CLINTON CENTRAL MODEL RAILROAD LAYOUT

Our layout has been undergoing a massive update in 2011.
You can see pictures of some of the changes taking place here.

 

Name: Clinton Central Railroad
Scale: HO (1:87.1)
Size: 30' x 50' Room
Prototype: non-typical - interchanging with PRR, NYC Erie and Reading, and S&NY
Locale: Central, PA Mountains, and river valleys of Northcentral PA        
Style: linear walk around, transitioning to double-deck
Era: 1940 - creation of Penn Central
Main Line Run: 360' plus lots of secondary track & yards
Minimum Radius: 36" Mainline
Minimum Turnout: #4
Maximum Grade
: Maximum mainline grade of 2% and 4% on branches
Benchwork: open grid
Height: benchwork 40", scenery 40" - 75"
Roadbed: cork on ½" to ¾" plywood
Track:  Mainline - code 100 Flextrack, Sidings - code 83
Scenery: Plaster over wood and cardboard, and fiber cloth
Control: NCE Digital Command Control (DCC).  Throttles are both wired and wireless (via NCE radio interface). Club is currently configured to run both DCC and DC (on demand), although all growth is DCC only. Effective 5/14/12, DC control was abandoned, making the layout 100% DCC control.
JMRI - Using 2 PCs w/Decoder Pro and Panel Pro. Decoder Pro PC has Power Cab w/USB interface connected to test track in dispatchers room, while Panel Pro PC controls turnouts and signals on main layout.

LAYOUT SCHEME HISTORY


Click here for more information on Castenea StationThe current layout located in the Castanea Station, like all of the club’s layout creations over the years of its existence in numerous facilities, is free lance and is purposely not modeled after any prototype railroad.  Railroads that have existed or exist in Clinton County from the earliest railroading days include the Pennsylvania, New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail, Norfolk Southern, Beech Creek, Clearfield & Western, and R.J. Corman.

To avoid any personal conflicts or preferences, the Charter Members elected to simply model railroading as it appeared in Clinton County during the 1940s and 1950s without regard to any specific railroad.  What has been built into the layout is a generic vision of Clinton County.  Naturally, coal is a large component of the layout.  Lumber and manufacturing also play a significant part.  Mines, tipples, coal load-out facilities, yards, sawmills, brick factories, rock quarry and local small manufacturing plants all portray the historical vision an observer may have witnessed someplace in Clinton County, Pennsylvania mid-20th century.

 

CURRENT LAYOUT SCHEME

PLANNING

So, how do you arrive at a workable track plan, scenery plan, wiring diagram, grade plan, and all the other planning you need to do before you start building a layout?  All Town with stationmembers were invited to submit their concept of what the layout should look like and how it should be built.  After all, we had a blank canvas to draw our plans on.  A number of members submitted their plans, some compromises were agreed upon, and we set off with a basic plan after voting by the membership.  Within our 28’ X 40’ room, we decided on what basically looks like a capital ‘E’ in plan view (looking down on the layout).  All the mainline was to be double tracked, with one main yard on the first peninsula which would include diesel and steam facilities, ice bunker, and freight terminal.  Also on the first peninsula is a small town and passenger station.  When we started this layout, we used DC analog with blocks for electrical control.

 

Town Under Construction

 

Like most plans, something that might look a little bit better usually pops up.  We have modified our plans numerous times, but always with consideration of the membership.  We have added a quarry of the first peninsula and are currently revamping the town for the second time!  We have slowly progressed to the second and third peninsulas, adding track, scenery, a branch line or two, and another mountain village.  We have plans for a sawmill, coal mine and load-out, and a power plant on the second peninsula.  The third peninsula is mostly track with some revisions in the planning state right now!

We have over 1200 feet of track currently in place, but many more feet of track and trackbed, dozens of structures, and large areas of scenery still remain to be built.  So, if you are into track work, scenery, wiring, electronics, model building, or painting, there is some facet of model railroading open to members.

CONTROLS

As noted earlier, we started operations using DC analog control with a block system.  Control PanelWe have an extensive system of block controls in both the yards and mainlines.  All the motive power owned by the club was analog.  And the membership all had their own motive power that was DC equipped.  In the mid 1990s, DCC (Digital Command Control) arrived on the modeling scene, and numerous members wanted to make the jump NCE ProCab throttleto the latest digital technology (our DCC configuration consists of NCE Powerhouse Digital Command Control with Pro Cab and Cab throttles, both tethered and wireless).  Yet others were happy and comfortable with tried and true DC operations.  The membership debated on this decision for some time, investigating our options and the issues we would have to address.  To abandon DC and make the leap to DCC would require a considerable learning curve and some were not interested in making that investment. 

Main Yard - CCMRR - you should see it nowAfter considerable planning and investigation on the part of our electrical crew, a method was devised to satisfy all the members.  To the credit of the electrical crew, we now boast the best of both worlds.  We are proud to offer any member the ability to operate both DC and DCC equipped locomotives on our layout.  We can provide the ability to members to run their DC power and have reserved specific times they are guaranteed to have operations on the layout.  Those that have the newer DCC/Sound equipped locomotives can operate on one of the largest DCC layouts in this part of Pennsylvania.  CCMRR Motive PowerThe club has also upgraded to remote control DCC operations for those who choose to operate untethered.  A number of DCC throttles are provided by the club for member use and many members have purchased their own throttles.  The club also has both DCC equipped and DC Equipped motive power (Steam and diesel) that permits members to operate on the layout without actually owning any equipment of their own.

