Mount Union Development Commitee


The original concept was that Mount Union was an Appalachian & Ohio town. The Norfolk & Western and the Antioc & Dover enter and join (from staging) at south (right side) of town using track originally designed and built for the Antioc & Dover interchange. The new concept is that Mount Union is an Antioc & Dover town with the Antioc & Dover entering the scene from the north (left side) of town, passing underneath an Appalachian & Ohio’s bridge and gaining elevation through town before joining at south end of the Appalachian & Ohio passing track. The Norfolk & Western interchanges with the Antioc & Dover at south Mount Union. The Antioc & Dover interchanges with the Appalachian & Ohio further south at Ricksburg Yard reached via trackage rights.


  1. Antioc & Dover and Appalachian & Ohio share depot.
  2. Rail served industries must include a lumberyard; two cars, an oil dealer; three cars, a pulpwood load out; 3 to 4 cars, and a large rail served structure to hide hidden drill track.
  3. Existing Appalachian & Ohio main and siding track and signaling is un-changed.

Added values:

  1. No interference with existing built-out CTC.
  2. Increased Norfolk & Western interchange “play value”.
  3. Increased footprint for the Antioc & Dover identity; enhances story telling.
  4. Cleans up local switching at Mount Union to ease CTC control; eliminating local switching interference with the Appalachian & Ohio main and siding tracks.

Back-story could be that Antioc & Dover abandoned track further south of Mount Union after corporate alignment with Appalachian & Ohio in late 1950s. Old Antioc & Dover main stub south of town is now a pulpwood load out. Antioc & Dover track is lighter rail (code 100) and maintained to branch standards. Antioc & Dover is trainorder controlled with trainorder operator at Mount Union station complete with order board on Antioc & Dover side of depot. Mount Union is the terminus for Antioc & Dover control and trainorder are issued for all movements north (timetable west) of depot. Antioc & Dover trackage between depot and south to Appalachian & Ohio is under yard limit (rule 93) restriction. Appalachian & Ohio dispatcher controls CTC siding including Antioc & Dover interchange switch.


GAS STATION/GARAGE (Added to concept Sep/Nov 2016 – construction started Nov 2016)
This is a single pump Texaco gas station with an adjoined garage. Two single story brick structures with different heights. The station side has a 45-degree front face at street corner to allow vehicle pass through off the streets. The open garage doors allow full interior detail. Large front windows on the station allow some interior detailing here too. Plenty of brick sidewall area will allow big advertisements and signage.

Actual construction is styrene-laminated walls consisting of two core layers of .040 sheet styrene sandwiched with JTT styrene brick sheets. Cement foundations, and windowsills are styrene laminated over brick sheets. Windows and doors are Grandt Line castings. Garage door is scratchbuilt from styrene.


Valley Petroleum and Supply (Construction started Dec 2016)
This is a small regional fuel dealership with rail access. There is room for three car spots with two for tank cars and a small dock for packaged product. There is a small office, a warehouse, a couple storage tanks, and some trans-load equipment. Tanks will be a mixture of horizontal and upright tanks equal to about 4 times the railcar capacity. A local delivery truck or two will be used to deliver to local gas stations. There is a fence around the lot with gates for both track and a dirt drive. This is the south end of the street scene.

The first model is the warehouse and is well along in construction. It is entirely scratchbuilt from styrene sheet and strip with one Grandt Line door casting! The base is textured, painted, and weathered to look like wood pilings and cast cement. The large doors allow for interior detailing. The interior is finished with stud walls. The exterior is corrugated siding. The styrene siding will be painted to appear as multiple individual sheets of siding using a stencil and an airbrush to simulate the shadows that define each sheet. There are numerous castings and details like barrels and pallets that will fill up the interior.

Following some internet research, I have chosen Mobile Oil as the brand name and named the dealership “Valley Petroleum and Supply” based off an ad in a vintage 1968 West Virginia phonebook. I used Micro Soft Office products to generate all the signs for this scene by clipping pictures of real signage and re-sizing them to O scale. Some of the signs where integrated into my own artwork to create the business signage. This artwork is printed on photo paper. I cut the sign out and color or paint the back silver or white, and hit it with a shot of Dulecoat. I think this is an easy way to make good-looking metal signs. The best part is that I can play with the artwork and add things like bolt heads and weathering.


So beautiful just love the work.


Rick -
Yesterday David and I took another look at the gas station in Mt. Union. Wow. You are a talented scratch builder and have a great eye for color. I can’t wait to see the town come alive.

So Texaco has the gas station and Mobil has the fuel distributorship. Sounds like there needs to be a price war on fuel. I clearly remember riding in the car with mom and dad to visit relatives in the wee hours of the night and passing a permanently “indisposed” gas station with the final posted gas price at 19 cents/gallon.


Hey Rick! I’m pretty good at visualizing a verbal description but could you draw a rough track layout of Mt. Union? Did Bob (NRW) take over the staging you built that entered the South end? Where’s your staging (assume under the Keyford stuff like the prior staging)? Inquiring minds want to know!


Erik and Bob, thanks for the encouraging comments!

