GLW heraldPCMRC graphic

Essex Wire & Cable

Essex Wire and Cable



Great Lakes Western RR

The Great Lakes Western is a fictional HO railroad depicting railroading around the Chicago area in 1960s.  It uses real city names and the mix of rail-served customers and industries has been carefully designed to support realistic operations.  The idea is to provide a midwestern setting where both East Coast and West Coast interchange trains would be appropriate. 

GLW system map

The GLW's main yard and engine facilities are in Hammond, Indiana.  Calumet City is a heavy industry area with steel mill and petroleum processing.  Raw material for steel making comes from Carbondale, IL (coal), Aurora, IL (lime), and from ships and interchange lines (ore).

Chicago and Milwaukee are represented as train staging.   Additional (hidden) staging includes trains from Kansas City and St. Paul from the west and Toledo and Fort Wayne from the east.

The layout is approximately 41' x 21' and will take several years to fully build out.

Our goal is to make a "state-of-the-art" operating layout by using the best construction techniques devised for model railroading.  The entire pike was designed in considerable detail prior to starting construction.  CadRail® was used to ensure realistic design.  A PCMRC committee worked through design details with the phased approval from club members. 

Many thanks to Dick Vogler, GLW Superintendent, for an outstanding job in detailed layout design.  Dick did all the CadRail® design and even drew a full scale track plan to aid in construction.  Dick works tirelessly to ensure construction of the best possible layout.

• L girder benchwork with working layout height of 48"
• Plywood and homosote construction with track set on cork roadbed
• Track glued to cork with caulking
• All track is code 83 nickel-silver flextrack
• All switches are code 83, Atlas with insulated frogs (optimum for DCC control)
• All mainline switches are #8; shorter switches used for industrial areas
• Most switches are hand thrown with Caboose Hobbies ground throws
• Rulling Grade is 2% with maximum of 3% on the branch line.
• Minimum mainline curve radius 28 degrees.
• Inaccessable switches are Tortoise driven with convenient facia mounted panels.

• Wired for DCC control using Digitrax system
• Walk around throttles with outlets every six feet
• Ready for future upgrade to radio controllers
• Pike divided into three power districts with many additional sub-busses
• Each yard or switching area will have its own sub-buss
• Auto reset circuit breakers isolate each sub-buss
• Power drops to each length for flex track and switches as needed
• Auxiliary AC buss for accessories
• Layout benchwork also wired for 110 AC with switched and non-switched outlets

• Standardized on Kadee couplers and NMRA size & clearance standards
• Metal wheels required on all rolling stock
• Car weighting of 1 oz + 1/2 oz per car inch (follows NMRA standard).
• 2% grade test for free-rolling car trucks

For a detailed look at the GLW, take a look at the webpage for each town to find a detailed track layout and structure listing.