About the SANJO RailRoad

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The SANJO RailRoad Story

As a child, my first train was an American Flyer. It began as a Christmas layout and soon moved to the basement where it expanded to about 8 X 16. In my teen years I must admit I was lured by HO and switched to that gauge. When I went away to college all railroading stopped. When I graduated and married, my wife’s first Christmas gift to me was an American Flyer train set. Again, it became a Christmas only layout.

When we moved to our current home I began tinkering with N-gauge, and built a tiny empire in our garage. This lasted for about 20 years. My girls both got married and moved out and I slowly planted the seed to turn one of the bedrooms into the “Train” room. I really meant to take over both rooms, but the grandchildren came along and everything went on hold.

I always continued to have the Christmas Layout and would scratch build several items for the layout. Five years ago I began the serious development of the new empire. The bedroom is 10’ X 12’. The layout is “L” shaped with a 4’X12’ main section and a 4X6 section which creates an ‘L” shaped layout. It also has a small 2’X4’ section hanging from the opposite end of the “L” The layout has three levels, rising into the majestic twin tower mountains. At the highest level is my old “N” train. The next level down is running the local “S” freight line thru the mountain and the lower level is the main line.

The SANJO RR is an imaginary railroad, circa 1950’s – 1960’s that links the Lehigh Valley RR with the Lackawana RR. The cities and towns loosely represent my hometown area of Bethlehem, Pa. (Bedlam on the layout) and it’s surrounding areas, Fountain Hill (Foutin Hill), Allentown (Allinton) and Easton (Eaton). I must admit, I’m not a hardcore type model railroader, in that I like emulating prototype except I think a model railroad should also be fun. To that end you may see some “not to scale” items on the layout. The SanJo was constructed with the grandchildren in mind, so many of the operating items are where they can get to them. I have the car unloader, barrel loader, log loader and unloader car, cattle pen and electromagnetic crane.

The operating cars are the mail pickup, crate unloader and the triggerboxcar. The motive power is all steam except for one diesel (yes even here diesel is making inroads) and consists of two 4-6-2 Pacific’s, a 0-8-0, a 4-4-2 and the diesel from Showcase Lines. The rolling stock is American Models, Showcase Lines, Crown Model, the original cars from my first set (repainted and with new decals) and some flea market purchases.

I enjoy scratchbuilding and built Yancy’s Coal Yard by converting the HO scale drawings of Ben King’s “Scratchbuilding Yancy’s Coal Dock” article in the May 1997 Model Railroader and several items from the book Easy-to-Build Model Railroad Structures Book No. 5 from the Model Trains Library. The scenery is hardshell based on the construction techniques in Realistic Model Railroad Scenery 2nd Edition by Dave Farley (Model Railroad Hand Book No. 16).

As I said earlier, I’m not a total S-gauge purist, so I have a Lionel trolley running to service the local residents in town. I also have an MTH Rail King fire station that has an operating fire truck. I kitbashed a K-Line water tower and added a switch machine to the inside to make the water spout operable. Many of the structures are HO scale, elevated to “S” and the “owners” are all relatives or grandchildren.

I’m at the detailed scenery part of construction, so most of the future photos will be progressions in that area. Hope you enjoy the site and come back soon.

Signed: Joel - February 2004

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