue! The embankment needs some dry-brushing as well, so many an opportunity to pour some muddy water over the creek!

9 thoughts on “Pennsy Switching Puzzle

    1. It’s more the color of the water. I tried a new product, it dried clear and is supposed to be applied in a thin layer, so you have to color the base underneath. Normally, I add color to epoxy and pour it in layers. I followed a tutorial on making water effect on model layout, should have stuck with my tried and true diorama method!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Great work Eric. It’s good to have a few bugs when you are dipping your toe in the water, so that when you try something larger you have worked out what you are doing.

        Liked by 2 people

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