Roy King Memorial Trolley Layout

The Roy King memorial layout was given to ETMRC by Mr. King shortly before he died in 2009. He was a successful commercial insurance broker in Dallas. He was known nationally for his expertise about streetcar and interurban electric railways and had authored a number of books, perhaps most importantly a meticulously researched and self published book 100 Years of Capital Transit the Washington D.C. streetcar system. This book is now the international go-to source for anything about that unique system that used a center concealed third rail for power on lines within the District and conventional overhead trolley system for the outlying areas. He also authored three books for Morning Sun publishers on various streetcar properties and was the technical consultant for numerous others. Shortly before he died, he offered the club any of the buildings we could use from his home HO scale trolley layout, but we preferred to use his whole layout as a permanent memorial to him. He assented and his survivors were pleased to agree. Accordingly, about a month after his passing, a group of club members descended on his house to dismember and remove his layout and move it to Commerce where it remains.

Rob Dove Blog 01 August 2017

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Tom is adding some track to keep the street cars from becoming sidewalk cars. This area has been an issue for quite a while.

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Tom is still at it but one can see some of the detail that goes into something like this.

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Dave is learning about the street cars and overhead wire. Now if there was more room Dave might have been able to work on something or get some good close up views of what the other guys were doing.

Rob Dove Blog 19 February 2017


In addition to the HO layout we have two other smaller layouts that also need and get attention. Ron is testing out the King Trolley layout and showing it to one of the other members.

Rob Dove Blog 17 December 2016

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A fat guy was added to the scene checking out the automobile.

Rob Dove Blog 04 December 2016

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There is still much to be done in and around the club house but we are rapidly getting to the point of being model railroaders first and contractors second. We began by replacing damaged ceiling tiles from the areas that were admitting water via the leaky lintels and were pleasantly surprised to find them bone dry. While the tiles were being replaced fiberglass insulation was being installed and improvements were being gained hand over fist.

Work preceded at a rapid pace until we were past the Roy King trolley layout and we discovered a tiny drip from the roof. We had thought we were past that but we took out some tiles and investigated. It was raining hard and the water was sneaking in from four spots above the ceiling. In one case it was a drip about every 30 seconds or so to others a drip every couple of minutes. Not a lot of water as it was being absorbed by the ceiling tiles and the occupants below them were blissfully unaware. Paul and I checked the supplies and found some roof wet patch in our arsenal of special railroading supplies. We donned coats gathered tools and went to the roof after measuring so as to be able to locate the area the leak could be in. We discovered some possible leak points and applied the patching material. We will check in the following days to see if we were successful. We also have another plan for reinforcing the roof in the area as it is in a valley area and water collects there. We will put down a couple of layers of material over our roof coating as well as the coating in an effort to build up this area and make it more resistant to leaks in the future.

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This is a structure that was redone and installed on the Roy King layout. Wth three layouts and two scales there are lots of interesting things going on at the club.

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The man in the photo Ron is the one responsible for reworking the structure. For those of you considering dcc and overhead wire you can see we have a viable system in operation presently. We also have the option of using dc by throwing a switch to change from one to the other. Bob T, built the control panels and engineered the dcc system into the layout that allows switching from one to the other.

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A close up of the front yard, notice it is December and the flowers are in bloom, the magic of our hobby can turn a gloomy winter day into a warm spring day with lots of sunshine. A real boost to brighten one's day.

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Another interesting view of the Roy King Layout and redone structure.

Rob Dove Blog 07 September 2016

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Tom B. is getting into the act by patching the holes that used to contain the spigots from heaven, next will be some sky colored paint. I suspect the area near the floor is being left to the carpentry club to mend.

Rob Dove Blog 10 July 2016

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Here we have Tom B working on the Roy King layout. I am suspecting he is checking to see if all the required rivets are in their proper places. Just kidding, Tom is one of our guys that has extensive prototype information and does a phenomenal job of making sure his models are super accurate. I have seen some of his work and it is excellent, so being a rivet counter is not a bad thing.

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Tom has decided that the overhead wire which supplies the power to the trolleys was in need of some adjustment to make it better follow the curves of the track. I have seen this done on different occasions and it is very impressive to witness. I think it is a lot like juggling as lots of things are up in the air at the same time and none of them can be dropped if things are expected to be functional again.

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Here is another detail shot that shows some of the things these overhead wire guys must get through to make trains even short ones or single cars run.

