The Norfolk and Western Railway
I have recently purchased a house with a double basement garage, half of which is destined to be home to a new layout, which is currently being designed.
The layout will be based on the section of the Pocahontas Division of the N&W, between Welch, WV. and Bluestone, WV.
This section of the N&W represents the last part of the eastbound climb up the Alleghany Mountains, and is the scene of heavy helper operations, concentrating on getting coal from the West Virginia coalfields, over the mountains to the ports at Lamberts Point.
In the late '60s, Name passenger trains still ran over this route, and the Pocahontas and the Powhatan Arrow will be featured on the layout, running to the times published in the 'Official Guide', for April 25, 1965.
Givens and Druthers
As far as the layout design process is concerned, it is useful to break ones requirements down into Givens (those factors which you can't, or won't change), and Druthers (features you would like to incorporate).
My own set are as follows:
The layout will be N scale, standard gauge (given my existing investment in, and satisfaction with the scale to date).
The primary road will be the N&W (It is an interesting prototype, I have expended a fair amount of research effort, and own a fair amount of N&W equipment).
The space available: part of a garage/rumpus room 6.6m (21'8") x 4.3m (14'). Part of the room has to be available for other family activities, but the boundaries are flexible (somewhat).
Walkaround design, with no duckunders.
Generous aisles - at least 0.9m (3') wide, although shorttighter spots, down to 0.6m (2') are acceptable.
'Sincere' design - only one section of main line visable from a given viewpoint.
Long mainline run.
Double deck / Mushroom design acceptable to get length of run.
Good staging capacity.
Provide good operations potential for 3 - 6 people, but still be fun for me, by myself.
Continuous run schematic, to enable loaded and empty hoppers to circulate in correct directions (loads Eastbound, empties Westbound).
Empties in - Loads out operation from sizable Coal Mining complex, feeding main staging.
A branch or two, terminating in stub ended staging (could be combined with above).
Emphasis on train running rather than switching, hence no traditional classification yard. However following prototype practice for handling hopper blocks, some online coal classification, and at least one of the archetypal centre 'passing' tracks, used by the N&W to drop off and pick up cuts of hoppers, is essential.
Nothing on the layout that wasn't on the roster in December '68 (with a couple of notable exceptions made for some 'retired' equipment - Who can resist a 'J', and a 'Y6b'?).
The design should allow for an interim stage in construction, which will allow for some operation to begin early. This is vital for me, to maintain interest in a project which will probably take 5 -7 years to get somewhere near completion (we all know that layouts are never actually finished).
That this is too big a project - I've agonised over this during the design process, and can't see a smaller, simpler layout meeting my druthers. I think having the interim construction / operation phase built into the design helps allay this fear.
Time & Money - With a young family, and a large mortgage, I don't have a great deal of either. I think the trick to making it all work is setting realistic goals along the way.
The drawings presented here are very much still works in progress, and constructive feedback would be much appreciated.
The lower level has the mainline arrangements and grades worked out, but the is still plenty of work to do in developing the Welch area, and I'm still trying to fit in a branch from the Keystone / Northfork area, feeding McDowell, to be represented by staging.
The upper level still has lots of work to be done. Features to be included are Elkhorn Tunnel, Bluestone (above the main staging yard), another town west of the tunnel, and the branch from Bluestone, feeding the Pocahontas coal fields (more staging - via the helix, perhaps).
The interim stage shows how the layout can be up and running with only the majority of the lower deck in place. There are inevitable operational compromises resulting from the 'dogbone' schematic, but at least I'll be able to run trains!
I have included a graph of the grade profile for the lower level here, as the elevations are not very readable on the current versions of the drawings. I will attempt to make them a bit more readable in the next version.
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Page last updated Tuesday, May 26, 1998 by Simon Leigh