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We moved in December, 2019. A couple of years prior to our move, we bought into a 55+ development in Florida. I figured I’d go there a couple of months in the winter and it really wouldn’t affect my life. WRONG. We loved it. The clubhouse, the activities, the weather, etc. In addition, since there were about 1,100 houses, I could probably offend at least 600 people without impacting our lifestyle. Bottom line is that we spent a lot more time there than I thought we would.

That made our house in NY, which was large and on an acre, more of a liability than an asset. Some of you were able to visit our layout there, which is something I really enjoyed. If not, here’s a Forum post of a “train day” at Gerry’s.

So the layout was dismantled, the house was sold and we bought into another 55+ development in Somerset, NJ. We closed on both houses in December, 2019 and got out of NJ as fast as we could for the warmth of Florida. But we really looked forward to returning, meeting our new neighbors, enjoying the activities, etc. I mean like, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, as we all know, a lot did. So when life gives you lemons, you just try to do the best that you can. The house needed a bunch of work done to it and my back isn’t what it used to be. We were really lucky and got Sid and his crew. Now Sid usually does major housing additions, kitchen and bathroom renovations, etc. But he couldn’t get any licenses last year. So he did our work, including building the train tables. That happened in late July and August. There are pictures of the painted train tabletops and supports in the garage. I did the painting. And a picture of Sid building the tables in the basement. My layout is a 1950’s layout. Green grass, so green table tops. I use orange legs and supports.

I’m attaching a few pictures of what I went through to get to that point. I also did a little bribery to make sure I had helpers. You see them eating. Food and drink always gets cooperation! And Bob and Al are a lot better at this than I am. Interestingly enough, we invited them for a weekend last year and then found out that the weekend we selected was both of their 49th anniversaries. The anniversaries were one day apart. We had to change the date because of COVID quarantining, but coupled it with my 75th birthday to have a nice celebration. Which was really great in 2020.

More to follow as stuff has been done since the tables were built.

BTW, the RR name has a double meaning. Rightfully, my wife calls me a BRAT. But my grandchildren are Becca, Rory, Alexandra, Theo and Samantha. Too good a name to pass up.


Painting in the Garage 2020-07aPainting in the Garage 2020-07bSid early basement construction 2020-08

Train Helpers getting prepared.


Images (4)
  • Painting in the Garage 2020-07a
  • Painting in the Garage 2020-07b
  • Sid early basement construction 2020-08
  • Train Helpers getting prepared.
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Stevemny isn't in NY anymore. It's more like Stevemnc. Steve was a great help with my last RR (the original BRATS) and would surely have been one of the people I would have bribed with food.

Greg, you are too young, but this is being played out like the movie serials in the 50's. You'd go to a Saturday movie, and the damsel would be tied to the train tracks, the smoke from the steam engine could be seen in the distance, and the guy with the white hat was firing his gun at the guys with the black hats (and mustaches), who were riding away. But would he be able to get to the damsel in time to save her from the train? Sorry, but you gotta come back next week to find out. This will play out faster and you don't have to buy a ticket to find out if there's a Wall of Hats. Just stay tuned. The real question is how much of the cakes did Messrs. De guarde, Spaventa and Morlitz eat?


@gmorlitz posted:

Stevemny isn't in NY anymore. It's more like Stevemnc. Steve was a great help with my last RR (the original BRATS) and would surely have been one of the people I would have bribed with food.

Greg, you are too young, but this is being played out like the movie serials in the 50's. You'd go to a Saturday movie, and the damsel would be tied to the train tracks, the smoke from the steam engine could be seen in the distance, and the guy with the white hat was firing his gun at the guys with the black hats (and mustaches), who were riding away. But would he be able to get to the damsel in time to save her from the train? Sorry, but you gotta come back next week to find out. This will play out faster and you don't have to buy a ticket to find out if there's a Wall of Hats. Just stay tuned. The real question is how much of the cakes did Messrs. De guarde, Spaventa and Morlitz eat?


Excellent - it gives me another thing to look forward to each week!

I'm sure they ate the whole darn cake!


