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New Home for the Blacklog & Shade Gap Eastern

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Topic:


Topic author: Vagel Keller
Subject: New Home for the Blacklog & Shade Gap Eastern
Posted on: 09/04/2008 10:56:25 PM
Message:

This is a second edition of the original post that introduced a thread chronicles the progress on construction of a new layout for my HO/HOn3 Blacklog & Shade Gap Eastern. I inadvertently deleted the original post. I maintain a website for the B&SGE, and the URL appears in a later post.



The original layout resided in the partially finished basement of our 110 year-old victorian house in the East End of Pittsburgh, PA. It was cold in winter, damp at all times, had exposed floor joists above, and the layout shared space with a very noisy forced air heating and air conditioning plant. Moreover, it had begun to suffer the encroachment of spousal detritus, such as out-of-season artificial floral arrangements and exercise machines. Here is a scene from the old layout:



Beside all the liabilities listed above, there were a lot of things wrong with this layout. I didn't solder the rail joints, with predictable results (magnified in HOn3). The benchwork was of the table-top variety, with 1/2 inch homasote over 1/2" plywood, which resulted in lots of track irregularities in that damp environment. The last operating session occurred during an open house for the NMRA MCR regional convention in 2004. After that, the layout was ignored for a year and a half as I concentrated on finishing a Ph.D. dissertation. When my attention returned to model railroading, I found a layout covered with dust and soot and trackwork with so many issues that I threw up my hands in despair. There matters lay for two years.

In October 2007 new life was breathed into the B&SGE when we were able to buy a three-apartment building across the street from our home. It's newer than our home, having been built ca. 1920, and one of the apartments was an open L-shaped space that had been used as an architect's office. It proved perfect for a layout space. While our contractor renovated the other two apartments for tenants, I got to work preparing the "office" for a new, greatly expanded version of the B&SGE.

Here are some before and in-progress shots of the interior:





The age of this building and the architecture of the space gave me a unique opportunity to place a layout set in the 1930s in a space from the 1930s. Thus, the 2-tone green office scheme; friends with memories from the era tell me I've nailed it. The "after" view here is a bit busy, cluttered as it is with various module projects for contribution to NMRA MCR Div. 2's FreeMo layout (SEE Don Reed's posts on this topic at http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=22539)





Enjoy the rest of the chronicle,

Vagel

Replies:


Reply author: hunter48820
Replied on: 09/04/2008 10:59:46 PM
Message:

Hi Vagel,
You may want to delete this thread since it is a duplicate of the other. You can use the delete icon at the top of the message.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/04/2008 11:09:12 PM
Message:

Thanks, Andy. I tried that before there were any replies, but permission was still denied. I've emailed MikeC, administrator, to see if he can do that. I didn't realize I had hit the post key in the middle of trying to upload an image file.

How embarrassing!?


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/04/2008 11:39:06 PM
Message:

Hi, Vagel --

Great to have you on board! Even though I'll get to see it happening FTF, I'm also looking forward very much to seeing your photographs and reading your narrative.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/05/2008 12:31:42 AM
Message:

Oops! The link I posted to the old B&SGE website is a bad URL. Here's the corrected version:

http://home.comcast.net/~VagelKeller/bsgehome.htm


Reply author: hunter48820
Replied on: 09/05/2008 12:38:22 AM
Message:

quote:
[i]

How embarrassing!?



Ha, Vagel, if you've seen some of my posts, you have nothing to be embarassed about!![:-eyebrows]

Glad you are getting to enjoy the group.


Reply author: Dutchman
Replied on: 09/05/2008 07:36:30 AM
Message:

Vagel,

You have a great new home for the layout! I'll be following along.


Reply author: Bbags
Replied on: 09/05/2008 08:37:45 AM
Message:

Vagel,
Nice looking layout room and also glad to see that the building itself has had a face lift and a new lease on life.

I added this thread to the ever growing listing of layouts under construction here on Railroad-Line.

http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=22362


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 09/05/2008 09:00:48 AM
Message:

Great story, Vagel. This is going to be an interesting thread to follow.

George


Reply author: Tabooma County Rwy
Replied on: 09/05/2008 09:47:44 AM
Message:

Vagel, that is definitely a neat place for your railroad to reside. Far different from the typical basement or bedroom layout - lots of character! And with Don helping, you'll have the benchwork completed in no time. Looking forward to many more progress updates!


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 09/06/2008 5:23:06 PM
Message:

Vagel, I've read with interest the story of the new home of your layout. It's nice to have such a pleasant space to play with our hobby. I was also interested to see that others can be impatient enough to forget do things that will be quite tricky to achieve later. I'll be happy to follow the thread about the building of your layout.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/06/2008 8:32:54 PM
Message:

Thanks for all the positive comments. Today I hung a 4-ft backdrop section in the kitchen, and, in the process encountered what I know will be many issues involving layout construction in a "This Old House" scenario. I'll take some pictures in progress and, hopefully, be able to post an illustrated update on Monday evening.

Meanwhile, I'm building a new topic to sort of close the loop on my dual gauge FreeMo module that has appeared in several posts in the now inactive Topic in this Forum by the great Don Reed about our NMRA group (SEE http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=11232). After exploring various Fora to find the most likely home for it, I think I'll post this one in the Logging, Mining, and Narrow Gauge area to maybe get some layout building juices flowing there.

'best,
Vagel


Reply author: Sully
Replied on: 09/06/2008 9:08:39 PM
Message:

Vagel...great space to build a rr...by the name, can I assume you are modeling EBT territory?....tom


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/07/2008 12:31:03 AM
Message:

Hello, Tom! Yes, your assumption is correct. I believe I provided a link to the earlier "history" of the B&SGE ... my model RR is a "historically" freelanced empire based on a "what if?" EBT off shoot.

Perhaps I should transpose the www "history" to this medium.

'best,
Vagel


Reply author: MikeC
Replied on: 09/07/2008 10:35:47 AM
Message:

Vagel, I just got a chance to read through this thread. Your 'story' adds a whole new meaning to the phrase 'preparing the layout room.' I'm looking forward to future installments.



Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/07/2008 9:48:22 PM
Message:

Thanks, Mike. And then there's the stuff in the category of "some contents may have settled in shipment" that you just have to live with, I guess. Such as the bizarre discovery that, while the doorway from the main room to the kitchen is plumb on the main room side, it's out of plumb on the kitchen side to the extent of 1/4" per 2 ft! Look at this! [:-boggled] I used painters caulk to fill the gap. The first bead shrunk a bit, so I added a second run to get a straight angle of transition to hide the seam. I think it'll turn out OK with a coat of primer and then the sky color.



Meanwhile, at the other end, I came up two inches short (although it's at least plumb at this end). [:-irked] I thought the partition was less than 4' long on either side of the opening between the kitchen and the alcove and had the lumber dude at Home Despot cut the second half of my 4 x 8 sheet of hardboard into 2 x 4 sheets. Too smart, by half. Oh, well, it's a corner and I think the good ol' painters caulk trick will work here, too. This shot didn't come out as I intended, but the idea is to use the caulk to smooth the transition and hide the 1/4" difference between hardboard and wall.



It was late afternoon by the time I got this all done and pretty humid, so I decided to let it all dry overnight before priming. Meanwhile, the scrapping of the old B&SGE continued with the stripping of the original Buchanan module I built back in 1985. It was based on Bob Boudreau's Mansfield Jct. that appeared in the Oct. 1984 Model Railroader.



The hillside came up easily, and the ground cover was easy to scrape up after saturating it with water from an atomizer. But the roadbed and ballast is going to be a challenge. The 2 x 6 sheet of plywood and 1 x 2 framing is too good to throw out. Maybe I'll just disassemble the wooden frame work and turn the plywood upside down after I rip up the track.

Last thing before tying up for the night was to sand the trim pieces donated by Don Reed for the bookcase in preparation for staining and move my lantern collection and start to move my railroad library into its new home. I know this probably belongs in another area of RR-Line, but things are starting to run together in this project.



That's it for this installment. It's time for scotch and a Hornblower episode.



Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/07/2008 11:21:27 PM
Message:

Hi, Vagel --

Those bookcases make a mighty nice home for the lanterns.

Thanks for the update.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/08/2008 11:28:52 PM
Message:

Thanks, Don. I see the bookcase and the lanterns therein (as well as the library and other artifacts it might contain in the future) as part and parcel of the atmosphere of the whole space, which I hope will give their minds a head start on the journey in time back through the 1960s, 50s, and 40s to the 1930s that is the goal of the layout.

I have become, I suppose, an example of what happens when a model railroader becomes a dangerously over-educated history buff.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/13/2008 02:16:21 AM
Message:

OK, as of this evening we're getting ready to break ground on the new, improved Blacklog & Shade Gap Eastern Railroad. Trailer-on-flatcar loads of materials have been arriving daily at our hastily constructed inter-modal facility ...



... and the surveyors have been busily running the new ROW into the void.



Sunday, Sep. 14, 2008 will see the first board feet of benchwork constructed. Stay tuned.

Vagel



Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/13/2008 07:34:16 AM
Message:

I'll be joining Vagel on Sunday, bringing along the chop saw and Nahm's favorite ayuh nayluhs and the big screw guns and all the other fun toys. [:-jump2] Yee-hah!

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/14/2008 6:27:13 PM
Message:

Well, the Blacklog & Shade Gap Eastern is finally off the drawing board ... sort of. Don came over this morning with his portable implements of mass construction, and we got started on the bench work in the tricky area on either side of the partition wall between the kitchen and the main room.

Before starting the bench work, we finished the bookcase project, with Don's 'ayuh nayla' tacking the oak trim pieces that I had stained to match the existing color to hide the awkward joints between the case and the wall. I used two coats of Minwax combo stain and polyurethane varnish in "natural cherry" shade. It's a darned close match.



The first bench work job we tackled was the narrow (18" wide) shelf that will carry the tracks along the kitchen wall opposite the sink, refrigerator, and microwave/coffee stand before punching through the wall on a 180-degree curve to emerge in the main room. Here's a "before" shot:



The narrow kitchen dictates a 45-degree angle corner next to the doorway leading to the main room, which required some cutting and fitting before the whole thing went together. Here it is coming together ...



... with Don cutting the pieces at his portable chop saw on the porch.



We're using drywall screws throughout, 1-5/8" for woodwork and 2" for mounting stuff to the plaster and lath partition wall and fastening the 2 x 3 support legs to the floor. We've found that studs (real 2x4 pine-not-fir) are 16" on centers. Don has a set of Sears screw guide bits for boring the counter sink openings for screws; apparently you can't get them anymore! We set our screws in a tub of beeswax lube, which makes it easier to drive the screws into the second piece of lumber without pre-drilling ... no splitting, either.



Here's Don test fitting the kitchen grid. The top of the grid will be a nominal 38" off the floor (lowest track height will be 42").



At this point we encountered another "This Old House" situation, where the surface of the walls undulated slightly. Some shimming was required in two places. To paraphrase the great Foghorn Leghorn, "Fortunately, I keep a box of shims handy for just such an emergency ..."



Here's the kitchen grid after installation. Only one leg is needed without cross bracing). It's wedged in really tight and isn't going anywhere.



The grid on the opposite side of the partition between the kitchen and the main room was much more straight forward. But even with the assembly mounted to the wall, it still wants to flex when leaned on. I plan to build storage shelves under here, so I don't want to use diagonal braces to block them. Hopefully the shelving will stiffen it sufficiently.



The last piece we built today was the continuation of the shelf from the kitchen into what will be the yard and engine terminal. But we ran into a snag in the form of an electrical outlet that has to be moved. I'll have to have that fixed for our next session, six days hence.



I've also got to draw up a bench work plan, which will speed up the job of cutting the lumber. I'll let you know how it goes this coming Saturday.

'best,
Vagel


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 09/14/2008 9:09:13 PM
Message:

Anyone who can quote Foghorn Leghorn has garnered my interest! "Ah say, ah say, son.....that's some story you're contriving there!" I'll be following....


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/17/2008 6:38:23 PM
Message:

Did some backdrop work today, including painting the already primed sections above the recently framed benchwork. Here is the result in the main room behind what will be the location of the iron ore mining town of Buchanan on the narrow gauge branch of the same name as it climbs the mountainside above the standard gauge interchange with a jointly owned branch of the WM and B&O and PRR yard at Ft. Loudon:



And on the other side of the wall in the kitchen behind what will be the iron ore mine at Shoups Run, the terminus of the B&SGE's Buchanan Branch:



While not fully satisfied with the results, as far as gradual transition from hazy horizon to high sky goes, I'm happier with the outcome in the kitchen than on the longer section in the main room. That said, I'm after more of an impressionistic result than a realistic one. I don't want people oohing and awing over my backdrop, when it's the trains they should be watching.

I'm working with two colors, Olympic "Sweet Dreams" A52-3 for blue sky and Glidden "Timeless Blue" for the lower hazy sky, and three brushes. I work the first color from the top down about 1/3 of the way then start the second color up from about 6" above the bottom to near the edge of the first color. With a third brush I feather the two colors together.



I'll post pictures from our next benchwork session this Saturday.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/18/2008 07:40:05 AM
Message:

Hi, Vagel --

Looks good to me! It will be nice when those holes we hacked through the walls are hidden.

See you Saturday. Buy lots of 1x4. We be jammin'!

Don


Reply author: jburch
Replied on: 09/18/2008 09:32:52 AM
Message:

Hi Vagel,

I've been watching your progress. How lucky you are to have such a great location for your RR. Things are coming along nicely. One small suggestion on your backdrop painting. Add a glaze to your paint. You can get in most home improvement stores. It is used when interior painters are doing custome faux finishes. It will extend the working time of the paint and will improve the blending of the colors. Just follow the directions on the can. Anyway, my 2 cents worth.

Looking forward to more pics and progress.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/18/2008 8:02:13 PM
Message:

Jeff, what a great suggestion!? I'll try it out and post the results.

Vagel


Reply author: MikeC
Replied on: 09/18/2008 8:19:55 PM
Message:

Vagel, you and Don are making excellent progress on this. The benchwork you guys are putting up looks great!



Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/21/2008 8:13:43 PM
Message:

Thanks, Mike, for the kind words.

Yesterday we really got a lot accomplished in the 3+ hours we had between lunch and having to go get freshened up for non-model railroading distractions (read: social functions).

Don brought over another set of saw horses and a core door to make a work bench for assembly (much easier than working on the floor!) and some corner clamps to make it easier for one person to do the assembly. I provided Don with a bench work plan, from which he developed a cut list; so, he essentially make a kit for the first sub-assembly of the session, and while I assembled that one he was cutting the next, and so on. At the end of the work session, we had all but one of the sub-assemblies put together and the kit for the last one ready to put together. We also framed an extension of the partition which will separate the engine terminal and yard from the Ft. Loudon/Richmond Furnace area.

Just to give an idea of what things will look like, I laid everything out on the floor and snapped a couple photos. The first shows the engine terminal area in the foreground. The 24x24x3/4" plywood is where the Walthers 130' turntable will go.



This view shows how we're going to deal with the transition in thickness from a 6"-thick wall with 3/4"-thick trim pieces down to the width of the 2x3 for the backdrop. We spliced in a waste piece of 2x3 on this side. Don took another waste piece home to shave off 3/8" on the table saw for the other side. Note that there's a gap above the extension; that's for airflow in the room. We'll transition the top of the backdrop from where it is now down to 6 feet off the floor with a reverse curve.



We're going to try to get together for a few hours this Wednesday to complete the last sub-assembly and get everything mounted on legs and to the partition walls. With that, Phase I of the bench work will be completed, and I'll begin final track planning of this section and sub-roadbed installation.

'best,
Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/22/2008 08:34:40 AM
Message:

Saturday was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to Wednesday!

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/25/2008 11:54:00 PM
Message:

Hi, folks. Well, Don and I got together as planned and, although we didn't quite achieve the goal of completing Phase I of benchwork construction, we at least got all but one of the grids off the floor and used up all the 1x4 and 2x3 lumber that I had stockpiled! We still need to install the rest of the 2x3 legs needed for a stable platform and one final 18x48" section must wait for a wall socket to be relocated (see earlier comments about Model RR Construction Meets 'This Ol' House').

We'll start with "candid photography" (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) of me installing the second splice piece necessary for transitioning the backdrop from the width of the 7-1/2" thick wall and trim pieces to the 2x3 add-on partition. This is payback for my including a shot of Don with his back to the camera at the chop saw.



One of the "snags" we encountered (literally) was that the tips of 1-5/8" drywall screws protrude just far enough on the backside of two 1x4's to constitute a hazard. We used the waste ends from the 1 x 4 x 96 boards as backing pieces and then used 2" drywall screws to connect our pre-fabricated subassemblies. The result looks overbuilt, but we believe it actually adds to the rigidity of the overall assembly. And at the end of the day, we had used up every waste piece. I think when all is said and done on Phase I the total waste of 1x4 lumber will be less than two feet.



Here are a few overall shots of the day's work. This one looks from the kitchen toward the yard and engine terminal, which will be just in front of where I'm standing. Imagine the standard gauge on the lower level hidden by a mountain side (in a tunnel) with the narrow gauge about a foot higher emerging from under a highway overpass, passing an iron ore tipple that hides the upper opening in the wall.



Here Don shifted a couple feet to his left to look toward the future site of Ft. Loudon. Where I am standing will be hidden by the future backdrop curving from right to left behind a 48"-radius 120 degree visible curve that will be the main "railfan photography" location to capture such images as a T1-powered Blue Ribbon freight (or, later, a mail drudge) and double-headed I1sa's with ore drags. The narrow gauge Buchanan Branch of the B&SGE will climb toward the viewer from left to right. The partially visible blast furnace module will shift about two feet to the left in the final plan; it's a heavily modified Walthers blast furnace backdated to the 1910's. Note that, despite my best intentions, it's beginning to accumulate layout construction materials.



Finally, here's shot where Don was able to capture my smiling face without the backlighting of all those windows. And I was REALLY smiling when Don snapped this shot, as a dream of twenty-plus years was finally starting to come true before my very eyes. Now, how did that old Michelob commercial go? "Here's to good friends ..." Sorry, Don, but I had to use the backlit shots to show our joint work to better advantage ...


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/26/2008 12:07:07 AM
Message:

Oops! T1's didn't pull freights ... I meant Blue Ribbon passenger trains!!! I hope Mr. Clement doesn't come out of the grave to torment me!

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/26/2008 07:47:08 AM
Message:

Sorry the photography wasn't better. My very nice little Nikon Coolpix L1 is great for photographing models but the flash range is pretty limited.

Vagel and I will be getting together again next Wednesday - stay tuned!

Don


Reply author: Bbags
Replied on: 09/26/2008 08:05:35 AM
Message:

Wow!!! Don and Vagel,

You guys have accomplished a lot in a short period of time.

I guess that having a helper that looks like he knows what he is doing with all the equipment is a big plus.[:-bigeyes]

This will be one fantastic layout room and layout when all is said and done.


Reply author: jburch
Replied on: 09/26/2008 09:18:41 AM
Message:

Ahhhhhh.... I love the smell of cut wood in the morning. Looks like you guys busted your butts. What a great space and I'm sure it's going to be an equally nice layout. I love watching your progress. I wish I had that kind of space for my railroad.

Keep up the good work.


Reply author: Dutchman
Replied on: 09/26/2008 09:20:31 AM
Message:

Fantastic progress, guys! That bench work look terrific.

Will you be finishing off the openings through the walls at all, or will they be totally hidden with mountains, etc.?


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 09/26/2008 09:47:13 AM
Message:

Vagel and Don, very nice and neat benchwork. A great base for the layout. Should we infer from the shape of the modules that there won't be tons of mountains?


Reply author: LynnB
Replied on: 09/26/2008 10:00:16 AM
Message:

This is going to be a great How to Make a Modelrailway right from step 1 Patch the Walls.
Sure got lots of room.[:-bigeyes]


Reply author: quarryman
Replied on: 09/26/2008 10:02:06 AM
Message:

Your nice, wide open space is becoming very full very fast. [:-bigeyes2]

The benchwork looks great, and judging from the completed modules the finished layout will be excellent as well.

Keep up the great work,

Mark


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/26/2008 10:50:49 AM
Message:

I won't try to answer for Vagel except in one area - those big ugly holes I cut with the recip saw will be entirely hidden by scenery.

I will add one other comment. Vagel will pull this off. He's pretty young, energetic, organized, determined, etc., and I have seen how fast he can crank out a FreeMo module. We are all in for an interesting ride.

Yeah, it helps to have a woodworking shop backing up the field work. I have all the angled pieces at the shop right now, having marked them out on the benchwork. I'll be able to cut the angles pretty easily on the table saw; it would be a lot harder with hand power tools.

Head 'em up and move 'em out! Yeehah!

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/26/2008 1:12:07 PM
Message:

There'll be mountains, alright. But I plan no grades on either the standard gauge or narrow gauge. I've updated the trackplan to show the outline of the completed benchwork grid, below. Standard gauge is black, B&SGE (HOn3) is red, and the blue represents interchange with a friend's narrow gauge line. Purple is dual gauge. The narrow gauge branch will follow a long grade from near the blast furnace to climb a mountainside as it gains about a foot of elevation by the time it arrives at Buchanan, the first of the iron mining villages on the branch. Where it punches through the wall the hole will be hidden by a deep cut and a highway overpass; trees will form nearly a closed canopy as well. The other side of the aisle, on both sides of that backdrop, will be hilly, as well.



Some changes suggest themselves now, including a rearrangement of the yard at Ft. Loudon (opposite side of the aisle from the blast furnace) and shifting the curves of both standard and and narrow gauge where they pass from the kitchen to avoid the cable and phone line we found in the wall. Also, the passage between the two peninsulas is now less than 2 ft, so I need to consider how I'm going to widen that up a bit ... many of my model railroad friends, including me, violate Plate C, so to speak. And after um-teen attempts to come up with a blast furnace layout I like, I'm still not satisfied ... just look at those concentric sweeping curves; there's GOT to be a more elegant solution. I think I'll have to bite the bullet and reconfigure the blast furnace plant, itself ... look for that project to get underway in coming weeks. sigh.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/02/2008 10:39:53 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

The layout is going into one of three apartments in the building Vagel purchased. The other two are rented to normal people, as opposed to model railroaders. A water leak developed in one of the units and Vagel had to spend Wednesday doing boring landlord stuff, so our next joint session is next Wednesday.

I know he's moving ahead with planning, with whatever bits and pieces of time he can free up.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/09/2008 09:30:50 AM
Message:

As Don reported, we had issues next door last week, and in fact my friendly neighborhood handyman was just finishing up as Don and I were coming back from lunch after our work session yesterday.

Don came over with the angled trim pieces he'd cut in his shop, and we started by installing them. All but one are 45-degree pieces that he was able to cut on his table saw. Here's a close-up of one of the basic trim pieces and the odd-ball, which Don had to cut at the band saw.



We also installed the rest of the 2x3 legs, and Don cut a stockpile of 1x3 and 1x2 risers for the next phase: building the sub-roadbed.





Over the past two weeks I transferred part of the track plan that I had sketched out on my computer to a full-size cardboard mockup and began the cutting and fitting process. I started with the end of the narrow gauge branch and the standard gauge main line that will be hidden trackage underneath. Here's a "candid" shot of me fiddling with something on the standard gauge below what will be the terminus of the n.g. branch at Shoups Run (in the kitchen).



And this view shows the track arrangements on the other side of the wall to the left in the above photo at Buchanan. That's a string of n.g. ore cars on the upper level, with a standard gauge boxcar on what will be hidden trackage below.



Finally, here's an overview looking from the site of the Ft. Loudon yard up the branch. The standard gauge will emerge from a tunnel about where the risers are piled.



We've scheduled another work session two weeks from now, and of course we'll post more images afterward. Until then, have fun.


Reply author: Geezer
Replied on: 10/09/2008 10:05:58 AM
Message:

That is "SOME" benchwork!!! Very nice job on the construction and a very interesting track plan. Thanks for posting. Geezer


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/10/2008 11:02:57 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

I had a lot of fun at Vagel's last Wednesday. With the chop saw, I can cut risers really fast.

I thought Vagel's full size cardboard mockup of the track plan was really a good idea. You can get a good sense of how it's going to look and "feel." And, just for fun, you can set actual rolling stock on it - if the items aren't too heavy.

Vagel has designed a number of curving walls to support back drop. We're going to lay them out full size on cardboard (water heater cartons, mostly) and I'll use the patterns to bandsaw top and bottom plates from plywood or scrap 2x. That way we can build the "walls" and sheath them with masonite before they are up on the benchwork. I suppose Vagel could even paint them before putting them in place.

I'm looking forward to our next session.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/22/2008 10:33:26 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

I'm filling in for Vagel. We *did* get together today, but Vagel was coming down with one of those fast-burning stomach bugs and our session ended about noon when he started feeling really bad. (I just talked to him and he's recovering fast.)

Mostly, we worked on salvaging parts from the former Blacklog and Shade Gap Eastern, in his basement across the street from the new layout. We packed up most of the structures and then removed a couple of sections of the layout and took them apart and set the lumber aside for re-use.

Next Wednesday should be more interesting. Vagel is doing some serious track planning so we can start installing risers.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/01/2008 4:20:58 PM
Message:

Well, I'm back after a much longer absence than planned, mostly due to mental blockage on what to do with the standard gauge track plan at Ft. Loudon. Ft. Loudon, by the way, is a real place that once was served by the South Penn Branch of the PRR's Cumberland Valley Division. It's a far more important place on my layout than it was in reality; the real Ft. Loudon was a way station, but in my HO world it hosts the junction with the South Penn Branch of a fictitious branch operated jointly by the B&O and Western Md.

My problem stems from future scenic concerns about both the mainline and the interchanging B&O/WM branch (hidden staging) emerging from tunnels in the same mountainside within less than a foot of each other. Finally, I decided to tackle that problem later and got back to work. This weekend I installed the wooden risers under all of the cardboard mockups of the sub-roadbed developed so far and moved forward from there just a bit. Here are some snap shots of the results.

This view encompasses the Ft. Loudon yard area below and the iron ore mining town of Buchanan served by the narrow gauge B&SGE above. The partially sceniced hillsides were salvaged from the old layout Don told you about. The narrow gauge climbs a 3% grade (3/8" to the foot) passing in and out from behind scenery to Buchanan, then levels off (the section between the red map tacks is on the grade). The B&O/WM branch will emerge from a tunnel somewhere near the far end of the lower scenic element.



Here's a close-up showing where I've sketched in the tunnel portal location on the std gauge mainline. The Buchanan station is a heavily re-worked IHC freight/passenger station that may or may not be re-used here. On the mainline is a stack of spare turnout templates that I made by scanning and printing an actual turnout. The HOn3 versions can be seen in place as I play around with options at Buchanan.



In addition to a curved passing siding at Buchanan, there will be a short house/team track and a double-track ore tipple behind the station. The mine building will be against the mountainside, while the town will occupy a slope below the tracks in the foreground. The two mines on my original layout could handle a total of five empties at once; this one mine will handle that many by itself. The tipple tracks are on a slight up-grade. Those ore cars are by Tichey, with MDC HOn3 tender trucks replacing the std gauge originals.



Here's the Shoups Run alcove in the kitchen, with the std gauge beneath. I installed enough risers here to support a flat sheet to support hidden std gauge tracks extending from the visible staging tracks in the terminal area to increase yard capacity.



In this view from the roundhouse area in the terminal you can see Buchanan on the narrow gauge in the distance, which I hope puts this half of the layout in perspective for you.



Finally, here's a closer look at the 130' Walthers turntable. Don and I fabricated this box out of pieces salvaged from the old table-top layout and a nice 1" x 24"x24" piece of plywood. Here it is tacked in place with a couple screws to hold it against the wood flanges I attached to the existing grid benchwork. It will serve a 9-stall roundhouse. I've begun to build the engine servicing structures so they'll be available for track-planning chess (moving stuff around to see what makes sense and how to run track to them). The legs of the Walthers small concrete coaling tower are visible under the "QUIET is requested for the benefit of those who have retired" sign in the background.



That's all for now. I'll write more after we resume our work sessions this Wednesday.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/03/2008 4:53:44 PM
Message:

Vagel and I put in a good day's work today, from about 10:30 until 3. Very exciting progress - we built a curved wall with sawn plywood top and bottom plates and 2x3 studs to support more of the backdrop, then sheathed it with masonite. Vagel will be posting more details and photographs later today.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/03/2008 5:32:47 PM
Message:

Here are the snaps from today's work session. Don showed me a neat method for using a C-clamp as an extra hand when making long cuts in a sheet of material. You cut a foot or so into the piece, then put the clamp across the cut to hold everything together while you continue on to the end of the cut.

Here, Don has finished the first pass in cutting out one of th forms for the curved backdrop.



Once we had the top and bottom forms cut out, we cut six 2x3 studs and spaced them evenly around the curve. Don thought we'd need to install a temporary brace at the far end, but with the other end mounted to the existing backdrop wall and at the other to the benchwork grid, it's plenty rigid.





Next we cut two S-curve sections of hardboard to transition the backdrop to a lower height as the mountainside will recede moving from right to left as the narrow gauge branch travels down grade from Buchanan.

Here's a snap of me posing in front of the completed project for today.



It's really starting to come together! Don took a sheet of hardboard back to his shop, where he'll rip it into two 2x8 sheets, one of which will finish off the other side of the backdrop. Once that's in place we'll be able to install risers and sub-roadbed in the yard/engine terminal. Meantime, I'm going to upgrade the electrical service for lighting and prime and paint the backdrop now in place in preparation for installing sub-roadbed in the Buchanan/Ft. Loudon area.



See you next time,

Vagel


Reply author: Mike Hamer
Replied on: 12/04/2008 8:44:45 PM
Message:

Hi Don and Vagel. Wow, the layout is really coming along nicely. Thanks for keeping us posted on the developments! [:-apple][:-apple]


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 12/04/2008 10:33:34 PM
Message:

Vagel, you and Don are making some great progress. It looks like someone on that crew knows a little about woodworking.

George


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/05/2008 06:38:14 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by George D

Vagel, you and Don are making some great progress. It looks like someone on that crew knows a little about woodworking.

George




Vagel and I do make a pretty good team. He knows way more about layout design, trackwork, scenery, etc., than I do. For one thing, he has actually built several layouts over the years, just not as big as this one.

I know a lot of carpentry tricks, own some useful tools, own a pickup truck (handy for hauling sheets of plywood) and get a lot of enjoyment from working on Vagel's layout.

I'm looking forward to next Wednesday! [:-bouncy]

Our local NMRA Division (Keystone) is having their annual mini-conference (Jamboree) in a couple of months and we hope they will include layout tours. Vagel is aiming to have some track operational and trains running on part of the layout by then. Seems realistic to me.

Don


Reply author: WVM_Nut
Replied on: 12/08/2008 4:48:57 PM
Message:

Well done Major Keller. Well done indeed sir. I recall the old B&SG having visited a time or two. Since I last saw you I've moved to East Tennessee and started a new M&WV/WVM. It's smaller, but hey, sometimes things happen. I'm happy with it.

Ed Sumner


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/09/2008 12:25:12 AM
Message:

Good to hear from you, Ed, and glad that your model railroading survived the move. You'll have to start a thread and post some pictures of progress ... soon, I hope.

Getting ready for this week's work session, we got the new wiring installed for ceiling outlets for the shop lights that previously were powered by extension cords. Now I can light up the place with a flip of two switches; no more "trooping the line" from pull chain to pull chain. And the troublesome wall outlet has been moved out of the way of the benchwork, so that gap is permanently closed.

Since then, I've been playing around trying to envision the layout of the locomotive servicing facilities. The Kalmbach book on engine terminals has been very helpful. Here are a couple snaps of the turntable, roundhouse footprint, and coaling tower in what looks like a pretty good and compact configuration.





My fears of not having enough linear space to incorporate all the pieces of a steam-to-diesel transition era facility are pretty much gone, but there are so many decisions to make about which kits to use ... I now know I wasted my money on the Walthers diesel fueling facility; far too big a foot print for what it includes. I'll probably keep the fuel storage tank, though, and use their ash pit kit while going with the smaller foot print (and finer detail, IMHO) of the American Limited Models sand tower. In fact, there's a ready-built set that includes the tower and two fuel cranes that might be worth the extra $$$ to save time. And then there's the auxiliary fixtures that go with the sand tower but are "not included" in the kit. Sigh.

More after our session Wednesday.

'best,
Vagel


Reply author: WVM_Nut
Replied on: 12/09/2008 12:42:43 PM
Message:

What is your era again? I'm guessing late 30's just before WW 2, about the time that the PA pike was going in?

Jeff Madden did a 50s-era pike that was in MR a few years back based on the South Penn as a B&O owned shortline.

Neil Schorr (whom I think you know) did a modern South Penn before switching scales.


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 12/09/2008 2:06:56 PM
Message:

Vagel,

How much space do you have for your engine terminal? We have a couple of guys at the club designing a steam facility. The space they have available is pretty large, but they are still having to make compromises Ė those things take up a lot of space!

George


Reply author: hunter48820
Replied on: 12/09/2008 11:56:23 PM
Message:

Hi Vagel,
Your layout is coming along very nicely. Regarding the space for your engine terminal, there is never enough for everything that you want!! It's a law of nature that can't be broken (unless you are modeling Z scale)![:-boggled][:-eyebrows]


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/10/2008 05:58:39 AM
Message:

Hi, yunz all --
(That's a perfect blending of two cultures - Southern and Pittsburghese.)

I dropped off the Masonite that I cut for backdrops yesterday and loaded the tools in the truck last night - ready for another Wednesday session at Vagel's! Among other things, ze plan calls for cutting out a bunch of sub-roadbed with the sabersaw. Who knows, Vagel might have some track down in the very near future.[:-bouncy]

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/11/2008 8:32:30 PM
Message:

Ed asks the $64,000 question. The original B&SGE/South Penn Branch concept was, in fact, set in Fall 1938. But that was before all this great PRR big steam and first generation diseasal stuff (most with sound!) started coming out in PRR colors. Unable to abstain, I began to accumulate locomotives that would never fit in with the concept in time or space (an I1s pulling a light branchline mixed?, an F7A-B-A lash-up in 1938?).

In addition to having long ago accumulated all the motive power and rolling stock needed to support the original concept, I now find myself with a fair representation of PRR motive power and appropriate freight and passenger rolling stock spanning the period from the 1920s through the mid-1960s. What to do? HO RR Museum.

The layout under construction consists of a yard and engine terminal that will form an HO-scale sort of "Steamtown" tied at either end, via scenic blocks, to a 1930s world. Some operating sessions will be purely set in 1938, while others will consist of railfan excursions into the past, complete with rare mileage trips and photo run-bys of "historical" trains.

Regarding the space available for the engine terminal and yard, it's an L-shape about 5 x 8. I'll be able to fit the facilities in, OK. The only question has to do with storage tracks for diesels beyond the outside storage tracks around the turntable.

Here are a couple shots from our work session yesterday, with me proudly displaying the first piece of sub-road bed, while leaning on my trusty radius stick.





It was a short work session, so we left off before replacing all of the cardboard mock-ups with plywood. I'm hosting another model railroad "quilting bee" at the place this Saturday, but I think I'll spend my time preparing, priming, and painting the backdrops so we can get cracking on the engine terminal!

More next week,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/12/2008 12:48:18 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Vagel's system for laying out the subroadbed works well and allows for quick cutting. He lays everything out using (I believe) old water heater cartons. The cardboard patterns are then laid on the 1/2" plywood sheets, traced with a Sharpie, and cut out with a saber saw with a plywood cutting blade.

It was, as you can tell, quite satisfying to screw down the first piece of actual wooden sub-roadbed. Can track-laying be far behind?

Don


Reply author: WVM_Nut
Replied on: 12/14/2008 1:41:44 PM
Message:

It's SO nice when people buy large appliances and then leave the boxes outside your apartment across the street. I have scarfed up a pair of large cardboard cartons for scenery formers. I have lucky enough to have an old set of Gandy Dancer HO track templates by Arbour Models for standard gauge.

Since Western PA is the world's largest styrofoam mine, will you be using foam scenery Vagel? (I say that because I neve rpaid a cent for any of my foam, I found it almost everywhere in the area. Apparently it falls off trucks and gets left behind at work sites.)


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/17/2008 06:49:44 AM
Message:

Normally, I wouldn't answer for Vagel, but I'm fairly sure about this one - yes, he'll be using blue or pink foam. And, yes, I'll be scrounging around construction sites and doing a little dumpster diving so he doesn't have to pay for it.

We won't be working on the layout today. [:-cry]On the third Wednesday of each month, Vagel is part of the operating crew on Bob Prehoda's layout. And next Wednesday, I'll be in Atlanta. We have, however, agreed to put in a good few hours on New Years Eve.

I secretly installed a spy cam in the layout room so I can make sure he keeps working away between now and New Years.[:-devil]

Back to baking.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/18/2008 6:33:09 PM
Message:

OK, I just finished grading 50+ final exams [:-bigeyes2](binge grading ... not the best way to go, but when you suffer from chronic procrastinitus it's that or nothing) and can answer for myself.

First, I'm a confirmed blue/pink foam scenery builder. When you're looking at adding lots of trees (why, oh why, couldn't I have been a UP or ATSF modeler![:-boring]), it's kinda hard to stick all those toothpicks to hold your puff ball trees in hardshell. Plus, I've learned how to carve really good shale and coal seam outcrops with wire brushes. The shavings are a mess to clean up, but that's why they invented ShopVac.

Second, the cardboard I'm using for my mockups is from IKEA book case packaging that I've been hoarding in the basement for years for just this purpose. It's finally being put to use.[:-eyebrows]

Today I finished sanding down the hardened dry wall mud that I used to cover (or try to cover) the seams and screw heads in the backdrops and put two coats of white primer over the whole. Tomorrow I'll paint the backdrops and post the results.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/20/2008 3:12:02 PM
Message:

Seasons Greetings!



Today I finished the backdrops after having first primed them and applied the first base coats of my two sky colors last night. Don's Spycam caught me blending the two colors together as I worked from left to right, about 1 1/2 foot at a swath.



Here are the results. I need to move my lights and add a couple in the yard/terminal area. Also, the camera is more discerning than the naked eye when it comes to the transition from horizon to high sky.





That's it for now.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/20/2008 4:02:20 PM
Message:

Hey, Vagel! Looks great! It's even better-looking on rr-line than on the spy-cam here at the Slaughterhouse.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/31/2008 7:17:20 PM
Message:

Hi, all. Our New Year's Eve work session focused on the narrow gauge branch, with most of the plywood sub-roadbed now installed and 36' of cork roadbed glued down and ready for track. Here's the cardboard mockup we used as the pattern for the sub-roadbed leading from the end of the branch at Shoups Run into the hidden trackage that will provide for a continuous run on the narrow gauge for open houses (and to stage trains for operating sessions).



You can see from the number of blue painters tape splices that this final phase of track planning is very much cutting to fit reality when the sketch plan from the computer doesn't quite match.

Don also brought over two spools of heavy gauge wire for the power buses, and we ran that wire for both the narrow and standard gauge portions that we've erected bench work for so far. This is the yard and terminal area (lower left) and the hidden narrow gauge section (upper right).



We originally planned to work on the standard gauge engine terminal and yard area today, but I decided to get the narrow gauge branch fully operational (especially the hidden trackage) before proceeding with the yard. I've allowed myself only 3 - 4 inches between the backdrop and what I intend to be the rear-most yard track, and there's a lot of verticality to deal with from a scenery standpoint. It's going to take a lot of "chin rubbing" and trial and error modeling with relief structures, retaining walls, etc, and I can't go back after that's all done and then pfutz around with hidden narrow gauge (read: fussy) trackage.

So, once the bus was run, we focused on laying the cork roadbed. I had made up a bunch of HOn3 No. 6 turnout templates from scanned computer images and taped them to the sub-roadbed. My idea was to leave them in place and lay the cork right over them. Don asked if I wanted to glue them down before laying the cork over them so they wouldn't slip. Who was it that said, "Two heads are better than one"?

Here's Don following through.



We're using N-gauge cork roadbed for the HOn3 and HO-gauge for the standard gauge. We've both used insulating foam and Woodland Scenics foam rubber road bed for our FreeMo modules, with OK results. But I chose the Ol' Standard plywood and cork for this layout for a lot of reasons, two of which I'll share here. Sawdust is easier to deal with than blue foam mouse turds and neither plywood nor cork will dissolve on contact with Floquil track weathering colors from a spray can (blue foam and Woodland Scenics roadbead must be overpainted first, which is an added step I wanted to avoid on such a large project). Foam will play a role in scenery and in parts of the engine terminal and yard, but selectively.

Here are a few shots of the roadbed process in progress:

Hair by SuperCuts, wardrobe by Pittsburgh Pirates T-shirt giveaways.



At one point, Don asked, "Vagel, did you want me to follow a center line, or anything?" D'oh! Here Don captured me sketching said center line onto the sub-roadbed. (Gut by Debbie. Once, I was a stud armored warrior making the world safe for democracy [little 'D']. But only once.)



Another reason for going with plywood was that the building came with a bzillion tack-board tacks, having been owned by an architect who lined the walls with homasote on which he mounted his drawings, posters, etc.



We actually ran out of pins before the job was done, but the Carpenters Glue dried so quickly (another advantage over the foam adhesives) that we were able to take them from the first sections of roadbed after 1/2 hour.

Here's a few shots of the finished work for today:

Shoups Run.



Buchanan. This station, a heavily modified IHC kit from the original Buchanan module, will probably NOT be re-used in favor of a laser kit either of East Broad Top or PRR Lines West prototype. More on that later.



That's it for this installment. More after next week's session.



Happy New Year 2009,

Vagel


Reply author: CieloVistaRy
Replied on: 12/31/2008 10:29:30 PM
Message:

Looks nice! Looking forward to more.

Arthur


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/31/2008 11:27:39 PM
Message:

Today was a lot of fun. It's exciting to be making such good progress. Vagel had gotten a lot done between our sessions - many risers installed, more subroadbed cut out and installed. I believe he's going to start gluing and spiking the narrow gauge track almost immediately and we might be able to run a train fairly soon!

Don


Reply author: LynnB
Replied on: 01/01/2009 10:33:00 AM
Message:

The layout is looking good. I like the well placed hole in the wall
The backdrop colors came out great.


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 01/01/2009 5:45:05 PM
Message:

I love this thread, Vagel and Don. It shows not only interesting modelling (and since I'm currently about the restart / rebuild a good part of my Sn3 layout, I'm interested by the way others do this work), but also some great friendliness between the two main builders of this layout.


Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 01/01/2009 9:37:16 PM
Message:

WOW!!!! This layout building project is just flying along. Great progress Vagel and Don. I love following along layout construction threads as I'm always learning something new from them.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/02/2009 06:37:22 AM
Message:

Hi, Frederic and Ron --

I can't speak for Vagel but I am definitely enjoying the friendship part of this project. I really enjoy spending Wednesdays helping out. Vagel is fun and interesting to be around - retired from the Army, now has a PhD and is adjunct faculty at Carnegie-Mellon.

I hope he gets to the point in the "chin rubbing" design phase where he can specify a bridge for me to build. I'd be happy to get started on a nice big trestle - curved would be especially good.

Ron, Vagel e-mailed me that he has been working away on roadbed so track should start appearing soon.

Don



Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/02/2009 06:42:00 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by wickman

The layout is looking good. I like the well placed hole in the wall
The backdrop colors came out great.



Hi, Lynn --

Making those holes in the walls with the recip saw was messy - we should have worn dust masks - but was kind of fun, in a weapons-of-mass-destruction sort of way.

Don


Reply author: Bill Uffelman
Replied on: 01/02/2009 6:55:31 PM
Message:

Presume Shoup's Run is in honor of Rick Shoup -- formerly in DC now in Florida?

Layout is looking good.

Bill Uffelman
Former NMRA legal team member
Las Vegas NV


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/03/2009 5:20:18 PM
Message:

Bill,

Shoups Run, IS, in fact, named in honor of Rick C. Shoup, esq., founding member of Friends of the East Broad Top and former NMRA national achievement program chair. FEBT was founded in Rick's basement.

Shoups Run, BTW, is also the name of a tributary of the Raystown Branch Juniata River and coal branch of the Huntingdon & Broad Top RR, standard gauge neighbor to our beloved EBT.

I have the honor to be able to give a second home to several EBT-prototype structures from Rick's old layout, which was torn out when he and Fran retired from Silver Spring, MD to Florida. One of them is a Tom Middleton scratchbuild of the EBT's covered water tank at Coles, which was at Shoups Run on the old layout but will be at Buchanan on this one.

Ron & Don, we had a meeting of the [narrow] minds at the layout room today to discuss adding to the HOn3 modular secessionist movement Don and I started in the Div 2 FreeMo group. Don's going to post photos somewhere soon. But, anyway, after lunch we located a potential spot for, yes, a curved trestle on the branch. And since the chin-rubbing stage will take place on the other side of the backdrop and involves the standard gauge, anyway, it won't be long before we close the loop (literally) on the HOn3 portion of this phase of layout construction. Progress on track laying will be a function of availability of funds for turnouts and switch machines.

I want to second Don's comments on the fellowship aspect of this project ... Don is a great friend, and we spend at least as much time "solving world hunger" as we do building stuff.

Vagel


Reply author: WVM_Nut
Replied on: 01/04/2009 1:14:23 PM
Message:

Vagel, if you need the EBT shop building let me know. My WVM probably won't be able to use it this time around with the smaller space available. Maybe we can arrange a trade for some EBT hoppers?


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/04/2009 1:31:26 PM
Message:

Hi, Ed. I have just as many C&BT shops hopper kits as I need to keep the coke ovens going and all the White Ground EBT structures I need (and several I don't need!). But thanks for thinking of me.

Vagel


Reply author: Bill Uffelman
Replied on: 01/04/2009 1:48:06 PM
Message:

Used to live in the midwest and DC area so could go to the EBT on a fairly regular basis. Helped organize the On3 modular at the second NNGC in Valley Forge PA years ago -- one side of the RR became the start of the modules that now make the EBT set up at the annual eastern PA NG meet.

Relate well to the Pittsburgh area -- half of wife's family is from Butler PA (and buried there),her uncle owned the Horn of Plenty buffet on Route 8.

Bill Uffelman
In sunny Las Vegas NV


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/04/2009 6:57:02 PM
Message:

Hi, Bill --

If you're ever headed out this way, let me know. We'll give you the Model Railroaders VIP treatment. Backstage tours, etc.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/04/2009 7:06:32 PM
Message:

High speed benchwork construction.

Vagel and I agreed that I could go ahead and build "Phase 1A" of the benchwork in the shop, to speed things up.

10:00 AM - make a cutting list from Vagel's drawing. For a big job, I have a spreadsheet program to do some of the calculations - but for this job, pencil and paper works fine. The cut list is essential to efficiency.




11:00 AM - back from Home Depot with the wood.




Another big help is that Vagel designed the benchwork so that the basic building blocks are all 24" wide. Deducting the thickness of the laterals, that means I need a bunch of 22-1/2" pieces - 10 of them in this case. So I set a stop block on the crosscut box on the table saw and cut them all quickly.







Then I cut all the other pieces to length, also using the crosscut box and stop block.

Next, I need to drill a bunch of holes for screws, with a countersink for the screw heads. Since I'm working in the shop, I set up a fence on the drill press and put tick marks on the fence to get the hole spacing nice and tidy:





Quick lunch break and by about 1 or so, I'm gluing up the basic boxes:




I was also working with my wood-working student at the same time, which slowed me down a bit.

Then I mark the locations for the rest of the 22-1/2" pieces, and glue and screw them in place. I drill the screw countersinks with one cordless drill and drive the screws with another. As Nahm would say, "why change bits when you can just change drills?"

Then I clamped the three subassemblies together and screwed them together with reinforcing blocks. Finally, I marked out the diagonal pieces - fussing with them was a bit time-consuming. The steeper angles were cut on the table saw; the long shallow cuts were made on a bandsaw and finished on the stationary belt sander.

4:00 PM - Ta-dahhhhh! Ready to ship:







I'll run it over to Vagel's on Monday and we can set it up on Wednesday.

Don


Reply author: jatravia
Replied on: 01/04/2009 9:27:48 PM
Message:

Hey, I just caught up on this thread and I have to say I'm impressed. That is to say I am impressed with the idea of using 1 of 3 apartment units for a layout space! Nice. Honestly though the benchwork looks really clean. I look forward to watching your progress.

Joe <><


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 01/05/2009 08:26:28 AM
Message:

Nice neat benchwork, Don.[:-thumbu]

Bill, Don is a great host Ė I received the VIP tour of his club last month.

George


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 01/05/2009 4:53:13 PM
Message:

Very nice and inspiring benchwork, Don. I'm thinking of working in a more modular way for the rebuilding of my Sn3 layout and should use some modules (but probably more simply shaped than yours).


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/05/2009 5:18:53 PM
Message:

Don's voicemail message says he's dropping off the benchwork, which, of course, I take to mean the pieces he'd pre-cut in the shop. So I come back from errands to find the completed section on my doorstep. Wow!

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/05/2009 5:55:48 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Frederic Testard

Very nice and inspiring benchwork, Don. I'm thinking of working in a more modular way for the rebuilding of my Sn3 layout and should use some modules (but probably more simply shaped than yours).



Hi, Frederic --

This benchwork really is pretty simple - the diagonals make it look more complicated than it is. Basically, this section is three boxes (modules) joined together. Then we add the diagonals, mostly so people won't bruise themselves on sharp corners.

Don


Reply author: Bill Uffelman
Replied on: 01/05/2009 11:08:04 PM
Message:

When you get the RR a little further along I'll drop by!

Bill Uffelman
Las Vegas NV


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/09/2009 12:14:57 AM
Message:

Don and I spent most of this Wednesday's work session (Jan. 8 for those keeping score) working out sketching out various design options for add-ons to our HOn3 modules for the up-coming Midwest Narrow Gauge Show, for which Don has started a thread in Craftsman's Corner at http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=24352.

But we did manage to install the nice pre-fabricated section that Don built in his shop and work out the design for the remainder of the open grid benchwork for the layout. I had to "edit" a few inches out here and there to maintain my minimum 24" aisle clearance (so many of us violate Plate C, don't we!?).

Don suggested we go ahead and complete the benchwork now and tack some plywood sheets to it for use as a a work bench rather than continue to rely on the sawhorse-and-slabtop surface we've been working with so far. He is going to pre-fab the remaining three or four sections in his shop, and we will install them in the layout room in two weeks' time. Hooray!

Here's a couple shots of the new addition in place. Those bridges will find a home somewhere ... I don't know exactly where, yet, though.

Meanwhile, I'm working on a structure project that has LONG been on the backburner ... I'll post some on that at the new thread started by Don (see URL above).

Vagel




Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/09/2009 11:22:13 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Here's a scan of the sketch of Phase 2 of Vagel's layout. He originally planned to build a supporting wall down the center with 2x3's but our experience so far indicates that we can build very sturdy benchwork - the kind we can stand on if necessary - just by putting in plenty of legs and screwing them to the wooden floor. So we changed the plan to eliminate the wall.





We broke the project up into 7 modules, D through I. I'll built all of them in the shop over the next couple of weeks. (Vagel and I won't get together next week as that his monthly operating session on Bob Prehoda's layout.) I'm doing the cutting list right now. I'll post some pictures of the completed modules just before I move them over the Vagel's.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/15/2009 10:41:36 PM
Message:

Although Vagel and I didn't get together this Wednesday, work continues at a good pace. I've completed almost all of the modules that will assemble into Phase II. I'll haul everything over to Vagel's this Saturday, when some of us are getting together at his place for a Quilting Bee on weathering. Next Wednesday we'll put all the sections together and post some photographs.

Don


Reply author: WVM_Nut
Replied on: 01/17/2009 12:54:50 PM
Message:

I will admit I'm curious as to why you chose not to go L-girder? I converted some of my dominos TO L-girder to get a more free flowing benchwork.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/17/2009 2:48:26 PM
Message:

I know Vagel had some reasons for not using L-girder construction but I'll leave answering the question to him.

For my point of view, the advantages of building it in modules is that I can do all the work in the shop, which is easier and produces neater work. It also cuts down on the amount of wood dust generated in Vagel's layout room. (We do generate a fair amount from cutting out the subroadbed with a saber saw.)

I'll ping Vagel with an e-mail and let him know about your question.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/17/2009 6:19:22 PM
Message:

Ed,

Actually, I'm somewhat surprised that this question hasn't been asked before, as L-girder has long been considered the state-of-the-art method. My understanding of the major relative advantages of L-girder are that it uses less lumber and more readily supports the construction of vertical scenery without having to use long risers. On my layout, the verticality is all above the track (except where the iron ore branch climbs about 7 inches above the valley floor). There are going to be no grades on either the narrow gauge or the standard gauge mainlines, although the two lines will be separated by about 3 vertical inches and they will rarely be in the same scene; the terrain through which they run will range from gently rolling valley floor to steep mountainsides.

Moreover, the modular approach to benchwork that Don and I adopted lends itself to the grid (and vice versa). A third factor in going with the older method is that it lends itself more readily to changes in track plan as I find things don't fit quite as I intended (or at least that was what I thought going into the project and it has held true so far). Using L-girder to splice "dominoes" together is a good example of why one would select that over the grid. Our "modules" are not modules in the model RR sense, but in the construction sense; they do not connote transitions between the final scenes.

I guess at the end of the day it all comes down to what you're comfortable with. I've used L-girder for small projects and they worked out well. For this one, I just felt the grid would be the better approach, and I was influenced in that decision by the fact that some large layouts in our area with which I'm familiar (one under construction now in a very large basement) employ the open grid to good effect.

Vagel



Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/17/2009 6:54:24 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Here are a couple of pictures of the Phase II subassemblies sitting in the layout room, ready to be assembled on Wednesday.







Vagel told me he plans to lay all the parts out on the floor and decide on leg locations. He needs to create storage space for the rolling rack for his FreeMo modules and we also hope to create a wood rack under this part of the layout.

More on Wednesday! [:-bouncy]

Don


Reply author: WVM_Nut
Replied on: 01/19/2009 2:42:29 PM
Message:

More like dominoes ala David Barrows than modules ala N-trak. I just like the idea of a free flowing benchwork rather than a square one. I actually have some dominoes and some L-girder. I was just curious, that's all. The layout looks good, that's what counts.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/21/2009 10:41:46 PM
Message:

Hello, all. As promised, today we installed the benchwork sections Don brought over on Sunday. Instead of using screws to connect the pre-fabricated grid panels as we have to this point, at Don's suggestion, we used 3/8" nut/bolt/washer sets, which we think will be more structurally strong.

To figure out how many legs we'd need and their location I had laid everything out on the floor earlier in the week, and that was how it was when Don came over this morning.



Here's a shot Don took with the first couple of new panels installed and the third one clamped and ready for bolts and legs. Note the sawhorse stand for the Chop Saw in the background. This section of benchwork would become our new work bench shortly.



Minutes later ...



Also note where the tops of the legs are more than an inch below the top of the 1x4 grid frames here. At the start of layout construction we set our nominal leg length at 38" (flush with the top of the frame in the kitchen where we started). Due to the failure of an exterior band joist from rot and insect damage, which my contractor fixed during the rehabilitation project last Winter, the floor is very uneven. In the area of the photo above, the floor is nearly 40" below the top of the grid. But at the far end of this peninsula, near the door, it's 37-1/2"!

Here we are, all done, with Don carrying away some waste. We clamped the long piece on the left in place just to see what it would look like, then removed it for under-layout storage until the sub-roadbed gets to that point at some undetermined point in the future. The blast furnace complex will occupy the area in the center foreground. I will now be able to try various layouts of the component structures and track plans in 1:1 scale. It looks like a tight fit at the end of the aisle, but its a full 24", wide enough for two moderately well-fed model railroaders to pass sidewise without any embarrassing contact.



In closing, here are a couple over-all views from different angles to put it all into perspective. Now, it's back to track work and, soon, to wiring!





Write if the mood strikes.

Vagel


Reply author: hunter48820
Replied on: 01/21/2009 11:40:08 PM
Message:

Hi Vagel,
That benchwork is looking great!! The rilroad is coming along nicely!!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/22/2009 07:03:22 AM
Message:

Yesterday was really exciting! Because we had to glue and screw some additional pieces into the grid to get the legs just where they belonged, it took a bit longer than one might think. We worked from about 10 until 4, with a quick lunch break.

In the second to last picture, you can see Vagel's two FreeMo modules on their rolling rack stored under the layout. Vagel designed this "garage" for them into the leg layout. The rolling rack comes in the door and goes directly into its parking space. (The rack also rolls nicely into his Suburu Forester.)

He also planned the leg locations throughout the layout to accomodate shelving and drawer units.

In the short term, we'll buy a sheet or two of the same plywood that is used for subroadbed and tack-screw it down onto the Phase II benchwork, thus creating a good solid workbench and also a "conference table" for future Quilting Bees.

Normally, I run out of gas by late afternoon - still experiencing the side effects (slowly diminishing) of cancer therapy. But today, I was so charged up that I drove out to my MR club and spent the evening helping with the library.

Looking forward to next Wednesday! [:-bouncy][:-jump2][:-jumprefect]

Don


Reply author: Dutchman
Replied on: 01/22/2009 08:46:53 AM
Message:

Just getting caught up again. Boy, that is some neat benchwork - neat as in 'cool' and neat as in 'not messy', too. It is great that you guys can work together on this.


Reply author: bitlerisvj
Replied on: 01/22/2009 4:58:27 PM
Message:

Hi Vagel, this is really a cool Forum Topic. I am really looking forward to see what a western Pennsylvania railroad looks like. BTW, I went to your Clinic at the National in Philly. I really enjoyed it.
Good luck and regards, Vic Bitleris


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 01/22/2009 5:15:05 PM
Message:

I really love this benchwork, Don and Vagel. It's so neat!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/22/2009 6:12:13 PM
Message:

Thanks for the compliments, guys. Don's partner at the Slaughterhouse, Garth, has been teasing him for sanding the edges and corners because it's all going to be covered with facia ... eventually. Don and I were joking at lunch about how much it looks like the sectional layout kits that some vendor advertises in the hobby press. And I told my wife, Debbie, how much I feel blessed to have Don's help and coaching on the carpentry aspect of this project. It really just struck me yesterday how BIG this thing is!

Vic, I'm glad you liked the clinic I gave at Independence Junction '06. For the benefit of all readers, that one was about modeling HO vehicles for a 1930s-era layout, subtitled "Why I hate MiniMetals." If you've built as many Jordan highway miniatures as I have, you know how frustrating it is to see all the neat RTR vehicles on steam-to-diesel era layouts. Since then, of course, MiniMetals came out with a nice '36 Ford 4-door sedan and Athearn released its line of Model A's. And, of course, there are the nice, quick to build GM vehicles from Sylvan. But, I digress ...

I'm supposed to have the cross bracing well on the way by next Wednesday and have the place generally "redded up" so we can get on with sub-roadbed cutting and installation.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/23/2009 06:51:44 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

I built section "I" last night - you can find it in the drawing on the previous page. I also cut the diagonals that go at the end of sections "D" and "E". I plan to drop them off at Vagel's this evening.

But first, I think I'll sand everything to 220 grit, stain them, and spray two or three coats of laquer. Just to jag Garth. [:-bouncy][:-devil]

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/23/2009 07:04:31 AM
Message:

Hi, Bruce and Frederic --

I'm really pleased that you like the "neatness" of the benchwork. I suppose it's more "modeling for God" since it will all be invisible eventually but it's the way I like to work. I use the same layout tools that I used for trim carpentry or framing or furniture making.

For example, I have a simple little shop-made tool that allows me to quickly mark out the screw locations - three holes, evenly spaced, the right distance from the end of the board, and the same throughout the project.

Sanding the sections before I take them over to Vagel's isn't totally silly. It makes them a lot more pleasant to handle and cuts down on the number of splinters I dig out of my hands. And it only takes a few minutes with a random orbit sander.

Again, thanks for noticing.

Don


Reply author: Mike Hamer
Replied on: 01/23/2009 08:39:25 AM
Message:

Hi Vagel, It is really nice to see you surrounding your layout in a lovely environment that will provide comfort and enjoyment for you and all who visit. [:-thumbu][:-thumbu]


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 01/23/2009 11:02:25 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

Hi, everyone --

But first, I think I'll sand everything to 220 grit, stain them, and spray two or three coats of laquer. Just to jag Garth. [:-bouncy][:-devil]

Don



OK, how many readers know what ďjagĒ means?

George



Reply author: Rick
Replied on: 01/23/2009 12:19:17 PM
Message:

Great looking benchwork guys. Keep us posted on your progress.



Reply author: chooch41
Replied on: 01/23/2009 8:09:13 PM
Message:

Ditto on what Rick said!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/25/2009 2:22:40 PM
Message:

Don dropped by with the final sub-assembly on Friday afternoon, and I installed it on Saturday afternoon, using 3/8" NBW's and a single 2x3 leg. It goes in a tricky area of the room where a partition juts about 2 ft. from the the outside wall. If you go back and look at the track plan, this is where the narrow gauge wye will be. Here are a couple of shots of the sub-assembly and the two angled pieces that Don custom cut on his table saw to ease the transition around the partition.





With that taken care of, I got to work installing cross-bracing under the peninsula. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that just one diagonal in either direction (marked "X" and "Y" on the image below) was sufficient to completely remove the wobble except for the "garage" area at the tip of the peninsula. The shallow diagonals you can see above the modules took care of most of that problem, but there's still a little give when one leans on it along the "X" axis. I don't know what else we can do, except perhaps install horizontal diagonals with a gusset plate where they cross.



Turning around, here's the lumber rack, with the single diagonal (all that was needed to make that portion of the benchwork completely rigid) in the background.



Finally, an overall view of the new work surface taking shape.



That's it for this installment. Don and I will be getting back to building sub-roadbed on Wednesday, so stay tuned.

Vagel


Reply author: MikeC
Replied on: 01/25/2009 2:28:28 PM
Message:

Vagel and Don.... I just finished the last two pages. That's some of the most impressive benchwork I've ever seen. It's almost a shame to cover it up with a train layout. Very nice!!



Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/25/2009 6:58:30 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MikeC

Vagel and Don.... I just finished the last two pages. That's some of the most impressive benchwork I've ever seen. It's almost a shame to cover it up with a train layout. Very nice!!






I agree. Much too nice to cover up with track and scenery. We should give it several hand-rubbed coats of varnish and turn it into a Benchwork Monument.

I'm really looking forward to Wednesday and getting more subroadbed and roadbed done so Vagel can start laying track!

He must have put in some serious hours this weekend.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/26/2009 02:25:53 AM
Message:

Have we achieved a "bench mark" for benchwork?


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 01/26/2009 5:38:43 PM
Message:

A much deserved award, Vagel.


