Welcome to Jim Lancaster's


I have a moderate size HO scale model railroad housed in its own 40'x15' building at the back of our home. The building has one large room and was constructed in 1962 by the original home owner, former NMRA president Leighton Keeling. The layout occupies about 65% of the room.

The layout was begun in 1987 and has been on layout tours of the following conventions: 1990 San Bernardino NMRA-PSR Regional, 1996 Long Beach NMRA National, 2005 Buena Park NMRA-PSR Regional and 2008 Anaheim NMRA National. It has also been on several layout tours organized by the Model Railroads of Southern California Yahoo Group.

The geographic setting for the layout is Southern California, with several prototypical scenes of citrus packing houses and other railroad-related structures. The model railroad generally represents a line between Colton (north of Riverside) and Orange County. In reality this is the domain of the Santa Fe's third district that runs from San Bernardino to Los Angeles via Riverside and Fullerton. The reasons for chossing this locale are (1) it allows me to logically operate the Southern Pacific, Santa Fe and Union Pacific equipment I've collected over the years, and (2) I have developed an interest in modeling Southern California citrus packing houses.

Unlike the prototype, which is a Santa Fe-only line from Riverside to Orange County, the model railroad features joint trackage with two other railroads - the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific - over most of its length. Emphasis is on the Southern Pacific through a subsidiary named the Los Angeles and San Diego Railroad.

The LA&SD operates from Los Angeles to both San Diego and Riverside via Anaheim, CA. It uses parent SP's track between LA and Anahem, the SP Tustin Branch from Anaheim to Tustin, then its own track to San Diego. To Riverside, it uses the Tustin Branch then its own track to Chapman, and trackage rights on the Santa Fe from Chapman to Riverside. [Chapman is the LA&SD name for Richfield-Atwood on the Santa Fe.]

In addition, the Union Pacific has trackage rights over the LA&SD between Riverside and Anaheim. Beyond Riverside, LA&SD trains use the SP Riverside Branch to Colton where it joins the Sunset and Golden State Routes, while Santa Fe and UP trains continue on the Santa Fe's third district line to Colton and San Bernardino.

The track plan includes a condensed representation of Riverside with several examples of prototype structures and scenery. The centerpiece of Riverside is a full-scale model of the National Orange Sunkist packing house.

James Lancaster Photo

Locations on the layout from west to east are Chapman, Villa Park (Wanda), Marlboro, Prado, Corona, Riverside, Highgrove and Colton. To be precise, Marlboro should be west of Chapman, between the latter and the unmodeled Anaheim. However, the existing trackwork requires placing Marlboro east of Chapman.

Los Angeles and San Diego Model Railroad

Click on a Link for a Virtual Layout Tour

Layout Construction Progress Photos - Preparing for the 2008 NMRA National Convention in Anaheim, CA
  • November 2009. Very little new progress was made on the layout from late 2008 through June 2009. However, between June and September 2009 track was laid on the upper level and eleven stub-end staging tracks were added at the end of the upper level. All of the new track has been wired for my DC control system.
On September 15, 2009 I ran a 15-car SP freight train from the lower-level staging yard to the upper-level staging yard with one stop.  Total run time was 5 minutes 40 seconds. That was the first run from end-to-end and it was captured in a video. The link is below. The video requires a Quicktime player.

The total main line length (excluding staging) is 154'.  The stub-end upper staging is just over 13' and the return-loop lower staging is 23'.  That adds up to 190'. 

The upper level has no scenery, only a few buildings (most of which will be replaced).  The run in the video ends on SP track 3 (of 5) in the upper staging yard.  There are 6 additional staging tracks for the ATSF and UP. 
  • September 2009 Quicktime Video

  • March 2010.  Three tracks of the upper level staging yard were recently extended by adding a narrow shelf. One track was extended four feet and two tracks were extended six feet. These two tracks will now each hold a 15-car passenger train with three E-units. Although a 15-car passenger train is really too long for the layout, it's nice to be able to store and run one if I want to.
Bill Messecar visited the layout recently and we operated a Santa Fe "Corona Turn" from the San Bernardino upper-level staging to Corona and back. That was the first attempt at somewhat prototypical operation using a written switchlist (the switchlist form was developed from an actual Santa Fe switchlist). Bill was the engineer and I was the switchman. We switched cars in Riverside and Corona, then, on the return, switched Arlington and Highgrove. The complete run took about one hour of real time. Afterward we ran a westbound Grand Canyon (the train is shown here on its eastbound run coming out of Santa Ana Canyon just west of Corona. It's spring 1965 and the train has picked up two REA reefers of strawberries in Fullerton).

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Last updated 7/22/13

1997, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013 ljames1@ix.netcom.com