PRR Panhandle Division

The Prototype - Background & History

This layout is my attempt to model the 7 miles of the PRR Panhandle that ran through the northern panhandle of West Virginia and Steubenville, OH. The Panhandle was a second mainline of the Pennsylvania Railroad that ran from Pittsburgh to St. Louis.  It existed from 1848 through 1995.  Grif Teller immortalized the double track bridge across the Ohio River in the painting “Crossroads of Commerce” which appeared in the 1953 Pennsylvania Railroad Calendar.  That bridge still stands and the track using it serves Weirton Steel (now Arcelor Mittal) and the brick refractories and businesses on the New Cumberland secondary.  Unfortunately from Weirton Junction through Burgettstown and points east, the track has been pulled up and the right of way has been converted to a hiking / bike trail.




I grew up in Weirton, WV in the 1950s & 1960s. I left in 1978, but still have family and other ties in the area. The PRR double-track bridge at MP 42.11 was always a source of fascination for me, even as a small child going to Steubenville with my parents and grandparents. However, it was not until I saw Teller’s painting (in the late 1990s) that I realized what I wanted to model.

Vital Statistics of the Layout:

  • Size & Shape: Folded dog bone - 8.5’ x 18.5’ x 10’ x 18.5’ – approximately 180 square feet.  There is an 8.5’x 5’ hidden storage yard under the western end.
  • Track:  Mostly GarGraves with some Curtis sectional curves, Curtis Hi-Rail turnouts, and a few Ross Custom Switch turnouts.
  • Yards: Weirton Junction, Weirton Steel, Coal Mine Spur, Hidden Storage
  • Command System: TMCC. Turnouts have Z-Stuff DZ-2500A & C switch machines and are both TMCC and pushbutton controlled.
  • Wiring & Blocking: 8 power districts are supplied from 2 power distribution panels. Home run wiring has been used.
  • Power: 2 Lionel 180 watt PowerHouses supply all track power to districts 1-8. Two (2) K-Line PowerChief 120 transformers power switch machines, lights, and some AC accessories.  All DC accessories, building lights, traffic signals and street lights get their power from various 3VDC, 5VDC, and 12VDC power supplies.
  • Signals: Z-Stuff DZ-1060 PRR position signals (4) & MTH PRR signal bridges (2).  The layout is only signaled for travel in the counter-clockwise direction.


Track Plan:


Districts are numbered and shown in their colors:


1 - Steubenville BLUE

2 - PRR Bridge & Weirton LT GREEN

3 - Weirton RED

4 - Hidden Passing Siding MAGENTA

5 - Coal Mine Spur BLACK

6 - Weirton Junction LT BLUE

7 - Hidden Storage Yard GREEN

8 - Weirton Steel Yard YELLOW


v226 PRR Panhandle Track Plan - Annotatedv226 PRR Panhandle - Hidden Storage Yard


Hidden Storage Yard:

This yard is reached by a long yard lead below the rear of the layout.  Storage is available for approximately 40 cars on 4 stub tracks.  A balloon track is available for turning trains.  The yard will permit Weirton Steel to accept arriving deliveries (coal, ore, empties) and ship product (coils, boxcars, empties).



Features of the Layout’s Western End:

Steubenville, Ohio dominates the western end of the layout. The center of the action is the intersection of Fourth and Market Streets. Fourth Street runs roughly east to west. Market Street will contain some of the nicer businesses, including a 5 story building. The west end of Fourth Street will be the "wrong" side of the tracks. There will be a seedy hotel and other run-down structures in this area.

The PRR station will be at the south end of town with the platform between the spur and mainline.

The coal mine and tipple just north of Steubenville supplies coal for Weirton Steel. The 2-track tipple can load approximately 4 cars at a time. The tipple spurs have been extended by several inches to accommodate track bumpers. A curved #6 Curtis switch allows the spurs to bend around towards the northeast. These tracks sit (level) on top of a plateau about 1.5” above Steubenville (behind Market Street). The coal mine is reached by a trailing point spur that allows coal trains to be backed all the way up to the tipple. The spur is protected by a Pennsy 3-position signal head.

