current railroad is the Birmingham District Model Railroad
Planning started in 2007, and construction started in September, 2008.
Construction has been aided greatly by friend Craig Gardner, and I appreciate
Craig's help very much. Thanks, Craig. You are a good modeler and a
great helper and friend.
This railroad represents the
Industrial District, the name given to the
overall industrial district of the Birmingham area. With this idea, the
theme is to represent the key elements of the iron industry and the railroad's
role in that industry. So, the railroad will feature a steel mill, coke
ovens, iron ore mines on Red Mountain, coal mines and a limestone quarry as well
as related industries. The corporate brochure is shown.
able to be run as a continuous loop, the railroad is operated as an "out-and-back" format, featuring
a formal staging (and "fiddle" yard) that accesses the railroad
mainline, which is a large folded dog-bone configuration. From the
mainline, there are branch lines for Red Mountain, the coal mine district, an
industrial switching district and the blast furnace/coke oven complex.
would be consistent with the location of the actual Boyles Yard (L&N)
in Birmingham located north of the city. Trains working the
industrial areas of the city would in fact head south and return north to
The railroad is in two rooms and features both "around the wall"
and peninsula areas. Benchwork is L-girder and open grid method, and was
designed using 3rd PlanIt software, which I can recommend, from Eldorado
Software. This software enables one to start with the railroad room
and work to a complete 3 dimensional layout that may be operated in 3D as
well. For example, the benchwork was all planned in 3D, and all of the
roadbed was cut out by preparing layouts on 3D plywood sheets and transferring
this to real plywood. The software also enables careful planning of
geometry and vertical profiles. Track libraries are available including
PECO turnouts, my preferred choice. One may create rolling stock and
locomotives for the 3D operation. The software is very versatile and
A lot has happened since the my first model railroad in Birmingham -- and
that railroad is no longer (1993-2007). We moved in spring of 2007, and I
began planning a new Birmingham District Railroad. I learned a lot from
the previous railroad and will preserve it for posterity on this webpage.
Visit the former railroad here.
Back to the railroad -- I learned things from the previous layout. Some
of these include walkaround format without duck-unders or doorway bridges.
There is no hidden track other than tunnels, and staging is in the open for ease
of access. I did continue with building sky backdrops and with most of the
corners curved ("coved") using masonite. We did put in valence
The layout will continue to use
Digital Command Control (DCC), and Digitrax is my preferred choice for
control. In addition, we have implemented JMRI Operations Module for car
movements using Switch Lists.
Operating Sessions we utilize a remote dispatcher, sitting in a separate room
from the layout. Communication is by two way radios (walkie-talkies) and
the Dispatcher has an on screen panel to control key turnouts.
Click here to see:
on Operations Basic
Benchwork Criteria Early