A mistake many modelers make is finishing the scenery before even giving thought to a centralized traffic control machine and model railroad signal systems. Incorporating a CTC machine can cost a bulk of money and time, so it’s not necessarily something you want to toss off to the side and figure out after the entire track is laid and the scenery is placed. The type of CTC machine is dependent on the model railroad layout design and signaling is dictated by the track configuration. Planning the model railroad signaling systems before building the layout will likely land you the most successful outcome with your layout.
Designing the Signal System and CTC Machine
In part four of the 11-part Chesapeake & Ohio series, Allen Keller and Mike Burgett examine the importance of model railroad signal systems. Mike designed the CTC machine and the signal system for the Chesapeake & Ohio before even starting with any other step of the modeling process, which is not a common practice but it worked out to his advantage. The CTC machine served as the foundation for which a lot of decisions were based on. In fact, the CTC machine dictated the need for a double deck railroad, otherwise the Chesapeake & Ohio layout would of been entirely different. On top of that, every single one of the towns were carefully chosen based off their signaling arrangements.
To conclude this segment, Allen asks Mike to share any signaling tips he has to offer based off his own experience. Operations is an extremely important factor to consider when it comes to model railroading. Model railroad signal systems can be complex, so putting a bit of effort into planning the system out before building your model will help you in the long run.