The Gould No. 5 tunnel passes under the coal mine and exits just before reaching the Ohio River Bridge. Within the tunnel, a turnout connects to the hidden passing track that runs behind the screen and river bridge. This hidden track allows trains to cross the river without being seen.


Features of the Layout’s Eastern End:

The dual-track bridge is 7’ long and was supplied by East Coast Enterprises.  Originally, I had planned to build the bridge myself, but it proved impractical time-wise as well as prohibitively expensive.  I erected a temporary bridge that held a Curtis double cross-over, but I removed that when the permanent bridge was installed.  The bridge is protected on both ends by a pair of MTH PRR double-head signal bridges.  The southernmost track is for eastbound traffic, while the other (northern) serves westbound movements. East of the bridge (as the track loops back on itself and moves west) is Weirton Junction.


Stubenville 2 Track 84 Inch [14)


Weirton Junction is protected by a Pennsy 3-position signal head and will eventually sport a replica of the prototype WC PRR Interlocking Tower.  One track will be designated as Standard Slag, allowing Lionel and MTH slag cars to park here and discharge their slag loads. These tracks will also serve as an engine pocket for the WSX Alco S-2 switcher as it moves ore car cuts in and out of Weirton Steel. The track may also end up storing cabin cars.




The city of Weirton will be the center of the layout’s eastern region. Depiction of the city will focus on the appearance of North Weirton in the 1950’s. The Green Mill Restaurant (although it existed as a family business during the 1920’s and 1930’s) will be located here, just across Main Street from Gate No. 1. The mill wall will parallel Main Street to the intersection of County Road and Pennsylvania Avenue.


Downtown (North) Weirton at the intersection of Main Street, County Road, and Pennsylvania Avenue will feature several unique structures - the Triangle Building, Weirton Steel's Mill Administration Building (MAB), the Quality Control Lab (QCL), and the Honor Roll (a memorial for members of the armed services).  Working traffic lights will control the intersection and lighted telephone poles will illuminate the streets throughout the downtown area.


 NorthWeirton- with Lights


At Crawford's Crossing, Main Street will ascend a highway overpass bridge over the steel mill yard, just as in the prototype.


Weirton Steel:

Another major feature of the layout is Weirton Steel. The company’s mills are located against the eastern wall of the layout. The steel mills fit into the wall at a 30 degree angle. Mill buildings and items considered for this area are (south to north):

  • Open Hearth: This mill has 2 industrial smokestacks. Ingot (flat) cars will move in and out of this mill. This building will disguise a descending spur to the hidden storage yard. (Built)
  • Blooming Mill: This will also be a vertical channel black steel building with a WSX Logo on front. A billboard will be placed on the front. A raised transformer platform will sit at the side of the mill. (Built)
  • Strip Steel: This will be the largest of the mill buildings and will have a spur running into it. The spur will be used to bring in empty gondolas (exit with pipe and coil loads). (Under construction)

Other structures that will be part of the mill will be a tank storage structure, floodlight towers, and a coil yard.


BLM2 002



Operational Goals:

The PRR Panhandle was developed with the following operational goals in mind:

  • Allow the simultaneous operation of at least 2 trains on the mainline and 2 switchers in yards or spurs.
  • Use a signaling system that prevents collisions.
  • Have curves large enough to permit the use of 72’ scale heavyweight passenger cars (requires at least O42).
  • Allow the use of medium-sized PRR steam locomotives (requires at least O54).
  • Permit the running of long trains (10-15 hoppers or 6 passenger cars).

Electrical Goals

Building the PRR Panhandle was also my chance to learn about sound electrical and command control concepts.  The Panhandle was originally conceived (back in 1997) as a conventional layout.  I then decided to install TMCC, but was influenced by the arrival of DCS.  After trying a DCS/TMCC combination during construction, I decided TMCC was the direction to pursue.  In 2007, the change was made to solely TMCC.  Home run wiring and light bulbs (as block power indicators) were retained in the design.  The electrical plan divides the layout into 8 blocks or power districts – 4 mainline and 4 yards - with the ability to individually control power to the yards.  The mainline (districts 1-4) may be run in either command or conventional mode.  Yards (districts 5-8) are all command controlled.


