First Work Session



Originally published on Model Railroad Hobbyist, March 17

Cutting out the first pieces of Pembroke II

Pembroke II officially got under way with a visit from the local Proto:87 Posse this week.  Here are stalwarts, Julian (of and Andrew cutting some of the roadbed.

Pembroke is going to be pretty much flat, and I have some 1/2 inch plywood left over from the floor.  So, the roadbed will be two layers of 1/2 inch ply, with the staging yard on a single layer laid straight on the windowsill.

While Julian and Andrew were here, we also cut the long stringers for the side rails of the long straight section of the layout.  I only have a small table saw, and so, it is tremendously helpful to have some extra hands for ripping up plywood.  If I had been smart, I would have made a cut list before Andrew and Julian came over.  On a small layout like this, I need to be more organized to ensure I get the most out of my helpers — I can’t simply send them to the other end of the basement to build the next town along the line.  As it was, we wasted a bit of time discussing and figuring the right depth for some of the parts.

The height of the embankment is going to be critical in getting the look of Pembroke right.  Later this week, I came across a photo ( that helps to explain why I’ve always found the elevations puzzling.  This photo from after the GTR moved the station and expanded the yard, shows the track dropping toward Pembroke Street in the distance.  The tracks in my era more or less followed the alignment of those furthest to the left, which in GTR times served the freight shed.  So my yard tracks should also fall toward Pembroke Street.

The dam is almost even with the tops of the arches of the bridge beyond it, and we can see that the bridge does indeed climb a slope eastward (right in the photo).  That makes the dam perhaps 10 or 12 feet high, and we know the embankment was about as high as a passenger car.  So, I was thinking of an embankment that is 25′ above the natural water course, and 15′ above the dam.  However, the Alfred-Mary Street bridge has always looked higher than 15′ to me.  Sloping the yard slightly should help to get the required elevation at the south end.

I promised Andrew and Julian that I would finish the cross members for the straight section before they return.  So, watch for a completed section of benchwork next week.


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