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Now we see Tom sporting his optivisor and this prompted me to say Tom, I now know you were the kid that bought those x-ray glasses from the back of the comic books. Bob T, Tom B and myself were all laughing after that one.

Rob Dove Blog 03 July 2016

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Ron is now doing some foundation work as he is getting a structure ready to go back onto the Roy King Memorial Layout. There is lots of work that goes into our different layouts and many of the projects go unnoticed. This is not because no one cares, or lack of interest, but when one is working on a project one does not see all the other things that are being done by others.

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Here is an example of a quick project, above Ron is cutting a visual barrier to make it appear that the building is not empty or at least less noticeable.

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Now after it is installed the structure will be put back onto the layout.

Rob Dove Blog 04 April 2016

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I thought you might like to see a few more photos of the trolley layout. Now these are from perspectives that are easy to see when operating the layout which is HO scale and powered by dcc through the overhead wire.

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In the photo below we see the two holes in the backdrop that used to house the spigots from heaven. The holes will end up getting patched and there just might be a small addition to the layout and some renewed model building along this more rural section of the line.

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It is hard to imagine this layout was nearly ruined by a roof leak in the not to distant past. I happened to be off and at the time worked a night shift and could not sleep. So I thought I will go down to the train club and run some trains or build some models or something. I arrived about midnight and it was a nice evening at the time and I went into the club house where I had at my disposal a huge HO layout and a venue for my mega trains as they were later referred to.

It was not long after I was there a typical Texas thunder storm showed up. For those of you not familiar with such entities it is much like being on the business end of a fire hose with high winds and lots of thunder and lightning.

The leaks began in a very rapid fashion and were producing lots of water, I was filling garbage cans in a very rapid fashion. I began moving all kinds of things like the computer system etc that were in the path of the dripping or in some cases running water.

The trolley layout only caught a small amount of damage. I was able to build some towers using the structures on the layout and cover them with a heavy plastic drop cloth we had on hand. The water poured through the make shift channel via the drop cloth into large trash cans that I kept emptying of water, typically about 5 gallons at a time. What a night that was. Had I not happened to be there the loss of this layout was more than likely as it could have easily collapsed and fragmented. I also suspect the plaster structures might not have done very well after being hit with so much water.

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. I suspect that once some other projects get completed there will be a return to this layout and work on it will continue from the guys that run trolleys.

Rob Dove Blog 27 March 2016

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Only have a couple of photos of the Roy King layout due to it's surroundings. Some of the surroundings were man made and temporary in nature but it is what it is.

Rob Dove Blog 20 December 2015

As can be seen the spigots from heaven have been removed.

Newsletter May 2015

Getting better

Getting better — Ron M’s Bowser Brill streetcar cruises through some newly sceniced and cleaned up portions of the King trolley layout. The whole layout is now in better condition than it ever has been in our hands, and may even work better than it did while still in the King household. The car focus is soft because it was moving — smoothly even. More grass and gravel has been added since the photo was taken.

Rob Dove Blog 09 March 2015

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Tom B is working on the trolley layout and sinking foundations into the ground or in this case back filling so we do not have buildings floating on some stiff pieces of air. The product he is putting down is a paper machae product and it seems to work real well for this purpose. One thing that complicates the issue is working around all of the overhead wires for the trolley cars.

Rob Dove Blog 15 Nov 2014

Roy King Memorial Trolley Update.

As many of you know one of the items that was given to our club was Mr. Kings Layout. Due to the famous nature of the layout we took the entire line and have been modernizing and repairing the layout. We recently, just prior to the train show, moved the layout and installed a new backdrop. It is again operational and I have taken a few shots to show the improvements. There are more to come, so stay tuned. After rereading my blog it seems that I never did give credit to Tom M for his excellent work with brush and paint on the back drop. He did say that was an easy thing to do and he sure made it look easy when he did it. I think it turned out extremely well and looks better in person than in the photos. It not only improves the King Layout but the entire room looks better due to its ambiance.

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Photo 1 shows the more finished town section and photo 2 shows the beginning of the section that was not completed when Mr. King passed away.

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Photo 3 same area looking toward the new backdrop, photo 4 is the loop track from the industrialized area back to the town business district, to the left of the station would begin the rural portion of the layout.

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As can be seen in the photo 5 multiple routes need to be protected by a tower and in photo 6 after successfully getting around the loop the trolley is on the way through town and to the train shed.