Track power is distributed from two panels (East and West).  A wiring plan for the western panel (Blocks 1, 4, 5, 7) is shown below.  The eastern panel is comprised of fuses, power indication lights, and terminal strips for Blocks 2, 3, 6, and 8.  Track power is provided by 2 Lionel 180 watt PowerHouse transformers. 


Switch machines and AC accessories are powered, respectively, by two K-Line PowerChief 120F transformers.  Switch machines (DZ-2500a, DZ-2500c) are controlled by push-buttons in the fascia or by CAB-1 via 2 DZ-2001 Data Wire Driver buses.  There are 21 switches.


Power for lighting, traffic signals, and other accessories comes from either a 12 VDC regulated transformer or a 3 VDC power supply.  Their is a 12 VDC accessory bus and a 3 VDC accessory bus.


All transformers sit on a converted TV stand next to the Western panel.




 20131231 Panel




Updates to the Layout

Updates to the layout (photos, notes, progress, etc.) will always be highlighted as new Comments.  Updates tend to appear as a running narrative or blog on the progress (or lack thereof) being made.  Your comments and “likes” are always welcome!


100,000 Views and Counting!


I thank you for your viewership. This edition marks the layout’s 5th appearance on the OGR Photo Album since 2004. Over the years, the Panhandle has been viewed more than 100,000 times.   


Please send me or post your thoughts, questions, and suggestions in the Comments section.


I hope you enjoy the layout and my journey through its construction.



TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.


Photos (8)
Original Post
Updated 2/2/2009...

Several projects are underway on the Panhandle:
  • The Weirton Steel Open Hearth furnace is about 99% done. Need to replace some roofing material damaged in transit. After that it gets installed on the layout.
  • Need to finally glue down the track and roadbed supports on the PRR double track bridge.
  • Hidden Storage Yard: I am in the process of laying down track, roadbed, and wiring feeds for the under the layout storage yard. This yard is designed to hold around 50 cars (hoppers, ore cars, coil-covered gondolas) and will be entered from Weirton Steel. Once the yard is built, I will raise it up to join the lead spur and fasten it in place.

Lots of stuff to do!


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 2/15/2009...

Added a photo of a prototype Also S-1 used by Weirton Steel.

Added a photo of the western power distribution panel, which powers districts 1, 4, 5, and 7. Also on the panel is a TPC-400 which permits the main loop to run in conventional mode as well as command mode.

TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Hi Dale,

Thanks for the compliment on the wiring. I'm trying to emulate Mike CT on the wiring front, plus there are some EEs at work who do outstanding wiring work. If I ever want to invite them to see the layout, I've got to keep up! ;^)

Not sure I understood your comment regarding mixing of transformers. And I was probably unclear in my previous comment.

The western panel holds the terminal strip pairs for districts 1, 4, 5, 7. The eastern panel holds the terminal strip pairs for districts 2, 3, 6, and 8.

Districts 1-4 which form the main loop and the passing siding (see Blue, Lt Green, Red, and Magenta track segments in Photo 2) are powered by two 180 watt Lionel PowerHouse transformers. These districts also have the TPC-400 in the circuit so that conventional locomotives can be operated there.

Districts 5-8 are yards and spurs and are powered by both sides of an MTH Z-4000. I tend to move the handles to 15 volts, which mates up with the command setting of "Low" for the TPC (been awhile since I played with these settings). Thus far, I haven't experienced any locomotives going into "rocket assist" mode as they cross from the Lionel / MTH boundary.

Hope that was clearer. Thanks for looking!


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

hi George

my concern is if a car or engine with dual pickup rollers bridges 2 power districts. This in effect would parallel 2 unlike transformers with a 22 gauge wire.

