By Tony Michael
Photos by Robert Schleicher
O scale is often believed to be so large that it can only be considered for a club-size layout. Tony Michael used the layout design techniques developed to fit an HO layout in a bedroom to fill his 18 x 25-foot basement room with a superb O scale layout. Like many 0 scale fans, Tony was introduced to model railroading through Lionel 0 scale. He feels that anything smaller than 0 is too much of a compromise just to squeeze-in longer trains at the expense of recreating the heft and bulk of the massive full-size locomotives and rolling stock. Watch the trains operate around his layout and it’s difficult to imagine anything more realistic, especially so when you can actually feel the area vibrate with mass of the locomotives and rolling stock.
Tony designed an around-the-wall layout with a short and relatively high duck under to enter the layout for operation. The layout is placed against an open end of the room so spectators can see the entire scene without actually needing to duck under. A peninsula just inside the layout to accommodate the freight yard and engine terminal.
Tony Michael's Baltimore & Ohio Railroad is designed to replicate the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio, extending south and east into the rolling hills of Kentucky. There's a Kentucky coalmine on a single-track mining branch on the wall opposite the city of Cincinnati so the two diverse scenes are not both visible to an engineer taking a train over the line. Tony has incorporated some large-radius curves into the ends of the layout for more scenic realism and to allow the full-length passenger cars to appear at least somewhat at home.
The layout is built on conventional open-grid bench work assembled from 1x2 and 1x4 boards with 5/8-inch plywood subroadbed and ½-inch Homasote roadbed. The track is all hand laid with steel code 125 and nickel silver code 148 rail on individual wood ties. The layout is wired for conventional cab control but is operated with sound in most locomotives using infrared throttles from ThrottleUp's SoundTraxx system. The layout was built with the help of Jerry Strangarity (his layout is in the December 2004 issue of "The Journal"), Ed Swain, Eugene Eberhart and Glen Eberhart.
Photo 2. The entrance to the tunnel is where the two main lines go behind the Schwarm Coal Mine. The tunnel serves two purposes. It makes the branchline seem less congested and most distant. It also is where the outside track rises and the inside track descends. In the foreground is the abandoned 3-foot line at the top of a worked out lime stone quarry.
Photo 11. The tenements are air drying their laundry behind Wittrock Lumber. In the foreground is another load of Wittrock lumber.
Photo 12. This is Wittrock Lumber named after the real lumber company. Dave Wittrock built the beautiful cabinet that houses the control panel. He also built the unique leaning rail or bar rail on the city side and the Western Hills viaduct.
Photo 13. This is the transition area between the city and the mountains of Kentucky. It has a small farm with a small general store.
Photo 15. This bridge is on the branchline and was built from Atlas HO girders.The track on the branch is hand laid Code 125 rail on weathered ties with 4 spikes per tie on every tie. The rail is rusted and weathered.
Photo 14. One of the industries is this small oil field with wells and storage facility. It is on the mainline and stops traffic when cars are loaded but only for a short time or the dispatcher has a screaming fit.
Photo 17. This is Schwarn Coal Mine named after a friend and a great model railroader, Charlie Schwarm. The mine track above is a 2-foot narrow gauge and is hand-laid with Code 55 rail. The Grandt Plymouth does not run, by design, but looks great.