This month’s feature is the St. Alban’s Railroad Fellowship (StARR) submitted by Frank Martin, StARR’s Operations Manager.  The StARR is a large HO scale layout includes both 2 and 4 track NMRA modules with strong point-to-point operations, and in the future, will include Free-Mo modules.  The StARR is located in the suburbs west of Philadelphia.

Club Name: St. Alban’s Railroad Fellowship

Famous for:  The club is most proud of Albanwood Steel.  There is no particular prototype but its basic layout and operations were designed by our regional “steel mill expert”, Mike Rabbitt.  It is a 24-foot module in three 8-foot sections with a blast furnace, electric furnace, soaking pit, rolling mill, and administration building.  Most of the buildings are from the Walther’s cornerstone series.  During an operating session, the steel mill is served by three trains: a coke/limestone train, an ore train, and a mixed commodities train; and, two “pours” of the blast furnace are simulated during each operating session.

Description:  Fellowship includes railfans and model railroaders from all walks of life.  While individual interests and skills vary widely, the railroads that helped build our nation are the common bond.  To satisfy varied interests, the program includes clinics, presentations, videos, socializing, trips, and model railroading.  While affiliated with St. Alban’s Church, the fellowship is a non-sectarian group of railfans and model railroaders mostly in the western suburbs of Philadelphia.

Address:  3625 Chapel Road, Newtown Square, PA. Basement, under the Thrift Shop, of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church near intersection of PA Rts. 3 and 252; 3.5 mi west on PA 3 from Exit 9 on I-476.

Membership:  Open

Meetings: Thursdays @ 7:30 PM

Dues: $25.00 per month



Scale:  HO

Standards:  NMRA with 2-track and 4-track mains.  Free-mo is in the works.

Theme:  Eclectic.  Generally transition era of the Pennyslvania RR, Reading RR and Delaware & Hudson RR.  Williamsport & North Branch is circa 1900.  However, nothing is excluded and operators are invited to use their own engines and cabooses.

Setup Status:  Semi-permanent; modules can be easily added, removed, and relocated as the railroad evolves.  One “module” is the original permanent layout with modular interfaces added.  <Click here> to see the general layout, details change.

Size of Layout:  Growing.  Currently covers 4000 square feet.  Four-track main line is 225 feet long. Also included three branch lines, a steel mill, and two working classification yards with engine facilities.  There are over 800 pieces of rolling stock.

Power & Control:  Digitrax Digital Command Control (DCC).  Two towers, using JMRI PanelPro, control all turnouts on main tracks and in staging areas; yard and industrial switching uses ground-throws.  Towers communicate with engineers via FRS radios.  Block detection and signaling are in the works.

Operations:  StARR simulates prototype railroad operations on the fourth Saturday of each month.  The operating crews (15-25 people) are comprised of StARR members and visiting operators from other groups in the tri-state area.  Custom software generates train schedules, work orders, and waybills for car forwarding.  A roadmaster, a dispatcher, three tower operators, two yardmasters (one having two assistant yardmasters: a through train classifier and a local train classifier), a steel mill shifter, and a variable number of engineers/conductors, affect the movements of four commuter trains, eight passenger limiteds, eleven merchandise and unit freight trains, and seven local freight trains in about a three hour session.

Open to the Public:  Open to the public on the selected weekends from Thanksgiving through the end of February.  Schedule is posted on StARR’s website, local newspapers, and fliers that are distributed throughout the area.  Donations are gratefully accepted.   Note: StARR is not easily accessible for people with mobility handicaps.

Photo Tour: <Click Here> or view below

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One Response to “St. Alban’s Railroad Fellowship”
  1. Jon Nestlerode says:

    Great pictures,
    If you like trains as much as I do come out to the Reading Society of Model Engineers (RSME) to ride the out door live steam and diesel trains and see our indoor layout in our 40′ x 80′ building, all happening this week end Oct 22nd and 23rd
    visit our website

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