Harold Werthwein

Owner Inspiration & Techniques

Harold Werthwein
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Duration:   5  mins

In this wide-ranging discussion with Allen Keller, Harold Werthwein covered topics from staging the train before each operating session, to the people who worked with him on building the Erie, and much more.

Harold’s layout duplicated the trains that the Erie ran at different times. Harold got this information from Bob Malinoski, who compiled the complete freight operations of the Erie Railroad in June 1950, including all the schedules. Even though they were freights, they still operated on a time table. Watch this milk run on the Erie as replicated by Harold.


To do that right, Harold had to block the train, just like the Erie did, and for that he used Bob Malinoski’s freight operations book. He staged the train from the waybills, which give the routing for the various cars. It’s a point-to-point layout, and it took Harold about 12 hours to do the staging before each operating session.

Harold then showed in detail how he blocked the train, going east from Elmira, New York to Port Jervis.


Harold started this model when he retired in 1980 because he figured he would have the time to devote to it, and it was his first layout! The 85×30-foot size is a club-size layout, and Harold initially wondered if he could get enough people to operate it, since he lived in a rural area.

Maintenance of this large layout was not a problem, due to the stable conditions in Harold’s basement. Except for parts of the staging area, this layout is not a double deck.


Harold had a lot of help with the construction of the railroad over the years. People built scenery and structures, and did wiring. Harold talked about the people who made important contributions to this layout.

At the time this video was filmed, the construction of the layout was 90% complete and the scenery was 30-35% complete.

Watch more from Allen Keller.

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