Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Layout Tour #1 - Chris Wiley

Courtesty of Chris Wiley

Chesapeake and Ohio Railway’s

James River Subdivision in N Scale

Researching, searching, and researching this section of the C&O is a big part of what the hobby is all about for me.  Simply put, I am attempting to model parts of the C&O Railway’s James River Subdivision…its scenery, industry, freight traffic, etceteras.

The Setting is August 1957 on C&O Railway’s James River Subdivision.  The island style layout is being constructed in a 25 x 26 foot room.  The track plan is based on the prototype – single track mainline with scattered passing sidings, yards, industrial spurs, and a branch line.  And yes, the rails were pretty much laid on top of the canal towpath, aqueducts and culverts built by the canal company in the 1830’s (many of which are still in use by CSX Transportation).
The Trains – Prototype operations are the ultimate goal.  The main function of this line is hauling West Virginia COAL to eastern ports.  Yes, there are a few name manifest trains and two passenger trains, but coal is King.  Passenger service, well you won’t see the George Washington, or the Sportsman, but you will see "the Dinky".  Freight will be moves using the “Car Orders System”, timetable, and an “Overview of Operations” has been developed to support prototype operating sessions in the future.  The yards on each end of the subdivision will serve as staging yards to support operations.
The Scenery around the railroad includes the mountainous James River Valley, open bottomland farms, and a few small towns.  The base for much of the layout is polyextruded foam board.  Some of the above ground rocks are hydrocal, plaster, tree bark, and some are real rocks.    Everything is covered with latex painted “dirt”, ground foam “grass, weeds, and bushes” and lichen covered hills and Super Trees everywhere else.  Envirotex “water” is starting to flow in some parts of the river and tributary creeks.  Many buildings were scratch built, some custom made laser kits, and some are commercially available kits.  The paper buildings and roofing materials are all Radical FlatsTM available from  Beware; I have a few mirrors that always seem to confuse everyone.
The History.  This is the third N Scale layout I have built.  Research and planning for this layout started in the early 1980’s with the purchase of C&O Track Diagram Charts from the C&O Historical Society (  Construction for the Gladstone tracks began in 1990 while in Miami FL.  In 1995 began building bench work for the rest.

Train control   Digitrax Super Chief radio controls the trains.  Locomotive decoders installed by   The CTC machine at the dispatcher’s desk will control train movements across the entire subdivision.  We use JLC Enterprise’s DCC optimized detectors, and your CMRI operates off a custom QB 4.5 program. The I/O logic is handled by JLC Enterprise SMINI nodes.  Mike Burgett ( designed and built the CTC Machine and Signal System.

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