Reply author: Rick
Replied on: 01/26/2009 6:09:20 PM
Message:

We have craftsmen kits and now we have craftsmen benchwork. Great job guys.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/27/2009 01:31:06 AM
Message:

Rick, Fred, and others ...

You have no idea how "warm & fuzzy" these compliments make me feel! Allowing for the fact that Don's woodworking expertise is the real basis for the "kit plan" and "kit engineering" aspects of this beautiful benchwork (not to mention the bulk of the tools), I will venture to give myself some credit on the vision side of the equation. Would that there was an NMRA AP certificate for "benchwork" and that it could be a team certificate!

In a much earlier post on this thread, Don mentioned that I have built several smaller layouts in my "career" as a model railroader. That is like saying that Abraham Lincoln had military command experience before becoming President because he was a militia company commander in the Creek War ... this is the FIRST benchwork beyond the individual module that I have actually ever built. Consider that we started this project in mid-September 2008 and we are already DONE with the basic benchwork. It really speaks volumes for the social aspect of this hobby.

Woooo, Woo, Ah-woooooh-ah!



P.S. Decalling of the K27 by me, weathering by Kevin Kuzman. As I said, "social" hobby! vk


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/28/2009 5:00:36 PM
Message:

Well, we had another fairly long work session today. Only a couple photos to share, but we got a lot more done than they indicate.

Our goal was to extend the sub-roadbed on the N.G. branch down to the bottom of the grade and to extend the partition for the curved backdrop as far as needed before the sub-roadbed for both N.G. and std. gauge that we intend to build for Phase I of the layout intersects its projected path. We accomplished both, although it took a good bit of cutting and fitting.

Here is an overview of the completed work for today:



And here is a closer shot showing the risers and main power bus wiring and the way the N.G. branch hugs the backdrop. In this area it will peek in and out of the scenery as it climbs the mountain in order to give some visual separation from the std. gauge immediately below it.



For next week we've set ourselves the goal of finishing the sub-roadbed for the N.G. branch and a temporary return loop to enable continuous running. If time permits, we'll move on to the std. gauge sub-roadbed. Stay tuned ...

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/28/2009 5:23:07 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller



...I will venture to give myself some credit on the vision side of the equation...




To quote Richard Milhous Nixon, "let me be perfectly clear about that..." Vagel is the designer and the idea guy. All the good stuff starts with his plans and drawings. All I do is figure out how to make the pieces parts. And it helps that I own a lot of the big wood-working toys. But all I contribute to the conversations about design is an occasional "uh-huh."

We had a fun day today. We started at 10:30 and worked until about 3 and then went for some fresh grease at Ritter's Diner. I'm looking forward to next Wednesday. It won't be too long before there are trains running.

Don


Reply author: MikeC
Replied on: 01/28/2009 8:15:25 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA


We had a fun day today. We started at 10:30 and worked until about 3 and then went for some fresh grease at Ritter's Diner. I'm looking forward to next Wednesday.

Don



Ahhh.... nothing like the 'social' aspects of the hobby.....



Reply author: Carrie Creek
Replied on: 01/29/2009 11:51:45 AM
Message:

Don, and Vagel,
It is great to see you two working so well together. Between the visioneer and the builder you two are building an impressive layout.

I still don't know why you didn't varnish the benchwork you wouldn't need to add a fasica then
Phil


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/29/2009 5:15:24 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Carrie Creek

Don, and Vagel,
It is great to see you two working so well together. Between the visioneer and the builder you two are building an impressive layout.

I still don't know why you didn't varnish the benchwork you wouldn't need to add a fasica then
Phil



I think it's because Vagel's vision for the fascia is a bit more elaborate than varnished #2 pine. [:-eyebrows]

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/05/2009 11:09:45 PM
Message:

Actually, I suggested to Don that we might actually want to stain and varnish the pine benchwork, but he pointed out that we'd have to cover all those screws with wood putty. That's too much like work!

Yesterday's weekly work session turned out to be more reflective than substantive as far as construction went, but the time was well spent. Don and I installed the last of the transition pieces to eliminate 90-degree inside corners, but then marked off a new pair of cuts to remove an outside 90-degree corner next to the kitchen door. So, there's one more of those to do.

Here are a couple shots of the transition pieces in place:





Next, we laid in two new sheets of 1/2" plywood for future sub-roadbed construction. One of these we tack screwed to the Phase II benchwork to provide a nice work surface for Phase I construction and model building and for Quilting Bees. The crap that our local big-box store provides is invariably bowed, twisted, and otherwise adulterated, so this will also hopefully "encourage" the sheet to flatten itself out.



That second sheet that I'm holding will yield the temporary return loop for the HOn3 track, the remainder of the sub-roadbed for the hidden return track extending from the point-to-point operating end of that branch, and whatever else we can tease out of it.

Neither of us was particularly energetic yesterday. We're enduring a particularly cold and icy mid-Winter in Pittsburgh, and there's been a lot of freeze-thaw-freeze. Don took a spill on a patch of ice on Tuesday and boogered up one of his hands ... pain has a way of sapping one's energy. My lack of construction energy was more of the mental type ... I was once again at an impasse on how to deal with the standard gauge junction at Ft. Loudon. So, we spent an hour or so cogitating on that subject, then went to lunch.

Fortunately, before Don hurt himself, he finished the frame for a transition module to fit our HO/HOn3 FreeMo modules, which he brought by. Here it is:



Don will post more on this on his thread about the Mid-West Narrow Gauge Show.

I spent the past two evenings cutting and fitting cardboard to rough in the Ft. Loudon interchange track and yard, and the results were better than I had hoped. First, here's how the interchange track will curve off into a tunnel under Buchanan:



I PhotoShopped the heavy black lines where the tunnel portal will be. The perspective is off; it's actually about 3" toward the camera from a vertical line dropped from the narrow gauge sub-roadbed above it.

Here's an overall view of the Ft. Loudon junction area, showing the interchange coming in from the right, the mainline and passing siding in the middle, and two yard tracks on the left.



This is not a large yard; the tracks will be no more than 42" long. But that's fine, as the only traffic it handles will be ore trains of 6 - 8 55-ton hoppers and a few general freight cars per day. Moreover, it turns out that I will have room for a third, albeit short, yard track AND the a small structure based on the prototype freight station that served Ft. Loudon. This station still stands today as the village library, so it can be photographed, measured, and will make a nice scratch building project.



That's it for this installment. See you on the railroad,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/06/2009 06:32:08 AM
Message:

It was kind of a quiet day. I was hurting a good bit and feeling old and creaky because, despite all my aikido training, I couldn't manage to fall without hurting myself. And Vagel wanted some mental company as he noodled through a bunch of design issues.

The good news is that my repair systems are still in good shape and the swelling is going down quickly.

The late-afternoon lunch at Ritter's was unhealthy but delicious.

Next Wednesday, construction should really fly because Vagel has the design worked out and will have it all done in cardboard, ready for us to cut sub-roadbed. I've already made the parts for the outside corners that we're going to "soften."

Looking forward to next Wednesday!

Don


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 02/06/2009 08:17:08 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

Actually, I suggested to Don that we might actually want to stain and varnish the pine benchwork, but he pointed out that we'd have to cover all those screws with wood putty. That's too much like work!

Vagel



I have a friend that painted the framing of his layout white. Now that itís covered with track and scenery itís bright enough under there to see what youíre working on.

George


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/06/2009 11:10:18 AM
Message:

Y'know, George - that really is a very sensible idea. But it's an idea that I have absolutely no interest in carrying out. Stop by - we'll hand you a brush and a can of high-gloss white.

But, seriously, it would be a good idea. When I dust-proofed that rolling rack in my shop, I took the time to paint the underside of all the shelves so there would be more light inside.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/08/2009 5:11:44 PM
Message:

The Ft. Loudon yard area is taking shape, with the sub-roadbed tacked in place. I was able to make the whole thing out of a long, thin plywood remnant with only two cuts.



Having the interchange as a separate piece will work out nicely; I'll install the track on this portion at the workbench, then slide the finished product in under the narrow gauge benchwork.



Working with real HO turnouts I found that, in order to fit the cross-overs from the interchange to the passing siding and yard lead, the mainline needs to move farther from the edge of the layout before the reverse curve begins. This definitely gives me room for a third yard track and allows for a small freight office near the yard throat.



I tacked a small diorama that I had lying around in that area just to get some perspective on what might fit.



The structure is an American Model Builders elevated warehouse that, while differing in numerous ways from the actual Ft. Loudon depot, might fit the bill here.





That's it for now. Don and I are getting together again Wednesday, and I'll post another update then.

Vagel


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 02/08/2009 5:23:49 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

Y'know, George - that really is a very sensible idea. But it's an idea that I have absolutely no interest in carrying out. Stop by - we'll hand you a brush and a can of high-gloss white.
Don


Well, maybe itís not such a good idea after all.

George


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/08/2009 7:51:29 PM
Message:

Vagel, it's great to see all that progress. I'm really looking forward to Wednesday.

George, nice to hear from you.

Don


Reply author: RichBeau
Replied on: 02/08/2009 9:08:55 PM
Message:

Vagel & Don

I finally got some time to read through this thread (albeit with a good glass of wine ). This is great stuff. I'm enjoying following along with this construction and camaraderie. Great stuff.

--Rich B.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/09/2009 11:57:49 AM
Message:

Hi, Rich --

It's good to hear from you and know you're following along.

C'mon out for a visit. We'll take you to Ritter's Diner, get you a Primanti's sandwich, and get you used to being asked "Gravy over everthing, hon?"

See you at CSS09 - I already registered. Now we have to talk Vagel into going...[:-devil]

Don


Reply author: Mike Hamer
Replied on: 02/09/2009 12:06:56 PM
Message:

Yes, Vagel and Don. The layout is coming along beautifully. Great craftsmanship and planning as you have shown will result in a spectacular layout! I love that American Model Builders elevated warehouse too!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/09/2009 3:13:36 PM
Message:

Glad you're enjoying the show, Rich and Mike. I echo Don's invitation; let us know if your travels bring you this way, and I'll arrange a "presidential special." Actually, I think we're on target for our planned inaugural run 4-5 weeks from now in preparation for being open during our NMRA division Jamboree on Mar. 22d.

Track won't be extended as far as the blast furnace complex for some time to come (in fact, I have to re-orient things significantly to fit the layout space), but I'll have it set up so folks can visualize that day.

Mike, I really like the smaller laser kit projects like AMB, BTS, and others produce. I still have an Orbisonia Station kit from Webster Classic Models taunting me from the closet, though. I _think_ it's future will be in Springtown on the n.g. mainline, but it might just wind up in a diorama.

Meanwhile, I have lots of detail and re-design work to do on the blast furnace complex ...





Vagel





Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/11/2009 9:57:18 PM
Message:

Well, this was a banner day! Don and I finished Phase I of the n.g. sub-roadbed, including the temporary return loop, and got most of the cork roadbed down before quitting time. I went back over this evening and finished the roadbed. So, we are ready for track as soon as the budget allows.

Don thought this would be a good place to include a tutorial on my track planning with cardboard technique, but it's late, so I'll just post some shots of the finished work here and put the "how to" stuff up later.

Here's an overview looking downgrade from Buchanan toward the return loop (off scene in the left distance) ...



... and the return track coming down along opposite side of the backdrop above the std. gauge yard toward the return loop.



Don worked this side of the grade ...



While I extended the roadbed down from Buchanan (off scene, upper right) and around the loop.



Based on the number of sections of roadbed we've consumed, this amounts to 0.7 scale mile, or 2.1 miles on a 3:1 fast clock, a pretty respectable length of run.

I'll post the pictures showing how we got all the sub-roadbed done as soon as I can. Until then, write if the mood strikes.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/11/2009 10:12:24 PM
Message:

Another fun Wednesday! It was really exciting to get all the Phase I subroadbed for the narrow gauge completed, including the temporary return loop that will allow continuous operation during the layout tours after the NMRA Jamboree in March.

The bacon omelet at Ritters was good, too.

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 02/12/2009 7:16:29 PM
Message:

Great progress on the roadbed. I understand your excitment about it, Don and Vagel. Are you going to handlay or will you use flextrack?


Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 02/12/2009 10:13:15 PM
Message:

Looks like another successful and productive day. Glad to see you decided to lay the most important line first, the narrow gauge portion


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/12/2009 10:16:32 PM
Message:

Hi, Fred. I'm going with Code 70 flextrack all the way, although I will not use the mass produced turnouts like Shinohara. I've had great success with the hand-built turnouts by LIT (Light Iron Turnout) Co. on my HO/HOn3 module. They don't employ the failure-prone hinges, but actually bend the rail.

I promised to post some pictures and narrative on our track planning with cardboard approach, so here goes. First, this is not a totally haphazard approach; we start with the sketch plan I developed on the computer using Adobe Illustrator with a grid where 1 square equals 4". From that I trace the curve radii onto a full-scale mock up along with actual turnout templates to see how they fit in the real world and then draw in the tangents between curves.

Everything has turned out to be more or less within 3 - 6" of what the computer sketches estimated. Thus, the complex curved siding and mine spurs at Buchanan are somewhat different in configuration than the sketch map, but they fit within the spatial parameters of the overall plan; the std gauge tunnel portals below Buchanan are well within 4" of where I thought they'd be on the sketch map.

OK, with that, lets look at some shots of how we got to the final shots posted last night:

Here we have laid some pieces of straight cardboard to connect the existing sub-roadbed on the return track (leading down from the operating end of the n.g. branch to the temporary return loop -- future hidden staging) to the sweeping 49" radius curve that connects to the loop.



Turning 180 degrees clockwise, we are looking at more cardboard pieces used to tie the long 49" radius curve to the return loop via a compound S-curve.



That S-curve pattern is re-used (nyuk, nyuk) from the other side of the branch coming down from Buchanan, seen here, left foreground in a previously unpublished snapshot from Dec. 3, 2008:



Was it really just 8 weeks ago?! Here we've lined everything up and anchored the various cardboard pieces in place with lots of painters masking tape (it peels off easier than the regular masking tape, lessening the damage to the very cheap packing cardboard from IKEA's indonesian suppliers). We're ready to disassemble the mockup and transfer it to the 1/2" plywood sheet for tracing.



We were able fit the overall pattern onto a 4x8 sheet using only two sub-components, and there was plenty left over. Here is the return loop with approaches laid out and traced; note that we added a 6" fudge factor at one end; the overlap allowed us to "measure twice, cut once" in this imprecise process.



The other piece, consisting of the 49" radius curve and tie-in to the existing return line was also cut with deliberate overlaps at either end to facilitate more precise joints. All joints were spliced with 1x3x4 scrap.

Finally, here is the return loop blank cut out and clamped in place prior to final installation.



The risers were later screwed to the grid, and we had to mount a 1x3 laterally across the diameter of the piece to remove a pronounced bow due to the abysmal way our big box store stores its plywood:



OK, that covers what we've accomplished so far. See you on the railroad!

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/12/2009 10:39:13 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by elwoodblues

Looks like another successful and productive day. Glad to see you decided to lay the most important line first, the narrow gauge portion



Ron, interesting for you to bring this up. I actually DO have an ulterior motive, as well as a practical one, for getting the n.g. running first. The active HOn3 modelers in the SW PA region can be counted on one hand of a clumsy circular saw operator! One of the other two has accused me more than once of having given up on the one true scale in favor of the HO gauge PRR stuff that bombard his senses when he visited my home. So, getting the HOn3 in operation first is my way of reassuring him that he is not alone in the world. The other reason is practical; as I mentioned several pages back, I have to get the HOn3 return track in service before I can develop the standard gauge yard and engine terminal below it. That said, though, it is more and more apparent as the physical layout emerges from the drawing board that my intent for the narrow gauge to dominate the operational landscape of this layout will be fulfilled. The meek shall inherit ...

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/13/2009 07:58:57 AM
Message:

I'd like to say that I'm already looking forward to next Wednesday - but I'm actually pretty focused on getting a bunch of models and paperwork ready for Sunday, when they'll be evaluated for the AP Structure Certificate.

However...I can always be distracted by Vagel's layout.

One project that we may tackle on Wednesday is adding a string of 110v outlets under the layout, on the front of the legs. I have a lot of wiring supplies (boxes, Romex, etc.) left over from other projects so I may start work on that job.

But if Vagel gets the turnouts he's ordered from Light Iron, I suspect we're going to be laying track. [:-bouncy]

Must remember to take a picture of Ritter's Diner; that's an important part of this project.

Don


Reply author: Peterpools
Replied on: 02/13/2009 08:04:49 AM
Message:

Vagel and Don
I just finished reading every post from page one through 9 and what a terrific thread. Beautiful benchwork and exemplary carpentry skills.
Peter
BCT


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/13/2009 10:18:39 AM
Message:

Thanks, Peter - much appreciated. I'm glad to be able to help. It's a good replacement for the layout I started that got "sunk" by a collapsed floor drain we can't afford to dig up and replace. And working with Vagel is a lot more fun that working alone in the gallery basement.[:-eyebrows]

The secret of success, though, is Vagel's ability to think in three-dimensions and hold this whole layout concept in his head. I'm not good at that - but when he has a concept, I can help execute it.

And we both like greasy diner food. What more could you want in a working partnership.

Don


Reply author: ChrisS
Replied on: 02/13/2009 3:50:35 PM
Message:

quote:






That K-27 looks rather at home in Pennsylvania! I'm really enjoying this thread, Vagel and Don. Nice to see other HOn3 people out there.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/13/2009 4:19:33 PM
Message:

Thanks, Peter and Chris. It's really amazing how fast this has all come together.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/18/2009 8:04:10 PM
Message:

Don and I worked on separate projects today. Don cut the 90-degree corner at the end of the aisle on the Buchanan side and installed the new angled piece. Then he began the task of installing electrical outlets at 6 - 8-ft intervals around the layout. I finished the sub-roadbed follow-up work I had began last night on the n.g. branch: placing additional risers and supports to provide bracing at 1-ft intervals. Then, in FINAL preparation for laying and wiring track, I cut a gap in the sub-roadbed where Don's future wooden trestle will go.

Garth came by to see the layout in person, so I got to play host while Don continued toiling away ... I feel SO ashamed. Here are some snaps:

The corner, before and after:





It really makes a difference in easing the transition into the potential choke point of a 2-ft wide aisle way leading between the two peninsulas. No doubt it will prevent a few bruised hips, as well.

Here are some close-ups of Don's handiwork:





Here's Don posing as an electrician ...



... and overview of electrical work in progress:



Meanwhile, I hacked a gap in the n.g. branch sub-roadbed below Buchanan on a short stretch of straightness in the middle of a compound curve for Don's trestle:



The deck truss is one of two old Atlas snap-track thingies that I picked up in the "anything for a buck" box at one of those Hobby Shops in the trunk of some guy's 1938 DeSoto that you find at the West Podunk Odd Fellows Quasi-Occasional Model Train Show years ago. Cut the angled end panels away and you're left with a pretty reasonable (if you squint) facsimile of 1/2 of the East Broad Top's two-span deck truss bridge over Aughwick Creek (which is why I have 2). It'll serve as a "page holder" until the wooden trestle is ready.

Here it is resting on the framework I cobbled together:



And I couldn't resist bending some rail and taking a telephoto shot looking downgrade:



A bunch of us are getting together for a monthly quilting bee on trees this Sunday, and maybe there'll be some embarrassing photographs to post afterward. Talk to you then,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/19/2009 06:30:26 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Another fun day! I expect Vagel will be laying track any minute, if he hasn't already started. I know he has already sanded all the cork roadbed nice and flat.

I'm looking forward to building the trestle, although I wish it was going to be larger.

Doing 1:1 wiring isn't exactly exciting, but it will be very nice to have quad boxes at regular intervals under the edge of the layout - it's worth taking some time away from actual modeling.

It was fun having Garth come by for a visit. He took some photographs which he'll add to this thread when he has some free time.

Don


Reply author: Garth
Replied on: 02/20/2009 10:11:59 PM
Message:

I had a fun visit to the layout the other day. Vagel didn't seem to mind a bit taking time to give me a tour! The work he and Don are doing is really impressive, except for some of Don's mitered joints. He's just not fussy enough about them! [:-angel]

Here are some photos:



The view of the layout from the front door.



The same part of the layout viewed from the other end. Doesn't Don look pleased?



The rest of the layout - the site for the roundhouse and turntable, and the railroad museum.



A first for this thread - the two builders seen together.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what the layout will look like in another few months. Who knows, I may be inspired to install a decoder in my Westside Lumber Co. Shay #15.....

Cheers,
Garth






Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/21/2009 06:51:16 AM
Message:

Thanks, Garth! Great pictures. And I do hope you put a decoder in that locomotive and come over and run it with us.

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 02/21/2009 7:12:03 PM
Message:

Nice work, Vagel and Don.
Is this a simple impression, or is the hole for the turntable a huge one?


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/21/2009 11:32:25 PM
Message:

Hi, Frederic --

Thre's nothing wrong with your eyesight - it is in fact huge. Vagel can explain more, but there's a space/time warp built into this layout. The area around the turntable is a modern museum of old PRR equipment, including T-1's and the like. You pass through the worm hole and pop out on the East Broad Top. I'm working on modeling the time warp - not sure how to weather it.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/22/2009 09:24:29 AM
Message:

Great pictures, Garth. Thanks for posting them. Did you notice how I carefully planned the n.g. branch so that the right/engine side of a Shay would be toward the aisle with the tender on the down-grade side?

I took the liberty of downloading and PhotoShopping Garth's portrait of Don and Me to bring your's truly out of the shadows imposed by the backlighting from the windows:



Frederic, the hole is for the Walthers 130' turntable to handle the big Pennsy steam that will cohabit the roundhouse with the D16sb (4-4-0), E5a (4-4-2), and H6sb (2-8-0, which will actually serve the 1930s interchange with the Blacklog & Shade Gap Eastern. Actually, it could get interesting with the daily ore drag off the WM branch trying to dodge all those railfan photo run-bys and "rare mileage specials."

To set the record straight, I'm not modeling the East Broad Top; the B&SGE is "inspired" by the EBT, and some of its structures and equipment will appear on its property, but that railroad is on the other side of the mountain.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/25/2009 7:13:28 PM
Message:

Well, today was finally THE DAY! Track work began at 10:15 AM and when we broke for a very late lunch I had installed 30 ft. of HOn3 track and made a successful test run. I'll go back and put in all the feeders next Wednesday; once I got in a rhythm today I just kept nipping, fitting, and spiking the flex track. Frankly, I was amazed at how time consuming it could be to lay just 10 sections of flex track. But being deliberate -- butting tangents against a straight edge and double checking to make sure no kinks developed at rail joints on curves -- took time and paid off.

Don was here all day, as well, but his electrification project kept him under the bench work and we stayed on opposite sides of the bench work from each other to avoid stepping on toes. Installing all of those outlets is going to take another 2-3 work sessions, he thinks, but after schlepping extension cords all over the place to keep my soldering iron hot as I worked along I agree that having a socket every few feet will make the effort worthwhile.

Here is a photographic chronicle of the first day of track work, starting with the 18"-radius loop tacked in place before spiking.



I wanted to avoid having to solder joints on curves, so I soldered three 3-ft sections together on the work table, then we tried to bend the whole thing to fit the curvature. Mistake! On that tight of a radius the tie strips wanted to twist the track, and it took both of us performing some very interesting gyrations to gradually work the 9'-long strip into a 200-degree curve with straight tangents at either end. On another piece of flex track Don noted that the tie strips were tied together in groups about 6" long by plastic splines and suggested there would be more give in them if they were separated into smaller bunches. So from that point on, I flipped each segment over and subdivided each tie strip into three smaller bunches. Also, I pre-soldered the sections into pairs rather than threes before laying them out on the roadbed.

Here I'm spiking the track in place on the grade up to Buchanan.



I use Atlas track nails, about 1/2" long, with holes pre-drilled through the ties between the rails with a No. 64 bit in a pin vise. There's just enough resistance to hold the nails in place by friction when pressed into place with the butt end of a heavy pair of tweezers.





I prefer Micro Engineering track over Shinohara; the latter has pre-drilled holes for spikes in the tie strips, but the track itself is very stiff, and the holes are so small they have to be bored out anyway. Care in pressing the nails home avoids pinching the gauge and the round nail heads disappear in the shadows when you ballast and weather the tie.

Shortly after he snapped the above picture, Don asked, "Hey, Vagel, do you have alligator clips on your DCC power leads?" I replied, "Yes, I do, and I'm reading your mind." Here is the very first run of a locomotive on the B&SGE! The stupid engineer forgot to turn on his headlight for the photographer, but he wasn't violating the law ... it's only 1938, after all.



Here's an overview of the track in place at day's end:



Time for a test run with my most temperamental pieces of rolling stock, pushed and pulled.

Coming out of the gloom behind the backdrop ...


Around the loop ...


Onto the grade ...


At the bridge ...


To the end of track.


What's really neat is that at a prototypical rate of speed it took more than 2 minutes to cover the 30' distance. That's bang for the buck!

In closing, here are some pictures Don took at our weekly grease-fest at Ritters Diner:







Breakfast 24/7 ... who could ask for more!!!

See ya next week,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/26/2009 07:30:07 AM
Message:

Another really fun day! Even though I spent most of the time doing the electrical rough-in, I kept an eye on what Vagel was doing. It was, of course, a whole lot of fun to see and hear that narrow gauge locomotive operating.

Instead of a boom box, Vagel keeps a couple of factory-sound-equipped locomotives simmering on his test track. I don't have anything against boom boxes on the job, but listening to "Fireman Fred" is even better. [:-bouncy]

Next Wednesday, I believe some of Kevin Kuzman's turnouts will be installed, allowing the whole narrow gauge loop to be completed. I should be able to finish the 110vac wiring and get back to 1:87 work.

Time to head out.

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 02/26/2009 4:29:55 PM
Message:

Great progress, once again, Vagel and Don. When I see how fast the flex can be laid and locos can run, I'm even having second thoughts about handlaying...


Reply author: Mike Hamer
Replied on: 02/26/2009 4:50:50 PM
Message:

Yes, a superb effort, Vagel and Don. It's always exciting when you get to run a train over virgin rail! I'm following along closely! [:-thumbu][:-thumbu]


Reply author: Tim Kerkhoff
Replied on: 02/26/2009 6:33:54 PM
Message:

You guys are making great progress, keep up with the photos.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/27/2009 07:45:22 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Frederic, Mike and Tim - thanks very much for the encouraging comments.

Vagel is off to Florida this week - he's being a trailing spouse as his wife is attending a conference. Poor baby - he leaves just as temperatures once again plummet.

I believe the goal is to have the narrow gauge loop closed so trains can run continuously during the layout tour following the NMRA Div 2 Jamboree on 3/21-22 - and to have at least some of the standard gauge track operating for that event. Since all of the loco's have sound, that will mean a lot of sonic "scenery".[:-bouncy]

Don


Reply author: Bill Uffelman
Replied on: 02/27/2009 09:42:39 AM
Message:

Our rule during construction of modules and reconstruction as a home layout was a train had to run at the end of each work session -- first run was about 6' in On3 but sure looked good and provided motivation to keep going and clean up at the end of each session.

Bill Uffelman
In Carson City NV until June


Reply author: LVN
Replied on: 02/27/2009 10:08:07 AM
Message:

Very nice work guys. The railroad is progressing quickly. Looking forward to seeing more.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/27/2009 11:12:36 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Bill Uffelman

Our rule during construction of modules and reconstruction as a home layout was a train had to run at the end of each work session -- first run was about 6' in On3 but sure looked good and provided motivation to keep going and clean up at the end of each session.

Bill Uffelman
In Carson City NV until June



Hi, Bill -- that's an excellent idea. I think Vagel and I should adopt it. I'll mention it to him.

Chris, thanks for writing. We'll post more pictures after the session this Wednesday.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/03/2009 10:44:08 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

I just finished packing and loading my tool buckets for tomorrow's session at Vagel's. He's back from loafing in Florida and I'm anxious to get over there and get a bit more done. (It's going to be a short day - Vagel has to leave early to deal with some real world stuff.)

Onward!

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/05/2009 01:23:54 AM
Message:

Frederic, Mike & Tim; many thanks for your continued supportive comments. We're really having a great time with this project, even though I suspect that, by now, Don wishes he was helping with track laying instead of modeling 1:1 scale electrical infrastructure!

Bill, I'll try to rise to Don's challenge, but there is also a practical reason for ending each work session with a run over new track. After after our first run, I noticed a bad joint between two flex track sections where there was an inch-plus of rail on curvature without ties to hold the gauge. So I had to waste two rail joiners and cut and re-solder the joint to start today's work session. Today, I ran the test train over each newly installed 6' pair of flex track sections before soldering to ensure a smooth transition before final spiking and soldering.

At the end of our truncated work session, the end of track had reached the Point of Switch for the spur at Shoups Run, the end of the operational iron ore branch and beginning of hidden return track for continuous running/operational staging on the N.G. branch.

Here are some snaps:







Don continued to labor away at installing the electrical sockets that will provide ultra-convenient electrical service to the layout:



We plan to re-convene this weekend to make up for lost time today. I'm not going to let the opportunity to learn about electrical wiring pass.

Vagel


Reply author: LynnB
Replied on: 03/05/2009 01:38:40 AM
Message:

Making some real progress and Don will be well versed in the electrical department.


Reply author: hunter48820
Replied on: 03/05/2009 04:12:46 AM
Message:

It's coming along very nicely!! You guys are doing a great job!!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/05/2009 08:22:34 AM
Message:

Thanks, guys --

Vagel and I had fun - just not as many hours of fun.

Vagel was afraid he hadn't ordered enough turnouts from Kevin Kuzman because he was one short. Then, at our next session, he was two short. At that point, he started investigating. Turns out all my pounding in of cable staples had "walked" them off the subroadbed and they had fallen into the stuff stored under the benchwork. Big relief - the prodigal turnouts have returned. So now Vagel (with some help from me, if I finish the 110 volt work) get to drill for throws and install Tortois (how *do* you spell the plural of that machine?) and get these beautifully made turnouts installed.

While he's doing that, I may start putting down subroadbed (unskilled labor) on the standard gauge.

The 110v electrical rough-in is almost finished. I still have to drill down into the basement and do the wiring down there. I'll give the Speed-bores and Wrist-Breaker power drill a good workout drilling through joists. Vagel gets to be the "dry stick" guy while I'm adding a breaker and wiring inside the box. (The dry stick guy stands there with a dry piece of lumber, ready to seperate me from the electrics if I start vibrating strangely.)

We had to skip lunch at Ritters. [:-cry]

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 03/05/2009 7:10:32 PM
Message:

A good thing about these joint working ventures is that eventually you always have one of these nice stories to remember.
The return of the prodigal turnouts, or the moment when Vagel wonders if you're vibrating because of the fear of the high voltage or because of the high voltage itself.
Individual work may be pleasant and satisfactory, but it seldom leads to this kind of memories.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/05/2009 9:09:00 PM
Message:

Frederic, you're so right! Plus, from a practical standpoint, there is a LOT to be said for team layout construction. Not being a particularly self-disciplined model railroad builder, I have benefited from the "pressure" of regular weekly work sessions a major reason that we've made so much progress in so short a time. The previous B&SGE was 1/3 as large as the track laid just thus far and it took me more than two years to get it to this level. Having a partner prevents procrastination.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/06/2009 1:28:20 PM
Message:

Vagel is so right. Working as part of a team is, for me at least, way more fun than working by myself. And we do pressure each other a little to keep things moving along. Maybe more than a little - some of my Yiddish speaking friends have referred to me as a "nudge."

Of the two bridges that I am for sure going to build (there may be others), at least one of them can be built as a complete free-standing diorama and dropped into the layout already scenicked. That will allow me to keep working between sessions. And give Vagel something to nudge me about.

Hey, Vagel -- it's only 4 days until the next work session. How many turnouts have you got installed? Huh? [:-bouncy]

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/07/2009 9:31:19 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

Hey, Vagel -- it's only 4 days until the next work session. How many turnouts have you got installed? Huh?



Don received a brusque reply and appropriate gesture when he greeted me with this taunt at the start of this afternoon's "makeup" work session.[:-censored] The truth is I was afraid to do anything with the beautiful LITCo products until I was sure about how to pre-solder the track power leads for use with Tortoise switch machines.

Fortunately, Brian Budeit was here with his HOn3 module for a test fit and bull session about eastern n.g. in preparation for our participation in the up-coming MidWest Narrow Gauge Show -- See link at: http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=24352 -- and he has experience with these beasties. Brian showed me where to solder the leads, so that'll be my project for tomorrow. When Don returns this coming Wednesday, I will probably have the trackwork on the whole n.g. branch done and ready for installation of the switch machines.

We put in a long day today with a lot accomplished in the HO and 1:1 scale electrical department; still a lot to do on the latter and nothing worth photographing. We've more or less decided to put Don's 110 outlet wiring project to rest until after the MidWest Narrow Gauge Show and concentrate our efforts for the next two Wednesday's between now and the open house for the NMRA Div. 2 Jamboree (Mar. 22) on getting as much done as possible on the standard gauge and n.g. track work and wiring.

C'ya after Wednesday's session,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/08/2009 03:42:21 AM
Message:

And, most importantly, we had a makeup session at Ritter's. It's very important to not fall behind on our grease intake.

Apropos of nothing, my darlin' daughter told me that Irish Coffee is the Perfect Food because it contains the Four Essential Food Groups - sugar, caffeine, alcohol and fat.

I kind of hate to stop work on the 110volt stuff before it's finished but with only two more Wednesdays before the layout tour, it can wait.

Don


Reply author: Geezer
Replied on: 03/08/2009 12:07:25 PM
Message:

Amazing progress...I can remember one time when I needed the "stick man"....not fun!
I somehow managed to get across a "RF" meeter on a big transmitter aboard ship while
in the USN.

Thanks for the updates guys!

The Geezer


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/08/2009 7:03:03 PM
Message:

Well, the loop is finally closed on the n.g. branch, but not permanently ... yet. This Sunday afternoon's solo work session lasted almost five hours and ended when my eyes were just too tired to work with itty bitty dealy-hoots anymore. Two of the six turnouts are ready for Tortoise machines; two others are temporarily tacked in place with all track cut and shaped to fit, except for the passing siding and yard spurs at Buchanan (I ran out of flex track). Most of the rail joints between Shoups Run and Buchanan remain unsoldered, but the continuity is good, so a complete test run was possible to close out the day.

I apologize in advance for the focus problems. Here's No. 10 coming through the turnouts at the entrance to Shoups Run. Just in front of the engine is one of the few soldered joints; it looks like there's a kink in the curve, but I can assure you it's an optical illusion. I spent a LOT of time getting everything aligned today ... a LOT of time[:-hypnotized]. The passing siding is just about 30 scale feet shy of the length of my last piece of flex track.



Here she is going away, passing the switch for the tipple-to-be at Shoups Run.


This is one of the turnouts I pre-wired. Red and Black are soldered to the undersides of the outside and inside rails, respectively. Blue is soldered to the frog and will connect to the dual-polarity switch on the Tortoise machine.


Once everything is in place, I can mark the locations for drilling holes for the power leads and Tortoise throw rods, lift the turnouts out of the way, drill all holes, solder power leads, and re-install everything.

I'll post the results after Don and I get together, as usual, on Wednesday.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/09/2009 1:18:25 PM
Message:

[:-jump][:-jump2][:-jumprefect][:-thumbu][:-spin]

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/10/2009 9:33:05 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

I just finished packing and loading tools for tomorrow. Many tool boxes since we'll be doing many things: cutting subroadbed for the standard gauge; putting down roadbed; laying track; wiring feeders. Also, Vagel will be helping me take up some existing track and roadbed on my dual-gauge module and complete the track across the narrow-gauge bridge. It's going to be a very full day. [:-bouncy]

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/11/2009 9:34:55 PM
Message:

And, indeed, it was! We started with a supply run to the LHS, only to forget the essential (cork roadbed), which called for a return trip in conjunction with our dinner break.


Today we accomplished a great deal toward having a lot of trains operating for the open house on Mar. 22d. Don and I cut and installed the sub-roadbed that extends the std gauge from Ft. Loudon Jct to the temporary end of the 11.5 ft. passing siding under the n.g. return loop. After we secured a box of cork roadbed, we then glued and pinned down the entire passing siding and most of the spur that leads to the future site of the Blast Furnace.

Before the session I had installed the track on the hidden WM/B&O staging, and Don cut, fit, and glued the roadbed for the turnout at the junction. Here's a "candid" shot of him at work in that area:



Here's a close-up of his handiwork:


Earlier in the day, while I leveled everything up and installed risers under the sub-roadbed preparatory to laying roadbed, Don re-installed the track over his soon-to-be prize winning bridge on his dual gauge module. I'll post a couple shots of that result on his thread about the Mid-West NG Show (<http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=24352>http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=24352).

Here is an overview of the work accomplished today:

Note, way in the background, you can see the standpipe installed at Buchanan by the management to replenish the tanks on the locomotives that now are making frequent "test runs" on the n.g. branch.

I'll be working to finish std gauge track work on this segment before next Wednesday, when we expect to have a good bit of the museum yard sub-roadbed in place and some of the track installed for the open house.

Until then,

write if the mood strikes.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/12/2009 02:06:21 AM
Message:

Oops! I forgot to mention Garth and Tara dropped by today. Shockingly, we reminded ourselves that, at Garth's last visit on Feb. 20, there was no track laid ANYWHERE but that, as of today (Mar. 11,) the n.g. branch was totally operational. We be jammin'![:-bouncy]

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/12/2009 07:49:03 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

It was indeed fun having Garth and Tara stop by. Tara had never seen the layout at all. She loved the digital sound from the K-27. Tara used to be a model railroader, with the McKeesport MR Club, but that was before sound became generally available.

It was a long day - I didn't get home until about 7:30. We certainly got a lot done. With all that roadbed in place, Vagel is in good shape to get a lot of track down.

I'm really glad that, with Vagel's help, I was able to re-do the track leading to and from the narrow gauge bridge and run continuous rail across it. The module is back in the shop and I'll do more on it and post some photographs before the Jamboree.

I didn't want to take too much of my time or Vagel's away from working on his layout so I just temporarily spiked the rails on the bridge with full-size track spikes. Vagel said it load like somebody had welded shovels to the rail. So I bought "small" and "micro" spikes on the second trip to the LHS - wow, those little buggers are expensive - $10 for each package.

Off to the gym.

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 03/12/2009 08:54:00 AM
Message:

They are indeed very expensive, but they improve the look of the track quite a lot.
Nice work on the roadbed. You lay track at an impressive speed. And it was a pleasure to have a new opportunity to watch your beautiful bridge, Don.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/12/2009 2:10:31 PM
Message:

Hi, Frederic --

Thanks for writing - nice to hear from you. I'm really enjoying your "Arizona" project.

I'm going to fit in an extra session at Vagel's sometime in the next few days. He's going to be there pretty steadily since his university is on spring break.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/12/2009 9:57:46 PM
Message:

The roadbed for the cross-overs, turnouts, and yard at Ft. Loudon and the blast furnace spur is now glued down, so the whole standard gauge line from terminal yard limits to end of passing siding is ready for track. Here's a bird's eye view:



At this point there's a slight problem with the amount of track I have on hand and the amount that's needed to fill the portion of the railroad that's graded and ready for rail. I will need at least three more sections of flex track than I have on hand, I've expended the construction budget for March, and the CFO advises that Steelers season tickets come due this month, so there'll be no levying an additional assessment on the stockholders . I might be forced to use the emergency $20 bill she keeps in the glove compartment and hope for no roadside emergencies until April 1. That doesn't qualify as a Ponzi scheme, does it?

Anyway, I'm beginning to warm to the idea of using that American Model Builders elevated warehouse for my Ft. Loudon Station, but with a solid stone foundation.



It's a smaller footprint than the original, which wouldn't fit in this space. But I'm also sensitive to the fact that the original still stands, and there was nothing like a three-track yard there. Oh, well, if this is the least of my worries ...

C'ya next time,
Vagel





Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 03/12/2009 11:19:49 PM
Message:

Great progress guys, I can see that as a team you seem to be pushing each other (and I bet the convention deadline helps) and things are progressing as a fast pace. I can hardly wait for the next update.

Don as for the spikes, I handlay my track so a package of those micro spikes don't seen to last long. The seen to be the most expensive part if the track laying process. But, as Frederic stated, you can't beet the look.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/13/2009 06:56:49 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

We have arranged a Flextrack Bailout program for Vagel as part of the Economic Stimulus Package. Which is to say, I'm lending him some sections of Flextrack that I have on hand; I'll be dropping it off this morning.

Frederic and Ron - you're right, those tiny spikes really do look good. But it's annoying that so many of them are defective right out of the package. At a penny each, I hate tossing so many of them. I'm about one-third done with spiking the rails on the NG bridge - I'll pick it up again today and hope to finish tomorrow. I can only do it for an hour or two at a time and then I start to twitch. [:-crazy]

Maybe I can grab some pictures of recent progress while dropping off the Bailout.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/13/2009 11:28:12 AM
Message:

Just dropped off 4 pieces of flextrack at Vagel's. He be jammin'![:-jump2]

Back to putting tiny spikes in my bridge.[:-magnify]

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 03/13/2009 7:58:42 PM
Message:

Bad for track industry but good arrangement for you two, Don and Vagel. I am surprised to read there are so many defective micro spikes. Considering their price, I understand your frustration.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/14/2009 08:17:14 AM
Message:

Hi, Frederic and all y'all --

Just got e-mail from Vagel. Unlike the banks, he is putting his bailout to good use - he has already used up the four sections of flextrack I gave him and is headed to the basement of his house, where the remains of his former layout reside, to run a scrapping operation and come up with some more track. And I rememembered that I have a section or two in the shop - salvaged from Garth's former layout. Yee-hah!

I'm joining him Sunday morning. More Inter-Service Cooperation. (Vagel is a retired Army armored cavalry ("tread head") officer and I'm a former Air Force missile launch officer ("Missile Wienie").

Off to yoga class followed by egregious over-eating at the Indian buffet - and then back to working on the bridge, the piledriver, the Tobacconist, K Scholz Blacksmith, the B&O trestle, and the B&O tool house. Am I forgetting something? Probably. I overslept this morning, because I thought it was Sunday.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/14/2009 10:40:47 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Geezer

Amazing progress...I can remember one time when I needed the "stick man"....not fun!
I somehow managed to get across a "RF" meeter on a big transmitter aboard ship while
in the USN.

Thanks for the updates guys!

The Geezer



What a wierd coincidence! The one time I got really seriously knocked on my butt was when I contacted the back side of the plate current meter on a ham radio transmitter. I was a teenager then and, boy, I can still remember the experience in full color!

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/16/2009 01:59:28 AM
Message:

The Flex Track Bailout Package arrived this morning and took us to the exact end of the grade ... how's that for planning? The rumored need to ask for a Phase II Bailout turned out to be unnecessary. Debbie (and this branch of Steeler Nation) were much relieved. We've coined the term "inadvertent competence" to describe the things that go right on this project in spite of my wrong guesses.

I worked to finish the complex of turnouts and sidings at the Ft. Loudon Yard/Blast Furnace Lead area while Don laid twelve feet of hidden trackage between the tunnel portal and the current end of sub-roadbed at the yard throat for the HO PRR museum yard before returning to the 1:1 scale wiring project.

Here are a couple shots of Don's handiwork. Nice work, Don!





Don took some time out to capture me "at work" soldering track and turnout joints ...


... and doing test runs over the joints ...


"That's not supposed to happen!"


Then Don got all 'Artsy, Fartsy' ...

... Nice Shot!

Unfortunately, Don's digital camera, manufactured by a famous company from a country that once bombed Pearl Harbor and rhymes with Micron, has developed a problem with its autofocus feature. So his images fail to do justice to my manly physique.

But at the end of the day, there were no worries ...



We've got one more work session on Wednesday before the open house next Sunday. We're not quite where I'd like to be, but we've come a long way in a very short time, and I'm looking forward to sharing what a model railroad in progress looks like with model rails who haven't yet taken the plunge of major layout construction.

Vagel


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 03/16/2009 08:25:55 AM
Message:

You guys are making great progress. After all the benchwork construction, Iím sure itís nice to see some track in place.

I donít understand this ďinadvertent competenceĒ thing. Itís a totally foreign concept to me.

George


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/16/2009 11:38:46 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by George D

After all the benchwork construction, Iím sure itís nice to see some track in place.



Thanks, George. Yes, and it's nice to finally be able to bring all those shelf-bound sound-equipped locomotives to life.

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 03/16/2009 6:23:11 PM
Message:

Good progress, Vagel.
Inadvertent competence, this is indeed a pleasant concept.


Reply author: Tyson Rayles
Replied on: 03/16/2009 7:34:35 PM
Message:

[:-thumbu]


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/17/2009 9:35:41 PM
Message:

Tuesday night -- all five toolboxes (or buckets) are packed and loaded into the truck. Which is locked and also locked inside the yard of the Slaughterhouse. Tomorrow is my last chance to help Vagel before the layout tours on Sunday. Much to do - Vagel wants the "museum" yard at least tacked in place so he can display all the cool rolling stock and motive power he has been painting and decaling and detailing. A fun day ahead.[:-bouncy]

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/18/2009 8:36:39 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

As I'm writing this, the AVR switcher is moving along the former Pennsy right of way a couple of blocks from my house. They have (I believe) Nathan Five Chime air horns. Whatever...they sound great!

We put in a good full day, ending about 3:30 with the usual "lunch" at Ritters. Mostly, we extended the sub-roadbed through the "museum" and beyond.

Vagel keeps bringing more beautifully painted, decaled, detailed and weathered motive power and rolling stock over from his workspace at his house as more track becomes available for it. Visitors on Sunday will have a lot to look at!

We made a resounding mess of the place with all the saber saw work so we finished up with a lot of pre-layout-tour vacuuming.

I'm sure Vagel will be doing a real post, with pictures. After Ritters, he was headed for A.B. Charles (LHS) to buy more Code 83 and other stuff.

[:-bouncy]

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/19/2009 12:00:08 AM
Message:

Greetings! I just finished installing the temporary run-around tracks in the future HO PRR Museum yard site after returning from the LHS with flex track and turnouts. We've come a long, long way since Sep. 14, 2008, with the basic benchwork complete, sub-roadbed for all of Phase I of the layout construction project now in place, and approx. 90' of HOn3 and HO gauge track operational for our first open house in the new location.

The first thing Don did today was finish the installation of the AC outlets and power switch in preparation for hooking everything up to the panel in the basement during our next work session in early April. Here is a snapshot of me preparing to demonstrate that I've mastered the technique of turning the switch on and off:



These next few shots Don took to show general progress since the last series of such images:

The aisle between the Ft. Loudon/Buchanan area and the future blast furnace site:


A general overview of the "museum" site looking from the kitchen toward the turntable pit ...


... and around the bend from there, where Don caught me screwing down the last section of sub-roadbed where the standard gauge will disappear under the HOn3 portion at some future date:


No layout tour is complete without a peak at the owner's workbench, so here it is in all its organized glory:


In closing, here is what the "museum" site looks like with the temporary trackage installed:





I'll post some "railfan" photos from the open house. Until then, write if the mood strikes.

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 03/19/2009 04:34:54 AM
Message:

You've really done an impressive work, Don and Vagel.
The track in the second picture has a very nice global movement. It's easy to imagine it wandering through some magnificent scenery.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/19/2009 11:19:10 PM
Message:

Thanks for the kind words, Frederic. I hope the result will live up to expectations!

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/22/2009 06:37:45 AM
Message:

Today is the Layout Tour day, as part of the Jamboree. I got an e-mail from Vagel sent very late last night, indicating that things were going well with turnouts and ground throws. I'll go over about 9:30 this morning and we're open from 11 to 4. Should be a fun day.

Don


Reply author: Garth
Replied on: 03/22/2009 8:30:14 PM
Message:

Hi Everybody,

I stopped by early in the open house. Everything was running pretty well. Vagel and Don are still troubleshooting track, but the narrow gauge was in good shape, except for one frog on one turnout. A few swipes with a file will sort it out. I was very impressed to see standard gauge trains running as well. With several Vagel's sound equipped locos going we had a feast for our ears as well as our eyes.

Here are a few shots:




This may not look too much different from the last time - EXCEPT for the operating standard gauge below the narrow gauge line!





Sound equipped, weathered, runs great - this is an awesome locomotive. The narrow gauge meet was fun to see as well.




The future RR museum's substantial turntable.



The museum site, with some temporary track down.



Vagel's T-1 with, I think, a M-1a behind it. The T-1 also has impressive sound.

From what they were saying the next step of the plan is to get the scenery underway. I'm looking forward to my next visit!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/22/2009 8:59:26 PM
Message:

Thanks, Garth, for posting the pictures. We had a fun day; only about 9 non-Friends of Don visitors, but that was enough to keep us busy, as everybody who stopped by were interested in what we're up to and stayed to chat and ask questions for quite a while each. Debbie set up cookies and drinks on the porch, and they were well received, as well.

Beside the slight adjustment needed to one of the hand-built turnout frogs (that just showed up today after hours of test running [:-gnasher]), there were a couple of major frustrations.

First, was the crapping out last night of my BLI M1a after, oh, three hours of operation back and forth on my module over the two or so years since its purchase. It sounds like a failure in the gear tower. That's why it is a static display on the turntable in Garth's picture.

Second, and really frustrating, was the discovery that some Walthers heavy weight passenger cars, despite the statement on the boxes, will NOT reliably handle 24" minimum radius ... at least not as measured by my steel yard stick.

But, I was happy with the civil and electrical engineering aspect of the layout so far; no other track problems, shorts only incident to derailments due to bad order car issues, and we trouble shot and fixed all of the ineffective paper clip tension springs that I had fabricated for the HO turnouts. The three Caboose Industries ground throws I installed last night and this morning on the HOn3 worked flawlessly, which was a happy circumstance, as getting those things exactly right is critical when you're depending on point to rail contact to route power, open house pressure or not!

Don took a ton of pictures, as well, and I'll post those as soon as he sends them.

'best,
Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/22/2009 10:56:48 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

It was a long day, but lots of fun. I got to Vagel's about 9:30 and we spend some time adding cardboard "guardrails" to the ends of the subroadbed where rolling stock might wind up going all the way to the floor if something went wrong.

We opened at 11 and had visitors pretty constantly until almost 4 PM when - surprise! - we went to Ritters.

Having Garth come by and take pictures and help trouble-shoot a turnout was nice. Garth used to hand-lay narrow gauge turnouts so he's more helpful than your average visitor.

I'm about to send a bunch of photo's off to Vagel so there should be more pictures in a day or two.

No get-together this Wednesday - we both need to work on our modules for the Midwest NG Show. And I'm hoping to finish an FSM 105 piledriver in time to take it to that event.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/23/2009 10:40:05 PM
Message:

Don's pictures from the open house arrived last night. Before I post them, I want to say that, although it might not seem an appropriate topic for a thread in the RR Construction forum, in retrospect we both see the experience as having been an operational test, if you will, of the design and construction effort to date. The problem with the Walthers heavyweight passenger cars tells me that the museum back shop crew has some alterations to make to a lot of undercarriages, for example. There's no room to expand the radius, and I'm not ready to abandon the "rare mileage" trip concept for this layout. (Interestingly, the older Bachmann Spectrum passenger cars were engineered to handle 24" radii just fine, thank you very much.)

And I also learned that the track plan at Ft. Loudon will take some very attentive dispatching to make sure that future railfan excursions don't interfere with the interchange in support of blast furnace ops there.

Also, we've decided to add a temporary return loop for the standard gauge line at this time, as well, both for ease of ops in future open houses for the short term and to be able to truly "run in" the standard gauge engines. Down the road, so to speak, it is clear that I will need to add another long passing siding to the standard gauge line on the continuous running extension beyond Ft. Loudon, which creates a new creative challenge for the plan on the opposite side of the backdrop from the blast furnace.

So, I guess the lesson learned is to not be shy about opening your layout to visitors even if all you've got to show is a Plywood Central; the learning experience, vis a vis planning and construction, is worth the effort, and the folks who show up will all be in the same boat as you are! An interesting and rewarding day, all around.

Here are a couple more overview shots that show our cardboard guards to keep things from falling off the edge of the world:





Don loaned me two digitraxx universal panels because the ones I ordered from Tony's Train Exchange didn't arrive in time. I mounted them directly to the sub-roadbed, where they were recessed about 4 inches from the edge of the bench work, safe and sound from errant bellies and butts:

Another layout construction lession learned was that, even at this temporary, interim stage, we could really have used two more of these deali-hoots: one at the end of the peninsula on one side of the wall or the other, and another one around the bend from the turntable. Eventually, I will definitely convert to wireless, but this open house reminded me of what I'd already learned from the NMRA MCR Div. 2 FreeMo experience: you still need to have a plug-in panel every 8 feet or so.

Here Don captured the I1a arriving at Ft. Loudon with a coal drag. Not sexy, but a Pennsy staple. Don timed his shot perfectly; "drivers down."


Meanwhile, back in the the staging area, diseasals EF15 (FP7 for the Pennsy Impaired) #9142A & B and steamer T1 #5528 (a non-articulated 4-4-4-4) waited with a fallen flag boxcar train and the ill-fated passenger excursion, respectively.

Both have classical lines from the streamliner era, the first produced by General Motors Electro Motive Division and the second by industrial designer Raymond Loewy ... even in HO scale, the T1 looks fast just sitting there, doesn't it!?

At the other end of the staging tracks lay the not-so-photogenic locomotives that would pull the passenger and freight trains on the return legs, K4s #5451 (l) and FS24m (Fairbanks Morse Trainmaster) #8706. These engines followed their respective trains in reverse, then coupled onto them at Ft. Loudon to pull them home.

The Trainmaster, of course, had a face only a mother could love from its inception. The K4s, on the other hand, was born beautiful but later disfigured by deviate plastic surgeons in the post-WW2 modernization project at Pennsy's Juniata Shops in Altoona. At least in 5451's case, the vandals were thwarted before they removed the graceful slatted pilot in favor of the massive cast steel monstrosity that her sisters were forced to wear, like milestones about their necks. But I rant ...

Up on the narrow gauge Buchanan Branch, Don captured the meet between the Buchanan Mixed pulled by B&SGE No. 10 and freight extra EBT No. 12 north at Buchanan station.




One final note: this experience has confirmed in me the idea that, although I love to participate in operations sessions on operations oriented layouts, for my own purposes, I am an HO scale railfan. This layout was conceived as primarily a place to watch trains, and the experience of running this open house and then writing up these posts proves ( to me, at least) that that is what I want this layout to be.

We'll be back after the MidWest Narrow Gauge Show,

Vagel


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 03/24/2009 08:31:26 AM
Message:

It sounds like your open house was a good learning experience. The problem of passenger cars negotiating 24Ē curves must be a frustration. Our club layout has a 42Ē minimum radius, so the problem is foreign to me.

I agree with you on the T1. Itíll make any Pennsy fanís heart beat faster. I sure was happy when BLI brought her out. Now you need to add some Sharks to your roster.

George


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/24/2009 10:42:58 AM
Message:

Believe me, George, if I could've gotten away with greater than 24" radii on hidden trackage, I would've done it, but keeping the aisles at, or as close as possible to, 24" wide necessitated it. I did test the T1 on a friend's layout to confirm BLI's claim to 24" minimum. It just puts me off my fresh fried lobster, as Hawkeye said.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/01/2009 10:56:19 PM
Message:

Hi, all. Don and I got together today for a short work session oriented on finishing up his AC power outlet project. Don ran the Romex cable to the breaker panel and installed the new circuit breaker OK ... no need for my dry stick. But there's a ghost short in the system, so Don will be back on Thursday afternoon with Ohm meter in hand; we fervently hope we find the problem.

After this is done, it's on to "closing the loop' on the standard gauge and starting to rough in the land forms for scenery.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/02/2009 06:22:49 AM
Message:

[:-banghead][:-banghead][:-banghead]

Don


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 04/02/2009 09:34:51 AM
Message:

Vagel,

You might have a look at switches and gaps, or a look at the whole railroad or things like errant screwdrivers. Don't ask how I know this....

Good luck with finding the little devil!

Don, you left your clinic data sign-up sheet in Salem; I know where it is. If you'll contact me off-list, I'll see about getting it back to you. I've tried the PM route a couple of times without success....

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/02/2009 1:28:43 PM
Message:

Hi, Pete. We're good (so far) with the HO scale electrons. It's the 1:1 scale version in the under-layout electrical outlet system that are causing the problem.

[:-bulb] Maybe we should've stayed with the 1930's theme of the layout and gone with knob and tube ...


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 04/02/2009 7:38:38 PM
Message:

Vagel,

If it's the 1:1 stuff that's causing shorts, it might be beneficial to run a "search and destroy" mission before you have unexpected company drop in. I'm thinking of two engine companies, a ladder company, a rescue company.... [:-banghead]

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/02/2009 9:12:27 PM
Message:

I went through the 110 volt circult and found two problems. I had a bad outlet - yes, they can fail internally - and I had wired the combination switch and pilot light incorrectly. Unfortunately we ran out of time before I could finish putting everything back together so that will have to wait until Wednesday.

Oh, almost forgot, I found (or perhaps created) a third problem while putting one of the quad boxes back together. I hadn't been meticulous enough about how much insulation I stripped off the wire ends that get pushed into the back of the devices - there was a little bit of exposed copper wire. When I pushed everything into the box, the ground wire came in contact with the bit of bare wire and popped the breaker.

We'll finish it up next Wednesday.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/09/2009 12:54:47 AM
Message:

... and finish it [he] did. Don arrived today with his usual tool boxes and something unusual: instructions in the form of ye olde Time-Life Home Improvement volume on "Basic Wiring." Result: the AC wiring project (aka, the Sistine Chapel ceiling) has reached a successful conclusion. My wife, Debbie, whose most oft-quoted comment is, "Why don't we pull in here and ask for directions?," was unavailable for comment.

This photo says it ALL. Switch "on," pilot light "on," no shorts, and when the switch was off, so was the pilot light. Folks, it's not as simple as you'd think. Well done, Don!



So, what does this have to do with Model Railroad Construction? Well, for starters, the electrical circuit that powers the B&SGE is now controlled by a single switch with a red light staring me in the face if it's still "on" as I close the door at the end of the day. Before retiring to Ritters for the Wednesday Meatloaf Sammich'n'Cuppa Navy Bean Soup special, we had the ceremonial first DCC system power-up from the new circuit:


Here's the kicker: Everything associated with the model RR (soldering irons, Dremel tools, Tortoise machines, UT5 power supplies, grain of wheat bulbs, DCC, etc ...) has now been moved from the existing Knob-and-tube wiring spliced into Romex cable to newly installed Romex cable wired directly to the breaker panel. 'nuff said.

While Don was finishing the electrical infrastructure project, I worked on fleshing out the backbone of the "museum" yard area. Recall that we had temporarily tacked down a long passing siding arrangement for our open house during the NMRA MCR Div. 2 Jamboree (see our post from 3/19/09). But that configuration did not reflect the envisioned plan for either end of the yard. The yard had to be reworked, so the first step was to move everything on the layout to Ft. Loudon, which became quite crowded.


As an aside, due to outstanding foresight on the part of the B&SGE's Operations Division, our transition to wireless DCC was "spade-ready" when the IRS informed our accounting department that the Federal Government had (God knows how) over-charged us on taxes during 2008). So we will be state-of-the-art in the coming months.

Two big challenges surfaced. The first was how to deal with the curved approach into the "north" end of the yard in a way that would allow a smooth transition to the temporary return loop and to the future main line while, at the same time, allowing for a smooth flow to an escape track from the turntable.

The Railroad-Line website has chosen this moment for a Brain Fart. Good night.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/09/2009 08:07:07 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Yeah, as Vagel mentioned, I applied Murphy's First Rule - "when all else fails, read the instructions." Those old Time-Life books are still excellent, but I should probably buy something newer because some of the electrical materials have changed.

What a relief to have that 110 volt wiring project done! But - sort of quoting Vagel again - very worthwile. I was really super-meticulous on the second time around so (cross fingers) it should work well for a long time.

Vagel is coming up with some really elegant, aesthetically pleasing solutions to the yard track work. I don't know much about layout planning, but I figure, "If it looks good, it probably is good."

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/09/2009 11:36:49 AM
Message:

OK, let's try again ...

As I was saying, two big challenges surfaced [vis a vis the yard layout]. The first was how to deal with the curved approach into the "north" end of the yard in a way that would allow a smooth transition to the temporary return loop and to the future main line while, at the same time, allowing for a smooth flow to an escape track from the turntable. I spent most of Monday and Wednesday trying to figure that out, and here's the result:



The main curves off to the right; to its left is the arrival track, then the make-up/departure track, and finally the diverging escape track is almost, but not perfectly, a straight line to the turntable bridge.

At the other, "south" end, I'm forced by the way I've positioned the turntable to go with a stub-end yard and by the room dimensions to accept a too-short drill track. So, there will be times when the yard switcher will necessarily foul the main. [:-irked] This is my tentative layout of turnouts at that end of the yard to allow access from the yard ladder to both the make-up/departure and arrival tracks:


From left to right, the main (with a turnout diverging to two hidden storage tracks), the arrival track, then the make-up/departure track. The arrow diverging to the right leads to engine servicing. I wanted to put that on the other side of the turntable, but the realities of the curved north yard leads took more space than my sketch maps showed.

I don't like having the engine servicing lead come into the make-up/departure track, but I also don't like putting the servicing tracks between the aisle and the yard tracks, where arms have to reach over the coaling and sand towers. I might have to do that, though ... we'll see.

So, this is where things stand now. More later.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/12/2009 09:09:00 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Before we wrapped up last Wednesday, Vagel and I bought another 4x8 sheet of subroadbed material. We started at the local Home Depot but their stuff was so non-flat that we gave up and drove a considerable distance to Lowe's - where we found the same situation. [:-banghead][:-banghead][:-banghead]

So everything we cut out of this sheet will have to be flattened with bracing underneath, screwed and glued. I'm beginning to understand why some people are willing to go to the trouble of building up splined roadbed.[:-boggled]

With the weather getting more bearable, we'll be doing our sabre saw work outdoors so we don't fill the layout room with sawdust.

Vagel has worked out the standard gauge return loop in cardboard and cutting and fitting that will be our first project. Like the narrow gauge return loop, this is temporary. But it's even more temporary - we're trying to come up with a design that will allow him to remove it and re-install it quickly, so he can use it whenever he wants to but get it out of the way - it intrudes on the work table/work bench area - for Quilting Bees and the like.

If all goes well, we might have cork and track down on it. But when did all ever go well?

Vagel is hosting a quilting bee toward the end of this month - I'll report on that in the FreeMo thread. We'll be talking about painting LP's and weathering rolling stock.

