B&O Wheeling Freight Terminal operations – pt 1

A busy yard before an op session.

A busy yard before an op session.

The first B&O Wheeling Freight Terminal operating session of 2015 was held on January 30th. Mike came in from Las Cruces to participate. I think this was the fifth session since operations began in late June 2014. While the layout is not large, we did move 71 freight cars in a three hour session. Some of the operating methods have altered since the first session and I wanted to share these ideas. This will probably end up as two or three parts so I don’t bore anyone with too much detail in one sitting.

The B&O Wheeling Freight Terminal is an HO scale model railroad that has an overall footprint of 10 x 16 feet. It was originally designed for a smaller spare room. The trackplan reflects the prototype track arrangement and the layout was built to be easily movable and with operating in mind. There is no scenery. For more prototype detail, check out the original post from August 2012.

The core of operations on nearly any railroad is moving the freight. Many model railroads portray several miles of main line and/or branch line where a dispatcher, train orders, and a time table may be needed to coordinate an efficient operation. The Wheeling Freight Terminal is a much smaller operation and does not use the typical tools when operating. All of this freight terminal operation falls under yard limit rules and there are no through trains.

Wheeling Freight Terminal trackplan

Wheeling Freight Terminal trackplan

There are three distinct parts to the freight terminal illustrated on the above trackplan. The inbound/outbound (main) yard is the area in the upper right leg of the layout. The team yard is in the upper left area while the freight house is on the lower leg. If you examine the trackplan closely, you will note the track leading to the team yard and the track leading to the freight house only connect near the main yard. This feature enables crews to work the two separate areas without interference. Click on any image here to review a larger size. The layout was built in several section, The larger rectangles in the plan are the layout sections.

Operating the freight terminal boils down to the basics. Inbound freight cars are moved to their freight house and team yard spot locations and outbound freight cars are pulled from their locations and brought back to the main yard. It may seem easy, but these facilities are busy with many freight cars on nearly every track. A crew needs to think through their work before starting and each crew usually makes two trips between the main yard and their destination before all of the inbound cars are properly spotted.

A 1928 aerial view of Wheeling, W. Va.

A 1928 aerial view of Wheeling, W. Va.

In case you question how busy a freight terminal can be, just review the above image carefully. This is Wheeling, WV, in 1928. The downtown businesses serve a metro population of 100,000 people. At the lower part of the image you can see the B&O freight terminal and to the left is the Pennsylvania Railroad freight terminal. Lots of goods for local merchants, wholesalers, and residents arrived at these two facilities. Until roadways became improved for over the road trucking, the local freight house and team yard was very busy. In the early 1950s, the combination of major highway improvements and long distance trucking really impacted the action at these freight facilities.

You now have the core ideas for operating this model railroad and a better idea of the busy prototype it represents. The next time out the crew paperwork will be reviewed and we start sorting a string of inbound freight cars.

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One Response to “B&O Wheeling Freight Terminal operations – pt 1”

  1. Rick De Candido says:

    Hi Eric,
    I can’t believe I missed this post!
    I must be getting old 🙂
    This track plan looks like very good fun indeed.
    Thanks for taking the time to make this available to us.
    Kind Regards
    Rick from Fillmore

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