During the spring of 2013 a decision was made by the members of The New Haven and Derby Model Railroad Club, Inc. to rebuild their HO layout in the basement of the white Academy building across from the town green on Orange Center Road. Several months of planning went by with much discussion as to what it would feature. The biggest change was to convert it from a DC layout (direct current) where power goes to the track to a five amp DCC layout (Direct Command Control) manufactured by NCE where power goes to an electronic chip in the locomotive. Under that system the club would be able to 1) run several trains at a time individually, and 2) have the feature of real railroad sounds coming from the engines. Some new engines with that technology would have to be purchased while some existing club engines could be converted by inserting the chip required. It was also decided to represent the original NHD of New Haven to Ansonia rather than New Haven’s Long Wharf Drive rail yards to the Maybrook, NY yards which was featured for years. In so doing, the cities of New Haven, West Haven, Orange, Derby, Shelton and Ansonia would be spread out and feature more detail.
In the fall of 2013 the real work began in earnest with the total dismantling of the old layout after the scenery items and railroad pieces had been removed and stored away. Brand new bench work was built with plywood overlays; then they were covered with foam. Shelving was built under the layout for storage and the whole layout was painted. Paint was also applied to the walls and floor of the room. New code 83 Flex-track was chosen to provide smooth curves and hand thrown turnouts (switches) were decided upon primarily except for a few areas where electric ones were required. Ballasting (stones supporting the rails) is ongoing as is soldering wires to the rails. One turntable is already in place in Ansonia and another one is planned for New Haven.
When completed, the layout will feature dual track around its entirety with crossovers, turnouts and two rail yards. Scenery will consist of commercial, residential and railroad buildings and equipment, bridges, autos, trees, bushes, streams and miniature human and animal characters. Some items have already been placed in position.
All this is being done by an incredibly dedicated group of members with talents in planning, modeling, electronics, track work, etc. Much more has to be done and it will take quite some time to complete. Both loops of track will be operational at the time of the club’s model train show on Sunday October 11, 2015 at High Plains Community Center, 525 Orange Center Road from 9:30am to 3:30pm. An open house is planned that day from 10:00am to 2:00pm at the club’s location in the basement of the Orange Historical building (The Academy), 605 Orange Center Road about a quarter mile away from High Plains CC. Club members will be on hand to provide tours.
By Don Robillard, NHD member