Jim Brewer's Norfolk and Western,
Shenandoah Division

I hope you'll agree that
Jim's layout is worthy of two sets of pictures.

Layout Photos by Tom Broderick

Layout Photos by Marshall Abrams

Jim Brewer's Norfolk and Western- Shenandoah Division

Jim Brewer of Glenwood, Maryland, is the former Editor of the "The
Arrow", the official publication of N&W Historical Society and is in
the process of building an HO scale model railroad in his 3300 square
foot basement. The layout depicts the Norfolk and Western Railroad
(now part of Norfolk Southern Railroad) along the Shenandoah River
between Hagerstown, Maryland, and Roanoke, Virginia. The period is
1956; the transition period of steam and diesel. Modeled is 80 miles of
the N&W Shenandoah Valley Division between Front Royal and
Waynesboro, Virginia, with Hagerstown and Roanoke represented by
eleven common staging tracks, each almost 40 feet long. Interchange
is with the Southern Railroad in Front Royal, the Chesapeake Western
Railroad in Elkton and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in
Waynesboro. The layout takes up two basement rooms, the largest is
93 by 30 foot, 6 inches, while the other is 24 by 20 foot. Included in
the basement is a work area with several work benches, a paint spray
booth, and the staging tracks. Also in the basement are a rest room and
a lounge area. Minimum aisle width is 36 inches except within the
American Viscose Rayon plant. All walls are covered with drywall.
Gene Lance painted thousands of trees, representing the Shenandoah
Valley. Bench work is both L-girder and open grid, supporting 3/4 inch
plywood, depending upon which worked best for the particular area.
Track is code 100 flex track on Homabed. Turnouts are Shinohara with
either hand-throws or Tortoise slow motion switch machines. The
continuous main line is single track (over 400 foot) with six 15 to 23
foot passing sidings. Two other shorter passing sidings are used by
passenger and short local trains. A 12 track yard is located in
Shenandoah with smaller yards at Front Royal (Avtex Rayon Plant) and
at Waynesboro.

A Trip on the Railroad -- As we go down the stairs into the
basement, we follow a passenger train from Hagerstown as it leaves the
back staging room and we meet up with it in Front Royal. It quickly
crosses the Southern at grade and passes the Southern/N& W
interchange track. A propane gas supplier, modeled from an existing
company in Front Royal, is unloading a pressurized tank car on the
interchange track. We catch a glimpse at a few cows in a trackside
stock pen. The N&W picked up cattle at several locations through out
the Shenandoah Valley. Next we pass the completed American Viscose
(A VTEX Fibers) Rayon Plant, the largest industry on the Shenandoah
Division. Two small N& W engines are switching incoming bales of
wood pulp, positioning tank cars of acid, and gathering shipments of
rayon fiber. On our left are Allied Chemical Paint and Dye Company
and Virginia Jams and Jellies. Several sidings are noted entering all
these industries and to the N&W Front Royal freight station, built by
John Holt, on the right. Continuing on from Front Royal, we come to
the outskirts of the town of Luray, Virginia. A Texaco Gas Station, the
211 Tavern, and Southern States Co-op lead us into town. We pass the
long passing siding through the town of Luray which presently is under
construction with all structures scratch build from photos of actual
Luray buildings. Turning the corner into the smaller room, we come to
more switching at the small town of Stanley. A white cloud rises above
the Liberty Lime Company at Grove Hill. We then pass the farming
community of Ingham (this room has about 75 percent of its scenery)
and enter the division point of Shenandoah and the busy roundhouse
(being installed). Back into the main room we slow down through the
completed town of Shenandoah with its red roofed station and the
extensive twelve-track freight yard. Our main line goes around the
yard, passing a cemetery, and we arrive at Elkton with its interchange
track with the Chesapeake Western Railroad. Our train continues on,
passing small homes on US 340 between Elkton and Stonewall and
passes more switching activity at Merck Pharmaceutical Company at
'Stonewall (has mockups and is under construction). Then we pass
Grottoes, the structures modeled from 0. Winston Link photos. The
track goes behind a fire place and restroom and we enter Waynesboro
(no scenery) where the N&W has a small yard and interchanges with
the Chesapeake and Ohio. From there, we leave the main railroad room
and enter the back staging area and Roanoke.

Layout Construction - During our travels from Hagerstown to
Roanoke, we noticed the thousands of trees, individually made from
branches obtained from a type of west coast sumac bush, purchased
from Alpine Arboretum. Green ground foam (mostly Woodland
Scenics) was applied to the branches with Elmer's White Glue. Hills
are wire screen covered with strips of newspaper dipped in soupy
Hydrocal, a very hard type of industrial plaster. We are also
experimenting with foam wall board insulation. The modeled mainline
is rather flat as is theN& W prototype as it transverses the Shenandoah
Valley but one section has a 1.3 percent grade. The scene is backed up
by the thousands of painted trees on the tall ridges of the George
Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah National Park. About
70 percent of the structures are scatch-built; the rest are kit-bashed.
Styrene is the material of choice for most of the structures although
some wood structures also appear on the layout. Several photographic
trips were made to the Shenandoah Valley to collect data on
recognizable structures that were present in the 1956 period to give the
model railroad a strong identity. Old photos, station plans, and regional
information were also collected from many sources. We noticed that
the Norfolk and Western had unique line poles along the right of way.

Operation - The Digitrax Radio Chief DCC system is now
operational. Tortoise slow motion switch machines have been installed
and powered with Digitrax's DS54 stationary decoders. We can now
operate the layout in a more prototypical manner although we will
continue to be in the construction mode for some time. We are using
Pro Track as a freight forwarding system. After studying various
Digital Command Control systems, Jim purchased the Digitrax's Radio
Chief from Springhaven Shops to operate the his Shenandoah Division.
I have been using my Digitrax Radio Chief on my 26 by 14 foot, point
to point, home layout in Westminster, MD, to learn how to install and
use it. Jim's layout presently has five control stations/boosters, three
UR-91 Radio Receivers, and several handheld controllers, both radio
and tethered. Twenty three turnouts and crossover pairs are controlled
with slow motion switch machines (installed) and we have installed six
DS54 quad stationary switch decoders to drive them. !installation of
BDL16 Occupancy Detectors is a possible future task. Train location
will be displayed and turnouts will be controlled from either local push
buttons (already installed with indicating LEDs) or the CTC Board on
the computer screen. We expect to follow the N&W operations as
close as practical. With a mainline of over 400 feet and several passing
sidings with the capability of holding freight trains with over 26
forty-foot cars, many trains can be moving at the same time. There are
several industries to switch, a large yard at the town of Shenandoah,
and interchange with three railroads: the Southern, the Chesapeake
Western, and the Chesapeake and Ohio. There is no problem in
keeping several operators busy. The American Viscose Rayon Plant
can keep two engineers busy by itself.

Richard Daniels

Richard Daniels email: rdaniels22@verizon.net
Jim Brewer email: jfbrewer@comcast.net