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This is what it looks like further down the line, leaving town on the left and preparing to cross the creek on the right.

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Here we see two shots of the end of the line loop and station complex. This area is just past the creek that was seen above. Still lots of work on scenery and some fine work on the track and wire. Right now the line is operational but needs some attention to get it up to the standards of the club. As a general rule we expect to be able to turn on a train and as long as there are no conflicts with other trains or switches running the train into a spur it should run till we decide it should not by turning off the power. The trolley layout still has a couple of areas that are in need of some fine tuning.

Rob Dove Blog 03 Nov 2014

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Photo 1 has unofficially been dubbed spigots from heaven because of the plumbing pipes we were not able to remove at this time. Photo 2 does show what a fantastic difference even a simple backdrop has on the appearance of the layout. The legs have been reinforced, that hold up the layout, the layout was leveled as much as was possible as in some areas due to warping of the layout, the scenery contours there was in fact nothing that was level or true on either the top or bottom of the layout. So we got it as good as we could putting levels on the track which was supposed to be flat and may have been at one time.

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Photos 3 and 4 show a bit different view of the layout after the backdrop was installed and completed unless we decide to add clouds or some other type of two dimensional scenery such as cityscapes that we were able to salvage from the old backdrop. The one on the right really shows the spigots from heaven but I am really impressed over how well the backdrop turned out and the way it makes the models in front of it pop. There will be more work on Tuesday night and on Wednesday and Friday as this layout is readied for visitors who will be arriving on Saturday and Sunday if our past is any indication of the future.

Folks that worked on the layout recently consisted of Paul, Ron, Tom B, Tom M, Bob A, Bob T, George, Jared, Leroy, and me (Rob D). If I have left anyone out I apologize. Every one has done so many different things in the process of restoring this historic layout it is just crazy to list what each person did. There will be lots more done by this weekend.

Newsletter May 2014

Maybe better

Maybe better — The rebuilt streetcar curve still looks a bit rough, at least for the automobile drivers, but it should reduce the frequent derailments that dislodged the fence in the bottom of the photo.

Newsletter January 2014

Yes, it DOES run there

Yes, it DOES run there — Ron’s Bowser Brill car rounds a tight curve over a previously inoperable joint on the King trolley layout. The programming track for DCC operation is in front of the car, also was just made functional.

Newsletter October 2013

New Look

New Look — The village at the end of the King trolley layout looks a lot better with the right buildings in the mostly right places. Of course the blacksmith shop chimney is crooked.

Newsletter September 2013

Trolleys on DCC

Trolleys on DCC – Yea, I know you are getting sick of seeing photos of the Roy King trolley layout in Railnews, but this photo commemorates an important first: the DCC system bought by the late Sam Westwood was returned from the maker after minor repairs, and it works! Possibly more important is that some of the DCC-equipped models can now run as they are supposed to. Shown here passing under individual control are Tom B’s Bowser PCC in Cleveland colors, and one of Ron M’s Bachmann Peter Witts in St. Louis colors.

Newsletter August 2013

New King layout control panels

New King layout control panels — are a sure sign of progress in the ongoing repair of the Roy King trolley layout. But better than the new panels is the almost complete replacement of the under table wiring. The missing DCC panel, off to the vendor for repairs will occupy the gap in the center of the photo. Paul F (background) was working diligently on something else.

Newsletter March 2013

Will wonders never cease?

Will wonders never cease? — IRR trolley has already gone through the loop at the end of the line on the Roy King trolley layout. The car continued all the way into the city, but could not run back out – the junction switches still must be wired up.

Newsletter January 2013

They finally work

They finally work — The three electric trolley turnouts at the lead to the terminal trainshed finally work as they are supposed to, thanks to Bob T’s discovery and correction of a short circuit. Since they work, a street crew has been out and covered over the gaping holes in the street. It almost looks civilized.

Newsletter April 2012

Not ready for prime time

Not ready for prime time – Tom B’s freight motor was the first car to run on the Roy King trolley layout since the club received it two years ago. And “running” is charitable. Owing to dirty track and wire, the presence of numerous gaps in the track, the car could only be coaxed to cover about 6 feet. On the segment of track in the photo, it was probably the first to run in a much longer time, as Roy King seldom used that track.

Newsletter April 2012

Yet another shot

Yet another shot — After two weeks of cleaning and adjusting, this part of the Roy King layout was operable. This is the first train on the layout. The loop in the back of the photo was where the restored operation began.