Don


Reply author: hunter48820
Replied on: 04/13/2009 12:24:57 AM
Message:

Hi Vagel,
Your layout is coming along nicely. Great pics of progress!! Regarding the single power switch for the layout. I did the same thing but I have it at the opposite end of the long aisleway. If I don't look back and see the DCC system red lights on, I sometimes forget the switch. I think that I will add a simple red light right at the exit door to the layout room and feed it with power from the layout. May help this old fart to remember!![:-eyebrows]


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/13/2009 06:45:33 AM
Message:

Hi, Andy --

Thanks for writing!

Yeah, having the pilot light near the exit is definitely a help for those of us with CRS.

I'm assuming it would take some major rewiring on your part to move the master switch up by the door, so running a low-voltage circuit and using an LED or grain of wheat in a small enclosure as your indicator would be a good compromise. But if you have track power "off" and a soldering iron "on" - er, not so good. So I guess I'd hope to eventually get the 110 volt pilot light up by the door.

I'm sure I had some other points I wanted to make, but unfortunately I've forgotten them.

Don


Reply author: MikeC
Replied on: 04/13/2009 10:16:38 AM
Message:

The main pilot light/switch idea is a great one - and one that I should try to incorporate in my own layout (if I ever get it wired ....)

You guys are making incredible progress on the layout. Puts slackers like me to absolute shame!



Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/14/2009 10:51:35 AM
Message:

Thanks for the compliments, guys.
Andy, regarding this:

quote:
Originally posted by hunter48820

Regarding the single power switch for the layout. I did the same thing but I have it at the opposite end of the long aisleway. If I don't look back and see the DCC system red lights on, I sometimes forget the switch. I think that I will add a simple red light right at the exit door to the layout room and feed it with power from the layout.



[:-bulb]You could wire one of those block signals and mount it on a small shelf next to the door. If it's still on when you head for the door, you'll know you've got "hot rail."

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/14/2009 6:57:04 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MikeC

The main pilot light/switch idea is a great one - and one that I should try to incorporate in my own layout (if I ever get it wired ....)

You guys are making incredible progress on the layout. Puts slackers like me to absolute shame!



Hi, Mike - thanks for writing.

Slacker? I don't think so. Not when you run this great forum and write all those excellent tutorials. Maybe we'll start calling you Sensei.

Don


Reply author: jbvb
Replied on: 04/14/2009 8:30:54 PM
Message:

I wired a red LED with a resistor off my main 18VAC supply, and poked it through a hole above the door to the attic. If you guess that I'm good about the lights but occasionally forget the layout power, you're right.

Regarding the wiring, I was a member of an urban college club where, in order to keep the city Electrical Inspector happy, we had to run all 110VAC power in metal conduit (and arrange that they didn't find out it wasn't done by a licensed electrician employed by the college). I've been thinking of running power from a central switch on my home layout, but I'd use BX armored cable instead of Romex due to risk from nails, saws, soldering irons etc. I should remember to ask my local Inspector whether he'd accept that - In NH I'm allowed to do my own wiring if I get it inspected afterwards.


Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 04/17/2009 11:11:16 AM
Message:

Hey Vagel,
Everything looks great. Let me know the next time you have an open house as I wasn't able to make it to the last one.
Rick


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/17/2009 10:41:32 PM
Message:

Rick,

Don and I get together almost every Wednesday to work on the layout. You're welcome to stop by anytime; I assume you've still got your map w/ the layout phone number. Give us a call before coming to make sure we're actually here; there's no answering machine.

Well, I've been able to spend some time on track work in the museum yard over the past two days, and finally got the main line and storage tracks at the south end of the yard done tonight.

Here's an updated shot from the north end of the yard looking around the curve toward the south.



I'm using the T1 as a test engine, because it has the longest rigid wheelbase and shows bad horizontal and vertical transitions really well. And, yes, I've had to cut out and replace several such bad transitions in the past few weeks. I've got the T1 close-coupled to the tender. Know what? It goes around my 24" radius curves just fine. Will someone PLEASE tell me why the [:-censored] Walthers heavy weight passenger cars won't!?

Here's an overview of the yard area looking south.


Curvature is 42" radius (the narrow gauge above is on a 49" radius; how's that for irony!?) The next track to the left of the main will be the arrival track, then the make-up/departure track.

Here's a close-up of the track arrangement at the south end of the yard, so far. I took a chance on a No. 4 turnout to diverge the two storage tracks. I used my Broadway Ltd Imports K4 to shift those passenger cars in there, and it took the No. 4 frog with no problems in either direction.


Next, it's on to the ladder and yard tracks.

You can also see that I've presented myself with quite a conundrum, scenery-wise, at this end of the yard. We'll have to see where this takes me.

Don and I are going to get together Wednesday and noodle out how we're going to build a removable balloon track for the standard gauge to pass underneath the narrow gauge balloon track. Stay TOONED.

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 04/18/2009 06:24:41 AM
Message:

Good work, Vagel. I agree about the scenery challenge... Will the standard gauge track below the narrow gauge superelevated track be hidden, or have you planned to have some retaining walls there?


Reply author: Carrie Creek
Replied on: 04/18/2009 12:05:54 PM
Message:

Vagel, You might think about treating this area as a two level and put a narrow fasica on the narrow gauge from the wall cutout around the yard area. This isn't the best because otherwise it is a tall cliff up to the n.g.
Just a thought,Phil


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/18/2009 11:17:25 PM
Message:

Frederic,

I had planned to use a high retaining wall together with some scenic slight of hand, but it's really looking like Phil's suggestion of going the two-level route in this section is going to be the best solution. I have never liked the double-deck approach to layout design, but in this case it's only for 6 - 8 feet, and it won't create a situation where the yard crew is stumbling over the crew of the branch line train. Gives me place to locate that small Keystone sawmill I've had o the shelf for ages, too.

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 04/19/2009 11:44:08 AM
Message:

I have no special problem with double-decks, but are not the two levels too close to make a convincing double-deck there?


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/19/2009 8:06:03 PM
Message:

OOOWWWW!!!! My brain hurts!

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/19/2009 10:38:12 PM
Message:

Have a nice glass of wine or two and you'll feel much better.

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 04/20/2009 04:11:17 AM
Message:

Anyway, Vagel... Don's advice sounds great, although I must say a glass of wine never solves my headaches...
What kind of scenery do you plan to get around the NG track? I ask the question because it is so close to the backdrop.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/20/2009 10:50:52 PM
Message:

Frederic,

On the side of the backdrop we're currently focusing on, it's hidden BEHIND the scenery. On the climb up to Buchanan, where it' also close to the backdrop, it will peek in and out from behind the scenery as it passes through cuts and over fills (and a short trestle). Where it's visible, I plan a 3D backdrop based on 1/2" blue foam using techniques from a recent article in MR.

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 04/21/2009 09:55:52 AM
Message:

I'll be interested to see how you do this 3D backdrop, Vagel. It's always tricky to have tracks so close from the background, and any new idea on this matter is good to learn.


Reply author: nhguy
Replied on: 04/21/2009 2:29:00 PM
Message:

"Will someone PLEASE tell me why the Walthers heavy weight passenger cars won't!?"

Well, the trucks sometimes don't come square from the factory. They are assembled with screws and sometimes they are not level on all four corners. I use a piece of glass to see if one corner is lifted off the glass on a truck.

Sometimes the wheel sets are out of gauge. Check with an NMRA gauge.

On some models the coupler mechanism interferes with the truck rotation. This coupler mechanism is what lets the passenger cars go around 22" radius curves.

On some models the under body detail interferes with the truck rotation. I found this on 3 of my 4 10-5 heavyweight sleepers. I just filed it down or cut it off so the trucks swing freely.

And last but not least, the power pick up tabs for the lighting kits interferes with truck rotation. I ripped these out the first thing. If I want passenger car lighting then I will add Rapido battery powered Easy-Peasy. But I don't.

One other unorthodox, trick used on Walthers cars is to replace the center wheel set with a 33" Visually it shows a wheel there but it's actually not touching the rail. It a trick used by some operators.

Hope this helps.

Bill


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/21/2009 10:24:17 PM
Message:

Thanks for these tips, Bill.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/25/2009 10:49:35 AM
Message:

Vagel and I couldn't get together on Wednesday - I had a 1:1 meeting to attend - but we did manage to get in a couple of hours on Friday. I'm not sure, but from the happy sounds I heard from Vagel's side of the backdrop, I think he solved some layout design problems.

As far as sawdust making is concerned, Vagel had prepared the pattern for the temporary return loop for the standard gauge. We cut it out of the new sheet of plywood and got it tacked in place before we ran out of time. Vagel will be leveling it up, adding risers, etc. I expect he'll post some pictures later.

Vagel was worrying that putting in the loop might discourage him from finishing the layout - he's afraid we'll just run trains. I'm thinking, "Yeah, right - fifteen minutes after we get that loop running, you're going to be itching to move on with Phase II."

Stay tuned.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/29/2009 7:34:11 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone -

Vagel and I and a friend who is just getting into model railroading (Cliff) put in some fun time on his layout. Not very photogenic, unfortunately - we spent the majority of the time salvaging structures, wood, etc, from his former layout across the street from the present location.

We did get the temporary return loop for the standard gauge leveled up and secured to risers so that Vagel can move ahead with roadbed and track and start running trains in a complete loop.

More next week. I do believe we may begin work on scenery. Yee-haa!

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/30/2009 5:28:41 PM
Message:

Greetings, all. In a rare fit of energy, I got the track laid on the standard gauge return loop last night, and I must say that there is a lot to be said for having the capability to just run and watch trains. I've already found and corrected "bad order" glitches on three hopper cars. There is a slight operations-related problem caused by the pre-existing track arrangement, but that'll be apparent in the photos, which follow.

Here's an overall view of the return loops, looking toward the end of the long passing siding between Ft. Loudon and Richmond Furnace. Notice anything amiss?



Because of the way I configured the turnouts in my plan for the finished railroad, the only access to the loop is from the siding; the main stub-ends. [:-banghead]


I couldn't reorient the turnouts without spending another 30+ bucks and completely changing the approaching curvature; something I don't want to do because I'd have to change it back at great effort. As it was, I had to turn about 1 1/2 inches of the straight section on the diverging turnout into flex track for a smooth transition. I did that by cutting the longitudinal spines on alternating sides of the tie strip, just like on a piece of manufactured flex track, et voila, 1 1/2 inches of flex track on a turnout.

So, for future open houses (if the loop is still in place) run-through trains will only be able to pass in the "museum" yard. It's OK, though, for whatever ops sessions we might put together in the near future: standard gauge trains terminate at Ft. Loudon, anyway, and run tender-first on the return trip, and the loop will be a convenient staging track for trains arriving at the "museum" yard from the north ("beyond the layout").

Here we look toward the north end of the "museum" yard, with the narrow gauge return loop on the upper level; it's a vertical difference here of only 4" from railhead to railhead.


This perspective gives a better idea of the closeness of the two mainlines as they will be at the Richmond Furnace site, which is the interchange point. I plan for some minimal dual gauge trackage to meet at some point that splits the difference.


As Don mentioned, we're talking about making a beginning at starting to think about maybe taking a stab at ground forms for scenery on Wednesday. Stay tuned.

Vagel


Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 04/30/2009 9:58:31 PM
Message:

Hi Vagel,

There is nothing like seeing the first train running on the layout. You and Don have come a long way in a short time. Looking forward to the scenery part.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/30/2009 10:03:16 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by elwoodblues

Hi Vagel,

There is nothing like seeing the first train running on the layout. You and Don have come a long way in a short time. Looking forward to the scenery part.




Me, too![:-bouncy][:-jump2]

Don


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 05/01/2009 08:29:24 AM
Message:

Great progress, guys. I love seeing all that Pennsy equipment on the track.

George


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/04/2009 10:27:28 PM
Message:

I'm going to sub-title this posting "Letting Go."

Tonight I put the last vestige of the old B&SGE Buchanan Branch at curbside for pick up by our municipal refuse engineers:



Here it was in its hey day:



We were able to salvage all of the structures and line-side industries for future use, but I must admit to a twinge of regret at not being able to find a way to re-use the whole of the Shoups Run oval in the new layout. At any rate, I've made a clean breast of evacuating the basement ... no Dunkirk this; we left no heavy weapons behind. The transition from model railroad to spousal gymnasium is a clean one.

Vagel

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/06/2009 7:28:17 PM
Message:

Today saw the the beginning of scenery construction with the roughing in of the mountainside around the tunnel portals at Ft. Loudon. Don set up the chop saw to cut some supports for the fascia for the Ft. Loudon/Buchanan area, which in places will be as high as 22". He took them back to his shop, where he will notch them so they'll be flush with the outer edge of the bench work frame. Cliff stopped by for a short while made us the loan of a 90-degree drill, which will be very handy for tight spaces.

Energy levels weren't what they usually are today, so we broke early for lunch. But I went back later and finished filling in the space with foam layers. Here's a couple shots of the first trains emerging from the tunnel.



Nothing is glued together, yet; it's all held together with some of Don's pot skewers. Those are 1-inch slabs; next week I'll lay in a stock of 2-inch foam.


The chronologically gifted reader will note the time-warp nature of this layout, as a 1950's-era I1sa with coal drag is followed by a mid-'60's TrukTrain. Watching those 75-foot flatcars hanging out over the 24" radius curve justifies my decision to have radii no tighter than 42-inches on the visible trackage.

Don also brought a fresh quart of his custom blended latex paint that matches Floquil Earth and put a coat of paint on the temporary return loops so they'll be a bit more presentable. I think he secretly wants to laminate them with mahogany veneer, but the paint will be just fine!


Once we're done horsing around in this area, the flat space inside the narrow gauge loop will be a nice place to display structures waiting for a home.

Next week we'll be back at it. See you then.

Vagel


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 05/06/2009 7:41:25 PM
Message:

Vagel,

Nice progress! I'm always impressed with the progress folks seem to be able to make in short bursts. I simply need to figure out how to do it myself. [:-banghead]

Question: Are you sure you're not subconsciously yearning to model the Blue Mountains in Australia?? [:-eyebrows]

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: jbvb
Replied on: 05/06/2009 10:57:00 PM
Message:

There's also the Blue Ridge in Virginia, which would be much cheaper (but possibly less fun) to research.


Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 05/07/2009 05:44:22 AM
Message:

Vagel,

You sure can really see what the scene will look like once you get the land forms in. The mountain at Ft Loudon will make a great background for the trains entering and leaving the tunnel.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/07/2009 1:04:48 PM
Message:

Thanks for the nice words, guys. Pete, the key to figuring out how to work in "short bursts" is to partner with another model railroader or two on a set schedule. I'm by nature a "binge" modeler, which always results in burn-out. With Don as a partner, though, our weekly work sessions have allowed us to make steady progress that actually, I think, has accomplished more in a shorter period than was the case on the previous, much smaller layout.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 05/07/2009 3:01:05 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

At the end of Wednesday's session, Vagel and I just sat for a while and watched his trailer-on-flat-car train go around the loop. Watching it emerge from the tunnel was a bunch of fun. I practically had to drag him to Ritter's - he just wanted to sit there and watch and listen. Me, too - but I got hungry.

Vagel's motive power and rolling stock is amazingly smooth-running and quiet. It really allows one to enjoy the digital sound.

I'm finishing up the uprights that will support the fascia and will drop them off at Vagel's later today so he can install them. Then we'll be cutting and fitting Masonite.

Don


Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 05/13/2009 07:49:22 AM
Message:

Vagel,
I hope to be able to make it down some Wednesday. What time do you and Don usually meet? Is there anything that I can bring? (food or pop)

The blue foam that you are using can you cut that with a foam cutter, or does it put off toxic fumes if you were to heat it.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/14/2009 12:33:26 AM
Message:

Greetings, all!

Today Don and I tackled the task of installing the turntable, which up 'til now has been a "page holder" in the terminal area. It turned out to be easier than feared but with some issues, one of which had to be left until tonight to confirm a solution. Here's an overview of the turntable pit and bridge with the civil engineering work completed but not yet wired:


To get the cork roadbed material to conform to such a tight radius we notched the outer edge about every 1/4" with a utility knife.

To refresh our collective memory, this is the Walthers "modern" turntable (130' diameter). I suppose that means their 90' version is "pre-modern," which for those of you not "dangerously over-educated" like me, would be B.S. (before steam). But, as usual, I digress ... Anyway, I opted to spend the extra money for the RTR version, and, based on the frustrating experience of a FreeMo colleague who braved the kit-built version of the 90' turntable, it was money well-spent. Walthers calls this "weathered." You be the (hanging) judge. For the money, though, it was truly RTR and really plug-and-play from an electronics standpoint. We marked and drilled the holes as per the provided template, set the pit in place, stuck the bridge in the hole, wired up the track and motor power leads to the control panel, and we were off and running ... sort of.

To make a long story short, the whole physical installation procedure, as per the instructions, assumes that the turntable pit will be nested on a 1/2" thick sheet of plywood. To insure levelness and rigidity, I had opted for a 3/4" thick sheet and then added the thickness of cork roadbed to the equation. Therefore, the screws and washers provided by Walthers were well over 1/4" too short. So, my turntable is not anchored by screws. I don't see that as a real problem, but Don is going to stop by a specialty shop to try and get longer versions of the small-diameter machine screws provided by Walthers so we can firmly attach the pit to the benchwork. There's a similar issue with mounting the control panel flush on the fascia, but I'll address that a bit later.

Nit picking aside, it was really easy to get this thing up and running. Here are a couple more of Don's snapshots of the inaugural merry-go-round ride for one of Pennsylvania's official state locomotives, a K4s:



With that done, we got down to brass tracks and tried to program the thing to stop where we wanted it to. Can you guess where this is leading? First we programmed the stopping point for the in-coming track (passing beneath the coaling tower). Then we programmed the stopping point for the out-going track. Here I am happily watching the K4s entering the turntable after having backed off the turntable onto the out-going track.


So far, so good. Hey, let's run this thing around the circle just for Sh'a'grins to see if it stops at the same place.

Well, poop!


It's off by just enough to derail first time, every time. As it turned out, we were going about the process bass-ackwardly. At this point we took a decidedly anti-guy approach and re-read the instructions (this time right-side up) and discovered that we (might possibly have) mistakenly interpreted the "right arrow" described in the instructions to mean the arrow pointing toward the right, when they really meant the arrow on the right-hand side of the control panel, which points counter-clockwise.

Here, I need to address that other issue with the control panel I mentioned earlier. The face of the panel is mounted to the box by four small-diameter machine screws the same length as the mounting screws for the turntable pit. They are not long enough to allow the face plate to be mounted flush on your fascia. That is why, in the photo, the whole box is stuck to the fascia with double-sided tape. Again, Don's longer custom-bought screws will enable us to have a flush-mounted control panel.

As we were heading off to Ritter's to take solace in diner kwizeen I resolved to test our theory later this evening after a nap and a scotch (or two). Guess what? Success.

So, what can we learn from this experience? Three lessons come to light. First, either the folks who write the instructions at Walthers are screwed up or Don and I are (the jury may or may not still be out on that one). Second, two heads are still better than one, especially when one is left-brained and the other is right-brained. Third, Scotch (even the cheap stuff) is good. Wait, there's a fourth lesson: the folks at Walthers don't actually subject their "instructions" to practical testing. CAVEAT EMPTOR

Finally, here are a couple of Don's snapshots of the Pennsy PA's taking a ride on the turntable.




Our next joint work session will be two weeks hence, but I'm going to try and get the roundhouse base installed by then. Stay tuned.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 05/14/2009 11:07:19 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

I think Vagel's critique of the Walther's RTR turntable is spot-on. It is really well engineered and well made, except for the couple of minor and fixable points that Vagel pointed out.

The instructions aren't as good as the product and made for an unnecessarily frustrating time but Vagel persisted (with a little help from Ritter's health food and, later, some nutritious Scotch) and it all worked out.

Even with the problems, it sure was fun to watch it operate!

It wasn't very photogenic but we did manage to get one really big piece of blue foam cut and fitted - it will be the base for many more pieces.

Next Wednesday, Vagel is part of the operating crew on Bob Prehoda's layout, and I'm off to New York City to visit my daughter. (I'll do a little thread in the Crew Lounge about the New York trip.)

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 05/14/2009 4:12:14 PM
Message:

Reading instructions...
The problem may be because, as we become more experienced, we may be inclined to think we can more easily work without them. Or just with a glance at them... And indeed this helps us to increase our experience, since in general, we have to "unbuild" the thing and then rebuild it as the instructions told us to do.
How I know that?
I am even able to not use my own plans on scratchbuilt models... They should count two for one in the NMRA AP...
Apart from this, you work greatly, and apparently all these turntable issues were finally solved. I think I'm going to buy some whisky too...


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 05/14/2009 6:15:57 PM
Message:

Vagel and Don,

I'm impressed with the speed with which you brought this project to fruition, despite the "interesting" instructions.

That said, you might keep in mind that although Our Friends in Milwaukee do put out some very cool stuff, they also offer a catalogue that defies everything I was taught about the alphabet in grammar school. The problem may be in their water, I don't know. This may have influenced their writers. Your choice of a delicious, nutritious medicinal single malt (or two) undoubtedly created the proper thinking environment to tackle this latest challenge. [:-eyebrows]

Congratulations, and thank you for the prescription. Now, where'd I put my glass??? [:-boggled]

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Greg Rich
Replied on: 05/14/2009 8:23:56 PM
Message:

Vagel,
I just found this thread, very nicely written account of your build and experiences. I'll have to read more as time allows.

I too have a Love-Hate relationship with the aforementioned 130 ft turntable.

  • Runs like a top
  • Looks good
  • Self indexing

  • Poor instructions
  • Inadequate Screws; too short
  • Did I mention poor instructions!


It amazes me at the technical disparity between the engineering excellence of the turntable and the Technical(???)writing in the instruction sheet.

The mounting screws.
-I went to Lowe's and picked up some 4-40 threaded rod, nuts and washers.
-Cut the rod to the proper length,
-tapered the ends of the rods a bit,
-ground a couple flats of the tapered end
-threaded the rods into the existing holes (being careful not to erupt through the finished side of the pit.)
- dropped the pit into place
-added the nuts and washers to retain the pit.

Code 83 rail leading to the pit.
I felt that the rail ends of the track leads needed to be held firmly spiked in place.
I removed about 2-3 ties from the code 83 flex track and placed it to meet the rails of the turntable. With the track located, I drilled holes in the top of the pit flange to accept spikes. I then spiked the rail in place through the top of the pit flange and into the underlying homasote so that it does not move.


I guess I'm going to have to get past my frustration with the shortcomings of the written instructions, take the bull by the horns and figure this programming thing out.

Any guidance from folks that have successfully programmed the turntable would be appreciated,

Regards,
Greg Rich


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 05/14/2009 11:47:12 PM
Message:

Hi, Greg --

I won't attempt to answer for Vagel, but I do really like your solution (using threaded rod) for the short screws. I was going to try Fastenal but if the local Lowe's carries the right size rod, I'll go your route.

FWIW, Vagel and I really were reading the f'ing instructions. I was actually reading them aloud, and then we'd try to figure out what they meant. All of the problems could have been solved with a couple of additional drawings. Or maybe we should have started on the Scotch earlier.

Regarding spiking the rails down to the lip of the turntable - that's Vagel's department. I just do stuff like screws and carpentry. But it sounds like a good idea.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/15/2009 12:56:33 AM
Message:

"Finally, here are a couple of Don's snapshots of the Pennsy PA's taking a ride on the turntable."

Oops! What's a 'PA'?! Of course I meant AFP-20's ("A"lco "F"reight/"P"assenger" [dual service] - "20" x 100 h.p. per unit. Hey, we're talking the Standard RR of the World here! Didn't everybody have this designation!? Some HO museum curator I'm turning out to be.

Thanks for the kind words and advice on the turntable. As I mentioned, I've got the programming thing figured out, and I don't think the mounting screws are going to be an issue. This thing is pretty firmly in place, level, and not subject to displacement from accidental bumping. That said ...

This evening I came up against another problem not mentioned in the instructions. It involves reversed polarity on tracks exiting the opposite side of the turntable, and I'll have to draw a diagram and post it in order to be understood, so stay tuned.

Vagel



Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/15/2009 11:46:30 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by rickb326

Vagel,
I hope to be able to make it down some Wednesday. What time do you and Don usually meet?



Rick, looking at your profile I think you'd better have your Mom or Dad contact me to set up a visit. I'm glad to show you what we're up to on the layout anytime.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/15/2009 12:00:59 PM
Message:

quote:

This evening I came up against another problem not mentioned in the instructions. It involves reversed polarity on tracks exiting the opposite side of the turntable, and I'll have to draw a diagram and post it in order to be understood, so stay tuned.



OK, here's the diagram of what the turntable arrangement looked like last night when I encountered the polarity problem. The "No Track Zone" is where the turntable bridge passes the auto-reverser.



Locomotives entering and leaving the turntable via the Svc tracks are fine. But engines trying to enter or leave via the escape or storage track cause a short, whether I turn the bridge clockwise or counter-clockwise. It's a quick fix to swap the power leads to the storage track, but doing that with the escape track would short the entire layout, right? So, do I need to isolate the escape track and wire it as a reversing track? That doesn't seem to make sense, since the turntable already serves the function, right? As Mr. Backwards shouted to the puzzled onlookers right before he went under for the last time, "Pleh! Pleh!"

Vagel


Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 05/15/2009 12:15:46 PM
Message:

Vagel,

Ha! I wondered what the response was all about until I thought well I better check into what my profile actually says. I guess I never selected the right year as my profile read 1996 as my birthdate as opposed to 1980, which makes me the actual 29 years old instead of 13!

I met you at Bob Prehoda's layout during an op session. I work right down the road in Shadyside and just wanted to see if I could swing by sometime when you guys are working.

Rick


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/15/2009 12:22:09 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Greg Rich


Code 83 rail leading to the pit.
I felt that the rail ends of the track leads needed to be held firmly spiked in place. [snip]
Any guidance from folks that have successfully programmed the turntable would be appreciated,



Greg,

I can see the value of securing the rail ends. But I also noticed that the rails on the turntable bridge are Code 70, so I may decide to replace the current Code 80 servicing tracks with Code 70.

On programming, following the instructions works, as long as you remember that "right arrow" means the one that turns the table counter-clockwise. The table should always approach the stopping point you want to index in a counter-clockwise direction, stopping with the to sets of rails (bridge and exit track) overlapping about 1/8" from closure. If you go to far just run the table clockwise for a bit, and re-approach in a counter-clockwise direction. From there, you use the procedure described to line everything up before pressing and holding the "set" button. Both ends of the bridge will now stop at this point.

One frustration I have with programming is that the turntable has only two speeds: slow and dead slow. When you're working opposite sides of a 21" long pit, it seems like forever before the darned thing makes it all the way 'round. But, hey, it sure is sexy when it works!

Good luck with it,
Vagel


Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 05/15/2009 12:25:29 PM
Message:

Now looking back it's no wonder no one has ever taken me very seriously on this forum. HAHA! I thought why doesn't anyone ever amswer my messages?!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 05/15/2009 1:19:52 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by rickb326

Vagel,

Ha! I wondered what the response was all about until I thought well I better check into what my profile actually says. I guess I never selected the right year as my profile read 1996 as my birthdate as opposed to 1980, which makes me the actual 29 years old instead of 13!

I met you at Bob Prehoda's layout during an op session. I work right down the road in Shadyside and just wanted to see if I could swing by sometime when you guys are working.

Rick




Hi, Rick --

What a hoot! Are you sure you want to grow up? Maybe it would be fun to just stay 13. [:-clover]

Don


Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 05/15/2009 1:56:01 PM
Message:

Don,
It sure would be nice to be that young again. That way I wouldn't have to work everyday of the summer. I could play more golf and work on my railroad.

With your short problem I have a tester that may help. It's called a pricom and if you have the patience to look through the manual that is with it it may be of some help.

Rick


Reply author: Carrie Creek
Replied on: 05/15/2009 5:36:02 PM
Message:

Vagel,
I am not a electronic guy at all but I think that you need to rotate the no track 90degrees. If you turn clockwise from the svc tracks over to the escape track you will have a short as it doesn't pass thru the ARI unit. If you put the no track between the two sets of tracks you have to pass thru no matter what.

Phil


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/16/2009 12:13:42 AM
Message:

Hi, Phil. Logically, you're solution would seem to be correct. Unfortunately, we're not dealing with logic ... we're dealing with Walthers. Just to make sure I wasn't having a premature senior moment, I went across the street to make sure, and, yes, the short occurs whether I move the turntable clockwise over the shorter distance or counter-clockwise "around the horn" and passing through the reverser.

Actually, I spoke to a tech support person at Walthers today and was let in on the news that the turntable "wasn't designed to operate with DCC." Excuse me?! Wasn't this thing released in 2008?

The solution that we agreed on was that the escape track will have to be isolated and wired as ANOTHER reversing section, a la a Wye. OK, fine. But I'm not sure the technology exists to automate that process. We'll see ... eventually. For now, I've got other things to do.

How did that motto go, again? "Model Railroading is Fun."

I did manage to actually rough-finish a structure kit this week; the Walthers small concrete coaling tower is fully assembled and ready for weathering. I'll post a few snap shots, with pithy comments, later this weekend.

Vagel



Reply author: trainmanmarsh
Replied on: 05/16/2009 02:03:02 AM
Message:

Hello

I was looking at your turntable problem and have a solution for you. Hook the table itself into the reverser. What that means is take the two wires that run to B1 and B2 on the control box and run them through a reversing unit. If I remember correctly that is what was done on a freinds layout with a similar problem. I hope it helps and great job with the layout so far. I look forward to seeing what you get done next.

Espen


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/16/2009 12:55:50 PM
Message:

Espen, thanks for that advice, but I'm going to hold off on wiring a second reverser into the turntable circuit (recall that this RTR turntable comes with one installed). Actually, I've been lurking on another forum where this issue has it's own thread, and one of the topics relates to someone who had done as you suggest, with the result that the system went into overload when the bridge passed the "no track zone."

I went ahead and registered for the forum so I can post my problem; I'll be sure to let you all know how I fare.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/18/2009 1:56:37 PM
Message:

Hi, All. I think I've found the solution to the polarity issue with the turntable arrangement. One of the guys at TrainBoard.com suggested that I add the bridge tracks to my diagram, and sure enough the polarity of the bridge rails does not match up with that of the escape track because it either does not pass through the reverser at all or it passes through twice enroute from one side to the other!



I'll have to re-orient the turntable to locate the no track zone somewhere between the service tracks and the escape track. The only issue now is that the new location for the no track zone might fall within the fan of the 9-stall roundhouse at the bottom of the diagram.[:-banghead] So now the task is to get the stalls located ASAP so we can put this issue to bed.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/18/2009 5:10:05 PM
Message:

Just to give credit where it's due, Phil, you were exactly right!

Vagel

quote:
Originally posted by Carrie Creek

Vagel,
I am not a electronic guy at all but I think that you need to rotate the no track 90degrees. If you turn clockwise from the svc tracks over to the escape track you will have a short as it doesn't pass thru the ARI unit. If you put the no track between the two sets of tracks you have to pass thru no matter what.

Phil


Reply author: Carrie Creek
Replied on: 05/19/2009 12:35:14 PM
Message:

Vagel,
I don't know how this TT is made as to how the gap width is. Is there a dead section or just a gap that operates the ARI? As long as it is some where in the arc between the SVC2 and escape tracks you have some leeway. I am thinking that as long as the no track does not line up with a stall you should be okay. Or as an idea if you have the room add a 10th stall and make the one dead or as something unique split your roundhouse in too. There are not set spots for the tracks right? You can place them wherever and then tell the sensor/programer where they are?

Anyway just some thoughts,Phil


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 05/20/2009 09:17:12 AM
Message:

No work session this week - Vagel is operating Bob Prehoda's layout and I'm in NYC. But he told me that our assignment for next Wednesday is the floor of the roundhouse - lots of pits to be cut. By then, I suspect he'll have worked out the "no track" problem. I don't know how wide the "dead zone" (or "death zone") is but I'm sure the problem will be solved.

I love the fact that I can leave after a day of work on a Wednesday, knowing that Vagel will have solved all the problems by the next Wednesday.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/20/2009 11:06:55 AM
Message:

The no track zone is about the width of the bridge, minus the walkways. I was able to rotate the pit 45 degrees clockwise so the zone falls between the service and escape tracks on one side and just outside the footprint of the roundhouse on the other. So there will be no need to tweak the location of stalls, and no new mounting holes had to be drilled, either.

Another case of inadvertent competence![:-clown]

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 05/21/2009 08:33:21 AM
Message:

Hi, Vagel and all y'all --

Greetings from NYC. Having a great time!

When I was a Titan II launch officer, we called it "the problem of random success."

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 06/04/2009 12:44:52 AM
Message:

We're Baaaaaaack!

Today's work session met another milestone: the supports for the roundhouse base are leveled and installed, the foam base has been cut to fit, and the wiring for routing power to the roundhouse stalls and exterior storage tracks is in place.

We started by soldering 12 22-gauge power leads to the 14-gauge wires that would branch off of the main power bus under the yard. These will serve the roundhouse stalls and three outside tracks. Each will be routed through on/off switches.

Here's Don (aka Ming the Merciless) at work with his death ray at the workbench:



It seemed to take longer to solder the branches to the main bus, now awkwardly under the plywood base for the yard and set back two feet from the aisle, than it did for Don to solder 24 separate leads at the easily accessible work bench.

Next we temporarily clamped the risers in place to support the 1" thick foam base for the roundhouse.


Here we used salvaged materials from the old B&SGE layout, and I paid the price with a wound from the sharp edge of a rough-cut 1x2. To spare the women and children, Don waited until the flow of arterial blood had been staunched before snapping this photo:

I know it looks trivial, but it was touch and go there for a while ... I swear! Important safety tip: round off all sharp corners with a sanding block before attempting the hazardous task of leveling up your rough-cut risers!

Here are a couple of shots Don took of Cliff and me after the three of us had cut the foam from yet another pattern made from the last of the bookcase packing cardboard (and, believe me, it took all of six hands to get that done). Remarkably, everything was right-on level ... another incident of random success.

In the above view, I've positioned the floor sections for six of the Walthers 90' stalls (left) and the basic 3-unit 130' "modern" roundhouse at right, with a gap between the two. At this point I'm undecided as to whether I want to splice the two different styles together or treat them as separate buildings with a track running between them to an off-scene back shop.

For those who followed and/or contributed to the mini-saga of the automatic reverser in the turntable, I drew a broad line in the image below to show where the "no track" zone resides in the final configuration:


That's it for this installment. C'ya on the railroad,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 06/04/2009 06:55:49 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Yesterday was fun, as always. It's nice to have Cliff joining us. He and Vagel both have very wide-ranging interests and great depth of knowlege and listening to their conversations is really interesting. And Cliff owns lots of cool tools.

I forgot to post something last week explaining our "absence" - Vagel and his wife went to Texas for the week.

Vagel and I are talking about methods for cutting out the plywood and/or foam for the turntable pits. One possibility is making a simple jig and doing it with a trim router with a pattern-following bit - a scaled-down version of the method I used to cut the waffle sections of those ultra-light modules.

In order to accomodate the round house, we actually changed the basic outline of the bench work a little but that only took a few minutes, since everything is put together with screws. (At some point, when we know that the whole thing is "done" I may pull some screws, squirt in some glue, and then drive the screws back in. Probably unnecessary. [:-bigeyes])

We finished up at Ritter's Diner, as usual.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 06/11/2009 01:04:01 AM
Message:

Today Don and I returned to the Buchanan/Ft. Loudon area and prepared it for the high fascia that will hide the 180-degree 24"-radius std. gauge curve under the narrow gauge yard at Buchanan. Don had notched some various-length furring strips on the band saw in his shop so and we first mounted them to the benchwork:



We had to do some light shimming here and there to make everything as close to plumb as possible; at the end of the session we had satisfactorily dealt with the 'This Old House' question, "Do you want it plumb, or do you to want it to look like it's plumb."

Next, we tacked some of the ever-present cardboard to the furring strips and cut it to fit the contour of the mountainside landscape I've been visualizing in my mind. Don couldn't resist planting a vestigial tree as a reminder of the "fun" that lies ahead with building trees.


Here's the finished cardboard mock-up:


We stopped at this point for several reasons, all having to do with the issue of access to the underside of Buchanan. First, we have to install six Tortoise switch machines under the HOn3 turnouts there. They need to be wired to DTDP toggle switches mounted on a model board to be installed in the fascia. We also need to address the issue of access to the hidden std gauge curve and B&O/WM staging, which we think we have a pretty neat solution for. Next week we'll begin to address those issues. Stay tuned.

Vagel


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 06/11/2009 09:53:23 AM
Message:

Nicely done, guys! The cardboard fascia template is a great idea, one of those "Why, oh why, didn't I think of that??" sorts of things.

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 06/12/2009 06:59:11 AM
Message:

We'll stay tuned, Vagel. I agree with Pete, the cardboard fascia is a good wood and time saver. And one of the many reasons to follow such a forum, with new ideas coming almost every day.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 06/12/2009 09:13:59 AM
Message:

Vagel said he has to buy more bookcases from Ikea 'cause he's running out of cardboard.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 06/12/2009 11:10:46 AM
Message:

Thanks, Fred and Pete. Actually, although I quipped about needing more bookcases, we're getting a lot more mileage out of this stuff than I ever thought. But, when it comes time for Phase II, we'll need some more big sheets ... guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

An added benefit of cardboard mockups, as you can see from the image, is that it really helps to visualize what the land form is going to look like ... or not if you don't like it.

'best,
Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 06/12/2009 11:21:34 AM
Message:

Vagel, I'm just getting caught up on this thread. You guys are making some great progress. Installing that fascia will make a BIG difference, but make sure you are ready for it. Nothing worse than realizing you need access to an area that is now closed off! The layout looks great!


Reply author: hunter48820
Replied on: 06/12/2009 11:27:04 AM
Message:

Hi Vagel,
I agree with Mark, it is coming along very nicely. Look forward to more updates!!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 06/30/2009 09:57:21 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Sorry for the lack of updates. Vagel has been fixing minor but difficult track problems on what will eventually be hidden trackage. He very much wants that track to be perfect before we make it hard to reach. He's making good progress.

I did some small refinements on the supports for the fascia - making odd-shaped pieces to support the Masonite at the corners.

I'm also working on wiring a control panel for the narrow gauge turnouts at Buchanan, which leads to the main reason for this post.

Does anyone know how to contact a human at Tortoise/Circuitron?

I'm a mite ticked at them. The Tortoise instruction sheet cites four different, possibly useful, "application notes." I've gone through their website, downloaded their catalog, etc., and can't find them. So I went to their "contact us" link and sent them an e-mail a week ago and haven't had a response. Any suggestions?

Don


Reply author: bitlerisvj
Replied on: 07/01/2009 10:18:22 AM
Message:

Hi Don,
Here are some Application Notes:
http://www.amhobby.com/products/tech/circuitron.html
I am not sure what you were lookig for, but I have Tortoises on my layout that are activated by using push buttons and a diode matrix with bi-color LEDs in series with the Tortoise to give a RED or GREEN indication. Maybe you can tell us what kind of question you have and someone here can give an answer?
Regards, Vic Bitleris

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

Hi, everyone --

Sorry for the lack of updates. Vagel has been fixing minor but difficult track problems on what will eventually be hidden trackage. He very much wants that track to be perfect before we make it hard to reach. He's making good progress.

I did some small refinements on the supports for the fascia - making odd-shaped pieces to support the Masonite at the corners.

I'm also working on wiring a control panel for the narrow gauge turnouts at Buchanan, which leads to the main reason for this post.

Does anyone know how to contact a human at Tortoise/Circuitron?

I'm a mite ticked at them. The Tortoise instruction sheet cites four different, possibly useful, "application notes." I've gone through their website, downloaded their catalog, etc., and can't find them. So I went to their "contact us" link and sent them an e-mail a week ago and haven't had a response. Any suggestions?

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/01/2009 3:15:52 PM
Message:

Hi, Vic --

Thank you, thank you, thank you! That's exactly what I was looking for. Could you do a separate posting - maybe in the wiring forum - with that information and with Tortoise Application Notes in the subject line - so other people can find it easily? If you're busy, I'll be glad to do it but I don't want to appear to be pirating your information.

Thanks again,

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/01/2009 3:18:07 PM
Message:

P.S. -

Vic, I'm not to the point of having specific questions yet; I just wanted to gather all the information I could so that I could help Vagel as much as possible. But thanks for the suggestion - I'm sure we'll have question as we move forward.

Right now, I'm working out the frame and hinging for the control panel - stuff like that.

Don


Reply author: bitlerisvj
Replied on: 07/01/2009 3:38:07 PM
Message:

DONE, I posted a NEW TOPIC called Tortoise Application Notes in the Computers and Electronics for Model Railroaders Forum.
Regards, Vic Bitleris

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

Hi, Vic --

Thank you, thank you, thank you! That's exactly what I was looking for. Could you do a separate posting - maybe in the wiring forum - with that information and with Tortoise Application Notes in the subject line - so other people can find it easily? If you're busy, I'll be glad to do it but I don't want to appear to be pirating your information.

Thanks again,

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/02/2009 7:30:46 PM
Message:

Hi, Vic - and anyone else who is working their way up the Tortoise-wiring learning curve:

I downloaded and printed the Circuitron application notes and added them to my file folder. They are all useful, now or later.

Vagel also found a good illustration on the FastTracks website:

http://www.handlaidtrack.com/tech-turnout-wiring-tortoise.php

Maybe I should add that link to Vic's posting in "wiring" forum.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/03/2009 3:10:55 PM
Message:

Greetings, everyone!

While Don works on the control panel for the turnouts at Buchanan, I'm paying some attention to the steam loco servicing tracks at the "museum." I've been chipping away at the Walthers ash pit and dump hoist kit for the past couple of weeks and finally finished the basic assembly this morning.

Installation on the layout required a cross-shaped hole to be cut in th plywood subroadbed, as the hopper and pit extend 3/4" below the layout surface. In the image below, the "t" on the cross is for the hopper that goes under the track. The dimensions are in scale feet.



Pretty neat saber saw work, eh!?

Yet ANOTHER instance of random success, just missing a riser:


Here's the partially completed assembly in position, so I can now located the service track under the dump chute on its way to the coal dump for the fuel station ...


... and an overview from the turntable area:


Now, it's time to finish preparing the surface of the yard area, then finally locate all the yard tracks and get them down.

See ya soon,
Vagel


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 07/03/2009 4:47:37 PM
Message:

Vagel, you lead a charmed life. I would have hit the middle of that support if it had been my project.

George


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/03/2009 5:06:51 PM
Message:

Very nice work with the sabresaw.

Don


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 07/03/2009 6:06:20 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by George D

Vagel, you lead a charmed life. I would have hit the middle of that support if it had been my project.

George



And if it had been MY project, I would have nailed both the riser and the wires.... [:-banghead]

Nice job, Vagel! This is coming right along! [:-thumbu]

Pete
in MIchigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/03/2009 7:27:35 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

Very nice work with the sabresaw.

Don



I have a good teacher, Don!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/08/2009 4:01:40 PM
Message:

Greetings, all!

Don brought the control panel for Buchanan today to test fit it and determine how best to run the wires from the DPDT toggle switches to the Tortoise switch machines under the HOn3 branch.

Here it is tacked in place between two uprights that will support the facia:



Tracks 1 & 2 will serve an iron ore tipple.


Bud Brock (r) and Cliff (l) came by for consultation on various projects of their own, and I snapped a shot of Don "drawing them a picture" of something or other.


In other news, I've got the floor segments for the roundhouse glued together and in position for locating and cutting out the openings in the subroadbed for the inspection pits.

Next week we're going to wire up some Tortoises ... stay tuned.

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 07/08/2009 5:54:10 PM
Message:

Apart from the nicely done control panel, there are several very nice structures in the pictures above, Vagel. Not even including Don...


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/09/2009 12:29:23 PM
Message:

Thanks, Frederic.

That old IHC snap-together station doesn't look too bad with the scratchbuilt roof, wood platform, and added details ... until you notice the window frames are 3 scale inches thick. But it served its purpose well at Buchanan on the old layout. My next modeling project is its replacement: a laser kit based on a PRR Lines West prototype. The blast furnace complex is sitting just about where it will go on the layout when we move onto Phase II someday. I wrote about how I backdated the Walthers blast furnace in an article forthcoming in Carstens's HOn3 Annual. I probably ought to write the project up for RR-Line ...

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/10/2009 5:05:19 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Frederic Testard

Apart from the nicely done control panel, there are several very nice structures in the pictures above, Vagel. Not even including Don...



The "Don Structure" needs to lose the 20 or so pounds that it put on while on the cancer med's. I've been off the drugs since February and blood chemistry is creeping back toward normal. I'm starting to have a fighting chance on the weight. Also starting to have more energy, which is most welcome.[:-bouncy]

I've been working on the Buchanan control panel in the home shop. I sprayed all the areas that will be yellow on the track diagram with a high-end Rustoleum gloss yellow. For a rattle can, I'd have to say it worked really well. It laid down a nice, level glossy surface in a couple of coats.

Once it has cured fully, I'll mask it - I'm going to try using Frisket film - and then spray it with the somewhat pricey "industrial strength" Rustoleum gloss black. I'll post some pictures when I'm done - if it turns out well.

Vagel e-mailed me the tentative plan for the 14-switch panel to control power to the various tracks in and near the roundhouse. Once we work out details, I'll built that one.

I need to order a bunch of edge connectors for the Tortoise machines and three or four spools of wire in various colors.

Not really relevant to this thread, but - Bud Brock and I are going to cooperate on building a new wye module for the FreeMo group, using that "ultra-light" framing methods I cobbled together for Gary Kohler's modules.

The present two piece Wye is putting Bud's back out everytime he has to load it. The new one will be larger, made in three pieces, with a target weight of <10 pounds per unit (before track, etc.) Details will appear in the FreeMo thread. I just got Bud's CAD-Rail drawing and I'm going to start by lofting it full size on the floor.

Best to yunz all,

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 07/10/2009 5:30:00 PM
Message:

Don, it's good to see you feel better.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/15/2009 9:41:02 PM
Message:

Hello!

Today Don delivered the latest product from Reed Signal & Switch, the control panel for Buchanan:



My task is now to make the decals for the mine and team tracks, the "builders plate," and the B&SGE logo. Have a look at Don's neat wiring:

The only glitch is that the carpet tape Don used to hold the terminal strip in place didn't adhere well to the bumpy rear surface of the hardboard. Maybe epoxy? Here's a close-up of one of the DPDT switches that will control the Tortoise machines:

We're using 4-conductor phone line to connect the DPDT switches to the foil strips on the Tortoise machines. Don figured out a way to twist and solder the fine wires into pairs to be safe, while leaving a single wire protruding at the Tortoise end so it will fit the tiny hole in the foil strip.



The powerpack will provide variable DC power to the Tortoise motors for slow operation.

Also, before we broke off for the day, I installed two more filler pieces in the benchwork at Ft. Loudon to keep a long angled piece of framing from bowing under the pressure of "leaners."

I'm in the process of mounting and wiring up a tortoise, and will post pictures and lessons as soon as that's done.

Vagel



Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 07/16/2009 06:12:55 AM
Message:

If you've found an innovative way to wire the tortoise, I'm interested.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/16/2009 11:30:07 AM
Message:

Hi, Frederic --

Nothing innovative, I'm afraid. Vagel found a really good picture/illustration on the FastTrack site and that's what we're following.

I have a spool of alarm system wire (4 conductors) and I'm using that to connect from the panel to the Tortoises. Being cautious, I'm twisting and soldering pairs of wire together to increase the amperage rating - definitely over-kill.

We are temporarily hooking up to the Tortoises by poking a wire through the tiny holes in the connector strip and twisting it - our edge connectors are back-ordered until 7/24 from Digikey. Once they arrive, we'll make the permanent connections.

Vagel tried attaching the machines to the plywood underside with 3M 465 but the rough wood isn't a good surface for that product. He switched to Goo, which is well-recommended by other local modelers.

I suspect if I wanted to use 3M 465, I would put a couple of coats of gloss polyurethane on the plywood. Or perhaps epoxy a thin sheet of styrene to the underside. And of course we can always say "t'hell with science" and use screws.

Vagel has drafted a layout for the control panel for the roundhouse and I'll try to have that ready by next Wednesday.

In future, I will make the frames deeper so we can set the panel back in a bit more. That will also give me a bit more room for catches or Velcro or whatever we decide to use to hold the panels into the frame.

Vagel is putting in lots of hours in the evenings - there's always a lot of progress to admire when I get over there.

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 07/16/2009 12:21:57 PM
Message:

Thank you for the explanation, Dn. You might be interested by this method I found to attach the tortoise to the plywood. A small piece of medium was drilled to hold the tortoise and slots were added to screw the piece of medium while keeping the possibility of some lateral motion to locate it more precisely. Here are some pictures.







Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/16/2009 11:29:05 PM
Message:

That's a really elegant solution, Frederic, and one that I'm sure we can adapt to our situtation. However, in some cases we've carpentry'd ourselves into corners by locating turnouts right above (or nearly above) risers that can't be relocated.

One example is the "prototype" installation we've been messing with these past few days. The Tortoise butts right up against the riser, and I even had to trim off a piece of the "L" that I had glued to it to make it fit. Also, notice that the drill lopped off a piece of that same "L" when drilling for the power leads to the frog and stock rails!


To make matters worse, I mis-located the machine laterally, so the throw arm is too far to the left in this picture, so the points don't seat against the far rail from the perspective of this picture. I'll have to drill a new hole in the throw tie to make it work properly. As I said, I'll post results AND lessons!

Good news: Thanks to the excellent quality control at Reed Signal & Switch (Slaughterhouse Electronics is a very tempting alternate name), the wiring is good. No shorts and no more dependence on power-routing via the point-to-stock rail contact! Whoopee!

On matters of a purely modeling nature ... July is C-Liner month on the 2009 Pennsy calendar. So, to honor the occasion I finally had my P1K C-Liners (on which I long-ago installed the Cal-Scale Train Phone sets) digitized. The Museum Collection grows!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/17/2009 4:23:42 PM
Message:

[quote]Originally posted by Frederic Testard

Thank you for the explanation, Don. You might be interested by this method I found to attach the tortoise to the plywood. A small piece of medium was drilled to hold the tortoise and slots were added to screw the piece of medium while keeping the possibility of some lateral motion to locate it more precisely. Here are some pictures. [quote]

My thanks also, Frederic. I'm thinking of adding Tortoises to the narrow gauge turnouts on my dual-gauge FreeMo module and your nicely designed mount would work well there.

I've started prepping the material for the roundhouse control panel. I decided to try sanding the rough side of the Masonite on the stationary belt sander, and that worked quite well. Interestingly, it actually cleaned the belt - just the way our neoprene belt cleaners do.

I can't drill the panel until we decide which switches to order. I've been trolling the electronic surplus sites and have found some good deals on switches - under a dollar a piece in some cases. And the sites are a lot of fun to explore -- something for the would-be mad scientist in all of us. Here's a sample:

http://www.herbach.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=SFNT&Store_Code=HAR

And another:
http://www.sciplus.com/category.cfm/subsection/14

Vagel's diargram for the round house panel has a circular section, which sort of represents the round house. Masking that will be interesting. I may have to buy a blade holder for my compass.

Don





Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 07/17/2009 6:22:31 PM
Message:

quote:
To make matters worse, I mis-located the machine laterally, so the throw arm is too far to the left in this picture

It's because I have a real "talent" to do this kind of mislocation that I imagined the design shown above, that allows me to easily correct lateral errors (and reduces the number of screws to install in an awkward position from 4 to 2...).


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/22/2009 2:48:24 PM
Message:

Hi, All.

We got some important, if unphotogenic, work done today. Don brought his router and cut the trenches in the plywood base for the roundhouse inspection pits. What a noisy, messy task ... but it's finally done. We also got a few wiring chores done and removed the temporarily tacked-in-place leads to the turntable so the pit can be removed, painted, and weathered.

We're still trying to decide where, exactly, the roundhouse control panel is going to go, but by next week I should have the template to Don so he can fabricate it in time to bring with him.

More later.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/02/2009 5:37:49 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Frederic Testard

... method I found to attach the tortoise to the plywood. A small piece of medium was drilled to hold the tortoise and slots were added to screw the piece of medium while keeping the possibility of some lateral motion to locate it more precisely.



Frederic, how thick is the subroadbed? The reason I ask is the Tortoise "instructions" say the wire rod is intended for use with a 1" thick subroadbed (I guess the typical 1/2" plywood with 1/2" homasote.

Based on my experience with the first one to be completed I now think that your method would dovetail nicely with the need to add 1/2" of thickness to my subroadbed.

Thanks,
Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/02/2009 5:38:33 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Frederic Testard

... method I found to attach the tortoise to the plywood. A small piece of medium was drilled to hold the tortoise and slots were added to screw the piece of medium while keeping the possibility of some lateral motion to locate it more precisely.



Frederic, how thick is the subroadbed? The reason I ask is the Tortoise "instructions" say the wire rod is intended for use with a 1" thick subroadbed (I guess the typical 1/2" plywood with 1/2" homasote.

Based on my experience with the first one to be completed I now think that your method would dovetail nicely with the need to add 1/2" of thickness to my subroadbed.

Thanks,
Vagel


Reply author: deemery
Replied on: 08/02/2009 6:10:17 PM
Message:

If you're going to use Tortoses through more than about 1/2" of subroadbed, consider replacing the wire that comes with it with .032 steel music wire. The stronger wire works better for the longer reach through the subroadbed.

dave


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/11/2009 11:22:27 AM
Message:

Hi, all.

Just got the these in-progress shots of the control panel for the turntable tracks in the standard gauge engine terminal from Slaughterhouse Switch & Signal. Don is jammin'!



These on/off toggles came with the leads installed, which I'm sure made Don's work easier, but, still, ya gotta be impressed!


We're getting together tomorrow after a 4-week hiatus to get the Buchahan branch back in operation with tortoise-controlled turnouts.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/12/2009 6:03:02 PM
Message:

Today, Don and I made great progress on installing the Tortoise machines to control the narrow gauge turnouts at Buchanan. We settled on using Frederic Testard's design for mounting plates, so we went to one of the few real hardware stores still left in the Pittsburgh area -- Masters Hardware in Swissvale -- to secure the flat head bolts and nuts and round head wood screws and washers needed to mount the machines to the 5/16" plywood plates and the plates to the underside of the layout.

For ease of soldering and future maintenance or replacement of switch machines, all wires coming in from the power buses or DPDT switches and going out to the frogs will be soldered to edge connectors, which will then be slipped onto the circuit board at the bottoms of the machines. Here is a sample shot of that arrangement on the first machine to be fully installed. This machine was mounted directly to the subroadbed before we decided to use the mounting plates.


In the zoom shot below, the DC power for the motor runs to positions 1 & 8. DCC power from the outside rail power bus goes to position 2, from the inside rail power bus to 3, and the variable polarity DCC power going to the frog runs from position 4. Positions 5, 6 & 7 are used to control signals that reflect track routing via the turnout (fortunately, the B&SGE is not so advanced that it employs CTC!).

We want the orientation of the DPDT toggle on the panel to reflect the track routing, so it is necessary to swap the DC power leads between positions 1 & 8 until the polarity is correct. It is much easier to do this on an edge connector before soldering than it is with the circuit board on the base of the Tortoise machine.

Here is an overview from the east end of Buchanan with the first of the Tortoise machines mounted with the "Testard Apparatus."

The mounting plate with slots for the mounting screws makes it possible for one person to mount the machines and tweak the alignment. What a great idea!?

And here's an example of how the "Testard Apparatus" allows one to compensate for turnouts being too close to the edge.

This is where we left off for the day, but as I was turning out the lights, I discovered that Slaughterhouse Switch & Signal had pre-positioned the panel and Tortoise machine for Kalbach (formerly Shoup's Run).

This really was hump day for the Tortoise machine project. We'll be done with this really soon and moving onto the standard gauge turntable project. Stay tuned.

Vagel



Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/12/2009 9:28:27 PM
Message:

It was indeed a fun and productive day. I have a little touchup painting to do on the control panels. I'm also adding knobs to them so they can be pulled open - it takes quite a bit of force against the power of the two magnetic cabinet latches and you need something to grab. I'm making the knobs from oak "buttons" - the thingies that are normally used to cover screw heads. I'll post a picture when they're done.

Once Vagel becomes the guru of Tortoises, I'm going to schlep my FreeMo module over to his place and add them to the three LITCO narrow gauge turnouts.

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 08/14/2009 02:44:45 AM
Message:

Well, guys, nice work on the tortoises and, Vagel, thanks for the name given to the device...
I can't remember if you've mentioned somewhere the place where you bought the 10 pin plug you add to the bottom of the tortoise. Although I regret the lack of a "screwing wires device", it looks like a good solution to keep things clean and simple.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/14/2009 12:16:06 PM
Message:

Hi, Frederic --

At some point in this thread, I expressed my frustration with Circuitron's unhelpful website and lack of response to e-mailed requests for help. On of the forum-folks pointed me to an excellent source of technical information on Tortoises and a whole lot of other products:

http://www.amhobby.com/products/tech/circuitron/edge-connectors.htm

This link takes you directly to the information about edge connectors, including stock numbers, phone numbers, URL, etc. But if you go "up" on the website a couple of levels (to "Tech") you'll find lots of very helpful sheets on many other subjects.

I believe Vagel is definitely finding the edge connectors a lot easier to use then soldering directly to the machines. Not exactly cheap at $3.355 each but worth it.

Back to work,

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 08/14/2009 7:44:53 PM
Message:

Thanks for the link, Don. I just watched the tortoise part but it is already full of precise information.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/15/2009 2:13:05 PM
Message:

Hi, Frederick and everyone,

DesertDrover just posted a link to a really good pdf on Tortoise installation in the Small Scale part of rr-line:
http://ezbizwebsite.com/No%20Fail%20Tortoise%20instructions.pdf

I wish we'd know about it a month ago.

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 08/16/2009 5:16:52 PM
Message:

Nice information in this article, Don. Now we seem to have many various solutions to install these motors. Thanks to you and Arthur for sharing.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/19/2009 11:14:54 PM
Message:

We got a lot done today, not least of which was finally "putting to bed" the control panel and Tortoise machine installation for the Buchanan yard. Here is an overview of four of the five machines installed and working, keyed to the Slaughterhouse Switch & Signal panel:


The machine linked to the red arrow (mine tipple tracks 1 & 2) was the subject of our efforts today, and as with the machine that links the tipple tracks to the main it took about 2 hours of tinkering to install.

But first to other things. When Don arrived I had just finished the first step in preparing the sub-roadbed at Kalbach for Tortoise installation. This required the replacement of the original 1x3 splice plate supporting the joint between two 1/2" plywood pieces with a thinner piece of 5/16" Luan plywood. Here is an overhead shot of the site, with turnout removed and splice plate glued in place awaiting the cutting of the new slot for the Tortoise throw arm:



While I was finishing this, Don was installing an upgraded frame for the SS&S panel that allowed for the use of cupboard door magnets to hold it in place. He also brought along his 5-minute epoxy kit to cement the steel plates and the barrier strips in place on the back of the hardboard panel. Here is a shot of Don in his role as human clamp. Note that Don is wearing the appropriate color latex gloves to match my spring clamps from a "most favored nation" that shall remain nameless (hint: doesn't get along too well with Tibet).



In the background note that we are still running trains between work sessions, although the dust we've generated with some of our more "excavative" moments has created some problems with the steam locos.

Here's the rear of the Buchanan panel finally installed for good. That's the hidden standard gauge line from the museum terminal via the time tunnel to the 1938 portal at Ft. Loudon passing behind the panel; the cable lying over the track is the DC power line for the Tortoise machine at the mine tipple, which now passes underneath the sub-roadbed. The removable panel will serve as an access hatch to the hidden trackage in case of derailments, etc. in the future.



Installation of the Tortoise for the mine tipple turnout proved to be an extraordinary challenge as it interfered with a vertical support. Fortunately, we were lucky to be able make it fit by cutting a notch in the "Testard Device" and having enough length of the turnout's throw arm to allow for a significant offset. Here's a shot from underneath, showing the notch in the Testard patent mounting plate to hug the vertical support:



With the Tortoise machine in place, the next step was to align the turnout over the throw wire. This was vice versa from the procedure with the other machines, but because of the clearance issues with the vertical support and the fact that we we had some little bit of leeway in the orientation of the two stub-end tipple tracks, I decided to let the location of the Tortoise dictate the location of the turnout in this situation. Don captured me in this process. That's not "product" from a hair salon; the A/C keeps the temp in the layout room at a relatively comfortable level, but Pittsburgh is stuck in a really high humidity zone this week!



When all was connected up, we had a really strange conundrum. There is an irregularity in the cork roadbed, probably caused by trying to sand it flat at the awkward height and distance from the aisle, that causes the turnout assembly to twist along its longitudinal axis when it is pressed firmly against the roadbed. This results in enough resistance to the throw arm to prevent good contact between the points and the stock rails. We found that the turnout functioned perfectly at an angle of repose equal to the thickness of the roadbed, so this turnout will be on a grade as shown in the following image:



In retrospect, we surmise that the Buchanan project would better have been done as a module, with the Tortoise machine installation done at the workbench rather than under the layout. That will certainly be the way we approach the next such project: the dual gauge interchange yard at Richmond Furnace several years hence!

Lastly, I will leave you with this image of the control panel for the turntable in the museum engine terminal, which Don tauntingly left as a reminder of our next session a week from now ...



Until then, see you on the railroad.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/20/2009 07:01:35 AM
Message:

Yesterday was my first real, hands-on participation in installing a Tortoise and I totally agree with Vagel about using the module approach to future construction. It would have been a lot easier if we had built Buchanan on a single sheet of plywood, made it removeable, and done all the Tortoises with it standing on edge on the bench. Them is fussy little buggers! [:-banghead]

We discovered a slight disadvantage to using the relatively inexpensive 10 position edge connectors on an 8-position strip. If you bump them, you can move them sideways and cause a mysterious short. With four hands under the layout, sweating and struggling, it's easy to bump an adjacent machine. Now that we know what to look for, it's easy to check after working and before turning on the power supply.

I believe the plan for next week is to set up an assembly line to create and wire the track/rail subassemblies leading from the turntable into the roundhouse. We also need to mount the on/off panel - Vagel is thinking about mounting it in podium fashion so it's more easily used by the hostler. Plenty to do next Wednesday.

And, of course, we ended the day at Ritter's Diner for a low-calorie (right....) lunch.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 08/20/2009 09:49:30 AM
Message:

You guys are making great progress! I have enjoyed reading about your woes and successes with the tortoise installation. For me, this is one of the worst parts of building a layout. Fortunately I have forum member SteamNut to rely on, who is a wiz at switch machine installation!