This wire can not take the amperage to drive a train and the sine waves of the Bricks and Z4000 are different and can not be properly phased. This could be an issue with the transformer outputs and would not be breaker protected.

If there is no danger of this then it would not be a problem. Maybe I am missing something in the track plan.

Dale H

Another fine product of the Cleveland Public School system.

A nice site to visit is J&C Studios.


Maybe I'm not understanding this. Each district is electrically isolated (insulated center rail). All wiring for power is 14 gauge. Each terminal strip has a fuse.

Should the Z-4000 and the Lionel bricks have a common ground?

By the way, I spent most of last week in Cleveland.


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.


They have a shared common whenever a train bridges the 2 districts. The outside wheels connect them if the trucks are metal. When the 2 pickup rollers from any dual roller car cross the block the 2 hot leads are connected. If this happens the 2 transformers are paralleled via the pickup roller wire and outside metal wheeled trucks. If the transformers are dissimilar like a Z4000 and a modern ZW,it is almost impossible to phase them correctly because they may put out different shaped sine waves. On like transformers IMO the commons should all be connected and the transformers in phase with each other. The bricks should all be in phase with each other as the plugs are polarized. Still if 2 adjacent bricks are paralleled at different potentials, the small wire in a dual rollered car is back feeding some current to the block with less potential. Some early bricks were out of phase with later model bricks. Again I would not use unlike transformers if there was any chance they can be paralleled via the rollers. I only see one loop on your layout and assume the power districts are all adjacent. This may be a problem.

Dale H

Another fine product of the Cleveland Public School system.

A nice site to visit is J&C Studios.

Nice job! I like that you're using VinylBed. I have it too and it works great and is very quiet. You're at about the same stage I am (track and no scenery), but I going to have to dismantle mine for the move from Philly to Louisville.

Keep us informed about progress.

Thank you Trainman.

Yes, I decided to use Vinylbed a long time ago. If I were re-doing the layout, I might consider one of the embedded roadbed products. Of course, things were different back in 2002 when I starting buying materials. The switches are mostly Curtis - they're gone now. The surviving choices are more expensive.

Too bad about your move. Will it be tough to re-assemble your layout or is this the excuse to rebuild it (larger?)??


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Dale, the situation is indeed complicated when connecting different power sources to adjacent blocks.

(First, let me clarify that "dual roller" cars are a problem ONLY IF the rollers are connected together internally. Many passenger cars have two rollers, but each roller is connected to its own isolated set of lights, with not interconnect between the two rollers. I recommend inserting a "Polyfuse" self-resetting fuse in series with one of the roller wires to provide protection in the event of a derailment that places one roller in contact with the center rail and the other roller in contact with the outer rail.)

The "added complication" is that the nature of the power controller needs to be factored in. Some of our controllers, like the Powermaster for example, will supply power, but will not sink power - somewhat like having a diode in series with the output that reverses its polarity on each half cycle of the AC waveform. Power from another device of a higher voltage connected across the output of the Powermaster cannot flow backward through the Powermaster.

The Powermaster uses two FETs in series, with one being the controlling device and the other acting as the diode. The roles of the two devices reverse on each half cycle.

The TPC uses a single device that is essentially a Triac. When a Triac is turned on, it can conduct current in either direction eually well. Although I haven't specifically tested this (disclaimer!!), this would seem to allow a TPC to sink current back to its transformer source if a higher-voltage source is connected to the TPC output.

I don't know what devices are used in the newer ZWs or MTH products.

If the controller device has a blocking "diode", then dissimilar waveforms don't create a big problem. The higher-voltage supply may temporarily try to power both blocks while any dual-roller units with internal interconnects bridge the blocks, but there won't be any power fed back into the other transformer.
I have used a Z-4000 and post war ZW's in adjacent power districts for 11 years connected with a common neutral. I have run over 50 differrent locomotives from 6 different manufacturers and countless lighted passenger cars and cabin cars from K-Line, Weaver, 3RD Rail, Lionel, MTH and Williams with never any electrical problems. I run in conventional control from th throttles.


