QUAKER VALLEY Railroad - The Layout Concept

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 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. It 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. Minimum 14 foot long passing sidings provide the Dispatcher plenty of opportunities to keep the relatively long freights moving.

The Quaker Valley has been using a North Coast Engineering NCE 5 amp Power House Pro DCC system since 1999. The old control panel with rotary switches has been retired and the railroad has been controlled by a JMRI Panel Pro software CTC panel since 2003. It is now located on a touch monitor.  All main line turnouts are now controlled by accessory decoders from the CTC panel and all main line blocks are detected.  Signaling is the next big electronics project but the first PRR style position light signal is in operation.  See more info on the QV electronics at http://www.quaker-valley.com/CTC/QV_CTCnew.html

The Quaker Valley layout is in a dedicated 21 by 37 foot basement room with a two track staging yard at Cumberland extending into the adjacent furnace room . It uses a walk around approach to layout design and entry is through a swinging gate with a double track bridge across the aisle at the only door. The gate construction was documented in an article in the February 2013 issue of the online Model railroad Hobbyist magazine.  The town of Costello is located above the staging yard of Altoona/McKeesport.  Sliding masonite panels conceal the mainline Conrail staging yards.  The stub staging at Enola is off a wye from the Conrail main line and located under Moss Creek.

Scenery is about 40 percent complete, including coved corner backdrops to the ceiling, hard shell scenery and fiber fill - ground foam trees and ground cover.  Two water scenes have been completed using two part epoxy.

The city backdrops include a number of false front buildings and kitbashed structures which tower above the rail yards below. An operating rotary dumper which was featured in the December 1979 Railroad Model Craftsman is in operation at the power plant at Lynnsburg. Three foot aisles, 2 percent grades and 30" to 48" radius curves and benchwork from 44" to 62" high provide a variety of scenes and vantage points.

If you visit the layout, check out the scene near Portage where I have used mirrors to stretch the scenery well beyond the basement. Where is that tunnel located anyway?

Quaker Valley Track Plan

Layout Specs

Name: Quaker Valley Railroad

Scale: HO 1:87

Layout Style: Linear walkaround

Period/Era: Modern (1977), prototype freelance

Railroad Construction Started 1984

Track: Atlas Code 83 & 100; Micro Engineering code 83

Turnouts: Peco, Shinohara, Atlas, Micro Engineering, scratchbuilt

Min. Radius: 30 inch mainline, 28" branch

Max. Grade: 2.1% (except 4% Kittaning Branch)

Control: NCE Power House Pro DCC - 1999

Detection: NCE BD20 - 2003 and RR-Cirkits BOD8 - 2009

Dispatcher: Touch monitor (2011) CTC Panel using JMRI
    Panel Pro & Layout Editor for  signal development

Car Forwarding: Car Cards & Waybills

Click here for a PDF version of the plan http:\www.quaker-valley.com\QVRR Track Plan.pdf

Page updated February 10, 2016

Bob Bucklew
Quaker Valley Software

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