I also use those connectors for my tortoises and appreciate the simplicity of them. As for the alignment of the connector, I know what you mean about the potential for a short due to them not aligning correctly. While I never did it on my old layout, I pondered the idea of inserting a shim of plastic in the connector so that it wouldn't slide side to side, ensuring proper alignment to only the 8 pins on the tortoise. Just a thought. You might want to give it a try.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/21/2009 10:52:34 AM
Message:

Hi, Mark --

I like your idea of adding something - a small piece of styrene or even wood - to the edge connectors so they can't move from side to side. I'll try it with regular plastic cement and see if it holds; if not, we can try ACC.

Vagel is trying to track down a ghost short in one of the Buchanan turnouts. It makes my brain hurt just rying to imagine what might be causing such a wierd problem. Maybe he'll post something about it once he has the problem fixed.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/22/2009 12:55:43 AM
Message:

NOTE TO READERS: As of this date in the future (Nov. 1, 2009), the problem discussed in this post and follow-on replies has been solved ... jump to Page 29 to read the explanation, then return here to follow the chronicle of the overall project. vck

As a follow up to Don's "leak to the press" about the problems experienced with the turnout to the mine tipple, here is the chronicle to date. First, yesterday's note (8/19/09):

"Hi, Don. Spent some time dealing with two issues today. On the one hand, I ran variable DC power to the in-coming terminal strip on the Kalbach panel and wired the leads from the out-going strip. Drilled the appropriate holes in the new splice plate there too, so all is in readiness for Tortoise installation tomorrow. THIS TORTOISE INSTALLATION DIDN'T HAPPEN ... READ ON On the other hand ...

"There is a ghost short in the turnout at the mine in Buchanan that I didn't find until I tried to run a locomotive over it. When I had the Tortoise all wired up and turned on layout and DCC track power, no shorts. But when the loco is completely on the turnout (ie, past the insulated rail joiners) it shorts. I detached the DCC wiring, leaving only the DC motor power, and it still shorts; in fact, it shorts even when the Tortoise is completely isolated and only DCC power is run to the stock rails. I think it's a bad turnout, so I'm going to try two things tomorrow, both of which follow the "random success" methodology: first, I'll disconnect the turnout from the power buses and replace the insulated rail joiners with metal ones. If there's still a short, I'll swap it for the turnout that's been at Kalbach tomorrow. After that, I don't know what I'll do if the problem doesn't go away ..."

HERE IS MY EMAIL TO DON WITH THE RESULTS OF TODAY'S (8/20/09) EXPERIMENTS:

"Well, I think I figured it out, and my guess is that the turnout isn't bad, but it's intolerant of non-perfect roadbed. The first thing I did this morning was isolate the turnout from the power bus, making it dependent on the rail joiners for track power. Interestingly, the first time I ran the loco through it after that, it didn't short, but when I spiked down the flex track at either end, the short came back. That, plus the fact that the short only occurs when the locomotive is centered over the frog, suggests to me that it's a combination of the loco and the frog that's bridging something that wouldn't ordinarily be "bridgable". So, I swapped it out for the turnout from Kalbach ... no short. I'll try the problematic one at Kalbach to see what happens there; I'm betting it'll be fine.

"As for the turnout at the tipple, I'm going to let well enough alone and not run any leads from the bus to either the turnout or the Tortoise. I'll use the Tortoise to control the points only and depend on soldered rail joiners and the pressure from the Tortoise wire for continuity of track power through the whole assembly."

LATER IN THE DAY ...

"It's official: that turnout is bad. Same short resulted when installed at Kalbach. The line will remain severed until I can get a replacement."

FINAL NOTE:

I'm not convinced that the problem with this turnout is a manufacturing defect, but rather a problem induced from soldering the three lead wires to the stock rails and frog necessary for preparing it for Tortoise installation. After talking with Kevin Kuzman (a founding member of LITCo and still-practicing turnout maker) this evening, I'm not sure that the problem wasn't caused by too much heat getting to the copper sheathed switch ties when I soldered the three power leads to the stock rails and frog in preparation for Tortoise installation. Each of those ties had a gap scribed in its center during fabrication, and the heat from soldering may have closed one of those gaps, so I'm going to re-scribe those gaps with an Exacto blade and see if that solves the problem. Failing that, it'll be what NG&SL Gazette publisher Bob Brown calls "posh junk."

If you're still clear on this after all the verbiage, congratulations. If not, now you know why Don's brain hurts and I'm single handedly paying the light bill for our neighborhood liquor store these days!

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/22/2009 1:16:01 PM
Message:

Better you than me, Vagel. There's something about the way electrons flow through a model turnout that reminds me of the wiring in an old basement. Everything going every which way and wires crossing over each other -- yeek!

Here's a small lesson we learned might be worth passing along. We drilled holes through the uprights that support the roadbed and ran the bus wiring through the holes. Seemed like a good idea at the time but then when we needed to move some of the uprights to make space for switch machines, it turned out to be a pain.

For Phase II, we're talking about using some kind of wire hangers that are screwed to the uprights and can be removed.

Here's one of the more creative ideas I've seen -- use the pull tabs from beer/soft drink cans. You run a dry wall screw through the tab - no need to pre-drill - and run your wires through the finger loop. How's that for recycling?

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/22/2009 2:28:18 PM
Message:

Well, I've given up on this turnout as a bad job. The thing is that the short only occurs when a loco is over the frog; if there was a problem with a closed gap or errant solder, it would short as soon as the track power came on, right?

Nevertheless, I performed a visual inspection this morning and found that one of the power leads I soldered to the underside of a rail might have been too close to a copper plated tie and created a circuit. So I moved it back.

Before:



After:



Flipping it over, I checked to make sure all of the gaps that should be cut in the copper ties were open, and ran an Exacto blade through each several times for good measure:



Reinstalled on the layout, the short occurred as usual when a loco passed over the frog. I give up; on the scrap heap it goes.

With all this futzin' around with power buses and feeders under the layout, I'm finding glitches in solder joints and fixing them as I go. If you tug on something at one end of the layout, you'll create a break in continuity several feet away if everything is not perfect. I'm going to have to make some time to just go around tugging on stuff, especially around the HOn3 turnouts; each turnout involves two pairs of feeders from the power bus (one pair to the stock rails and one pair to the Tortoise machine), plus the feeder that runs from the Tortoise to the frog. Multiplied times six, that's a lot of potential for problems.

Meanwhile, I'm having at least some fun proofing the track clearances and alignment at the newly installed tipple tracks.





That's it for the turnout saga. See you next week,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/22/2009 10:45:11 PM
Message:

Hmmmm.... Maybe I should get busy and cobble together that resistance solderer that Bud gave me the parts for. It might reduce the potential for damage when soldering to rails.

Has anyone tried using one for soldering track feeders?
Don


Reply author: Carrie Creek
Replied on: 08/22/2009 11:05:21 PM
Message:

Vagel,
I am confused on your switch. Are the closure rails powered by the frog or by the points?
Your gap at the frog doesn't seem to be cut all the way thru or is the gap filled?
I think your short is in the throat and the wheels are arcing across.
Your gap should be at least one more tie space away


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/25/2009 11:24:51 AM
Message:

Phil,

The thing is that the spacing of gaps on this turnout matches those in all of the other ones purchased from this vendor. I went over them pretty thoroughly to ensure they were all open. So, as I said, I'm at a loss. Onward and, well, just onward ...

We're planning to work on the 14 standard gauge roundhouse tracks this Wednesday, and that should keep us busy even if the fixtures we need for the wiring portion of the project don't arrive in time. But in case we start to go stark raving mad after trying to install and align the second or third pair of rails in the roundhouse floor, I re-attached the cardboard fascia around the Buchahan bench work and marked and cut the openings for Don's control panel and the UTP for the DCC throttles. That way we can get out some power tools and vent our frustration "if needs be."



Here's a close up of the panels. I went little overboard on the brightness and downplayed the contrast so you might be better able to see the elegant way that Don set the panel face at an angle to make it easier to view when standing only inches away from it with one's eye level 1 Ĺ feet or more above it. It really does eliminate the need for deep knee bends and arched back stretching exercises. Here on the B&SGE we're doing our bit to reduce the cost of health care!



I've also started to look at how the tipple and train station are going to share the limited space between the mine tracks and the passing siding at Buchanan. Long ago I decided to defy the odds and try to get both the tipple at Buchanan and the smaller one at Kalbach out of one Walthers Glacier Gravel Co. (I once heard Tony Koester remark that Walthers carefully engineered its coal mine kit to make it impossible to kit bash two tipples from one kit, and if you've seen the way they engineered their Sunrise Flour Mill you'd know he was on to something.)



From this angle you'll see I've got some clearance issues to deal with. The station, by the way, is a Mountaineer Precision Products "PRR Class 'A' Station," based on a standard Pennsy Lines West design, that will replace the old IHC kitbash from the old layout. Its roof overhang extends into the plane of the tipple, so something's gotta give.



I've got some ideas on how to deal with this, but it'll take some time to work out, so I'll post the results when they occur.

See ya tomorrow,

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 08/25/2009 4:56:35 PM
Message:

Vagel, this turnout is cursed.
Interesting and various progress shots. No risk of getting bored with the many different projects you have just in front of you.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/27/2009 12:05:50 AM
Message:

Thanks, Frederic, and, yes, you're correct ... this turnout is cursed.

Today we focused on the civil rather than the electrical engineering side of layout construction, because of all of the projects facing me the one that I should have had completed before today wasn't done. Before we could install any roundhouse tracks I had to first lay the cork roadbed to raise the roundhouse stall floors to the same level as the turntable pit rim AND before I did that I had to glue the blue foam base to the benchwork. So that's what we did first thing, then weighted it and left it to dry overnight ... 'tween now and next week, I'll install the cork roadbed around and under the roundhouse floors.

As part of this sub-project, we cut away part of the risers and foam base in the area where the roundhouse control panel will go and tacked it in place for future permanent installation:



Don made cardboard patterns for hardboard pieces to fill the gaps on either side. Later, we'll make fillers to curve the facia out to meet the protruding aisle-side edge of the frame. We used drawers filled with various detail parts from my parts cabinet to weigh down the blue foam while the Liquid Nails dries.

We spent the rest of the session cutting, fitting, and installing the facia at Buchanan. Any irregularities will be concealed by the dark green outdoor carpet that will be glued to the surface.





Finally, here's where I am in my thinking about reconfiguring the mine sidings at Buchanan:



There's plenty of room for the station, plus, by curving the tipple tracks further into the hillside after they pass through the portals at this end, I can increase the number of cars the tipple can handle.

Next week, we're definitely going to focus on installing and wiring some of the roundhouse tracks and maybe add some more facia. Stay tuned,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/27/2009 10:40:29 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Yesterday was definitely enjoyable.

Vagel's plan to cover the fascia with carpeting makes the work a lot less fussy, since joints don't have to be perfect. We should be able to move along pretty quickly. And once the fascia is in, scenery work can move ahead. I'll pick up another 4x8 sheet of Masonite before next Wednesday.

We did all the sawdust generating cutting of the fascia outside - much easier on the layout. When we routed out the pits for the roundhouse, that had to be done in place and made a complete mess of the entire layout room. Vagel is still finding sawdust on stuff after multiple cleanings. Lesson learned.

Vagel is scouting for a kit for the permanent bridge, which I am looking forward to building.

We also spent some time talking about and sort-of designing some roll-around storage to go under the layout. One fixture will hold rolling stock and a couple of others will hold lots of those plastic parts cabinets.

The clearance problems at the Buchanan tipple led Vagel to an improved design - room for more hoppers, more operationally interesting, and more visually interesting. He's much more willing to rip stuff up than I am, which is a good thing.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/27/2009 11:18:35 PM
Message:

Hi, all.

For some reason I am suddenly obsessed with getting the roundhouse done, once and for all. So today, I went right back at the site where we glued down the blue foam base yesterday. Here's a look at the cork road bed "grading" glued down and held in place by tacks while drying:



There are a total of three courses of cork running around the turntable pit, which had to be notched every 1/4" or so to allow it to bend at a tight ~11" radius. The radii of the back walls of the 90' and 130' roundhouses are wide enough that the cork bends as is without buckling.

After the glue had dried, I decided to paint the surface with a light earth color that I've taken to using for a basic undercoat before applying textured scenery materials on our FreeMo HO/HOn3 modular layout. That sickly blue foam color was starting to get REALLY old! Here are a couple of shots with the roundhouse floors re-installed (loose) and wall blanks for context. I know it looks like Atlanta after Sherman left, but ...





All is finally in readiness for putting the HO-scale Pennsylvania Railroad Museum roundhouse (READ: Steamtown the way God Intended it) in service. Of course, the longest turntable on the Pennsy was 120', and it's fairly certain that the Walthers roundhouse kits are "never, never" as far as we SPF's are concerned, but we'll keep that just between "us girls," shall we?

Stay tuned,
Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/28/2009 06:55:10 AM
Message:

[:-jump2] Go Vagel!

Looks like next Wednesday we'll be doing roundhouse wiring and rails.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/28/2009 5:53:40 PM
Message:

Remember that big hole in the wall at the south end of the yard?



Here's a rough cardboard mockup of the solution I've more or less decided on:



I think the ridge line on the final scenic backdrop will be a lot less hog backed, but there it is for now.

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 08/29/2009 12:21:00 AM
Message:

You guys are making tremendous progress! The roundhouse area is coming along nicely!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/29/2009 07:22:36 AM
Message:

Heck, Vagel -- given that it's a big concrete building, let's just give the mockup a coat of Aged Concrete and some streaks and call it done.
Just kidding.

The sign on the mockup is a nice touch.

Now get back to work on the roundhouse.

Don


Reply author: deemery
Replied on: 08/29/2009 10:28:20 AM
Message:

Jeff at Motrak Models is producing ore loads for those Tichy Ore cars. Drop him a note if you're interested. (He did them at my request, so now I feel a moral obligation to let everyone else know to help him sell more and recover costs for making the master :-)

With respect to the cold storage mock-up, if you're passing the mainline through there look at some of the photos from George Sellios' F&SM. I think there's a place where he does something similar, constructing a building that overhangs the mainline. As I recall, he has the first couple of sections as open arches, so it doesn't look like the mainline is actually passing through the middle of a factory. Doesn't someone make metal overpass/viaduct castings? Those would work well to hold the building over the track.

dave

dave


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/29/2009 2:56:47 PM
Message:

Thanks, Dave. I'll definitely look the motrak loads over.

They don't show up on the photo, but I penciled in columns on the mockup. The final structure will have monolithic brick walls like two former cold storage warehouses that still stand across from the old Cumberland Valley RR roundhouse in Chambersburg. But to suit the purpose of this layout, the whole thing will sit on reinforced concrete columns. The farthest track from the layout will simulate a siding going into the building, though.

Thanks for the words of wisdom,

Vagel


Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 08/29/2009 3:54:35 PM
Message:

Vagel,

You and Don are making great progress on the layout. The roundhouse area will be impressive when it is done as will the cold storage building. Be careful of using mock-up though, I have a couple on my layout that have been there coming on close to two tears now, I built them to see if they would fit and if I would like the lines, height, etc. The problem is that now that they are on the layout, other projects have taken me away from building the actual buildings .


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/29/2009 11:57:22 PM
Message:

Only two years, Ron?! I had a cardboard mockup of the tipple at Buchanan on the old layout for at least 8 years! But the cold storage is so "in my face" that it'll taunt me into following through (if Don doesn't) PDQ.

Here's a new shot of the monolith with PowerPoint brick paper and a different, less place-specific sign. It's crappy enough that it'll have to be replaced sooner rather than later. Now, if you want to see some mockups that are "good enough" for some layouts, visit Don's club, the Western PA Model RR Museum!



OK, Don, I'm going back to work on the roundhouse, I promise!

Vagel


Reply author: Carrie Creek
Replied on: 08/30/2009 12:45:28 AM
Message:

Vagel,
Ah, ha, I see where my painter with the lavender paint went to after I kicked him off of the Carrie Creek I sure hope that he has used up all of his lavender paint

That is one big building. Are you trying to hide the NG on the upper level? Do you have any ideas of how it will appear past the building?


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/30/2009 7:23:06 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Carrie Creek

That is one big building. Are you trying to hide the NG on the upper level? Do you have any ideas of how it will appear past the building?



It will not reappear on this side of the backdrop. The tall building will end at a rock cut and from there a steep hillside with a retaining wall at its base will carry on from there, with the narrow gauge hidden return track behind it as it follows the backdrop. Refer to the track plan near the beginning of this thread. The hidden track will only be used for continuous running during open house events; for normal operations the upper end will be for staging lumber loads from an off-scene sawmill, while the lower end will be for staging trains coming from the off-layout Shade Valley portion of the B&SGE (ex-EBT/Rockhill Iron & Coal ore branch).

Vagel


Reply author: Mainframer
Replied on: 08/31/2009 12:32:34 AM
Message:

Vagel, Will the Cold Storage building be removable so you can have access to the track behind? Using the building front is a bettwer solution than trying to make a realistic steep hill side. You guys are making great progress. I am enjoying following this. Tom


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/31/2009 02:24:22 AM
Message:

Tom,

Here's an old shot for reference:



The cold storage is to my immediate right in this shot, with the narrow gauge branch on the upper level passing from the visible end of track to my left into the hidden portion (behind the cold storage) to my right. The standard gauge will pass through (under) the cold storage and will then be behind the facia and under the visible end of narrow gauge branch as it passes thru the kitchen to my left.

The roof of the cold storage will be removable for access to both the narrow and standard gauge on my right side ... the cold storage will be 40" long going to my right in this photo. At that point, the hidden narrow gauge is butt up against the back drop while the standard gauge is more than 1/2 ft from the backdrop; the hillside will not be too steep, nor will the narrow gauge necessarily be "under" (more like behind) the scenery.

To my left, the hidden standard gauge tracks will be accessible via a removable control panel of the same dimensions as the one around the corner at Buchanan. It will be slightly to the left and above the position shown in the image below, which I posted on Aug. 12:



Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 08/31/2009 11:07:20 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

Refer to the track plan near the beginning of this thread.


You know, I did just that. An hour later I sit here in amazement of just how much you've accomplished is about a year. Absolutly amazing! You guys have really made tremendous progress and the layout is looking great! I'm really enjoying this thread, the obstacles you are coming across and how you've solved them.

Thanks and keep the updates coming!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/01/2009 9:24:11 PM
Message:

Thanks, Mark. The main reason we've made so much progress in such a short time is that there are two of us and we have more or less stuck to a regular weekly work schedule. I've spent some hours, here and there, by myself, but the real progress has been during our Wednesday sessions, which typically last about 4-5 hours.

Tomorrow we tackle the roundhouse tracks. Meanwhile, I've been working away, sub-task by sub-task, on the new Buchanan station. So far, walls, doors, and transoms are together. Here are a couple of shots of the work in progress (loose roof) and how it will fit between the tipple and the passing siding:






Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/02/2009 7:51:50 PM
Message:

As promised we made a great start on the roundhouse tracks today. These consisted of short sections of Code 83 flextrak (~ 2" long) soldered to lengths of Code 83 stock rail. I prefabricated the flextrak lengths, cutting the appropriate number of ties out of either end and filing angles on the rail ends facing the turntable bridge for ease of transition in case of slight off-sets in alignment. Don set up a soldering station at the workbench to solder power feeders to rail joiners and then the rail joiners between the flextrak sections and the stock rails.

At the roundhouse I located and drilled the holes in the plywood for the feeders and fine tuned the alignment between the roundhouse stalls and the turntable bridge, marking the precise locations of the stall tracks on the lip of the turntable pit with a fine pencil so, when it's time to finally anchor everything down, we won't have to repeat that tedious process.

Here are a couple shots of the work completed today:



I also pig-tailed the feeders to the track power bus to check polarity of each stall and discovered that the polarity reverses between the 2nd and 3rd tracks from the left in the image above. Knowing this will help us to get everything wired correctly when we connect everything to the control panel.

Here is a closer view showing the rail joiners and holes for the feeder wires:



After he finished his soldering chore, while I was making the last adjustments to stall alignment, Don got the control panel ready for final wiring and installation:



Each of those red feeders controls the power from one of 14 ON/OFF switches for the individual stalls and outdoor radial storage tracks. The large coil of red wire brings power in from the main red power bus to that side of each individual ON/OFF switch. The lone black wire coming in to the small terminal strip (bottom center of panel) brings power from the black main power bus, which then passes through a master ON/OFF switch (lower right of panel). Sort of a panic button as a last defense against tumbles into the pit and holes in roundhouse walls.

We had plenty of time to finish the whole nine stalls, but I "mis-underestimated" the length of stock rails needed and ran short. Nevertheless, this has to rank as one of the top 5 days as far as important progress on the layout goes.

Vagel


Reply author: Mainframer
Replied on: 09/03/2009 12:22:15 AM
Message:

Guys that is some very nice wiring on the control panel. Neat and precise. Your hours of work are really starting to show. Tom


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/03/2009 01:49:11 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Mainframer

Guys that is some very nice wiring on the control panel. Neat and precise. Your hours of work are really starting to show. Tom



Tom,

I joked with a visitor, John Polyak, who stopped by today to offer moral support, that our control panels are an example of the efficacy of hiring a carpenter to do your wiring.

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 09/03/2009 03:55:17 AM
Message:

The last shot is quite impressive, Vagel. Don's patience is admirable.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/03/2009 07:32:50 AM
Message:

It was a really busy, fun day yesterday. I hope that next Wednesday we'll get the last of the track sections done at the roundhouse and I can start connecting up the wiring under the layout. I'm sure Vagel will be busy between now and then.

Last week we made a pattern for the additional subroadbed in Buchanan to accomodate the relocated, longer, curved sidings to the tipple but forgot to cut it out. This week, we cut it (outside - we're getting very sawdust averse as the layout gets further along) and installed it so Vagel can finish that trackwork. This in turn requires some major surgery on the big piece of foam that is the beginning of the hillside scenery behind Buchanan.

Vagel has chosen a bridge and I expect the kit will be arriving soon. Here's a link:
http://shop.osorail.com/product.sc;jsessionid=7C609E1A8B6EEC70AFA24AD8176276A7.qscstrfrnt03?productId=108&categoryId=4
I'm really looking forward to building it. They specifically mention that it includes lots of NBW's!

My truck is in the shop for some very expensive transmission work so I wasn't able to bring the Masonite over to Vagel's but I'll bring it next Wednesday and perhaps we'll find time to do some more fascia.

Onward!

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 09/03/2009 11:59:15 AM
Message:

That is some very impressive work on the turntable area. I am also pondering installing a turntable on my new layout. I model Northumberland Yard, which did in fact have a turntable, and like your area, the associated tracks housed some of PRR's retired steam fleet for years. Needless to say, your work in this area of the layout has my interest! Keep the pics coming.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/03/2009 2:37:42 PM
Message:

Mark, I read through your website for the former PRR Northern Div. layout. Wow! Although I'm taking more license with the prototype Pennsy in the lower Cumberland Valley than you are in the upper Susquehanna, we both have to take a great deal of liberty with our respective roundhouse and turntable choices unless we want to scratch build. The Walthers 130' turntable could be a good stand in for the one at Northumberland (I understand it was 125' long) if you rebuilt the mid-span arch truss and moved the operator's cabin to the middle.

I will say that the extra bucks spent on the RTR version were well worth the avoidance of frustrations met by a friend who built a kit version of the 90' TT and eventually gave up trying to make it work.

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 09/03/2009 4:36:04 PM
Message:

I'm all about modelers license and taking certain liberties sounds good to me Vagel!

I love the Walthers turntable. Several friends around here have them and they run flawlessly. I'm sure I could do it and the surrounding roundhouse area justice. I have a modest collection of brass steam that needs a home on more than just a display shelf. I'll be watching closely and see what ideas and techniques I can steal from you! [:-eyebrows]


Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 09/03/2009 10:13:09 PM
Message:

Wow, another week more great progress. The engine facilities are really shaping up and look great already.

Funny you should mention Walthers 90ft turntable. I have one that I plan to convert to ON30 and it looks like I will have to do a little redesign work on it to get it running smoothly.


Reply author: Grant Whipp
Replied on: 09/04/2009 05:57:10 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

... Vagel has chosen a bridge and I expect the kit will be arriving soon. Here's a link:
http://shop.osorail.com/product.sc;jsessionid=7C609E1A8B6EEC70AFA24AD8176276A7.qscstrfrnt03?productId=108&categoryId=4
I'm really looking forward to building it. They specifically mention that it includes lots of NBW's! ...


Greetings, Don!

Thanks! ... for that link to osorail.com ... [:-thumbu] ...! What a great source for all kinds of "stuff" and inspiration! Needless to say, I've bookmarked it ... [:-spin] ...!

CHEERS!

Grant


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/07/2009 12:31:06 AM
Message:

Greetings, all.

Over the last two days I got the standard gauge yard and engine servicing tracks laid out and the cork roadbed strips and sheets measured, cut, and glued down ready for final track laying.

Here are some "fly-over" shots, with commentary:

View from north to south showing, from right to left, the main line, arrival/departure track, steam and diesel ready tracks, service track, and yard tracks. The switch-backs at extreme left will be used as overflow storage for A-A diesel cab unit lash ups for the time being. There are now plans for a permanent diesel servicing area south of the turntable, but that will be awhile in the works.



This view of the engine servicing area, looking south to north, shows how I was able to fit a sand spur between the fuel ramp and the incoming loco servicing track. I was fortunate to be able to locate the ash pit so an inbound T1 would just clear the main and still have enough linear track length to fit the turnout to spot a covered hopper of sand before the ramp up to the coal dump.



The right-hand crane on the sand tower will be removed before final installation, and I'm not sure of the final placement of the diesel fuel cranes (orange blobs). I originally hoped to have a double-ended cabin track, but curvature prevented that, so I defaulted to two stub-end spurs, one for cabins going on trains in either direction. Given that this "museum" yard is the starting and ending point (visible staging) for all standard gauge trains on the layout, this should be a very busy and interesting place for a yard master and hostler.

More later.

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 09/07/2009 03:17:07 AM
Message:

Nice progress, Vagel. Looks like a place begging for operation.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/07/2009 6:25:54 PM
Message:

Vagel stopped by my place today (to help me with my bedroom layout) and brought along a couple of roundhouse wall sections that he's painting. The brickwork looks good to me but he's still experimenting. The two roundhouses are going to be very impressive, as is the whole yard. I'm looking forward to Wednesday, when we'll finish the wiring to all the stalls and other tracks around the turntable.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 09/08/2009 04:09:31 AM
Message:

That yard is starting to look like a busy place! With regard to the cabin track, it looks like you have a #4 right hand switch installed there. Did you try a left hand #6? Or maybe even a left hand curved turnout? From the picture, it looks like that might give a good angle to make it a double ended track. Just a thought!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/08/2009 07:17:01 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by elwoodblues



Funny you should mention Walthers 90ft turntable. I have one that I plan to convert to ON30 and it looks like I will have to do a little redesign work on it to get it running smoothly.



Kent Miller of the FreeMo group bought the Walther's 90' turntable as a kit and had a hugely frustrating experience with it. I should mention that Kent is a retired mechanical arts teacher and one of the best all-around craftsmen that I know.

If you manage to re-work it into something useful, I'm sure a lot of us would like you to do a thread on what you had to do to it to get it working.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/08/2009 3:41:23 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

With regard to the cabin track, it looks like you have a #4 right hand switch installed there. Did you try a left hand #6? Or maybe even a left hand curved turnout? From the picture, it looks like that might give a good angle to make it a double ended track. Just a thought!



On the main and arrival/departure tracks I've held to a maxim of having all spurs diverge from the through tracks, so decided against a left-hand turnout there. A curved right-hand turnout would have done the trick, although it would necessarily have been a No. 8 given the radius of the arrival/dept track, and that length of insulated frog has caused problems with a number of shorter wheelbase locos on my FreeMo module. Actually, the arrangement as is gives me space for two more cabins than planned, and one can never have enough of those in a museum!

Vagel


Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 09/08/2009 4:03:32 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

quote:
Originally posted by elwoodblues



Funny you should mention Walthers 90ft turntable. I have one that I plan to convert to ON30 and it looks like I will have to do a little redesign work on it to get it running smoothly.



Kent Miller of the FreeMo group bought the Walther's 90' turntable as a kit and had a hugely frustrating experience with it. I should mention that Kent is a retired mechanical arts teacher and one of the best all-around craftsmen that I know.

If you manage to re-work it into something useful, I'm sure a lot of us would like you to do a thread on what you had to do to it to get it working.

Don



Don,

I have been giving the redesign some thought and when I'm ready for the attempt, I'll definitely start a thread on in and if I'm unsuccessful maybe others can learn from my effort. From what I have already read about the turntable Iím in for quite a challenge.


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 09/08/2009 5:06:40 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller
[brOn the main and arrival/departure tracks I've held to a maxim of having all spurs diverge from the through tracks, so decided against a left-hand turnout there.


Well, you've obviously thought it through and explored all options. Actually Vagel, shame on me for my suggestion. Your approach is actually prototypical. While there are exceptions to every rule, the prototypes always tried to have the main flow of traffic use the 'straight' routing of a switch, leaving the diverting route for less traffic. And with the benefit of added storage, well, as you said, you can't go wrong!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/10/2009 12:10:36 AM
Message:

Mark,

Don't shame yourself; as you say, there are always exceptions, especially on model railroads where one has to make compromises. And, although my "maxim" is based on common prototype practice, I didn't make it a firm maxim until it became apparent that I didn't have room for a dedicated make-up/departure track separate from an arrival/departure track. Had I the room, I would probably have been more open to exceptions-to-the-rule for turnouts in the make up/departure track.

On to today's work session ...

Don spent most of his time camped out under the turntable, connecting all the loose ends. I had laid in a stock of suitcase connectors and butt splice connectors from Micro-Mark, which obviated the need for a lot of soldering and, thus, saved a great deal of time and tedium. Here's a shot of the results, as we left them. We'll bundle things to tidy this up later, as we're going to put a shelving unit here to hold my parts bins (it's directly opposite from my work bench).



We only wired the 9 roundhouse stalls today, since I didn't have the 4 outdoor circle tracks ready for wiring yet.
Recall that we are running all power from the main power bus to the roundhouse and circle tracks through a master ON/OFF switch on the control panel. So one set of track feeders runs from that switch, via a single heavy-gauge wire, to one rail of each track. In the above image the yellow tape allows you to follow the paths of two of the three triplets of feeders that Don ran to the roundhouse tracks from the master ON/OF switch. The red blobs are the butt splice connectors linking the leads from the individual ON/OFF switches on the control panel to the feeders soldered to the opposite rails. Because the polarity changes between the second and third roundhouse stalls, you will notice that there are black wires spliced to red in 7 instances.

Now that our brains are dripping out of collective ears, here's a more peaceful shot taken on the surface:



My chore was to align the roundhouse tracks with the turntable bridge and spike down the tie at the end of each track flush with the lip of the turntable pit. I really need to buy a replacement for my defunct Dremel tool ... drilling through plywood with a pin vise is really too much like work! But at the end of the day, all roundhouse tracks are operational, with power controlled through the Slaughterhouse Switch & Signal panel.

In fact, Don finished his wiring before I had finished my chores on the surface, so he proceeded to install the facia supports and turnout control panel at Kalbach on the narrow gauge branch:





That's it for this week. See you next time,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/10/2009 06:40:04 AM
Message:

Another excellent and fun day of workin' on the railroad! And Vagel has ordered the Ravine Trestle so I can stop doing my imitation of a Black Lab in seach of a treat.

I'm going to start building some under-layout storage, as Vagel mentioned. They'll be built from 3/4" CDX - not exactly furniture-grade but it can be ok if sanded and then painted with porch and deck paint. I'll post some pictures as that work goes forward. They'll all be on casters and build entirely off-site, which means I can work in between Wednesdays.

Time to get in a little morning work on the bedroom layout.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/18/2009 12:37:25 PM
Message:

We're on a 2-week hiatus, due to the resumption of monthly ops sessions on Bob Prehoda's Huntingdon & Northern, where I'm a crew member, and my trip to Wyoming for a railroad history conference. But Don and I are both "improving the time." He informs me that he has installed a sector plate on one end of his bedroom layout, and it's working well. He's now at work on the engine terminal and expects to be ready for an ops session soon. I've been working away at the 90' roundhouse, and I've finally got the walls painted, windows and doors installed, and everything glued to the floor.

Here's an overview of the thing ...



... and a detail of the side wall shown in the previous image:



I combined a couple of techniques I read about elsewhere in RR-Line (can't find it now to refer to!).[:-banghead] First, I oversprayed everything flat black, then unevenly brushed a light gray color over that. Then, I dry brushed my brick colors, using Apple Barrel's Apple Cinnamon and Barn Red. On the back wall panels, which will be in the foreground, I highlighted individual bricks and small patches of bricks with those same colors and Crimson. Then I worked white pastel chalk into the mortar lines in random areas and oversprayed with Dullcoat.

I'm pretty pleased with the result, so far, although I have to go back and touch up some areas around the joints in the panels and the window openings. There's also a pesky green line on the foundation from tracking the outline onto the layout with a Sharpy. I'll post some final pics when the turntable side is installed and the roof is on and after the walls receive an overall dusting with chalks.

Vagel










Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/18/2009 10:39:03 PM
Message:

One last post before I hit the road for Wyoming ...

I finished the roundhouse envelope this evening and re-installed it on the layout. Still to come are the large roof panels, but after I got all the doors in place and the whole thing was essentially finished, I couldn't resist seeing it in place.

It really fills the space!






Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/18/2009 10:48:08 PM
Message:

Looks great! See you when you get back from Wyoming.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 09/19/2009 03:21:08 AM
Message:

I was beginning to wonder what happened to you guys. But never disappointed. That roundhouse looks terrific Vagel! Great job on the bricks. You and I share similar techniques - dry brushing the brick color. Tedious, yes. But I do like the results! The roundhouse area is really coming together. Have a great trip to Wyoming.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/22/2009 05:56:43 AM
Message:

While Vagel is off gallivanting around Wyoming, I'm stuck here in Pittsburgh with the G20. Since we're on lock-down (just kidding), I'm working on the roll-around under-layout storage unit - the first of several. I cut all the pieces parts and did all the dadoes last night. Today I sand (oh, fun), and get started on the polyurethane and deck paint.

(I bought a sheet of A/C plywood, roughly 1/2" (it's actually some pesky millimeter size). I'm doing the A faces with clear gloss poly and the C faces with porch and deck paint.)

I'll post some pictures but it's not very exciting - just a box on wheels. The unit for storing rolling stock will be a lot more interesting - if I ever get it designed. [:-boggled]

More later.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/25/2009 06:16:51 AM
Message:

People who read this thread regularly know that our sessions end with a fashionably late lunch (grease fest) at Ritter's, a popular local diner. Good thing we weren't trying to get there yesterday.






Photo credit: this picture was taken by Erin, my personal trainer, who was out riding her bike when she ran into the "action."

I want all of these bozo's - fatcats, anarchists, bloviators, and hordes of cops in Star Wars regalia - out of MY town.

The only entertaining thing so far was a bunch of Penquin fans with a giant Stanley Cup.

P.S. The building in the upper left is Hillman Cancer center. Great place - free coffee, valet parking, and up-to-date magazine.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 09/25/2009 1:27:42 PM
Message:

What in the world is that all about Don? Rather intimidating I'd say!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/25/2009 3:04:17 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

What in the world is that all about Don? Rather intimidating I'd say!



Hi, Mark --

We are "hosting" the G20 - more like, we had it stuffed down our throats.

I'm generally pro-cop but I hate having my city look like a banana republic in the middle of a coup.

Regarding this particular photo, I have a theory. Erin is mighty cute. I think the two cops that are facing the camera spotted her, nudged each other, and turned around and posed.

A few more hours and it will all be over.

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 09/25/2009 4:28:34 PM
Message:

Impressive and probably a bit overdone. Are you sure they had not ALL been warned that Erin was to come by there and invented this G20 story to watch her?


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/25/2009 4:53:20 PM
Message:

Hi, Frederick --

You may be on to something there. I'll suggest that idea to her the next time I train - after we're done.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/26/2009 07:53:55 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

More cops protecting my favorite restaurant (photo by Erin):





Back to business. Here's a progress picture of the rolling storage fixture. I think I mentioned that Vagel bought a mountains of plastic shoe boxes, on sale, and this is sized to hold them. I'm still adding coats of finish and I need to buy shelf pin, but it's almost done.





Garth lent me a very spiffy rig for drilling shelf pin holes. Boy, does that thing make the job easy and fast:




Time to get cleaned up and greet the new day.

Don


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 09/28/2009 3:19:41 PM
Message:

Hey Don: Maybe to help balance things out, we could maybe have a pic of Erin?


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/28/2009 5:54:27 PM
Message:

Hi, Deane -- OK, here you go:





Download Attachment: 7820_1225584445024_1391408484_647471_5285702_n.jpg
69.83 KB

[:-bouncy]

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 09/29/2009 02:14:28 AM
Message:

Now we know why they had such a protective equipment...


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/29/2009 06:10:51 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Frederic Testard

Now we know why they had such a protective equipment...



LOL! When she posted that picture on Facebook, I asked her, "How am I supposed to persuade people that you are totally serious and professional?" She said something about only being serious and professional when she's on duty, not when she's being a Steeler fan.

She is, by the way, a totally knowledgeable football fan. I have learned a lot about football by listening to her post-game dissections.

She's been my trainer for a lot of years - saw me through cancer and a total knee replacement - and she's a huge help when things are tough.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/30/2009 5:33:19 PM
Message:

Well, I'm back from the railroad history conference in Wyoming, serendipitously scheduled to coincide with "The G-20 Strikes Back," so we can get back to the layout construction theme ...

Don brought the finished under-layout cabinet today. Here it is in place under the turntable and directly across the aisle from the chair at my workbench.



The plastic storage containers will hold all the various detail parts, small kits, hopper loads, and miscellaneous other stuff that currently occupy drawers next to my former workbench in the attic across the street.

Before we could slide the shelving unit into place, Don needed to bundle the wires for the turntable tracks and tuck them up into the bench work to get them out of the way.



Nicely done, Don.

Unfortunately, the layout collapsed and the only thing left of Don was these magic cross trainers.



I'm waiting to see if a Wicked Don of the West will appear to take revenge. I tried them on, but they don't fit; it's just as well, since I've been to a model railroad based on Kansas and the scenery was boring. Meanwhile, I've got some projects to complete before our next work session here in Oz. If I'm not carried off by flying monkeys, I'll post some pics ...

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/30/2009 9:53:52 PM
Message:

ROFL! I need to make three more shelves for the storage thingie. Next project is a number of magazine storage thingies. They're going to be based on a design that Tony Koester wrote about a long time ago - the magazines are stored flat rather than standing on edge - the compartments are sized to hold a year's worth of mags.

We're also working on designs for one or more somethings-or-other to store rolling stock. Might be under the layout storage, might be wall shelves - still noodling on that.

It was a fun day and we were able to have lunch at Ritter's, which, at the cost of a million or two in police overtime, had been well protected for us.

Cliff joined us during the day and for lunch and he and Vagel had a fine time discussing American military history.

Don


Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 09/30/2009 11:01:50 PM
Message:

Hey Vagel, those shoes look brand new. Seeing as they didn't fit you I'm sure you could sell them and get enough for them to get something for the layout.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/05/2009 9:33:12 PM
Message:

Today's project was to finish the wiring for the outside circle tracks around the turntable. It's finally done, and it was neat to finally get all those diesels out of the cabinet and onto the layout.

Here's an overview of the locomotive facility. I assembled and glued the smoke jacks to the roof wedges over the weekend, so the two steamers inside are out of the weather, so to speak.



Here's something that's really bizarre about the way the turntable is wired. Note in the photo below where Don placed a "+/-" in red ink. That marks the spot where the track polarity reverses. It coincides with the zero spot (the light sensor) that tells the turntable indexing program where it's base point is), yet it is 90 degrees off from the auto reverser, which changes the polarity of the turntable bridge track. One would think that the track polarity would change at the same place as the auto-reverser, but Nooooooo!





The other steam locos that will reside here have yet to be DCC'd (and one yet to be painted); there's a D16sb (4-4-0), an E5s (4-4-2), an H6sb (2-8-0), and a Bean-O Q3 (USRA 2-8-2. The T1, M1a, and I1sa w/ long tender will go in the larger 3-stall roundhouse under construction.

Vagel


Reply author: ak-milw
Replied on: 10/05/2009 9:47:41 PM
Message:

Vagel,
Nice collection of power, looking forward to seeing the steamers.


[:-shades]


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/05/2009 11:31:38 PM
Message:

Thanks, Andy. One of these days I'll get around to weathering them all. [:-grumpy]

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 10/06/2009 12:40:22 AM
Message:

That turntable area is turning out to be one impressive looking area, especially now that it's populated with motive power! Can't wait to see the ground cover and scenery applied to it!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/06/2009 4:04:11 PM
Message:

Thanks, Mark. It does take up a lot of real estate, doesn't it? In fact, if it wasn't for the museum concept it would be way too much facility for the size of the layout; all that benchwork on this side of the backdrop and only room for three yard tracks with a 25-car (40' each) capacity. That's perfectly alright to handle the actual standard gauge operation in support of the 1930s-era blast furnace operation where the narrow and standard gauges interchange. But cars for all of the museum trains (TrukTrain, Post-WW2 fallen flags merchandise, various PRR passenger & express "rare mileage" trains, drags with I1s up front and centipedes shoving, and even the occasional NMRA convention car/MR club car/living legends train (just to make it really disgustingly cheezy) will have to be stored somewhere else.

Not under here, though ...



Patience ... ground cover is coming eventually.

Vagel


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 10/07/2009 2:13:31 PM
Message:

Just a minor edit - The B&O USRA Mikes were class Q-3, not Q-2. The Q-2's were ex-CI&W engines that probably never got out of Indiana.
DM


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/07/2009 4:08:25 PM
Message:

We changed the Wednesday routine a bit this time. Instead of me going over to Vagel's. he came over to my shop. We worked away on finishing three mpre shelves for the shoe-box storage fixture--neither exciting nor photogenic but useful.

More interestingly, we made the story sticks (vertical and horizonal) for the magazine storage fixture, and started cutting pieces parts. I need a *lot* more luan to make all these 9x11.5" pigeon holes. Once we're a bit further along, I'll post some pictures.

Had an enjoyable lunch together at a Lawrenceville neighborhood restaurant (Gino's Big Belly Deli) - excellent $5 lunch special. While lunching, we trashed both major political parties and worked out the design of the rolling stock storage fixture - guess which activity was more useful.

Off to the MR club in Gibsonia for an evening of working on the B&O station's "landscaping."

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/14/2009 10:02:58 PM
Message:

Hi, All.

Between last week and today's work session with Don, I focused on getting ready to weather and ballast track as the first stage of scenery work. To that end I painted the sub-roadbed with a light brown color very close to Floquil Earth. Don has a quart of latex paint that he had custom matched to that color at our local big box; I just had them mix me up a quart of Glidden "Gentle Fawn." Once that was dry, I started to spray the track with Floquil Rail Brown.

Today Don and I cut fascia and supports in his shop, then came back to the layout, where he mounted the supports while I relocated the turntable control box to be next door to the roundhouse control panel. This evening I mounted the fascia pieces, which are now ready for the dark green outdoor carpet to be glued onto them. Here are some pictures of the work as it stands at bedtime:







Don cut some nifty brackets on his band saw for the relocated turntable control box:


Don took some 1x2 scrap back to his shop to cut the necessary pieces for the remaining fascia supports we need to finish the Phase I portion of the layout, like here at Ft. Loudon Yard:


Meanwhile, I'm supposed to start gluing the green outdoor carpet to the fascia around the yard and engine terminal. I'll post pictures when I make some progress along that line.

Until then, see you on the railroad,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/14/2009 11:24:27 PM
Message:

Man, you were really flying this evening while I was out at the Club. Must have been all that grease from lunch at Ritters! Great progress!

(I'll get the missing uprights to you tomorrow - don't want to hold you up.)

Don


Reply author: LynnB
Replied on: 10/15/2009 09:30:38 AM
Message:

I just finished getting caught up, you's are doing a terrific job documenting all the fun you's are having.


Reply author: Rick
Replied on: 10/15/2009 10:42:38 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by wickman

I just finished getting caught up, you's are doing a terrific job documenting all the fun you's are having.



Same here. Great job guys.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/15/2009 6:50:07 PM
Message:

Thanks, guys. I must say that its nice to finally not see the innards of the layout peeking out from under the sub-roadbed. Can't wait to see the effect with the outdoor carpet applied to the fascia.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/15/2009 9:35:30 PM
Message:

Hey, Dude -- where's that bridge kit I'm supposed to be building for you, now that they've shut down work out at the Museum?

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 10/16/2009 12:56:56 AM
Message:

Great progress guys! That fascia makes a big difference. I can't wait to see it finished.


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 10/16/2009 06:25:15 AM
Message:

Like Wickman, I just managed to get caught up as well....an impressive amount of quality work in a short time! You guys are focused!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/21/2009 6:25:52 PM
Message:

Thanks for the kind words, guys. We got the outdoor carpet mounted on the fascia around the museum terminal and yard today. It's really cheap, at $0.49 per sq. ft. The color is Paradise Green. I pre-cut the openings for the DCC UTP's before we started gluing on the carpet.



I bought a quart container of carpet glue, which looks like it will just about be enough for the 48 ft of fascia, most of it 8 to 8 1/4" high, on Phase I of the layout. The sales associate at Home Despot warned against spreading the glue on too thick with this carpet, because it's only 1/8" think and the glue can bleed through. Don brushed the glue on with a disposable 3" chip brush and I combed it with a toothed trowel (try saying that three time fast for the state trooper).



Getting the carpet to adhere when wrapping it around 90-degree corners and concave curves was a bit of a challenge, especially since we didn't have the 100 lb. roller called for in the glue's instructions. [:-grumpy] But the glue took hold pretty quickly, and with some judicious clamping and heavy handed smoothing everything laid down pretty easily.



At the end of the session, we agreed that the carpet idea is working out really well.



Don cut some scrap to fit the appendages in the fascia around the turntable and roundhouse panels, which I glued on after lunch at Ritters. I'll post a couple more shots when everything has set and the DCC UTP's are in place.

See ya next time,

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 10/21/2009 6:46:26 PM
Message:

Yes, Vagel, the fascia is very nicely looking this way.


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 10/21/2009 7:30:22 PM
Message:

Nice idea for the fascia. Are you worried of spilling something on it when you are doing the scenery?

Green clamps, green socks and a green t-shirt Ė is Don making some sort of a fashion statement?

George


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/21/2009 10:08:29 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by George D



Green clamps, green socks and a green t-shirt Ė is Don making some sort of a fashion statement?

George



To quote Auntie Mame, "The difference between man and beasts is the ability to accessorize."


Don


Reply author: Tim Kerkhoff
Replied on: 10/21/2009 10:42:47 PM
Message:

Neat idea for the fascia, plus it covers all the screw holes.[:-thumbu]


Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 10/21/2009 11:17:28 PM
Message:

quote:
Getting the carpet to adhere when wrapping it around 90-degree corners and concave curves was a bit of a challenge, especially since we didn't have the 100 lb. roller called for in the glue's instructions. But the glue took hold pretty quickly, and with some judicious clamping and heavy handed smoothing everything laid down pretty easily.


I'd like to see you lift that 100# roller and use it sideways.

The carpet on the fascia looks great and it sure does give it a finished look.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/22/2009 12:44:13 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA To quote Auntie Mame, "The difference between man and beasts is the ability to accessorize."
MY favorite Auntie Mame quote is, "Life's a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!" I've pointed out Don's "human clamp" gloves before in this forum. But the T-shirt is a bit over the top, don't you think?

Seriously, thanks for the kind words, guys. We're not too worried about spillage onto the carpet, since it's easily cleaned up with warm water, and frankly I've never had a problem with layout surface run-off before.

One last thing ... I really must reiterate that the credit for this idea goes to W. Allen McClelland, of the Virginian & Ohio, who is the first, to my knowledge, to come up with and employ the idea of outdoor carpet as fascia covering in the last, and sadly now defunct, version of his ground-breaking model railroad.

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 10/22/2009 02:32:14 AM
Message:

What an interesting idea Vagel! I had never heard of this idea before but I must say it looks really sharp! Hmmm, something to ponder for my layout.


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 10/22/2009 05:57:18 AM
Message:

I like the appearance....good job, guys.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/22/2009 07:37:29 AM
Message:

That lovely green t-shirt is the official shirt of the Lawrenceville Rotary Annual Bar Crawl - it allows us to find participants if they fall asleep in a corner of a poorly-lighted saloon. We have a lot of them left over which I would be happy to sell if anyone wants to contribute to buying dictionaries for middle school students in Lawrenceville.

I think I'll suggest that we make the Flourescent Green ensemble the official uniform for the Blacklog and Shade Gap Eastern crew when the layout is on the tour for the Jamboree in the spring.[:-bouncy]

I really must dig up the Auntie Mame books - I remember laughing so hard my sides ached when I read them.

One other advantage to the carpeted fascia that Vagel pointed out to me - it turns the whole surface into one-half of a Velcro setup. If you put the "other" half of the Velcro on the back of your throttles, you can stick them anywhere. You can also stick up the boxes for card card and waybill, pencil holders, etc. Not sure cup holders would be a good idea, but just about anything else can be stuck anywhere on the fascia.

Onward and upward!

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/22/2009 07:44:05 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by elwoodblues

quote:
Getting the carpet to adhere when wrapping it around 90-degree corners and concave curves was a bit of a challenge, especially since we didn't have the 100 lb. roller called for in the glue's instructions. But the glue took hold pretty quickly, and with some judicious clamping and heavy handed smoothing everything laid down pretty easily.


I'd like to see you lift that 100# roller and use it sideways.




Hey, we're from Pittsburgh - not a problem.[:-bigmouth]


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/22/2009 4:08:11 PM
Message:

OK, it's 24 hours later, and the glue instructions say it is now dry enough to walk on the carpet fascia. Here it is with the UTPs re-installed and the trim pieces glued to the panels.





Next week we'll do the fascia in the Ft. Loudon area, and if I can get up enough gumption to install the last remaining HOn3 turnout and Tortoise machine, we'll cut and install the hardboard sub-fascia at Kalbach (in the kitchen).

Vagel


Reply author: chooch41
Replied on: 10/22/2009 6:07:33 PM
Message:

At first I didn't think that using carpeting for the fascia would look very good. But, I have definately changed my mind. It looks really good. Great job gentleman!!!!!

Brad[:-eyebrows][:-eyebrows]


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/22/2009 6:24:48 PM
Message:

Thanks, Brad. I knew it would look good when I saw the pictures of it in the article on Allen's last version of the V&O. I particularly like this shade of green, because it's darned close to East Broad Top passenger car color (at least during the tourist era).

Vagel


Reply author: LVN
Replied on: 10/22/2009 6:27:22 PM
Message:

This looks great. I also like the colour coord of: the shirt; the gloves; and, the clamps... to go with the green carpet. Well done.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/22/2009 9:53:24 PM
Message:

Thanks, Chris -

We still have to choose material for the skirting that will hang down from the fascia. Maybe something in tie-dye? Various shades of green? [:-bigeyes2]

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/23/2009 9:55:26 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA


We still have to choose material for the skirting that will hang down from the fascia. Maybe something in tie-dye? Various shades of green? [:-bigeyes2]



uh, no.[:-batman]

But Don's ears must've been burning, 'cause I mentioned just that subject to my wife last evening, and she thinks she'll be up for a pleating extravaganza during recovery from knee replacement no. 2, since she'll then have one good knee.

Note to Don: I'm a child of the '70s ... we did double knit paisley!

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/24/2009 06:33:44 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller
[br

Note to Don: I'm a child of the '70s ... we did double knit paisley!

Vagel



Eeeeeeek!

Don[:-scared]


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 10/24/2009 07:19:10 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller
[br

Note to Don: I'm a child of the '70s ... we did double knit paisley!

Vagel



Eeeeeeek!

Don[:-scared]



Remember: has to be polyester! LOL


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/24/2009 07:30:10 AM
Message:

Maybe Debbie can recycle Vagel's old leisure suits.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/24/2009 07:37:24 AM
Message:

I'm working on the next under-the-layout storage project - magazine storage. I got the idea from an old Tony Koester article in MR. I think he bought commercial fixtures - smart man! This is turning out to be quite an adventure.

Sorry about the usual fuzzy photograph. I don't know if you can see it, but there's a rope around the whole thing, tied off to the pencil sharpener, that's pulling it square.





Vagel says it looks like an architect's model for a Soviet apartment block. I got even by making him responsible for sanding and varnishing *inside* all those cubbyholes.

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 10/24/2009 07:53:22 AM
Message:

Nice work, Don. Will the ends be left 'free' as they are now (and thus bendable under the weight of mags) or do you plan to add a plank at each extremity? (Or maybe this is only a part of the shelving system?)


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/24/2009 08:41:36 AM
Message:

Hi, Frederick --

There are four more pieces that wrap around the outside. I'm in the process of gluing them now. It's kind of tedious - it has to be done in several steps because the material is floppy and decidedly not flat. (But cheap. )

The egg crate section goes inside a carcase made from heavier stuff - probably the same 1/2" b/c plywood I used on the shoe box fixture.

More pictures as I go along.

I'm going to be doing two more of these and I'm making a lot of notes on ways to do it better (or at least faster).

Don


Reply author: Grubes
Replied on: 10/24/2009 09:02:51 AM
Message:

If you're going to keep with the 70's theme, you'll have to remove the carpeting that you just put up and replace it with shag.

Looks good guys, have to confess I was apprehensive when you started with the carpet, but it really looks nice.

Dave


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/24/2009 11:11:37 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Grubes

If you're going to keep with the 70's theme, you'll have to remove the carpeting that you just put up and replace it with shag.

Looks good guys, have to confess I was apprehensive when you started with the carpet, but it really looks nice.

Dave




Not only shag - but bright orange shag! Double eeeeek!

Here's another progress picture on the magazine storage piece. I definitely need to come up with some rigs and jigs to make this go faster before I do the next two.








I need to start hunting around for wood for the carcase so I can start finishing those pieces.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/24/2009 2:27:28 PM
Message:

Wow, Don![:-thumbu][:-thumbu]


Reply author: Carrie Creek
Replied on: 10/24/2009 3:21:18 PM
Message:

Don, Vagel,
Those are some very fine looking shelves you are making there. I am a little courious as to why you two are going to all of the work when you could just go down to your local Office Depot or Office Max and pick up some of the cardboard magazine holders by Banker's Box at about a dollar apiece? But, then, Don is doing this as a labour of love, right?

I, for one, vote for the bright green curtins so that the eye is off of the really great looking MRR you have there. Will cut down on the jealousy factor


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/24/2009 4:50:14 PM
Message:

Phil,

I think there's some confusion here. I currently store my magazines upright in cardboard holders such as you describe, which I keep on tall bookshelves in the attic. Don's design is set up for flat storage, with the added benefit that it will fit under the bench work with maximum use of available vertical space.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/24/2009 5:07:25 PM
Message:

Hi, Phil --

Sorry about the understandable confusion. The cases are to be used in the horizontal position - I had them set up vertically in the last two pictures so I could glue on the ends.

Vagel pretty much answered the question - these are designed to store the magazines flat. I really don't like the carboard magazine holders because it curls the magazines unless you can stuff them totally full.

Once I've finished making this roll-around version for Vagel, I'm making two "stationary" versions that will go in my apartment, in the hallway, and allow me to retire an Ikea particle board bookcase full of magazines.

I think you *can* buy ready-made flat storage fixtures - at least you could years ago when Tony Koester wrote about storing magazines under his layout - but this is more fun and I can built them to fit the space.

Back to epoxying.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/25/2009 9:00:34 PM
Message:

Taa-dahhh! The final glue-up of the eggcrate:





I've already cut out the four main parts of the carcase. Tomorrow I hope to do the dadoes and start applying finish. Who knows, I might be able to take it to Vagel's on Wednesday.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/26/2009 02:50:27 AM
Message:

I am SO looking forward to sanding and finishing the insides of the cubby holes!

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/26/2009 06:30:24 AM
Message:

Snicker...

Actually, I did some of it last night, using the Fein detail sander. It goes pretty quickly. If you give me a bridge to build, I'll lend you the Fein kit.

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 10/26/2009 7:27:52 PM
Message:

Impressive series of shelves, Don. Thanks for the details.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/27/2009 06:59:32 AM
Message:

Thanks, Frederic.

I'm headed for the shop to give the case parts a third and (I hope) final coat of polyurethane floor finish. I probably wouldn't use it for living room furniture but it's as tough as rusty nails and good for this kind of shop furniture.

I like finishing case components before gluing them up because everything is laid flat and I have fewer problems avoiding runs and sags. And I avoid problems with finish not penetrating in area where there was glue squeezeout.

I hope to glue up later today, then add the bottom frame and casters. Whoo-hooo!

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/27/2009 5:51:58 PM
Message:

Before we continue with the fascia, I first have to install the last of the turnouts and Tortoise machines on the narrow gauge branch. So, today I finally got the turnout in place and checked out, with power feeders to the outside rails and frog soldered and ready for the Tortoise. Don and I will tackle the Tortoise tomorrow.

I use N-scale Code 70 insulated rail joiners with the HOn3 turnouts, and completely isolate the turnout from the layout. There are no insulated joiners on the right-hand track, as it's a dead end spur and takes its power from the feeders to the turnout:







The card board fascia mockup is ready to be taken down and used as a pattern for cutting the hardboard, as well. So tomorrow should see some "closure" on the fascia issue.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/27/2009 6:16:36 PM
Message:

Looks good! I'm at a class on how to use the internet for marketing, misusing their computers. Got the mag racks all glued up before heading for class.

Don

P.S. After class, I added the bottom supports and screwed on the casters and touched up the finish. Should be ready to load up tomorrow morning.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/28/2009 5:49:11 PM
Message:

Today was interesting. We started late, so it was somewhat short, but productive. Don brought the magazine cabinet and put a coat of polyurethane varnish on the back panel to seal it and spread some on inside the pigeon holes, as well. It looks right at home under the layout. Don left the Fein Sanding Kit for me to smooth the epoxy patches before finishing the polyurethane inside surfaces. You can also see where I've got some touching up to do on the walls.


Garth stopped by for a short visit, as did Kent Miller, and I gave them a short tour of the changes and additions since their last visits. Then, as I was getting started on the Tortoise installation, Cliff stopped by so Don had a social break while I cussed and fussed under Kalbach.


By the time I got the switch machine installed and adjusted, we just had time to cut the hardboard sub-fascia before time expired.


Here's a shot of No. 10's test run through the new turnout at Kalbach.


Next week we might very well finish the carpet fascia all the way around. Stay tuned,

Vagel


Reply author: belg
Replied on: 10/28/2009 7:22:59 PM
Message:

Don, you said the material is "floppy and decidedly not flat" but not what it was, or how you are putting it together? I think I can see in your "fuzzy" pics you are removing half the material in each joint. Is that right and how do you then join it together just using the epoxy? But then at the end you mention dadoes , or are they on the carcass only? Pat


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/29/2009 06:44:41 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by belg

Don, you said the material is "floppy and decidedly not flat" but not what it was, or how you are putting it together? I think I can see in your "fuzzy" pics you are removing half the material in each joint. Is that right and how do you then join it together just using the epoxy? But then at the end you mention dadoes , or are they on the carcass only? Pat



Hi, Pat. The material is "water resistant luan". I don't know the exact thickness, although I could measure it. It's the usual stuff sold in the big boxes for $11-$12 a sheet. It's about 3/16" thick. Actual size is almost certainly in millimeters.

I did mention dadoes and that isn't quite accurate. I used the dado set to cut the corners on the carcase but technically, they're rabbets. (Or "rebates" if you want the British version, which I like.)

I also used the dado to cut the slots in the parts that allow them to interlock. It's hard to cut a slot that's "just right" for this luan. All my regular saw blades are either too narrow or too wide. One dado blade plus the thinnest chipper is just a tad too wide, but that's what I used.

I added a third set of casters in the middle because I was afraid that whole thing would sag under the weight of 35 years worth of magazines.

Next in-shop project for Vagel will be building a rolling-stock storage cabinet.

Don





Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 10/29/2009 11:04:18 AM
Message:

Just out of curiosity, what's the provenance of No. 10. Blackstone? PFM?


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/29/2009 6:47:58 PM
Message:

Hi, Deane. B&SGE No. 10 is a Blackstone product. We're waiting hopefully for the C-19's to arrive, maybe by late-2011. Those will be the engines that finally handle the ore traffic on the branch. The K-27 will join leased EBT power working the mainline.

Vagel


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 10/30/2009 08:57:48 AM
Message:

Vagel: OK. I saw one of the Blackstones at the Kimberton meet this past May. Looked good and ran great. Almost tempting enough to go back to HOn3.
DM


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/30/2009 5:40:50 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by ebtnut

Vagel: OK. I saw one of the Blackstones at the Kimberton meet this past May. Looked good and ran great. Almost tempting enough to go back to HOn3.



I don't know Blackstone's (Soundtrax) secret to their excellent quality control on these engines, but it probably has to do with the fact that they install and test the Tsunami sound systems at their Durango HQ before they ship to dealers. And when I say, "they," I really mean ONE tech support guy. I have two (the other one lettered for D&RGW 456), and both ran superbly right out of the box.

Vagel


Reply author: mainetrains
Replied on: 10/31/2009 05:52:00 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

[quote]Originally posted by Vagel Keller
[br

Note to Don: I'm a child of the '70s ... we did double knit paisley!

Vagel



Well, I'm a child of the 60's and we did just about everything.

Dave [:-banghead]


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/01/2009 8:36:57 PM
Message:

Hi, All.

Back on Page 22, 08/22/09, of this thread I discussed the problem I was having with a ghost short in one of the LITCo HOn3 turnouts wired to a Toirtoise machine, and had given it up as a "bad job." Thankfully, I was reluctant to attribute the problem to quality of workmanship, rather that I might have damaged the turnout when soldering power feeders to rails and frog.

Well, this afternoon, when installing and troubleshooting the replacement LITCo turnout at Kalbach, I discovered the reason for the short, and it was neither quality nor damage. The problem was the way I was connecting the track power feeders to the rails and to the Tortoise machine.

Here's the story ...

When wiring a turnout and a Tortoise, a total of seven (7) power connections are required:

2 x power feeders from the power source to operate the machine that moves the points form left to right and vice versa
2 x power feeders from the track power buses to the stock rails of the turnout
2 x power feeders from the track power buses into and 1 x power feeder out from the Tortoise's auto-reverser to the frog of the turnout.

