Re: RPM Chicagoland Photos

Tim O'Connor

Dennis and all

Although definitely not a "walk around" layout you reminded me of the Tech Model Railroad Club
at MIT - from their Wikipedia page:

  "At the club itself, a semi-automatic control system based on telephone relays was installed by
   the mid-1950s. It was called the ARRC (Automatic Railroad Running Computer). It could run a train
   over the entire set of track, in both directions, without manual intervention, throwing switches
   and powering tracks ahead of the train."

The club is still active, although the layout was relocated sometime in the last 20 years or so.

I think the Pasadena CA model railroad club layouts (more than one) have used some form of progressive
cab control as well, which was still in use when I visited in 1993. Probably DCC, nowadays. The layout
I saw was another of those "walk inside" designs.

Tim O'

NEB&W and the Midwest Railroad Modelers club in Batavia, started in 1977, were a couple of the early walk-around shelf type layouts.
Walk around layouts go back much further than that. I was a member of the Garfield-Clarendon club in Chicago in the late sixties, and the layout they had been building since 1963 was a large free-standing walk around design. While the layout was free standing in a large room in the Clarendon Park field house, it had a multi-lobed shape and the mainline was designed to follow the fascia so a crewman could follow the train. Mainline engineers sat at fixed "cabs" on an elevated platform along one side of the room; power was routed to their train via what was known as progressive cab control, which made use of telephone Co. stepping relays to keep the engineer's throttle connected to the block his train was in. While the engineer's location was fixed, tower operators were located in the aisles near the track they controlled and took care of both setting routes through X-overs and also could take local control of the train to do lineside switching. The layout came down in 1974 when the Chicago Park District decided to remodel the field house, and the club's new layout, in different space, adopted some form of walk around control, but the 1963 layout would have adapted nicely to more modern control if it would have survived.

Even earlier, when I was a kid in the fifties, the house two doors down had a rather large 00 (yes, American 00, 1:76) layout that the boys' grandfather had built. The layout was a hi-bred; there was the typical dense oval, but then the double track mainline took off along the basement walls, eventually coming together into a four track mainline on a shelf along the wall to a loop at the other end of the basement. Control was the typical fixed location panel, however, but you could see the entire run from the panel.

Dennis Storzek

Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts

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