Cumberland West

David Parks "Cumberland West" layout

This website was created by and maintained by Mark Gurries.

The main website is found here: Mark Gurries DCC Website

Last Update: 4/7/18

This technical site is organized into 5 sections.

1) Links of recent photos and video from guest

2) Description & Operations of the Railroad

3) Technical description

4) Map of Layout and Operational Photos

5) Technical Photos: Staging

6) Technical Photos: DCC

7) Technical Photos: Tower operators

1) Links of Recent Photos and/or Videos:

Infrastructure Video.

Video tour of Cumberland West including huge staging at the end.

Links to 2011 BAYRAILS (March 18th):

Links of General Photos and/Or Videos:

Links to 2011 LDSIG/OPSIG meet:

2) Description & Operations:

Two railroads, B&O and Western Maryland (WM), run side by side based in both Maryland and northern West Virginia states in 1953. With both long haul and local traffic coming from three different directions, both railroads have major junctions and yards in Cumberland area and have interchange traffic.

David prototypically models the Cumberland area in HO modeling both the B&O and WM with respect to both freight and passenger action. The double track B&O and single track WM can be run independently of each other or together. When comparing the two railroads operations, the WM is switching intensive with lots of locals and meets where as the B&O offers lots of continuous moving scenery. A given train operator can clearly have two very different operating experiences with the same layout.

Both railroads feature a Dispatcher, Coal Manager and Staging Manager. The Coal Manager position coordinates coal traffic real time making sure there are coal train moving at all times. The Staging Manger position is needed since the huge common hidden staging operating portion of the layout is considered a railroad in of itself. The staging manager's job is to bring up staged trains that are all hidden under the layout to the correct tunnel "Portal" that goes out into the visible portion of the layout. The train assigned operator then takes control of the train from the portal and operates the train normally. The reverse is also true. Trains going back to "Portals" which must find it way back to the correct staging track to be ready for the next operating session. The Coal Manager must works with the staging manager to coordinate the all staging trains action. The Coal Manager often doubles as the Session Manager who's jobs is crew calling.

The B&O line is primarily about lots of unit coal train action with loads and empties running back and forth in a "mine to ship and back" operation with all of the B&O coal mines and ship docks off-line. The coal operations center is the Keyser coal switching yard. There is also a small manifest yard of Evitts Creek which includes a engine facility that contains a roundhouse. Passenger operations consist of some named passenger trains with some passenger switching in Cumberland. Despite the fact the B&O has operations, relative to the WM it is moving scenery.

The WM has lots of general freight traffic and coal trains that support on-line mines. However, only a single passenger train operation is supported. It is a operation focused railroad using TIme Table and Train Orders. Car Cards are used for car forwarding.

What is unique about this large layout is the track complexity. There is 180 ft of visible running track for both railroads. However, there is at least 10 times that amount of trackage underneath all in support of a truly huge staging capacity for both railroads. All of the staging tracks are run through and allow both continuos operation and automatic re-staging.

Classic telephones are used to communicate to the Dispatcher, Coal Manager and Stage Manager on both railroads.

The layout often participates in NMRA PCR, OP-SIG, Pro Rail and Bayrail's events.

The layout is located in 1200 Sq Ft basement private residence located Los Altos California. 90% of it is completely Scenic. .

3) Technical Description:

SIgnals: The B&O is double track operating under Rule 251 (CTC) with 9 aspect Color Position Light (CPL's) signals. The WM does not have any signals.

Towers: There are five interlocking "towers" with touch-screens that control switches and signals with pseudo Standard Signal graphics (classic CTC like panels).

Operations: Hybrid DCC system consisting of NCE command station with a NCE control "booster" bus to Loconet "railsync" cable adapter to interface to existing Digitrax boosters.

Throttles: 100% NCE radio throttle system.

Power Management: The power is split up between B&O, WM and Staging power. DCC specialties "PSX" series of DCC circuit breakers and auto reversers are used for creating local Power Districts.

Layout Control Bus: LCC. Block detection, Signal control, Local manual turnout panels I/O and turnout motor control. Using RR-CirKits LLC products.

Interlocking Tower and Staging Control: JMRI Panel Pro is used to implement signal logic and control, track train movements, route control and implement Automatic Train control for staging.

FastClock: Dedicated but normal "real time" 1:1 clocks are used.

The history of the layout is that it was powered originally by DC. The wiring was setup for long DC blocks. It was quickly converted to DCC when Digitrax offered the Chief system. Power was initially setup by allocating a booster to power multiple designated DC blocks. This has also created a less than optimal DCC wiring setup for this layout. Many electrical noise issues related to loss of control issues of locomotives at specific areas of the layout unrelated to throttle control along with false occupancy detection nagged the layout for many years. Digitrax Two way Radio throttles also had loss of control issues at the throttle level. Could not acquire a locomotive or eventually had no control. Switching to NCE solved all the throttle issues. The BLD168 block detectors were all replaced with LCC coil based detectors providing electrical isolation from the DCC track power and eliminated the false occupancy issues. The DS54's were all replaced with RR-CirKits LCC equivalent devices.