What I had done with the turnout in question was to take a shortcut and run the feeders to the stock rails and to the relative contacts on the Tortoise machine proper from the same point on the power buses. In doing so, I created a feed-back loop that caused a short to occur when the locomotive arrived at the frog. So, to avoid this short from occurring, you should make each track feeder's connection to the main power bus wires separate from their relatives going into the Tortoise machine.

Now, back to model railroad CIVIL engineering!

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/02/2009 12:37:41 PM
Message:

Don suggested a diagram of what I talked about above, so here goes.

Here is the "ideal" wiring configuration for a Tortoise machine, given that the red and black feeders going to positions 2 & 3 might be reversed based on the orientation of the turnout and the switch machine to each other ... you have to use trial and error (or a multi-meter) to check that. This is the wiring configuration now in place at Kalbach.



The next diagram shows what I had done in order to reduce the number of places I had to strip the insulation from the power bus:



With that configuration, a short occurred when the locomotive drivers were on the frog. Now, maybe someone can tell me why the following configurations work just fine:

[




[:-boggled]

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 11/02/2009 4:27:30 PM
Message:

Vagel, from your diagrams and description, I don't see a difference! Basically it is the same wiring. In one diagram you tapped off your buss once and branched off to both the stock rails and the tortoise. In the second diagram, you come directly off the buss with both feeds. Either one is correct. There is no difference! I don't understand where the problem would have been. [:-boggled]

[:-idea] The only thing I can think of is, is it possible that your connections to the tortoise were reversed? In other words, in both diagrams above, you have the black wire going to terminal 2 and the red wire going to terminal 3. Where they reversed? If that were the case then yes, you would experience a short when the locomotive crossed the frog because it was the wrong polarity.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/02/2009 6:54:10 PM
Message:

My head hurts just from *trying* to think about this stuff. [:-drool][:-grumpy]

Don


Reply author: belg
Replied on: 11/02/2009 7:23:34 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

quote:
Originally posted by belg

Don, you said the material is "floppy and decidedly not flat" but not what it was, or how you are putting it together? I think I can see in your "fuzzy" pics you are removing half the material in each joint. Is that right and how do you then join it together just using the epoxy? But then at the end you mention dadoes , or are they on the carcass only? Pat



Hi, Pat. The material is "water resistant luan". I don't know the exact thickness, although I could measure it. It's the usual stuff sold in the big boxes for $11-$12 a sheet. It's about 3/16" thick. Actual size is almost certainly in millimeters.

I did mention dadoes and that isn't quite accurate. I used the dado set to cut the corners on the carcase but technically, they're rabbets. (Or "rebates" if you want the British version, which I like.)

I also used the dado to cut the slots in the parts that allow them to interlock. It's hard to cut a slot that's "just right" for this luan. All my regular saw blades are either too narrow or too wide. One dado blade plus the thinnest chipper is just a tad too wide, but that's what I used.

I added a third set of casters in the middle because I was afraid that whole thing would sag under the weight of 35 years worth of magazines.

Next in-shop project for Vagel will be building a rolling-stock storage cabinet.

Don







So Don, the material is then only cut halfway thru and then one section turned around to mate the two pieces?like the cardboard that comes in a case of wine? Its only held by epoxy at the intersecting pieces? Do you just apply it from the top and bottom once their assembled? Thanks Pat


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/02/2009 8:25:56 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

[:-idea] The only thing I can think of is, is it possible that your connections to the tortoise were reversed? If that were the case then yes, you would experience a short when the locomotive crossed the frog because it was the wrong polarity.



Mark, I eliminated that possibility by reversing the two wires, which shorted as soon as I turned the track power back on. It's a mystery that I'm happy to not to have to deal with anymore.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/02/2009 9:14:34 PM
Message:

quote:
So, Don, the material is then only cut halfway thru and then one section turned around to mate the two pieces?like the cardboard that comes in a case of wine? Its only held by epoxy at the intersecting pieces? Do you just apply it from the top and bottom once they're assembled? Thanks, Pat.



Hi, Pat - yes, exactly like the cardboard in a case of wine. I brush thickened epoxy on the joints as I'm assembling it and go back and add more later if I need to. Then I stick Vagel with the job of sanding off the excess.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/02/2009 9:16:30 PM
Message:

quote:


Mark, I eliminated that possibility by reversing the two wires, which shorted as soon as I turned the track power back on. It's a mystery that I'm happy to not to have to deal with anymore.

Vagel



Obviously, the problem is caused by evil spirits. T'hell with science - call in the shamen.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/03/2009 12:37:06 AM
Message:

Originally posted by AVRR-PA: "Obviously, the problem is caused by evil spirits. T'hell with science - call in the shamen."

A great anonymous quote comes to mind, to wit, "Experience is the best teacher, but, of course, experience is the result of poor judgment." Let us not forget that, despite all my b'n'm (*****ing and moaning) during the Tortoise excursions on this thread, in the process I have gained a great deal of hands-on training on wiring (electronic plumbing) and soldering of itty bitty connections that will no doubt serve well in the future of this layout.[:-dunce]

And those brave souls who actually read this thread from start to finish, perhaps, might avoid the experiential nature of this branch of the hobby.

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 11/03/2009 12:52:26 AM
Message:

Well, if it's working now then I say move on! Just one of those quirks. Let's just hope it doesn't rear it's ugly head again like during an open house! [:-bigeyes]


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/03/2009 05:46:09 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

Well, if it's working now then I say move on! Just one of those quirks. Let's just hope it doesn't rear it's ugly head again like during an open house! [:-bigeyes]



Eeeek! What a thought!

That turnout should be buried - at midnight - at a crossroads - with a stake through it.

Excuse me - I've been reading too many vampire novels.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/03/2009 8:14:03 PM
Message:

A little progress to report as we approach tomorrow's weekly work session ...

After much procrastination, I got the sub-roadbed and revised roadbed alignment for the ore washer and tipple glued down at Buchanan today.



I have a bit of sanding to do for a smooth transition where the 4% grade ramp meets the flat surface 1/2" above the plywood surface, but it won't be long now 'til ore starts to flow on the narrow gauge branch.



Around the bend, the Kalbach control panel is wired to the Tortoise for the mine spur and the sub-fascia is ready for some final trimming before we apply the carpet tomorrow.



Just for sh'grins, I sketched a possible tipple for the iron ore mine at Kalbach and set it in front of the hole in the wall to see if it "worked." I kind of like it. This will be a very small operation, producing 2-3 car loads of 35 tons raw ore each per day. To add some complexity to the operation, these cars will be shunted to the ore processing plant at Buchanan before finally being shipped to the blast furnace.

By the way, SPI&M stands for South Penn Iron & Mining Co., which built the original South Penn Branch of the Cumberland Valley RR (later PRR's Cumberland Valley Division) in the mid-1800s but never amounted to much -- certainly it never shipped ore by rail from up here. It is the So. Penn Branch that the fictitious B&SGE interchanges with; the narrow gauge Buchanan Branch is the fictitious name for a real logging line built by Kalbach Lumber Co. in the early 1900s from the end of the So. Penn Branch at Richmond Furnace into Cowans Gap on the flank of Tuscarora Mountain.



My plan at this point is to build it as a 1/2 depth relief structure against the backdrop that angles away from the backdrop to a full-width structure as it crosses the track at left to reach the loading spur and then dumps onto a waste pile at the layout's edge.

I also started to move my magazine collection into Don's storage cabinet.



For the labels, I scanned a Model Railroader cover logo and a Narrow Minded & Short Sighted Gazette masthead, then pasted them into a MS-Word document formated to print on 2 x 3 1/2" Tent Cards. Paste the image into the document and type the year(s) underneath, et Voila! Just stick the back (plain) half of the tent card between two issues to hold it in place.

See ya tomorrow!

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/04/2009 07:11:46 AM
Message:

Wow! Vagel has been a very busy guy! Looking forward to today's work session.

Don


Reply author: Neil M
Replied on: 11/04/2009 07:54:11 AM
Message:

I like the idea you have for the mine. What is on the other side of the backdrop? Does the spur get covered by that big warehouse you mocked up against the backdrop?

I think the mine would mask the transition into the backdrop well. I saw a photo in MR a few years ago where the guy had continued the scenery into the staging yard behind the backdrop and lit it so if you looked through the hole (under a highway bridge) it looked like the scenery just continued on. Would you do the same here or do you have other plans?


Reply author: bitlerisvj
Replied on: 11/04/2009 08:46:43 AM
Message:

Hi Don,
Any good ones, I love Vampire novels.
Regards, Vic Bitleris

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

Well, if it's working now then I say move on! Just one of those quirks. Let's just hope it doesn't rear it's ugly head again like during an open house! [:-bigeyes]



Eeeek! What a thought!

That turnout should be buried - at midnight - at a crossroads - with a stake through it.

Excuse me - I've been reading too many vampire novels.

Don



Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/04/2009 5:36:26 PM
Message:

Hi, Neil. Yes, both tracks pass under the cold storage and and one on the left remains hidden until it nears the bottom of the grade where it connects with the end of the narrow gauge mainline to allow continuous running if desired. I do plan to continue the scenery through the wall until the shadows hide the scene; most likely a rock cut.

Well, today, we effectively eliminated any excuses for getting to work on scenery. Covering the fascia with outdoor carpet went fairly smoothly, and it's now all done on Phase I of the layout. Here's an overview of the Buchanan/Ft. Loudon area:



After that was finished, we experimented with a scenery technique Don read about in Howard Zane's book about his HO Piedmont Division of the Western Maryland. Zane uses resin paper -- that pink stuff that contractors and movers put down to protect wood floors while they do their stuff -- and brushes on white glue. When dry, the white glue apparently gives the paper stiffness and strength.

First, I crumpled the paper by balling it up in my hands, then Don hot-glued it to the sub-roadbed and the back of the fascia. Here's a shot of Don happily slopping full-strength white glue onto the paper with a chip brush:



I stuck a rubber shale casting into the glue, and we sprinkled some blended turf and autumn grass-colored ground foam over everything. Here's a shot of it before we went to lunch:



This little project was an experiment, and it won't last long in this location; the plan calls for a removable scenery section here to provide access to the hidden standard gauge track underneath. But we'll se how it turns out and maybe use it in another section of the layout. At any rate, I'll post a shot of it when everything dries.

Until next time ...


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 11/04/2009 6:24:55 PM
Message:

That first shot of the finished fascia is excellent! What a nice professional appearance it gives the layout!

Interesting idea on the paper. I have never heard of that approach and am interested to hear what you guys think of it.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/05/2009 07:00:16 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Like Vagel said - we were experimenting with the rosin paper so we were pretty casual about it. Here's a picture of how Vagel "shaped" it - he stuck a spray can underneath, resting on the track below.






I needed another shelf to hold rolling stock for the bedroom layout and offered to build one for Vagel at the same time - not as a substitute for the roll-around, under-the-layout version we had planned but as a displayer for the "museum" models that will seldom be on the layout. Here's a picture of one the almost-finished shelves:





Still needs a couple more applications of Watco and a french cleat. Material cost - zero. I got all the wood out of scrap 2X construction lumber.

And finally - in line with Auntie Mame's comment about "the ability to accessorize" - we got some blue clamps to go with my *blue* t-shirts.





Finally - the bridge kit arrived! I took it home with me and will start a construction thread on it soon. Should be fun.

Don


Reply author: belg
Replied on: 11/05/2009 07:30:18 AM
Message:

guys, don't you think that with out any backing like the cardboard web this will have trouble holding trees? And if you have a leaner visit it will rip I think? The carpet fascia is very nicely done, and yet another different method. Are you trying to set a record for unique methods used one layout? Pat


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 11/05/2009 10:52:57 AM
Message:

I'd love to see how the rosin paper turned out; I was thinking the same thing about the trees....


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/05/2009 12:01:53 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by belg

guys, don't you think that with out any backing like the cardboard web this will have trouble holding trees? And if you have a leaner visit it will rip I think? The carpet fascia is very nicely done, and yet another different method. Are you trying to set a record for unique methods used one layout? Pat



We're just experimenting with the rosin paper, as I said. We have no intention of using it unsupported at the edge of the layout unless it turns out to be a whole lot more rigid than I expect. By now, the glue has had 24 hours to cure so Vagel can give an assessment of how strong it is. My guess, FWIW, is that contractor-grade rosin paper, saturated with undiluted white glue, is probably strong enough to use as body armor. But we'll see.

Don


Reply author: belg
Replied on: 11/05/2009 5:03:29 PM
Message:

Don, I look forward to the experiment results. I knew you said it was a test run just was wondering if the test should not include a small section which is better supported to see how it would hold up?? Is the idea to use less material and still get a reasonable result? Thanks Pat


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/05/2009 8:07:31 PM
Message:

Hi, All ...

It's been a busy day at the home of the B&SGE, between following up yesterday's work session, continuing with the Buchanan mine ramp, and working with my handy-man on 1:1 scale outer door winterization on the other two apartments that pay the "freight" for the train room, I just got to sit down and reply to all the questions and comments ...

First, initial feedback on the Zane Resin Paper scenery base:

It's not "body armor," so IMHO even with a grid of cardboard strips it won't replace hardshell or extruded styrofoam as a front-of-the-layout scenery base. But it DOES hold its shape when dry, and it will support trees and even visitors as long as they're HO scale, as the following photo will attest (I took it after removing the Krylon-pylon):



The "fine" tree is a small Scenic Express "super tree", while the other is a puffball teased from a 1-1/2" square of Woodland Scenics Fall foliage impaled on a toothpick. Because the paper is really resistant to puncture when impregnated with dried white glue, I had to support it with my hand from underneath to make the holes for the two trees with a toothpick. So my evaluation, which is worth every penny you pay for it, is that this method is essentially a poor-man's hardshell. It seems to be ideal for applications beyond the reach of the visitor-from-Hell, but should be supported by some armature, like a light cardboard grid or balled up newspaper so you can install rock castings while still wet without it sagging and go back and "plant" trees after it's dry.

Here are a couple of shots of the areas we carpeted yesterday after I reinstalled the DCC UTP's and cut openings around the control panels. I purchased small clipboards at our local evil big-box office supplies chain that put our local really neat office supplies store out of business a couple years ago (oops, does that comment belong in the crew lounge?)[:-devil] They are for holding blank train orders and/or switch lists as we develop our concept for prototypical train operations ... anyone remember the standard railroad form number for time travel?





I think I'll be spending most of my time at Ft. Loudon, where there's room for a chair! It's also going to be the best place on the layout to sit and watch trains role by ...



Up at Buchanan, I filled in the gaps in the Woodland Scenics styrofoam ramps and created embankments with a material called Brandt's Paper Mache' Compound. I bought a 5-lb bag of it from my LHS over a decade ago and still have 3 lbs left; I'm sure you could find it in art supply stores, as well. It's a finely-ground paper powder that mixes up like Plaster of Paris or Hydrocal.

Here's a "before" picture for reference:



Applied with a putty knife, it's surface is a little rough when fresh:



I like this stuff because it gets pretty stiff after about an hour but takes a long time to set up, and it is never water proof until painted. That means you can continue to work its surface as long as it's damp, and even after it sets up you can dampen the surface and mess with it. I went back this evening and ran my finger over the surface to work out the bumpiness -- just like finishing a concrete slab. Here's what it looked like afterward. It's still a bit rough, but fine for my purposes; it'll be covered with cinders.



You can work it until its surface is really smooth, and when dry it takes on the color of old concrete. A fellow model railroader in this area uses it for concrete freight and passenger platforms and foundations all over his layout with really good results.

More later,

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 11/05/2009 10:39:39 PM
Message:

Well, you are certainly getting a lot accomplished these days! Finishing the fascia, experimenting with hardshell, setting up for operations, trackwork and associated scenery/landforms. WOW! Looking good! Paper Mache' Compound! Looks like it worked out well.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/05/2009 11:32:28 PM
Message:

Thanks, Mark.

One thing I forgot to mention about the resin paper is the color. As it comes, it's already an oxide red color, but when soaked with glue and allowed to dry it takes on a red-brownish tone that to my eye is just like the iron-rich soil so characteristic of Pennsylvania's Juniata Valley. Such is also the case in many parts of Appalachia. You don't even need to paint it; it naturally takes on the base color I want!

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/06/2009 06:25:55 AM
Message:

Hi, Vagel (and all y'all) --

I'm going to want to scrounge a little of that Papier Mache' material to try when I make the concrete part of the loading platform on my team track. I'll show up at the layout with a cup, like a neighbor wanting to borrow sugar.

Man, you are really flying. I'll have to talk to Carnegie-Mellon about keeping you unemployed.

I've started a separate thread on the Ravine Trestle, in anyone is interested.

I wonder if we could get Body Armor from the rosin paper if we glued two layers together? Given that I'm getting it for free, that wouldn't add anything but the cost of glue to the project.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/06/2009 8:58:15 PM
Message:

Thanks for all the interest, guys. I had hoped to be able to post a photo of the finished track work at the Buchanan mine tonight, but that paper mache' compound is STILL damp. That's partly because now that it's heating season in Pennsyltucky I keep the thermostat set at 60, but it's also because the mixture was a bit too soupy. I mixed up another small batch this afternoon to prepare the ramp at the coaling tower dump house in the engine terminal, and I made it almost as thick as spackling compound ... it's still damp this evening but much farther along than the first batch was at that time yesterday.

Meanwhile, while getting ready to continue the track weathering project I noticed some unsoldered rail joints. That prompted a track inspection tour that revealed quite a few joints unsoldered and forgotten, so out came the soldering iron and that's now done. And while I was at it, I installed tension springs fabricated from staples in all the standard gauge turnouts that still lacked them. The staple-as-spring technique is another idea that I got from Bob Prehoda ... I'll post a couple of shots next time I get a chance.

I'll check back in when the tracks at the Buchanan mine and the coaling tower are finally in service ...

... oh, and before I go, all the nice things folks have been saying about our progress prompted a retrospective trip through this thread, and I was struck dumb when I came across the following picture of the museum yard area from March and compared it to the one from mid-October!

We have made great progress, and it has been both a challenge and great fun.

Vagel





Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/07/2009 06:09:51 AM
Message:

You mean it took us SIX months to get from the first picture to the second? Man, we've got to pick up the pace!

Just kidding. Sort of.



Don


Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 11/07/2009 07:21:35 AM
Message:

Vagel,

You just had to show another picture with those bright lime green color coordinated gloves clamps and shirt.[:-bigeyes][:-bigeyes]

You guys have made great progress in a very short time.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/07/2009 11:34:15 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by elwoodblues

Vagel,

You just had to show another picture with those bright lime green color coordinated gloves clamps and shirt.[:-bigeyes][:-bigeyes]

You guys have made great progress in a very short time.




Curses! Foiled again. Thanks, Ron. Don's side-long "Just kidding" is his way of chiding me for being a noodge about lack of scenic progress on some of our NMRA FreeMo modules, while continuing to "waste time" running trains on my own baby poop brown Plywood Central with exposed wiring for hillsides. Point taken, but I'm just not that well organized to keep up with Don's level of energy sometimes ... I promise we'll be doing scenery stuff next time Don and I get together.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/08/2009 07:13:23 AM
Message:

Hi, Vagel (and everyone) --

Nah, I wasn't chiding you. Just being a smart ass, with no serious or hidden purpose at all. Actually, I think you've done amazingly well and I'm glad I'm able to help. But if you weren't working on it several times a week, between our Wednesday sessions, the results would be far less impressive.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/12/2009 10:04:31 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA


I needed another shelf to hold rolling stock for the bedroom layout and offered to build one for Vagel at the same time - not as a substitute for the roll-around, under-the-layout version we had planned but as a displayer for the "museum" models that will seldom be on the layout.



Hello, all!

While Don's communing with the True Believers at the scale structure show (what's up with no complimentary continental breakfast at the hotel?!), I've been busy painting walls and hanging those lovely shelves he made for me. Originally I kept several Homasote tack boards left behind by the architect who occupied this building beforehand mounted on the walls and unpainted. Since one of those panels was to be the backing for this set of shelves, I decided to go ahead and finish painting all of them to match the two-tone mens room green scheme I applied to the outer walls at the outset of this layout project. Here's an overview of the setting for the shelves from near the workbench:



And a closer look as it's seen from the kitchen/Kalbach area:



Ya gotta love "scrap!"

It took a few days to get all the painting done -- including a day to realize I'd mixed up my drift cards and bought the wrong shade of light green initially [:-banghead] -- so it wasn't until yesterday that was able to get to the track weathering project I planned during Don's absence.

But once started it went really fast. Of course, before Don dropped off the shelves, I'd already finished the paper mache' ramps at the ore mine in Buchanan and the coal tower dump house in the museum engine terminal and painted them with an earth-tone latex paint. Before I share some photos of the Buchanan area, here are a couple of shots of the engine servicing area in the museum:



The ramp is a short section of Woodland Scenics styrofoam 4% grade sub-roadbed material with the voids filled with paper mache'. The extended track is built up from two layers of standard HO gauge cork roadbed, with the top layer sanded down to allow for the ties on the flex-track; the tie strip was removed where the rails pass over the Walthers dump house deck. This was very much a cut, sand, and fit operation.



Note that nothing is weathered yet in this facility. The ramp track is temporarily spiked in place, and I'll remove it when I'm ready to get that tower out of the way for ease of access for weathering and ballasting the yard area around it.

Now, back to the narrow gauge ...

Here's a close up of a section of weathered track at the end of the passing siding:



By the way, that's not rusty wood; these are ore cars, so there'd be a lot of ore dust on them.

If you can't find the transition from the hand-made LITCo turnouts on wooden ties and the Shinohara Code 70 flex-track, GOOD![:-bouncy] The rails are brush painted Floquil solvent-based Rail Brown. For the ties, I combined Pollyscale RR Tie Brown, Grimy Black, and Light Grey Undercoat mixed at whim on the Delrin flex-track ties and Floquil solvent-based RR Tie Brown on the wooden ties under the turnouts. A sometimes heavy, sometimes light dry brushing of Light Grey Undercoat overall gives the effect of aged, untreated ties. The unweathered sides of the ties will be covered by ballast.

In this view looking downgrade, you can see the extended length of the mine spurs that I was able to gain by curving them onto a hillside. The overall capacity is expanded from 5 to 10 ore cars.



The extra capacity allows for the addition of a value-added ore preparation facility to be incorporated into this structure, which will increase the yield at the blast furnace and make the raw ore from the mine around the bend in Kalbach that much more valuable. In the last shot, No. 10 is spotting two loads of raw ore from that tipple on the cleaning track for processing:



That's it for this update. More to come ...

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 11/12/2009 11:16:08 PM
Message:

I really like your track weathering Vagel! The tie color is especially well done! I think once you ballast, it will really set it off. Great progress!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/13/2009 06:34:35 AM
Message:

Hi, Vagel --

The room really looks good with the new paint. And you're making great progress on the layout.

I made good progress on the Ravine Tressel last night, at the 7:30 to 10:00 PM "Modeler's Studio." Only three or four people actually brought tools and something to work on, so it turned into a discussion with Brian Nolan, Dave Revelia and Scott Mason - but I kept my nose inside my work area and kept working. I got three and a half bents built. I'll post some pictures later.

And here's the picture:





There's another modeler's studio this evening but I got drafted into using the time to finish that Piledriver model I built for Jimmy D and shipped to him "some assembly required." Oh, well, if I finish it maybe it will finally make it onto his layout.

(Change of plans. I finished the Piledriver during lunch break so I'll be working on the Trestle this evening. Here's a picture of the completed Piledriver:





Time to get cleaned up and head for the first clinic of the day.

Don





Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/13/2009 3:07:31 PM
Message:

Wow, Don! You're really moving. Can't wait to see it it person.

Mark, thanks for the nice words. Lots more track to paint, but I think we'll take it in packets, alternating between that and ballasting. I really want to get Buchanan and Ft. Loudon shaped by some level of land forms in the next few weeks, even if it means the museum yard and terminal are in "like new" condition for awhile. I'm planning a ceremonial inaugural run for friends and neighbors sometime before the end of the year.

Vagel


Reply author: MikeC
Replied on: 11/13/2009 5:02:05 PM
Message:

It's been a while, guys, since I checked your progress, and all I can say is Wow! Vagel, the layout is looking really good - it's come a long way.[:-thumbu] Don, the trestle looks good so far (N-B-W's?? ), but the pile driver looks great! [:-thumbu]



Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/13/2009 10:45:47 PM
Message:

Thanks, Mike.

I spent another fun evening in the Modeler's Studio part of CSS09. More people showed up with kits and tools this evening, and Scott Mason, Brian Nolan, Dave Revelia and Mike Rose joined us. I thinking this is perhaps my favorite part of the event. I'm going to suggest to Scott that they provide more opportunities for people to ge together and build things.

I built the two short bents/bulkheads and got a good start on the deck this evening:





Some good clinics coming up tomorrow, including one with Mike Rose.

I'm going to skip the banquet tomorrow night (too expensive) and just do some more modeling. It won't be as much fun working by myself but I should be able to finish the deck, refuge platform, etc. I should be able to finish the trestle pretty quickly once I'm back in Pittsburgh.

Time to snooze.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/14/2009 7:52:27 PM
Message:

Can't wait to see it in person, Don.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/18/2009 5:10:39 PM
Message:

Hi, All.

The 1/4" vinyl peel-and-stick number sets arrived yesterday and I immediately applied them to the turntable control panel.



Sure looks better than the temporary blue tape and Sharpie numbering system that was beginning to take on the aspect of permanence.



The source of the 1/4" Chart Pack numbers didn't have the letter sets, but after much Googling I finally found a source for 1/4" yellow letter sets, so soon we'll have the panels at Kalbach and Buchanan all gussied up, too.

Another project that I've started to work on is the Walthers Glacier Gravel Company kit that I intend to use as the basis for the ore prep plant and tipple at Buchanan. In whole it is too much for the site, so I looked at using the steel hopper extension from one of the concrete bays at Kalbach, and I think it will work:



I think I can get away with talking about kit building here because this FAR from a craftsman kit [:-eyebrows]. I'm only using one hopper from the double hopper structure provided in the kit. The protrusion is the end of the conveyor; the hopper is wider than it is long and I have to orient the long axis along the track so the legs will fit between the two tracks with adequate clearance. The conveyor end will have to be nipped off and the whole thing lowered a bit. And there's a lot of additional things to do to connect it to the mine mouth, but this, I think will be the core of the project.

Two things that make this sort of historically neat: This steel hopper arrangement is similar to one built at the Joller coal mine on the East Broad Top RR's Joller Branch in the 1930s. And there were a couple of coal mine tipples on the EBT located on the opposite side of the through track from the mine mouth.

Lastly for this post, I decided to extend a third siding at the cold storage end of the museum yard under the building, although a stud in the wall will make it a short extension. Until we embark on Phase II of the layout construction the two sidings on the aisle side of the main here will serve as the diesel ready tracks for A-A and A-B-A consists.



That's it for now. Write if the mood strikes.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/18/2009 9:47:32 PM
Message:

Hi, Vagel --

The panel looks much nicer without the blue masking tape.

The Buchanan kitbash will be interesting to watch as the design evolves.

The trestle is coming along. NBW's are done and chalked and final assembly is underway. I'll add some pictures to the Ravine Trestle thread tomorrow. (I had a post all ready to go - about 20 minutes work - and the g.d. Forum software ate the whole things. I was too annoyed to do it over again immediately.)

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 11/19/2009 02:16:07 AM
Message:

Yes, the panel looks much better Vagel! I'm still intrigued by your fascia! It really looks great!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/19/2009 11:46:41 AM
Message:

Thanks, Mark. The more I operate trains, especially switching moves, the more I like the outdoor carpet fascia. You don't have to lean back and search in the shadows for one of the strategically placed patches of Velcro that model railroad owners normally rely on every time you need two hands to uncouple or operate a ground throw. That's especially true of a wireless layout, such as this, when the normal location for the Velcro patches is at the UTP's; it sort of defeats the purpose of wireless if you have to run over to the UTP to hang your throttle while you work with both hands.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/20/2009 11:01:12 PM
Message:

This evening Don handed me the Ravine Trestle that will replace the replace the temporary deck truss on the narrow gauge branch up to Buchanan. I think all will agree it's a beauty!



Here's a very old image showing where it will go on the branch (note the location of the deck truss).


Because the trestle is about 85' long and the truss is only 60' long, we'll have to "re-grade" the sub-roadbed in this location to allow for the longer straight section of track. It'll be an interesting exercise.

Don held off installing the delicate railings around the refuge platform where the fire barrel goes until the trestle is in place on the layout. I hope Don will be able to re-try his posting of the final stages of construction to his thread on this kit's construction in Craftsman's Corner.

Until next time,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/21/2009 06:51:25 AM
Message:

Vagel stopped by the shop last night, on his way home after a Scotch tasting. He seemed very cheerful. We had a nice visit. It was fun "presenting" him with the trestle.

I *will* do a posting to the Ravine Trestle, probably later this evening. But having spent most of 30 minutes writing a post, editing HTML, etc., and then having it simply disappear - that's just so damned annoying that it takes me a while to get back to trying again.

I sure wish the owner of this Forum would do something about *that* problem; it's certainly one of the less attractive features of the software.

Don


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 11/21/2009 06:59:16 AM
Message:

Thatís a good looking trestle, Don. It sounds like the installation will be a bit of a challenge, Vagel. Iím looking forward to seeing it in place on the layout.

Iím fascinated with your use of carpet on your fascia Ė gotta give that a try.

George


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 11/21/2009 09:43:54 AM
Message:

Don, I hear you about editing the html codes! A while back, someone posted a link to a 'cleanup' page that works GREAT! It is http://www.modelrailcast.com/RLImgCleanup.asp

Type your post, inserting your pictures like normal, just don't do any editing. When done, cut and paste the entire post into the 'clean up' page, then click the 'clean up' button at the bottom. In a split second, your post is edited with all HTML tags corrected for this forum! Simply cut and paste it back into this forum and your done.

By the way, the bridge looks outstanding. I can't wait to see it installed.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/28/2009 4:34:56 PM
Message:

Hi, All,

I had to cancel this past Wednesday's work session with Don but got back to work this afternoon adding letters to the control panels where I had previously numbered the tracks. Chart Pack 1/4" yellow letters just cannot be found in stores around Pittsburgh or even on the Internet, so I was fortunate to find a supplier called Magnatag, which offers a massive selection of project organization supplies, including 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" vinyl peel and stick letters in yellow. Here's a link to the specific page on lettering sets on their website:

http://www.magnatag.com/page/cat/CATLETNOS/AV/AVsupply/adhesive-die-cut-letter-number-set.asp


They cut the sheets to order in-house, with a 3-day turn-around. Service was great, and the quality was excellent with the exception of the letters toward the left edge of the sheet with the 1/4" letters, where the perforation wasn't sufficient in tight corners and required the use of an Exacto No. 11 to work loose. But that didn't add too much extra time to the project. Now the panels lack only the Slaughterhouse Switch & Signal builder's plates to be complete.

I used the 3/8" letters for the place names:





I decided to re-name this site again from Kalbach to Cowan's Gap, which is the real location where this mine is supposed to be situated. Cowans Gap State Park (no apostrophe) was built by the CCC; together with neighboring Buchanan State Forest it occupies land formerly cut-over by the Kalbach Lumber Co. The hidden narrow gauge track that runs behind the scenery from here to the far end of the narrow gauge to support continuous running will be known as the Kalbach Branch.



Finally, here's the track power routing panel at the standard gauge engine terminal with the in, out, and escape tracks now labeled.



Before Don and I get together on Wednesday, I hope to have the bridge site on the Buchanan Branch ready for installation of the beautiful wooden trestle Don built for the layout.

Stay tuned,
Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/28/2009 6:27:16 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

Don, I hear you about editing the html codes! A while back, someone posted a link to a 'cleanup' page that works GREAT! It is http://www.modelrailcast.com/RLImgCleanup.asp

Type your post, inserting your pictures like normal, just don't do any editing. When done, cut and paste the entire post into the 'clean up' page, then click the 'clean up' button at the bottom. In a split second, your post is edited with all HTML tags corrected for this forum! Simply cut and paste it back into this forum and your done.

By the way, the bridge looks outstanding. I can't wait to see it installed.



Hi, Mark -- my apologies; I didn't see your post until just now. Thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely try it.

Vagel, that lettering looks terrific. I'm really looking forward to Wednesday.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 11/28/2009 7:05:26 PM
Message:

No problem Don. I think you'll find it a lot easier!

Vagel, those panels look great! Very professional and intuitive.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/28/2009 8:12:55 PM
Message:

Thanks, guys. Applying those letters and numbers is a very therapeutic exercise. I think I'm getting to know why Don likes trestle kits with lots of NBW's!

By the by, FINALLY there is a DCC-friendly HOn3 turnout available. Micro Engineering had an ad in the November MR for No. 6 left and right versions. The B&SGE is no longer limited in its track plan by the number of Tortoises I'll have to futz with. We definitely don't need to plan for any more spaghetti bowls of wire and toggle switch Kabuki dances, except for the HOn3 turntable at Richmond Furnace and the wye at Richdale at the end of the modeled narrow gauge line (both in Phase II).

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/01/2009 10:41:51 PM
Message:

Well, we're on the eve of re-starting our Wednesday work sessions after a 3-week hiatus, and tomorrow we're going to focus on installing Don's ravine trestle. I've really created a challenge on this one, as the following pictures will attest:





Somehow, I've got to deal with a vertical drop of three inches from the base of the bents and only two inches horizontal distance to the standard gauge roadbed. There will definitely have to be a culvert running under the standard gauge tracks ... hmm. Looks like this scene will be something on the order of "John Allen meets Malcolm Furlow."

Meanwhile, up at Buchanan, I got the Walthers Glacier Gravel assembled with modifications.



Actually, all I had to do was shorten two wall and two roof sections from the upper story above the concrete bunkers (inside circle) that by design extended out over two steel hoppers over the near track. So it was less involved than I first suspected, and I'm left with enough "stuff" to use on the small tipple around the bend in Cowan's Gap (based on one of the two hoppers not used here). I really like the chaotic roof lines.



This is a massive structure for a narrow gauge branch, but I've seen photos of coal plants as big as this (but made of wood) on the RGS and the D&RGW earlier in the century. I'm working on a back-story that says this concrete and steel monolith was completed in 1929 -- on the eve of the Crash -- in anticipation of increasing the output at the blast furnace and standard gauging the branch. In 1938 those plans are still on hold, but with events in Germany and Austria and murmurs from East Asia things are beginning looking up for U.S. pig iron.

Much is left to do on this, including adding the conveyors, but I needed to establish the footprint in order to determine where the conveyors would run to and from and, from that, determine the lay of the land, so to speak, for the land forms in front of and behind it. Note that we also installed two privies so the crews no longer have to imitate the bears.

More after our session tomorrow.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/02/2009 06:46:34 AM
Message:

I packed tools last night for the work session at Vagel's today. I offered to bring along the recip saw (aka the demoltion saw - the one we used to hack through the walls when we started this process) to free up space for the trestle but Vagel said he'd bought an electric chain saw so the recip saw wouldn't be needed.

I must admit I'm actually a little nervous and glad that Vagel has been planning the whole thing out.

Don


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 12/02/2009 1:23:19 PM
Message:

Perhaps thinking outside the box, there doesn't necessarily have to be a watercourse under the trestle. Maybe consider a road there, that would bridge over the lower level tracks? The wing walls for the bridge would act as retaining walls to hold back the higher level ground in a prototypically vertical manner. Just a thought.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/02/2009 4:46:34 PM
Message:

Deane, that's a darned good idea! My concept has been for a dry intermittent stream bed, but I like your suggestion. I'll have to play around with it some.

We got the track and guard rails attached to the trestle deck today. Don brought a tube of Barge adhesive and MEK (solvent) along and this method worked fine. You mix the two substances together in a shot glass and brush it onto the bottom of the rails and let it dry. Position the rails on the deck and run a brush with MEK along the base of the rails to reactivate the Barge adhesive. After two minutes it's dry, and the MEK leaves no stain or residue on the ties. We used a thin wooden shim, about the dimensions of an HO scale 4 x 8 to space the Code 55 guard rails from the Code 70 track.

Here's Don posing proudly beside his creation after installation:



I asked, "Are you going to smile?" Don was just forming the word "No" when I snapped the picture. We took the old risers for the deck truss and repositioned them to support the trestle so we could run No. 10 out onto it to check the B&B gang's work:



Still need to re-connect the rails on the up-grade side of the trestle before the branch is open again, but it's great to have the trestle finally in place. Don wants to build another trestle soon, so maybe he'll take on the project as a road bridge.

Vagel


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 12/02/2009 5:15:15 PM
Message:

Don,

Donít you get your shot glasses mixed up!

George


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 12/02/2009 5:18:24 PM
Message:

Vagel, I think you'll find the challenge of inserting realistically Don's trestle an interesting and creative one. I have often found that this kind of tricky places forces us to be very imaginative. I'm looking forward to see what you come up with there.


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 12/02/2009 7:21:59 PM
Message:

Looks great! You must be itching to start some scenery in that area now to get it blended in.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/02/2009 7:58:35 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by George D

Don,

Donít you get your shot glasses mixed up!

George




Hi, George -- gack! That would be really awful!

But the Barge adhesive method of attaching rail does seem to work well. The product is made for the shoe repair trade so it's pretty darn strong. But Vagel will add a few spikes after he gets everything in place, just to be safe.

Scenery definitely will be fun.

The idea of building a road bridge sounds like a lot of fun.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/03/2009 12:45:50 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

... You must be itching to start some scenery in that area now to get it blended in.



Yep!

Got the track on the trestle linked up to the tracks up and down-grade, got the guard rails bent to final position and ACC'd in place, and painted the tracks and the guard rails this afternoon and started to make cardboard mock-ups for the terrain profiles on the approaches this evening.

We chartered a Stearman biplane and the company photographer snapped this aerial shot:



Here are a couple of pictures showing the cardboard mock-ups from up- and down-hill perspectives:



The mountainsides against the backdrop will run from 1/8" hardboard to 1/2" blue foam with clump foliage applied. The standoff between that and the terrain will vary from 2" at the center of the trestle to 1/2" as the track nears Buchanan.



The down-grade configuration will essentially be a mirror image of the up-grade terrain. Maybe you can start to imagine what I was talking about way back when I mentioned the branch would peak in and out of the scenery. Coming up grade the track will emerge from behind a ridge to cross the trestle in a steep saddle then run into a cut and behind another ridge before emerging at Buchanan. Here's a telephoto shot looking downgrade into the cut:



My plan for this area is to build up the terrain around the trestle proper as a diorama with extruded foam, while the terrain above and below will be 1" foam profile boards and cardboard lattice with rosin paper and white glue overlaid.

Before calling it a night, I put the old blue foam mountainside with tunnel portals back under Buchanan.



A lot has happened here since the open house last Spring! The Tortoise machines and the fascia supports required a lot of new cutting and fitting. But now we're ready to get out the Liquid Nails for Projects and shape this mountainside for good.

Looking down from here to Ft. Loudon Yard I can sense that this is going to work:



I'll continue with the cardboard profiles and keep you all posted.

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 12/03/2009 10:38:45 PM
Message:

That's going to look really good Vagel. I like the way the terrain peaks up above track level in the foreground. Visitors won't see the track until a train is traversing the area. It will be a nice effect!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/04/2009 06:11:58 AM
Message:

Hi, Vagel and all y'all -

Whoo-hoo! You're really moving! I cut through your neighborhood last night late, and saw that the lights were on in the layout room, so I knew you were working late. Exciting progress!

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/04/2009 6:20:12 PM
Message:

I did a few more cut-outs today, extending the profile up and down grade from the trestle. There's still about two feet between the last up-grade profile board and the beginning of the blue foam tunnels under Buchanan to figure out, but I procrastinated by starting to layout the company town below the mine using structures from the old layout and a couple new ones. If things work out time-wise this weekend, I'll have some more progress photos to share by Monday. Don, we'll definitely be working on scenery next Wednesday.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/05/2009 06:13:03 AM
Message:

I'm definitely looking forward to plunging into scenery work. Vagel and I will be talking about what I should bring from my stash - although he has an pretty excellent supply.

I need to mention that I'm really not over at Vagel's that many hours each week - we start about 10:30 (Vagel is nocturnal) and I have to leave about 3 in order to head for the Wednesday evening session at my MR club (www.wpmrm.org) and so I try to find things I can do back at the shop.

Vagel is working out the requirements for a road bridge under the Ravine Trestle and I'll be able to work on that at home. (Along with a couple of bridges on my FreeMo module.) I've pulled together a lot of mr magazine articles about wooden highway bridges and we'll be going over those.

We also sketched out the next storage fixture project. This will be a roll-around under-layout cabinet to hold rolling stock. The general requirements are: 28" max depth; 34" max height; 30" wide. The next step is drawing it either in scale or (more likely) full size on butcher's paper. (Strangely enough, I have many large rolls of butcher's paper. Probably has something to do with having your shop in a former meat market and slaughter house. )

How about some more feedback for Vagel on the scenery mockups? I'm sure he'd appreciate hearing from more of yunz.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/06/2009 02:52:54 AM
Message:

Here are a couple of views showing how Buchanan might be taking shape.



The church and company duplex houses came from the Shoups Run scene on the old layout. The church is a combo of an old Plasticville snap-kit and a Pola village church's onion dome with Holgate and Reynolds roofing. The cupola base is sheathed in Everygreen scribed siding and strp styrene trim.



The duplex houses are scratched from wooden scribed siding, Grandtline windows and doors, and PowerPoint roof shingles, while the red barn is a Webster Classiics (now defunct) laser kit.

"X" marks the tentative spot for the mining company office:



Here is the office taking shape:



It's the Silver Plume bakery kit that Don has been using for the Pittsburgh version of the group build project.

More later,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/06/2009 08:24:51 AM
Message:

See what I mean about Vagel being noctural? He did that posting at 3:22 AM.

Don


Reply author: MikeC
Replied on: 12/06/2009 10:01:00 AM
Message:

Catching up again with the latest postings and changes/additions. What I'm really looking forward to seeing (once you guys get going on the scenery) is the cut - I love seeing trains moving in and out of scenic forms. It's a feature that I don't often see modeled; On a lot of layouts that I've seen, the scenery is always to one side only and the trains just move past it rather than through it.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/07/2009 02:06:01 AM
Message:

We're on the same sheet of music, Mike. Some of my favorite railfanning spots on the 3' gauge East Broad Top are those where you hear the sounds of the locomotive for minutes on the backside of a hill before it blasts into view. And, going hundreds of miles west, who hasn't stood along the road above Cresco Tank looking south (west by RR geography) toward Chama over those agonizingly empty S-curves hearing but waiting and waiting and waiting for the up-bound passenger train from Chama to Osier to come into view "on'er knees" on the four percent!?

Ah, the narrow gauge and it's in'n'out of the scenery engineering.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/10/2009 02:17:50 AM
Message:

Don and I finally started on actual scenery work today. While I cut out and installed sections of the steep mountain side climbed by the narrow gauge Buchanan Branch, Don hot-glued the foam layer cake between the town of Buchanan and the Ft. Loudon tunnels.

In this view, there's obviously a lot of sure-form working to do before we move on to painting, rock castings, and tree planting, but I think you can see how I've tried to develop the sections to create an illusion that the grade curves to the right out of sight rather than passing through a tunnel (or DOES pass through a tunnel if the viewer is so inclined) as it goes down grade.



Below is the result of Don's patient un-stacking, hot-gluing, and re-stacking the mountainside below Buchanan. I know it's not much different, visually, from previous pictures, but note the absence of bamboo pot skewers. Also, Don cleverly divided the layer cakes into two distinct sections, divided just left of the near tunnel portal, that can be easily removed from the bench work for final shaping and re-installation.



We had a non-traditional break for lunch at noon so Don could attend a luncheon meeting of fellow-Rotarians, so we didn't help pay Ritters' utility bill this week, but upon reconvening, we came up with a plan for the highway underpass through Don's trestle and the connecting overpass from there over the Ft. Loudon yard.

More on that project will come in the near future, but for now, here are a couple shots to show that there is plenty of clearance for a narrow roadway under the central bents:



Close-up: in the 'truth is stranger than fiction' department this is not a fake name; I just changed the type of business. In my Dad's home town of Shenandoah, PA (Anthracite Region) in the 1930s there was a man named Isaac Crappe who owned a scrap yard on the Reading RR; there was a big sign, "I. Crappe & Son," over the gate. On the B&SGE I. Crappe & Son are coal and oil dealers, thus, "Crappe Fuels."



BTW, that's a ConCor Mac AC tank truck with rubber tires from a MiniTanks Russian Ford truck. Old Isaac is a bit too glossy, but all things come to he who waits ...

I'll post more pics as we refine and add to the scenic profile in this area. Still to come are the 3D backdrops behind the pink foam foreground.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/10/2009 07:00:17 AM
Message:

Vagel and I went through a bunch of back issues of MR and RMC and the Kalmbach book on bridges and trestles, looking for a good design for the highway bridge that will take the road from under the Ravine Trestle and across the tracks.

We settled on "Wooden Highway Overpass", page 94, MR October 2001. Vagel made a cardboard mockup of the deck, with the bent locations marked out. They're slightly angled, to clear the track. I headed off to Staples to get the plans enlarged from N to HO (up 183.7%). The plans state - right on the page - in good big type - "Magazine purchasers may have photocopies of these drawings made..." - but the kid in the copy center absolutely would not copy them. He was willing to help me do whatever I wanted to at a self service machine, but wouldn't copy them on his large-format machine. The self service machines don't have paper big enough to enlarge the whole page that much. Oh, well. I'll copy the page, cut up the copy, and then enlarge the smaller sections.

While I'm at it, I'm enlarging and making templates for several other highway bridges we found - they may find their way onto my FreeMo "bridge" module or Vagel's layout or some such use.



Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 12/10/2009 09:12:39 AM
Message:

Vagel and Don,
Hey guys everything looks great. It's really coming along nicely. What are you using to shape the foam?
Rick Bennett


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 12/10/2009 11:21:07 AM
Message:

Now that you have started the foam work around the trestle, it is really coming together. I really like the effect you are going after with the track disappearing around the curve. Nice!!!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/10/2009 1:19:17 PM
Message:

Thanks, Mark and Rick.

Rick, I cut out the basic shapes in the foam with a serrated edge steak knife. Once I get all the pieces in a section of scenery glued together, I'll work out the jagged edges with a Surform tool and rasp. It makes a mess, but it's not hard to clean up with a shopvac.

I'll add these notes and pics from the time I spent working in the layout room this afternoon and evening (had to quit to spend some quality time with Debbie and see the final quarter of Steeler/Browns -- ouch).

The time today was a lot of cut and fit work building up the terrain base under the ravine trestle:



I'm still undecided on whether to let the timber sills rest on dry ground or on concrete footings. At any rate, since the process involves building the foam base up under the trestle while it's in place on the layout, at some point we'll have to remove those temporary wooden supports before shaping and gluing the final foam layers in place. That might or might not occur before our planned formal inaugural run this Winter.



Looking up-grade from the trestle, you'll see I opted for the wedding cake approach for the base layers.



From this stage, I'll probably use the profile method for the mountainside between the trestle and a point near the block tower, then build up one or two more layers of horizontal foam above that point before finishing the top of the ridge with profile sections. Note that I'm using 1/2", 1", and 2"-thick sheets as needed.

This method is messy when you use a knife, surform tools, and a rasp:



And the experts say (correctly) that it's more time consuming than cardboard lattice and plaster paper if you're dealing with large areas. But I like the "plan as you go" flexibility that working with foam gives you. The only issue that comes to mind right now is where are we going to do all this laying out and cutting on Phase II:



I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Meanwhile, to put where we are today in perspective, I'll leave you with a view of the same scene when we started in September 2008:



See you on the railroad,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/11/2009 06:48:16 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Even though we're in the same city, I enjoy Vagel's regular updates on rr-line. Hope you do, too.

Once we start building track on Phase II - life is definitely going to get more complicated. It has been so nice to have that huge expanse of table to work on.

I suspect Debbie wouldn't buy the suggestion that we hire a contractor to put an addition on the room, cantilevered out over the sidewalk. I suspect the Zoning Board wouldn't buy it, either.

Oh, well. We shall overcome.

Vagel and I have been trading e-mails about the road bridge and the project is getting more interesting. I overcame Copyright Phobia at the copy center and now have complete templates for 5 different wooden road bridges, on Masonite (thank you, Karl O), covered with clear shelf contact paper (thank you, K-Mart).

Now that we can see all the bridge alternatives (well, 5 of them) in full size, we're starting to talk about maybe combining a King Post bridge with a plain-old bridge, interesting skews and elevation changes, etc.

Don


Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 12/11/2009 08:31:17 AM
Message:

Thanks for the pictures and the tips Vagel.


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 12/11/2009 09:25:54 AM
Message:

Vagel: You guys given any thought to getting one of those hot wire tools to sculpt the foam?


Reply author: MikeC
Replied on: 12/11/2009 10:01:03 AM
Message:

What a difference a year can make, Vagel! The before & after pics really show the difference. You guys have actually made some pretty substantial progress in 15 months.



Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/11/2009 10:08:29 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by ebtnut

Vagel: You guys given any thought to getting one of those hot wire tools to sculpt the foam?



Vagel likes making messes. He also enjoys finger painting and making mud pies. He runs with scissors and colors outside the lines. That why he's fun to work with.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/11/2009 1:26:18 PM
Message:

I have a hot wire foam cutting tool for small jobs, and I might use it to shape some parts of the mountainside. But I'll stick with cold steel for the big cut-outs, and I'm used to working with surform and rasp to work the surface.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/16/2009 8:56:02 PM
Message:

I'm taking a break from cutting foam land forms to finish the Mountaineer Precision Products PRR Lines West station that I would like to use at Buchanan on the narrow gauge branch. This is a highly detailed laser kit with double hung windows and multiple trim layers on the exterior walls that must be glued (that's right ... NO peel and stick. Pain in the butt!

But that was OK until I discovered a major glitch in the engineering of this kit. What, pray tell, would you say is the most prominent feature of a small-town combination depot? Could it be, say, the agent's bay!? Take a look at the advertisement photo of the finished kit on the MPP website:

http://www.mpp-models.com/900/961%20-%20PRR%20Class%20A%20Station/961b.jpg

Now, take a look at this:



The overlay for the bay front wall is the same height as the main wall. Moreover, the bay front windows are about a foot shorter than the windows on the sides of the bay, at variance with the picture shown on the website and on the kit box art.
The difference is more clearly shown in this image:



Note that the bottom of the window sashes are BEHIND the overlay and the milled lines on the bay front wall end too soon at the top.

I'm too far along with this project to discard the building (it's too much money to throw away, too). I think I can hide the problem with a judiciously positioned station sign at the top and a baggage scale and some other clutter in front of the agent's windows.

I applaud the efforts of small companies such as this to bring historically significant yet not so mass-marketable railroad structures such as this. But ... [:-grumpy][:-irked]

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/30/2009 9:00:29 PM
Message:

Hello, all, and Happy New Year!

It's been a while since I posted anything, but I see several hundred folks have visited the thread without commenting since my last update (about the unfortunate problem with the MPP kit). I hope all are enjoying the holidays.

Over the Christmas week I picked away here and there at the styrofoam land forms, so when Don came by for today's work session I had more or less roughed in the mountainside between the narrow gauge Buchanan Branch and the yard at Ft. Loudon below.



The landscape down-grade from the trestle reminds me of the Conehead planet, but that will change with the judicious application of sureform tools and a rasp.



The deep cut on the approach to the village of Buchanan might look a bit too "Roadrunner-and-Coyote-ish," but there really is a cut this steep and nearly this deep to get to a tipple at the end of the Joller Branch on the East Broad Top RR. We've noticed that the sounds of the locomotive change as it goes behind and re-emerges from the cuts on its way up the grade for a neat extra credit effect.

With Don's help we dealt with the complex task of installing the base for the removable scenery hatch below the ore prep plant and tipple, which will access to the hidden standard gauge tracks:





Also, note the different station structure, much smaller than the PRR Lines West prototype from MPP. While running trains for the neighbor children on Christmas Day I suddenly realized that the tall windows on that station towered above the height of the M1 gas-electric (and, thus, all of the n.g. rolling stock) in a way that literally made the station look like it was S-Scale! So I've decided to retire that project unfinished and move on.



The prototype for this little red building was the EBT's Coles station and was a kit by the unfortunately short-lived Furnace Hills Depot company of fellow FEBT-member Craig Williams. BTS now offers a laser kit for the same structure, but with less pronounced roof overhang as the building appeared in the 1940s and 50s.

Back at his workbench Don is working on the road overpass that will pass from under the ravine trestle across the tracks at Ft. Loudon. He brought the trestle bents to test fit them today. Between now and next Wednesday I have to finish the scenery base for the trestle so we have a precise length for the kingpost truss that will span two of the tracks.

Until next time, write if the mood strikes,

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/05/2010 10:11:37 PM
Message:

I've concentrated since New Year's on getting ready for tomorrow's work session, when we'll determine the final position for the abutment of the road overpass leading from beneath the ravine trestle across the tracks at Ft. Loudon. The mountainside is shaped for a couple feet each side of the trestle and ready for a coat of base color and started to work up the 3-D backdrop for this scene, although we're going to have to do a lot of rock casting before it's all said and done. Here are a couple of pictures:



On lesson learned is that the use of multiple 2"-thick pieces in vertical format leaves too many seams that can't be hidden by paint and ground cover the way it can be done in the layer cake method.

The base for the 3-D backdrop is a 1/2" piece of insulation foam tapered down to a fine edge at each end where it merges with the hardboard backdrop. This idea is from an article in a recent Model Railroader. Because the backdrop is curved in this area, I'll have to glue and screw the foam to the frame once it's done; tonight I was just playing around with ideas.

The concept is to use clump foliage near the bottom, moving through coarse turf to finer foliage at the crest, which is rounded to give the illusion of distance from the painted backdrop. I thought about starting with puff balls from WS foliage sheets impaled on tooth picks at the lowest levels, and I believe it will work:



For the more distant ridges, I've been studying Mark's (Dry Fork) amazing fall foliage back drop painting on the Backdrops thread, and today I helped pay the utility bill for one of our local Michaels' stores by laying in a stock of acrylics from his recommended pallet. I'll post pics of that effort if and when I move the next step of actually putting sponge to wall. As my aviator friends in the Army used to say, "No guts, no Air Medals."

Finally, up at Buchanan I finally bit the bullet and decided that this is where the narrow gauge railroad facilities will reflect the prototype EBT that actually existed at a remote place called Coles, one of my favorite places on the railroad and a great place to go and sit and just listen to the squirrels working in the oaks.



The tank is on the wrong side of the track, but that's life in freelance model railroading!

More after Don and I finish up tomorrow.


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 01/05/2010 10:38:00 PM
Message:

I see youíre keeping busy, Vagel. Thatís good therapy when having to deal with the Steelers not being in the playoffs.

Your backdrop is a fascinating project and Iíll be following it with interest. One tip you might use for attaching ground foam to a vertical surface that I picked up on a Dave Frary DVD (I think) is to mix the ground foam with diluted matt medium or diluted white glue so itís about the consistency of oat meal. You can spread it on with your fingers and it should stay.

This old Army aviator doesnít remember the ďNo guts no air medalsĒ quote, but I do remember ďthere are old aviators and there are bold aviators, but no old bold aviatorsĒ Ė tread with caution.

George


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/06/2010 07:52:10 AM
Message:

Hmmmm.... Sounds like I'd better bring the rock molds and stuff like that when I head for your place in a couple of hours. You've been busy.

Don


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 01/06/2010 08:18:17 AM
Message:

Vagel...I'm eager to see what you do with that foam backdrop; I've been contemplating something along those lines too but wasn't sure how to actually go about it. I'm especially intrigued with the clump/coarse/fine method...it sounds like it should work well.

Standing by.....


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 01/06/2010 3:35:03 PM
Message:

Vagel: Just a thought - instead of trying to do a even transition from coarse to fine all the way up, consider doing maybe the lower half mostly coarse foliage, with the fine above it, to maybe give the impression of a close hillside, with a more distant one behind.

DM


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/06/2010 4:29:19 PM
Message:

We delved further into the Howard Zane rosin paper scenery method today, but before posting those pictures ...

Deane, the idea is to create the illusion of horizontal distance on a single ridge as it climbs toward the crest. The modeler whose article I mentioned (wish I could find the MR issue where I mislaid it) actually uses multiple layers of 1/2" styrofoam with declining sizes of ground foam, over-sprayed with light blue acrylic paint as they recede. I don't have that much depth to play with -- there's only an inch or so behind the trestle -- so I have to rely on the painted ridge lines a la Mark "Dry Fork's" method for the more distant hills.

Actually, George, I'm going to finish the piece flat on the workbench and install it after it's all dry. I held off soldering the rail joints above and below the trestle in case we had to remove it to finish the scene, so it won't be a problem while we're fiddling with the backdrop. I like that idea of mixing the ground foam as a paste, although I'm not sure how it would work with fall foliage ... might work for distant foliage but you'd want more distinction between reds, golds, and greens on a close ridge, I'd think. I could mix up different batches and work them in ... Hey, I'm likin' that idea even better!

Rick, I was pleasantly surprised to find two really instructive and innovative scenery articles in MR in 2009. The still unattributed piece on 3D backdrops and a more recent piece by the Great Sam Swanson on roads that seem to go on forever but actually only occupy an inch of space between the track and the backdrop. Both articles are timed perfectly to this ravine trestle project and the scenery conundrum I created for myself.

We added another six linear feet of so of scenery base today below the ravine trestle adapting Howard Zane's variation on the cardboard lattice and hardshell method. First, though, we positioned trestle bents and measured the length for the skewed king post truss road overpass at Ft. Loudon (it's 43'). The short bent will be replaced by a concrete or cribbing-and-rubble abutment in the final version.



Then we got to work cutting strips of cardboard and hot-gluing them between the sub-roadbed on the Buchanan Branch and the lower level. With those in place, I started weaving the horizontal strips and hot-gluing them to the vertical strips.





You have to be careful when pressing the two pieces of cardboard together, so as not to get hot glue on your fingy-wingies, because



it [:-censored] BURNS![:-dunce]

But even with the occasional call to the Burn Center this process went quickly and we were soon ready for the rosin paper and glue stage ...



... which went even faster; it took us less than 30 minutes to cover the whole area. Don mixed 1 part water to 2 parts white glue, which was still thick but spread much more easily than our first experiment with full-strength glue. We cut the rosin paper in to approx. 12" squares and crumpled then flattened them back out. We then brushed glue on the side that went against the cardboard frame, laid the square in place, and painted more glue onto its surface.

By the way, at Don's suggestion we're going to leave the pink foam section down grade from the trestle loose for access in case of a derailment.



When I got back from Ritters, the whole thing was nearly dry. There are some spots with gaps at the lap joints, but these can be easily fixed. Also, as the rosin paper dries one can discern the pattern of the cardboard grid, but I assume that layers of paint, ground cover, and rock castings will disguise that.



I put together what will be a normal-length train on the branch to get some perspective, and was quite pleased to note that as it passed from one view block behind another, the locomotive was disappearing before the caboose came into full view. And the train stays hidden for 2-3 seconds before emerging at the trestle.

All in all I'm quite pleased with the result. I intended this to be a quasi-temporary solution to make this section presentable for up-coming open houses while we got serious at Buchanan, but now I'm not so sure it won't become permanent. It's certainly far more time-efficient, cheaper, and less messy than styrofoam. We'll see how things work out ... for now it's time to put the ravine trestle scene to bed, the subject (I hope) of our next update.

See you on the railroad,

Vagel

PS, George take my word for it, there were a bunch of impromptu work sessions that began before the final gun on Steelers Sunday this season!













Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 01/06/2010 7:11:06 PM
Message:

Nice progress on your scenery, Vagel. Just a note about the cardboard web and its glueing. Hot glue is a fairly quick way to do it, that fits particularly well when you glue the card to a backdrop for instance. But to glue two pieces of cardboard together, you can also use white glue and hold the joint with plastic clamps. If you have enough clamps, you won't waste time because when you've finished using them, the first joint has set enough to let you use the clamp again.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/06/2010 7:26:56 PM
Message:

Thanks, Frederic. Good advice on the white glue alternative, which got me to thinking about a heavy duty squeeze grip stapler.

Vagel


Reply author: mainetrains
Replied on: 01/06/2010 7:31:23 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

Thanks, Frederic. Good advice on the white glue alternative, which got me to thinking about a heavy duty squeeze grip stapler.

Vagel



You have to be careful with those staplers...
stapling a finger hurts an awful lot too.

Dave [:-banghead]


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 01/06/2010 8:02:10 PM
Message:

Taking Dave's remark into account, I think that the stappler idea may not be bad. I had never thought of using it for this job. Might be worth trying it (even if some fitting in awkward places won't be possible with a stappler).


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 01/06/2010 8:33:43 PM
Message:

When it comes to cardboard strips, I use a hot glue gun. Yea, you get burned once in a while, but itís a quick reliable way of fastening everything together.

I donít know what rosin paper is. I crinkle up paper from shopping bags for my covering and it seems to hide the strips.

Good idea to keep the piece of foam loose for derailments, but now that youíve done it, you wonít get any derailments there.

George


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/06/2010 9:08:11 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

It was a *really* fun day at Vagel's. Another FreeMo guy, John Polyak, joined us. The work really flew along.

I too managed to hot glue a finger tip. Man, that stuff stings!

I don't know that rosin paper works any better than brown paper bags - it might be a little bit tougher since it's used as temporary floor covering. But I got a roll of it for free, which made it very attractive.

While Vagel was hot gluing, I was mixing up fresh batches of all of Dave Frary's different scenery washes and paints so they would be ready when we get to rock castings. Better living through chemistry.

Now that I have final measurements, I can built the highway bridge that runs out from under the Ravine Trestle. I'm using the same mixture of templates to build a convoluted highway bridge on my dual-gauge FreeMo module.

Don


Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 01/07/2010 08:54:57 AM
Message:

Vagel and Don,

Everything has really come a long way since the beginning. I am really looking forward to reading up on more as things go further along.

I have been especially interested in the scenery, as I haven't really had much experience in that area. I really like the way that you have created the view block on the narrow gauge section that you have in the pictures. I think that visually it adds a lot of interest to that area.

Happy Railroading,
Rick


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 01/07/2010 10:57:48 AM
Message:

Wow, a lot of progress! Scenery does make it all come together nicely, doesn't it? I think your approach to the scene blocks will work well. Looks great in the photos.

Oh, by the way Vagel, I can first hand attest to the pain of hot glue on the 'fingy-wingies'! Hurts, doesn't it?