South Jersey



Dale M

Thanks for explaining,I always learn something reading your posts. My one concern was the wire connecting the roller feeding the block and not being able to carry the amperage. Not too many people seem to be installing the poly fuses. BTW the specs on the polyfuses are for DC current but I guess AC is OK? As far as paralleling the different transformers perhaps no harm would come but it raises a concern with me. I think if the transformers were PW ZWs links of the secondary coil would burn. Even with the modern transformers, I do not think I would do it without seeing a schematic and knowing for sure.

Dale H

Another fine product of the Cleveland Public School system.

A nice site to visit is J&C Studios.

I have used the Polyfuses on AC for quite a few years. It would probably be wise to use the peak voltage of the AC waveform when selecting devices, rather than the RMS value.

"Old School" transformers with sliding taps certainly can cause a problem if two mismatched voltages are connected together. There is also the hazard of a massive stepup if one transformer is not plugged in. The power plug could easily have 300 volts on the power pins!
So, assuming what I'm being told is correct, does it make sense to:

1) Buy 2 more Lionel 180 watt PowerHouse transformers for Districts 5-8 and sell off the Z-4000
2) Sell the Z-4000 and run the entire layout with just the remaining 2 Lionel 180 watt PowerHouses?

Opinions? Ideas? Suggestions?



TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.


I think after reading Dale M's post (Dale M is a college professor and EE) you may be OK doing it. It raises questions with me that can not be definitively answered without examining schematics of both transformers. These may not be available to study because they are proprietary schematics.. It is also way beyond my pay grade as I am not an engineer.

At the very least on dual roller cars I would install the poly fuse to protect the wire,regardless of transformers if they are set at different potentials. If it were me I would be more comfortable with like transformers in phase. The MTH and Lionels could even be 180 degrees out of phase. Sorry I am not of much help, perhaps I should not have raised the issue. Maybe I am paranoid but I never parallel any transformers,but I do share commons.

Dale H

Another fine product of the Cleveland Public School system.

A nice site to visit is J&C Studios.

Well Dale H, I'm glad you raised the issue.

I will give this some thought. If there is a real danger of an electrical problem, then I need to do something. I don't believe in a fix-on-failure approach.

Right now, we are not running trains and all power is disconnected as I work on the hidden storage yard below the western end of the layout. It will be at least a month before power connections are re-established. The timing for a solution appears right.

Thanks for posting it. And my thanks to all who responded and contributed to the topic.


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 2/24/2009...

Added a photo of one of my K4s engines passing under an MTH PRR Signal Bridge at the east end of the layout. The locomotive is by Williams and has been equipped with TMCC, EOB and Railsounds 4.0. Eventually, it will be renumbered to an engine that ran on the Panhandle.

TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.


There's a fellow at York in one of the halls (Silver?) that sells these in mint condition, but they are a bit expensive. I have only the painting part of the calendar.

I grew up looking at that fabulous bridge. It is really something to see in person. It is so massive, yet my father tells me about walking across it when a train was on it and it shaking!

Hey, that's an impressive layout and website!



TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 3/1/2009

This last photo is one I took over a year ago. I was trying to see how many trains I could run simultaneously with one CAB-1 remote. The answer (on this small of a layout) is 4. We have a K4s ramming a stopped passenger train with multiple, minor injuries.

The subsequent NTSB investigation quickly dismissed reports of a large marauding orange Maine coon cat.


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 3/13/2009...

Latest photo shows my hidden yard under construction. Ignore the date on the photo, I took the picture tonight. The yard will hold around 50 cars and will be accessible via a long descending spur. Construction details:
- Vinylbed (1/4" as per yards; 3/8" for mainline)
- Ross switches w/ DZ-2500 switch machines (TMCC controlled)
- Balloon reversing track with 4 stub end tracks inside
- Curves are all O31
- Track is mostly GarGraves, with some Ross sectional curves


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 4/10/2009...

