Dave Johnson's PRR Pittsburgh Division

About the Model Railroad

    The PRR Pittsburgh Division is an HO scale operating  model railroad from Enola Yard (12 track staging) near Harrisburg, Pa. to Pitcairn Yard (12 track staging) near Pittsburgh, Pa.  Eastbound trains enter visible track at Spruce Creek Tunnel near East Altoona, Pa. and exit visible track at Radebaugh Tunnel near South Fork, Pa.  Some of the highlights are proto-typical tower interlockings, a 235' main line and a 1.75% grade on Horseshoe Curve.  Long trains of 20 or more cars with emphasis on heavy coal and commodity traffic are seen on the four track main line from Rose Tower in Altoona, Pa. to MG Tower where the main line drops to three tracks.  Helpers are required on all freights over 18 cars and 8 passenger cars and return light from Gallitzin, Pa. after turning on the Conemaugh Loop near AR Tower interlocking.  Steam engines are preferred but early diesels can be seen as well.  All engines have sound and most are weathered.  Altoona Yard is 37' long with crews switching both ends and local industry.  Most aisle space is 35" or more and custom printed backdrops give depth to all scenes.  Digitrax DCC wireless throttles facilitate train control.  Two dispatchers control all main line turnouts at tower interlockings using JMRI software.  The Middle Division Dispatcher controls all train movement east from Slope Tower to Enola Yard.  The Pittsburgh Division Dispatcher controls all train movement from Slope Tower west to Pitcairn Yard.  A magnetic control panel with track schematic is used with magnets to show train locations.  Closed circuit video cameras monitor all tower interlockings for visual aspect to both dispatchers.


Scale: HO
Proto-type: Pennsylvania Railroad Pittsburgh Division Era: Summer 1952
Size: 37’ x 35’
Locale: East/Enola Yard staging, Harrisburg, Pa. West/Pitcairn Yard staging, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Construction: Open grid and L girder with plywood base
Roadbed: Homasote and/or cork Layout
Style: Linear walk-around with most aisle space 35”+
Steam Engines: 65 (all with sound)
Diesel Engines: 28 (all with sound)
Freight Cars: 650+
Non-revenue: 42 (Caboose and other MoW)
Head End and Baggage Cars: 64
Passenger Cars: 28
Height: Enola Yard 48”, Altoona, Pa. 50”, MG Tower 62”, Cresson, Pa. 59”, Pitcairn Yard 56”
Track Radius: Industry, yard leads & Conemaugh Loop 28”, all others 30”+
Turnouts: Yard #5, Mainline #6 & #8, Staging #6
Track: Code 83/100
Interlockings: 14 (Alto being the busiest)
Length of main line: 235'
Maximum Grade: 1.75% Horseshoe Curve
Dispatching Method: Modified CTC with two Division Dispatchers.  Middle Division is from Enola Yard to Slope Tower.  Pittsburgh Division is from Slope Tower to Pitcairn Yard.  Dispatchers verbally assign orders to main line trains and helpers at tower interlockings via wireless telephones located on facia.  Interlockings have signal bridges but do not have working signal targets as of yet.  Video cameras monitor all tower interlockings for visual aspect to both dispatchers.  The main line turnouts are controlled by respective division dispatchers via JMRI software.  A magnetic track schematic using train magnets is used for current position of trains.
Operations: A sequenced train schedule with 28 to 36 trains are run during a 3-4 hour operating session.  The busy four track main line uses helper service to the summit at Gallitzin from Altoona and So. Fork, Pa. as required.  Varied freight traffic, express trains, through and local passenger trains are scheduled.  Local freights switch Glen White Coal and some main line industry.  The Cresson, Summerhill and So. Fork branches ship large amounts of coal eastward.  Altoona, Pa. is a busy division point yard with local industry, icing facility, and engine servicing.  Altoona Yard is switched at both ends and the Yard Master controls train movement in and out of east and west yard leads.
Car Forwarding Method: Car cards with some 10 car blocked consists
Control: Digitrax DCC with wireless throttles
Backdrop: 1/8” hardboard with printed mountain and city scenes

 Diagrams and Schematics

Click on the images below for a larger version.


Dispatcher Panel (large file - 9 MB)

Layout At a Glance


Middle Division Schematic


Pittsburgh Division Schematic