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 01/07/2010 1:09:10 PM
Message:

I think any of us that have used hot glue guns extensively have the scars to prove it. For my layout I made up spline roadbed cut from 1x lumber. The splines are about 3/16" thick. Three splines separated by spacer blocks make up the sub-roadbed. The splines are hot-glued to the blocks and yes, sometimes you get a drip in the wrong place. The Homasote was white-glued to the sub-roadbed, and that's where you need a bunch of clamps.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/07/2010 3:08:59 PM
Message:

Thanks, guys. Today I noticed that the glue-wet rosin paper really snugs down on the cardboard grid when its totally dry, so it will probably need a second layer to eliminate evidence of the grid underneath. The single layer is really stiff, though.

Vagel


Reply author: akimmons
Replied on: 01/07/2010 3:14:37 PM
Message:

Vagel and Don
I'm just catching up on your thread. You guys have made some amazing progress. I'm planning to keep up from now on.
Maybe I missed it earlier, but how did you attached the carpet to the facia? You mentioned outdoor carpet, do you recommend any particular brand or style?


Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 01/07/2010 3:46:04 PM
Message:

Vagel,
Do you have any idea of how well scenery materials such as ground foam or rock molds stick to the rosin paper?


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/07/2010 8:20:33 PM
Message:

The carpet is attached with the standard carpet adhesive they sell at Home Depot, which is where Vagel bought the indoor/outdoor carpet. So far, the adhesive is holding really well. I did resecure one corner with the hot glue gun but that was probably because I didn't glop on enough of the adhesive.

This is all a fairly relaxed experiment so I guess I can answer for Vagel by saying that we don't really *know* how scenery material will adhere - but it works for Howard Zane so it will probably work for us. We may try layering on some Sculptamold or putting on another layer of rosin paper which we have really crumpled vigorously and glued down fairly loosely.

I don't know if it will happen but we also talked about veneering the foam with some rosin paper to hide the vertical seams.

Thanks for the questions and comments.

Don


Reply author: Dutchman
Replied on: 01/08/2010 08:52:49 AM
Message:

Guys, this is one of the threads that 'got away from me' during my modeling funk last year. Yesterday I started with my morning coffee back on page 1 and finished the thread last night with my evening ale.

Unbelievable progress.

I like the use of the carpet on the fascia. I don't remember ever seeing that done in my travels.

Vagel, after living with the Walther's TT for a while now, do you still have positive 'vibes' about it? I see another turntable on my layout down the road, and the built-up Walther's model might fill the bill.

Well done, you two.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/08/2010 11:46:07 AM
Message:

Thanks for tuning in, guys! Bruce, I'm glad you're over your modeling funk ... on your question about the TT, I've been very happy with it. It hasn't seen a lot of hours of operations yet, so there's no statistical basis for a "mean time between failures" report, but as long as I keep the electrical contacts clean and the pit dust-free, it's been fine.

Don answered the question about source and supplier on the outdoor carpet fascia. I got the idea from the swan song article about Allen McClelland's second V&O layout in MR.

Rick, just to add to Don's response to your question about scenery materials and rosin paper, on our little test section at Buchanan (since replaced by the access hatch) the WS ground foam blended turf that I sprinkled on while the glue was still wet adhered fine. With the plaster castings, we'll have to see.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/09/2010 2:10:06 PM
Message:

quote:
... the idea is to create the illusion of horizontal distance on a single ridge as it climbs toward the crest. The modeler whose article I mentioned (wish I could find the MR issue where I mislaid it) actually uses multiple layers of 1/2" styrofoam with declining sizes of ground foam, over-sprayed with light blue acrylic paint as they recede.


Hey, I found the article. It's in the Mar '09 MR, "Add Broad Backdrop Hills to a Narrow Space," by Sam Swanson and is a companion piece to his later article on using roads to give the illusion of distance going into backdrops.

I spent some time yesterday playing around with WS ground foam products trying to hide some of the obvious flaws in the basic rosin paper surface.

The first step was to brush on some brown paint and dust it with blended turf earth color, green grass, and late summer grass. The paint dries really fast on this paper, so you have to work fast. Of course, you can always do this while you're painting the glue on at the outset or just brush on a fresh coat of glue, too. Hey! Why didn't I think of that!? At any rate, once the paint dried the ground foam was firmly attached enough that a shopvac hose held one inch away didn't pick i up.



One of the test areas with the first layer applied is visible above and behind the light green (late summer grass) container. A closer look shows that the first layer of ground cover can hide some problems, like angularity and seams, but not all of them.



To hide things like this, I used and combination of clump foliage and coarse turf pressed into yellow wood glue.







To fill in the gaps I sprinkled or lightly blew late summer grass ground foam off the palm of my hand. Finally, I over-sprayed with industrial strength, cheapo hairspray and sprinkled a little late summer grass ground foam over the clump foliage and coarse turf for highlighting:



My brand du jour is pictured below (and, yes, I bought it myself) :



I experimented in a couple of areas, and I'm pretty pleased with the results (those rock castings are just loosely placed and won't be arranged so uniformly if or when they are incorporated in the final plan):







I had some success with using ground foam to hide the seams in the styrofoam cliff, as well. We'll have to do some more work in this area, though.







Well that's all for now. I don't want to take this project any farther, because there's still the backdrop scenery behind this area to do first and, of course, the ravine trestle scene that I keep procrastinating on. See you on the railroad,

Vagel


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 01/09/2010 10:39:14 PM
Message:

Vagel,

You might consider painting the rosin paper, and while the paint is still wet, sprinkling on a layer of mortar sand, which is inexpensive and relatively fine stuff. You can also add a coating of adhesive if necessary. Once that's down, any layer of scenic foam you add will have some "tooth" on which to stick, and you should be able to get away with less foam. The real "upside" here is that any foam you lose to the vacuum will leave a "natural" look....

I've tried this, albeit not on rosin paper; it works well for me.

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/10/2010 07:18:41 AM
Message:

Hi, Pete --

Do you sift the mortar sand before using it? If so, can you describe the sieve or screen you use to produce the material you use as a base (as you described above)?

Thanks,

Don


Reply author: Dutchman
Replied on: 01/10/2010 08:59:44 AM
Message:

Guys, with a similar problem facing me on my Quarry Branch, I put a thin coating of Ground Goop over the base, spread a thin coat of dilute glue over the Goop while it was still wet, and blew fine dirt and ground foam into it. Then again, I'm a Goop nut.


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 01/10/2010 10:44:34 AM
Message:

Don,

I have tried "builder's sand," which is pretty coarse and in my area, at least, has several different colors of stones in the same bag, and have thus moved to "mortar sand," which I find is much finer, with a more constant color, and is used for interior projects. I don't screen it beyond this, as I don't need to. There are a number of folks on these Forums who are in the construction business and may have better definitions of what I'm advocating, so listen when they speak!

And I'm a Goop Groupie just like Bruce. It works, and I'm all for using Things that Work!

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/10/2010 11:15:26 AM
Message:

I think it's about time I gave Brother Sassi's Patent Goop Medicine a try. I've heard good things about it from a lot of sources and I need to do some scenery work on my FreeMo module. If I whomp up a batch, Vagel can try some, too, if he wants to.

Don


Reply author: Dutchman
Replied on: 01/10/2010 12:22:16 PM
Message:

Don,

One of the keys to success is to get vermiculite that has very small pieces. I found some by Hoffman that was good.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/10/2010 12:52:30 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

I think it's about time I gave Brother Sassi's Patent Goop Medicine a try ...



Let's do it!

Vagel[:-bouncy]


Reply author: pcmatt
Replied on: 01/10/2010 3:11:59 PM
Message:

Don & Vagel-

Finally got the chance to sit down and read your thread, WOW!!! Really impressive work. Worth every minute it took to read. Enjoyed how you've documented your progress and shared the little details to get over those hurdles that always seem to pop up. You give us "beginners" hope. Thanks for sharing. Also good to see fellow Pittsburghers on here.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/10/2010 3:23:51 PM
Message:

Can do. I just printed out Bruce's original thread on Ground Goop so I have a shopping list. I'll hit HD for the vermiculite and Jo/Michaels for the Celluclay. Paint and glue - have got.

I glued up the basic layer cake for the approach road/ramp/cribbing leading to the bridge which passes under the Ravine Trestle bridge. Then I backed out the shop door rolling down Minwax High-build Polyurethane - guess I won't be going back in the shop for a while.

I did an experiment with some black polyfiber Vagel bought. It's way cheaper than WS products. I pulled it apart until it was really, really fine, hit it with cheap hair spray and then sprinkled on various ground foams, grasses, etc, and then more hair spray. It looks gross when it's wet but when it dries, it looks like it will make good underbrush, foliage, etc. I'll post some pictures once I can walk on the floor in the shop - maybe later this evening.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/10/2010 3:24:48 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Dutchman

Don,

One of the keys to success is to get vermiculite that has very small pieces. I found some by Hoffman that was good.



Hi, Bruce -- where did you find the Hoffman product?

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/10/2010 3:27:51 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by prrmatt

Don & Vagel-

Finally got the chance to sit down and read your thread, WOW!!! Really impressive work. Worth every minute it took to read. Enjoyed how you've documented your progress and shared the little details to get over those hurdles that always seem to pop up. You give us "beginners" hope. Thanks for sharing. Also good to see fellow Pittsburghers on here.



Hi, Matt --

Your profile sez you're from NJ - are you originally a Pittsburgher? If so, what part of duh burgh?

Don


Reply author: pcmatt
Replied on: 01/10/2010 5:09:48 PM
Message:

Don-

Born & raised in Beaver County (Conway & Economy Boro). Family's originally from North side/North Hills area. May not physically be out there any more but will never forget my "roots" though.

Matt


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/10/2010 5:34:55 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by prrmatt

Don-

Born & raised in Beaver County (Conway & Economy Boro). Family's originally from North side/North Hills area. May not physically be out there any more but will never forget my "roots" though.

Matt



A permanent part of Steeler Nation, eh? I've only lived her since 1988 but I definitely consider it home and like it a lot.

Had you heard that state budget cuts have forced them to close Old Economy Village?

Don


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 01/10/2010 10:00:09 PM
Message:

Don,

When you finally take the plunge and head into Uncle Don's Creative Country Kitchen to "whip up" a batch of Doktah Lou's Magnificent Goop, don't forget the capful of Lysol. This will allow you to cover the mixture tightly (use a plastic bowl with an air-tight top from the dollar store) and store it for months without worrying about Mold and Other Growth. Green Goop is OK, but just make sure it's the right kind of green!

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/11/2010 07:35:00 AM
Message:

Thanks, Pete. I'll buy some Lysol while I'm at HD or the grocery store.

I did some more experimenting with home-made polyfiber scenery material. I'll take some pictures this evening. To give proper credit, this idea comes from Bob VanGelder, via the DVD he did for Scott Mason.

Don


Reply author: MikeC
Replied on: 01/11/2010 09:53:32 AM
Message:

Don, I've read/heard about the black polyfiber but haven't seen it yet. Where did you find it? I'm looking forward to seeing your photos.

Also, Bruce's advice to get very small vermiculite pieces is well worth heeding. When I was building my "Tie hacker's" diorama, I couldn't find small vermiculite or the brand Bruce had mentioned. But I was so eager to try the ground goop recipe that I 'compromised' and bought a bag that I should never have bought. The results (seen in the photos below) were a visual disaster (the color notwithstanding [:-yuck]) - and I wound up sanding the lumps as much as I could to lower their profile and out-of-scale appearance.






Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/11/2010 2:23:39 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MikeC

Don, I've read/heard about the black polyfiber but haven't seen it yet. Where did you find it?



Mike,

I got four 8 oz. bags, which is a whole bunch, from a manufacturer called Putnam Company, Inc., www.putnamcoinc.com . The total cost was only $11.60 + S/H.

Vagel


Reply author: MikeC
Replied on: 01/11/2010 2:29:49 PM
Message:

Thanks, Vagel. I'll check it out.


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 01/11/2010 3:19:02 PM
Message:

Vagel,

I just looked at the Putnam site. Are we looking at "BooBats" or "Funfill" or seasonal stuff or what? The site isn't real clear on this! [:-boggled]

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/11/2010 7:14:28 PM
Message:

Here are some pictures of my attempts to make my own scenery material using the black fiber fill that Vagel bought. As I said before, this isn't original - I learned it from Bob VanGelder. He showed it specifically for making the forest understory. I think it can be used for a variety of other purposes.

For comparison, here's how it looks if you use the Woodland scenics Light Green Foliage as your base material:





The first time I tried using the black fiberfill, I left it fairly thick. I teased it and pull it apart a lot, but you could definitely still see it. I sprayed it with cheap hairspray and started sprinking on ground foam. I didn't pick colors very carefully - just used what was handy. Here's the result:







For the next experiment, I *really* pulled it out thin - to the point where you could barely see it against a sheet of paper. Here's the result:





And here it is again with a piece cut off, ready to be glued down.




I think this is going to work out well. Between the two of us, I think we own just about every color of ground foam that WS and Scenic Express makes, so we should be able to create understory, shrubs, ground cover, etc., that works well both for Vagel's autumn layout and my bedroom layout and FreeMo module.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/11/2010 8:38:09 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17


I just looked at the Putnam site. Are we looking at "BooBats" or "Funfill" or seasonal stuff or what? The site isn't real clear on this! [:-boggled]



Pete, when I dealt with Putnam last February, I went right to the Contact Us button, and exchanged emails with the sales rep for my region in their distribution system. It seems to me that they are more of a wholesaler than an internet sales storefront. But they did agree to sell me just four bags of the stuff.

Hope this helps.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/11/2010 8:47:31 PM
Message:

Don, the homemade poly-fiber foliage will be great. Thanks for posting the images; the cost savings on the puff ball trees alone will be enormous!

Vagel


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 01/11/2010 11:32:55 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17


I just looked at the Putnam site. Are we looking at "BooBats" or "Funfill" or seasonal stuff or what? The site isn't real clear on this! [:-boggled]



Pete, when I dealt with Putnam last February, I went right to the Contact Us button, and exchanged emails with the sales rep for my region in their distribution system. It seems to me that they are more of a wholesaler than an internet sales storefront. But they did agree to sell me just four bags of the stuff.

Hope this helps.



Vagel,

It does indeed. I just bought some from Micro-Mark; it comes in 4 oz. bags and sounds more expensive than the Putnam stuff, but who knows. I may be comparing apples and oranges, forgetting that it's all fruit.

Thanks.

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/13/2010 08:26:28 AM
Message:

Garth bought himself a new toy - a really gigundous Grizzly bandsaw with a very nice fence system. It's mainly for re-sawing but I decided to try it out by making the basic form for the road that leads up onto the A-frame highway bridge I'm building. Here are a couple of pictures:








(I could have made it from pink foam board but this was more fun.)

Vagel and I aren't getting together today because he's operating on Bob Prehoda's layout.

Vagel hasn't decided if he wants the bridge approach to have poured concrete walls or be some kind of timber. If he decides on concrete, I have a method in mind that I learned from Brian Nolan at CSS09. If he decides on timber, I can happily do that too.

Today, I'm going to work some on the bridge deck and maybe start adding NBW's to the bents.

Don


Reply author: Dutchman
Replied on: 01/13/2010 08:53:41 AM
Message:

Don,

The homemade polyfiber foliage looks good. I'm looking forward to seeing it as part of the scenery soon.


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 01/13/2010 1:17:50 PM
Message:

I like your work with polyfiber too, Don. I think it can be made even more airy with a more sparse use of foliage.
Your wood work always impresses me!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/13/2010 11:29:46 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

Garth bought himself a new toy - a really gigundous Grizzly bandsaw with a very nice fence system. It's mainly for re-sawing but I decided to try it out by making the basic form for the road that leads up onto the A-frame highway bridge I'm building. Here are a couple of pictures



Looks like a great form for the ramp, Don, and I'm really looking forward to fitting it all together. I've been playing around with the fiber fill foliage, too, and other things on the rosin paper hillside, and I'll try to post some snaps on later on Thursday.

I'll echo Frederic's comments on the fiber fill and foliage combo: airy is good, and I've not figured that out yet. Looks like you have, though, and I'm looking forward to seeing those foliage mats installed on the FreeMo module!

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/14/2010 06:33:06 AM
Message:

Thanks for the compliment, Frederic. "Airy is good" is a useful rule on the scenery mats, as a general rule. I was pretty heavy handed with the ground foam on the first couple that I made.

So -- I need to pull the polyfiber out really thin AND I need to go carefully on how much ground foam I glue on. Unless I'm trying to create something like really dense underbrush.

I work on newspaper and I'm thinking a good general rule is that I should be able to see some of the print through the finished product.

I'll play some more and post some pictures this evening.

Vagel, I hope you had a fun day playing with Bob's trains. Hey, you should take some pictures at an operating session and post a few.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/14/2010 11:05:53 PM
Message:

Thank you all for the kind compliments and suggestions as we move into the somewhat intimidating arena of scenery. I hope to be able to share some "after" photos tomorrow as a follow-up to the ground cover experiment on the rosin paper base I posted earlier in the week. This evening, though, I thought I'd change the subject a bit and reflect on how the overall layout room has developed since we began this project 16 months or so ago.

The images that follow provide a tour:

Entering the room you are immediately confronted with the end of the peninsula that will carry the future mainline of the Blacklog & Shade Gap Eastern narrow gauge railroad but currently serves as our work surface for Phase I. Stepping to the left and overlooking that peninsula you see the focus of our efforts for the past several months: the narrow gauge Buchanan Branch and, below it and in the distance, the (fictitious) standard gauge PRR yard at Ft. Loudon. The entrance to the kitchen (terminus of the Buchanan Branch and interchange with a private narrow gauge logging line) is visible at the right edge of the image:



Moving in that direction and looking back to your left, you would get an overview of the peninsula, with the blast furnace complex (the subject of my article in Karstens' 2009 HOn3 Annual) in the distance and sitting about where it will be in the final plan:



In Phase II, the backdrop in the first image will continue around in a 48" radius curve passing behind the blast furnace to bisect the peninsula and form an alcove so that you won't be able to see the windows and framed prints, etc. from this vantage point. By the way, since this is, essentially, my basement (or, as the wife of a fellow VMI alumnus calls it, my "man cave") the perimeter is the only place where my collection of railroad-theme images and certificates (the "I Love Me" wall) will ever see the light of day. So, I've recently become a framing and hanging fool.





Walking past the windows along the left side of the peninsula takes you to the far corner where the East Broad Top herald hangs. Doing an "about face" gives you this view back toward the front door:



In the foreground you see the two levels of benchwork we built for the temporary loops to provide continuous running on the standard and narrow gauges until Phase II gets underway. The solid plywood base supporting the narrow gauge has become home to what Don calls my HO transportation museum. Here's a snapshot he took while playing with my camera last week:



Everything in this area is something you would expect to see on the road or in the farm field if you were suddenly transported to Path Valley, PA ca. 1938 (or in the air ... that's a wing tip from a Ford Tri-Motor). OK, maybe you'd be surprised to see a 1931 LIncoln "K" or a '34 Caddy Coupe in remote Path Valley, but only because you'd never seen one before!

Turning to your left you look toward my work bench, the lounge area, and the standard gauge terminal "museum" area:



Along the way, more accumulated railroad "art" ...



... accentuated by a Don Reed Original glass-enclosed bookcase salvaged as our first (pre-benchwork) project:





The "Pittsburgh" print is an original by local graphic artist and fellow SPF (Slobbering Pennsy Freak) Don Henderson. Debbie and I bought it "off the wall" after it was displayed in a special exhibit at the John H. Heinz Regional History Center in Pittsburgh during 2008. The smaller prints surrounding it are reproductions of commercial prints of East Broad Top subjects purchased to support the restoration projects of Friends of the East Broad Top.

Back to where we were, entering the terminal area:



The completed roundhouse is two of the Walthers 90' roundhouse kits combined. To its left you see the floor for the "modern" roundhouse, the walls of which have just begun preparation. The blank space between the closets and the bookcase is reserved for my late father's wall-mounted Western Union pendulum clock.

My workbench is immediately to the left of this view:



Overlooking the engine terminal "museum" area, you can see Don's "shoebox" shelves in center, foreground, and his magazine "pigeonhole" shelves in the left, background.



From this view I hope you get the sense that the standard gauge side of this layout is very much a motive power railfan's railroad. The steam and diseasal facilities necessarily dominate the space here. That's my "temporary" mockup of Cumberland Valley Cold Storage hiding the hole-in-the-wall where the end of the HOn3 Buchanan Branch (in the kitchen beyond the archway) passes into hidden trackage.



Walking past the cold storage into the kitchen ...



... you pass the display shelves built by Don ...



... and looking back you see the terminus of the HOn3 Buchanan Branch at Cowans Gap on your left and the coffee break and bagel corner to the right ...



... which brings us back to the start point. I hope this puts all of the sometimes disconnected posts we've made over the past year and some in better perspective.

Write when the muse inspires ...

Vagel


Reply author: LVN
Replied on: 01/15/2010 12:05:49 AM
Message:

Looks great Don. The thin application of the fiber is something I have used and it really does the job as long as it is not overdone. Mixed in with other methods it should look great. Railroad is really coming along. Always enjoy seeing your progress.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/15/2010 06:38:26 AM
Message:

Hi, Vagel --

Thanks for the photo tour and for pointing out all you've done with framing and hanging. It's funny - I walk in the door and immediately lock on to whatever I'm working on and never get my eyes off the bench. I really hadn't appreciated how much you've done to decorate the space. It's really going to be an impressive place for visitors.

Apologies re scenery material - I got involved in a s**t storm of business problems yesterday and never got to the bench. Dealing with the government is FUN compared to dealing with good old free-enterprise [:-censored] insurance companies. Shriek!

Anyhow - thanks for putting together the photo tour. I really enjoyed it.

Don


Reply author: Dutchman
Replied on: 01/15/2010 07:52:48 AM
Message:

I loved the tour of the facilities showing all the progress that you've made.


Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 01/15/2010 08:41:59 AM
Message:

Thanks for the photo tour Vagel.


Reply author: Neil M
Replied on: 01/15/2010 08:59:45 AM
Message:

Great photo tour, thanks. It helps orientate everything at the layout.

So what era is your layout going to be in? The car park looks a bit like a museum display but is that just temporary?


Reply author: chooch41
Replied on: 01/15/2010 12:15:03 PM
Message:

This looks like it will be a fun layout to operate on. Keep up the great work and the updates.....


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 01/15/2010 3:39:33 PM
Message:

Neil: As Vagel noted in the tour narrative, the period is about 1938.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/15/2010 3:57:54 PM
Message:

Thanks, guys. Neil, to answer your questions, first the plywood deck surrounded by the HOn3 loop is the only place on the layout where all the vehicles, structures, and mini-scenes I built before this layout began can be displayed and be out of the way while we do track and scenery work. I guess I could store them away, but I like looking at them, so that's why the "transportation museum" is what it is right now. As to era, I haven't discussed this in a while, so it probably needs to be re-explained. Originally, I had narrowed it down to a month (October) and year (1938); nothing I bought (motive power, structures, vehicles, figures, rolling stock) would be inappropriate for that year, and I mean I went so far as to avoid buying rolling stock with build or re-packing dates later than 10/1938. Moreover, the standard gauge part of the layout concept called only for trains to come into the blast furnace interchange with the narrow gauge from hidden staging and return. My total standard gauge locomotive requirement for this concept was a single 2-8-0 and a single 4-4-0 or 4-4-2. For variety I'd have a WM Russian Decapod or a B&O USRA light MIke using trackage rights. But that was it. And then ...



... BLI released the T1, with sound and DCC, and I fell from grace.[:-hearts]

One day I woke up with a collection of HO Pennsy power that they only wish they had at Strasburg. But as long as the layout had to be built in our basement, there was no room for so much motive power from the wrong era; it would only be run on the FreeMo layout that Don and I participate in. But, then Debbie and I bought the apartment building across the street from our house and suddenly there was room for an HO scale PRR museum AND the 1930's era concept of interchange between standard and narrow gauge lines around a blast furnace complex. I won't spend any more time here explaining the operational scheme, since it's been written about before back several pages, but you see what I meant about the engine terminal being primarily a motive power railfanning location.

Chris, you're point about not overdoing the fiber fill and ground foam is well taken, as the following picture attests



This mat is pretty dense. I'm not wedded to it, since it's on the part of the hillside that's beyond the backdrop (that's just a temporary photo backdrop of poster board behind it), although I think it's okay as a patch of dense thicket. In this area I also experimented with some rubber rock castings I bought in a grab bag at a NMRA train show several years ago.



I painted the above outcrop with a combination of red oxide, raw umber, and neutral gray no. 5. It's a pretty close match to the shale one sees driving between Bedford and Everett, PA on the Lincoln Highway in the iron-rich upper Juniata Valley. The shot below shows a second outcropping that I attached just a couple hours ago.



I applied a liberal dose of high strength spray adhesive from Scenic Express to both the scenery base and the back of the casting, waited a minute or so, and pressed the casting into place. The rubber castings are hollow and flexible, but I had to hold it firmly for three or four minutes to get it to adhere to the irregular surface of the scenery base and left a map tack to hold a particularly pesky spot down when I left it to set.

Finally, I tried for a less dense foliage patch, and here are the results. This is what it looked like after drying:



And here is the same patch after I teased it out some more, then applied some more hairspray and another sprinkling of WS fine late Summer grass:



Again, Chris's point is well taken. I think this stuff is best used in conjunction with various textures of ground foam glued directly to the scenery base. In logged out areas of Appalachia (and we're talking thousands of acres by the 1930s), densely thicketed hillsides were the norm until state-level and CCC reforestation projects took hold, but even then when one looks at pictures from the era it wasn't a homogenous mass of underbrush, but patches interspersed with meadow and surviving trees too small to matter to commercial loggers or of no value to wood chemical plants.

Well, that's it for a while ... I'm out for the next couple days. Write if the muse strikes.

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 01/15/2010 8:14:04 PM
Message:

I enjoyed your tour of the room Vagel. Well done. You have had so much focus on the one area of the layout, I forgot you have an entire peninsula to tackle yet! The room has really developed into a very nice and comfortable looking workspace. Well done!


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 01/15/2010 10:05:07 PM
Message:

I know what you mean about the T-1. Sheíll steal your heart and lead you down a path of regrets.

George


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/15/2010 10:22:50 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

While Vagel was experimenting with the black polyfiber on the layout, I was doing some experimenting on the bench. Here are some photographs.

This is what a bag of the stuff looks like:


Polyfiber black in bag


And here is some of it, straight out of the bag:



Black polyfiber straight out of the bag

Here is that same tuft, teased out pretty thin:



Black polyfiber spread thin

And here it is with various Scenic Express ground foams applied. For most of the experiments, I used just one color. On the last one, I combined two - which is probably more like what one would actually do.



Black polyfiber and scrub grass blend 01

Black polyfiber and scrub grass blend 02

Black polyfiber and conifer floor blend

Black polyfiber and farm pasture blend

Black polyfiber and forest floor blend

Black polyfiber plus soil brown and farm pasture

Black polyfiber plus soil brown plus farm pasture 02

Finally, here are all the sample drying on tops of the ground foam jars -- looks like a lineup of bad toupees.



Black polyfiber toupees

I'll keep experimenting with various combinations and take them along to Vagel's next Wednesday.

Along with ground cover, I suspect these mats can also be balled up into shrubs and, spread even thinner, can be draped over armatures to form mid-ground trees.

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 01/16/2010 04:03:56 AM
Message:

Very enjoyable visit of your layout, Vagel. It shows the big amount of work you and Don have done since the beginning of its construction.
The art work on the walls and the fine furniture make a very pleasant environment for this layout.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/20/2010 5:14:58 PM
Message:

Thanks for the kind words on my interior decorating; real men watch HGTV

I decided to re-do the ravine as a modular scene that could be worked on at the workbench, rather than building up the land form under and around the trestle while it's attached to the benchwork. So, today we removed it from the layout and cut the sub-roadbed back an inch from the cribbing at each end to clear the 1" thick styrofoam pieces that will form the ends of the the "box" that will sandwich it.

After that we did scenery work. While I got out the sponges and acrylics to try Dry Fork's backdrop technique, Don processed some of the Sedum that he brought over last Summer. Here are a couple shots of the autumn ridges.



I stopped with only the base colors applied to the nearer ridges.



I like this technique, although I think when I resume work I'll wear latex gloves.[:-dunce]

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/24/2010 07:33:09 AM
Message:

I've been puttering away on the highway bridge that runs under the Ravine Trestle bridge.

Garth got a nice new bandsaw, which I used to saw out (and later refine) the wood block that will be the basis for the timber-cribbing approach road. Here's a picture of the new baby - cute, no?





Garth got it mainly so he could make his own veneers and I've been grabbing the scrap. "One person's scrap veneer is another person's scale lumber."

One of my first uses of some scrap was to build up and fair in the roadway. Here are a couple of pictures of a glue-up in process:





I think I'm going to need one more thickness to get it to the right height. Here is a picture showing the bent that will be glued to one end of the approach:







Here is the short bent that goes directly under the ravine trestle:





And here is a top and bottom view of the first section of decking. I also need to build a second, short section. The long section will have the skewed A-frames added to it. And the whole bridge, including the approach ramp, will have wooden guard rails eventually - but probably not until all the scenery work around it is done.







We have a combined Quilting Bee and Group Build today and I'm going to leave the Silver Plume Bakery in the rolling rack and stay focused on the bridges. (I'm also working on a very similar wooden bridge for my dual-gauge FreeMo module - and we have a setup/run coming up next weekend.)

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 01/24/2010 09:15:11 AM
Message:

Nice work, Don. Is there any special reason why you use this kind of material to make the approaching road?
I'm looking forward to see the finished trestle, and even more to see it on location.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/24/2010 12:32:39 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Frederic Testard

Nice work, Don. Is there any special reason why you use this kind of material to make the approaching road?
I'm looking forward to see the finished trestle, and even more to see it on location.




Hi, Frederic -- honestly, there's no good reason for making the approach road block out of wood and veneer. It could have been done just as well with some pink foam. But I like working with wood and I have overflowing scrap barrels, so that's what I did.

It's almost finished - then I can start gluing hundreds of HO scale railroad ties to it to represent cribbing. Including hundred of tiny cut off pieces of tie to represent the pieces that are place perpendicular to the walls. And of course I have a 100 or so NBW's to do. [:-crazy]

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/24/2010 8:08:32 PM
Message:

I got to see Don's work in progress at the quilting bee today. Wow! When the whole thing (ravine trestle and overpass) is completed, it's going to be the most popular LP railfanning site in the HO world!

I've been doing a square foot or so of the painted backdrop at a time since Wednesday. Here are a couple of shots I took with my IPhone after coming home from Don's this evening:





My personal critique is that the results are a bit more "Impressionist" than Dry Fork's, but I'm happy with the overall effect. The gray-over-dark brown area to the right in the first photo shows how I put an overall sponging of medium gray No. 5 over the blocked-in red-brown background to try to tone down the foliage colors when compared to the nearer ridge to the left. I also used a damp sponge there, as opposed to a completely dry one on the left hand ridge. This reminds me of a burned-over mountainside we had near our home when I was a kid, and I wonder if this might be the start for giving the impression of a cut-over ridge with only some underbrush present. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Vagel


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 01/24/2010 10:21:36 PM
Message:

Vagel,

Comment: Looks good to me!

Suggestions:
*Keep going
*Keep us posted!

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 01/26/2010 03:58:08 AM
Message:

I like it too, Vagel. I think the impressionist aspect is a good point, since too sharp backdrops (as are most photo backdrops, for instance) don't convey the feeling of the 'thickness of air' that makes distant things hazy. I learned it when I painted my Arizona Dream backdrop too sharp the first time, and had to tone it down later for a much better look.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/26/2010 07:21:08 AM
Message:

I'm a bit concerned about Vagel in his new role as Impressionist Landscape Artiste'. The big, professional palette was ok, but the beret and the long cigarette holder are a bit much.

Here are a couple of pictures of the work I did Sunday on the approach road to the road bridge.








Once one side is done and the glue is fully cured (about 3 days for Elmer's), I'll go over the wall with a sanding block and trim the itty-bitty pieces down so they are only slightly proud of the wall. (I tried cutting them to that size but they break up badly - there just isn't enough wood to hold together.)

I'm tempted to use the oscillating belt sander but I suspect that would be a really bad idea. Although with a 300 grit belt.... Nahhh. Not smart.

Then I'll get into weathering - I'm thinking of trying oil washes, which I haven't done much with and would like to learn more about.

I was applying glue to each piece individually, which was *real* slow. Vagel suggested that I just brush glue on a section of the form - worked much better. That's one of the advantage of the Quilting Bees, along with fun with friends.

I also got a start on two more trestle bents during the quilting bee but you know what they look like so I won't waste bandwidth on photographs.

Off to the gym.

Don


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 01/26/2010 07:53:49 AM
Message:

It looks like a project thatís going to take a lot of time. I hope the effort is noticeable when itís installed on the layout.

Iím anxious to see how you end up sanding those ends.

George


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 01/26/2010 08:18:27 AM
Message:

Vagel...I like the result and concur that photo backdrops can sometimes fail to convey the haziness inherent in the real world. I've always thought that the backdrop shouldn't draw the eye, but "fill" in the background of the finished scene. The photo backdrops I'm using are a tad bit on the "indistinct" side since they've been enlarged.


Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 01/26/2010 08:29:18 AM
Message:

Vagel,
I really like what you've done with the backdrop. I think that once the rest of the scenery is complete in that area it will look even better. Especially in pictures.
Rick


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/26/2010 11:09:20 AM
Message:

Thanks, guys. It's good to know I'm on the right track. And don't worry about Don's work on the road ramp being hidden from view -- it's going to be right up front.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/27/2010 5:18:49 PM
Message:

For today's work session Don brought over his overpass trestle parts and continued the building of trestle bents, while I finished gluing foliage material to the 1/2" thick foam 3D backdrop section for behind the ravine. Here it is lying flat until everything is dry:



The bottom 1/3 of the area is just blended turf earth color, which I think gives a nice dead-leaf forest floor appearance. I'll put puffballs on toothpicks there.

We also test fit the road ramp to make sure we have enough clearance (which we didn't), so another 1/8 inch will be shaved off. Note the prominent place at the layout's edge for this model:



On the way to lunch, we took a field trip to photograph the prototype on which the cribbing for the ramp is based:





That's it for this time, but I'll be burning some midnight oil for the next two days to get ready to open the layout for friends coming to a Groundhog Day party. At least I plan to have the whole backdrop in the ravine area done in time, so I'll post pictures of that in the next couple of days.

See you later,
Vagel


Reply author: Neil M
Replied on: 01/28/2010 1:24:54 PM
Message:

the pictures of the prototype cribbing are good. What really stands out to me is how random the spacing of the headers are. I hadn't expected that but I like the effect. Are you planning to replicate this?


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/28/2010 6:31:34 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Neil M

the pictures of the prototype cribbing are good. What really stands out to me is how random the spacing of the headers are. I hadn't expected that but I like the effect. Are you planning to replicate this?



Studying the pictures has really gotten me thinking about how I should approach this. For one thing, those ties I've been using a really too dark, uniform and new looking. And using standard lengths definitely produces a much more regular result than we saw on this particular example - although I've also seen prototypes that are very evenly spaced.

I think, going forward, I'm going to use plain stripwood that has been weathered using the Mike C acrylic ink formulations. I haven't decided if I want to vary the lengths. I'm also unsure if I might copy some of that "layered" look on some part of the wall.

It was very useful field trip.

Don

P.S. That stream was running really fast and boy did it look wicked cold!


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 01/28/2010 7:29:28 PM
Message:

Don,

Thatís going to be a challenge to replicate that wall. Letís see what your fertile brain comes up with.

George


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 01/29/2010 06:20:44 AM
Message:

I'm intrigued with your 3D backdrop...can't wait to see the finished effect!


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 01/29/2010 1:01:10 PM
Message:

I don't know if they're still available, but I've had good luck in the past with the alcohol-based leather dyes once sold by Tandy. I had black, and about 4 other varieties of browns. Since they were alcohol-based, they dried very quickly and didn't warp thin sheet wood. Thinning with regular methyl alcohol got you washes, and of course you could mix the colors to get something the pure ones didn't have.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/29/2010 5:18:38 PM
Message:

Hi, Deane --

Tandy is still very much in business. There's a store near us and I bought brown and black shoe dye there. According to their website, there's a store fairly near you, in Baltimore.

What colors do you use?

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/29/2010 10:53:57 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Harsco

I'm intrigued with your 3D backdrop...can't wait to see the finished effect!



Well, here's the partially finished effect. The 3D backdrop is attached to the masonite with four 1-1/4 and 1-5/8" drywall screws hidden by clump foliage.



View from downhill after clump foliage and plaster casting rubble limestone outcroppings were added (note the "cut-over" area in the background):



I need to go over the "rocks" with washes to provide some depth and contrast, but that can come later. Part of the problem with this image is focus and exposure:



Next came the puffballs on toothpicks on the "ridge" closest to the trestle:





By the way Deane (EBTNut), you'll notice that I followed your advice; there are three fairly distinct layers, with puff balls, clump foliage, and course turf, in succession, from bottom to top. Now it's time to hide the seam between the 3D and flat backdrop:







Smear on carpenter's wood glue, press in teased-out pieces of WS foliage, et Voila! Note that I added a Bas relief red rock cut fabricated from 1/2" thick blue styrofoam with a steel wire hobby file brush ...



... and tinted with acrylic burnt and raw sienna and oxide red dabbed on with a damp sea sponge:





I kinda like the effect, so far:



Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/30/2010 05:59:58 AM
Message:

Hi, Vagel --

It's really coming along!

See you later this morning at the FreeMo setup.

Don


Reply author: Neil M
Replied on: 01/30/2010 06:09:24 AM
Message:

Looking good Vagel.


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 01/30/2010 06:44:49 AM
Message:

Nice work! Thanks for the tutorial, Vagel....I'm looking for the same effect behind my town....


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/31/2010 4:49:19 PM
Message:

Glad you guys like it! I had an impromptu open house last night for some of the guests at my wife's G-2 (Groundhog Day minus 2) party. Fortunately EBTNut was in town, came to the party, and stepped in as emergency road crew when things started to get out of hand (running two trains while explaining things to guests).

Vagel


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 02/01/2010 1:35:09 PM
Message:

Vagel: Thanks for the hospitality in letting me drop by at the last minute. Glad I was able to help out some. Hope to be back in the 'Burg in a couple of weeks, weather permitting, etc., etc.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/24/2010 6:29:41 PM
Message:

Well, I finally got the new base for the ravine trestle done today, and here are some photos.

This time I framed the trestle to provide a firm base on which to rest the abutment cribbing at each end. Here is the basic box with the crowned roadbed under the center:



The next two views show the terrain base cut and glued in place, with both abutments and one or two bents resting firmly on the foam base. The others are within a hair's breadth of also resting directly on the foam, which will easily be fixed with some ground goop or sculptamold. Don's ramp for the road overpass is in progress in the foreground:





Don was here at the start of the day, but got called away by a friend at the emergency room. Here's a close look at the off-set cribbing he's working on, inspired by the prototype pictures posted earlier:



That's all for now. Write if you are so inclined,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/24/2010 8:36:00 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Vagel, it looks like you really got a lot done and we should be able to move ahead with the road bridge as soon as I finish gluing about a million pieces on the approach ramp.

It was a long day. I left Vagel's about 11 AM and got home about 7 PM. Although I volunteer in the ED at a local hospital, I'm a greeter (I call myself the maitre'd) and I never get into the actual ER except when I go back to scrounge coffee.

Today, I got to see what a well-run, very busy, big city ED is like. My friend never actually got into a treatment room - he spent the day in "Room 18H" - that's a euphemism for "on a gurney in the hall outside room 18." I sat next to him until they finally got him admitted around 6:30 so I had a real front row seat. I was really impressed - lots of great people, working really hard. They reminded me a bunch of Amish carpenters I watched once - everything done at a trot, totally focused, very calm.

In addition to the ER doc, I just about lost track of the list of other doctors, residents, etc., who came in to listen and probe and ask questions and discuss.

I don't know how many patients they handled today but they told me that 400 is what they consider a busy day. Since they only have 24 rooms, you can see why some people wind up in the hall.

Another thing - everybody was really kind and helpful. So although I only got a half hour in at Vagel's and didn't make it to the MR Club for the evening, it wasn't a bad day. Kind of inspiring, actually.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/26/2010 01:41:41 AM
Message:

Thanks, Don. Glad you could stop by today for an impromptu work session. It was fun to sit and chat while I continued to shape and paint foam scenery base and you continued the tedium of cutting and gluing the RR tie retaining wall for the overpass ramp.



Maybe we will be able to post some pictures of our progress in the near future that will be of interest.



Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 02/26/2010 12:42:40 PM
Message:

That's the fun part of working on the details with friends - the BSing that goes along with it!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/27/2010 6:08:55 PM
Message:

You're so right, Mark. We did the same thing this afternoon, after I had a fun morning shoveling snow (I know you guys east of the Alleghenies are getting pounded harder than us, but it's still been a February to remember in da 'burgh). Still no pics to share, but things are "shaping up" nicely on the n.g. branch.

I'll have more when I'v got something to show for it,

Vagel


Reply author: Yard_Duty
Replied on: 03/02/2010 12:09:26 PM
Message:

[:-bigeyes] What an amazing layout! And an even more amazing story! It's threads like this that keep me plugging away during the construction of my layout room.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/02/2010 9:30:13 PM
Message:

Thanks, Randy. I'm glad you're enjoying the thread. I'll be over there tomorrow, working away on the approach road.

I decided to make all the timbers that support the bridge deck. Garth's new bandsaw and the carrier board he made for the planer - for making his own veneers - have proven to be very handy for making scale lumber. I take a nice wide slice off a board on the bandsaw and then plane it down to a bridge timber dimension - 12" or 18" or whatever is called for - and then off slices of the proper width on the table saw.

To get a smoother cut and waste less wood, I'm using a small plywood blade, intended for use in a hand-held circular saw. I use a sacrificial feather board to keep the wood pressed down on the table. The system works well. I'll post some pictures of the rather considerable quantity of "lumber" I cranked out in an hour or so.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/03/2010 7:46:27 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Yard_Duty

It's threads like this that keep me plugging away during the construction of my layout room.

I appreciate that, Randy. Sounds like you're having the "fun and excitement" that we (well, actually, Don mostly) had in the early stages. I'm looking forward to seeing your thread someday soon.

Don and I got together for our regular Wednesday session today, with Don continuing to make progress on the retaining walls for the ramp to the road overpass. It's really going to be a great addition when it's finished ... but that's going to be a while, yet.

I spent the time while Don was here cutting and fitting some hills from the old layout to fit the new scene at Buchanan on the n.g. branch. I went back later this evening to finish cutting and fitting the styrofoam land forms there, so we're now more or less ready for final shaping there. More importantly, now that I know what the 3-dimensional hillside will look like against the backdrop, I can develop the distant ridge lines, as well.

Here are some shots of the area:



The three company houses are no longer part of the scene. I hope to use them at the other mine tipple around the bend. Workers in this mine live off scene, at the end of the footpath I cut into the hillside (note the blue slash heading down hill from one of the mine openings newly cut into the foam). It's a double-entry mine, providing for better ventilation; S. Penn Iron & Mining Co. spares no expense for worker safety.





That big hole in the wall will be pretty well covered by the deep cut leading from Buchanan to Cowans Gap. There'll be lots of overhanging trees to hide the top of the hole.



That's it for this time. Write if you're so inclined,

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 03/04/2010 03:17:20 AM
Message:

Vagel, since the area has a relatively mountainous relief, why didn't you simply choose to have a tunnel there?


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 03/04/2010 09:24:15 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

That big hole in the wall will be pretty well covered by the deep cut leading from Buchanan to Cowans Gap. There'll be lots of overhanging trees to hide the top of the hole.



Great progress Vagel! I know the effect your going for in that cut and it should look great. I always liked what I call the 'tree tunnel' effect. It's something we see a lot of in our neck of the woods!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/04/2010 11:06:08 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

I know the effect your going for in that cut and it should look great. I always liked what I call the 'tree tunnel' effect. It's something we see a lot of in our neck of the woods!

Thanks, Mark.

Frederic, to add a bit more rationale, from a prototype stand point, even though the layout is a freelance design it's based on at least some reality, and this particular branch really existed, albeit as a logging railroad. It had no tunnels and at the top of the grade, it passed through a narrow defile at Cowans Gap. I was also inspired by the deep cutting that the East Broad Top used to get to the coal mine at the end of its Joller Branch high up on the flank of Sidling Hill.

Vagel




Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 03/04/2010 5:23:24 PM
Message:

I had thought there might be some hidden reason behind this absence of tunnel, Vagel. In any case, I'm sure you'll be able to make a nice looking scene with the 'tunneling trees".


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/04/2010 7:03:56 PM
Message:

I think it's a nice bonus that Vagel was able to re-use parts of his older layout, which I think he kind of hated to demolish.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/06/2010 11:58:05 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

I think it's a nice bonus that Vagel was able to re-use parts of his older layout, which I think he kind of hated to demolish.

Well, I did heave a lot of sighs, but I didn't hate to demolish it, per se. The old layout served its purpose well and earned a lot of compliments from visitors, but as a first effort it necessarily had a lot of civil and electrical engineering warts. I had already decided before the new home became available that it wouldn't make the move. But generally I do hate to tear out something I've spent a lot of time on, so finding uses for old hillsides was a boon.

Unfortunately, now there's no room for the three company houses and the church that I had intended for Buchanan. But it looks like I'll be able to use some or all of them around the bend at Cowans Gap. Stay tuned.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/07/2010 4:54:54 PM
Message:

Don and I got together yesterday afternoon to continue with our two projects. Don got a lot done on his RR tie cribbing for the overpass ramp, and I used up about a quart of Ground Goop covering seams and filling in gaps on the foam and rosin paper land forms leading up to the trestle on the n.g. branch. Here's a close-up of Don's cribbing at the upper end of the ramp; the effect of the stepped ties is really neat, I think:



Here's an overview of the area ready for rock castings and ground cover:



With the goal to have all of the foam scenery base on the n.g. branch at least roughed in by Wednesday's work session, I spent a few hours this afternoon at Cowans Gap. First there were a couple gaps to fill in the cut passing through the hole in the wall:





Here's the "blank sheet of paper" at Cowans Gap that has been taunting me for months:



It was easy enough to visualize how the cut would continue through the hole from Buchanan:


(The upstairs tenants will never know how close they came to having their cable service terminated to ensure the flow of iron ore through here.)



Visualizing how the rest of the mountainside will take shape is a bit more difficult, though. I stopped short of cutting the last couple of pieces of foam, but it's beginning to look as though there just won't be room for non-industrial structures on this branch!





Well, that's about it until Wednesday. Write if you're so inclined,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/08/2010 05:27:50 AM
Message:

Wow! You be jammin'!

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/11/2010 9:02:14 PM
Message:

Wednesday's work session saw a continuation of the incremental progress that has characterized this thread for the past month or so. Don is nearly done with the timber cribbing for the road ramp and began to work on the king post truss for the overpass deck. Here's a shot of Don test fitting it. This is going to be complex bit of engineering, with a fairly steep grade leading down from the end of the deck and under the trestle in order for the deck to meet the minimum clearance on the NMRA gauge.



One of neat outcomes of placing an overpass here with all of the somewhat extreme earthworks that go with it is that it will serve as both a focal point to draw the eye away from the fact that there are only 2" behind the trestle to the backdrop and as a scenic divider between the twin tunnels and interchange yard and the junction with the spur that leads around the bend to the [future] site of the blast furnace complex across the aisle.



While Don worked on his overpass, I continued to generate foam crumbs with sureform tools, rasp, and steak knife. As of this evening, I have finalized the basic contours and slapped a coat of brown paint on the land forms for the entire n.g. branch except the area around the twin tunnels. Here's Buchanan:



Around the bend, through the cut, I made some significant changes to the terrain at Cowans Gap, going from a convex to concave land form in order to have room for a country store and small depot. The only thing I've settled on for sure in this small alcove is that a Walthers covered bridge [just received] will obscure the hole in the wall on this side of the cut. I'm waiting for the paint to dry on that section before I re-install it on the layout:



As I said, incremental progress, but now that we're into the scenery phase I'm spending about 5 minutes of chin rubbing for every 1 minute of work.

See you on the railroad,
Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/14/2010 12:04:28 PM
Message:

Vagel has been charging ahead at a great pace - not letting St. Patrick's Day Celebrations interfere with progress. Most of the land forms in Phase I are now in place and shaped and everything has a base coat of "earth" colored paint. He ran a couple of trains at the end of our session on Saturday and it was fun to see them moving through the new scenery.

I have finished gluing the million itty-bitty pieces on the approach to the highway bridge and have build the A-frames. On to stains and chalk and adding lotsa details.

I expect Vagel will post pictures sometime soon.

Don


Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 03/17/2010 10:26:13 AM
Message:

Vagel and Don,
It's been a while since I've read up on how things are taking shape, but everything looks great. Vagel I especially admire your backdrop painting, it's one of the nicest I've ever seen. I can't wait to see the layout in person some time.
Rick


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/17/2010 11:07:23 PM
Message:

Thanks, Rick. We're going to have an open house on Apr. 18th, from 10 to 2, and you're welcome to stop by. It would be good to meet you, finally.



Well, it's finally time to get serious about scenery now that the land forms are roughed in. Above is the tunnel portal where the std gauge mainline pops out from under Buchanan at Tascott, which I completed during this afternoon's work session with Don (I still need to go back over the whole area with dry brushed brownish acrylic brown tones and chalks to get the combination of central PA limestone and iron oxide shale I want). The rock work is all hand-carved following the technique demonstrated on a DVD by Doug Fascale (FOS Scale) loaned to me by Don.

I must say Doug's technique seriously challenges the mantra among model railroad scenery mavens that rock castings or carving directly out of foam are faster and simpler than carving from rough plaster. In 10 minutes one can produce realistic rock formations over a 1/2 sq. ft. area and have moved on to the next area.

Here's a shot I took early in the process today, showing the first area after staining with heavily diluted India ink and the area next door after applying a Plaster of Paris mixture at the consistency of creamy peanut butter and shaping with a palette knife ...



... carving cracks, crevices, etc. with a No. 11 Exacto blade ...



... and staining again. At this point, I realized that I hadn't allowed enough room for a full width concrete portal, so I decided to fuze it to living rock on one side.



Before making it permanent with a surround of plaster rock, a clearance check had to be made (even though the pattern for the opening was an NMRA clearance gauge):



Any excuse to run a train, right!? Those TrukTrain cars are the tallest cars on the layout, too.

An in-progress shot showing the portal with a coat of Floquil Polly-S Aged Concrete, more rock work, and a point of reference on the stepped pyramid nature of the roughed in foam mountainside before being covered with plaster rock:



An overview at the end of the day:



Total time: 4 hours, including a bull session with two model rails that darned near came close to solving world hunger.

Wait a minute! How did that daisy picker get in the shot!?



We'll have to get the RR cops out to thwart would be trespassers! Meantime, write if you're so inclined.

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 03/18/2010 08:49:09 AM
Message:

That's an amazing amount of rockwork in 4 hours Vagel! It looks really good too. Is that plaster you used? I ask because you placed it, carved it and stained in all in 4 hours? Looks great though! The transformation in this area is amazing. Keep it up!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/18/2010 11:27:30 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

Is that plaster you used? I ask because you placed it, carved it and stained in all in 4 hours?



Yep, Plaster of Paris. I started about 15 minutes before Don arrived at 10:30, took a break at 2:00 for lunch and came back that evening for an hour or so. This picture shows how much I was able to do before the break:



So, counting goof-off time and playing with the foam tunnel portal during the mid-day work session, about 4 hours of actual work. As I said, the Foscale method uses a pretty stiff mix, a lot stiffer than you'd pour in a mold; you mix a small batch that covers about 1/2 sq ft and have about 2 minutes max to slop it on and put in the basic shape with a trowel knife, then about 3 - 5 minutes to carve cracks and crevices with the No. 11 blade. So each little section goes PDQ. Before you know it, you've done a whole hillside!

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/18/2010 6:49:49 PM
Message:

Don was here for a few hours this afternoon to finish the painstaking process of installing NBW's and splice plates on the King Post truss road bridge. I think we're going to install it on the layout next week, which means I'd better transfer rock work to the trestle ravine so as to have that scene done by then. Today, though, I extended the plaster rock work to the other tunnel portal.



Unlike yesterday, today I did not move on to dry brushing a light brown shade over the stained plaster. I noticed that yesterday's "pour" had still not cured, and the surface of the plaster would lift off when touched leaving spots of bare plaster showing. I think you can see the seam between yesterday's and today's work by the different shades in this shot:



I'll let everything sit through the weekend and have a go at the finishing steps next week.

Lastly today I added some more oxidized shale outcroppings underneath Buchanan:



Instead of the acrylic paints I used on some lower shale outcrops yesterday, today I used a combination of Medium Earth and Old Rust Bragdon chalks with a wash of diluted India ink over each application. I like the results a little better than with the paint, so I went back over the areas painted yesterday with the chalk-and-wash method for uniformity.

Well, that's it for a while. We'll be back next week if there's anything worthwhile to report.

Vagel


Reply author: chooch.42
Replied on: 03/18/2010 7:25:19 PM
Message:

Vagel, Hello! You appear to have added a good measure of artistry to FOScale's techniques. I understand, the speed is in the medium, but the texture belongs to the modeler...excellent work - thanks for the demo. Bob C.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/18/2010 9:17:33 PM
Message:

Many thanks for the compliment, Bob. I'm having a lot of fun with this, which is something I never thought making rocks would be until Don loaned me his copy of Doug's DVD. The challenge now is to avoid making this part of the layout set in south-central Pennsylvania look like the Black Canyon of the Gunnison![:-dopey]

Vagel


Reply author: dnhman
Replied on: 03/19/2010 09:47:13 AM
Message:

Great Progress Vagel, I enjoy the step by step work. I plan on using foam sectional mountains as well.
Joe


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 03/20/2010 11:24:19 AM
Message:

Thanks for the explanation Vagel! The rock work does look great.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/21/2010 11:49:51 AM
Message:

Thanks, guys. Joe, one thing I've learned so far is that leaving the irregular, angular shapes left after the first crude construction of the mountain makes for easier application and shaping of the plaster than in areas where I had rasped and sure-form tooled the surface. You don't have to build up large globs of plaster when you have a sub-rock, if you will, on which to apply the plaster.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/29/2010 8:46:13 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

I've pretty much finished up the A-frame highway bridge that will pass under the Ravine Trestle. Here are some pictures:

This is the approach ramp up to the bridge. I'm fairly satisfied with the look I got using acrylic ink washes, shoe dye, Bragdon chalks, and Pan Pastels.

Highway bridge approach end view with weeds_edited-1.JPG


Highway bridge approach side view Pan Pastels_edited

Here are some of the styrene details and NBW's. I used Pan Pastels, per KarlO, to weather the NBW's. So far, so good. Still plenty of room for practice and improvement, though.

Highway bridge details 01_edited

Highway bridge details 02_edited

Here are a couple of overall views of the bridge deck and the truss. I started out using full-span deck boards and later switched to piecing them together. I wish I'd pieced the whole deck. I think it would look better.

Highway bridge end view 01_edited

Highway bridge diagonal view 01_edited

Here's a view of the underside.

Highway bridge underside_edited-1

And here are the three bents that support the bridge. Lots of NBW's.

Highway bridge all 3 bents_edited

The approach road will be finished using the MikeC dirt road potion. Since this is not going on a portable layout, I can use Mike's formula without modification, which gives the best-looking results. (For module use, I have to saturate the mixture with diluted matte medium and it doesn't look quite as good.)

I also need to do a bit more futzing with the Pan Pastels on the posts and cable of the guard fence. The camera showed me some problems I hadn't seen.

I'll be delivering it to Vagel's on Wednesday, but he may not want to install it just yet as I think he still has some track ballasting and other work to do in that area.

Another fun project.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 03/29/2010 11:13:06 PM
Message:

That is coming out really nice Don! I can't wait to see the finished model installed on the layout.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/29/2010 11:29:38 PM
Message:

Beautiful, Don!

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 03/30/2010 03:06:46 AM
Message:

Very nice, Don. And thanks for the multi-angled pictures that give lots of information.


Reply author: Neil M
Replied on: 03/30/2010 05:16:36 AM
Message:

Very nice. The colouring is great


Reply author: eric719
Replied on: 03/30/2010 3:13:24 PM
Message:

The bridge and approach ramp came out real nice. Thanks for the photos.

Eric


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/30/2010 3:22:02 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Neil M

Very nice. The colouring is great



Hi, Neil --

The wood colors were all achieved using the various acrylic drawing ink formulas that Mike Chambers developed and which are also available on the RSSM website. KarlO suggested the use of Pan Pastels and the four basic colors I'd need to do NBW's and other bridge castings.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/30/2010 8:32:55 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

I can't wait to see the finished model installed on the layout.



Me neither!

Well, since it's time to get Don's wonderful overpass out of its storage box (where, it has become yet ANOTHER piece of clutter on my workbench to join the taunting throng), I've been working away at getting the ravine ready for the permanent installation of Don's trestle. John Polyak was railfanning and daisy picking around the layout on Wednesday, and took these in-progress shots of the rockwork as I was carving and fitting and carving and fitting and ... well, you get the "picture."





Meanwhile, Don began the task of weathering track in the museum yard area. John captured Don contemplating the error of his volunteerism as I began clearing out the yard.



Don promises not to take the time to paint the tie plates on this project.[:-magnify] Think "Monet," Don.

John also snapped a couple shots of locomotives from the "museum collection" ...





Although they're not yet weathered (someday), I think they give a hint of what railfanning this layout will be like when it's farther along.

Since yesterday I've finished the rock work and started to apply the basic ground cover to the ravine. It's just about ready for the trestle. Here's the last teaser prior to the next posting, which will show the trestle and ravine finally installed on the layout:



Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/01/2010 9:05:43 PM
Message:

The ravine looks great! You have really mastered plaster rockwork in a big way.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/02/2010 08:29:13 AM
Message:

I told Vagel I'm going to sneak around his layout with a three-0 brush, painting an occasional tie plate. Whoo, haa, haaaa! [:-bigmouth]

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/03/2010 12:08:17 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

Here's the last teaser prior to the next posting, which will show the trestle and ravine finally installed on the layout:



I lied. While waiting for the ground cover to dry, I couldn't resist posting a couple new pictures of the ravine and trestle ready to go except for filling in some air space below bents still hanging in the air:





Eat your heart out, Otto Perry! Sorry, but I'm like a kid in a candy store with this newly learned rock making technique!

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 04/03/2010 09:40:21 AM
Message:

This trestle is very nice looking, Vagel. I suppose you're planning to add more vegetation below?


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/03/2010 10:18:18 AM
Message:

Hi, Frederick -- I'm not sure what you mean by "below." The area under the center of the bridge is a dirt road, which leads onto the A-frame highway bridge.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 04/03/2010 12:13:05 PM
Message:

You should be proud Vagel! The rockwork does indeed look very nice. Well done!


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 04/03/2010 12:41:56 PM
Message:

Don, I meant the slopes on either side of the road, which I would imagine wilder.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/03/2010 2:01:04 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Frederic Testard

Don, I meant the slopes on either side of the road, which I would imagine wilder.




Hi, Frederick -- I should probably just keep my nose out of this since it ain't my railroad. But I've never let little things like that keep me from expressing an opinion.

I believe railroads made a serious effort to keep vegetation under wooden trestles under pretty tight control for fear that a brush fire might ignite the trestle.

But when Vagel gets around to checking the thread - he's not as much of a forum-addict as I am - you'll get the real answer.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/03/2010 2:19:30 PM
Message:

Thanks for the praise, Mark.

quote:
Originally posted by Frederic Testard

This trestle is very nice looking, Vagel. I suppose you're planning to add more vegetation below?



Frederic, once I get the thing firmly settled in place with the air gaps below the sills filled in, I intend to add some clump foliage and "plant" some scrub brush here and there around the perimeter, but generally intend to keep the area under the trestle clear of heavy vegetation. When I invoked the memory of Otto Perry's top-down shot of the trestle on the Ophir highline, I didn't mean to imply that ROW standards on the B&SGE would mirror those of the RGS. [:-jester]

Don's response rings true, in addition to the defoliating effect that coal smoke and cinders had on ROW vegetation in the good ol' days before diseaselization.

Oh, and Frederic, let me come back to edit this by way of thanks for leading the witness with that question ... you really did give me second thoughts, which added scrub brush to the plan ... I'm thinking about using the top-most branches from some Scenic Express Super Trees with late-fall red foliage to replicate Sumac bushes that proliferate in clearings throughout this region.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/04/2010 11:18:26 AM
Message:

Once it's firmly planted and Vagel is done with the scenery around it, I'll be adding handrails to the refuge platform and a fire barrel or two.

Hmmm.... Did fire barrels have lids? Without a lid, you'd lose water by evaporation - but you'd gain water from rainfall. I suppose I could do some actual research - but I'd rather be lazy and hope that some knowledgeable person will tell me the answer. [:-dopey]

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/04/2010 4:44:11 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

... adding handrails to the refuge platform and a fire barrel or two ... Did fire barrels have lids? Without a lid, you'd lose water by evaporation - but you'd gain water from rainfall.



Hey, Don, I googled "fire barrels on trestles" and came up with an interesting discussion on the issue ... seems sand was in those barrels as often as water. Sand makes sense, since you were not going to fight a trestle fire with a barrel and buckets, but just extinguish burning embers noticed from the caboose. But another thread on yet another forum said that water barrels had lids, and a cone shaped bucket hung from a chain inside; it was cone shaped to discourage theft. All in all, the issue of sand vs. water and lids vs. open tops seemed to depend on the regional climate; I think in our neck of the woods, lids are in order, whether to prevent evaporation or discourage raccoons from using the barrel as a litter box.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/04/2010 4:56:16 PM
Message:

See, it worked! Vagel likes research. I'd rather be gluing little pieces parts together.

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 04/05/2010 7:19:03 PM
Message:

I love research too, Don. On many of my projects, I spend an impressively long time looking for information on the internet. Most of what I find is of no use for the project, but sometimes you'll fall upon a gem.


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 04/05/2010 7:56:54 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Frederic Testard

I love research too, Don. On many of my projects, I spend an impressively long time looking for information on the internet. Most of what I find is of no use for the project, but sometimes you'll fall upon a gem.


Frederic,

This is what makes the Web so much better than an encyclopedia! Whenever I look through an encyclopedia for something, I spend the next hour or so noodling across interesting "stuff" that happens to get in the way of the search. Once I find the item in question, I wind up spending another half hour looking at other interesting stuff that I didn't get to the first time! At least with the Web I can type in something and go there in a straight line.

Unless, of course, it's something like a "Google image," in which case all bets are off... those are good for the better part of an evening.

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/05/2010 10:25:40 PM
Message:

Frederic and Pete,

Research is fine taken in moderation, but if one is not careful it becomes a hobby in itself. Same thing applies to highway miniatures (the subject of a clinic I did at the NMRA national in Detroit) and, er, craftsman structures ... [:-devil] ...