Photo No. 3 now shows the track plan for the hidden storage yard. This yard uses 5 Ross O31 LH switches. The turnouts are all TMCC controlled via Z-Stuff DZ-2500 switch motors. The yard sits on 1/4" Vinylbed. Being hidden, it will not be ballasted or sceniced. It has a reversing loop and 4 interior stub tracks. I think it will hold about 50 cars. Actually upon further review, I think 40 cars is probably closer to the maximum capaciy. If I'm really stacked up, I can put another 10-14 cars on the yard lead.

The purpose of the yard is to store trainloads of materials brought into Weirton Steel and to provide trainloads of steel products for shipping out of the mill.

As usual, comments and questions are welcome!


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 5/17/2009...

Several changes are in progress on the PRR Panhandle:

1) The storage yard is well underway, with all 5 switches installed.

2) Reworking of the power distribution setup is underway. A Block Power Controller will be added to individually control power to Blocks 4 (Hidden Passing Siding), 5 (Coal Mine Spur), 6 (Weirton Junction), and 7 (Hidden Storage Yard).

3) I removed a Z-4000 power supply. The entire layout will now be powered by the two 180 watt PowerHouse bricks. The TPC400 will front them and various blocks will be controlled by the BPC as described in item 2 above.

I hope to have some updated photos soon.


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 5/25/2009...

I have uploaded another progress photo from my work on the hidden storage yard. The 5 switches are in place. Track feeds are starting to hang down from underneath the subroadbed. The spurs are going to end up about 5-7" apart (center rail to center rail), but I think being able to get a hand in to adjust derailments might trump an extra spur.

As always your comments and questions are invited and welcomed.


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 5/26/2009...

Progress is temporarily halted as I have run out of GarGraves track to install. I have the length to finish one spur and enough pieces to finish a second, but will still need more. I'm also thinking about what additional track will be required to finish the Weirton Junction Yard.

Along with completing the spurs comes wiring the end-of-track occupancy detection circuits. I plan to signal the occupancy of each spur by turning on the light in rooms in various buildings around that end of the layout. Some very interesting vignettes are going to get illuminated... Wink Big Grin


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Great stuff George. Glad to see it is coming together. I've been biking the Montour Trail (Railroad) since early May, made it to the McDonald viaduct Monday, which is also where the Panhandle Trail (Pennsy) ties into the system. This Saturday I hope to take the Panhandle Trail toward Weirton, WV. Maybe I can get some pictures. The McDonald viaduct is great.

Mike CT
Thanks Mike!

My next step after completing the yard and lifting it into place will be to tackle the power distribution changes to the total layout. I still have the BPC but haven't wired it into the system yet. In fact, I'm still working on the wiring diagram in spare moments. Gee, plan the work and then work the plan - what a concept! Anyway, I will get back to you just as soon as I have that done.

As to biking the trail, that sounds like fun. Maybe I will repost my thread "Ghost of the Panhandle".

Thanks again for commenting!


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 6/5/2009...

I finished laying the track for the hidden storage yard last night. There are end-of-track occupancy leads for every stub (all 4) as well as track bumpers. I've got automotive terminal strips under each stub for easy connection to lights somewhere on the layout. My thread in the Scenery Forum (dumpy hotel) is related.

I've uploaded a new photo (new #10) which shows the completed trackwork for this part of the layout (see Photos 7, 8, 9, 10 for stages of construction). I still need to wire the track (connect the feeder wires hanging down under the table). All track feeder wires will attach to a large terminal strip which will be wired to the western power distribution panel.

Next steps will be to wire and program the DZ-2500 switch machines, lift the yard to its correct height, and connect the yard lead track.

But we're getting there. Wink


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 6/8/2009...

My hidden storage yard will use track occupancy circuits at the end of each stub track to tell the engineer when to stop backing the train. Each of those circuits will light a lamp in certain rooms around the layout. Most of those circuits will terminate in a dumpy hotel building just above the storage yard and next to the mainline.

