John King's Baltimore and Ohio, Shenandoah Subdivision

June 2nd, 2018

John King’s B&O Shenandoah Division
by Brian W. Sheron, MMR
(click here for slide show by the author)

On Saturday, June 2nd, John King invited the Division to visit his HO scale B&O Railroad, Shenandoah Division. Visitors also received an additional treat during their visit as John was simultaneously conducting an operating session with several of his operations crew so visitors got to see switching operations as well as his layout.

John’s Shenandoah Subdivision is a point to point railroad  representing the B&O line from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia to Strasburg, Virginia.  The layout is set in October, 1949, and John said that while the B&O ran diesels on the passenger trains and some mainline freights, they only ran steam on the Shenandoah Branch at that time. Thus, John uses only one diesel switcher in his Brunswick yard, and only steam on the rest of his layout. Since John’s last open house, he has expanded his open staging yard, which represents the large yard at Brunswick, MD where the real trains on the branch originated. However, the staging yard makes no attempt to model the real Brunswick Yard which was 7 miles long!  

The layout is a point-to-point track plan, and the stations along the way include Millville, Charlestown, Winchester, Stephens City and Strasburg Junction.  The trackage at Millville, Charlestown, Winchester and Strasburg Junction closely mimics the prototype as it was in 1949.  The mainline is about 200 feet from staging to Strasburg Junction.

John started building his layout (Winchester) in 2001-2002, and the benchwork and trackage  for the rest of his layout was built in 2009-2010. However, John admits that some parts, like the area around Strasburg, has been rebuilt several times since then. He also told me that down the road he wants to model some representation of the Southern RR to Harrisonburg, modeling either MT. Jackson or Woodstock.

The first thing you notice about John’s layout is the meticulous  track work. Track in the staging yard is code 83.  Once you get on the modeled part of the branch it is a combination of Code 70 and Code 55 between Millville and Winchester and all code 55 west of Winchester.  The only exception is one short stretch of Code 83 just west of Charlestown. Turnouts on the modeled part are all hand laid, but most of the track is Micro Engineering flex track  (John said the Micro Engineering track is much better than he can put down himself). As you walk down the aisles following the mainline, you arrive at various sidings. John has prototype photos set out on the layout that show the sidings, the structures at that siding, and mockups in place of many of these structures.

Operation is by Timetable and Train Order  using real time, not fast clocks. Power to his layout is provided by CVP Products EasyDCC with wireless throttles.

If there is one unique thing you notice when you visit John’s layout is the turnout controls. On the front edge of the layout fascia board are mounting boards for Caboose Industries Turnout handthrows. A rod is connected to the hand throw and run through the front of the fascia board and under the layout to the turnout. John has devised a simple but unique mechanism to translate the horizontal motion of the rod to a vertical rod that will pivot and move the turnout points. Figure 1 shows the Caboose Industries hand throw mounted on the front of the fascia board. Figure 2 shows the underside of the layout an how the horizontal rod is connected to the turnout points.  The remaining figure show John’s layout during the operations session.