Saturday March 30th found members of the Potomac Division attending a tour
of Jim Zarnick’s Butler and Western New York railroad at his home in
Ashburn, Virginia. Thanks to Jim for taking the time to share his layout
with the members of the division in attendance.
Jim started construction on this layout in 2013 and is continuing to work
on completing the track and scenery. His layout models the modern era
using diesel locomotives although he is contemplating having one steam
locomotive on the layout at some time in the future.
This HO scaled layout was designed using CADRAIL to be double track with
continuous running design. The layout is double-decked, of 12 feet by 35
feet in size, has a helix, and has 225 feet (scale 3.5 miles) of track.
The base of the layout is a combination of freestanding platform and
support members attached directly to the wall using 1”x4” pine and ½”
The track bed is a combination of an underlayment material for floors and
cork. This combination appeared to work very well for reducing the sound
of trains moving across the track. Jim used Micro Engineering flex track
for the mainline and sidings on the layout. The main line is code 83, code
100 in the hidden staging area, and code 70 on the sidings and yard. One
thing of note is that Jim used caulk, not track nails, to secure his track
in place. The switches used on the layout are manufactured by Shinohara
and Peco. Jim used Tortoise motors and a few ground throws for switch
The layout uses CTI electronics to control the mainline signaling with
JMRI software connected to the NCE operating system to provide track power
and control of the locomotives.
The helix is a four level design using ½” plywood and 1”x4” supports. The
size of the helix is approximately 5 feet in diameter with 28” and 30”
radius curves for the inside and outside track. The grade on the helix
appeared to be easily handled by the diesel locomotives.
He chose to use small screws and washers on each side of the rail joiners
to secure the track to the roadbed.
An excellent under construction layout and something we will have to
revisit in the future to see Jim’ progress.
Ernie Little is a retired Battalion Chief of the Prince William County, VA
Department of Fire and Rescue and resides in Manassas, VA with his wife
Joyce. He has had an interest in model railroading since the mid 1990’s
and has a 12 foot by 20 foot HO scale layout, the Norfolk Southern
Connector, which is freelanced and represents a connector railroad that
runs between two major railroads. He is active in the NMRA achievement
program and has attained certificates in Civil, Electrical, Scenery,
Association Volunteer, Golden Spike, Chief Dispatcher, and is currently
working on meeting the requirements for Cars and Author.