Modular Layouts

On display at the convention will be two very impressive HO modular layouts: The Reading Company Technical and Historical Society, and the New Jersey Free-Mo group.  Both will be offering operating sessions (Reading on Friday, Jersey on Saturday).  Sign-ups will take place in the layout room.  The modular layouts will be in the Freedom III/IV Ballroom.  Hours are Thursday 7-10pm, Friday 9am-5pm, 7-10pm, Saturday 9am-4pm.


The Reading Company Technical and Historical Society is an organization dedicated to the preservation of the Reading Railroad. The modular group includes members interested in preserving the Reading though modeling.

     Our HO scale layout consists of modules, mostly four or six feet in length, that highlight scenes once found along the Reading Railroad. Features include bridges, tunnels, rail yards, engine facilities, industries, agriculture, parks and recreation, and passenger operations.

   Being of a modular design, the layout is flexible and can be assembled in lengths ranging from 60 to 140 feet. The width is fixed at 14 feet and height is three feet. The layout is DCC controlled and consists of a double-track mainline with operating signals.


    Focusing on the time period from the 1940s to the start of Conrail in 1976, one can expect to see a variety of locomives and rolling stock. Look for The Crusader, the famous stainless steel streamliner that made two round trips per day between Philadelphia and New York.

     Also featured is one of the Reading's Rambles of 1959 to 1964 pulled by a T-1, 4-8-4 steam locomitive. Freight trains of mixed consists and dedicated trains of the coal and steel industry are also modeled. A highlight of the day is a run of a 140 car coal train pulled by an ABBA set of diesel locomotives. One might even see a modern intermodal or double-stack train being pulled by modern "what if the Reading existed today" locomotives.

Reading Company Technical and Historical Society Modular Layout at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Reading Company Technical & Historical Society's modular layout
on display at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania




By Mike Prokop

The Liberty Bell Special Convention will offer operations on the New Jersey Free-Mo HO-scale modules throughout most of the convention weekend. Whether participating in operations or just viewing the modules, you'll be able to admire the fine craftsmanship and modeling of the two module sets presented by the New Jersey Free-Mo group. Also, you'll learn of the historic and prototypical significance of each module set.

  Bill Grosse’s “Yardville” module features a look at the Pennsylvania Railroad’s presence in this small New Jersey town circa 1955. Part of the original Camden & Amboy line that successfully ran one of the first steam engines in the country in the 1830s, Bill has represented the area very well with his modeling of local industries and customers along the line with superb details and interesting features of Yardville. If you like switching and spotting cars, Bill’s module offers plenty of operational opportunities that will challenge your skills and provide lots of fun and excitement.

Mike Prokop’s “Linden Street Freight Station” module is a late 1950s replica of  the Reading Railroad’s facility on the Camden, NJ waterfront. Built to almost the exact prototype of the Reading property, this module operates just like the real thing. It features car float operations loading and unloading coal and freight cars. Coal is switched onto two raised trestles for truck transfer with freight spotted at the station and public delivery siding for processing. Transfer runs in and out of the facility offer additional challenges to operations. Mike’s Free-Mo module set was featured in the 2019 issue of Model Railroad Planning. If you have a copy, check it out and come operate on it in person.

     One last note…when Mike and Bill connect up their modules, they generate plenty of traffic and car loadings between Camden and Yardville that keeps operations moving at a brisk pace. So, whether you’re an experienced operator or a beginner interested in learning and jumping into this fascinating part of the hobby, come operate on the New Jersey Free-Mo module setup. More details and information about operating times and format will be available in future newsletters and at the Liberty Bell Special Convention.

Free-Mo Operations Using ModuOps
Details and Instructions

Featuring two HO module sets, Bill Grosse’s “Yardville NJ” and Mike Prokop’s “Linden Street Freight Station, Camden NJ” and maybe more! The theme of operations is mainly local work with freight trains dropping off and picking up cars using a programmed sequence or schedule of movements. See the convention website under “Other Activities”-“Modular Layouts” for additional information and photos. The motive power features a variety locomotives and rolling stock.

Signup – No advance reservations are required. There will be a sign-up sheet at the entrance to the modular layout room in the hotel. Choose your time and position; first come first served. You can sign up for multiple slots to try different positions. The number of operating positions is limited due to the smaller layout setup configuration.

Each session lasts 1 hour, with at least 1 hour between sessions. That should allow plenty of time to finish your switch list if needed. You will be able to sign up as a 2 person team in 1 position if you like, so you can split the job into Engineer and Switchman.

Positions available for each Ops slot are; Camden Local Engineer, Yardville Local #1 Engineer, Mainline Engineer (Yard to Interchanges), Yardville Local #2 (Easier for New Operators, light switching and assisting #1 with interchanges).

Location:                            Freedom III/IV
Layout scale:                     HO
Layout Theme:                   Local Camden NJ railroading (PRR, RDG, and others too) during the 20th Century in an interesting  “Free-Mo Setting.”
Handicapped access:         Accessible layout space.
URL: ARE web page:
Train Dispatching system: Sequential flat switching. No radios or phones required.

Car Forwarding method:    We print switch lists for each position and time slot using the “ModuOps” program.

Layout control system:      Digitrax DCC. Please bring Digitrax throttles if you have them. Duplex, Simplex Radio and plug-in.

Ops scheduled for:            There will be scheduled Ops slots starting Thursday evening of the convention using a signup sheet described above.

NJ Free-mo Photo 1

Another car float of coal is being off loaded at the Linden Street Freight House on the Reading Railroad’s facility's in North Camden, NJ. NJ Free-Mo is set up at the annual
Bordentown Holiday Train Show.

NJ Free-mo Photo 2

The Reading Railroad has a connection out on Delaware Avenue with the PRSL. You can see the sharp curve of the interchange track heading into the Linden Street Freight House. Another shot from the Bordentown show.

NJ Free-mo Photo 3

Bill Grosse is getting his Yardville Free-Mo module ready for the crowds attending the Bordentown Holiday Train Show. Last year over 7000 attended over the holiday session.

NJ Free-mo Photo 4

Plenty of prototypical operations  occur on the NJ Free-Mo modules. Ed Delikat and Bill Grosse are switching Yardville,
and they look pretty serious!

NJ Free-mo Photo 5

Large amounts of coal came over from Reading’s Port Richmond’s yard on car floats to Linden Street. The tug
“Ogontz” is in charge of this car float.

NJ Free-mo Photo 6

Lot’s of details can be seen on Bill Grosse’s Yardville Free-Mo module. In this case, plenty of junk to process.

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