Today the layout works much better with several changes indicated above put in place.

4) Map of layout and Operational Photos.

B&O is in Blue and Western Maryland is in RED

Layout diagram. Click on it two magnify.

Welcome to David Parks Cumberland West layoutThe main website is: is the technical website for the layout.

Photo shows the view from elevated platform looking left. The two computer screens control the huge staging tracks where 52 staged trains of the B&O AND 52 staged trains of the Western Maryland are controlled. Automated computer scripts combined with occupancy sensors located on both staging approach and departure tracks take train to and from 5 portals that connect staging to the upper "visible" level of the layout. The "staging manager" person also doubles as the Terra Alta tower operator. The 5 staging portals are:1) Durbin (WM) and Grafton (B&O) both near Terra Alta.2) Brunswick #1 (B&O)3) Hagarstown (WM)4) Brunswick #2 (B&O) & Collinsville (WM) near Keyser.5) Collinsville (B&O)

Photo shows view from elevated platform looking right towards Keyser in the far back. The "Train Manager" sits to the right of the "Staging Manager" and tells the Stage Manager what trains need to be called up. When ready the Train Manager performs the crew call task explaining the train they will run and gives them the throttle already setup for that train. The train manager also gives the crew a complete documentation package on a clip board for the train which includes written instructions of what needs to be done and any Car Cards required.

Photo shows view from Keyser (Right side of map above) looking towards the opposite side over the mountain ridge. The entrance to the layout room is on the left side on the elevated platform. The town area is actually a lift out section that pops up and allows access to a WM main line track which is invisible but behind the mountain ridge in the bottom forground. You can see the track become visible on the far left of the photo. Dispatcher sits off the layout in a bedroom on the same floor of the layout room. Although the panel shown on the screen is a CTC panel, it was temporary for CTC was never used on the B&O or the WM. The panel has been since been replaced by a B&O occupancy tracking diagram that shows what track is occupied and/or give the dispatcher a schematic picture of the layout and what is going where. The WM had no signalling system. The operator is limited to giving orders/warrants to the tower operators (B&O) or by train order board (WM). Phones are used to contact the dispatcher for both the B&O and WM.

Tower operators sit out on the layout near the respective towers that they operate. Each most tower operators have two identiities depending if they are B&O towermen or Western Maryland Station Agents that control train order boards.

If they are working for the Western Maryland, they pass on the train orders from the dispatcher to the engine crew that pass each station using train order board signals.

If they are working for the B&O, then they use a touch screen LCD display to control all the turnouts and associated signals assigned to that tower. On the B&O, train authority is granted by signals which are under the control of a given tower. Trains essentially travel from one tower to the next tower. It is the tower operators job to keep the given train moving per the Timetable and/or per the orders given by the dispatcher by setting up the route and signals required. Tower operators OS the trains to both the dispatcher and to the next tower in the direction the train is going. Below is Viaduct tower on the B&O which is the most complicated and busiest tower on the layout.

The controls on the bottom half work when touched. Top row sets the turnout and the middle row control the signals. A code button on the bottom row implemented the commands as designated by the controls when pushed.

Recently a larger touch screen has been installed and the panel drawing is now one single window unlike the two windows shown below.

5) Technical Photos: Staging

You can never have enough staging!!!

Left photo shows the two separate levels of double ended, double train, unidirectional staging. Literally 2/3rds of the layout's trackage is in hidden staging. There are 5 entry/entry staging point all filter down down to 3 geographical areas of the layout. These areas in turn define the 3 approach and 3 departure tracks for each staging yard depending on what part of the layout the trains are arriving or departing respectively. Both staging yards are broken into two halves with one side for general fright and passenger trains and the other half for coal trains.On the right is a closer image of just the B&O yard. You can see how deep it is with B&O having a lot more coal trains. The B&O portion of the layout is sometimes referred to as "moving scenery" which the majority of the traffic being coal trains going back and forth between off layout mines and off layout shipping ports.

Left photo show the departure end of the WM end of staging. Right photo shows the B&O end.

This photo shows the recently installed "AUX BOX" controller which is being used to control power to staging tracks. With so many engines with sound, the best way to kill it was to turn off the power to the tracks not being used. Staging scripts will be used to enable or disable power to a given staging track.

6) Technical Photos: DCC

This is the main/central DCC area. It contains all the Digitrax DCC booster and NCE command station (out of view on lower left) that runs the layout.

The booster power is divided between the WM and B&O layouts. The command station is common to both layouts. The WM and B&O boosters can be enable or disabled independently. Ramps to and from staging as well as staging itself has their own booster power. There is also Booster used to power some DCC stationary Decoders. Each booster has its own RRampmeter which is used to monitor both voltage and current from each booster. Each booster feeds multiple remotely located PSX DCC circuit breakers located around the layout.

Loconet repeaters are on the upper right are no longer used. The power supplies for all the booster and DC layout power are on the bottom.

Barrier strips are used to bring out test points to check for any problem.

This is a secondary DCC area along the back wall.