Our latest venture into the DCC world involves the incorporation DecoderPro software into the inventory and retention of locomotive decoder memory settings. A computer has been set up to run DecoderPro with plans to connect the computer to the layout and actually control trains from a "remote" location via PanelPro.

The vast majority of the existing layout on all three peninsulas is equipped for both DC and DCC operations.  All future additions will be equipped for DCC operations.  We have many miles of track to lay, buildings to assemble, scenery to sculpt, and electronics to install.  Under Construction - would you like to help finish this?If you have any modeling interests, you can contribute your skills to the project as there are years of modeling work to do.  If you don’t have a specific skill but have a desire to learn, you have others that can teach you.  If you want to just operate, you can do that too.  There is something for everyone if you have an interest in our hobby.

 

Jeff Schroeder has taken pictures of rolling stock and scenery. A slide show of his pictures can be seen here on Flickr (opens in a new window). You can see picture updates if you have a facebook account at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clinton-Central-Model-Railroad/123364467700734

NOTE: During the May 2012 business meeting, a vote was taken and passed to abandon DC control on the layout. Although new track work has been moving forward with DCC only, this vote means that DC is no longer in use on the Clinton Central Model Railroad layout. Current work involving Panel Pro for computerized layout control is moving forward quite rapidly. Implementation of NCE's Switch-It and Switch-8s has begun, along with upgrades to Tyson Wye and the west end of the Central Yard.

As of 11/15/2012, the entire Mainline, Central Yard, Tyson Wye, Tunnel Hill, and the A/B/C Clinton Yard tracks have all turnouts assigned accessory addresses. This means that these turnouts can be operated from the Dispatcher's computer via JMRI, hand-held hammerhead throttles, smartphones, and tablets.

2013 Update:

A combination of Digitraxx BDL168s and SE8Cs have been deployed on the mainline to create block occupany and detection with signal control on most of the main line. A two-screen CTC panel and layout panel are located in the dispatcher's office and display train position on most of the main line. Additional hardware in 2014 will expand track occupancy detection.

JMRI's Panel Pro module has allowed us to create the layout graphically to give viewers an opportunity to see how our trackage runs. Although not drawn to scale, the image below portrays the three peninsulas that contain the double-tracked main line which looks like a capital "E" if viewed from above, with the Tunnel Hill second level branch drawn between the middle and bottom legs. A helix has been added to gain access to a second deck on the thrid peninsula and additional storage at the left/east end of the layout. Stop in at one of our Open Houses to see the layout in person - a schedule can be seen here.

CCMR Layout as drawn in Panel Pro

2014 Update:

Additional block detection was added to the layout this past year, along with a 3-screen display down in the dispatcher's room. Wireless headsets assigned to each engineer allow direct communications with the dispatcher who also controls operation of all mainline switches. All left over DC wiring was removed, and additional power drops were added throughout the layout allowing for more reliable power distribution to all trackage.

A new mine and switching yard were installed on the second deck of the third peninsula. The helix accesses this yard's level and two future levels behind the mountain above Agnes and Lockwood (also known as Central Yard). Future growth includes extending the second level the entire length of the third peninsula with several operating opportunities.

Car cards were created for approximately 400 rolling stock. Waybills are inserted in each car card to give each car a destination and cargo assignment. Each car in a train consist has its own car card with a color picture of the car (for easy identification), the road name, car number and AAR Code (Association of American Railroads Freight Equipment Car Code). An engineer will be handed a packet of car cards for the train he is currently responsible for. Two operating seesions were held this Fall using the car cards for the first time. More operating seesions are being planned for 2015.

2015 Update:

A new 5-track (plus run around) storage yard has been added underneath the mainline on the 3rd peninsula, accessible by a new helix. The beginnings of a second deck started in 2014 has been extended the entire length of the peninsula which will eventually offer space for new industries in both the front and back of the peninsula. The main line has also seen a reconfiguration in this area, including the addition of a spur which leads to the new helix and the new storage yard, and new dual track access to the storage yard in the back of the layout. Block detection was added while laying most of the new track and the 4-screen CTC display in the Dispatcher's Office now reflects all the newly monitored tracks.

A second level has been completed behind the main mountain which contains a switching yard and several small industries. Benchwork has been completed on a third deck for even more switching opportunities and storage, all of which are accessed by our original single track helix. Several operating sessions were held earlier in the year, using car cards and waybills representing each car and its load. With the growing number of industries appearing on the layout, more destinations requiring train service will require more operators and support staff to run more sessions in 2016. If you are interested in becoming a part of our growing model railroad, please stop by by on any Tuesday evening except the third Tuesday of each month (members only business meeting) and see how you can help.

CCMRR Layout 2015
Layout - 2015