Operating Session Callboards

The Susquehannock operating session callboards currently have a total of 68 positions on seven different layouts. The callboard layouts feature a variety of dispatching methods including signals, radios, and timetable and train order. The layouts model a range of time periods and range from prototype-based to freelanced. There will be a variety of operating positions available.

Below are descriptions of the callboard layouts. To sign up for one or more sessions, use the convention registration form. We expect to sell out the callboards, so register now to reserve your position.


Pittsburgh and South Pennsylvania RR – Don Florwick

Scheduled: Thursday, Oct. 12, 7-10 PM
Distance from hotel: 60 mi, 1:04
Scale: HO
Layout size: 1100 square feet
Layout style: Mostly single-level (10% double-level) point to point
Scenery: 10% complete
Control system: NCE
Train movement: Timetable & train order, telephone communication with dispatcher
Number of positions: 10
Accessibility: Stairs to basement

The Pittsburgh & South Pennsylvania Railroad (P&SP) is the 1955, HO scale proto-freelanced version of the partially constructed but never completed South Pennsylvania Railroad. The railroad follows the old South Pennsylvania’s right of way, which is partially used by today’s Pennsylvania Turnpike from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. Like the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie, the PS&P is a New York Central System railroad. It connects with the P&LE RR in Pittsburgh. The 1953-58 time period precedes the NYC’s jade green era so we see lightning striped diesels working over the railroad.

The P&SP occupies a 1100 square-foot space and uses North Coast Engineering’s DCC system for power and control. The center of operations for the P&SP is graphically located near the New Stanton-Youngwood, PA area where the railroad’s major classification yard is located. Another classification yard is located at Somerset, PA with Pittsburgh (P&LE), Harrisburg (RDG), Wheeling (NKP), and Connellsville (B&O) being represented as active staging yards. The railroad operates with timetable and train orders and uses telephones to communicate with the dispatcher and operator. Major industries are a cement plant, auto plant, and the industries in the town of Scottsdale and Belle Vernon, PA. It includes both freight and passenger operations.


Lancaster & Atlantic RR – Wayne Betty

Scheduled: Friday, Oct. 13, 12-5 PM
Distance from hotel: 21 mi, 0:23
Scale: HO
Layout size: 17′ x 33′
Layout style: multi-deck
Scenery: 1% complete
Control system: Digitrax DCC and JMRI
Train movement: CTC with radios for road crews and telephones for yards
Number of positions: 10
Accessibility: Stairs to basement

The focus of the Lancaster & Atlantic Railroad is Pennsylvania Railroad freight operations between Enola, PA and Lancaster, PA. The layout is designed for two levels, with Enola as the major class yard and Dillerville yard serving the local Lancaster industry. The layout represents operations on January 31, 1968.

Design goals include following typical PRR practice for motive power and a 36″ minimum mainline radius (32″ on some between-level track work). Installation of operating catenary has begun.

A JMRI CTC panel is used to control switches and signals. Signal indication is provided to operators via video screens and LED panels.

Link: http://www.wsbcos.com/larr/larr_index.htm


Western Maryland Railway, Blue Ridge Division – Brian Wolfe

Scheduled: Friday, Oct. 13, 1-5 PM
Distance from hotel: 62 mi, 1:06
Scale: HO
Layout size: 30’ x 45’
Layout style: Two levels
Scenery: 85% complete
Control system: Lenz DCC
Train movement: Timetable & Train Order
Number of positions: 6
Accessibility: Stairs to basement

The Western Maryland Railway Blue Ridge Division represents the Western Maryland Railway from Ridgley, WV to Baltimore, MD. Also included are the York Branch to York, PA and a new branch from Ridgley, WV to the Consolidation Coal Co. Ocean No. 1 mine on the George’s Creek Branch. The time frame is 1970. This HO-scale layout occupies a 30′ x 45′ basement and also includes a crew lounge, workshop, and dispatcher’s office. At this time over 200 cars occupy the railroad.