Hey, BTW, our mini-thread about fire barrels gleaned an off-forum email from Br'er Budeit about fire barrels on the OR&W. Brian reported that on the Old, Rickety & Wobbly they sunk barrels into the ground at either end of the trestles. They had lids and buckets hung inside. We're going to do that on future trestles.

Anyway, I finished the trestle scene and installed it back on the Buchanan Branch this evening. Here it is with Don's overpass temporarily set in place to show how the two bridges will fit together in the scene:



D&RGW No. 346 pulled and pushed a string of my temperamental Tichey ore cars on MDC trucks through the approach curves, over the rail joints, and across the trestle without mishap:



A bit wider angle showing the whole overpass complex. The right end of Don's road bridge is resting temporarily on the bent that will actually support the joint between the King Post truss and the short span between that and the top of the road ramp.



As I've said before, this is really going to be a great railfanning location.





I'll try to have the track weathered and ballasted here by Wednesday so Don and I can get the overpass done, too.

Until then, write if you're so inclined,

Vagel


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 04/05/2010 10:29:07 PM
Message:

Vagel,

This is a really great railfanning location right now! Congratulations!

And for the record, "research" may just be why I get so little actually done! [:-boggled]

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/05/2010 10:39:51 PM
Message:

Thanks, Pete!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/06/2010 06:58:52 AM
Message:

Hi, Vagel -- the scenery looks really great! You really raced up the learning curve on plaster scenery and backdrop painting.

Don


Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 04/07/2010 12:03:19 PM
Message:

Vagel and Don,
Not much to say except that the trestle area looks amazing.
Rick Bennett


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/07/2010 12:50:01 PM
Message:

Thanks, guys. While Don's away this week I'm moving on to mundane track weathering and ballasting, then more backdrop painting, and, maybe, some rocks and vegetation on the ridge between the tunnels and the trestle. I'll post an update when things have progressed some more.

Don texted me a half hour ago from his seat on the Pennsylvanian as he crossed Rockville Bridge ... [:-grumpy]

Vagel


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 04/08/2010 07:01:41 AM
Message:

Looking good, Vagel....you're inspiring me! Keep us posted...


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/09/2010 10:46:59 AM
Message:

Thanks, Rick; the feeling's mutual. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that we'll have the line extended to the blast furnace complex sometime in the next three months.

I've been plinkin' away at "odd jobs" for the past few days and finally have enough progress to justify some new snapshots of the Buchanan/Tascott area. For starters, the receding ridgelines are roughed in on the backdrop from the kitchen door to the end of the masonite:



The primer-painted area remaining in the extreme left distance will be behind a 3D backdrop similar to the one behind the trestle.

All std and narrow gauge ties and track in this area are now weathered, as well, and I've begun to make progress with ballast on the std gauge, emphasizing the multiple tracks that pass under Don's overpass. This shot looks back toward the twin tunnels with Tascott Yard buried in cinders:



While I was doing the yard I went ahead and put some ground cover and shrubs on the hillside above the end of track, as well. Maybe I'll have time to do some more of that and also plant some trees before next weekend's open house. I don't know ... I need to ballast a lot more track first, as you can see from the track coming out of the tunnel:



I think tomorrow I'll put the second layer on the roughed-in ridges to the Buchanan side of the backdrop, then at least finish ballasting the track at the overpass site. If I get that done and still feel like doing some more, I think I'll go back to the backdrop project and work the 3D aspect. We'll see; there's still one more turnout to ballast at the overpass site, and I usually require at least one dram of single malt for each one of those. [:-crazy]


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 04/10/2010 8:12:36 PM
Message:

Looking good, Vagel! Keep at it; you're inspiring me. Of course, if I were at home, I might be able to get things done, but such is life.

And for the record, I've found that a wee dram of a good single malt usually enhances clear thought and perception....

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/10/2010 10:13:57 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17

... I've found that a wee dram of a good single malt usually enhances clear thought and perception ...



Yes, and to paraphrase a favorite toast of a former UK colleague from 2 RTR, it helps one to avoid allowing one's Ferrets to dangle. Good man that he was, he had a small OO layout in his basement, too, which keeps this on topic.[:-angel]


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/13/2010 06:50:50 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Today, I need to paint, weather, detail, etc., a couple of sand-filled fire barrels for the Ravine Trestle. Tonight (Tuesday), I'm making an early appearance at Vagel's to glue on the 4x4 uprights for the railing around the refuge platform where the firebarrel(s) will sit. I want the glue to cure overnight before I start beating them up while installing the railings.

I believe we'll be installing the A-frame highway bridge on Wednesday, if Vagel hasn't already done that.

Saturday is the Keystone Division Jamboree with layout tours (including this one) on Sunday. Vagel is doing a clinic on the B&SGE at the Jamboree. I'm doing a clinic on shop safety for model railroaders.

I know Vagel is putting in a lot of hours on the layout to get ready for the layout tours.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/13/2010 9:08:27 PM
Message:

Don did, in fact, come by a little while ago to attach the uprights for the refuge platform on the trestle, so we're all ready for tomorrow's work session. I've been putting in time since the last update foliating the backdrop to the right and left of the trestle area with a combination of acrylic paints and ground foam materials and generally trying to make the area more photogenic for the upcoming open house.

More after tomorrow's session,
Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/14/2010 10:03:21 PM
Message:

Here's a couple shots of the changes since last update:


The onion dome sticking up from behind the ridge was inspired by a small Russian Orthodox church in the coal & iron company town of Woodvale at the end of the EBT. South-central PA is not a place one expects to find congregations of this faith, but they existed (and still do) in isolated spots, and I thought it would be neat to represent this "twist" on the B&SGE. On the old layout the town sat inside a 4 x 6-ft oval, and I had room for the whole building, plus company houses and more; the tipple was much smaller and occupied a corner outside one 90-degree curve. But now the tipple and auxilliary structures will dominate, so I had no room for the town and had to resort to scavenging the bell tower and dome and wedging it between the foam ridge and backdrop to suggest the existence of the town "off-scene" at the end of that pathway (blue swath) carved out of the hillside.

By the way, here's what this same area looked like, seen from the other direction, this time last year:



Here's a zoom-in on the cut where the n.g. curves through the hole in the wall on the way to Cowans Gap. I'll wait to put the foreground trees in place until I finish the rock cut, but I think you can see how the "tree tunnel" effect is developing.



Looking down from Buchanan toward Tascott, I've got the backdrop painted for 16 of its current 19 feet, although I still need to cover the dark brown ridges behind Buchanan (extreme right) and down grade (left distance) with various textures of ground foam foliage and turf.



But the real news is the installation of Don's beautiful timber overpass today! Here's just one close-up, back-lit by the late-afternoon April sun we enjoyed today:



The bent on the left is hanging in the air for now until I can build up a concrete retaining wall below it and fill the gap behind it. Note the refuge platform on the trestle is complete and has a barrel of sand resting on it. I sent Don a close up and other pics of his overpass, so I'll leave it to him to post them with "play-by-play."

See ya on the RR ...

Vagel


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 04/15/2010 7:37:32 PM
Message:

The last shot shows a very nice spot with the timber overpass and the trestle just above it.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/15/2010 9:36:10 PM
Message:

Here are a couple more pictures and a few words about the Ravine Trestle (kit) and A-frame highway bridge (scratchbuilt from plans in the Kalmbach Bridges and Trestles book).

Since Vagel has pretty much completed the scenery work around it, I was able to go ahead and add the posts and railings around the refuge platform and add the fire barrel.

Here's a closeup and a slightly more distant shot. These are Vagel's pictures:








The fire barrel is metal but I was able to use Mike C's methods (intended for stripwood) to give it that "might have been painted red at some point" look. I painted the casting with Floquil Earth from a spray can, then used washes to get the basic weathered wood color. The red is Grumbacher Indian Red Hue watercolor applied using Diosol as the thinner.

Although you can't tell it in the picture, the barrel is full of sand rather than water. The finest screen I have produced sand that looked fine on the bench but looks way too coarse in the barrel. I'm going to screen some of it again, through a nylon stocking or perhaps a metal coffee filter.

I'm going to repeat a picture that Vagel has already posted so I can comment on the dirt road:




I created the rutted dirt road on the approach ramp using another Mike Chambers technique. This one involved clay-only kitty litter plus two colors of sanded grout. It's held in place with earth-colored latex paint. I changed the mix slightly for greater adhesion by adding some diluted white glue to the latex paint plus a couple of drops of detergent. Later, I'll darked the ruts with chalk and add some oil streaks.

Because this isn't going on a module (and won't be bounced around in the back of a truck) I didn't have to soak the road with matte medium or white glue. That allowed me to leave some of the dirt loose, which I think looks better.

(If you have to glue it down firmly for whatever reason, you can still get a good looking result by using chalks and dry brushing - but it won't be quite as real-looking.)

Vagel is slaving away, getting ready for the layout tours on Sunday. I'm rehearsing the clinic I'm going to present at the Jamboree (on shop safety for MRR's).

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/15/2010 9:42:57 PM
Message:

Another comment on the A-frame highway bridge. I'm mildly frustrated by the fact that Vagel is having to piece in scenery to compensate for the fact that the bridge is about 1/2" too short.

We tried a lot of things to get that puppy to be just the right length, including making a rubbing of the track it was passing over and working over that rubbing when I was building it.

I'm still not sure how the error crept in. Vagel thinks it parallax error caused by our not having a tall enough stool to allow us to look straight down on it when we were fitting it. (It was built long, marked, and trimmed - and came up short.)

I think part of the problem came from our discovering clearance problems (with our NMRA gauge) and making adjustments. I do remember that we trimmed some off the face of the approach ramp and the scenery at the other end of the bridge may also have been adjusted for clearance.

Fortunately, there's enough room for the concrete support that Vagel is adding without creating a clearance problem so it will all work out ok.

But it's still annoying. I like things to come out right.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/15/2010 11:49:43 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

I'm mildly frustrated ... I like things to come out right.


Oh, they will, Don, they will.

It's a wonderful thing that MikeC is so much a part of this vignette, too. Wish I'd'a known him!

Vagel


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 04/16/2010 12:31:00 PM
Message:

Can I make a sugggestion? I'm not sure you'll ever find any sand that will be fine enough to look right in HO. Might you consider something like ladie's face powder of about the right hue?

Deane


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/16/2010 1:53:03 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by ebtnut

Can I make a sugggestion? I'm not sure you'll ever find any sand that will be fine enough to look right in HO. Might you consider something like ladie's face powder of about the right hue?



Hi, Deane. Interesting idea.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/16/2010 2:07:01 PM
Message:

Well, the layout is in pretty good shape for its second annual open house. The other evening I fabricated a Byzantine cross for the church at Buchanan ...



... and today I was able to make the parts to fill in the void between the ravine and the overpass using the Foam Fillet method. Here are the four pieces, including the concrete abutment, the space fillers for behind it, and the ramp leading down under the trestle, cut and filleted from 1/2" thick foam to about 3/8" thick, then shaped to fit:



After test fitting ...



... I painted them, added timber cribbing to the sides of the road ramp, and set them back in place.



There are a few gaps left to fill with dirt, gravel, and foliage/weeds, and weathering is still to come, but the hard part is done.



We'll post pictures from the open house. See you then!

Vagel


Reply author: rickb326
Replied on: 04/19/2010 07:53:00 AM
Message:

Vagel and Don,
The tour was great you guys. It was great to finally see things up close and in person. Keep up the good work.
Rick


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/19/2010 11:10:50 AM
Message:

Vagel really busted his butt to have everything in good order for the Jamboree Open House and it paid off. All the trains (standard and narrow gauge) ran flawlessly. The turnout was good - almost crowded at time. I expect we'll have some pictures to post, courtesy of John Polyak - neither Vagel nor I had time to take any. A lot of attendees took pictures but I don't know that they are rr-line participants.

No get-together this Wednesday - Vagel is operating on the Huntingdon Northern (Bob Prehoda's layout) but he and I are exchanging e-mails about what to tackle next. I do believe we're going to plunge into Phase II pretty soon, so the sabre saw will be back in action!

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/19/2010 4:12:08 PM
Message:

Glad you could stop by, Rick. Don is a bit liberal with his compliments; we had a little glitch due to an unsoldered rail joint that I missed after reinstalling the trestle. But moving the joiner 1/16" or so got us through the day without my having to shut down and get out the soldering iron. But, yeah, redding-up; creating a few "mini-scenes" with LPs, highway miniatures, trees, and structures in otherwise unfinished areas; and making sure all the rolling stock -- much of which is only now coming out of storage after having been built, detailed, and weathered 5 - 10 years ago -- was test run before-hand made for a fun day.

Now, it's back to work ...

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 04/20/2010 12:00:43 AM
Message:

Vagel, I'm just catching up on your thread and you guys have made some great progress. What a difference! The bridge scene looks great. Hope you had a good crowd for the open house.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/20/2010 07:35:55 AM
Message:

Hi, Mark -

I had to rush out the door at the end of the open house to get to another activity, but I thought I heard Vagel say, ere I rode out of sight, that we had 36 people sign the guest book. For a Division-level activity like the Jamboree, which had a registration of about 140 total, attracting 36 or so people to any one layout is quite satisfying.

BTW, Vagel and Larry Kline were in charge of the layout tours and produced a very nice handout booklet with maps and descriptions.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/20/2010 3:58:10 PM
Message:

Thanks, Mark. We had a pretty good turnout; not counting crew members John Polyak and Don Reed, 10 neighbors and 19 Jamboree attendees signed the register. After being open for 6 hours last year and only seeing 12 visitors, we decided to shorten it to 4 this time. It worked out well, because we were busy the whole time yet never crowded.

John started the day keeping an eye on things around Tascott and took this picture of Neal Schorr's son Steven bringing the Buchanan Mixed over the trestle on the Buchanan Branch. Next door neighbors Chris and Kira are just arriving in the background.



Both Neal's former HO South Penn model railroad and current O-scale PRR Middle Division have been featured in the hobby press. Steven has become one of the regular (and one of the more conscientious) operators on the Div. 2 FreeMO layout.

Earlier, John photographed the ND cabin bringing up the markers on a mixed freight pulled by one of the I1sa "hippo's" as it waited under Don's overpass ...



... for a meet with the express train pulled by a K4s.



As I said, we had a nice mix of invited neighbors, Jamboree attendees, and spouses. I showed Mark Neitznick's wife Joan how the Walthers turntable worked and explained why it was well worth the extra cost for RTR. Mark, you can thank me later.



On the Phase II benchwork I had laid out sheets of rosin paper and started to sketch in the track plan. While Don answered questions at Tascott, old neighbors Theresa and daughter Sophia and new neighbors John and Heather and their two small ones joined one of the Jamboree visitors for my pantomime explanation of what will (or, rather, might) take shape here.



Debbie (way back in the far corner) hasn't seen this place in about a month, so she was having a good time, too.



Thanks to John for the pictures and to Don for flawlessly executing meet'n'greet duties and for the spiffy digital picture frame slide show that greeted visitors at the door with a compilation of images from this thread from beginning to date.

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 04/20/2010 7:07:23 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

On the Phase II benchwork I had laid out sheets of rosin paper and started to sketch in the track plan. While Don answered questions at Tascott, old neighbors Theresa and daughter Sophia and new neighbors John and Heather and their two small ones joined one of the Jamboree visitors for my pantomime explanation of what will (or, rather, might) take shape here.



What's this 'might' stuff all about? Quite honestly, I had forgotten you still had yet another section to start. Having second thoughts?


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/20/2010 11:04:33 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

What's this 'might' stuff all about? Quite honestly, I had forgotten you still had yet another section to start. Having second thoughts?

Heh, heh. Oh, we will definitely start the second half -- maybe as early as June. The "might stuff" is a question of how it will actually turn out! For the record, I dug into my "stack of stuff" still stored in the attic study and retrieved a scratchbuilt model of the EBT turntable at Rockhill with pit and frame already to install. It is now sitting right in front of where John snapped me with arms spread during the open house. The refinement of the plan has begun.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 05/06/2010 1:55:55 PM
Message:

Vagel beat the "maybe as early as June" deadline. Phase II has officially begun! Last Wednesday, we removed all the temporary plywood on top of the benchwork. As Vagel put it, as I was trying to find a place to set my coffee cup, "Our workbench has become benchwork."

We framed up most of the divider that will run down the middle of Phase II (before we ran out of 2x3's) including the curved section. Unfortunately, installing the curved section of backdrop will mean removing the temporary loops - at least temporarily.

Once we had to straight section of divider tack-screwed in place, we put some of the plywood back down - at least enough so I could set down a bagel and my coffee.

Nothing very photogenic. I believe Vagel is cutting up a lot of cardboard and mocking up future trackwork, so perhaps he'll post a picture or two when he's farther along with that.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 05/06/2010 10:22:25 PM
Message:

Nothing very photogenic? Remember, some of us like the construction photos! If you want to see something that's not very photogenic, check out my thread! (at least for the time being)


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 05/07/2010 1:16:05 PM
Message:

Hi, Mark --

Well, while we're waiting for Vagel to post some pictures of the layout, here are a couple of pictures of what we did the second half of the day last Wedensday.

These boxes are intended to hold one locomotive card in each slot and will be mounted near the roundhouse or the diesel tracks. The big one is for steam; the smaller one is for diseasels.
They've been sanded and sprayed with sandable primer and are about to be handed off to Vagel, who will spray them gloss black.




And here's a test drive of a box for car cards/waybills or whatever you operating geeks call those things:





Vagel can tinker with the dimensions and then I'll crank out a bunch of them to be Velcro-ed onto the fascia at various spots around the layout.

Garth made up some really nice cup holders for his boat (Goldberry) - they hang on the gunwhales as I recall. I think I should make something similar for the layout.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 05/07/2010 5:12:07 PM
Message:

The boxes look great Don! It looks like you guys are getting ready for some operation? That's when it all comes together!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/07/2010 5:13:46 PM
Message:

Mark's post tweaked me to go over and take some pictures for reference as we go forward. This one shows the 8-ft frame for the backdrop tack screwed in place with hash marks showing the gap to be filled by a quarter-circle framework (background) and about 3' more of straight section in left foreground:



Here's a view from the other side looking toward the end of the modeled portion of the B&SGE, with planned place names added for orientation. You can see the remaining quarter circle framework that Don fabricated tucked in against the straight framework.



This bird's eye view of the same area has the standard gauge sketched in as it passes behind the backdrop and loops back out underneath the n.g. yard near the blast furnace. All of this trackage will be hidden. The stub end staging will be about 8" below the narrow gauge sub-roadbed, while the looping track will remain at about 4" below the n.g. We'll design the fascia along the outer aisle with cut-outs to access the staging tracks. (Don, here's where low-profile mini-shop lights will be needed.)



Coming at the far end of the aisle from the other room, I sketched in the n.g. Wye and an arrow showing the general direction of the std. gauge as it will emerge into view at yard limits of the museum terminal.



From this perspective, you can see why we'll have to remove the temporary loops while we work through this early part of Phase II. Our plan is to get the standard gauge in place fairly quickly, as it is just a single track, then re-install the n.g. loop until I can develop the plan around the blast furnace.



I've never shown any details of the blast furnace module, so here are a few, starting with an overview where I labeled the key components:



This is the basic Walthers kit backdated to represent a rural merchant furnace that would've been new ca. 1910. The top hamper and gas cleaning plant is much simpler than the big furnaces in the integrated iron and steel mills.



Here's a detail of the top hamper, a combination of kit components and Plastruct and Evergreen tubes and structural shapes:



Finally, in the "you can't make this stuff up" category, the South Penn Furnace Co's lone caboose:



To reflect the co's close relationship with the PRR it's painted Freight Car Color. I swear on my PRRT&HS membership card that I didn't notice the alternative meaning of those initials until I had finished weathering the car and sat back to admire my handy work. [:-paperbag] That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!

That's all for now. Write if the slobb ... I mean mood, strikes.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 05/07/2010 8:24:52 PM
Message:

I think that SPF Caboose is a hoot! I didn't know the Slobbering Pennsy Freaks had their own railroad.

I saw Vagel for a few minutes today when I dropped off the card holders and he's about to start packing up all the vehicles and other models that have been sitting on the two temporary loops so we can remove them next Wednesday (if he hasn't already done it before then). They've served their purpose - a lot of equipment got a lot of running-in and debugging because continuous running was possible.

It will be exciting to start moving ahead with the sub-roadbed, etc., on Phase II.

Don


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 05/09/2010 06:43:38 AM
Message:

Great looking blast furnace, Vagel....love the backdating detail!


Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 05/09/2010 09:20:45 AM
Message:

Vagel,

Thanks for the updated construction photos for phase 2 of the construction. Like MArk, I too like to see construction protos as you always seem to get ideas from them.

The blast furnace looks great, it's nice to see a smaller operation and it looks like it will fit in your layout without looking out of place.

Looking forward to the next batch of pictures.


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 05/09/2010 1:03:18 PM
Message:

Wow! That's a serious chunk of real estate to develope! The plan looks solid. It will be fun to watch you guys tackle this one. And by the way, I do love the "SPF" caboose! Perfect!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/10/2010 7:34:43 PM
Message:

Thanks, guys. That blast furnace has been a work in progress for years, dating back to 1995 when the kit first came out. People immediately criticized it for being too small (at a scale 65' tall, the basic stack is about 2/3 the size of the ones that we always see in photos of big integrated steel conglomerates). But beside the fact that it's a good compromise via selective compression, it's perfect for back-dating to the small, rural merchant furnaces such as those that existed as late as the early 1930s throughout Appalachia and the Great Lakes states and were between 65 and 75 ft high.

Here are a couple shots I promised of the loco card holders:





I've ordered commercial loco cards, car cards, and waybills from MegaloMark, so the temporary cards pictured, printed on card stock, will be replaced.

I decided to hold off on demolishing the temporary loops until a supply of track, roadbed, and electronic components for creating power districts as the layout expands can be purchased. On Wednesday Don and I are going to finish the backbone of the straight part of the backdrop and fabricate a stockpile of risers for the standard and narrow gauge extensions.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 05/13/2010 8:17:37 PM
Message:

Wednesday was fun and productive. We got the remaining straight section of the backdrop built and tacked in place and made up 36 each of the two common riser heights, with glued-on cross pieces. I ran the chopsaw at a good clip while Vagel glued. He'll be working out actual track locations and cutting cardboard patterns for sawing roadbed. I expect he'll post some pictures when he has some of the mockups in place.

We also planned another roll-around, under-the-layout storage fixture - this one to hold lots of rolling stock in big divided drawers.

Don


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 05/13/2010 8:22:36 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

Wednesday was fun and productive. We got the remaining straight section of the backdrop built and tacked in place and made up 36 each of the two common riser heights, with glued-on cross pieces. I ran the chopsaw at a good clip while Vagel glued. He'll be working out actual track locations and cutting cardboard patterns for sawing roadbed. I expect he'll post some pictures when he has some of the mockups in place.

We also planned another roll-around, under-the-layout storage fixture - this one to hold lots of rolling stock in big divided drawers.

Don



Do you guys hire out??

You make more progress in a day than I can in a month! Or more.... [:-banghead]

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 05/14/2010 07:44:28 AM
Message:

It's definitely true that two people, working and having fun together, get more than twice as much work done. Partly, it's a matter of working efficiently. But I think the fun factor is more important.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/19/2010 01:14:23 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17
Do you guys hire out??
Pete, that'd be "too much like work," as I often opine about Don's penchant for painting tie plates.

In response to an email snivel about not knowing what to do for a work session, Don reminded me that this Wednesday is my regular ops session at Bob Prehoda's, so I'm off the hook.[:-angel]

Nevertheless, I do have something to show for the week. More plaster rock work at Tascott.



The hash marks denote sloped surfaces that will have puff ball and other forms of foliage applied.



I waited 24 hours this time before staining with Mike Chambers' "Old No. 9":



Using a 1" sash brush yields the best results over such a large area:



Total elapsed time was three hours.

[




Meanwhile, Don is working on a prototype shelve for the under-layout rolling stock storage cabinet and I am working on car cards and way bills. Next week we're going to bite the bullet and disassemble the "temporary" return loops so we can begin to lay out the Phase II plan. Stay tuned.

Vagel


Reply author: Coaltrain
Replied on: 05/19/2010 08:24:00 AM
Message:

what is "Mike Chambers Old No.9"?

Jeff


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 05/19/2010 09:26:59 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Coaltrain

what is "Mike Chambers Old No.9"?

Jeff



Hi, Jeff --

Mike developed a series of stains based on acrylic drawing inks. He developed them primarily for staining stripwood and other scratchbuilding materials, although Vagel and others are, obviously, finding other uses for the formulas. Mike mentioned that the #9 formula has become his personal favorite or most-used.

You can find his tutorials on Mike's website (which appears regularly in the banners at the top of the page) or you can go to Rusty Stumps website and look in the Tutorials section. Nothing wrong with buying a few items while you're there.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 05/25/2010 07:04:25 AM
Message:

Vagel has other stuff he has to take care of this Wednesday and next so we won't be able to hold our usual get-togethers to work directly on the layout. [:-cry]

However, he's coming over to the shop either Thursday or Friday and we'll bang out a some more car card/waybill holder. And I need to get going on that rather massive rolling storage fixture. So there *will* be progress.

And of course Vagel is working away on his own - he *is* allowed to work on his layout without having me around.

Since I won't be over at Vagel's Wednesday, I'll see what I can get done on the Company Houses.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/26/2010 11:21:02 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

And of course Vagel is working away on his own - he *is* allowed to work on his layout without having me around.


Basically, all those promises to get on to laying out the mock-ups for sub-roadbed have come to naught because it's just not possible to layout the transition into the Blast Furnace area with those "temporary" loops standing in the way. So, out they must come, but that can't happen for two more weeks due to other "things" not related to model railroading.

Meantime, I've moved from the speculative to the practical phase of planning for prototypical operations using the MegaloMark version of the Old Line Graphics Car Card and Waybill system. Locomotive Cards have been created for all std and narrow gauge motive power currently on the layout, for example diesel-electrics that will home-base on the diesel tracks at Chambersburg:



Most operations-oriented layouts I've seen don't use Locomotive Cards. But since I have a variety of manufacturers' decoders, and different individual locomotives might be mixed in different consists from time to time, I like being able to place cards with function keys in the pockets. That, plus, in the "museum terminal," every locomotive has a home that I want yard masters to know about, which is noted in the "return light" section on the basic card.



The development of car cards and waybills has, so far, been limited to the narrow gauge.



I added a rail to allow crews at Buchanan to sort their cars without having to lay their car cards on the layout while working there. Currently, it's a piece of vinyl channel from the bath section of the local Big Box home improvement store. Eventually, we'll replace it with a more substantial wood or Masonite fixture.



Additionally, the process of planning Phase II has forced me to consider the nature of traffic that flows onto the modeled portion of the B&SGE from the off-scene portion, as well as from connecting narrow gauge and standard gauge foreign roads. I decided that, since the western portion of the B&SGE in real life produced iron ore for the East Broad Top-related blast furnaces at Rockhill, PA as the Shade Valley Branch, it should continue to do so for its new master at Richmond Furnace. That, plus changes to the original concept for the Buchanan Branch, ie making the iron mining and processing facility at Buchanan much larger than originally intended, created a shortage of ore cars in the fleet originally acquired for the B&SGE. To this end, hi-side gons have been recently purchased from the D&RGW, and the B&SGE car shops are changing their identity. So far, only the end lettering has been completed:



These are the gorgeous cars from Blackstone. If you've ever had the "pleasure" of building up one of the old Durango Press flat-cast styrene kits, including bending the corner braces and threading the fishing line thru those turnbuckles (once is enough if you're building a fleet), you'll appreciate that $35 a pop for RTR, even if you have to bugger up the exquisite lettering and paint-over the scars for private road decal, is well worth it.



On the car in the foreground, which has "faded" paint per the manufacturer, you can see the difference in the stock paint shade used by the B&SGE car shop paint crew (actually, it's a custom blend to match the "unweathered" paint of the other two models). We'll see how noticeable this all is when all decaling and lettering is complete.

Oh, yeah ... that's a MicroEngineering C&S flat car, with the "7" painted out before the "123." It'll serve as one of the interchange cars from the Cumberland & Susquehanna that interchanges with the B&SGE on the Phase II section of the layout.

Write if you're so inclined,

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 05/27/2010 09:52:04 AM
Message:

I was just catching up on your thread and you guys have been busy! Looks good!!!

As to your comments about locomotive cards, we are using them on many of the local layouts down here, including my own. Since most of my lash ups are semi-permanantly MU'd (consisted), I have 'consist' cards. Some cards are for one locomotive, while others may have up to three locmotive's in the consist. The card clarifies the address for the consist and stays with the locomotives where ever they go. I do like your idea of adding a 'home base' for the locomotive.

Also, good idea on the channel for the waybills. We use something similar to that here as well. On Harsco's layout, we started using 'J' channel, which is the 'J' channel for vinyl siding. Works well, and you can paint it so that it matches your fascia or at least blends in! What I like is the fact that yours is like a clip; it holds the car cards in place so they won't fall to the floor.

One recommendation; maybe run the car card holder the length of the operating area. Many operators like to sort out their car cards near the location of the car to be picked up as a visual aid. Having the strip run the length of the operating area would allow operators to clip the card directly below where the car is currently spotted. Just a thought!


Reply author: Neil M
Replied on: 05/27/2010 11:44:45 AM
Message:

I like the info on the car cards and the locomotive cards.

I've not seen loco cards before but it does make sense. The channel is a neat solution but I like Mark F's idea of having it run the full length of the switching area


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 05/27/2010 5:40:18 PM
Message:

These gondolas are really impressive models.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/27/2010 5:40:52 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

One recommendation; maybe run the car card holder the length of the operating area. Many operators like to sort out their car cards near the location of the car to be picked up as a visual aid. Having the strip run the length of the operating area would allow operators to clip the card directly below where the car is currently spotted. Just a thought!


Great minds think alike! That's certainly the plan at Cowans Gap, and down on the standard gauge. I'd like to do that at Buchanan and will experiment with running the strip along the whole section of fascia below the control panel. The vertical distance might be a distraction, though.

We fabricated a bunch more car card holders for those other other areas today; they're primed and ready for sanding and painting. Don has the design for a more substantial card rail that he's going to fabricate in 12" lengths. Everything will have Velcro strips on the backs for flexibility.

At Buchanan, we'll use an expanded card holder with an additional pocket for the passing siding, which will be used for "To Be Spotted" gen'l merchandise and for out-bound ore loads from the mine at Buchanan to be picked up by the mine run on its return from Cowans Gap. The 3-pocket holder will move to Cowans Gap: mine spur, Kalbach branch, and freight office.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/27/2010 5:57:46 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Frederic Testard

These gondolas are really impressive models.



Yes, they are, Frederick. Part of me feels bad about the trajectory away from kit-building that a vibrant market for highly detailed RTR represents. But when I compare the price of this stuff in 2010 $'s with what I paid for the Hi-side gon kit back in the mid-1980's, there's not a whole heck of a lot of difference adjusting for the loss of buying power of the USD.

Have you seen the latest release: drop bottom gons? Wowee wow WOW!!!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/28/2010 3:10:25 PM
Message:

For those interested, as a sidebar to layout construction, here is a shot of how the weathering to obscure mis-matched shades of paint turned out on that hi-side gon with the factory "faded" paint:



I used Bragdon "light rust" weathering powder applied with a soft 1/2" brush after allowing the Dullcoat to dry 24 hours.

Have a safe, fun, but reflective Memorial Day weekend,

Vagel


Reply author: dave1905
Replied on: 05/28/2010 3:28:58 PM
Message:

What I used to do for locomotive cards is have two types. One is the size of a car card and the other is the size of a waybill. Non-lead engines in a consist use the waybill sized cards and fit in the pocket of the lead engine, which uses a car card sized card. That way you instantly know which unit is the leader, which units are teh trailing units, but if you want to swap consists around its easy to move around the cards.

By the way, I say "used to" because I changed eras from 1950 to 1900, so engine consisting isn't an issue.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 05/28/2010 7:08:10 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by dave1905

What I used to do for locomotive cards is have two types. One is the size of a car card and the other is the size of a waybill. Non-lead engines in a consist use the waybill sized cards and fit in the pocket of the lead engine, which uses a car card sized card.
Interesting idea, Dave. Thanks.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 06/06/2010 06:58:38 AM
Message:

Just wanted to let everyone know we're still alive. Vagel has had a couple of out-of-town events and, right now, he doesn't even have wi-fi access. He's in a secure, undisclosed location. He's getting back Tuesday night, by train no less - I'll be meeting his train. Wednesday, we should be back in business.

I've been very much distracted by the need to pack everything - including my layout - and get it out of the bedroom of my apartment so that repairs can commence after a lot of water damage. I'm sleeping in my living room, which I don't much enjoy.

Anyhow, just so I can claim a little progress on the B&SGE, I've been making more of those car card organizers.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 06/06/2010 10:32:11 AM
Message:

Water damage? What happened Don?


Reply author: lemkerailroad1
Replied on: 06/06/2010 10:50:05 AM
Message:

don i hope everything will be alright
hopefully nothing got damaged


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 06/06/2010 3:44:27 PM
Message:

Sorry - I didn't mean to cause concern. There have been problems with roof leaks in the bedroom, which is frame addition on the back of a brick building, for years. It's next door to my shop but owned by a local real estate developer. I rent the ground floor apartment.

Back on March first, ice dams aggravated the problem and a lot of water came in, doing a lot of damage to the ceiling, and creating a real mold/fungus problem. I had to rearrange all the furniture to avoid water leaks, including relocating the model railroad. Some of my stuff was damaged but most of the damage was to the building.

It's taken until now for the landlord to finally get repairs contracted for. The contractor starts Monday morning and since he has to replace a lot drywall, I'm forced to totally empty the room. [:-banghead][:-crazy]

I'm down to the last few boxes - lots of MR magazines. I had to buy a bunch of additional cartons earlier this afternoon.

I wouldn't mind all this quite so much if it were an Act of God - but it's an Act of Stupid Shortsighted Greed. When the building was renovated (sort of) before I moved in, the owner chose to not deal with a sag in the roof of the bedroom. It's a rubber roof and as the contractors on this forum know, standing water is deadly to rubber roofs. He just slapped on a bunch of tar and has continued to slap on tar ever since.

Sorry - rant over.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 06/06/2010 8:38:56 PM
Message:

Wow, that sounds frustrating Don. Sorry you have to deal with such nonsense. Sounds like a landlord who doesn't know how to take care of a building!

Well, hopefully all will turn out ok.


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 06/07/2010 02:18:17 AM
Message:

Sorry to read about your problems, Don. Hope you're on the way to a solution, now.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 06/09/2010 7:58:55 PM
Message:

We finally got back to work on the layout today by removing the return loops and getting most of the masonite for the backdrop in place. I was able to unsolder all of the joints in the HOn3 flextrack and also salvaged the HO gauge flextrack in good condition, so that was a relief.

One self-inflicted problem that didn't occur to us at the time was locating mounting screws that fixed the plywood bases to the risers where the roadbed would later run! Here's a shot of Don cutting away at some cork to get at a pesky screw:



With the loops out of the way it's clear there's a lot of area at the corner of the layout that, frankly, I had forgotten about. I'm already thinking about a revision of the plan for this location.





Here are a couple more overviews of the progress so far. The addition of these walls has made the layout much "bigger" in a virtual sense.



John was waiting when we got back from Home Depot with the masonite and added another pair of hands to the effort as we got everything lined up and pressed firmly against the 2x3 spine. He's volunteered his skills at mudding the joints with drywall compound, too.[:-jump2]



I'll conclude this post with pictures of the car card holders and sorting rails the Don made and I lettered over the past couple weeks. They're attached to the fascia with Velcro, so they can be easily relocated if necessary. But I think they're pretty well located at this point in the exercise..







See you all next week,

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 06/09/2010 10:31:03 PM
Message:

It was definitely a fun and productive day. I'm so psyched about all the highly visible progress that I'm going to try to get over to Vagel's on Saturday afternoon so we can hang the last 8' section of masonite and cut the two shorter pieces that finish the divider.

we ended our day with a nice lunch at Boston Chicken - John has been successfully losing weight and doesn't want to screw it up by eating at our usual Greasepit.

While I had the saw set up to make the car card organizer "rails", I cut enough piece to make about a dozen of them. (Vagel needs three.) I guess all my MR friends will be getting them for Christmas.

Don


Reply author: Neil M
Replied on: 06/10/2010 11:59:23 AM
Message:

Looking good gents. I wasn't expecting the new backdrop to make the layout seem that much bigger!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 06/10/2010 5:18:41 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Neil M

Looking good gents. I wasn't expecting the new backdrop to make the layout seem that much bigger!


Thanks, Neil. It seems bizarre, but when you think about it, what the backdrop does is take a 17'-long peninsula and make it 34' long.


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 06/10/2010 11:31:12 PM
Message:

Wow, that's a lot of progress guys! Looks great. Yes, the backdrop will definitely add to the distance!

I like the card holders, but I really like the velcro benefit you are able to have with your facia. I'm noticing all kinds of things hanging from the fascia. Very cool!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 06/13/2010 06:34:50 AM
Message:

I did a quick drop-in at Vagel's on Saturday - probably less than an hour - and we got the last big section of 2' high Masonite plus the two short end sections installed.

The backdrop is lightly constructed - hey, it's not a load-bearing wall - but we're finding it's just a bit too flexible. Fortunately, the terrain next to it will be several inches high - Vagel could tell you exactly how high - so we can hide some diagonal braces under the terrain.

I believe the plan for this Wednesday is for John P to bring his drywall tools over and tape and mud all the seams and screws so Vagel can don his beret, get out the long cigarette holder, and become once again an artiste of background painting.

Things have quieted down a lot in my little world. The contractor, to my surprise, did good work and finished quickly and I'm back to sleeping in my bedroom instead of the living room. [:-bouncy]

The weather doesn't look great but I'm going to attempt a trail ride this morning instead of an indoor spinning class. I really want to get out on a trail! If I don't get rained out, I'll be riding the former Montour RR - now the Montour Trail.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 06/14/2010 12:02:03 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

IThe backdrop is lightly constructed - hey, it's not a load-bearing wall - but we're finding it's just a bit too flexible. Fortunately, the terrain next to it will be several inches high - Vagel could tell you exactly how high - so we can hide some diagonal braces under the terrain.


We'll put some braces in once I figure out the several places where standard and narrow gauge tracks will pass through the backdrop frame. I also need to relocate two of the studs in the new curved section for that purpose. Meanwhile, I've designated the the new construction zone a hard hat area ... thanks to Don's contribution of a sheet of decal paper.


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 06/14/2010 09:23:59 AM
Message:

Vagel,

Great hat! You need a title on it, though, so the press corps and the LPs can figure out who you are on the property. I'd suggest something like "Second Deputy-Assistant All Knowing."

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 06/14/2010 10:42:47 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17

You need a title on it, though, so the press corps and the LPs can figure out who you are on the property. I'd suggest something like "Second Deputy-Assistant All Knowing."


Hah! I was thinking of "Grand Vizier" or "Illustrious Potentate," but that would require a tassel and baggy pants. Maybe HMFIC ... [:-eyebrows]


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 06/14/2010 5:06:51 PM
Message:

How about "Deputy Assistant Under-Wizard"?


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 06/25/2010 07:09:23 AM
Message:

We did get together last Wednesday and we did get a fair amount of work done - but none of it is really ready to be photographed, I guess.

John got the first coat of drywall mud on all the seams, but it was so bloody humid that there was no way he could do a second coat on the same day, so the second coat will happen this coming Wednesday.

One bit of cleverness on our part paid off with reduced work for John. When we screwed the Masonite in place, we only drove screws at the seams and on the bottom edge. The top edge was allowed to float and we didn't put screws into the studs unless we absolutely had to. Since the bottom edge will be hidden by scenery, John had a relatively few screws to cover and eventually sand.

My job was to drill 3 pairs of holes in each of the 2x3's that support the backdrop. That turned out to be frustrating. I hadn't thought ahead and gotten both batteries on my screw gun charged and driving a Speedbore takes a lot of juice. So I wound up with 2 flat batteries before the job was finished.

[Guess I should explain. We're definitely going to run two buses down the backdrop - one for narrow gauge and one for standard gauge - and decided we ought to make provision for a third "just in case". It's a lot easier to drill the holes now than after more construction has been done.]

I also dulled three Speedbores because I kept hitting the drywall screws that hold the studs to the plates. I was measuring and marking but if I was off slightly and hit one of those hardened screws, it was all over for that bit. (I can resharpen them - and will - but it was annoying.)

So we ended up quitting early and heading for the air conditioning at Boston Chicken. We've given up on the Grease Pit because we're all trying to lose some weight.

More next Wednesday. John will finish mudding. I'll finish drilling, run the bus wires, and add the diagonal braces to make the backdrop more stable.

Vagel is busily doing "cardboard CAD" - mocking up the new trackwork on clamped-in risers so, never fear, things are happenin'.



Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 06/25/2010 5:48:31 PM
Message:

There's definitely nothing photogenic about the layout right now ... hard to tell the work from the clutter!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/01/2010 01:40:34 AM
Message:

We continued mudding, drilling, stringing wire, and cardboard CAD-ding today. I think the biggest accomplishment was vacuuming up the wood shavings and ghost turds (military school-speak for "dust bunnies") that had accumulated under the layout over the past several months. Well, OK, Don's edition of "drill, baby, drill" WAS the real reason to deploy Le petite ShoppeVaque ...



Don brought a drill with an actual electrical cord today! He'll be in wrist therapy for weeks. The local chapter of the Society for the History of Technology stopped by to document both the tool and the use thereof! Apparently, he's been invited to give a presentation of its use at the next meeting of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Industrial Archaeology Association.

Meanwhile, here are a few shots of our progress of Don's wonderfully descriptive "cardboard CAD" and John's handiwork at mudding the seams in the backdrop base:



Note the two short diagonal braces on either side of the cardboard box-spray booth in the image below. Don spent a good bit of time underneath the bench work installing the spacers and diagonals that eliminated the floppiness of the hear-to-fore tacked-in spine for the extended backdrop.



This roadbed mockup is for the standard gauge, which will be hidden under the mainline of the narrow gauge B&SGE.





Since we've had to cut off one end of the operational end of the layout for this expansion project, there's been a back-up of rolling stock at Tascott on the standard gauge and Buchanan on the narrow gauge.

This overview of Buchanan shows more or less the entire rolling stock fleet of the B&SGE (minus the interchange steel coal hoppers and a few ore cars sitting around the bend at Cowans Gap):





We've added two reefers, no's 125 and 129 (representing two of a total of five on the "historical" roster), which will be used in milk can service on scheduled mail trains once main line service commences on the Phase II portion of the narrow gauge. These are the data-only versions of MicroTrains "RTR" C&S HOn3 reefers, with black numbers from the MicroScale Santa Fe MOW decal set and my own custom decals from Rail Graphics on the letter boards and car ends.



Down at Tascott, the yard is filling up with stored rolling stock awaiting a return to service of the blast furnace, with the SPF Co. caboose tied to an empty gon and a forlorn slag thimble.



Talk about fallen flags! How 'bout a real-world WM Russian dec with a hopper from the much-lamented Allegheny Midland from Tony Koester's prior life on the drawbar!?



And so it goes on the "museum" of railroading in South-central Pennsylvania being built at the Forks of the Ohio ...

C'ya on the Railroad,

Vagel


Reply author: jbvb
Replied on: 07/01/2010 09:27:43 AM
Message:

If you want more of those oddball "corded" drills, the July/August issue of Home Shop Machinist had a good article on converting drill drivers that you can't get batteries for anymore. And tell your archaeologists that you've heard about an actual serviceable brace & bit, with someone who knows how to use and sharpen them...


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 07/02/2010 11:15:03 AM
Message:

Great update Vagel! You guys are moving along quickly on the new section.


Reply author: Mike Hamer
Replied on: 07/02/2010 11:34:07 AM
Message:

Hi Vagel. The railroad is progressing nicely as you are laying those ties in and tying them down! I love pics of good old fallen flags! [:-thumbu][:-thumbu]


Reply author: Dutchman
Replied on: 07/03/2010 11:01:32 PM
Message:

Vagel,

I'm glad to see that work is being accomplished on your layout - unlike mine.[:-banghead]

You've got to love those Russian Decapods! I have them lettered for both the Erie and the Susquehanna and find them to be fine runners. Mine take a bit of juice to get them moving, but once mobile, they will creep along nicely or move at a good clip.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/03/2010 11:24:03 PM
Message:

Thanks, guys.

We're plugging along kinda slowly this Summer, but we're just about ready to sand the joint compound after John puts on one more coat. Then I'll prime and paint the basic sky on the backdrop. Don and I are going to cut the plywood for the standard gauge sub-roadbed on Wednesday and get at least some of it installed before adjourning for the afternoon.

I really need to get the HO line back together and running soon so I can move on to finally figure out the HO and HOn3 track arrangement around and through the blast furnace complex.

Bruce, I was really glad when Bachmann did the Russian Dec's. I really wanted to have at least one Western Maryland prototype, and this is the only one that isn't brass and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. It's got DCC and a basic chuff/whistle/air pump/bell sound chip ... it's the basic plug and play decoder that (I think) Digitrax came out with especially for the Bachmann 2-8-0 and 2-10-0.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/08/2010 7:51:10 PM
Message:

This is just a page-holder post to say that we had a very productive work session despite the heat wave that's gripping the Northeast this week. Temps in Pittsburgh were below the 100-degree mark, but the temp and relative humidity maintained by the rudimentary A/C in the old building that houses the layout was just barely tolerable. Don and I cut out some plywood sub-roadbed in the garage in the basement, while John sanded the joint compound he had put the final coats on the evening before. I want to take this opportunity to thank them both for braving the elements, as it were, to keep the project moving forward. I hope to be able to have the primer coat and basic sky colors on the backdrop in preparation for next week's work session. Photos when that's accomplished.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/15/2010 5:51:58 PM
Message:

More incremental progress to report on with yesterday's session. With a moderation in temperatures from last week's mid-90's came a ramp-up to typical Forks of the Ohio humidity, so we were ready to break for lunch at, er, lunchtime! But things are moving right along, nevertheless.

Here's what things looked like when we adjourned last week:



I spent some time Sunday afternoon applying two primer coats to the hardboard backdrop and installing about half of the sub-roadbed Don and I cut last Wednesday. Then on Tuesday evening I started to paint the sky, but stopped after about 16 sq. ft.

Yesterday Don and I started where I left off with the sub-roadbed off Sunday, but when John arrived with nothing left to do on his end, I goofed off with him while Don finished the sub-roadbed curve around the end of the peninsula. Then, those two went work gluing down the cork roadbed while I retired to the garage on the lower level to mark and cut more 1/2" plywood to extend the sub-roadbed.

Here's an updated view of the peninsula ...



... and along the other side of the backdrop. At the choke point in the distance -- above the 1-qt. paint cans -- the tracks will pass within a few inches of each other, and we're going to put in a connecting track to form a reversing loop that will enable us to simulate a wye (originally there was a small turntable) at the end of the PRR branch at Richmond Furnace.

John did great work hiding the joints in the hardboard; sanded and primed with two coats they're virtually invisible.



That's it for this week. We'll be back at it next Wednesday.

Vagel


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 07/15/2010 7:47:31 PM
Message:

Great progress Vagel! You guys move quickly.


Reply author: belg
Replied on: 07/16/2010 07:23:03 AM
Message:

Vagel, you guys are really plugging away at building the layout. Not really knowing how everything will finish/look, I'm wondering why you guys put the power feeds in the backdrop supports, I would think that once scenery is build there will no longer be access to them?? Pat


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/16/2010 12:06:33 PM
Message:

Thanks, guys. Well, we're plugging along, Mark. I want to have the standard gauge back together by the end of the month. Pat, the sub-roadbed we're working on now will be hidden trackage, 4" below the narrow gauge B&SGE's mainline, so the top-most power bus is actually about 2-3" below the bottom of where the scenery will end. We have put ourselves in a position where the track feeders will be fairly long in some places, though.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/16/2010 1:11:15 PM
Message:

Regarding the bus-load of buses in the backdrop... Some of them may never get used, but wire is (relatively) cheap and I figured it would be better to put them in now, while it's easy. We may yet run a pair of bus wires directly under the standard gauge tracks by drilling a pair of holes in each riser.

I hope we never have to get under the layout to trouble-shoot wiring problems, but if we do, having separate, color-coded buses for standard gauge, narrow gauge, and accessories might make the job a little easier.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 07/16/2010 7:58:06 PM
Message:

Your smart Don! When I built my last layout, I ran 5 sets of busses around the layout. 2 sets were already allocated (track buss and switch machine power), but as the railroad developed, I ended up using all 5 busses! Hence, on this railroad I am doing the same thing as I now know I will use them. So your smart to 'over plan' this aspect of construction!


Reply author: belg
Replied on: 07/16/2010 8:23:02 PM
Message:

Vagel and Don, my point was that you won't be able to access them for troubleshooting/future use as they will be buried behind the scenery as Vagel said??? I might be misunderstanding the point. Don I totally agree with running extra lines and give yourself more options in the future, but then what good are they if they are buried in the scenery. Not trying to be a wise guy here but just don't see forest for the trees I guess. ;-) Thanks Pat


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/16/2010 10:07:28 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by belg

Vagel and Don, my point was that you won't be able to access them for troubleshooting/future use as they will be buried behind the scenery as Vagel said??? I might be misunderstanding the point. Don I totally agree with running extra lines and give yourself more options in the future, but then what good are they if they are buried in the scenery. Not trying to be a wise guy here but just don't see forest for the trees I guess. ;-) Thanks Pat



Well, "buried" doesn't really describe what will eventually happen. The scenery (probably made using rosin paper) will attach to the backdrop and to the fascia, forming a kind of "roof". The standard gauge tracks - the section Vagel showed in the recent photographs - and a lot of staging will be under there. The narrow gauge will be on top and visible.

Some of the scenery will be removeable, so that problems in staging can be dealt with. But you can also get under the layout and get access to the wiring. We've even talked about installing a few under-cabinet flourescents under there so you can light the place up if you need to.

Don


Reply author: Neil M
Replied on: 07/17/2010 06:03:10 AM
Message:

I was thinking the same as Pat but looking at the sections where the track is on the risers I can see that the wires will be accessible from under the layout however i am wondering if putting them in the backdrop will make them a bit harder to get to than if you had put them in the benchwork under the track


Reply author: belg
Replied on: 07/17/2010 08:21:39 AM
Message:

Don, as long as there's a plan.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/21/2010 2:19:27 PM
Message:

Vagel had to leave early for some real world work so we didn't get to go to lunch together but we did get a lot of construction done.

The crew has grown to four - Vagel, me, John and Mark. We only had about 2.5 hours but we packed a lot into it. Vagel had been doing some re-planning and while he translated thoughts into sections of plywood, John and I ran yet another pair of bus wires - this set runs directly under the standard gauge tracks.

Then all four of us teamed up to install risers and put in a bunch of subroadbed.

All of the subroadbed for the standard gauge portion of Phase II is in place. I imagine Vagel will post more information when he has time.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/21/2010 11:39:17 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

I imagine Vagel will post more information when he has time.


Indeed, I will. Thanks to the guys for all their help today ... it was truly one in which, to revert to passive voice, initiative was shown by the crew while the C.O. (O.C. for those of you who spell it "colour") was running around with his hair on fire.

Tonight I went back and finished painting the sky colors on the backdrop. This time I used rollers instead of brushes. What took me several hours and a sprained wrist to do in 2008 took me less than an hour with rollers this time. I'll post some pics tomorrow, good Lord willin' n'the creeks don't rise.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/22/2010 7:44:59 PM
Message:

Here are the pics I promised. Not much has changed, except the backdrop has the basic sky color all around and the sub-roadbed for the "Plywood Central" phase of the standard gauge that will carry it all the way around the layout to re-enter the terminal and yard is installed and ready for cork roadbed.

I probably need to remind some of you, since the track plan was published about 30 or more pages ago, that the standard gauge passes behind the backdrop on a sweeping curve in the right distance of this view and continues to curve back to this side of the backdrop. From the time it passes to the other side of the backdrop until it re-enters the terminal and yard, it will be hidden trackage for all but a short distance. The narrow gauge B&SGE will be dominate this area of the layout.



Here's the other side of the backdrop. Don and I worked out an idea to have the B&SGE cross a shallow valley on an S-curve trestle with the standard gauge passing underneath it between the end of the curve and the end of the cork roadbed in this view. Beyond that, I sketched in a cross-over we're going to put in to allow us to turn steam engines on trains that terminate at the Tascott Yard. The hidden reversing loop will simulate an off-scene Wye.



The other blue line shows the general flow of the mainline as it curves around the backdrop to the north end of Chambersburg. We had to re-think how we're going to put staging tracks in this area, so this area is still going to be a work in progress for some time to come.

Finally, here's the last piece of new plywood sub-roadbed that connects to the Phase I sub-roadbed at the north end of Chambersburg Yard. You should be able to make out the penciled-in centerline for the track following two 40"-radius curves sandwiching a short straight section.


Reply author: Mike Hamer
Replied on: 07/22/2010 8:01:14 PM
Message:

Vagel, the railroad is really coming along nicely! Isn't it great to have a super group of friends to lend a hand! That's ingenius burying the bus wires in the backdrop supports. Keep up the fine quality work! [:-thumbu][:-thumbu]


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 07/23/2010 12:50:33 AM
Message:

Vagel, the backdrop looks great. I like the way you have faded the blue. That's tough to do effectively but it sure looks good in the pics!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/23/2010 07:39:08 AM
Message:

"Don and I worked out an idea to have the B&SGE cross a shallow valley on an S-curve trestle with the standard gauge passing underneath it between the end of the curve and the end of the cork roadbed in this view."

What this means is that I get to build a big, S-curved trestle - and as some of you know, building timber trestles is one of my favorite modeling actvities. So I'll be encouraging (nagging) Vagel to get the design worked out so I can make templates and start constructing bents.

Happiness is a nice big trestle-building project.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/23/2010 10:18:57 AM
Message:

Thanks, all. The bus-thru-the-backdrop idea was Don's ... he had these cutting bits that he wanted to blunt by finding screws in the uprights, so I told him to go for it! I used the same shades as before, a sky blue and a very light blue-gray, but this time I used rollers rather than brushes. I used a clean roller to blend the feather the two shades over the middle third of the surface. Works pretty well.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/28/2010 4:34:36 PM
Message:

A banner day on the layout, y'all! This is a shot Don took of me driving the last spike on the standard gauge mainline:



Don spent the day wiring the power bus and power leads:



John and I worked together on the track:



I have to dash for a social event, but I'll post pictures of the first train over the extended PRR section as soon as I can.


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 07/28/2010 4:36:52 PM
Message:

Congrats on the golden spike, Vagel!


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 07/28/2010 4:54:32 PM
Message:

Congratulations on that last spike. I assume the first train to run on the completed mainline was full of dignitaries and visiting firemen.

George


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/28/2010 9:07:33 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by George D

Congratulations on that last spike. I assume the first train to run on the completed mainline was full of dignitaries and visiting firemen.


Thanks, Frederick and George. Not exactly, George ...



... although it was rumored that the Division Superintendent traveled incognito in the cabin, shown above trailing the first train over the new section, a short merchandise freight, as it passes behind the backdrop.

Here is the head end, with an I1sa "Hippo" punching back through the backdrop, under what will be the blast furnace complex and narrow gauge terminal yard of the B&SGE.



In this image, the train is on a section of track, about 3' long, that might end up emerging from beneath the scenery following a stream at the bottom of a steep embankment below the narrow gauge. We'll see what the CADboard planning system comes up with



Here it comes around the 200-degree curve at the end of the peninsula, passing under the future site of Springtown on the narrow gauge ...



... and approaching a second planned stretch of exposed standard gauge that will pass under a long narrow gauge S-curve trestle that Don is anxious to begin:



By the way, the diverging track just ahead of the engine is the reversing track that will allow us to turn engines or entire trains returning to Chambersburg from Tascott or Richmond Furnace during operating sessions. The continuous run feature, connecting beyond this point to the north end of Chambersburg Yard is primarily intended to facilitate open house operations with a skeleton crew. Here's a closer shot of the configuration taken during an earlier test run:



Finally, the first train approaches the north end of Chambersburg yard:



The open space to the right will be occupied by the diesel servicing tracks, while a curved turnout will be inserted at the end of the existing turnout to lead into a ramp down to staging, which will be mounted directly on the benchwork grid.

Thanks to Don for taking the snaps of the test run and the first train over the new section.

See ya next time.


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 07/28/2010 9:17:29 PM
Message:

Thanks for posting the pictures. I like the antenna and lanterns on the N-5.

George


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/28/2010 9:26:22 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by George D

Thanks for posting the pictures. I like the antenna and lanterns on the N-5.


You're quite welcome, George. Gotta have at least ONE cabin with trainphones, even outside the grid! The lanterns light up, powered by a single AAA battery, but I didn't have the switch turned on since it was daylight. [:-magnify]

Ooooh ... I forgot about Don bringing carriage bolts, nuts, and washers to permanently install the long, narrow cantilevered piece of benchwork on the alcove side of the peninsula. Remind me to take some snaps and post them with next work session's pics. Normally, Don limits himself to HO-scale NBW's, but this time he went 1:1.


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 07/28/2010 9:38:38 PM
Message:

Congrats on the final spike guys! Your progress is amazing. I can't wait until I get there, but it's going to be a while.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/29/2010 12:38:38 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

Congrats on the final spike guys! Your progress is amazing. I can't wait until I get there, but it's going to be a while.


Thanks, Mark. No hurry, though. We've got a long way to go, yet. There's a narrow gauge railroad to build! But I have to say we have come a long way. Just look at these two pictures, the first from July 8 last year and this one from yesterday:




Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 07/29/2010 01:02:40 AM
Message:

Great Milestone, Vagel!

Congratulations!! [:-star][:-star]

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/29/2010 05:59:10 AM
Message:

It's nice to have continuous running re-established on the standard gauge. This once again allows Vagel to run and de-bug equipment. And allows me to watch trains run.

I need to make the big half-round that finishes off the end of the backdrop. I'm going to do it the way one might make a spar for a small boat - by eight-siding a square blank, then 16-siding it, and then planing it round. It's fun to do, with a good sharp plane. Not sure if I'll make it round and then split it or just make a half-round. Probably easier to make a full-round, from the standpoint of being able to eyeball it. Looking forward to making lots of good-smelling pine shavings and that special sound and feel of a wicked sharp plane iron cutting wood. [:-bouncy]

Don


Reply author: chooch41
Replied on: 07/29/2010 08:35:15 AM
Message:

Great job to all those involved. And, thank you for keeping the whole world posted on all of your accomplishments. Now, get off of the computer and get back to work....... :)


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/29/2010 09:52:51 AM
Message:

Since I had referrred to Vagel's planning methods as "cardboard CAD", he decided the material he was using should be call CAD-board. Then we realized that that sounds pretty much the way somebody from Boston (Bass-ton) would pronounce cardboard.

Don


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 07/29/2010 12:50:04 PM
Message:

Not to begrudge Don his fun with saw and plane, but wouldn't splitting piece of PVC plastic pipe and gluing it to the end of the backdrop do the job?


Reply author: hunter48820
Replied on: 07/29/2010 12:58:08 PM
Message:

Hi Vagel,
It's nice to look back and see how far you've come!! You are doing a very nice job on the layout!!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/29/2010 1:11:46 PM
Message:

Many thanks for the kind words of encouragement. Deane, the PVC pipe idea was the first thing to occur to us, but it doesn't come in the diameter we need for a pure half-round end given the true dimensions of a 2x3 and the 1/8" sheets of masonite that sandwich it. We looked in the Plastruct and Evergreen catalogs, and they don't make theirs big enough, either.[:-smile_green]

Plus, Don has a wall'o'handtools and so little opportunity to play with them ...


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/29/2010 1:34:58 PM
Message:

PVC?? You want me to make something out of freakin' plastic? Eeek!

Don


Reply author: Carrie Creek
Replied on: 07/29/2010 3:30:13 PM
Message:

Don, Vagel,
If you guys will be mudding that end you might want to buy a bigger tool than mine. My end is only 1" wide. I ended up using two 1/2" quarter rounds then taped and mudded.



This fancy tool was the only thing I could find that would leave a smooth end. Hope you can find one there.

BTW looking really great.


Reply author: truckdriverskid
Replied on: 07/29/2010 5:58:33 PM
Message:


Vagel,Don,John- congrats on closing the loop and the final spike! Too bad I missed it, I hate being 2 neighborhoods away (as the Pgh. crow flies)and not getting there more often. When I do visit/hang out/help it gives me a push to keep moving on the module or the other layout here at home. To all of you folks that don't live close and have only seen Vagel's layout on line... the photos don't do justice to the overall look and feel of the whole thing. Mark N


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/29/2010 8:33:47 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Carrie Creek

Don, Vagel,
If you guys will be mudding that end you might want to buy a bigger tool than mine. My end is only 1" wide. I ended up using two 1/2" quarter rounds then taped and mudded.

This fancy tool was the only thing I could find that would leave a smooth end. Hope you can find one there.

BTW looking really great.



John is our mud guy. He may want to borrow your high-tech tool. [:-bigmouth]

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 07/29/2010 8:35:22 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by truckdriverskid


Vagel,Don,John- congrats on closing the loop and the final spike! Too bad I missed it, I hate being 2 neighborhoods away (as the Pgh. crow flies)and not getting there more often. When I do visit/hang out/help it gives me a push to keep moving on the module or the other layout here at home. To all of you folks that don't live close and have only seen Vagel's layout on line... the photos don't do justice to the overall look and feel of the whole thing. Mark N



Hey, Mark - it was nice having you stop by. Keep workin' away on your dual-gauge module!

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 07/29/2010 10:49:25 PM
Message:

Thanks for the plug, Mark. It's great to finally have you as a presence on the Forum.

Hey, all, it's looking like we're going not going to have a group work session for a couple weeks, since I'm all out of collective tasks for the time being. I also haven't mentioned I have a day job this summer as a historical consultant that takes up valuable model railroading time.

Don's going to be putting his wood boat school training to work in the shop carving the end cap for the back drop, and I'm going to be CADboarding the blast furnace complex now that the standard gauge mainline is done. Plus I need to finally bring all of the power busses together as separate power districts -- four separate ones initially -- and purchase an auto reverser for that reversing section, etc, etc...

I definitely want to get the narrow gauge back into some sort of continuous operation status within a month, but that will include some representation of a mainline run coming in to the blast furnace complex. We'll keep you up to date, of course, but at this point we're not sure how regularly ...

I guess it's time to get back into the sport of dumpster diving for cardboard packing!


