October 2015

Work continues on the layout as we are quickly approaching our open house for 2015.  Be sure to check back often as we will be posting schedule updates.  This open house will also feature some Digitrax DCC operation in a couple of areas of our layout.   We will be using walk around throttles and don’t be surprised if you see a member with their Android/Tablet device in hand controlling the trains.

Please come visit us!


November 3, 2014

Final 2014 layout update (past 4 weeks):

Phase II (2010 area): No change.

Phase IV (2012 area):
(1)Down to a couple square feet remaining of missing base scenery.
(2)More detailed scenery added.
(3)Trolley route completed to Steelton/West Steelton municipal border, essentially doubling its overall length in 10 months. (Only the section built through 2013 is operational however; the new track will not be operable until the entire route is finished.)

Phase V (2014 area):
(1) Base & detailed scenery advanced steadily.
(2) Most mill tracks installed (including feeder wires).

After Friday, our work will shift away from the layout and focus on the building, so that it’s presentable in time for Open House, which starts in 30 days. We tend to mess the place up during these major rebuild Phases, and 2014’s work was the most of all!

We hope to see you starting December 5th at 7:00pm!
(The complete schedule is under the events tab.)


June 4, 2014

Tomorrow marks 5 years since we started a complete reconstruction (but re-using nearly all the bench work!) of the Mon Yough Valley Railroad.

Phase I was subtle: we changed the utility room configuration from a two-layered ‘dog bone’ (the track looped around and returned to the parallel track, reversing its direction of travel in the process) to a ‘spiral’, where each train enters one end and exits the other when left to run ‘in a loop’.

This arrangement is essentially for our Open House events or for members who want to test or run personal equipment. When we switch to Digital Command Control (probably next year…), we will begin to ‘operate’ the railroad, that is, run it with signals, radios, a dispatcher – the ‘whole nine yards’, and the ‘spiral’ will NOT be used for continuous ‘loop running’.

The top entrance/exit is intended to be the state line between PA and MD, and will lead to an out-of-view division point, the east end of the main line tracks, and the bottom entrance/exit will connect to the western end near Allegheny (Pittsburgh), PA, the working layout intended to represent the middle of three divisions, renamed the ‘Steel Valley Division’ when construction started June 5, 2009. (The phantom divisions are Lake Erie and Chesapeake).

Five years in, the main line reconstruction is complete, all but about 1% of DCC drop feeds are soldered, and 85% of all visible track changes are complete, including a finished main line, a year ahead of originally planned. Overall, the rebuild is on or slightly ahead of the 8-10 year calendar predicted by Club president Dean (Vince, Jr.) Liberty, and our members are excited about the ‘new’ Mon Yough Valley, first announced as a front-page headline in the local paper in December 2008.

We said we were going to rebuild it, and we rebuilt it. We still have to add about 20 feet of the (Peterson Creek) branch line over the next few weeks, and the visible freight yard is still devoid of tracks (Phase VII – 2017 projected), but the workable track configurations fill a long-time void, most of our previous layouts had limited switching capabilities. The NEW Mon Yough Valley will have over 50 rail-served customers (including 3 that can only be accessed on 3′ gauge track), shattering any previous track arrangement at McKeesport Model Railroad Club!

Our holiday season Open House will run over 13 weekend dates from December 5 through January 4. Four weeks later, we’ll host a 65th Anniversary event (Jan 30 – Feb 1) that will focus on the Mon Yough Valley Railroad, and the new, WORKING railroad.


May 1, 2014

Phase V work (rebuilding the front wall section) has advanced to having the roadbed completely reconnected in an entirely different configuration, leaving about 25 feet of double track mainline to lay. Sup’t Russell expects the track to be in service by Sunday, May 4, with ‘tweaking’ to commence thereafter.

About half the route has the future DCC drop feeds soldered (although the railroad will still run on DC power through 2014). Over the next few months, the DCC buss wire will be added to the drop feeds, and integrated with a future main dispatch panel, which is likely to at least start taking shape before autumn.

While there will be no ceremony, we WILL have a ‘golden spike’ (an HO scale track nail painted gold…) at the spot where the last main line track is connected, since upon it’s connection, it will mark the location where the last of the complete main line transformation was done.

Once all main line track is running and up to operational standards, we will be able to resume work on the Peterson Creek Branch to its planned terminus, a large coal mine. Base scenery work in the newest section, which has already started, will accelerate so that it may get up to the same level of completion as Phase II (the back third, 2010), and Phase IV (the middle third, 2012), while detailed scenery work along the other sections will continue.

Division end points (Phase VI, out of public view) and rebuilding the freight yard (Phase VII, the last rebuilding phase) are not expected to advance until after 2015 (but before 2018). It is likely we will focus on converting to digital (DCC) control before the last two phases are carried out.


February 24, 2014

Layout update: Our current reconstruction project (Phase V) is well along. The bench work reconfiguration is nearly complete, needing only a few more braces. The main line reconstruction has advanced about 40 feet from the western end of the viewable layout.

Platform areas for the Mon Yough Valley Museum, an HO scale engine facility ‘remnant’ that will house heritage steam locomotives (during diesel-era operations), and the United Tube & Pipe Company’s Belle Bridge Works (finishing mill) are fully constructed at the new location of Puerto Vista.

While it was quite messy, we successfully bored through the block wall nearest the building front that in the past forced our right-of-way out and around an 18″ protrusion. The new alignment will be in a literal tunnel through a block wall, christened “Brick Hollow Tunnel”, since we in fact hollowed out some brick to build this tunnel. The risers are in place along this section and roadbed construction will start Friday (2/28).

Our target of mid-March for complete main line reconfiguration appears to be on or slightly ahead of schedule. Scenery work will be extensive beyond the block wall divider near the south end of the building, but minimal along the larger northern section which will be mostly flat and dominated by buildings and tracks, the exception being the 2% grade (between Port McKee and Brick Hollow Tunnel) which will have a center passing track and a helper pocket at the foot of the grade, and a turning wye large enough for the MYV’s largest steamers outside the sprawling UT&P Art Falk Works (raw mill), which will dominate the Port McKee landscape, much as USS National Works dominated downtown McKeesport for nearly a century.