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The Dorchester & Dixiana Branch is a double-decked layout housed mostly in a 20' x 15' finished basement room.  The lower deck contains all the staging, the Interstate main from Dorchester Jct. to Norton, Virginia and interchanges with the L&N and N&W.  The lower deck also contains the tipple at Dorchester located a short distance off the main on the short Dorchester Branch.   The upper level represents the Glamorgan and Dixiana Branches serving several tipples of various sizes.  The helix to get between levels is outside the room in a utility area, and the end of the Dixiana Branch on the upper level extends into an adjacent 13' x 13' room that serves as an office, playroom and crew lounge. 

Construction is mostly open box using 1" x 3" lumber, 5/8" plywood and 1/4 luan for the subroadbed.  All track except the staging yards and helix is being handlaid using code 83 rail for the mainlines and code 70 for the sidings and branches.  Minimum mainline radius is 30" (28" for sidings).  Staging tracks are between 14 and 22 feet long which will support an average train length of 2 engines, 25-30 hoppers and a cab. 

The layout uses a Digitrax Chief for DCC control, and I plan to upgrade to two-way wireless when it becomes available.  I plan to use all utility throttles for operators to keep things simple.  All turnouts will be manually controlled using simple, homebuilt mechanisms with push/pull control knobs mounted on the fascia (see the "photos" section).  Scenery will be done using cardboard strips for forms and Howard Zane's papershell scenery technique described in the ZZ issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine.

Lower Deck (42" base level)
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Upper Deck (63" base level)
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While the Interstate/Southern is the focus, The L&N will be fully operational with staging to support interchange operations at Dorchester Jct.  The N&W will be partially operational with enough of the N&W's Norton Yard represented to allow operational interchange and a little extra switching.   Every effort has been made to capture the prototypical track arrangements in each scene.  In some scenes, such as Glamorgan and Holton, the track arrangements changed in the 1970s.  Because I wanted the option to model both the '60s and '70s, the track arrangement is a composite of both eras, but I intend to only use the tracks appropriate for the era of each operating session.  Multiple-era operations will also require me to build early and late models of some of the tipples which can be removed or swapped as appropriate for the era. 

Click here to learn more about the layout's operations.

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