multilevel, sceniced layout, designed for operations. Enjoy the mass
of 2 rail O scale. Features DCC (some sound) with car card/waybill operations
based in the 1950's in the midwest. Steam and diesel. Coal, reefers,
oil, milk and bananas form an interesting traffic mix.
on op session by Mike O'Brien.
had the pleasure of participating in an all-day operating session on Ted's
layout near Chicago during a convention in April 2006. He operates using
DCC command control, some ground throw and some power switches, car cards
and waybills, and an informal "ask the roving dispatcher (Ted himself)"
dispatching system. Normal operation of the layout is with a bigger crew,
more throttles and a dispatcher, but because of construction concerns
and dust above the basement Ted went with fewer crew members this time.
Train order boards at stations are being installed.
layout is multi-level, running from hidden staging at the lowest level
to hidden staging at the highest level. There are from one to three visible
levels in between. There is no helix--tracks wind around the room gaining
elevation, although there is a hidden loop around the stair/restroom that
gains elevation. In O scale, which needs large radius curves, it seems
to be the best solution to go from level to level by wrapping around the
room. The problem of way freight switching on grades is solved here by
having "brakes" where needed which consist of a metal wire sticking
up between the rails, operated by a knob on the fascia.
Closeup of an old Alco switcher. O scale has a heft and a size which encourages
realistic closeup viewing. The upper levels of Ted's layout are high enough
to be close to eye level. Great!
Operating out on the line. Ceiling height is a generous 9 feet or so,
despite being in a basement. We are seeing two main working levels here,
with a third level up in the back. Note that the operator stands on
a step to work the upper level. Room is nicely carpeted. Aisles are
nice and wide. Refrigerator has cold drinks for crew. Bathroom is just
down to the left, kind of under the stairs.
trains are up close to the aisle for great viewing. Some buildings are
still cardboard mockups, but to scale and shape. Lots of info is along
the fascia. Note lower fascia is grass green, while upper fascia is
sky blue. Carpet and under-layout skirting are brown. At the far left
of the upper level you can just see a sturdy handle, useful for balance
while standing on the step.
works the main yard. Boxes are provided for standing on. The yard is a
little high up--note the staging yard underneath. A crew of two worked
the yard while I was there. Note all the paperwork. The mess behind on
the right is temporary boarding over the engine terminal to protect is
from construction debris while a large addition is being built to extend
the layout (and the house above). Unfortunately, the layout was in a bit
of disarray due to the hiatus in operation over the last six months caused
by major construction.
a big picture of the car card and waybill system at the main yard. Sorry
to make you scroll around a bit to see everything, but it has lots of
the car cards are simplified, with the road initials and car number prominent
at the top. An emblem (or herald, or logo) is used as decoration, and
makes it more railroady.
The car cards and waybills are standard sizes and layouts, making it easy
for operators new to this layout.
the clever use of a switch plate for the throttle plug, with a Milwaukee
Road emblem (upper right).
The divider cards in the pockets are narrow instead of full-width. Good
of the work crew who finish a project get credit with a sign on the fascia,
giving their names.
Did I say
the upper staging was easy to get to? No.
The upper staging is built into the lighting valance over the main yard.
Emergency access is rarely required, as above.
staging is also under the main yard, accessible when on your hands and
knees. Boy, it holds a lot of O scale equipment!
plan is like a big wye. Thus there are three lines, which all come together
here in the photo above. A busy area! Basically, two lines wrap around
the room, while the third line loops around the center of the room on
a peninsula. So there are three staging areas.
is where the three legs of the big wye come together. The main yard is
in the distance on the left.
yard, operated by an NCE DCC system radio cab.
For eye candy,
here is a typical view of a train going by on the upper level.
last picture, a verrrrrry wide panorama of the layout room. You may scroll
to the right to see it all.
Hope you enjoyed this little report. We sure enjoyed the operating session!
mike at (@) corbu.us -- Mike O'Brien, Pasadena, CA