Construction on my HO Erie-Lackofmoney started in August of 2001. The area allocated for the layout was a small "L" shaped room in the basement equipped with recessed lights and sheet rock walls. The track plan soon found its way into the closet under the stairs since posts were going to block the right of way. After a little more planning, the middle section was conceived to be out of sight staging, under the display cases my late father-in-law built. As I began running trains, I felt that I needed a way to turn them back. This led to the invasion of the second closet and the "dog bone" style track plan.
Plywood on "L" girders, Atlas Code 100 flex track and #6 turnouts make up the bulk of the layout. All connections are soldered. It was originally wired as a 2 cab-block system. I agonized over the decision to go to DCC. At the urging of Brad Peterson and Rob Dennis I converted. This was well worth it but changed my loco fleet profoundly. When I started, I had about 60 engines from multiple manufacturers to convert. Most of those were sold and the revenues from the sales led to purchases of DCC ready units. About 15 are on line with 6 more waiting in the wings for a decoder. I strongly recommend using DCC. I use the Atlas system and have 4 spots along the layout to plug in 1 of 3 controllers. I can follow the train around with the hand controller unplugged since the system has a memory.
This layout models a fictitious division of the Dereco era (EL, D&H, N&W). The scenery is about one-fifth complete and could represent anywhere from NY to OH. Most structures are Walthers. The Cargill Mill and the Superior Paper Mill have been set up as "flats". Some of the buildings are ones my father built for me over 30 years ago. I enjoy using the Woodland Scenic's products. I recommend them but caution that there are a lot of things in their line that you may already have or can get much cheaper at a craft store. For example, a foam cutter they sell for $39.99 is also available at AC Moore for $8.99 If there is one thing I learned about working on the real D&H, it is that railroads are cheap and this one is no exception.
There are almost 250 pieces of rolling stock on line with 85 more in the display cases. I have 1 passenger train and plan to add more. Some cars are weathered but most have knuckle couplers. I agonized over that conversion some 15 years ago. I wish I had completed my backgrounds at the beginning. This is the big struggle right now using various commercial components as well as a roll of shelf paper and blue spray paint. The future will bring signals, a dispatcher desk and working interlocking levers near the towers. My eldest son Broderick has contributed to the layout a farm he made at school. My sons are just starting to show interest in the hobby so maybe I will be a Train Master down the road.