Originally published on Model Railroad Hobbyist, March 9
I should come clean: Pembroke I, the layout I described in Model Railroad Planning back in 1999 never really got off the ground. Oh sure, I built enough to take some photos for the article, but for a number of reasons, Pembroke it was unsatisfying. It languished in my new basement when we finally bought a home for it, and I could always find excuses not to work on it – there were other projects; I was unhappy with the height of the dam and the water; the modules weren’t straight. You get the idea. Chief among the excuses was that the room was not comfortable. I have just spent the past year and a half renovating and insulating the basement, and now it is a comfortable room. The renovation isn’t quite finished, but the garage is cleared out, and the Proto:87 Posse has been itching to get started on construction, and so, we’re making a start.
As I say, the room isn’t fully ready yet, and in particular, the computer is still packed away. So, planning has taken the old-fashioned method of pencil and paper. This layout is simple, and so, that’s not much of a challenge. If I were filling a basement, I would definitely use a CAD program of some sort. But I’m not, and so, I laid it out with turnout templates from Proto:87 Stores (proto87.com) on full-size sheets of paper spread over my living room floor. The rendering above is based on the full size plan. I often get asked about the appeal of Pembroke. While I have found ever more to recommend it as a modeling subject, the reason is somewhat more complicated than that. Pembroke has always been the first step in a Canada Atlantic Railway building program. The idea was to get something running that would serve as a test bed for equipment and ideas, and then ultimately scrap it and move onto the mainline once I had enough equipment. Now I have come to find that my model-building pace is such that I may never model the mainline, but Pembroke is interesting in its own right and will probably keep me occupied for the next decade or more. So what’s different in the new Pembroke? Well, the first layout was constructed before I had a single photograph of the town in the 1905 era I am modeling. So, this one will have the dam height and the alignment of the track into the freight house corrected. I have more space this time, and so, it will include the engine house, coal dock and stock pens in the correct locations, as well as Lee Manufacturing moved up the line a little ways. I’ve also convinced myself that in 1905 the siding into the Pembroke Milliing Company’s warehouse was probably still operational. It is a much more ambitious layout than that initial concept. Operationally, there are eight spots for freight cars. Pembroke saw three passenger trains each way per day, one of which was mixed, and would have brought cars in to be switched over the course of the night or subsequent day. It is unlikely that there were ever any freight extras. Two engines stabled in the three stall engine house ( it was actually a three-stall building, but only two tracks were for engines. I believe the third stall may have been for fuel). I only have one engine right now, and that took four years to build, so don’t expect an invitation to an op session any time soon. One of the goals of Pembroke has always been to showcase Proto:87, and so, I will describe its construction here as well as on the proto87.org website. Hopefully we actually get somewhere this time.