Thursday, December 20, 2012

Disaster Strikes

 Well, the engineer on a double headed coal extra was not observing Rule G when he took the controls and brought the train out of Northumberland and headed up the branch to Weigh Scales. In Reed, he hit an obstruction on the track and derailed. The rear engine continued pushing and pushed him right off the roadbed into a ditch that was about 58 inches to the concrete floor. These pictures illustrate the damage that took place. The engine fell onto the pilot and crushed it. The engineer was gratified that his rebuild work on the pilot tank assembly was not affected.
 The engine then rolled over at some speed and crushed the headlight into the boiler. The smoke box front exploded off the engine with that blow. It took some time to find it as it was at some distance from the wreck.
 This is what happened to the pilot truck. It must have whipped around and then been bent by the cylinders.
 The tender remained coupled to the engine until it hit the floor. It bent the drawbar into a U shape and tore off the cab apron before it separated.
 The rear of the tender then whipped down and hit the floor, crushing the tail beam on one side and ripping off the base of the antenna.
We are hoping that the shop forces can repair this engine and upgrade it with the new fixtures that we were planning on putting on the fleet. It has now been moved to the head of the line for attention. Thank good ness it was not one of the engines already rebuilt by Frank Miller. There would not a report in that case, just crying.

Needless to say, the engineer will be disciplined with some time off and subsequent assignment to the shop forces to hone his skills on repair work! We will have to supply after pictures to show what came out.

Coninuing the branch line construction

 Well, as we look down the wall, we have added the framing for the first section which is rectangular and will hold the Glen Burn Colliery. It is conventional box construction, using the brackets already mounted to the wall and knee braces.
 Looking back, you can see where the box ends. We are trying to gauge the length of the cross members, using our flexible plywood held in place by the yellow clamp. The frame will shrink to match the curve of the side of the benchwork on the left which holds the mainline.
 Another shot of this effort. We have now cut the cross memebrs and will install them.
 Cross members are in and we modified the depth of the knee braces as we are down to a length of one foot for the cross member. We have to get this short to allow that three foot aisle minimum to be maintained.
 Now we have placed the two layers of flexible plywood and glued them together in a somewhat smooth curve.  The clamps are holding them to dry. At this point the benchwork is approximately 68 inches high. The track will be about 72 inches high when it crosses this aisle.
 Looking down the wall.
 I am up on a stool to get a downward view so you see the curve. We are about 16 feet to the end of this run.
This shot shows that we have placed the plywood onto the benchwork. We are now trying to get the curve in place that will allow the line to cross that bridge at about an angle of 120 degrees to the aisle.
This is proving to be difficult due to the narrow size of the bench top. I am looking into moving the crossing further back to give me more room to make the curve.  I am trying to get the bridge to cross where the main line is closest to the right edge - near wherre the yellow/white cap rests on the track

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The actual layout design

 Well, I have been asked multiple times about the actual design of the layout. So,here are the working drawings from 3rdPlanit that I have been using as I build. This first drawing shows the main line in the  center of the room in black. The overall distance on the diagonal is about 70 feet. You can see that I have had to deal with a very odd shape to the room. The two lobes on the right side were wide enough so that I could get return loops in while maintaining a 62 inch minimum radius on the main. The main line ends on this drawing - where it goes into the hidden yard which is below the main yard.
 You can also see the outline of the branch line benchwork on the wall going around 3/4's of the room starting at the bottom and going up to the top wall.  My problem was getting the branch around the lower left turn where the wall rises from the bottom and turns left. I had to squeeze in the branch, a 3 foot aisle and then 9 tracks in the yard/main of Northumberland. To do it I was forced to reduce the aisle to 28 inches for about 2 feet right at that corner.
 This drawing shows the main line and the hidden yard. It starts where the main leaves the upper yard (Northumberland), which is visible. You can now see the branch line in red. I used this drawing to figure my grades as I went from the base elevation in the hidden yard to the upper yard. I placed that 9 inches above the hidden yard and ended with a 1.75% grade. This allows me reasonable train lengths with the engine lash ups I plan to use. I used the branch line drawing to see what grade I needed to be able to cross the aisle at the top of the drawing with a through truss and have people be able to walk under it.
This is last drawing that I used to compute my track lengths for materials. It shows the overhead loop in light green added to the end of the branch line. You can see the branch track crossing the aisle at the top of the drawing. You come in that top door on the right and walk along the wall until you turn right at about the mid point of the room. I am making a field change by moving the aisle crossing to the left as I realized I cannot get a 40 inch straight section ( the bridge) in place and still make the curve I need to turn back to the overhead loop. So, the new location of the crossing is about 1/3 the way down the aisle from the door. This has forced me to increase the grade to 3% from the 2% it is up to Weigh Scales. This is actually prototypical as the grade stiffened beyond Weigh Scales in real life.
 So that is the design. It took me about a year to get everything figured in due to the shape of the room. I originally want to have the yard on an outside wall and the branch climbing through the center but could not get that to work. This design allows the branch line engineer to walk with his train and accomplish the switching I enjoy, while having main line trains run through the layout until we need to change engines or blocks of cars. I have done research on he scheduled freights that ran through Northumberland and will try to incorporate them as well as the passenger trains. I plan to use the branch as the line to Wilkes Barre also to add diversity the trains heading up and down the line. I can run some way freight on the main, but it is not as convenient for the operator. The control system will be conventional DC with Tower Operators like on the PRR.
 More later.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Beginning work to complete branch line

Looking westward
We are now beginning to plan how the branch line will rise from Weigh Scales and reach the holding tracks that have been hanging from the ceiling for the past two years. You can see the red wire hanging down from the entrance to the six track loop. We have to rise about 15 inches, cross the aisle here on a Through Truss bridge of 40 inches in length, while maintaining about a 30 inch aisle. The bench work will be about shoulder height to make the actual walk way wider. Those grey brackets on the wall will hold the bench work. The cross member will be attached to the top of the bracket and then we will have a knee brace.
 I am standing where a representation of Shamokin will be on the wall to my right at about my head height. The Glen Bourne colliery will be above that cardboard (gathered for scenery forms) leaning against the wall.