The railroad is designed to operate and look as much like the real Western Maryland as possible in the space available. First generation diesels, ALCo RS-2’s, chop-nosed GP7’s and GP9’s, and F7 A/B/A sets are still mainline power and ply the rails daily. Part of the previous freelanced layout has been incorporated into the new railroad. The new railroad was built to be as close a match as possible to the prototype. Baltimore is represented by a 5-track staging yard at the east end of the railroad. From Baltimore trains head west towards Cumberland. Along the way they pass through Union Bridge, Highfield, and Edgemont on their way to Hagerstown which is the main railroad classification yard.

Hagerstown is where the WM connects with N&W and Reading railroads. The yard contains east and west bound classification tracks, a wye, and the South Yard which serves as the N&W interchange yard. Heading west is Williamsport which is represented with the Edison Power Plant, C&O Canal, Tannery, and the Cushwa Brick Plant. Reading’s Rutherford Yard is represented as a staging yard at the end of the Lurgan Line. The York Sub departs the mainline at Highfield, and proceeds to Spring Grove, Thomasville, West York, Lincoln Yard, and downtown York which is the north end of the railroad and a connection to the PRR.

Construction on the new layout began in 2004 using open grid, L-girder, and cantilevered bench work. Scenery incorporates hardshell over foam and window screen material along with Brandt’s Scenery Compound and Woodland Scenics Plaster Cloth. Atlas Code 83 is the track of choice. Control is by Lenz DCC. Operation is via the car card/waybill system and train movements are controlled by timetable and train orders. A second level has been installed from Highfield to Baltimore and includes the cement plant at Union Bridge. A new helix is located west of Williamsport that takes trains to the second level which represents the Ridgley, WV yard. South of Ridgley is a large coal mine on the George’s Creek Branch.


PRR Buffalo Line – Steven Mallery

Scheduled: Friday, Oct. 13, 6-10 PM
Distance from hotel: 11 mi, 0:16
Scale: HO
Layout size: 28 x 34, 950 square feet
Layout style: 50% double-level, 50% single-level point to point
Scenery: 98% complete
Control system: NCE and CMRI
Train movement: Radio dispatched, CTC signals
Number of positions: 12
Accessibility: Stairs to basement

Steven is a retired Dispatcher for Norfolk Southern having worked the same geographical area that he models. His railroad is set in the mid 1960s era PRR Buffalo Line from South Williamsport, PA, to GJ interlocking outside of Buffalo, NY, as a point to point model railroad with three staging yards representing Enola, PA, Buffalo, NY, and Erie, PA. The principal classification yard at Renovo is supplemented by four small local yards. Half of the 250 feet of HO scale single track mainline with passing sidings is on two levels allowing plenty of space on the center peninsula single level half for the main physical model railroad feature, the heavy helper grade necessitating helper assistance for both up hill shoves and down hill braking. Depending on traffic, two helper crews are often required.

A staging yard with a 321-car capacity represents Harrisburg (Enola) on the east end of the railroad. Cars routed via PRR to eastern and western destinations travel on trains destined for Enola (staging). Also on the east end is a smaller 59-car staging yard representing Newberry, PA, the connection to the Reading and New York Central railroads. Mid point on the line and halfway up the helper grade is Emporium which is the junction to the Erie Branch to Erie, PA. On the Erie branch is Warren Yard and 216-car staging for Erie. Finally, on the west end is a 291-car staging area representing Buffalo, NY, where the line connects to the Lehigh Valley, DL&W, NYC and South Buffalo railroads. The main yard on the model railroad is at Renovo, PA, and does classification work for most of the line. A normal operating session takes about 3 1/2 hours to complete during which approximately 27 trains run, not counting helper movements. In addition to the through freight traffic, at least five local freights originate out of Renovo serving eight stations. Several passenger trains mixed between the freights keep the Dispatcher on his toes.