So by mid to late September, the tables were built and stuff moved to the side. So what’s the first thing you want to do once that’s done? RUN TRAINS! I mean, it had been at least a year since I had run trains. I had to dismantle the layout at the old house once it went up for sale. That was mid-2019. So I really was psyched for this. Amazingly enough, I was able to run a loop of about 80 feet with only one electrical connection. Thank you Atlas track! Look at that diesel go!

I selected a Southern RR diesel to run. I have a weak spot in my heart for the Southern RR because I did a lot of work for them in the 1970’s. They were great people, who hated passenger trains and Amtrak.

You can see a number of buildings behind the track and the amusement park at the far end. That’s the approximate placement for the park and those buildings. Obviously, as of last September, they were looking for their spots and how to get wired in. But as we moved into October, Florida began to beckon and the need to stay in the northeast diminished without York. So this is about where the layout ended when I went to Florida last Fall.

More to come, including info on the WALL OF HATS!



Videos (1)
Southern RR running on BRATS v2

Happy Father’s Day. I hope you got your Father’s Day stuff. One child showed some brilliance and extended my subscription to OGR. I liked that as a gift!

So after running a train, it was time to put down more track and place the scenery about where you think you would eventually want it.

My primary focus was the amusement park. In my last layout that had gone inside the 081/072 semi-circle, so this time it was going to go inside the 081/072 reversing loop. There’s a lot of room in there. A lot of the lit buildings were going to go against the back wall and then have a bumper trolley line in front of them. As well as at least 3 tracks to take the circle and dogbone in and out of that area. And if I was lucky, maybe even a passing siding or two.

A word about the basic layout. It took a while to develop it using RR Track. And I ran a couple of my early plans past a few friends. I got some real negative feedback on at least one of the plans so I kept working on it. It’s really good to have some guys who will give you honest feedback. And it’s much better to get it while you’re in the planning stage rather than after the layout is in progress or down.

Anyway, the layout is essentially a circle around a dogbone. It does about a 180 degree turn, and loops back on a second table with walking space in between. No duck unders for this old guy. And because I had the room, I didn’t have to do grades and a second level. The reversing loop and dogbone on the outer table (the one not against the wall) went around 2 pillars which hold the house up. I decided to use my two 4 way switches to have sidings down the middle of that part of the dogbone. So here are the pictures of the layout when we went back to FL at the end of last October. Nowhere near complete, but you begin to get a feel for it. And that’s where it was when we returned a couple of weeks ago.

How do you think those sidings will do coming down between the pillars behind 30th Street Station (which was built for me by Alex). It's a copy of one he did for Marty, and I got Marty's approval before I asked Alex to do it for me.


30th Street Station 9-27-2020 [Medium)52nd Street 9-27-2020 [Medium)Back wall east side [Medium)Disney Castle 9-27-2020 [Medium)Inside island 9-27-2020 [Medium)Police Plaza [Medium)Train Tables 2 back wall 9-27-2020 [Medium)

Back wall east side [Medium)Disney Castle 9-27-2020 [Medium)Inside island 9-27-2020 [Medium)Police Plaza [Medium)Train Tables 2 back wall 9-27-2020 [Medium)

30th Street Station 9-27-2020 [Medium)52nd Street 9-27-2020 [Medium)Back wall east side [Medium)Disney Castle 9-27-2020 [Medium)Inside island 9-27-2020 [Medium)Police Plaza [Medium)Train Tables 2 back wall 9-27-2020 [Medium)


Images (7)
  • 30th Street Station 9-27-2020 (Medium)
  • 52nd Street 9-27-2020 (Medium)
  • Back wall east side (Medium)
  • Disney Castle 9-27-2020 (Medium)
  • Inside island 9-27-2020 (Medium)
  • Police Plaza (Medium)
  • Train Tables 2 back wall 9-27-2020 (Medium)
Last edited by gmorlitz

OK, so a couple of responses as we move forward. Greg, don't hold your breath on the coaling tower. That might be on the table I have at the Edison Greenberg show. I have WAY too many trains, and need to reduce the inventory for both rolling stock and scenery.