Continuing to the west towards Weigh Scales
 Walking down to the corner, we come the the curve leading to Weigh Scales which is our gathering yard. We have the river on the outboard side, PA Highway 61 is to the right of the track and high on the hill is an S Scale track to represent the Reading line through the Narrows.
The Narrows with the Reading high above
 This is a more complete view of the Narrows. Weigh Scales is just around to the left where my electrical supplies sit. The track is rising on a 3% grade to make the climb to get the bridge over the aisle to about a 72 inch clearance from the floor.
Looking at the Narrows but back eastward
Looking back eastward to where we started
These last two views are looking back at where we have come from. A good view of the Narrows with Shamokin Creek in the foreground in the first shot. The second shot gives you a view back to where the bridge will be. The line will then curve around to the right over the existing main and continue to rise about another 8 inches to meet the holding tracks over my right shoulder. We are having active discussions about how to scenic this whole thing but more on that later.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

After a Long Absence

Well, it has been a while since a post. This is due to a long trip on the West Coast, a case of pneumonia that I never expected - what a long recuperation - and getting ready for a visit by 23 railroaders from as far away as Charleston, SC; Gettysburg, PA,; Baltimore and Finksburg, MD and Indianapolis, IN. Those, plus my old group up in the DC area. So, I have been under and over the layout, doing some basic wiring so that we now have both main lines operating, plus the branch all the way into the yard. I will show you the wiring in another post. This one is just an illustration of the guys having a good time. They visited another layout in the area, Ed Rappe's, and then came to my house. We had a 3 unit set of Baldwin Sharks pulling a 45 car train, an M1b (4-8-2) pulling a 35 car train and double headed I1's (2-10-0) pulling a 35 car hopper train up and down the branch.
 The guys who follow the blog said that they did not appreciate how big the yard was until they saw it in person. I am going to try another approach and post again in the near future to help solve that problem. 
 Meanwhile, the layout ran well and the guys liked it very much. On their previous visit, they did not understand my description of what we were going to do but they now have a full picture of the track plan. As you can tell by the pictures, we had a lot of conversation so everyone had a good time.

Our goals for the new year will include completion of the branch line, wiring and panel installation ( I will stay with DC for now) and fascia panels. Scenery will be the goal for 2014.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bridging the Susquehanna

 Well, it is time to complete the lines over the river that were a main feature of the Northern Central as it left Northumberland eastbound, going into Sunbury. I cannot duplicate the length of the bridges but we can almost match the appearance at the end of the yard where the station was. This is going to be be a long post as there are so many steps. First I took two Atlas thru trusses - a single for the branch and a double for the main - and modified them to make them look better - not truly Proto 48 but layout grade.
 I added guard rails between the tracks using Code 100 steel rail that I had. I spiked them down after drilling holes for the spikes - every seventh tie. I extended them about 10 scale feet past each end of the bridge.
 I added some extra spikes at the end for strength.

The next really big deficiency of the bridge is the lack of gussets on the outside of the trusses.

As can be seen here, they have gussets on the inside of the trusses but these gussets do not go up over the girders which would be wrong as the gusset should tie everything together. 

 The lower gusset is correct in that it covers the whole joint. That big hole is for the  male piece on th e bridge deck to go into. A key tip - file those male pieces as they do not fit easily. If you file it, they go right in and make your life a whole lot easier.
 The below is the appearance of an outer girder junction with out a gusset. Pretty poor!
 So, I made cardboard masters by copying the overall dimensions of the inner gussets to that they would match when looked at from the side. You can see my note that I needed 8 of this one as it is for the upper corner at each end of 2 bridges. The lines gave me a guide for rivets to tie the girders in.
This is the completed .020 styrene gusset with the rivets embossed. 

The double track bridge is now complete with gussets installed, bridge painted, deck weathered and bridge footings placed. I used some old Auel bridge footings that I had bought years ago. 

Now you can see the single track bridge is done also.The piers are from Scenic Express. I cut two in pieces and meshed the stone work together. I colored the stone based on some pictures a friend of mine took in Pennsylvania last year.  

You can see the cut line in the back of the pier. The bridges look nice - with the new gussets and guard rails.

Some more views

Okay, now we have the opening. The is the yard side of the river. Track is loose, awaiting the bridges.

The east side is mostly laid. I did have to move the branch line slightly to the right as the footings separated the bridges more than I had initially figured.

You can see that I had a pretty good match on the double track bridge. I had only to move the track slightly and the back track had enough flex.

The yard side is now in

Here it is from the yard perspective. The main looks nice going onto the bridge. Now for the branch line.

Both bridges set side by side

Branch line track approaching. This is a temporary track as I will have to lay a wye here to give better access to the turntable to eastbound engines. More on that later.

Hammer at the ready for fine adjustments!

Track is down and we have the first crossing by a branch line train after 4 years of construction

Looks good!

This is especially good as we did have a wreck here last year when a train drifted down the branch unattended and dumped a caboose and 4 hoppers onto the floor through the open gap.

Over view of train heading up the branch.