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Wilmington and Northern Branch

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150th St Layout Design

The 1900-1905 Layout Trackplan


The Operating Scheme

The W&N will operate with each crew making one or more round trips from the terminal at either Reading or Wilmington, to the other end and return with another train. Each crew will get their engine, take it to the train, make the run, yard their train, get their caboose, put it on the outbound train and then return to the origin. Between round trips they will have to get coal and at least once on every round trip will have to stop and take water.

The original operating sessions were 3 hours long using a 4:1 fast clock, for a 12 hour slice of the day.  I have had 7 sessions with this operating pattern.   Each session operated the same set of trains.

I am revising the operations to have a 8 hour slice with a 3:1 fast clock for a 2 hour and 40 minute session.  I have 3 different "shifts" of trains planned, so each session will be slightly different than the previous one.

The positions I have used so far were:

Wilmington Yardmaster/Switcher

Wilmington City Job

2 road crews for 1-2 psgr trains, 3-4 frt trains and a local each

I have not needed a dispatcher since I have required relatively few orders.  Most sessions require no orders and the most I have issued in any given session was 3.

In future sessions I will add a Coatesville switcher.  Once the French Creek Branch is in service, I can add a 3rd road crew that will run the French Creek local and several transfer jobs.









Reading Portable Staging Yard

In order to accomplish the operating plan I needed some staging at the north end of the layout.  Birdsboro did not have the capacity to stage and operate fluidly, so I designed portable staging to fit in the hallway outside the railroad room that represents Reading, PA.  It is very lightweight construction with 1/4 in plywood with 1/2 x 3/4 pine strips glued to the edges and as reinforcing.  Its a bit noisy but easy to move.


The first train runns through Birdsboro and onto the new connection to staging.


The train pulls into a staging track, and the engine cuts off to run onto the manual turntable.  If the crew turns at Reading, they will run back to the south end of the yard, pick up their caboose and bring it back to the turntable, which is long enough for one engine and a caboose.
The yard has 7 tracks on a 16" wide deck.  That allows tracks 1 and 7 to be running tracks.  Tracks 2 through 5 are the primary staging tracks, three of them are 12 cars long and one is 15 cars long.  There is a run around built into tracks 6 and 7.  That allows a short train to be staged in 7 tail (stub ended) or between the switches in 6.
In addition, on the south end, there will be two coach yard tracks on the back side and two or three engine tie up tracks on the front side (on the corner module).  On the north end, next to the turntable off track 1 is a short stub that can hold two cabooses.
In the future I will build a "docking area" opposite the yard on the turntable end to allow cassette staging to be used for both storage between sessions and to allow more trains to be originated from Reading if the operations require it.


Having turned the engine and caboose the crew puts its caboose on the outbound train (which in this test run is the inbound train).  Then the engine backs onto the turntable, which is lined for a clear track, and runs to the south end of the yard to get back on its train.


The southbound train departs Reading onto the permanent layout.  The extension intrudes into the door way slightly, enough to get the tracks through but not enough to impede movement.  The turntable is there to allow operation (turning steam engines) without the staging yard in place.


Twenty minutes later the whole staging yard is broken down into 4 pieces (two 16" by 66" yard modules, a 36"x36" corner module and a 8"x30" connector) and stored under the layout.  Why such an odd length of 66' for the modules?  My layout is built on 72" grids so the layout legs are on nominal 72" centers.  By making the modules 66" I knew I could fit them between the layout legs for storage.

Specifications of the layout

Scale : HO
Era : 1900-05
Control System : DCC (NCE Powerhouse Pro)
Min Radius : Visible 24, hidden 18
Turnouts : Most #5, a few #6 and #4
VisibleTrack : Handlaid Code 70, 55
Hidden Track: Atlas code 83
Benchwork : Open grid (18x72 base)
Sub-roadbed : Homasote on 1/2 or 3/4 plywood 
Ballast : Lt. grey and cinder ballast
Rdg Staging : 6 tracks
Wilm Staging : 5 tracks
Elevation : 52-58
Max grade : 1.5%
Turnout control : Pushrods to DPDT toggles
Uncoupling : Bamboo skewers
Car forwarding : Car card and waybill printed with Access database
Operating scheme : Point to point
Operating system :  TT&TO