Ben, you really made the old grey matter work. I hadn't even thought of the trestles on this layout yet. I bought them from the club before I became a member. Has to be at least 10 years and 2 houses ago. Anyway, the first time I used them I had to go from a higher table (about 40" off the floor) to a lower table (about 32" off the floor) and in front of the utility room door. Talk about really stupid planning! The 32" table was so that the grandkids could use it easier. Have you ever worked under a 32" table? Trust me, you don't want to. In the meantime, the plastic stepstools are easy and cheap. Anyway, I had a good friend who came to my house for a few days and made bridges to from one table to the other and set up the 072 semi-circle of trestles I bought from the club. And told me to join the club. Here are pictures of my Trooper train going over the Fitzhenry Ironworks bridge and a group of friends in front of the Wall of Hats at that house.

And now I have an idea for the trestles on this layout, but it will take a bit of time, so TY.


Gerry's Posse #01Trooper Train on Fitzhenry bridge 8-24-13


Images (2)
  • Gerry's Posse #01
  • Trooper Train on Fitzhenry bridge 8-24-13
Last edited by gmorlitz


Funny the things that delay you. I’m sure that all of you are much better organizers than I am. But somewhere in this mountain of boxes are the barrier strips which go under the tables and are ssential for the electrical connections. But where oh where are they? Lost a whole bunch of time to looking for them and still haven’t found them. Ordered some on Amazon. Not a lot, because as soon as I order a lot, I’ll find the ones I “lost”.

And how did I get 6 180 watt bricks to go along with my 2 Z4K’s? Did I actually buy that many? Did a gremlin give them to me? But that’s what I found when looking for the barrier strips. Yes, I know that one 180 watt brick is worth about a gajillion barrier strips. They’re just bigger and easier to find.

Anyway, the 110 volt wiring has been done underneath the table and there are 5 switches to turn it on and off. Power supplies will be on the first 2 switches and accessories on the last 3. So the picture of my lighted buildings on the “strip” took more work than just dropping the wires.

And I got my Vinylbed down under a lot of the track including the 2 loops around the amusement park. And the wires are dropped from those tracks so they can be wired in once I get the power up and running. One Z4K is on a lower table and that will power the 2 large loops. As you can see, I placed 4 Lionel 180 watt bricks near the “command central”. I’m not quite sure how I’ll wire them in, but I am sure that is more power than what I’ll need. And I’d like to figure out how to drop one of them to 14 volts for the switches, but it’s probably just easier to get an accessory transformer or use the 14 volt output of the Z4K. Or maybe even a ZW. After all, you can look at the handle of a ZW and see if you moved it to 14 volts output.

RR Track is a really nice program and was a great help. But there’s something about actually laying down the track, looking at it, and wondering if there isn’t something you missed. If you go back to what I had down on this straight away last year, there were 2 passing sidings. And one wasn’t ideal because of the way it connected to the dogbone. Now I’ve got three 4 way switches from Ross, and I’m thinking that maybe there’s a better use for them than just dead end sidings. Like maybe a 4 track pass through yard. Each of the sidings would be about 17 feet, so lots of room to park trains. So I just laid the 4 ways there and am thinking about it. What do you think?


4 way switch 6-26-215 switches 6-26-21Amusement park back 6-26-21Amusement park front 6-26-21Buildings lit on straightaway1 6-26-21Buildings lit on straightaway2 6-26-21Buildings lit on straightaway3 6-26-21Z4K 6-26-21


Images (8)
  • 4 way switch 6-26-21
  • 5 switches 6-26-21
  • Amusement park back 6-26-21
  • Amusement park front 6-26-21
  • Buildings lit on straightaway1 6-26-21
  • Buildings lit on straightaway2 6-26-21
  • Buildings lit on straightaway3 6-26-21
  • Z4K 6-26-21

That's usually the case Gerry. You look for something that you're 100% sure is where you put it, but you end up not finding it. After you get the replacements, low and behold, here are the ones you were looking for. I don't know how many times my grandfather would be looking for a certain tool he needed to do something and he'd never find it. He'd get a new one and set that down. Then when he needed a hammer or something else like that, he'd find the tool he was looking for months ago. He'd put that somewhere safe to find again only to lose that and find something else he was looking for.

