PRR Chartiers Branch
The Layout
My Library

Peter's Model Railroading


This is a web site owned by Peter Vanvliet. Its primary focus is to document the construction of my model railroad, which is based on the Pennsylvania Railroad's "Chartiers" branch as it existed in the summer of 1924. The models are in S-scale (1:64). This "homepage" will list the past month's changes I have made to this site, with the latest addition at the bottom.

March 13, 2021
OK, it is time for a major change. I have been working on a sectional layout for several years now, and I seem to not have made much progress. That is fine, as this is supposed to be a hobby. However, in a recent effort to make some changes in the room in which the layout was located, it became painfully obvious that the 40+lbs sections were just too big, too heavy, and too unwieldy for one person to man-handle, especially now that they have delicate track and structures on them. I have very limited space available, so I try to make the most of what I do have. So, I have decided that, while I had to take the layout down anyway, I am going to start over again.

I like the sectional approach, but I don't like the weight of the sections. I am absolutely not changing anything about what I am modeling, but rather only how the layout is to be constructed. The heavy sections have got to go. The new sections need to be lighter, smaller, easier to move, easier to work on, and better able to be photographed.

While it might seem wasteful to start all over again, I have learned a lot about layout lighting, constructing and maintaining a deep layout (4 feet), and about detailed track work (which I like, but will only do again in sections where that is visible). Also, it is my plan to keep these new modules indefinitely, so it is worth doing them "correctly", and be happy with what I am producing.

So, my plan is to build the sections' framework out of Gatorfoam® board. This is similar to the conventional foam board that you find at art supply stores and hobby centers, but instead of having paper layers on its surfaces, it has a resin-impregnated wood-fiber veneer on both sides. This makes the board quite expensive, but they are supposed to be flat and dimensionally stable. I have visited a local N-scale modeler who built a very large layout out of sections using Gatorfoam board. He was able to work on them at the workbench, and, when done, he would place them on his wooden sub-structure of the layout. I plan on doing something similar.

Since what I am modeling isn't changing, I am continuing to work on the coal tipple building I have recently been working on. I have finished the four main sub-structures of the trestle framework that holds the tipple building up in the air.

Because I had already been working on re-designing this web site, I have decided to also take this opportunity to start with a blank slate on it, too. Over time, I will bring back the old content, but in a new format. It was too difficult (especially as a hobby) to try to keep the 4,200 pages and 8,500 photos that I have/had on this web site, formatted in an odd combination of the old and new formats.

The objective with all of these changes is to simplify my life, eliminate what is not working, and improve and more thoroughly enjoy that which is working. Please note that while this web site is undergoing significant changes, some internal links to older content may not work properly. These will be fixed over time.

March 26, 2021
Some of the previous web site version's prototype data for the Chartiers branch has been migrated over to the new design. I am actively working on "The Layout" pages now. Most of those core pages are there, and I am simultaneously designing my new section/module, updating the pages on this web site, and getting ready to actually build the first one. I have also started to build a Reviresco 1917 Ford Model T pickup truck kit, which I will soon start to document in the "Articles" section of this web site.

March 27, 2021
Although my layout will consist of several smaller dioramas, which, technically would be called "sections" since I am not building them to a recognized modular standard, I will be using the term "module" on this web site from now on, because the word "section" is too ambiguous.

April 2, 2021
Construction of the first module is well underway. I have also started the documentation on the construction of the 1917 Ford Model T kit.

April 9, 2021
This week I finished the construction of the first module's framework (see this page). I also received my order for flextrack which will be used on this module. The next phase will be the construction of the first module's scenery, track, and the tipple building itself, so this week I got a good start on the design diagram for those (see this page). No real progress on the Ford Model T.