Prototype Operations

We meet every Wednesday Night at 7:30 pm for Work and Fun at 103 State Street,  Delmar,DE.
Come and join us.  The Entrance is through the Red Door next to the Alley and then Up Stairs.

Operations on the Delmarva Model Railroad Club HO Layout
By Bill Deeter

     The original club layout was not designed for operations but instead as most layouts start out, a Christmas tree loop or in this case 3 loops. The layout started as a double track “L” shaped loop with a single-track line making a loop somewhat in the middle. When I joined the club in the early 1990’s there were a few people (mostly Carl Wieland) interested in trying to make the layout usable for operations. Looking back I do not think that we would have the great operations base layout we have today without Carl. Carl lead the way to walk around DC control and adding block control panels to the layout. An operational scheme was devised and few sessions were tried with many problems found. The layout had many things that did not allow it to operate successfully so operations stopped and reworking the problems started.  

     On top of the mechanical problems the layout lacked a location and an identity if you will. Because of it being a club layout it had a generic everything. The layout had a eastern mountainous flavor set in the steam diesel transition with a double track loop with an unsceniced fiddle yard area on the back of one leg of the “L”. So to make the loop point to point the “fiddle” yard was cut in half and the loop opened up at least on paper. With this done we now have two staging yards one at each end of the layout. So now we had a place to go to and come from. But where was this place? There were some design elements already in place that had to be lived with, a small port with a yard, a yard with a wye that had a double track main on two of the legs and a single track main on the other leg. Other design elements include a junction of two double track mains (one of the double track mains goes to the new addition which at this was not yet built), a small quarry line with a small town and yard also a busy port with a yard. Then there was the multiple favorite railroads of the members. Thankfully these were primarily northeastern roads, PRR (Pennsylvania Railroad) & PC (Penn Central), NYC (New York Central), B&O(Baltimore & Ohio) and C&O (Chesapeake  & Ohio) to name just a few. We considered starting a freelanced layout but nobody really wanted to paint there loco’s in some custom scheme.

Stagging Yard
The Stagging Yard on the opposite side of the layout from Belpre.

     So the search for a prototype locale began. A copy of Kalmbach Publishing’s “1948 Handy Railroad Atlas of the United States” was used to look for something that at least resembled the design elements of the existing layout. The place that seamed to fit what was there was Parkersburg, WV right on the Ohio River along the WV & OH border. It appeared to have a PRR (Pennsylvania Railroad) junction across the river from Parkersburg. So after much discussion it was chosen as a starting point. So the modeled yard would be Parkersburg and the junction on the layout would be Belpre. The existing main line was now the B&O main from Baltimore to St. Louis and PRR was given joint trackage rights into Parkersburg. As with most model railroads some modeler’s licenses had to be used. The chosen area is not all that popular among modelers and rail fans so not much info was readily available. Normally this would be a bad thing but since the layout was well established we could convert it to the B&O main and not many rivet counters will know anything about the real area.  The visible yard on the layout was turned into Parkersburg, WV with east staging being Clarksville and the west staging being B&O in Cincinnati, OH & PRR in Zansville, OH. A fictitious branch line was created for the single track out of Parkersburg to the port.


     As mechanical work continued the operations planning also continued. Waybills were created for industries on the layout and off line. The four-sided waybills were created with Sheneware’s Waybill program and printed on blank business cards. A database of rolling stock using Excel was created and a word template was used to create the car cards for each train car. Train numbers and a schedule were created and when enough repairs had been done operations started again. In those days five people at an ops session was a great turn out.

     Even though the layout has a decent main line track length it did not give the feel of operating a major railroad main line. It was now time to work on the plans for the layout addition. Different track plans were drawn and more research was being done on the area. A form 6 was obtained as well as B&O Freight Schedule and Classification Book and a couple of Employee Time Tables.

     The modeled portion of the layout became the Parkersburg Subdivision of the B&O Railroad’s Ohio-Newark Division. This could not have worked out better if it was really planned this way. What we now have is the entire Parkersburg Subdivision modeled on the layout. We have a run from Division point yard to division point yard on the layout. The division point run is between Parkersburg WV and Chillicothe, OH. There is also a short section of the OL&K sub of the Ohio-Newark Division running from Parkersburg through Belpre to Zanesville (staging) This section also has joint trackage rights with the PRR into Parkersburg. Modeler license was used for the joint trackage rights but it was not that far of a stretch as part of this line does have joint trackage rights
We have a short distance of the Monongah Division‘s Parkersburg Sub modeled on the layout. This is the area of double track main east of Parkersburg to Clarksville (staging). The Ohio River Sub is also modeled on the layout. The port has become the Lower Yard of Parkersburg on the Ohio River Sub of the Monongah Division running through the High Yard of Parkersburg following the existing branch onto the second level of the new section of the layout to Hunting WV (staging).  The Ohio River Sub runs the entire length of the new layout on the second level. 

     As part of our operations, we are in the process of developing a Timetable that parallels the real ones.  Click the pdf gif link to download the Timetable in pdf format.  pdf

     The below diagram is the current track plan of the layout.  Not all industry tracks are shown, but all of the mainline is.  Also, the main yard track plan at Parkersburg is not shown.  This was the main drawing that the expansion was built to.

Layout Plan