Layout Tour Report: Bob Rodriguez’s Nickel City Line
By John Paganoni, MMR
Bob’s web site is outstanding and I encourage all who read this layout tour summary to look it up: http://nclrr.potomac-nmra.org/index.htmRead about our prior visit by clicking here.
Nickel City Line is a freelanced railroad that runs through the
Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania in the late 1990s. The railroad had
the original primary purpose of hauling coal and ore from the owner’s
mining interests. The line was then expanded to move goods and
services. Bob’s model railroad empire encompasses all of the three
business ventures and he has accomplished this feat realistically,
which makes operating sessions genuinely realistic. This layout is
focused on operations and Bob hosts six to nine sessions annually. NMRA
members who operate on this magnificent layout can, over time, actually
earn full credit toward achieving a Chief Dispatcher Merit award.
started this modeling venture in a 12’ x 20’ area in his basement, and
through negotiations with his spouse, was able to lease the entire area
of their basement. Although the layout was “completed” in 1997, he has
added the last available basement space of another 7’ X 24’ in 2019.
This new addition includes a coal washing plant, relocation of staging
yards, plus other additions to make an already excellent
operations-based layout even more challenging. There are over 20 scale
miles of trackage and his classification yard, turntable, and
roundhouse facilities are truly exceptional.
for railroad revenue are vital to a prototype railroad and it is a
realistic feature for an operations centered model railroad. Bob has
done a splendid job featuring 106 industries serviced by his railroad,
including coal, ore mining, and fabrication plants. Towns such as
Canova and Chessie City add interest and purpose and Bob has carefully
designed his layout to include eight stations and passenger stops along
has taken the operations environment to the extreme. He has designed
and installed a lighting system that truly brings realism to
operations. He can set the system for full daylight, late evening/early
morning, and night operations. With the aid of his excellent fast clock
system, he can incorporate various lighting schemes to challenge
operators to the maximum. A major feature of the Nickel City Line’s
operations capability is a spectacular Chief Dispatchers office. The
electronic panel shows virtually all of the train movements occurring
on the layout at any given time allowing the Chief Dispatcher to make
real time decision with maximum safety in the forefront. There are
seven PABX phone stations which include Dispatcher, Yardmaster,
Hostler, Laurel Valley, Nickel City East, Dubois, and the
Dispatcher–Track Authority Desk.
write up only touches the surface of features on this fantastic layout.
You need to see it to believe it! This is a layout all model
railroaders MUST put on their “bucket list”. If you get the opportunity
to see, or operate, on Bob’s Nickel City Line DO IT!!