In looking at the available real estate for the hotel, I came to the sudden realization that I would have to move a signal. The building will actually be a deep backdrop (6" deep at the building front and 4" deep at the rear of the building). To accomodate the hotel, the signal would have to move to the backyard of the building.

Yesterday, I moved the signal. This involved putting a new "floor" in place in the triangular space selected for the signal, relocating a terminal strip, and reattaching the wires. It was a tight fit, but I can see real potential for this dumpy hotel with the signal in back.

The only trouble is that my imagination far outpaces my available time.


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 6/30/2009...

My under the layout storage yard is built on a 3/4" plywood piece roughly 34" x 8'. It's temporarily propped up on plastic storage bins until I screw it into place.

Tonight I get a chance to do some real work. The family is out, it's just me and the cats (Pumpkin and Samantha). I've raised and propped one end of the board and now I'm working on the other. From a sitting position, I get the other end raised up and am about to put another storage bin under it when...the end of the plywood starts rocking violently.

I look up and there's Samantha walking up the lead towards the yard. I evicted her and managed to get the yard propped up without dropping it on my knees.



TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 7/15/2009...

Corrected and expanded the introduction to reflect changes in my thinking. Updated some of the descriptions of the existing buildings. All-in-all, minor editing.

I am hoping for some time off next week to get real work done on the layout. Areas of focus (in priority order) are:
  • Complete new electrical wiring diagram
  • Program all 5 DZ2500A switch machines for hidden storage yard
  • Raise hidden storage yard to its final position and mount in place
  • Reconnect power based upon diagram
  • Start running trains again


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 8/7/2009...

Unfortunately, we suffered a refrigerator water-line leak in the early hours of this morning. The layout is not damaged, but work is halted while the water damage is assessed and restoration is in progress.

I was planning to bolt the hidden storage yard in place when this happened. Instead my oldest boy and I had to shoe-horn it out from under the layout so that a repairman could access the damaged ceiling tiles above.

What a mess! Frown Mad Eek

More when I know it.


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 10/17/2009...

I had some inquiries from forum members while at York and figured I should update folks. We are not quite back in operation, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. All plastic storage bins have been transfered from under the layout to the furnace room. The train room carpet has been cleaned and most of the ceiling tiles are back in place. At some point in the near future, I will take the opportunity to inspect the bins, inventory the contents, and replace them back under the layout. Please see photos 4 & 5.

In January, I completed a scratchbuilt model of the Weirton Steel Open Hearth (greatly foreshortened of course). It's actually an oversized 3-dimensional backdrop. It's made of foamcore backing with Plastruct and Evergreen roof and sides. Two Lionel Industrial smokestacks add smoke to the room. That is in photo #6.

I also completed my hidden storage yard (photo 7) and was a few hours away from installing it when the water damage occurred. I still need to get it back in place, program the DZ-2500 switch machines, and wire it to the rest of the layout.

While all this was going on, Tommy Gilbert in Gettysburg completed the repainting and detailing of a Lionel Western Pacific Alco S-2 (TMCC, Railsounds) into Weirton Steel #208. The prototype joined Weirton Steel's roster new in December 1949. In photos 7 & 8, note the modified stack, safety striping and prototypical paint and details. Many thanks to forum member Price Bradshaw for storing the locomotive on his layout and allowing me to photograph it there.

More steel mill buildings, a highway overpass, some buildings and other things are in the planning stages, but first I need to get the layout powered and operational again.

Comments and questions are always welcome!


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Updated 11/20/2009...

With the help of forum member Mike CT, I was able to rework my wiring diagram. The layout will now use a Block Power Controller (BPC) to control blocks 5 (Coal Mine Spur), 6 (Weirton Junction Yard), 7 (Hidden Storage Yard), and 8 (Weirton Steel Yard). These blocks will be powered by a Lionel PowerHouse 180. The remaining blocks will be controlled by a TPC 400 (either conventional or command) which is fed by a second PowerHouse 180. The revised diagram is shown in Photo 4.

I am in the middle of changing the wiring right now.


TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

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