Ever since the days of the first operating sessions in 2002, from his CTC panel, the Dispatcher controls all mainline switches. Steven built the model railroad with full electrical track circuit detection between and at all interlockings. He put resistors on the wheels at both ends of every single car on the model railroad, so his system can tell immediately whether interlockings and mainline tracks are occupied or clear. Not only can he tell where trains are, but also his safety circuits won’t let the switches move while an interlocking is occupied.

A card style waybill system dictates car movements and thereby randomizes train lengths, with the resulting train sizes ranging from 25 to 55 cars. The Dispatcher communicates with the yard via telephone, but he uses radio to contact the road crews operating their trains. The main purpose and goal of this CTC controlled rail system is prototypical operations, including everything from operating rules, signal rules, car movements, train scheduling and blocking. Making this happen consumes a staff of 7 to 9 road crews, two yard crews, one Yard Master and a Dispatcher. The objective is to be as realistic as possible, and use of the CTC system contributes to that realism.

Link: http://pamodelrailroads.com/smallery/default.htm


Pennsylvania and New England – Charles Kadyk

Scheduled: Saturday, Oct. 14, 9 AM-12 PM
Distance from hotel: 54 mi, 0:56
Scale: HO
Layout size: 26’ x 26’, 675 square feet
Layout style: double-level point to point
Scenery: 95% complete
Control system: NCE
Train movement: Radio dispatched
Number of positions: 10
Accessibility: Stairs to basement

The Pennsylvania and New England Railroad is an HO scale shelf type layout that runs around a finished basement. Charles models the mid 1950s era in Central PA.

The RR runs on three levels in point to point fashion. The railroad begins on the lower level staging for Harrisburg and west and south. It runs to Rockville then into a helix up to the main level where the towns are named after members of the family. The RR runs around the basement walls then into the helix again and up to Springfield staging, which represents Springfield, Boston and North. There are also branches to staging, which represent Reading and Philadelphia.

The RR runs from Rockville, PA, to Boston, MA, on a route that parallels Blue Mountain in PA, up through NJ to Maybrook NY. The RR then proceeds across the Poughkeepsie Bridge and then up to MA and across to Boston. It is based on an incarnation of one of Lehigh and New England Railroad’s predecessor railroads. The original Pennsylvania and New England did not survive the economic upheavals of the late 1800s in its original condition but some of the line was graded and surveyed west of Slatington and the later LNE. Charles has merely changed that bit of history to reflect what a railroad from that era would have looked like into the 1950s.

The PNE runs a mix of PRR, B&M, and MEC motive power along with power in a custom scheme for the PNE. There is a mixture of steam and first generation diesel power.

In terms of operations, yards are located at Kertville (roughly Hamburg PA area), Rockville and Pen Argyl. Maybrook is also represented as a cross between a working and staging yard. There is also a large passenger station at Charlestown (also in the Hamburg area) on the branch to Reading Staging.

An op session includes a mixture of through freights, express trains, freight locals, and passenger locals. The schedule is extensive enough that at present there are three “shifts” worth of trains to run in consecutive sessions.

Railroad positions include Dispatcher, Charlestown passenger terminal supervisor, Kertville yardmaster, Pen Argyl Yardmaster (who also doubles as a road crew and local crew depending on the session), a local crew (who works 2 to 3 locals a session depending on traffic density) as well as the standard road crews.

The PNE uses a car card waybill mail merge system developed by Ray Fisher from Enola, PA. At present the RR is all dark territory but Charles is in the process of installing detection and signaling using products from RR-Circkits and JMRI for programming and dispatching.

