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Using a CTC Machine to Control Model Railroads

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Duration:   2  mins

Using a Centralized Traffic Control – CTC – machine to control signals and switches on layout is one of the most prototypical practices in which model railroad hobbyists can engage. In this segment of Allen Keller’s tour of the spectacular Utah Colorado Western (UCW) railroad, expert modeler Lee Nicholas demonstrates his CTC machine which emulates the real thing.

Why go to the trouble of a fancy CTC system? Lee said he’s always been fascinated with that aspect of railroading, and wanted to bring that sense of realism to the UCW. With a half-dozen passing sidings and numerous turnouts on his Western-inspired freelanced pike, Lee shows how the knobs, lights and detection systems of his CTC machine, which he built with the help of a friend from Oregon, help his layout run smoothly and more prototypically for the dispatcher.

Here’s a look at another modeler’s use of CTC boards.

Lee’s UCW is one of the most active model railroad operations-oriented layouts in the country, and Lee was one of the founding members of ProRail (“Prototype Railroad Operations”), a group of owner- operators who travel throughout a region and country to operate on different railroads. Lee hosted the group in 1990, and says his regular monthly operating sessions in his remote Utah home attract operations-enthusiasts from as far as 200 miles away!

In his 30 ’x 33’ layout, Lee places a great deal of emphasis on a high scenery-to-track ratio, befitting a railroad which operates in remote Rocky Mountain locations.

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