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John Farrington’s Railserve layout


Recently I had the opportunity to meet John Farrington and see his incredibly realistic Railserve layout. John has a YouTube channel, John2618, and posts layout updates and progress on his recent projects. His current layout is a proto-freelanced one based on a Railserve (RSSX) railroad line that he saw in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The prototype Railserve company is a provider of on-site rail services in North America. The company operates at over 70 facilities and also provides locomotive service, track maintenance, and locomotive sales and leasing. A Railserve facility operation is an excellent candidate for a small switching layout.

This layout is John’s first in HO scale. He did not have a lot of room for a large layout so he decided to build a small switching layout to gain experience and enjoy operations, until one day when he can build a larger layout. John lives in an apartment and the layout is built in a spare bedroom, which also serves as his model building workshop. The layout is 8 feet long and 18 inches wide with a 3 foot extension on one end. John is currently adding an approximately 5 foot L extension to his layout to improve operations and give him two more industries to switch.

What makes John’s layout so outstanding is his attention to detail. John has an eye for the right colors and composition of scenes. While the layout is small, he did not try to cram in too much into the space he has. There is plenty of open space and the layout looks larger than it is because it is not overcrowded. The weathering on the structures, railcars and vehicles is perfectly done.

The operations on the layout are based around a primary industry that replicates a beverage bottling facility. The industry has several car spots including one for phosphoric acid, three spots for corn syrup, two spots for box cars, and one car spot inside the main structure. There is also a portion of a siding for off spot cars. In addition, John has an ADM Corn Syrup facility that can accommodate three tank cars. With many of the car spots being spot specific, there is plenty of operations for the local switch crew. The extension that John is adding will include a frozen food warehouse, a transloading facility, a locomotive service area, and have a longer interchange track for the inbound and outbound cars.

John is modeling the Northeastern US during the late winter/early spring. His scenery accurately captures the brown grass and winter vegetation of the area. He also has small piles of melting snow in the grass and in dirty piles along the road and parking lots where it has been moved by snowplows. He has added LED lights to his structures and some of his vehicles. John also enjoys custom building vehicles and super detailing them.

While I was there we held a brief ops session on his layout and it was lots of fun to operate on. John has done an outstanding job of capturing the details and operations of a small industrial railroad. His layout is as impressive in person as it is in his videos. Be sure to check out and subscribe to John’s YouTube channel, you’ll see why it is one of my favorite layouts.


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