Updated 3/15/2020:

I have many irons in the fire this Ides of March. I am exploring some ways to super detail the bridge. Also underway is the WV scenery. That is taking much longer than I anticipated or wish. Visualizing a 3-D topography in a tight space is a challenge. Carrying it off will be even more challenging as it includes accurate placement of abutments, piers, and plaster castings.

The drainage ditch (about 5' long) between the eastern bridge approach tracks and the backdrop is nearly complete. It has received scenery and will soon get water.

More when I know it.  


Updated 3/21/2020:

The drainage ditch on the WV side (between the tracks and the backdrop) is done!  Trees, water, vegetation, and some deer were added to it and it has been fastened into place.

I have also constructed several line poles with 6 cross-arms per the photos of the prototype.  These need double sets of cross-arms - in progress.  I spoke to an excellent 2-rail scale O modeler who is an expert on Pennsy line poles.  He's not on line so this was by phone.  I mailed him the photos of the funky 3-pole contraption at the east end of the bridge.  He gave me some advice but he's never seen anything like it.  So it remains a bit of a mystery.

I am also in the process of pulling bus wire pairs under the bridge.  These are for:

  • Bridge - Eastbound
  • Bridge - Westbound
  • Steubenville
  • River Route
  • 12 VDC accessory bus

And finally, work on the scenery behind the stone arch and the WV shore continues.

More when I know it.  


Mark Boyce posted:

Sounds like good progress!  I like the wire labeling!!

Thanks Mark!  The only way I could stay sane is label the buses.

I now have all the buses pulled that travel under the bridge.  Wires are no longer on the floor.  


Last edited by G3750

Updated 4/10/2020:

Sorry it's been so long since I provided an update. Work continues apace:

  • Scenery work behind the stone arch and the first eastern approach span is done.
  • The stone arch and pier #1 are now permanently installed on the layout. They have been screwed in place.
  • Wiring for accessories near the arch has been installed and tested.
  • I extended the hillside behind the arch a further 6" west into the river. I needed to do this because I found that I couldn't hide my poor backdrop painting without it. Now I can install trees that hide my crappy paint job. :lol:
  • I am in the process of acquiring, assembling, and painting detail pieces for the WV side of the river.

More when I know it.  



George, That sounds like a lot of good progress.  I'll look forward to seeing some photographs when you have the chance!!

Updated 5/13/2020:

All, significant progress has been made on the layout.  Scenery on the WV side river bank is complete, although the area beneath the stone arch remains.  The river has been poured.  Photos are not currently available, but may become so in the near future.  Work on scenery-related items continues. 

I am exploring additional means of reporting status on Panhandle 2.0.


George, Congratulations on your progress with the scenery!  I'm looking forward to seeing the photographs!!!

Well George, the progress on your layout is truly impressive. But what really got my attention is the length of this thread!

Thank you, Neal.

This thread, in one form or another (Panhandle 1 or 2), has been on this forum since 2005 and in that time has gathered well over 125,000 views.  I am proud of that and extremely grateful for the following it has attracted.


Updated 5/20/2020:

Over the past few weeks, I've finished the scenery on both shorelines (sorry about the lack of photos, but that must continue for reasons that will become apparent later). 

However, I did undertake a cleaning of the bridge (I've been swiffering! :D .  The scarcity of 90% isopropyl alcohol (for track cleaning purposes) is an unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.  That meant I had to use 50% isopropyl alcohol.  I put that on a swiffer pad, put the pad on the handle, and was able to reach into the bridge to clean it.  Turns out there was a lot of gunk on the track.  After the cleaning, I covered up the track with some butcher paper.  We still have a lot of construction (about 60% of the benchwork) remaining.  There will be much, much more dust and dirt flying around.

Bridge Cleaning 01Bridge Cleaning 02



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Yeah George it is scarce out there. We have been going through our supplies at work quite fast and will have to find someone outside of our vendor to get more. Not easy. Smart thing wrapping up the bridge.

Dave and Mark,

You should have seen the dirt and grease I took off the tracks!  About 4-5 months ago I tried to run an engine across the bridge under command control.  Good thing I was standing by the power button.  The dirty track had negated the signal and the locomotive (that wonderful Decapod) took off like it was shot out of a cannon (18V to the track; full throttle).  


Updated 5/23/2020:

While I wait for some parts to be fabricated for me, I have turned my attention to finishing the shelving in the Staging Area of the layout.  This section of the layout is a kind of experiment for me.  Several other modelers I know have an area off the layout for making / breaking down trains;  sometimes this is referred to as a "fiddle yard".  We'll see how this turns out.


