BuildLog – TBL – 7/5/2020

BuildLog – TBL – 7/5/2020

o I’ve been thinking about this for a long time.

Yes, I do have my own layout. No, I don’t really run it much – it’s just not fun to run alone, not after I’ve done ops. And to run it, I need to clean it (not easy on a moderate-sized layout) and put in two removable sections.

I’ve long considered Kato Unitrack to be a pretty bulletproof solution. It’s only real drawbacks are that you can’t do sweeping curves like flex track permits. Also, that plastic roadbed looks pretty punky. However, roadbed can be ballasted (it will take a lot of work to do, but I know how to do it (in theory)). But the real point is that Kato Unitrack (since it’s not flexable) is also not very corrosive. Less cleaning. And that is a major selling point for me.

Like I said, been thinking about it a lot and then saw a micro-layout (2×4) that Cody Case brought to the club, and I got religion. Just what could I do with this sort of concept? Well, this…




This is the Tuscarora Branch Line, a small Pennsy Railroad line that has a connection to the club’s LM&O railroad via Mingo Junction. Operations will involve one to three people and should be very dynamic.

An overview – the LM&O interchange is the spur that runs from lower center to a bumper (hidden inside a tunnel). The town of Tuscarora is located across the top of the layout, central to right. It has a lot of switching for a crew to manage. They’ll take cars off the branch and shift them to the correct industries.

Now, here’s the really cool part – the siding to the left is not really a main-siding – it’s two industries. To the top, we have the Tuscarora Power Plant. To the bottom, we have the coal mine. They are joined behind scenery breaks. In operations, loaded coal cars will sit on the outer track (maybe 6-7 total). Empty coal cars sit on the inner track. The crew working this run will proceed to the coal mine, lash up to the loaded coal, and move it east (counter clock wise). Maybe several laps, maybe just one. Once they arrive at their destination, they stop in Tuscarora, run around their train, and push the loaded coal cars into the “power plant”. Then they pick up the waiting empties, run back, and shove them into the “coal mine”. It’s the old loads-in/loads-out operation that is so cool to do – I’ve always wanted to do it and, from my dad, I’ve always had an interest in Pennsy coal hauling.

The third operator (at least for now) will be the interlocking tower operator. I’m figuring the lever-arm controllers to be located on decking above the power plant/coal mine. He’ll manage all the switches from there, also keeping the local and coal runs apart. Should be interesting. And very busy.

Not only will this be fun to fire up and run myself, we can always take it to shows and let the public try operations. Anyway, work has already begun – I’ve bought the tightest track pieces and Steve Raiford and I will be running four-axle trains around them to make sure it works.

More to come.