David Parks "Cumberland West" layout
This is the technical website for the layout.
This website was created by and maintained by Mark Gurries.
The main website is found here: Mark Gurries DCC Website
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:
Links to 2011 BAYRAILS (March 18th):
Links of General Photos and/Or Videos:
Links to 2011 LDSIG/OPSIG meet:
2) Description & Operations:
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
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.
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
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).
DCC using Chief command station and 12 DB200 (8 Amp) boosters. The
power is further 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. BDL168s are used for occupancy
detection. Modified DS54's & 64's are used for tortoise switch
machine control. SE8Cs drive the B&O signals.
JMRI Panel Pro is used to implement signal logic and control, track
train movements, route control and implement Automatic Train control for
FastClock: Dedicated but normal "real time" 1:1 clocks are used.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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. 5) Technical Photos: Staging
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.
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
Recently a larger touch screen has been
installed and the panel drawing is now one single window unlike the two
windows shown below.
You can never have enough staging!!!
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 DCC booster and command station (on the far left) that runs the layout.
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 and 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.
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 created the central DCC area you see above.
This has also created a less than optimal wiring setup for this
layout. Many electrical noise issue causing false occupancy detection
issue nagged the layout for many years.
Today the layout works much better with several changes put in place.
Desensitizing the BDL168 block detector using resistors. The on-board
sensitivity circuit does not really address the problem.
2) Moving 3
booster to the far wall. This cut the wiring in half to the far wall.
The former long bundled wire runs from the central area have caused to
many noise problem.
3) Enforcing the "rail common" wiring rule per the BDL168 as instructions in the manual.
4) Replace a defective boosters that unknowingly were generating a lot of noise.
Dave started over, he would wire the layout very differently than what
you see now. He would distribute the boosters around the layout to keep
DCC track bus wires short. IT WOULD NOT LOOK LIKE IT DOES TODAY.