C&I Nanty Glo Branch, PA track plan N

  • Size: 10′ x 12′
  • Scale: N
  • Minimum Radius: 18″
  • Minimum Aisle Width: 30″
  • Designed by Dan Bourque

C&I Logo PlainThe C&I’s Nanty Glo Branch (later renamed the Cambria Branch) extended from Regan Jct. near Colver, PA to Revloc, PA (later Beth, PA after an extension in 1963). In addition to serving a handful of coal tipples, the line also offered a second connection with the Pennsy at Nanty Glo, PA in addition to the original connection a few miles west at Rexis, PA. The most interesting feature of the branch was the track arrangement to serve the tipple at Nanty Glo. A spur from the C&I branch to Revloc crossed over the PRR and Blacklick creek to a switchback on the south side of the creek. The C&I track crossed under itself to get to the tipple, also served by tracks from the PRR.

The Layout

C&I Switchers at Colver, PA -David Wilson

C&I Switchers at Colver, PA -David Wilson

The primary focus of this layout is the scene at Nanty Glo. This scene could be built in a bedroom-sized configuration as shown here or incorporated into a larger plan. The remaining space in the room is sufficient to include Revloc, PA, the end-of-the-line until Bethlehem Steel opened a new tipple to the east of Revloc in 1963. The PRR interchange is included, though the 1-mile branch from the small C&I yard at Eleanor (just north of Nanty Glo) to the PRR branch is compressed to a couple feet to include the extra operation into the layout. Staging consists of 3 tracks behind a low backdrop–just enough for a couple of mine runs and one PRR interchange run. It would be possible to extend the PRR under the C&I staging tracks to make the PRR operational, but I chose to focus on the C&I.

Any entry-level DCC system could run this layout provided it included walkaround throttles. The heights marked can easily be changed to make a lower or higher layout, but they are included to show the grades needed (about 2%) to make the switchback work. Due to the around-the-wall nature of the plan, the room can still easily be used for other purposes.

Track plan C&I PRR Nanty Glo, PA N scale

Operations

I am not an expert on C&I operations, so the following description is a recommendation based on making operations fun, not actual information. One operator could easily spend 2 hours working this layout, or a pair of operators could split the work with one working Nanty Glo tipple and the other working Revloc and the PRR interchange.

A mine run would leave Colver staging with a couple of yellow EMD switchers and 10-15 cars bound for one of the tipples. Even though a single mine run was likely responsible for switching both tipples, it would have made sense for the mine run to split the train at nearby Eleanor yard and take the cars to the tipples in two cuts. The mine run to Nanty Glo would have to negotiate the switchback (in two cuts if there are enough cars) to get to the tipple. Once there, the mine run would need to set the cab aside and work the crowded track arrangement to get all the empties (including those left by the PRR) onto the tail end of the track and pick up the loads. Of course, the empty tracks are too short to hold all the empties, so a few will have to be set aside to be set under the tipple once the loads are clear. The loads could be all destined for the PRR (easy), or they could be a mix of PRR and NYC-bound loads. PRRs would be left on the PRR tracks, and NYCs would be taken back to staging after picking up the cab and placing any remaining empties. Making a “no engines or cab under the tipple” rule would force more moves as the loads were used as idler cars to place the extra empties under the tipple.

The second mine run (representing the same mine run after doing its work in Eleanor Yard) would leave staging with Revloc-bound empties, proceed up the branch and work the Revloc tipple.  This is a little more straightforward track arrangement, though the short run-around will still require a lot of switching moves before returning to staging. The final train would be a turn from Colver to work the PRR interchange on the north side of Blacklick Creek. This train would not only bring coal loads to trade for empties but also a few non-coal cars having just been fixed at the C&I’s Colver shops. For variation, the order of these runs, number of cars, amount of clutter at Nanty Glo, could all be adjusted to make it as relaxing or head-scratching as desired.

Things I Like About this Plan:

  • Models a neat prototype track arrangement
  • Interesting scenery opportunities
  • Room can still be used for other purposes

Things I Don’t Like About this Plan:

  • Stub tracks for staging
  • Not enough PRR tracks

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