Reinhard Pratt’s LVRR Central Jersey Mainline

Reinhard’s Central Jersey Main Line layout is set in the 60’s to pre-Conrail and designed to run the trains he viewed as a boy trackside in Hillsborough, New Jersey. The layout features trains of up to 15 cars being pulled by Lehigh Valley, CNJ and Pennsylvania locomotives. A train of the Deutsche Bundesbahn (German Federal Railway) makes an occasional cameo appearance.

His modeling philosophy is prototypical. Since the layout is small, he has allowed himself significant flexibility. No type of formalized operation is planned.

Trains will come into view emerging from the eastern portal of the Musconnetcong Tunnel in Pattenburg, NJ (pictured below). The next scene will be the Raritan River’s South Branch crossing in Neshanic Station. The Jersey Central makes an appearance in this scene also. Next along the line will be Hillsborough featuring the Valley Road crossing, his childhood home, and industries such as Stewart Oil and Aeropres. The final scene will be Bound Brook, featuring the convergence of the Lehigh Valley, CNJ and Reading Railroads.

Technical Information
The layout uses cab control to basically operate one train at a time, though two can operate with some dexterity at the controls. A plug in “guest throttle” mounted opposite the main control area is a big hit with visitors. Track is Atlas Code 100 with Peco #6 and #4 turnouts. Visible mainline radius is 24”. The reverse loop is 18” radius. A speed restriction is in place on this line not only because of the radius, but because this line is the CNJ Flemington Branch, which by the 1970’s was dilapidated.

Reinhard Pratt

Current Status
The track work is complete with the exception of two spurs. Scenery at the Musconnetcong Tunnel is almost complete. Scenery at Neshanic Station is about 50%. He hopes to complete this area, including structures, during 2004.

Future Plans
His goal is to achieve a very detailed, polished look similar to George Sellios’ in detail, but on a much smaller scale. He looks forward to attempting some scratch build structures to recreate his childhood home and other “landmark” buildings in the area.

Lessons Learned
His first layout, begun in 1999, was dismantled after two years when it became apparent he was squeezing way too much into the space. He has a large collection of German trains, which he wanted to run in addition to the LV. He also wanted overhead power lines, not only for his European equipment, but for his GG1. Two years into his current layout, Reinhard is satisfied with his decision to go for more prototypical accuracy.

Reinhard highly recommends staging – his layout features a six track staging area.

Level your bench work before commencing trackwork. Reinhard assumed his layout floor was flat, but it was not!

Another lesson, which we’ve all heard before, is simply to begin! Don’t be a perfectionist and try to plan every step. It’s impossible to do, and there is no substitute for hands-on experience in scenery, weathering, track laying, etc.

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