About Us

The History of the Stamford Model Rail Road Club

In 1939 three individuals, one of which was a member of St Johns Church, formed the
Stamford Model Rail Road Club. The original layout consisted of 25ft of track and a Lionel Transformer.
Growth of the club membership and the layout began after WWII. The Rippowam Valley Light and Traction Lines were also established, providing trolley and interurban service. A round house and freight yard was also added

Throughout the 50’s the club continued to grow and occupied the entire basement with more trackage being added as well as freight yards. Starting in 1964, the outside 3rd rail was removed and the entire layout and all equipment was 2-railed. This work was completed by 1967.  In the seventy’s, the construction of many commercial and residential buildings began to fill the open spaces of the layout. Double tracking of the layouts mainline was completed in the 1980’s. The electrical system that ran the railroad was rewired and converted from a battery operated system to a solid state system. We also increased the operating positions from 4 to 6 and began installing closed circuit TV to better monitor the operation of the layout. By 2001, due to an increased membership and equipment roster, additional yards and trackage were installed along with corresponding controls. These new yards increased our yard capacity by 100%.

A further expansion of the yards was completed in 2009, increasing the capacity by another 75%. A large industrial park was added, known as Lockville Park. It was named after an area in Stamford that had serviced the Yale and Towne Manufacturing Co. The layout has expanded to the full basement area and is approximately 45′ by 145′. The trolley and interurban was expanded to travel the entire length of the layout and serves several towns and areas of the layout. We operate many different railroad names on the layout. For example from the east coast, we run railroads such as the New York Central, the New Haven, the PRR and many others. For the west coast, we run railroads such as the Southern Pacific, Sante Fe, Union Pacific and Northern Pacific. All railroads are welcome here.

Atlantic Trunk Line's 1957 Track Plan
Atlantic Trunk Line’s 1957 Track Plan
Atlantic Trunk Line's 2012 Track Plan
Atlantic Trunk Line’s 2012 Track Plan

Layout Statistics

Trackage……………………………………………………………………………………….. Over 6000 ft
RR Engines and Rolling Stock…………………………………………………………1,700 and growing
RR Passenger Stations…………………………………………………………………………………….13
Commercial and Residential Buildings………………………………………………………………..124
RR Track Switches………………………………………………………………………………………..244
RR Yards……………………………………………………………………………………………………..11
Vehicles……………………………………………………………………………………………………366

Explanation of O Scale & O Gauge

This is an O Scale layout operating O Scale equipment.  O Gauge is the distance between the rails and O Scale means that every 1/4 of an inch on the layout is equal to 1 foot of the real item shown as a model. Typically, it is expressed as a ratio of 1:48 or 1/48th. This means that the prototype (real item) is 48 times larger than the model represented. For example, a 40ft box car operating on a real railroad today is equal to 10 inches on the Stamford RR layout.

Many people are familiar with Lionel trains. Lionel trains are the same size as the trains on the Stamford RR layout, but usually less detailed, run on three rails instead of two, and run on Alternating Current (AC) electricity rather than the Direct Current (DC) electricity that the club uses.

Operation

We operate the railroad on Direct Current (DC) electricity, rather than Alternating Current (AC), with a capacity of 25 volts and 15 amps for each cab position. We have six separate main line cab positions in which we can operate six trains at the same time over the same trackage. This is permissible because the main line railroad tracks are divided into 25 blocks or sections, where each section is controlled by a separate control switch. The length of the sections can be a minimum of 15ft or up to 75ft in length. All turnouts or switches are controlled by a central dispatcher. Since there are portions of the layout which are not visible to the operators from the control panel, we rely on a closed circuit TV system to view those areas.  The roundhouse, diesel shed, and a few other areas are controlled by separate sub panels from which allow an operator to independently control that particular area if desired. Some of our main yards, which store passenger and freight cars are also controlled by subpanels.  Our freight trains can be up to 60ft in length with as many as three diesel locomotives pulling up to 45 cars. The passenger trains are also quite long too, which will have two locomotives pulling 12 to 15 cars.

Railroad Yards

As viewed on our current layout diagram, there are six major yards. They are the upper and lower alcove yards, the upper and lower rear yards, the upper and lower hidden storage yards and the freight yard in front of the control panel. These yards contain many of our trains which we run during our annual show. The capacity of cars within these yards vary but can be as many as 200 to 275 cars per yard. The lower and rear yards total 56ft in length. The hidden storage yards that handle the overflow of cars from the main line can hold upwards of 250 cars. Aside from the major storage yards there are several small sidings and yards for specific purposes such as MU and REA Freight, maintenance of way equipment, and coaling facility’s.

Some Points of Interest

Van Nest
This town is located to your left when you first enter the layout. These buildings were kit and scratch built. There are two stations serving this town with the diesel engine facility in the background. A large passenger yard overlooks the town from the hilltop. All of the buildings have interiors with lights inside. This area is loosely modeled after the Van Nest section of the Bronx in NY, complete with street names, a theater, police station and a Nativity scene come Christmas season. You can see many scenes of this area in the Photos section of our website. The Rippowam Valley Traction Co. connects this area with the rest of the layout also with its tracks running down the middle of the street and overhead wires for power.

Stamford Station
The Stamford Station is an exact replica of the original eastbound station before it was replaced in the early 1970’s. It is built to scale with wood carved to look like brick. It was built by one of our members who went and measured the real station inch by inch. The fence dividing the eastbound and westbound tracks is made from paper clips soldered together to replicate the original fence.

The Round House
This is the engine terminal with a turntable and round house structure that services the steam locomotives used on the layout. It can accommodate as many as 26 locomotives. The roundhouse was built by students at the Riverside Court School in CT in 1943 as a class project. The structure has been modified and upgraded over the years, including the addition of interior lighting. Here is where the locomotives would be repaired, cleaned and serviced at regular intervals. There are ash pits to discharge the ashes from burnt coal, a coaling tower and water towers to refuel the tenders, and a greasing, oiling, and a sanding facility. The facility is controlled from a sub panel with access to the main line and central freight yard.

Lockville Park
Lockville Park is an industrial area that is serviced off the mainline of the railroad. There are many small factories and the power generating facility is located there. There is also a refinery serviced by barges. All of the industries here are serviced by small switching locomotives that can be controlled by an operator with a hand held walk around throttle control. The power generating station is an original Lionel factory built in 1939. There is also a car float with a float bridge and tug boat located here right across from the baseball field where a game is being played. Lockville Park is a layout within a layout.

Van Nest Diesel Facility
Here is where the diesel and electric locomotives are serviced. The engine shed can hold up to nine locomotives. Inside, there are pits located between the rails to allow the underframe’s to be serviced, and overhead gantry cranes can lift a loco off its chassis or pull a diesel motor if needed. The oiling and fueling facility’s are here also. This section of the layout is controlled from a sub panel.