@coach joe posted:

Gerry better label those five switches pronto before they get connected to the wrong things.

Great idea Joe. The room had 2 new circuits wired in, and I'm using both of them going to the 110 volt switches. So I did label them as you can see below. Probably not the labeling you would suggest. The B switch controls the Z4K; the R switch controls the Lionel 180 watt bricks; the A switch controls outlets in the general 2 pole area; the T switch controls outlets under the table behind the Z4K and the S switch controls outlets in the amusement park area. The B, A and S switches will be on one circuit and the R and T switches on the other. Trying to balance the load a bit.


BRATS switches reduced


Images (1)
  • BRATS switches reduced

Well, it was sort of a golden spike moment. I did decide to do the 4 way yard as you can see from the pictures below. The inner two yard rails are connected. The outer 2 require some track cutting.

Now to cut track, I put a DeWalt fiber blade in my chop saw. And I cut a piece of Ross track and it had a lot more sparking and a burning smell than I remembered. So I called my buddy Bob, who said that’s normal. He also advised me not to leave flammable fluids near the saw when I was cutting track (like the mineral spirits I use for track cleaning). He said the sparking and the smell is OK as long as I do not smell burning flesh. Makes sense to me. I’ve got a bit more cutting to do, but this time Atlas track. And that’s solid, not hollow.

Hopefully I have insulating pins where they belong so each of the sidings can be controlled by the AIU which I will use to trigger a relay. I’ve done that before and I’ve read many posts about how fast the DCS signal does or doesn’t get to an engine on a siding. All I can say is that I’ve never had a problem with that.

All the appropriate wiring has been dropped. It’s not connected to anything, but it’s been dropped. Of course, one of the wires on a lead in switch motor for the 4 way switches came off right away. I’ve never soldered one of them, but somewhere I have the screws which fit in there and hopefully let me attach a replacement wire. It’s always something. But it’s coming along. I am pleased with the progress to this point.

Once I complete the 2 outside tracks on the 4 way sidings, the only track remaining to be connected will be to each end of the double crossover. And then I’ll certainly want to run some trains. But with no power through the 4 way sidings, I’m going to have to wait until I get that stuff connected and wired in. Talk about motivation.


4 track siding toward amusement park4 track siding from amusement parkGap in the 4 track siding


Images (3)
  • 4 track siding toward amusement park
  • 4 track siding from amusement park
  • Gap in the 4 track siding

Well, this time it was a definite golden spike moment. The 4 way yard and double crossovers are connected to all tracks. The track cutting has been completed. I used a DeWalt fiber blade in my Ryobi chop saw. A lot of sparking and a burning smell with the Ross track. I lot less with the Atlas track. I was surprised at the difference.

I was wrong last time. There was still some table top track wiring to do. I think that is now done and dropped. And a reasonable amount of the dropped wires have been connected to terminal blocks. But the terminal blocks aren’t connected to a power source yet. And the only scenery that’s wired is the stuff on the back wall, behind the 4 way yard. So lots more to do. But the final scenery placement and wiring will come after the trains run.

There’s an 063 loop that goes around 30th Street Station and the buildings with it. I put that in for my Red Arrow Liberty Liner. I rode that in the 60’s, and am familiar with the station announcements. I can only envy you NY guys and the available subway sets. I mean a Philly Frankford-Market line subway/elevated would be neat. 69th Street, Millbourne, 63rd Street, 60th Street, 56th Street, 52nd Street, 46th Street, etc.

American Bandstand’s original location was at West Catholic High, which was at 46th Street and Market. That was a long time ago.


