Mr. Rogers Trolley
for Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital Layout

Revised 01-07-09

The Pittsburgh Garden Railway Society built a large scale train layout for Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital in the 1990's.  We have maintained it and seen it enjoyed by untold numbers of patients and visitors to the hospital.

In May of 2009 a new Children's Hospital will open.  We have been asked to design and build a new layout that will be larger and, we hope, better than the original.

One of the tracks on the layout will be a point to point, something that is typically used with a trolley.  Since Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was developed and filmed at WQED in Pittsburgh it made sense to use the trolley from Mr. Rogers in the layout.

Unfortunately no one markets a G-Scale Mr. Rogers trolley so I decided to build one from scratch.

 

 

The nearly completed model clearly shows the variety of materials that were used in its constructions. 

  • The base is made from a composite decking material commonly called TREX.  It is very heavy and will help to keep the center of gravity very low. 

  • Above that is a 1/8" hardboard (Masonite) floor.

  • The 10 posts are made from plastic extrusions from the hobby shop

  • The end plates are 1/8" Plexiglas that was heated and bent to shape

  • The roof and clerestory are made from maple that was tapered with a table saw and vertical belt sander.

  • The benches are made from 1/8" plywood that was salvaged from an old hollow core door.

In this view you can see the finished side of the plywood veneer from the hollow core door.

The motor block and wheels are from an AristoCraft Eggliner.  Four additional power pickups were added to insure good electrical connection to the track.  The blue / white wires coming out of the unit will be used to power the clerestory lighting and head & tail lights.  The track pickup wires and the motor wires were connected together within the motor block.  The blue / white wires are just wired in parallel with these connections to give a power pickup for lights.

The power block is secured with only two screws and can be swapped out in a matter of minutes should there be a problem with it.

Here the parts are shown in an exploded view.


This exploded view shows the bottom of the roof and includes a 12" ruler to give a better idea of size.

The base and benches primed.

The roof and clerestory got two coats of primer and two of red spray paint.  The red Plexiglas strips will go on the clerestory windows.

The posts and front and rear end plates were also painted red.

Five 10mm jumbo white LEDs were mounted on the roof.  Note that the tops of the LEDs were ground off to give a more dispersed light.
The LEDs are wired in parallel with a 235 ohm current limiting resistor in series with the track power.

Two "T" nuts were glued to the inside of the clerestory's roof.  Bolts extend through the main roof and thread into the "T" nuts to secure the clerestory.

Power for the roof LEDs comes through a hollow brass post.

The wire exits the bottom of the base.

The hole that accepts the post on the roof was notched to allow the wires to exit.

The finished, lighted roof.

Head and tail lights were added to the front plates.  These LEDs are very bright, 1/2 watt units.  The square base of each LED was painted black.  An unpainted LED is at the bottom of this photo.  You can also see the thin bumper that was added to the base of the front of the trolley.

Behind the end plate the wires to the LED go through a thin brass tube to the underside of the trolley where they connect to the track power through a bridge rectifier.

 

Ten brass hand rails were added to the vertical supports.  Note the protruding step to help passengers board the trolley.

The railings were bent from thin brass rod on using this home made bending jig.

The motor block is connected to the frame by two screws and one electrical connection (blue / white wires) so that it can be swapped out quickly. 

The trolley is just about complete.  The ends of the benches need to be varnished and the sign needs to be lowered against the top of the clerestory.