We were just wrapping up work
on a mid-sized HO layout depicting New Jersey's interesting Hoboken Shore Railroad for a client's new home. While discussing
the final details, he mentioned that his move had been further delayed and it would likely be more than a year before he could
begin layout construction. Bummer! Then he said, "Of course, there is that wall in my current family room … what could
we do with that in the meantime?"
Our first thought was to look for a segment of the larger plan which could
be built as a standalone section. That way, he could start building part of his ultimate layout right away. But none of the
various portions of the mid-size layout really lent themselves to operation independently. Segments with lots of industrial
switching lacked the "interchange" connections and other sections offered interchange without anyplace for the cars to go.
The mid-sized design just didn't seem to present any segments useful as independent "junior" Hoboken Shore with decent operating
But he didn't want just a generic shelf switcher for the interim layout --
he wanted it to offer a preview of the coming Hoboken Shore! So the HO scale shelf layout we came up with had to represent
some elements of the real railroad.
The Hoboken Shore Railroad (called the Hoboken Manufacturers Railroad until
1954) served docks and industries in its namesake city just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. One of the key characteristics
were its two interchanges, to the Erie at one end and (via car float) to the Lackawanna in the middle. Some of its distinguishing
industries were the Maxwell House plant, a shipyard, and many piers, docks, and wharves. My client hoped that we could capture
most of these elements, even in a fraction of the square footage of the larger design.
The space available was a skoche over 12 feet along one wall, with a variable
depth of 18" to 24" over some existing cabinets. The first pass of the design (see below) captures some of the features of
the prototype while still offering all the basic elements of an operating layout: interchange, run-around, small yard, etc.