My Staging Area is a 6' x 10' unfinished area at the eastern end of the layout.  It is hidden from the rest of the layout by a divider.  On the layout side of the divider, I have a photograph of the Weirton Steel blast furnaces (circa 2010); these are now gone (torn down in 2018-9).  The Staging Area side has large access holes (not hatches) that permit a person to stand in the middle and reach most of the trains / locomotives.  I am hoping to position a person there during operating sessions.  Features of the Staging Area are:

  • Wall shelving on the back layout wall with a capacity of ~ 40 standard length cars
  • Wall shelving on the back of the divider with a capacity of ~ 45 steel-related (shorter length) cars
  • Storage for at least 6 large locomotives; shifters are stored in yard pockets, by the way.
  • 3 storage / staging tracks (I can keep 3 trains ready to run on them)
  • The reversing track for Weirton Steel blast furnaces.  This is a place to change hoppers, boxcars, ore cars that service Weirton Steel to / from empty / full.  
  • Access to the Staging Area is through 4 holes in the backdrop divider.  I will probably disguise the bottom (southern) two entries as building fronts.  The top two will be disguised by the overpass (Crawford's Crossing).

Here's a view of track plan showing Weirton Steel and the Staging Area.  Items of note:

Staging Area v2

  • The red "E" indicates the eastern side of the layout.
  • The green vertical line is the scenic divider.
  • The light green areas are access hatches. I have to be able to reach into buildings.
  • The two white areas in the Staging Area proper are access holes (no covers).
  • Weirton Steel mills (bottom to top):  Strip Steel, Open Hearth, Blooming Mill are angled at 45 degrees against the scenic divider.  This permits more buildings to be represented in the available (and limited) space.  Otherwise the space would be dominated by only one of these huge structures.
  • The track running parallel to the southern side of the Strip Steel building will have a sign saying "to blast furnaces".  That is effectively my track to the highline of the blast furnaces, supplying them with coal, limestone, and iron ore.  From that track will also come slag cars and hot metal (torpedo) cars.
  • Slag cars (full) will proceed to Standard Slag for dumping.  Empty slag cars will return to the blast furnaces for loading.

The "operator" for this area will be responsible for changing cars to fit the operations described above.

Construction of the space continues.  Early in start of the layout, I built the tables and the shelves against the far eastern wall.  Right now I am working on the shelving against the back of the divider.  Here's a look:

This is the backdrop on the divider.  The Weirton Steel mill buildings will go against it.  The Staging Area is behind it. 

This is northeast corner of the Staging Area.  To the left is the window with its fan.  I expect to have the fan on during operating sessions to help keep heat down and exhaust any smoke.  To the right are the ends of the Glenn Snyder shelves.

This is the southeast corner of the Staging Area (the other end of the Glenn Snyder shelving).

This is northwest corner of the Staging Area.  I have the lowest shelf in place and am working on the one above it.

Here's the southwest corner of the Staging Area.  Right below the rocket launching car is the spot (approximately) where the blast furnace track will enter.  The exact location is still TBD.

Here's a look at one of the access holes.  I'm standing in it.  Unfortunately, the whole Staging Area is too cramped to provide a wide angle look at a complete wall.  You can see some of the uninstalled shelving.

Finally, this is a somewhat better view of the reversing track location.  The 2' level approximates the position of the track.

More when I know it.  



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George, the blast furnace backdrop looks great as do the shelves.  You may have answered this before, but how high is the benchwork?  I was wondering how you will get to the access holes, duck, sit down and scoot around,...  I have a few aluminum shelves similar to Glen Snider shelves that I can't figure out where to hang them.  No wall space to speak of.  

Thanks Mark.  The height of the bench work is 50".  To get to the access holes, I am planning on using a roll-around stool.  Near the access holes in the Staging Area, I plan to put a 2-step ladder.  That will allow me to get up on the bench work (if need be) to open or close the window.  The exhaust fan is activated by the wall switch.

Rolling Stool 



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Updated 5/24/2020:

I completed installation of the remaining Glenn Snyder display shelves in the Staging Area.



That's all for the Staging Area for the near future.  The immediate areas of focus are:

  1. Finish super-detailing the bridge
  2. Permanently place the bridge back onto its piers and abutments
  3. Install all the approach track and connect track feeders to the bridge's electrical buses (eastbound, westbound)
  4. Complete the scenery areas near the backwater, between Pier 1 and the Stone Arch, and at the front of the Eastern Approach.


More when I know it.  



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