Citrus Model Railroad Club' Allegheny and Lake Erie Railroad


The Citrus Model Railroad Club’s


Allegheny and Lake Erie Railroad




A&LE #1635 is just leaving Pittsburgh with a North bound freight on the Citrus Model Railroad Club's HO scale Allegheny & Lake Erie railroad. The Mikado will work hard getting the through freight to Erie PA on time, having to pass Pitt Junction, Millvale, Woodbine, Queens Junction, East Butler, Foxburgh, Grand Valley, and Lake City along the way. Modeling by various members of the club.  Photo by Greg Komar.




Name: Allegheny and Lake Erie RR

Scale:  HO

Size:     30 x 30 feet

Prototype:   Bessemer and Lake Erie RR

Theme:  Freelance transition railroad

Location:   Western Pennsylvania

Era:   1955

Style:   double deck with elevator

Benchwork:  custom design using cabinet grade plywood & steel angels

Height:  39” first level, 61” second level

Roadbed:  Homabed on Homosote

Track:  code 83 Atlas flextrack

Mainline Runs:  350 feet

Branch Line Runs:  80 feet

Minimum Radius:  32”

Turnout:  #6 & #8 Walthers

Maximum Grade:   0% mainline     2% branch lines

Scenery Construction:   Styrofoam, rock castings, ground foam, goldenrod and super trees

Backdrop:  vinyl painted blue with clouds

Control:  Easy DCC by CVP Products


The Citrus Model Railroad Club has a website at


Passengers await the daily train to Pittsburg at the Woodbine station on the HO scale Allegheny & Lake Erie railroad. Modeling by various members of the Citrus Model Railroad Club.  Photo by Greg Komar.


It's a dark and dirty place at the Millvale Steel Works on the HO scale Citrus Model Railroad Club’s HO scale Allegheny & Lake Erie railroad. Blast Furnaces #1 is being recharged, and Furnace #2 is not yet ready to be tapped. Until then the dedicated local S-2 switcher idles, having already spotted gondolas loaded with steel plate from the rolling mill, to be shipped out later. Modeling by various members of the club. Photo by Greg Komar.


                Detailed description of the history, planning, construction, scenery,                structures and rolling stock on the A&LE




The CMRC was born in 1989 by a group of likeminded model railroaders from the Citrus/Hernando county area of Central Florida. In its early years, the Club moved several times due to Landlord needs and Club growth. The Club finally found a home at the Citrus County Fairgrounds in Inverness Florida.


So, in November 1993   the Club moved into its new home a 30 x 50-foot building. The building is large enough to house a 30 x 30 single deck HO layout, a modest N scale layout, and a G scale around the room layout. The HO layout has a 7-track double ended staging yard under the layout accessed by a helix.





The A&LE is set in Western Pennsylvania in 1955. The railroad follows the general route and practices of the prototype Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad. You are probably wondering why a Florida Club Would pick a Railroad in Western Pennsylvania to model. Well, the B&LE had all the elements that a model railroad should have: steel production, coal mining, coke making, timber harvesting, lumber milling, lake ports, towns with local industries and businesses to generate freight and passenger revenue.




After years of expansion, tear downs and moves, repairs, and modifications the original HO layout was showing its wear so a new layout was in order. So, in 2008 the decision was made that a new layout was in order, and a new concept and design would be necessary. We started by compiling two list. A list of what we wanted and a list of what we didn’t want in the new layout. After many meetings and long discussions, we developed a “Book of Standards” which included standards on bench work, track, wiring, scenery, structures and rolling stock. These standards were to be followed during the construction of the new layout, and would guide future members in trouble shooting and maintaining the layout.


The final concept was a double deck layout so that we could get more track between the operating areas on the railroad. The double deck concept meant that we needed a method of getting trains from one level to the next, and what would we do for staging? Since a Helix was a top priority on our “do not want list” we came up with the elevator/staging concept. See the article “A dual purpose train elevator” in the 2010 issue of Model Railroader “How to build more layout in less space #8.




 Construction was started in 2009 and was not completed until 2016. The long construction time was due in part to the fact that as part of the agreement with the Fair Association the Club had to be open with trains running every Saturday and every day of the County Fair. So construction was done in phases, with a shoofly track spanning the construction area. Another major factor that slowed construction was the floor. The concrete floor had a 4”+ slope making it necessary to  construct all vertical post and the positioning of horizontal supports individually as we proceeded from back wall to the front of the layout.


 Construction material is ¾” cabinet grade plywood laminated into vertical members for and modular framing. The modules are covered with ½” cabinet grade plywood and ½” Homasote. The connecting roadbed between the modules is a 5 piece Homasote spline roadbed.


We used modules for the switching areas for two reasons. One so that if we ever had to vacate the building it would be easy to dismantle and move the layout in sections. Second with modules we could turn them on their sides to facilitate wiring and other underside work without crawling under the layout. Once all work was completed and tested the modules were installed on the supporting framework and connected with the spline roadbed.


Track is code 83 Atlas flextrack, turnouts are #6 or #8code 83 Walthers. and controlled by Tortoise slow motion machines.  The mainline is laid on Homabed with Homabed transitions to bring the sidings down to the modular level. Another unique feature on the A&LE is the use of “under-tie uncoupling ramps that are raised into position when uncoupling is desired, or lowered out of the way to avoid false uncoupling when not needed. The ramps are actuated by brass pull rods mounted in the control panels, and connected to the magnets by fish line”.




Scenery on the A&LE is Styrofoam in thicknesses from ½” to 2” anything thicker is not available in Florida to achieve the desired profiles. When the desired profile is achieved the area is painted with an earth tone (brown) latex paint. Various Woodland Scenic ground foams are applied with a 50/50 mixture of white glue and wet water. Trees on the layout, and there are lots of trees, are either made of Goldenrod or super trees from Scenic Express.




A lot of the structures on the A&LE are plastic kits from various manufacturers that was used on the original layout, but all have been kit-bashed in some way. New foundations, interior lighting, interior furnishings, etc. This is especially true for the city of Pittsburgh and the train stations. New structures are kits, and scratch built wood structures. The company housing in Coal Hill and Woodbine are all scratch built. The sawmill at Woodbine is also scratch built. It was built for the original layout and was preserved to by a feature point in the new layout. The lumber stacks were also scratch built one boar at a time. Woodbine is unique in that all but one structure there is scratch built. All of the structure for the steel mill at Millvale are kit-bashed structures.







Since the time period for the A&LE is 1955 all rolling stock is from the mid 1930 to 1955 with a few exceptions of rolling stock prior to 1930. The current rolling stock roster is a mixture of road names. Our rolling stock standards says that our goal is to have 75% of our rolling stock lettered for 5 roads – A&LE, B&O, PRR, Erie, and NKP. 


Steam locomotives on the A&LE run from 0-8-0 switchers up to 2-6-6-2 articulates. All of our diesel locomotives are first generation EMD cab units: FTs, F3s, F7s, and FP7s, plus some Alco FA cab units, we also run RS-3s, GP-7s and SW switchers. All diesel locos are painted and decaled for the A&LE.




The A&LE is powered using Easy DCC by CVP Products. The layout is divided into three power districts, and all trains are controlled by either tethered or wireless throttles.


All switching locations on the A&LE has its own control panel. The control panel controls the track power, turnout controls, and the magnetic uncoupling ramps. LED lights indicate the rout selection to minimize mistakes when switching, each switching location is also under the control of a Station Agent as well as the Dispatcher. The Station Agents take orders from the Dispatcher and relays them to the Engineer.


Staging Elevator photo