1. The Neighbor

The Hoboken Manufacturers Railroad shares the same origins as a number of other layouts I've built: it started with a plan done for someone else. In this case, it was a plan designed to fit dimensions set by a modeling competition of sorts. I submitted perhaps a half-dozen designs, and while none of them were accepted, I developed an attachment to one variation.

The initial plan was pretty simple, with two levels: an oval on the lower level, and a switching puzzle on the upper. After several iterations, I arrived at a version that I started building.

I'd even started bashing structures for this version of the layout when I realized that the passing siding on the upper level created a dense, awkward-looking cluster of tracks on the left. I tore the layout half apart so I could move the passing siding. While I was at it, I also added a passing siding on the hidden portion of the loop to allow two trains to do the rounds. And, I raised part of the upper level a half-inch to add more visual interest; this allowed me to add one more classic industry: a coal trestle. When I realized the layout had a lot in common with the Jersey City Industrial Railroad, I named it for Jersey City's neighbor, Hoboken.

Track colors indicate levels and transitions. Green (and white, which is hidden) is the lowermost level. Blue-green is the transition from the lower level to the second one, which is cyan. Light blue then transitions from the second level to the third, which is dark blue. Dark green is a trolley line on the same level as dark blue; orange is an elevated line.

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