Link: http://www.pamodelrailroads.com/ckadyk/default.htm


Quaker Valley Railroad – Bob Bucklew

Scheduled: Saturday, Oct. 14, 1-4 PM
Distance from hotel: 53 mi, 0:54
Scale: HO
Layout size: 21 x 37 or 777 square feet
Layout style: single-level with point to point staging
Scenery: 50% complete
Control system: NCE and JMRI Withrottle/Engine Driver
Train movement: Radio dispatched, CTC controlled virtual signals
Number of positions: 8
Accessibility: wheelchair access

It is September 1977 in Western Pennsylvania and the young Consolidated Rail Corporation is just getting its feet on the ground in the coal regions of the Allegheny Mountains. New units are on order and Conrail’s new blue scheme is showing up on a variety of recently shopped equipment. But the majority of the power found trackside is still in the schemes of the many fallen flags absorbed by Conrail: Penn Central, Reading, Lehigh Valley and Erie Lackawanna. Also showing up are hastily renumbered units, with just a quick touch up of the cab sides and number boards. Each consist offers a smorgasbord of sights and sounds as Alcos, GEs and EMDs team up.

The Quaker Valley RR is a short line that runs from the Conrail interchange at Lynnsburg, just west of Altoona, northward to Buffalo. Chessie freights have trackage rights over a portion of the QV on their way from Cumberland northward as well. The Quaker Valley was created from remnants of the D&H and many of the inherited locos still sport the yellow and blue scheme of that railroad, but with a new quaker logo.

The 110 foot long Conrail double track main line circles the wall in a 21′ x 37′ basement room dedicated to the layout. The single track Quaker Valley main line leaves Conrail at Lynnsburg and continues on a walk-around peninsular plan for 125 feet with several passing sidings and three branches. The QV continues to Buffalo, but the modeled portion terminates at the town of Costello which is dominated by a steel mill and yard. Hidden tracks accommodate 20 trains “off stage” including through tracks on the Conrail main line representing Altoona, Johnstown, McKeesport and Harrisburg. Stub staging tracks represent Enola, Cumberland (B&O), Punxsutawney and Homer City.

Mainline turnouts are controlled by the Dispatcher from a JMRI CTC panel on a touch screen monitor. A few physical signals are in place, but the railroad is fully signaled using JMRI tablets and smartphones. Minimum 14 foot long passing sidings provide the Dispatcher plenty of opportunities to keep the relatively long freights moving. FRS radios are used for engineer communication. Car movements for operation are via the car card/waybill system.

During operating sessions, the layout is operated as a 2 track Conrail mainline with 4 staging yards and the Quaker Valley mainline, a single track with passing sidings. JMRI provides for continuous running and a two train shuffle during open house tours. Bob has published articles in Railroad Model Craftsman in 1979 (operating rotary dumper) and 1980 (DC radio throttle). More recently his byline appeared in the online magazine Model Railroad Hobbyist on the Aisle Gate Entry (February 2013) and JMRI Virtual Signals (June 2015)

Link: http://www.quaker-valley.com


South Penn Division – Bob Charles, MMR

This operation session is exclusively for participants in Steve King’s Timetable & Train Order clinic, which will be presented Friday morning or afternoon (TBD). Registration for this operating session will take place during the clinic.

Scheduled: Friday, Oct. 13, 7-10 PM
Distance from hotel: 11 mi, 0:16
Scale: HO
Layout size: 30’ x 30’
Layout style: single-level point to point
Scenery: 65% complete
Control system: NCE
Train movement: Timetable & Train Order, telephone communications
Number of positions: 12
Accessibility: Stairs to basement

Steve King’s clinic will provide the classroom training on Timetable and Train Order operation and this operating session will provide participants with hands-on experience. The session will be hosted on Bob Charles’s South Penn Division.

Set in the 1953-4 transition era, the South Penn Division is a proto-lanced version of what might or should have been. Representing the completed version of the still-born South Penn Railroad across Pennsylvania, the layout features passenger and freight operations over this Vanderbilt planned but never built competition to the PRR main line. The layout is 65% scenicked with 80% of the trackage hand-laid. Operations are time-table/train order based with a vintage railroad phone system in full operation connecting yard and crews with the dispatcher and tower operator.