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  • Pennsylvania Railroad Middle & Pittsburgh Divisions Circa 1952, In HO Scale

    By Doug Taylor Photos 
    By Robert Schleicher 
    Plan Artwork by Craig DuMez

    PHOTO 10. The Torrance steel mill is designed so both the incoming coal and ore and the outgoing steel operations can be modeled as well as some of the plant's internal movements of molten metal and ingots.

    Modeling the mainline Pennsylvania Railroad, even in a 21 x 42-foot basement, a daunting task.Doug Tay l or worked and reworked track plans for years and finally opted to hire professional track planner John Armstrong to create a plan that would include the major operating segments of the Middle and Pittsburgh Divisions of the Pennsylvania Railroad, with about a third of the basement left for Doug's recreation of all the major scenes on the three-foot narrow gauge East Broad Top Railroad. His East Broad Top was com featured in the May 1998 issue of "The Journal." The real EBT interchanges with the Pennsy at Mount Union, which is, of course, one of the places Doug wanted to model on his Pennsy mainline.

    Railmodel Journal - July 2001 - Page 26

    Layout Design Upgrades

    The Armstrong plan was actually developed for Doug's previous home, but he managed to find another with a similar-size basement. It's a work of art, squeezing what is, essentially, 100 miles of four-track straightaway into a series of curves to maintain a minimum 30-inch radius curve so the large steam locomotives can operate. The plan itself did not include the large n umber of staging tracks that modelers have s ince realized are essential to feed any mainline railroad. Doug added the Pennsy's Brilliant Branch which connects with the mainline at Johnstown, disappears along the wall behind scenery, then reappears at Pittway. He also added Pittsburgh commuter train operations to the original lay out design and stuffed a double-track reversing loop beneath the Benny I nterlocki ng as a staging y ard to hold and turn the commuter trains. Jim Miller designed a new staging yard that increased the single-level staging yard's four-train capacity to a two-level yard with capacity to store 18 trains. The staging yard is hidden beneath the the scenery.

    Railmodel Journal - July 2001 - Page 27


    The layout is built with conventional L-girders with 1/2-inch and 3/4-inch ply wood subroadbed. The roadbed itself is 1/2-inch Homosote with beveled edges for ballast shoulders. The track is a combination of Railcraft, Atlas and Shinohara with code 100 nickel silver rail. A few of the turnouts are ready-builts, but most have been soldered together from rail to maintain the smooth flow of the track through the curves. The 100 turnouts are controlled by hand made switch motors and Circuitron Tortoise switch motors. The scenery is chicken wire covered with Hyrdocal soaked paper towels. Final contours were done with plaster, and the scenery painted with latex paint. Most of the hills are forested with clumps of lichen or Woodland Scenics foliage clumps supported on toothpicks. The backdrops were painted by Carolyn Ross and Dan Robertson. Photographs are used to por tray many of the structures on the back drop.

    Wiring & Train Control

    Trains are controlled by a CTC80 Command Control system, but the layout had to be divided into blocks after all to allow the working signal system to function like the prototype's. Dean Clasby installed the signal system, Art Riorden built 16 signal bridges from Bachmann Plasticville parts, and Doug installed 107 Oregon Rail Supply signal heads. The signals are controlled by a Keeler Rail Spec ialties software system, and Lany Keeler connected the system and made it operational. The signals are, of course, visible to the operators and are necessary with Command Control. The signals are also repeated on the dispatcher control panel and the same system is used to indicate the trains' position and direction in the hidden staging yards. The tower operators also have control panels with signal lights, and they control the entrances and exits to and from the staging yards at lacks on the east end of the layout.

    Railmodel Journal - July 2001 - Page 28

    Railmodel Journal - July 2001 - Page 29

    Railmodel Journal - July 2001 - Page 30

    Railmodel Journal - July 2001 - Page 31


    The railroad is set in the 1952 time period, with all of the diesels, steam locomotives adn rolling stock selected to duplicate equipment from that year. All off the steam locomotives have flywheels and can motors so they can match the performance of HO diesel models. Operations are governed by a timetable for 34 freight and passenger trains and train orders delivered by the dispatcher. An 11-hour recreation of the prototype trains movements can be completed in 3 hours of real time, a nice evening for 10 to 19 people. An operating session requires a dispatcher, the two tower operators, four to six road crew, two "engineers" for the helper locomotives, and one or two yard operators. The East Broad Top has its own crew, with a dispatcher, a yard operator at Mount Union, and four road crews.


    Railmodel Journal - July 2001 - Page 32

    Railmodel Journal - July 2001 - Page 33

    Railmodel Journal - July 2001 - Page 34

    Railmodel Journal - July 2001 - Page 35

    Article Details

    • Original Author Doug Taylor
    • Source Railmodel Journal
    • Publication Date July 2001

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