Gary Eames'
Pennsylvania Railroad 
Northern Central Branch
May 17, 2014

Layout Pictures by Brian Sheron

Layout Reviews by Bob Rosenberg and Brian Sheron

by Bob Rosenberg
The ingenious ideas that some model railroader will come up with to model the railroad that they want never cease to amaze me. Gary Eames chose to model the Northern Central, a historic early American railroad that ran from Baltimore north into Pennsylvania, and was purportedly used by Abraham Lincoln on his trip To Gettysburg in 1863. It eventually became a part of the PRR and is now the northern extension of the Baltimore Light Rail system, with the more northern reaches beyond the end of the line turned into a hike/bike trail.

Working in high-rail O gauge in a room the size of which would be much better suited to one of the smaller scale’s, he has managed to capture the feeling of Baltimore with a two level line connected by a helix in a very tight space — so tight that the higher level has to be accessed by a ladder, not to mention widths of the aisles.

A B&O dockside 0-4-0 plies the harbor area in front of the American Can Company, a model complete with interior details that includes the can making machinery and the people working it. That section also has an operational rotating hopper cars dumper. Other well-known landmarks of the city are prominently displayed, including the PRR station, the Bromo-Seltzer tower, and an establishment called the Kit Kat club, a business no doubt similar in nature to Blaze Starr’s old hangout on E. Baltimore Street. Elsewhere on the layout are a PRR H-class 2-8-0, a GG-1, and a PRR streamlined K-4.

The railroad has a working signal system that’s controlled by a computer hidden somewhere under the lower level; the trains and turnouts are controlled from a single fixed panel. The compact nature of the space available makes the way he has utilized it all the more interesting although I don’t think I would want to do any of the maintenance that might be required - again - those tight spaces.

Gary Eames Pennsylvania Railroad North Central Branch
by Brian W. Sheron, MMR

Some time ago, I met Gary Eames at a luncheon, and at the time, I was the layout tour coordinator for the Division. So, naturally, during the course of our conversation about model railroading, I asked Gary if he had a layout. He said that he did, so, being bolder, I then asked if he would be willing to host an open house some time or the Division, so we could see his layout. I recall Gary was a little hesitant at first, but then agreed. So on Saturday, May 17th, Gary, with the help of his two brothers, Dexter and Ross and a friend, James Hartgraves, held an open house for the division.

About 18 members and friends attended, they were provided with a real treat! Gary models the North Central Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which is north of Baltimore. It is housed in about a 12’ x 18’ room in his basement. The layout was designed by John Armstrong, with upper and lower decks. It is Lionel hi-rail.

As you walk in the layout room, the first thing you notice is that the layout looks like a fine piece of furniture. The fascia extends from the lower deck, which is probably about 55” high, to the floor and is made from finely finished mahogany panels with mahogany trim. Each panel fits perfectly in place and can be easily removed to access the wiring or other equipment under the layout.

The layout is standard Lionel AC, and Gary controls all of the trains from a central control station located in the center of a helix which take his trains from one level to the next. Since train control is centralized, there is no need for operators to walk around with throttles following their trains, and Gary maximized his layout size by keeping his aisles narrow.

I was told that future plans are to configure the central control station to look like the cab of a GG-1, with video screen in the simulatd cab window and a camera attached to the front of an engine, so the operator will feels as though they are driving the train around his layout from the engineer’s seat!

The layout has an operational signal system, and Gary’s scenery is also remarkable. Most of the structures were built by his friend, James Hargraves, who lives in Texas. James told me that he would build the structures in Texas, then carefully package them up and ship them to Gary. Besides being beautifully constructed and realistically weathered, many of the structures had exquisitely detailed interiors with interior lights so the viewer can see inside the buildings. Most noteable was a 3 story cannery which James built, and he told me it had several thousand detail parts inside.