30th Street Station 7-7-21Amusement Park 7-7-21Completed track at 4 way switch 7-7-21Control area toward back wall 7-7-21Empire Records 7-7-21Menards buildings 7-7-21Next to 30th Street Station 7-7-21Nicer buildings next to double crossover 7-7-21Toward Amusement Park 7-7-21


Images (9)
  • 30th Street Station 7-7-21
  • Empire Records 7-7-21
  • Menards buildings 7-7-21
  • Next to 30th Street Station 7-7-21
  • Nicer buildings next to double crossover 7-7-21
  • Control area toward back wall 7-7-21
  • Completed track at 4 way switch 7-7-21
  • Toward Amusement Park 7-7-21
  • Amusement Park 7-7-21

Awesome Gerry. Those colors knock it out of the park.

I agree! The color orange has really grown on me since it's a main color of my son's college and the attire I have in that color looks really good.   I can just imagine the sight with all the buildings and accessories wired and the lights in the room turned down - has to be quite the sight!


Did a bit of work putting trains on the shelves today. It's always great to open a box that's been closed a couple of years and find a "new" toy. Not so great when you look a little closer and see that miniscule black screw that belongs somewhere. But where?

A friend of mine had a jar for "lost parts". I think I'm going to label the jar AWOL parts. The odds of getting into the jar are decent. The odds of getting out are nonexistent.


Well, it's been a bit, but I don't think you wanted to see the wiring under the layout. In fact, right now it's pretty sloppy. I salvaged a bunch of wire from the previous layout, and rather than shortening it when it reached the appropriate terminal block, I simply attached it and looped the excess into circles.

We had the grandchildren for a week and Theo helped me with some of the wiring. He really liked the DeWalt power screwdriver.

I have pretty much filled out my train shelves with engines and some rolling stock. Also, with help, have them lit much better so pictures are attached. Most of these trains haven't run in a couple of years. But DCS and Legacy now work in a fundamental basic manner. The TIU recognizes my AIU's, but the switches aren't connected. However, I now have the non-derailing wiring for the Ross switches connected, so although I won't be able to (remotely) direct where a train goes, at least it shouldn't derail. Progress comes bit by bit.

shelves middle resizedshelves right side resizedshelves, left side resized

Still have way to many trains, but I do have a table at the Edison Greenberg show.



Images (3)
  • shelves middle resized
  • shelves right side resized
  • shelves, left side resized

Thanks Chris for posting the video. We actually had 4 trains running because there was a subway running on a 063 loop.

Into each life some rain must fall. Well, last week with IDA, a LOT of rain fell. We are right next to Manville, NJ, which you probably saw in the news. It was totally flooded and the President went there. We didn’t get any measurable water in the basement, but we did get “puddlng” in different areas. No damage to any trains, but enough to ruin the carpet.

So the carpet is being pulled. That meant getting stuff off the floor and onto the layout. Pictures attached.

We have unpainted concrete under the carpet. Our handyman, David, was scheduled to put 3 exhaust fans in the basement last Thursday, 9/2. Well, IDA hit on 9/1, so he didn't come on 9/2. He is now pulling carpet. When that's done, he will put in the fans. Since we can’t really use a sanding machine on the basement floor (way too much dust), we will have to wait a few weeks to epoxy the basement floor.

But all I lost was time and it will cost me some money. Nothing compared to what some people lost. I am really glad some of my friends got to see it before this happened.


Train entry IDA storm damageTrain sump area IDA storm damageTrain front wall IDA storm damageTrain back wall IDA storm damage


Images (4)
  • Train entry IDA storm damage
  • Train sump area IDA storm damage
  • Train front wall IDA storm damage
  • Train back wall IDA storm damage

Thanks guys. Our neighbors a couple of houses away have a finished basement and had water up to their knees. Carpeting, wallboard, etc. all to be ripped out. Honestly, all I had was "puddling", but it got the carpet which had to be pulled. It really did stink. And NO train damage.

Mike, I hope they are running and you get to see them before I go to FL. On the other hand, we're not going to FL if the hospitals are full. That is not a risk that I'm willing to take.

Peter, I'm counting on you to make the medical determination if York is OK. I'm hoping it is and I have no issues with any masking requirements.


Last edited by gmorlitz

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