Jeff, you have beat me to the punch! I didn’t have time the other day to finish the track plan graphics. So, here goes!

This is David’s pencil sketch. There are three major points here. 1) Make the Antioc and Dover the main railroad in town with the Appalachian and Ohio passing through in the background. 2) Move the Antioc and Dover’s entrance onto the layout from staging farther up the layout. It ultimately ended up in the next scenic section of the layout! 3) The key to the track plan is a double slip switch near where the Antioc and Dover connects to the A&O. This compresses the track plan and prevents switching from interfering with the signaled main and passing siding.


The already built Antioc and Dover staging yard will now become a N&W connection. This will be a second interchange for the N&W on the layout, the first being through Bob’s NR&W connection further south.

The Antioc and Dover and N&W staging tracks pass through the backdrop and utilize curved shelves behind the back drop. These 2 shelves are actually underneath the town of Kayford inside the isolated Kayford Branch. The N&W is two tracks with a capacity of 15 to 20 cars each. The A&D is three tracks of 20 cars each. That’s five trains added to the operating session. As plans and operations advance, the A&D will contribute about seven to eight trains to the layout; three out of staging, three into staging, and a turn from Ricksburg! This is almost like my own layout within David’s layout!

Using David’s sketch, I continued to work on the Mount Union design. David had stated that he wanted a lumberyard, oil dealer, and pulpwood load out. He also thought the two railroads could share a depot. Here is my concept and track plan.



David and I spent an evening laying out the track plan using his “bent stick” method. This allowed us to see full size what would actually fit AND look right! By evening’s end, we had a final track plan. I have sketched out this final plan as it is now actually built. The normal A&D track crew laid the track, wired it, and installed the turnouts and controls (thanks David, Bob, Vince, Mark).

I built some foam board mock ups of the downtown buildings, the depot, gas station, and lumberyard structures. These have been on the layout for a while now. I have received some very good feedback from these and make adjustments regarding building heights/sizes, scene composition, and overall three-dimensional fit of the scene. This has been an easy way for me to show how the scene looks in my mind! It has also greatly helped me to bridge the gap between concept and reality. I now have a very accurate idea of what the end state will look like which has allowed me to build models off sight with a high probability that they will fit when placed on the layout. I can also easily estimate materials needed. Lastly I have been able to use the mock ups to plan out the scene in a modular fashion that allows me to build the entire scene in steps, again a real advantage considering I am doing most of the model work at my house and will be “adding” each piece as I complete them.

Here is the as-built track diagram.


Today I installed the main Mount Union control panel, but CTC-control tests have not yet been completed. Hopefully this will give additional insight into the design of the revised Mount Union area.

SW47 is a CTC OS-section dual-control switch while 43 and 45 are controlled-lock switches (dispatcher locked.) There will be a second A&D control panel in a pull-out drawer located roughly underneath the Oil Dealer.

Mainline switches use pushbuttons instead of toggle switches so that, when the dispatcher grants local control, the switches don’t move if the toggle was left in an unfavorable position. The pair of white pushbuttons operate the righthand Tortoise motor of the double slip by activating a miniature latching relay. On a double-slip, the right side points determine which track on the left is in play. The unintuitive mapping has been fixed by the location of the pushbuttons. Just press the button on the track you want.

Clear warm-white LEDs on the N&W staging tracks indicate that the switch between tracks 1 and 2 is fouled. When running a train into a staging track, the operator pulls in until the fouling indicator goes out and stays out. Likewise there is red one-car to end-of-track warning on the Cement/Drill. All 3 are homemade infrared beam block “Dayscope” detectors, sensitive enough to be triggered by a coupler knuckle.


Great looking panel and should be a fun area to operate.

I can attest as well…Rick packs so much detail into those models you just can’t pick it all up in the photos.

Looking forward to more updates Rick!!


Bob … I don’t get how two buttons can select all the routes possible with a puzzle switch. The photo is showing the lower lead into the Cement drill. I want to head to switch 45. How do that happen?


Jeff -

The other half of the double slip forms a crossover controlled by SW45. This is normally locked by the dispatcher. When unlocked, the red pushbutton can be pressed to allow movement between the passing siding and the A&D.


Thanx! I should have seen that one! (Old age.)


Jeff -

Hey, no problem. Thanks for your interest!

Since that is a double slip or “puzzle switch” the two white pushbuttons on the left control the switch points on the right, and the red 45 pushbutton controls the points on the left.

As a train enters a double-slip, the first points encountered determine which track on the far side the train will exit. The far-side points (a tip of the hat to cartoonist Gary Larson) determine on which track the train enters.

Because the route mapping through a double-slip is counter-intuitive, the control panel layout has been reversed so that one can just select the tracks on which one desires to run. Hopefully the LED indicators confirm the chosen route. In the photo a train on the Cement/Drill track traveling left will run diagonally down towards the lower grade brake. To extend the run left to A&D staging, an operator would need to also flip up the crossover toggle that leads to Mobil Oil.

All the best.


OK, Bob. A question I haven’t asked. Assume #45 unlocked and thrown, and forgotten. Does the dispatcher regain the p/siding just by re-locking on the CTC board?


