Operating Layouts

of the

STEEL CITY EXPRESS
2020 Mid Central NMRA Region Convention


The Steel City Express Committee has lined up 7 great operating layouts for your enjoyment for the opening night of the Convention.

Please indicate on the registration sheet which layout you would like to operate. It will be a first come first operate assignment.

The committee will have a waiting list, just in case something happens.


LAYOUT # 1:

Andy and Charlie Blenko’s Conrail Pittsburgh Mainline

40 minutes from Convention Hotel

Operator Slots Available: 5

Parking: On Street

Layout Scale: HO

Layout description: 600 square foot HO Scale layout set in the early 1980s depicting Conrail's double-track Pittsburgh Line from Johnstown to Pittsburgh with a lower deck for staging. This layout features a 280 foot two-track mainline as well as interchanges with Chessie, Union Railroad, and AVR. Scenery has just been started, but track on Conrail is 100% complete to the point that operations are well-developed.

Layout control: NCE DCC provides layout control. A central dispatcher directs operations through JMRI block detection and remote turnout control.

Physical Requirements: Stairs to reach basement, standing on concrete floor, no duck-unders.

Handicap Accessibility: No 

Operations: Moderate (car card and waybill system, train orders, paper signaling, two-way radios for communication) 


LAYOUT # 2:

Don Coulter’s Norfolk Southern Pittsburgh Southern

18 minutes from Convention Hotel

Operator Slots Available: 6

Parking: On Street

Layout Scale: HO

Layout description: The Pittsburgh Southern is a modern, freelanced route for the Norfolk Southern, running south out of Pittsburgh towards the mid-Atlantic. Traffic consists of a mix of locals, transfers and mainline through trains. Most of the trackwork completed to allow for operation sessions, however there are plans to extend the second deck in the future. The 240-foot mainline runs point-to-point with a couple of branches for switching. There is plenty of both mainline running and local switching during ops sessions. There is a minimal amount of scenery completed at this time, however the layout is now fully signaled.

Layout Control: DCC with NCE

Physical Requirements: Stairs, concrete floor, no duck-unders, walk-around operation

Handicap Accessibility: No 

Operations: Moderate, fully signaled, dispatcher, yard limits


LAYOUT # 3:

Joel Everly’s Arel & Jolene

41 minutes from Convention Hotel

Operator Slots Available: 8

Parking: On Street

Layout Scale: HO

Layout description: The Arel & Jolene is a prototype-based freelanced bridge line with PRR and NKP influences and includes some interchanges. Traffic consists of a mix of through freights, locals and some passenger trains. The layout is a double deck, point-to-point design with approximately 300 feet of mainline track. The majority of the scenery is completed.

Layout Control: DCC with NCE

Physical Requirements: walk-around operation, basement entrance is at ground level through the garage with no stairs.

Handicap Accessibility: No

Special Requests: No smoking please

Operations: Moderate, track warrants, train sequence is dispatcher controlled


LAYOUT # 4:

Ken Hanawalt’s Turtle Creek Railroad

30 minutes from Convention Hotel

Operator Slots Available: 6

Parking: Parking on street - take care not to park directly across from driveways.

Layout Scale: HO

Layout description: The Turtle Creek Railroad is a two-level layout in a room about 34 feet by 27 feet. There are 30 towns, about 300 turnouts, and 900 freight cars. The scenery is mostly complete. We are just starting to install signals. The Turtle Creek Railroad is a free-lance switching layout, representing local freight traffic running from McKees Rocks, PA south to Brownsville, PA. There are no through freight or passenger trains. The motive power is a mix of steam and diesel with sound. Staging is distributed around the layout so that several trains can start at once.

Layout Control: DCC using NCE radio throttles

Physical Requirements: Standing to operate is required due to the layout height. There is a level entry to the layout from behind the house, but the driveway is sloped down from the street. A drop down bridge provides access to the layout, but no duck under is necessary during operations. Stairs are required to reach the rest room.

Handicap Accessibility: No

Operations: Moderate – The operation is moderately complex but easy to learn, low pressure and not sensitive to errors. Two person crews are used for each train. New operators have an experienced partner. Operation is based on intensive switching using car cards. There are a few signals, but not dispatcher. Crews must negotiate meets and passes. A key objective is to minimize waiting on the layout. Most crews will be busy during the entire session. We are easy going and friendly.


LAYOUT # 5:

Arly Mitchell’s CL&W

55 minutes from Convention Hotel

Operator Slots Available: 6

Parking: Parking on street

Layout Scale: HO

Layout description: The CL&W is a 576 square foot freelanced layout based on the Chessie System. Scenery is about 15% complete.

Layout Control: DCC using NCE

Physical Requirements: Standing with one duck under

Handicap Accessibility: No

Operations: Moderate with track warrants


LAYOUT # 6:

Bob Prehoda’s Huntingdon Northern Railroad

37 minutes from Convention Hotel

Operator Slots Available: 6

Parking: Driveway (4 cars) and street parking

Layout Scale: HO

Layout description: The Huntingdon Northern is a freelanced medium-sized layout (24ft x 26ft) with 100% of it’s scenery finished. The railroad is operated as a bridge route, set in Southwestern Pennsylvania between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, MD in 1957. The railroad uses a centralized Dispatcher that controls train movements by issuing train orders to crews and also used the train order signals as manual block signals. The Huntingdon Northern was featured in the November 1998 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.

Layout Control: DCC with NCE and radio throttles

Physical Requirements: No stairs to reach basement, standing with aisle ways narrowing to 2 feet in width, no duck-unders. Not handicap accessible.

Operations: Moderate (car card and waybill system, train orders with manual block and telephones)


LAYOUT # 7:

Jim Whipple’s Penn Creek Valley

1 hour 4 minutes from Convention Hotel

Operator Slots Available: 6

Parking: Street parking

Layout Scale: S

Layout description: Built by the late Sam Powell, this S SCALE (not American Flyer) layout depicts a fictional line running through the South Hills of Pittsburgh set between 1950 and 1953. The 27x26' layout has complete scenery and features several impressive scratch-built & kit-bashed structures as well as having all turnouts and much of the track hand laid. Equipment is a mix of Steam & Early Diesel and 40' cars and heavyweight coaches are still the order of the day. The railroad was gifted to the Dawson Historical Society upon Sam's passing, and has been graciously re-assembled by the Pittsburgh S Guager's and some friends of the Society.

Layout Control: DCC with Lenz

Physical Requirements: Standing required for operations and a duck under used for quick access.

Handicap Accessibility: Layout is wheelchair accessible, however bathrooms are not.

Operations: Moderate, Single track, Train order and switch lists. Operators will be paired and all will start as road crews with the possibility of advancement to yardmaster later in the session.