Jeff -

Although not prototypical, what you surmise for switch 45 is correct. If the crew forgets to restore the switch, once they report that they relinquish track & time the dispatcher can restore it to normal by locking the switch.

On the prototype, the dispatcher couldn’t do that and the crew member who left it unlocked and not restored to its normal and locked position would be fired. That’s not always practical on a model railroad.

I designed the mainline Tortoise control circuit boards in 2009. At that time little information was available to me regarding prototype practice. The A&O functionally mirrors to a large degree what I experienced operating on Doug Geiger’s Granite Mountain. Eventually Bruce Chubb released his version 3 tome on signaling. In the April 2017 issue of Craftsman Bruce goes into considerable detail about CTC and electric locks. That said, the lack of prototype fidelity will not be corrected.

As a note switch 47 is inside an interlocking plant, control point, or OS section. It is a dual-control switch, meaning that an operator can, after receiving dispatcher permission, insert a key to unlock the switch and take control. The dispatcher can’t retake control until the key is removed. In this situation, if a crew forgets to remove the key, the dispatcher can ask the next train to remove it after stopping at a red signal. The DS can also drop a red signal in front of the offending train and arrange for engineer “Darwin” to be temporarily relieved of duty.


Jeff - One more thing.

A particular feature of the always-on Tortoise control boards is that they automatically unlock if the CTC system is turned off, disabled, or not yet installed. There is a power relay in line with each of the field SMINI PC boards. All of them power up together when a switch on the CTC machine is thrown.

During layout construction and maintenance, we leave the CTC machine powered down. That way, all Tortoise motors automatically fall to full local control.

A different approach was implemented at the Colorado Model Railroad Museum in Greeley, CO. To throw a mainline switch, the CTC computer must be up and running a special “play mode” program which reads the local control panels and drives the Tortoise control PC boards accordingly. If the CTC system isn’t working, there is no local control. While volunteering at the museum prior to the public opening, it seemed prudent to design a means for local control prior to installing any part of the CTC system.


End of July 2017 update…
I have slowly been working to finish the Valley Petroleum & Supply warehouse shed. Most of the construction was completed back in the beginning of the year. I have been working on color and texture as of late. The shed is all styrene in construction. The siding is JT Models corrugated siding. For ease of construction, I applied the siding as whole sheets sized to fit each wall and attached with spray adhesive. On the outside, to simulate the individual siding sheets that would be used on a prototype, I made a template approximately 3 by 8 scale feet and scored the sides around it with a hobby knife. I used a small pointed punch to replicate nail holes. The entire structure (minus the roofs, doors, and base was painted with Killz brand white primer. This primer has a heavy tooth that takes stains well.

I hand brushed the interior wall studs with a light brown craft paint. I was not too concerned about complete coverage or being neat, but rather allowed the brush marks to give the impression of wood grain. This was a little tedious due to reaching into the model from above or below. I made sure any stud visible through the two doors was painted. This is important since most of the finished Mt Union scene will be visible from all sides. I did not want Bob’s camera to find an unfinished angle later! History has shown there is little predictable limit to where his camera might look! A good cheat for this is to use my iPhone to shoot tons of angles and flip through the shots a few days later to see if anything pops out. It is a 90% solution! Game on Bob!

To make the detail of the scribed panels on the outside stand out as well as highlight and shadow the corrugations, I used a wash of gauche and Windex on each side, letting each side dry before rotating the structure. My main gauche colors are black and brown. A tiny dot of color mixed with about a tablespoon of Windex does the trick. No two batches are the same. A second coat will deepen or darken the wash. If I do not like what I see, a makeup sponge wetted with Windex will wash it all off (or fade it). Q-tips and Windex can be used to spot clean or lighten tight areas.

I follow the wash with layers of dry brushing using craft paints. First layer is silver, at the bottom edges of each panel, and around the doorways where there would be wear. This is followed by a brown to make the bottom of each panel pop out. A few soft rust areas finish the dry brushing.


The coolest trick on this model is the interior! I want the backside of corrugated siding to be visible inside too. This would not be painted like the outside (this building is painted white). To pull this off, I switched materials. I downloaded a photo realistic cardstock texture from Clever Models. I printed this (to scale) PDF file on some gloss HP photo paper. I simply cut the picture into strips sized to match the gaps between the studs. Full on cheating; every detail visible… nails, shadows, overlaps, it is all a picture! Best bare corrugated siding I have ever seen! Remember folks, this is all an illusion! I use the gloss paper for these prints because it reproduces better details. I’ll hit the finished interior with a light Dullcoat to kill any stray shinny “hot spots” that would reveal the lack of actual dimensional texture.

The roofs are tar papered with masking tape and painted with a dark grey craft paint. A little dry brushing with a cream color makes the detail and texture stand out.

Next up is finishing the detail castings, boxes, and drums that fill up the interior. A couple surface mount LEDs will add some mood lighting. The signs shown earlier in this blog will add some color. I think the back wall will be a good candidate for an invasive kudzu vine (more texture and color).