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 08/03/2010 4:20:05 PM
Message:

This might be of some interest to you 'Burg types - Con-Cor has finally released their PCC streetcars, including one in Pittsburgh Railways paint . They are real nice, better than the recent Bowser version, IMHO. They can be set up to run on overhead wire, and are "DCC ready".


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/03/2010 4:42:14 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by ebtnut

Con-Cor has finally released their PCC streetcars, including one in Pittsburgh Railways paint


I've seen the ads, but did not see a Pgh Rwys version.


Reply author: chooch.42
Replied on: 08/03/2010 7:23:12 PM
Message:

Just checked Con-Cor site - http://www.all-railroads.com/PCC-Streetcars.html -cars look like the ones I used to ride. They are to be offered painted w/o lettering for those who wish to free-lance on the city colors. Thanks, Con-Cor.


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 08/04/2010 11:35:33 AM
Message:

The Pittsburgh cars come painted in the red and cream scheme, with "Kennywood" on the roll sign. I got to test-run mine on the 3-ft. test track last night. It runs VERY nice and slow. It is very quiet running forward; has a bit of gear buzz in reverse. That shouldn't be an issue, since PCC's were almost all single-end cars. There is LED lighting inside, and in the headlight. [:-thumbu]


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/05/2010 12:20:27 AM
Message:

Getting back to the topic at hand ...

Don has started the end cap for the peninsula backdrop. I've been playing with CADboard, but haven't been able to make any plywood cuts yet. I stopped by Don's shop this afternoon to cut some plexi-glass into 2 1/2 x 48" strips for guards around the sub-roadbed of the hidden std gauge trackage. I want to get those installed before getting too far into the sub-roadbed for the narrow gauge that will block easy access later. I hope to have a couple of pics to post later in the week.

By the way, Deane, its 'Burgh, with an aitch ... [:-grumpy]


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/05/2010 07:19:03 AM
Message:

As we say here in Pittsburgh: "We are the Burgh. Yunz need assimilated."

When I was rhapsodizing about how fun it would be to create a half cylinder with a hand plane, I didn't allow for the shop being over 90 degrees and maximally humid. I cheated - I used a power planer to rough it in. Garth bought a really nice one which he used to make all the spars for Goldberry.

Anyhow, it's mostly done and wasn't really all that bad. Next step is to prime it so I can see the flaws and then do some more sanding. I'll post a couple of pictures.

Vagel half round

Cutting narrow strips of Plexiglas on a table saw is such fun. The kickback preventers keep me from getting the overarm guard/dust collector down close to the blade so I get peppered with all these hot little particles of plastic. Still, it worked ok. I was using a small plywood/laminate blade, actually intended for use in my circular saw. It cut a fairly smooth edge without a whole lot of chattering.

Vagel plexi



I'm about to get serious about building the rolling stock cabinet. The drawers will be framed with 1x4 stock, cleaned up a bit on the big Grizzly planer. Re the dividers - instead of making them from plywood, I think we'll resaw 1x4's on Garth's new Grizzly big-honkin'-bandsaw. He's been making his own veneers - it cuts really well. I'm hoping I can get two dividers out of each 1x4 but I may lose too much when I clean them up in the planer.

And that's what's happening in the B&SGE's carpentry shop.

Don




Reply author: jbvb
Replied on: 08/05/2010 11:30:12 AM
Message:

Congratulations on completing the main line. There was a time when I visited Pittsburgh with some regularity, but that was 20 years ago. Maybe someday...


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/05/2010 1:53:38 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by jbvb

Congratulations on completing the main line. There was a time when I visited Pittsburgh with some regularity, but that was 20 years ago. Maybe someday...



If it's been 20 years, you are definitely over due for a Primanti Brothers sandwich and some layout tours.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/06/2010 4:25:23 PM
Message:

Vagel stopped by for a few minutes to finish cutting the slotted holes for mounting the plexi along the edges of the standard gauge roadbed which will soon be hidden under scenery. Here he is at work - keeping his fingers well away from the blade. Note also the overflowing wood scrap barrel behind him - it's definitely time to (1) get a roll-on/roll-off container or (2) buy more barrels or (3) hang up the "free firewood" sign.




Vagel also brought along some scrap 1x3 from an old layout. I wanted to see if we could resaw it into thinner stock for the rolling stock drawer dividers. I was concerned with how much thickness we would have left after planing off the bandsaw marks.

Here's a picture of Garth's new re-sawing machine - works really well!




And here's the work product - quite useable and quickly produced:



(You can also see the primed end cap for the backdrop/divider in the background of this picture. Needs more sanding and priming.)

Next, we're going to mock up a small section of a drawer and make sure typical rolling stock fits as planned.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 08/07/2010 12:04:20 PM
Message:

Now that looks to be quite the shop you have there! No wonder you guys are putting out such top quality projects!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/07/2010 3:00:40 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

Now that looks to be quite the shop you have there! No wonder you guys are putting out such top quality projects!



Yes. It helps to know a two professional wood workers, one who is an active model railroader (Don) and the other a recovering one (Garth)!

Here are a few snap shots of the few changes since last update. I got the plexiglass guards installed and started to rough in the arrangement of the narrow and standard gauge trackage at the blast furnace site.







Don't pay any attention to the pieces of the blast furnace complex lying scattered about; they'll find their true home soon enough.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/07/2010 6:05:54 PM
Message:

Go, Vagel!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/10/2010 12:38:12 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

Go, Vagel!

"Oh, Don!" (channeling Jack Benny) Here's where the next n.g. trestle goes:



Don't get too excited, Don. It'll be a while, yet, 'til we're ready for this one.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/10/2010 06:19:21 AM
Message:

A trestle! Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh boy! (My impression of the dog in "Up.")

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 08/10/2010 10:21:36 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

A trestle! Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh boy! (My impression of the dog in "Up.")

Don



Now that's what I call enthusiasm! Let him run with it Vagel!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/10/2010 4:09:28 PM
Message:

This is me, waiting for Vagel to spec out the trestle so I can start building:





Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/10/2010 9:27:02 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

This is me, waiting for Vagel to spec out the trestle so I can start building:


OK, for those who haven't seen the animated feature, "Up," I'm really, really sorry for the following PhotoShopped retaliatory strike ...



... but Don has thrown down the obscure movie metaphor gauntlet! I'll be happy to explain off-topic.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/12/2010 9:33:50 PM
Message:

Don dropped off a mock-up model for the drawers that will go in the under-layout rolling stock cabinet. I hot-glued in some foam padding and test fit some rolling stock, and we're good to go for width. Looks like we'll be able to make the drawers lower in height, though, which will increase the storage capacity significantly.



Instead of nominal 1x4's we might be able to go with 1x3's for the drawer frames. In the final design, each compartment will hold 4 x 40' equivalent cars or two 85' passenger cars running perpendicular to the drawer slide. I forget how deep they'll be, but much more than the mock-up, for sure.


Reply author: cprfan
Replied on: 08/12/2010 10:21:23 PM
Message:

quote:





Haha !, I'd been thinking of some really off-handed quotes from the video game "Worms Armageddon" to start off an upcoming topic that I'm planning.

I never had the game, but I do have the music from it.

Alan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/23/2010 11:17:50 PM
Message:

And the Broadway Limited Imports website spake, saying, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, for this day a container ship at Jacksonville has delivered of itself a shipment of Baldwin Centipedes." And his LHS owner, like a serpent, didst whisper in his ear, "G'ahn. You NEED this." And, though he knew that it was wrong and didst exceed his design parameters most grievously, as set forth in the Gospel according to St. John, the Strong of Arm, he didst succumb, yea, he partook most ardently, even unto gluttony. And even his wife and helpmate, the erstwhile keeper of the purse, didst conspire to enable his whim, foolishly believing the LHS serpent when he said, "This will be the last ..."





They look, sound, and run GREAT! But what did I mean by exceeding design parameters?



Folks, this is a 42" radius curve!

But, hey, what HO-Scale PRR museum would be complete without a set?!


Reply author: Neil M
Replied on: 08/24/2010 05:41:05 AM
Message:

That's an awfully long wheelbase! Very impressive locomotives Each one looks nearly twice the size of the F unit in the second photo


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/24/2010 06:09:01 AM
Message:

Vagel brought them over to the Quilting Bee on Sunday afternoon. They are truly grand! The sound is way cool, too! OK, so they're a little large - but I totally understand Vagel succumbing to temptation. What I don't understand is how he got Debbie, the CFO, to fall for his spiel.

Don


Reply author: jbvb
Replied on: 08/24/2010 07:59:35 AM
Message:

Anything that the prototype had to put that kind of a taper on is going to be tough to operate on a model. Reminds me of the story from the MIT club of how two proud alums brought their brass articulateds in on the same day; they met boiler front to boiler front on a double track curve...


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 08/24/2010 08:03:55 AM
Message:

Wow! Thatís a long locomotive - but beautiful.

George


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 08/24/2010 09:26:05 AM
Message:

They are gorgeous. I saw them at the local hobby shop and SteamNut got one. All I can say is WOW!


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 08/24/2010 12:45:26 PM
Message:

This is indeed an engine coming from the hell, Vagel. Be extra careful!


Reply author: nhguy
Replied on: 08/24/2010 1:49:25 PM
Message:

Well, look at it this way. You can always just use them in helper service.....as long as the tunnels are straight!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 08/24/2010 3:40:30 PM
Message:

Another interesting wood-working project for the B&SGE. Vagel wants a box to (1) hold the Digitrax components in the layout room and (2) carry them along to narrow gauge events where we set up our ng/dg modules.

He sent me this picture of a telegraph sounder:



We'll build a box that will sort of resemble two of these fitted together. The hinges will allow the lid to be opened and then removed and set aside. We'll use some nice scrap hardwood - maybe mahogany - and solid brass hardware. Dovetails? I think there are limits to my insanity and I draw the line a bit short of handcut dovetails.

Don

Added: here are a couple of pictures of the process of "rebuilding" cherry scrap into new boards. First, a bunch of scrap that has been brought to a uniform thickness on Garth's new Grizzly spiral cutter head planer. Then a picture of one of the many glue-ups. After everything is glued, they'll get a couple more trips through the planer to remove uneveness and bring them to final thickness.






Reply author: Dutchman
Replied on: 08/24/2010 5:23:39 PM
Message:

Vagel, when you hear the whispers in your head, you just have to give in.

They would never be able to negotiate my 22" curves, yet just having one to run on a club layout would be neat. (But I'm not hearing the whispers yet!)


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 08/24/2010 5:33:59 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Dutchman

They would never be able to negotiate my 22" curves, yet just having one to run on a club layout would be neat. (But I'm not hearing the whispers yet!)


You know, Bruce, these things are advertised to handle a minimum 22" radius. Whisper, whisper, whisper ... [:-devil]


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/06/2010 5:32:36 PM
Message:

Hi, all. Thought I'd post a short update on what's going on with the Richmond Furnace area. I've been having a real hard time trying to figure out how position the various facilities of the blast furnace complex and run tracks to them. Over the long Labor Day weekend I finally cut and fit a cardboard form bringing the narrow gauge branch down behind the complex to the edge of what will be the B&SGE terminal. Today I put in a bunch of risers and a foam board base for the complex and started to play with positioning the blast furnace facilities. Here's what it looks like currently:





My original plan brought the PRR branch into the narrow gauge interchange by passing in front of the blast furnace, but now it looks like it'll have to pass behind the blast furnace. More to come ...

Vagel


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 09/07/2010 06:55:13 AM
Message:

Great looking BF complex, Vagel....I know what you mean about trying to find the right combination/positioning for everything..I'm still trying! What will Richmond Furnace be making?


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/07/2010 2:45:47 PM
Message:

Hi, Rick --

I'm sure you'll get a more detailed answer from Vagel but he has explained to me that the furnace dates from the "iron age" on the EBT.

Once Vagel has things planned out, I'll be building an extension on the benchwork to accomodate the furnace. Fortunately, there is enough room in that area for a bit more benchwork without making it crowded for two or three operators. As long as they don't exceed Plate C.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/07/2010 5:43:38 PM
Message:

Thanks, Rick. As Don indicated, this bf is a bit of a dinosaur, as it represents a state of the art from around the 1910s. So it makes cold pigs for sale in the merchant pig iron market; the customers that keep it in business at this late date (1938) are firms like Chambersburg Engineering (drop forge hammers), Wolfe Co. (roller milling machinery), and T. B. Woods (Pulleys and Gears) nearby in Chambersburg ... maybe the Frick Co. (portable saw mills and other machines) in Waynesboro. Richmond Furnace gets its name from the last owner of a charcoal iron furnace at the site in the mid-19th century, and the ore really did come from banks along the road to Cowans Gap, which essentially became the grade for a logging railroad later on, then reverted to a CCC road and is the grade for my Buchanan Branch. So I'm playing fast and loose with history, but it's not fantasy land.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/20/2010 11:21:55 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

Once Vagel has things planned out, I'll be building an extension on the benchwork to accomodate the furnace.


Finally had some time to finish the track planning in the blast furnace complex and post some pics of the result. Once I had the various facilities positioned and I determined their relative elevations within the complex, I penciled in the locations of turnouts and the radii or curves on the rosin paper overlay. This evening I cut out and traced the outlines of the blast furnace facilities and turnouts, then ran the tangents and curves between them and from the turnouts to the various facilities. Here are some pics of the progress:





You can see where Don and I have to extend the benchwork to accommodate the final track arrangement. Don't pay attention to the red lines.





Here you see the track centerlines for (from bottom to top) service sidings for the blast furnace, the spur for pig loading at the cast house, the stock house tracks, and the interchange track to the B&SGE. All of the tracks will be on different grades ranging from 2 to 4%.



That's it for this post. See you on the railroad.


Reply author: Neil M
Replied on: 09/21/2010 10:25:11 AM
Message:

Hi Vagel,
The blast furnace looks great but is there a way you could orientate it so it's not parallel to the front edge of the layout? Big structures like this seem to look more natural when they are placed at a bit of an angle (I don't think it has to be much).

Would you be able to take the foam board that you have the tracks marked out on and shift the front left corner into the aisle by an inch or two (then trim off the excess and fill in the gap at the back).


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/21/2010 12:32:18 PM
Message:

It's already jutting out into the aisle by an additional 6" over the original plan, which is as much as I want to take away from an area that needs to accommodate two operators working back to back. Plus there are parts of the complex I'd rather leave to the "good enough" effect (unmodeled) that placing it an an angle to the aisle would expose to view. So it'll have to be a mundane blast furnace complex, I'm afraid, Neil.


Reply author: Carrie Creek
Replied on: 09/21/2010 3:05:45 PM
Message:

Vagel,
could you move the two bottom turnouts to the right and aline the diverging leg of the left one so that it lines up straight instead of the "S" curve you have now? See pic.



Just some thoughts, That s curve looks a bit tight.


Reply author: Neil M
Replied on: 09/21/2010 4:36:12 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

It's already jutting out into the aisle by an additional 6" over the original plan, which is as much as I want to take away from an area that needs to accommodate two operators working back to back. Plus there are parts of the complex I'd rather leave to the "good enough" effect (unmodeled) that placing it an an angle to the aisle would expose to view. So it'll have to be a mundane blast furnace complex, I'm afraid, Neil.



Fair enough. I have buildings and tracks parallel to the edge of the layout but I wish I didn't. Like you, I am space constrained


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/21/2010 10:00:11 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Carrie Creek

Just some thoughts, That s curve looks a bit tight.

Hah! Fooled you. Actually there's a bit of an optical illusion where a No. 4 Left turnout didn't fit on the foam base I initially cut out. This is one of those areas where we'll have to extend the benchwork to accommodate reality vs. the plan.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/23/2010 10:47:07 PM
Message:

We resumed regular work sessions yesterday. I asked Don to bring a scrap piece of 2x4 along to use as a leg in the back left corner of the peninsula where a cantilevered wing had failed to stand up to the weight of sundry leaners. So, of course he shows up with a beautifully milled 2x3 to match the rest of the 2x3 legs. He'd run it through the table saw, then ran it through the planer! Talk about building for God!



Don also mounted his hand-crafted end cap on the peninsula backdrop. It needs some planing to fare the uneven tops of the hardboard into the top of the end cap, then John can perform more mudding magic to hide the seams.



We cut out some plywood sub-roadbed pieces for the narrow gauge coming off the Buchanan Branch behind the blast furnace, as well. And I cut an opening in the blue foam base to set the already assembled stock house down at a lower level so the ramp up to it won't be too steep.



I glued a Woodland Scenics ramp section in place, but space is turning out to be too tight to use these things everywhere, so it looks like I'll have to build everything up from basic insulation foam of various thicknesses. And where the standard gauge main and coke oven tracks pass under the narrow gauge, I'll have to use two short but very skewed bridge overpasses, which I sketched on the plywood for reference, below:



It looks like I'll have to scrap the plywood in favor of built-up foam land forms here. This area is going to take some time.

More when we have something to show ...


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/24/2010 06:42:46 AM
Message:

Wednesday was fun. John Polyak came over and showed us some castings he's working on. We made measurements and drew up a plan for the bench work extension. I'll do as much of it as possible in the shop but part of it will be done on site because of strange angles and fussy fitting.

I admire Vagel's ability to deal with the complex, three-dimensional track plan around the blast furnace (and elsewhere). I can't play that kind of three-dimensional chess.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/24/2010 11:25:36 PM
Message:

Trying to find a way to get two sets of track, the standard gauge main and the coke oven spur, to disappear discretely into the backdrop behind the blast furnace complex. Here are a couple CADboard profiles of possible solutions, on the right a skewed 50' deck girder bridge (MicroEngineering kit) and on the left a skewed concrete arch underpass, 35' across. MicroEngineering makes a shorter 35' deck girder, and I just happen to have kits for both lengths in HOn3. Not sure if I should mix bridge types so close together. I'll play with some other options before deciding which way to go.

Rick, who runs the Harrisburg Terminal thread on this forum, calls it "futzing." Good term.


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 09/25/2010 01:31:10 AM
Message:

Yup Vagel, it's called 'futzing'! He is the master at it, but it looks like your a quick learner. I'm not sure what your trying to achieve there, but my first impression is to go with the deck girder bridge. Which ever you choose, I don't think I would mix those two styles there.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/25/2010 05:39:28 AM
Message:

How about a skewed timber trestle? (A trestle! Oh, boy! Oh, boy! A trestle!)

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 09/25/2010 05:57:39 AM
Message:

It's been a long time since you made your last one, Don...


Reply author: jbvb
Replied on: 09/25/2010 10:16:14 AM
Message:

If the bridges are different ages, then mixing would be fine - concrete arches were trendy (and somehow done with extra-durable concrete, which hasn't crumbled like later concrete) in the 1910 - 1930 era. Before and after, RRs tended to use plate girders, though in this case a deck plate would be more likely, as they're cheaper and there's enough clearance.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/25/2010 2:04:55 PM
Message:

Thanks for the advice, guys. I already told Don he'll have to take a trestle sabbatical on this one. And, yes, mixing styles on two spans so close together that had to be built at the same time is really out of the ordinary, if not a bad engineering decision. The 3-ft gauge East Broad Top, on which the B&SGE is loosely based, had a concrete arch skewed 45 degrees on its Shade Gap Branch, so I had to check out the feasibility here. But as the skew angles in both cases are greater than 45 degrees, skewed arches here would virtually be tunnels. My vision for this area is a high fill of furnace slag with concrete retaining walls where there's not enough space to accommodate the slope all the way down to the lower level.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 09/25/2010 6:15:35 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

I already told Don he'll have to take a trestle sabbatical on this one.



[:-cry]


Reply author: chooch.42
Replied on: 09/25/2010 7:55:03 PM
Message:

Poor Don...like a Porsche in the driveway, gassed up and ready,...motivation and sophistication galore, with nowhere to go ! Maybe the Club has something to utilize his talents 'til you find a location that needs bents and stringers, Vagel? Love the project and how it seems to be coming together. Thanks for the updates. Bob C.


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 09/28/2010 09:56:11 AM
Message:

My thoughts - Use the two girder bridges. In the area between them, Don can install timber cribbing as a retaining wall. That'll give him some good woodwork in lieu of a trestle. See the "boney" trestle at Mt. Union or the Rockhill coal dock on the EBT for inspiration.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/29/2010 5:41:22 PM
Message:

Timber-cribbed retaining walls are something I hadn't thought of, fixated as I've been on concrete made from all that furnace slag and some lime and water. Lot's of options to consider.

Today we got a couple of important "to do's" done. First we installed Don's pre-fabbed extensions to the edge of the benchwork in the blast furnace area to match the edge of the foam base jutting into the aisle. Here's a shot of how things look now:



Notice how bright this shot is? I took it without a flash because the other thing we did was rearrange the existing shop lights and add two more. I'm using "daylight" bulbs, which really brightens up the layout.

Here are a couple shots of the reconfigured lighting:





Right off the bat I noticed that the undercarriages of rolling stock are no longer hidden in dark shadows, even down at Tascott, where the ballast in the yard is dark cinder. Buchanan is bright enough to photograph without flash:



All for now ...


Reply author: chooch.42
Replied on: 09/29/2010 6:55:25 PM
Message:

Gents, the bulb and fixture modifications certainly have thrown new light on the layout - well thought out. Do you think any tone/hue changes in equipment, scenery elements or weathering may be necessitated by the change? Watching with interest. Bob C.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 09/29/2010 9:48:26 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by chooch.42

Gents, the bulb and fixture modifications certainly have thrown new light on the layout - well thought out. Do you think any tone/hue changes in equipment, scenery elements or weathering may be necessitated by the change? Watching with interest. Bob C.



Thanks for the compliments, Bob. The short answer to your question is, "no." Professional photographers might disagree, but since no such personages have ever photographed the layout, that would seem to be a moot point.[:-eyebrows]


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/23/2010 01:01:58 AM
Message:

I finally was able to get back to working on the layout for a few hours here and there over the past week ... concentrating on backdrop painting. Here are a few shots of progress -- about 5 linear feet -- as of this evening.



This is more or less the same perspective from June 2010:



The interesting thing about the real area I'm trying to depict, from a topographical perspective, is that it is on the eastern boundary of the Allegheny Mountains. To the West, as you ascend the ridge to the right, you start to see successive ridge lines, while to the East (left in these views), Path Valley is so narrow that you only see the immediately closest ridge. That is why I painted 2 - 3 successive ridges (with, in some places, 3D ridge back drops) on the right, and only a single base color for a ridge on the left in this view. There's a lot of artistic license here, because if you where actually standing at Richmond Furnace you could not see the successive ridges to the West because of the V-shape of the valley. But I wanted to give the sense of how chaotic the terrain really seems to be as you climb through Cowans Gap into what 18th-century European settlers (who probably heard it first from the Indians) called "The Endless Mountains."



There's a 3/4" foam 3D land form between the narrow gauge and the backdrop that tapers over the upper 2/3 to about 1/2" thick. In the lower 1/3 I carved shale strata using a steel file cleaning brush. The rough texture above the carved shale, caused by the sureform tool, will be covered by the puff-ball tree tops impaled on toothpicks.



By the way, the foliage in south-central Pennsylvania this mid-October was absolutely gorgeous. It was near-peak over Columbus Day weekend, and the following weekend it was absolutely glorious. These painted hillsides are, in my opinion, darned close to what I saw during the Columbus Day weekend in Path Valley. I deliberately refrained from taking too many pictures ... I will only comment that the foliage was brilliant when viewed from my prescription sunglasses, but more subdued viewed with the naked eye. These colors are from memory ... and some might have been viewed under a passing cloud, while others with the Sun unobscured at 4:00 PM ... gotta love that low October Sun!


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 10/23/2010 01:27:34 AM
Message:

Glad to see some updates Vagel! I was wondering where you have been. The backdrop is looking good!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/23/2010 06:27:29 AM
Message:

Hi, Vagel --

It's really coming along! I'm looking forward to seeing it on Wednesday.

Don


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 10/23/2010 08:48:10 AM
Message:

Outstanding backdrop! I'm a HUGE fan of "Fall in PA"...the colors are always eye-popping....great job capturing that...


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/23/2010 1:43:48 PM
Message:

Thanks for the compliments, guys. When you decide to tackle fall foliage you always have to worry about doing too little or too much. I'm glad this technique has worked out the way it has, but, MAN, does it take time!? It's better than modeling threes, though!


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 10/24/2010 06:34:02 AM
Message:

Vagel...you hit the nail on the head: possibly "overdoing" the colors. Personally, I think 50 to 60% of the tree population has to be green or a variation of green; the Pennsylvania hillsides I see (except for possibly a few days at "peak") always have more green in them than we perceive.

I've futzed with this for awhile now and tried spritzing an India ink/alcohol wash onto the vivid red, yellow and orange foliage to tone them down a little...it seems to work fairly well. Another idea I'm toying with is starting with a light green tree, then airbrushing yellow and/or red and/or orange onto the top surfaces in an attempt to replicate the turning process...


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/24/2010 8:42:14 PM
Message:

I've been working on a roll-around cabinet for Vagel that will fit under the layout and store all the rolling stock. There will be 11 drawers. Here are 10 of them. (They're clamped to the bench to make sure they stay flat while I'm working on them.)






The next step - and it will take a few days - is to glue in all the dividers. Garth came up with a good system - a pair of "combs" that locate the dividers and also serve as clamping cauls to press them firmly against the drawer bottoms. I'll glue in the dividers with West Systems marine epoxy, which will help keep the drawers flat.




Given epoxy curing time, I can do at most two drawers per day; one per day is more likely since I can't always find as much shop time as I'd like.

Once all 11 drawers are done, I'll wrap a plywood case around them. We're probably looking at three more weeks before it's finished.

Don






Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/26/2010 10:39:06 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Harsco

Personally, I think 50 to 60% of the tree population has to be green or a variation of green; the Pennsylvania hillsides I see (except for possibly a few days at "peak") always have more green in them than we perceive.

I've futzed with this for awhile now and tried spritzing an India ink/alcohol wash onto the vivid red, yellow and orange foliage to tone them down a little...it seems to work fairly well. Another idea I'm toying with is starting with a light green tree, then airbrushing yellow and/or red and/or orange onto the top surfaces in an attempt to replicate the turning process...



Always with the 'futzing'![:-mischievous]

I totally agree with your proportions ... in fact I've been observing the same mountainsides for 20+ years now and truly believe that "average" peak -- a function of annual precipitation levels, first frost, mean temperatures during late-Sep/early-Oct, presence/duration of 'Indian Summer', and arrival of late-Oct cold front w/ rain and high winds (which is happening as I write this) -- contains at least 30% light-to-medium green in the overall coloration proportion. This year, by the way, the peak in South-Central PA was especially long and especially rich in fall colors and straddled last weekend. I was privileged this year to have had occasion to be in the same areas on back to back weekends, and the Tuscarora, Sidling Hill, Broad Top Mountain, and Wrays Hill ridges were just magnificent in early morning sun as late as yesterday.

I will add, though, that the color intensity was very subdued unless one was seeing it in low morning or low afternoon sun (or through brown-tinted sun glasses). So, Rick, your toning down formula for WS puff balls is well received ... other techniques I've had success with is a dusting of Floquil "Weathering" from the spray can held about two feet away or just letting layout dust do the job. After a while, though, the dust gets too heavy, but you can re-invigorate the colors with an over-spray of 91% alcohol.

Vagel


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 10/26/2010 11:25:29 PM
Message:

Vagel et al,

I've had pretty good luck toning down garish autumn foliage with a rattle can of "rusty metal primer." This is an oxide red, and if applied as a dusting it kills the garish look.

You might try spray painting the trees with yellow first (the really cheap stuff from the Enormous Company That Shall Remain Nameless), then mist on various green, orange and red combinations to get the desired effect. Several folks with far more talent than I use this technique to get excellent results.

To my eye, at least, the so-called "spring" foliage colors also work well on autumn trees, as around here the departure of the chlorophyll causes a light green to precede the spectacular autumn color.

Good luck!

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: jbvb
Replied on: 10/27/2010 07:36:27 AM
Message:

A sugarbush (all sugar maple) that's being actively tended and underlaid by a single soil type will sometimes go all at once. I don't know if that's appropriate for your bit of Pennsylvania.


Reply author: Neil M
Replied on: 10/27/2010 08:14:57 AM
Message:

I would also suggest trying using light green foam and then dabbing it with yellow and orange paint. A lot of the trees around here are getting golden from the edges inwards. The leaves further down the trees are still green but out at the periphery they are turning, giving quite a muted effect overall


Reply author: clif
Replied on: 10/28/2010 12:13:53 AM
Message:

I noticed the same effect here in Kentucky. Trees with green leaves on the inside and yellow, orange and red leaves on the outside. Mostly hardwoods like maples.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/28/2010 5:51:11 PM
Message:

Hi, All. Over the past few days I've extended the painted mountainside around behind the blast furnace site. Here are a couple pictures of progress. I'm going for the blighted landscape look behind the blast furnace; all that Sulfur Dioxide from the beehive coke ovens (off scene) is not friendly to plant life. This is a furnace that would've been idle between 1929 and say, 1936, giving time for scrub trees and undergrowth to repopulate the mountainside, only to be stunted by when the coke ovens started up again. Wifey saw it for the first time last night and gets it ... of course, she's been living with an Environmental Historian; maybe I'll need to post interpretive signage around this layout![:-graduate] I need to go back and sponge-in a more subtle transition zone, though.




Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 10/28/2010 6:00:48 PM
Message:

Nice progress, Vagel, these forested mountains look very good.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 10/28/2010 9:45:55 PM
Message:

Interpretive signs would be good.

And don't forget the "Clean Coal My ***!" billboards.

Seriously, it looks really good.

Good news on Drawer #1 - with Garth's help, I was able to remove and salvage the dividers so they can be switched to the new spacing.

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 10/28/2010 11:02:27 PM
Message:

The backdrop looks great Vagel! Just sponge painting? And a nice hint of the fall colors. Well done!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 10/29/2010 01:32:29 AM
Message:

Thanks for the encouraging responses. Mark, to answer your question, yes, only sponges. I did cheat a bit on this section by using a brush to paint in the basic dark brown under story color, although the time I saved wound up being wasted since I ended up going back over it with a sponge later anyway. I adapted a technique that I discovered on the Backdrops thread on this particular Railroad Construction forum:

http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3884

Go to the link above and scroll to p. 3 ... look for the first of a series of posts from 2004 by Dry Fork, a guy named Rick Chase from Richmond, VA, and follow him through the next two or three pages ... he apparently dropped from the forum after only 66 posts; what a shame!?

Chase's tutorial on how to paint fall hillsides with sea sponges and acrylic tube paints and the DVD on speedy hand-carved rocks by Doug Fascale ... courtesy of Don's heads-up, are among the top five "Road to Damascus" moments in my model railroading career!

Don, by "clean coal my (xyz)," do you mean to say it ain't so, Joe? ... as in the following photo taken in Shamokin, PA (just a few miles west of Sa-mokin' Centralia) two weeks ago? ...


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/10/2010 11:51:55 PM
Message:

Well, I finally extended the painted backdrop behind the blast furnace site and past the B&SGE terminal yard site, so we can get back to installing the sub-roadbed and track work for the narrow gauge:



Meanwhile, I got re-energized in the Cowans Gap area at the end of the Buchanan Branch, starting with painted hillsides on the backdrop. There's still some touch up and 3D foliage to glue to the backdrop in this area, but it's starting to look like a scene. And, after "futzing around" with covered bridge and station locations I finally got down to cutting foam to set them in place:



The Walthers covered bridge covers the "hole in the wall" on this side. Again, it's just sitting in place for the time being; it'll be weathered before permanent installation.



The station area includes the JL Innovative Designs telegraph office, reworked as a small depot;a freight platform from AM Models; a scratch-built country store; a chicken coop; and requisite privy. No water tank here; the standpipe is fed from the CCC-built recreational lake at the state park, off scene to the right.


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 11/11/2010 09:04:38 AM
Message:

Nice work, Vagel...I really like the typical "Pennsy" backdrop....


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 11/12/2010 4:36:17 PM
Message:

Lot's of progress! Looking really good. I especially like the covered bridge that hides the hole in the wall. It does the job and looks really good!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/12/2010 8:35:57 PM
Message:

Thanks, Guys. I really had to go deep into the Google hits before I found an online hobby shop that still had a Walthers covered bridge in stock ... no way was I going to scratch build! This kit was discontinued after being available for not very long. It's a snap-fit kit that will weather up very nicely; a great background structure. Another great kit that Walthers inexplicably retired is the steel railroad water tank. Oh, you can still order the built-ups but not a kit. It makes one wonder.[:-grumpy]


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 11/12/2010 8:54:25 PM
Message:

Looks good, Vagel!

And you're right about the ready-to-eat taking over from the actual modeling. [:-grumpy] [:-yuck]

Keep the pictures coming!

Pete
on the road again, so no modeling tonight
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/13/2010 12:26:38 AM
Message:

Thanks a million, Pete, and safe travels!

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 11/24/2010 10:50:35 PM
Message:

Happy Thanksgiving, All,

Don is in NYC today to spend Thanksgiving with daughter and her financ' (he took the train, OF COURSE), but John came by to put the first coat of "mud" on the end cap of the backdrop that splits the peninsula in two; I'll post pics of that next week after the second coat and sanding/priming/painting.

The necessary "reddin' up" of the end of the peninsula to make room for John's work diverted my thought process from civil engineering to paper work. I spent the whole day making car cards for rolling stock that has been added to the layout since the last car card binge and applying vinyl lettering to two new car card holders in the Chambersburg museum/terminal area.



The above overview, which looks from RR north to south, shows the three yard tracks (1-3) and the sidings that served the former Cumberland Valley Cold Storage (A-D). Recall that I came up with the idea of a cold storage building to hide a massive hole in the wall through which pass the standard gauge on the lower level and the narrow gauge branch on the upper level. You'll have to go back through the thread to read the why and wherefore. The mainline bisects tracks A-B and C-D. Tracks A-B have been used for temporary diesel servicing, but I've recently installed a turnout at the north end of the terminal for the permanent diesel servicing tracks. So it is time to mount the final car card holders for "Cold Storage" tracks A-D.



You'll note that the use of these tracks is transitional; pre-war coaches and post-WW 2 diesel-electrics occupy tracks A-B while Track D is being used to stage a TOFC train ... all part of the evolving PRR museum operation. The 1930's re-enactors and antique vehicle collectors' were really perturbed by the presence of the anachronistic diesels in the background of their photos, but they'll just have to live with it until we get the new diesel servcing tracks laid!



Meanwhile, I also lettered the car card holder for the 3 yard tracks and the service track to the ash pit, sanding tower, and coal/diesel fuel bunkers. These holders are Don's handiwork.



At the end of the day every car now on the layout has a car card.



We'll try to get back on a regular work schedule next week. Until then, stay tuned.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 11/25/2010 07:02:28 AM
Message:

Looks good! Wish I'd been there to participate, although being in NYC isn't bad, either.

I visited Red Caboose yesterday. That is one really strange hobby shop. [:-boggled] But it doesn't seem to deter customers. The place was so busy that I wound up leaving without ever talking to the owner (and only staff on duty) about possibly buying a European prototype loco.

Looking forward to next Wednesday!

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/01/2010 9:23:59 PM
Message:

We had a short but productive work session today. John put the second coat of "mud" on the end cap of the long backdrop that bisects the peninsula, visually separating Richmond Furnace from Dry Run on the narrow gauge B&SGE's mainline.



Don has finished gluing-up the nine drawers for the under-layout rolling stock cabinet and he brought them over so we could glue the foam padding into the dividers. John grabbed his camera to take a few snapshots.



Each drawer has nine compartments that will hold the equivalent of 4 x 40' HO cars each, or 36 cars per drawer. The cabinet is more than sufficient to hold the large number of freight and passenger cars from various eras that I've been accumulating over the past couple decades.





A narrow compartment at the front of each drawer will be a convenient place to store open loads and semi-trailers. For years, now, I've been storing a bunch of dish-packing foam we bought from an upscale Container Store that my wife always loves to shop at when we're in D.C., and this project finally found a use for it. Unfortunately, it only was enough to do two drawers. I was not looking forward to spending a bunch more money to do seven more drawers. But later in the day I stopped in at our local U-Haul place [:-bulb] and bought two 40' x 12" sheets of virtually the same stuff for $4.95 a sheet! I think that just about solves THAT problem!

Before we adjourned for lunch I spent some time explaining the latest developments in my futzing around with the track arrangements in blast furnace complex.



I'm not sure how to describe the expression John captured on my face -- perhaps, "It's time to get off the dime and get this project done" would be the polite wording.[:-slug]

More next week. Until then, see you on the railroad,

Vagel


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 12/02/2010 07:23:04 AM
Message:

Nice solution to the storage problem. I need to check out our U-Haul place for that foam.

George


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 12/02/2010 11:23:07 AM
Message:

I know that expression Vagel! Isn't it more like the 'I thought I knew what I wanted, but now that I've laid it out, I'm not sure' look?


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 12/02/2010 12:16:01 PM
Message:

I have an expression just like that one. It's my "I know I was going to do something here, but what was it?" expression. I'm not real proud of it. [:-banghead]

Very nice solution to the storage issue, Don, and Vagel, I really like the way this is coming together.

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/02/2010 5:27:33 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Vagel tells me we have a problem with that dish-packing foam. Ordinary white glue (Elmers) doesn't form a strong enough bond. He said it's holding about like a Post-It note. We'll have to come up with something better. A hot glue gun would almost certainly work but probably lead to a lot of yelping and swearing.

I'm hoping Weldbond will hold better than Elmers. Gorilla Glue is another possibility. And there's a new white glue from Loctite that is pretty impressive.

I'm glad he found the problem before we did all 11 drawers. [:-bigeyes2] And I think the strips that we installed with Elmers will be re-usable.

I think the roll-around cabinet will work out well for Vagel's purposes. I'm going to use the rigs and jigs to make a couple of much smaller drawers (same width but only 18" deep) that will mount to the underside of my hallway layout to handle my rolling stock storage.

Don


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 12/02/2010 5:36:42 PM
Message:

Don,

Would a latex adhesive/caulk work better than glue for this? Seems to me that a bead of it and a putty knife would suffice to get a good bond across the board. You might have to ensure that the edges have bonded, but you'd have to do that anyway.

Pete
in MIchigan


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/02/2010 8:19:38 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17

Don,

Would a latex adhesive/caulk work better than glue for this? Seems to me that a bead of it and a putty knife would suffice to get a good bond across the board. You might have to ensure that the edges have bonded, but you'd have to do that anyway.

Pete
in MIchigan



Another good possibility.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/02/2010 8:50:07 PM
Message:

Hey! I'll try some Liquid Nails and let yinz know.


Reply author: brian budeit
Replied on: 12/04/2010 11:39:31 AM
Message:

Vagel, Don,

some double sided tape might do the trick, and neater than glue. Sure beats my old kit boxes full of tissues.

brian b


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/08/2010 9:12:30 PM
Message:

We added the foam to a bunch of drawers today, using latex caulk. If it's all lying on the floor in the morning, I expect I'll be able to hear Vagel clear across the city. Let's hope it holds good and tight.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/09/2010 4:18:57 PM
Message:

We continued with layout carpentry in yesterday's work session. Don and I glued foam padding in six of the eleven drawers for the rolling stock cabinet. Pete, when I checked today your latex caulk suggestion turned out to be good -- everything held.



John sanded the rough edges from the joint compound he had spread on the backdrop end cap last week, while I held the vacuum hose to keep down the dust ... worked pretty well. There are a couple of small areas where John had to apply more mud, but it looks pretty good with those exceptions.



Here's a shot of John getting ready to put the last coat of joint compound on the backdrop end cap, with Don measuring and cutting the strips of foam for the drawers:






Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 12/09/2010 4:47:02 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

We continued with layout carpentry in yesterday's work session. Don and I glued foam padding in six of the eleven drawers for the rolling stock cabinet. Pete, when I checked today your latex caulk suggestion turned out to be good -- everything held.



...thereby proving that I can get it "right" once in awhile!

Glad to know it worked. The double-sided tape gig might work as well, but the caulk should hold long enough for your great-grandkids to get some use out of it. [:-thumbu]

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/09/2010 9:04:32 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17

... the caulk should hold long enough for your great-grandkids to get some use out of it. [:-thumbu]


That would be "great-grandcats" ...


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 12/09/2010 10:38:49 PM
Message:

Them too! But add in a few more "greats."

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/18/2010 12:12:01 AM
Message:

After long procrastination I finally got the Walthers "modern" roundhouse out of the box and over the past several days painted and assembled the outer walls. This evening they were finally ready for erection around the base that has occupied the locomotive terminal for more than a year.



Painting is what takes so much time; first I spray paint the outer walls flat black and allow it to dry then spray paint the interior walls with gray primer, a nice institutional interior color. Let that set overnight, then come back and brush paint the outer walls with a light gray, starting with a wet brush and continuing to use that brush until I'm dry brushing ... the goal is to have an uneven covering, with the mortar lines in some areas filled in with gray and in others just lightening the black. Finally, I dry brush the outer walls with brick colors, mixing a crimson and a cinnamon apple acrylic colors to get a varied coloration. Also, with this kit I had to hand-paint all those little buttress caps in addition to the foundation line and the windowsills, which was not a stress relieving exercise! [:-drunk]



This is a well-engineered kit, although there was some flash inside the window pane openings on one of the sprues. But I like the concept of using separate inner and outer walls, each with brick and window sill detail, to sandwich the windows and the clear glazing, making for a more finished appearance. In the older style roundhouse, which I used next door, the walls are one piece, with a smooth interior and a much thicker clear glazing protruding into the interior.



Right now, with so many projects to complete, I'm just trying to get the major structures built and installed on the layout. In the future, I hope to be able to at least install interior lighting in biggies, like these roundhouses. The interior of the "modern" roundhouse lends itself much more to adding details than the older style.

"Why mix styles?," you may ask. First, from a practical standpoint, I only needed long stalls for three locomotives. Second, mixing styles creates an illusion of history for the site; there's an older 6-stall roundhouse; then, when longer wheelbase steamers and/or longer tenders came along, there's a need for bigger stalls. Rather than build an entirely new roundhouse, the railroad built new stalls to a design common for the era. The same thing happened at Chambersburg. When the Cumberland Valley bought 2-8-0 locomotives ca. 1900 they were too long for the roundhouse that was built to house 4-4-0 and 2-6-0 engines, so the railroad added several larger stalls built to a more modern design (actually similar to the "older" roundhouse on my model railroad) to one end of the mid-19th century structure that had served the railroad since the Civil War. Today, the earlier roundhouse is long gone, but the "new" stalls still stand, used by a local produce market.

I'll post pictures of the finished product when I can get to it.

Vagel


Reply author: chooch.42
Replied on: 12/18/2010 12:29:20 AM
Message:

Vagel, really like your thought and execution on the roundhouse facility. Your point about the "history" effect caught me, as that was my impression before reading your caption. Thanks for including such insights...more "notes to self..." Bob C.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/18/2010 11:39:59 AM
Message:

Your painting method produces really good looking results. Since I'll be using some plastic buildings on the rail-marine layout, I'm interested.

Maybe we can get Bill Sartore to help light the interiors. You reading this, Bill?

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/18/2010 4:03:13 PM
Message:

Thanks, guys. Don, the black, then gray, then dry brushing is a quick and dirty way to do realistic brick walls on large multi-story buildings. On the 6-stall roundhouse I also selectively painted individual bricks or small clumps of bricks in contrasting colors, and in other places other places I brushed gray Bragdon powder over patches of brick work and wiped it off, leaving the powder in the mortar lines. These additions really look great close up.


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 12/18/2010 8:21:17 PM
Message:

Looking really good Vagel! Personally, I like the mixed styles. A friend of ours here has a rather large engine facility with three different structures around the turntable and I really like it. All three structures are different, yet complement each other, giving the complex that growing feeling.


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 12/18/2010 11:23:23 PM
Message:

Vagel,

This is coming along very nicely! Congratulations!

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/19/2010 10:50:48 PM
Message:

Thanks, again ...

Just like a barn raising, once the walls are up, it's not much longer 'til the roof's on, and the same can be said for the roundhouse. The door frames and celestory window panels fell into place without much difficulty, and now the three steam engines with the big tender behinds ... I mean tenders behind ... have a key Pavlovian element: shelter. Here they are hanging out for the railfans, but there's plenty of room under cover:



A few overview shots of the completed complex:







Notice with the larger window area, you have a fairly clear view of the interior from "street level." Arrrgh! There be keystones:



Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 12/20/2010 09:51:39 AM
Message:

Vagel,

Those roundhouses make a huge difference to the scene, now it really looks like an impressive facility. When the smaler structures are added, it will look even better.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/20/2010 12:41:39 PM
Message:

Thanks, Ron. In the interest of full disclosure, those unfinished storefronts behind the roundhouse, like the antique cars beside them, are there because they are homeless until the narrow gauge proceeds around the far side of the layout. That space will be occupied by one of the two steel water tanks I've stockpiled for water service in the terminal.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/20/2010 5:18:46 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

Arrrgh! There be keystones:






Aye, matey! [:-pirate]

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 12/20/2010 6:48:31 PM
Message:

The two different roundhouses give a great scene, Vagel. Surely they want lots of smaller facilities to feel more cozy...


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 12/21/2010 06:39:08 AM
Message:

Very nice, Vagel..."visual history" works well.


Reply author: dnhman
Replied on: 12/21/2010 10:08:21 AM
Message:

Progress Vagel Progress,, that's what counts,,along with some willing help,.
Nice job on the roundhouse..


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/21/2010 11:17:54 AM
Message:

Thanks, guys. Frederick, on the Pennsy, cozy don't enter into it![:-snooty] Seriously, though, it would neat to tuck a small street corner scene representing a fragment of a working class neighborhood abutting the railroad yard. But with a steel water tank slated for that piece of real estate in the very near future, those store fronts are gonna hafta move. There a a number of spots in the engine servicing areas and elsewhere that need some small line side structures -- tool sheds, pumphouses, yard office. They'll come along in time.

Joe, you're right about Progress ... it seems to come slower these days, though. Right now I'm futzing (Jeez, I thought I was the only person who ever used that word, Rick!) with the diesel servicing area and a "Chambersburg North" yard for partially visible staging.


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 12/21/2010 5:59:43 PM
Message:

Well Vagel, your certainly making more progress on your layout than I am these days. [:-boggled] With the holidays approaching, long working hours and everything else life has to throw into the mix, I haven't been downstairs in a few weeks! So I am jealous! Looks good though.


Reply author: Dutchman
Replied on: 12/21/2010 6:11:07 PM
Message:

Vagel,

I'm once again getting caught up on the thread. Hopefully the arrival of winter will give me more time on the forum.

I like what you've done with the two roundhouse versions. It gives the impression of expansion of the facilities over time.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/21/2010 11:21:51 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

Well Vagel, your certainly making more progress on your layout than I am these days. [:-boggled] With the holidays approaching, long working hours and everything else life has to throw into the mix, I haven't been downstairs in a few weeks! So I am jealous! Looks good though.



Hey, Mark, don't sell yourself short ... you got trains running this year; that's a major milestone.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/25/2010 3:13:31 PM
Message:

We met at Don's shop for our Wednesday work session to finish lining the drawers for the rolling stock cabinet and attach the oak rails for the slides. With help from Mark Neitznick, a fellow member of our HOn3 modular group, we had a quasi assembly line and were done in a few hours. Here's the stack ready for the cabinet:



Meanwhile, I'm continuing to work on structures to flesh out the steam and diesel servicing facilities at the "museum." While studying crestlineprr.com, a website owned by Bill Ayers and dedicated to the PRR's roundhouse in Crestline, OH, the water tank that supplied water to the powerhouse boilers caught my eye because of its squat appearance being so close to the ground:



Even though I don't have room for a powerhouse behind the roundhouse, I think it looks neat tucked in that corner, and having such a corner where the T1's extended stall juts out created just the place. So, I took one of those Walthers steel tanks I mentioned earlier and cut it down to size:



It's not the same design, so it's a facsimile rather than a duplicate. The left over parts for the riser and legs will get spliced into the other water tank kit to make it taller.

There are two possible sites for the thing. Originally I was going to put it behind the old roundhouse, displacing those store fronts. But it turned out that the foot print for the tank isn't as big as I thought, and comments about those smaller buildings got me to thinking about reorienting the scene something like this:



The other potential site is visually closer to the real orientation, which has the added plus of representing a real scene that, unfortunately, no longer exists since the demolition of the derelict Crestline roundhouse during 2007 - 08.



Of course, it's not in the same historical context (there's no power house), but it's reminiscent. I'm leaning toward this version.

Merry Christmas, everybody!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/25/2010 5:05:04 PM
Message:

FWIW, I like v.2 and I also like your idea of creating a hint of a neighborhood behind the roundhouses.

The tank looks really good!

Merry Christmas, y'all! I'm off to a Tapas Bar for Christmas dinner. Should be fun.

Don


Reply author: Neil M
Replied on: 12/25/2010 6:00:30 PM
Message:

Personally I prefer the layout in your second example picture as I like the look of the water tank nestled next to the newer roundhouse rather than it sitting behind the older roundhouse.

I also like the hint of a town next to the roundhouse complex


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/29/2010 10:34:37 PM
Message:

Neil and Don,

Your preference jibes withe everyone who has seen it in person.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/30/2010 05:58:16 AM
Message:

I still like the idea of building a partial boiler house, right at the edge of the layout, open on the aisle side, with a visible interior. Someday. After I finish a couple of other things.

Don


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 12/31/2010 5:54:00 PM
Message:

Vagel,

I'm in the v.2 pool with Don and the others. New tank, new roundhouse, include "da 'hood" behind old roundhouse. Looks great!

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 12/31/2010 6:58:45 PM
Message:

Happy New Year, Pete (and all y'all)!

Don


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 12/31/2010 7:58:34 PM
Message:

And a very Happy New Year to you, too, Don, to Vagel and to all y'all on the Forums!

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 12/31/2010 8:33:56 PM
Message:

Can't let the old year go without a state of the layout series, especially since I just sent Don my secret plans for the first quarter of the new year, aimed at having an operational layout -- that is to say, car cards, waybills, and train orders -- in time for the NMRA MCR Div. 2 Jamboree layout open house in April.

Starting in the recently familiar museum terminal, with to-be hidden HOn3 track against the backdrop coming down from the end of the Buchanan Branch off scene in the kitchen at left ...



... moving clockwise around the corner and looking back at the area where the narrow gauge mainline will end at a wye and tie in to the aforementioned hidden HOn3 track to provide continuous running over top of the standard gauge, which will be under the scenery at this point, temporarily occupied by one of my HOn3 FreeMO module sections ...



... looking from the narrow gauge wye past the future site of Dry Run, which will be over top of the hidden standard gauge in this area, to the end of the peninsula where will be located another town on the narrow gauge, Springtown ...



... from the end of the peninsula, looking from Springtown down both sides of the backdrop (we finally got the end cap sanded and painted this week) ...



... to a close-up of the blast furnace complex on the lower level and the area where the dual-gauge interchange will be on the upper level ...



... and looking back toward the other side of the aisle at Tascott on the lower level and Buchanan on the narrow gauge branch, upper level (note: UFO hovering above the ore prep plant/tipple) ...



... with a closer view of Buchanan ...



... then around the corner to to the right into the kitchen and Cowans Gap ...



... and back to the beginning at the museum yard ...



Here's hoping for another great year on the Blacklog & Shade Gap Eastern and many more to come. Happy New Year, everyone.

Vagel


Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 12/31/2010 10:03:55 PM
Message:

Happy New Year Vagel, Hard to believe you accomplished so much in one year. Here is to 2011 being as productive.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/01/2011 07:37:16 AM
Message:

Thanks for the overview, Vagel. When I'm there, I usually have my nose so close to what I'm doing that I never get a good look at the layout.

Your list of projects for first quarter 2011 sounds fun and quite do-able.

Line of troopers boot to boot! Chaaaaaarge!!!

Don


Reply author: Carrie Creek
Replied on: 01/01/2011 12:44:59 PM
Message:

Vagel, Don,
Looking realy great. You two are working real well together, making great progress. Wish I could say the same.


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 01/01/2011 1:14:50 PM
Message:

Vagel and all: A great a properous new year to one and all. The RR is looking great. Hope I get a chance to operate on it one day, maybe later this year.

DM


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 01/01/2011 4:15:35 PM
Message:

Happy New Year Vagel! That's a great overview of your layout showing all of the progress that you have made. I just went back to the beginning of your thread to see when you started and wow, you have really come a long way in a short period of time. Great job! The layout looks great.


Reply author: Mike Hamer
Replied on: 01/01/2011 4:38:44 PM
Message:

Yes, Happy New Year, Vagel. It has been so much fun following this thread over the past year. Here's to many more postings in the new year!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/06/2011 8:56:47 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

We had a nice, productive day Wednesday. I'll leave the main body of work to Vagel to describe and just show a couple of pictures of a project I'm working on.

Vagel wanted a box to hold the DCC components (command station and power supply, mainly) in the layout room, but - it also had to serve as a traveling case since the same DCC system goes on the road when we take our modules to narrow minded events like Midwest NG.

Vagel's father was, among other things, a telegraph operator, and he came up with idea of making the box to kinda/sorta resemble the resonator boxes that were used to amplify the clicks from a telegraph sounder.

As I think I described earlier in this thread, I got Garth to let me have all the smaller cherry scrap from the offcuts rack. I made boards by gluing it back together. Then I used a biscuit joiner to assemble the boards into a box about 11" on a side.

Here's a picture of the box:




I put on two coats of polyurethane before cutting it diagonally into two parts - mostly to postpone the rather scary business of making the cut and maybe wasting a lot of work.

Fortunately, the surgery went well. I made the cut on Garth's big bandsaw, with an auxiliary fence to guide the piece along the fence at an angle. Here are some pictures of the pieces:

Right after making the cut:



And a couple more:







I'll hinge the two parts together with lift-off hinges so they can be separated. There will be a french cleat on the back of the half that holds the DCC components so it can hang under the layout or under a module. I'll put some hooks or cleats in the other half to store cords, throttles, etc.

With solid brass hardware and two or three more coats of poly it shouild be a nice looking piece. It will look even nicer as the cherry naturally ages. (I didn't stain it.)

Don


Reply author: chooch.42
Replied on: 01/06/2011 9:26:35 PM
Message:

Don, Neat idea and elegant design and execution...the Cherry will be beautiful! I'm sure Vagel appreciates having so talented and skilled an comrade.


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 01/06/2011 9:32:50 PM
Message:

Don,

I'm awed! [:-bigeyes]

They're gorgeous!

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/06/2011 9:36:40 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by chooch.42

I'm sure Vagel appreciates having so talented and skilled an comrade.

"Truer words were never spoken."

I'll post a few pictures from yesterday later, but I just gotta say, "Don, that is just a beautiful thing!" You'll get to see it in person at the Mid-West NG Show, Pete.

Given this box's mundane function, I'm reminded of the outhouse my Dad's youngest brother built when he decided to move out of the town of Shenandoah into a more rural part of PA's anthracite region. He built his house and garage from scratch by himself during his time off. First, though, since he was going to be spending lots of time in the woods far from any facilities, he built an outhouse. It was cinder block, painted antique green, and had a pitched roof w/ white soffit and fascia and brown asphalt shingles. There was a light above the door outside and inside it had a concrete floor with outdoor carpeting, wainscoating and paneling, and electric light, heater, and exhaust fan. It had a flush toilet. One of his old neighbors came by to "help" one day and, having come directly from drinkin' kortz down da E. Lloyd Street Sportmen's Club, had to answer the call of Nature. A while later the amazed coal cracker came back down the hill, and exclaimed, "Jeebers Pelts, Paul. Datz da nicest privy in Schuylkill County!"


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 01/06/2011 10:31:01 PM
Message:

Thatís a clever design for holding your DCC components. Yunz do good work.[:-thumbu]

George


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 01/07/2011 03:05:08 AM
Message:

Don, this diagonal cut shows you're a daring man. And its neatness shows you're a craftsman.
I had missed the last progress on the layout. It's really taking shape very nicely.


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 01/07/2011 08:09:15 AM
Message:

Don, that is without a doubt, the nicest looking DCC shelf/container I have ever seen! I don't know, if I were Vagel, I'd be concerned that all of your woodworking additions to the layout room might steal the show! People won't know what to admire more - the layout or the DCC shelf and various other projects you have contributed for 'under the layout'!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/07/2011 08:54:44 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

Thanks for all the kind words - much appreciated.

In keeping with Vagel's story about the privy, maybe I should cut a half-moon opening in the lid of the DCC components box. That would be a nice touch!

Off to the shop.

Don


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 01/08/2011 09:01:08 AM
Message:

Let me get this straight: a "furniture quality" box ....in cherry......for the DCC controls? I have GOT to lure you guys to South Jersey! (PS: bring your table saw too)


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 01/08/2011 09:25:57 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Harsco

Let me get this straight: a "furniture quality" box ....in cherry......for the DCC controls? I have GOT to lure you guys to South Jersey! (PS: bring your table saw too)



As Pogo would say, "My sentiments perzactically." And we have nice fresh air in the midwest, and daylight stays longer than it does in South Jersey, so... "go west, young man!"

Oh. I have plenty of five-quarter, rough cut, aged cherry for raw material. Cut it right on the property years ago....

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/08/2011 1:38:27 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Harsco

Let me get this straight: a "furniture quality" box ....in cherry......for the DCC controls?


They're not just DCC controls, Rick. They're NARROW GAUGE DCC controls; there's a huge difference.[:-snooty] I drew the line when Don suggested a cherry veneer sheathing for the command station and power supply!

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/08/2011 4:49:43 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

quote:
Originally posted by Harsco

Let me get this straight: a "furniture quality" box ....in cherry......for the DCC controls?


They're not just DCC controls, Rick. They're NARROW GAUGE DCC controls; there's a huge difference.[:-snooty] I drew the line when Don suggested a cherry veneer sheathing for the command station and power supply!

Vagel



I think that boring old Digitrax command station would look a LOT nicer if it were done in cherry veneer. And we could do the power supply in flame burl. [:-crazy]

I got three coats of finish on the inside of the box, so that's done. Got tired of sanding out tiny sags (no matter how carefully I tipped off, I still got little sags) so I'm doing the remaining coats on the outside with a wiping finish.

Wait'll you see the nautical tie down fittings to hold the command station and power supply...

Don


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 01/08/2011 7:57:27 PM
Message:

I can't wait to see this!


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/12/2011 10:42:03 PM
Message:

Today's work session built on last week's, which focused on the area where the modeled portion of the B&SGE narrow gauge ends in a wye junction over-top of the standard gauge as it emerges from hidden trackage at the north end of Chambersburg yard.

Last week, Don and I measured and cut the foam board base for the diesel ready tracks and staging tracks in "north Chambersburg." Today we prepared for installing it by adding a couple of supports for the narrow gauge sub-roadbed that will go above it ...



... and, after John arrived, installing a series of 1x6 supports and ledgers [Edit: Oops, I mean 1x2's ripped from 1x6's; it's becoming impossible to find reasonably straight 1x2's at "you know who."] to support the foam board. Here is the north Chambersburg base installed:



The two risers protruding above the foam board are to support the sub-roadbed for the narrow gauge. The diesel ready tracks, foreground, and three staging tracks (green arrows) will extend under the narrow gauge, which we started to rough in with our CADboard. I'll probably hide the "hole" with a long road viaduct and a low-profile backdrop:





Finally, here's a "bird's eye" view of the layout for the B&SGE wye, leading to the Dry Run yard to the right. Dry Run is where another fictitious narrow gauge railroad, the Cumberland and Susquehanna (C&S), being built by Deane "EBTNut" Mellander, crosses the B&SGE. Coal for the coke ovens at Richmond Furnace comes off the C&S there (it's a real challenge, since Deane works in On3). The stub end of the wye is the remnant of the Tuscarora Valley RR, a real line that was abandoned in 1934.



That's all for now, but I'll be working on north Chambersburg between now and next Wednesday ... or Don, who has been driving by to see if the lights are on at night will bust my chops.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/13/2011 06:35:41 AM
Message:

Yeah, I drove by at 10 PM and the lights weren't on in the layout room so I drove on muttering "slacker..." Just kidding. Vagel puts in tons of hours on days other than Wednesdays. That's why the rr is moving along so quickly.

It's fun seeing more benchwork coming together. You may recall, before Vagel really started on Phase II, we had a temporary continuous loop for the narrow gauge, which we had to remove. It's nice to see us getting close to having a complete loop again.

The solid brass lift-off hinges for the DCC components box arrived - must chop mortises and get them installed. This is going to be interesting as they're going on a surface that is cut at about a 45 degree angle. I'll post some pictures. The rolling stock cabinet is also moving along.

Bill Sartore (Slimjerkins) came by on Wednesday and joined us for lunch - a nice addition to the day.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/14/2011 3:47:02 PM
Message:

The solid brass lift off hinges arrived and I've started chopping the mortises. A bit scary as I don't want to mess up what I've done and I'm out of practice at this sort of chisel work.

Here are some pictures:





Here I'm futzing around, trying to figure out if the hinges will fit on the angled edge:





One essential for this sort of work is a very sharp chisel. Here's a chisel sitting on a leather strop that's charged with Green (6000 grit) rouge. You probably can't see it in the picture but the micro-bevel on the chisel is mirror-like.





Here's I'm checking the fit of a hinge in the mortise. The work isn't as nice as I wish it was. Oh, well - two done and two more to go and I'm improving with practice.





I need to spend some more of Vagel's money on a nice latch and a handle.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/14/2011 9:36:12 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA


I need to spend some more of Vagel's money on a nice latch and a handle.



Most guys have high maintenance wives; I have Don! Oh, well. It was either a this or upgrade to duplex wireless ... [:-boggled]

Seriously, though, this is just one more thing that Don has contributed to the layout that makes it special. His control panels, made out of much more mundane materials than this beautiful cherry box, have attracted a lot of favorable comments. I just wanted something along those lines for this box, but Don decided to "make a statement." Who am I to get in his way!?[:-bouncy]


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 01/14/2011 10:35:41 PM
Message:

That thing looks like a piece of fine furniture! Vagel, I think Don's woodworking will steal the show!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/15/2011 07:04:58 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

That thing looks like a piece of fine furniture! Vagel, I think Don's woodworking will steal the show!



Nah, it's going to be hanging on a leg, under the layout. But we'll get to show it off when we take it to the Midwest NG Show.

Need to make the french cleats. I wonder if Garth has some Zebrawood scrap.

Don


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 01/15/2011 10:02:39 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

That thing looks like a piece of fine furniture! Vagel, I think Don's woodworking will steal the show!



Nah, it's going to be hanging on a leg, under the layout. But we'll get to show it off when we take it to the Midwest NG Show.



You might want to hire a security detail for that box. I know several folks who would love to... errrr ... "see" it.

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/15/2011 4:56:45 PM
Message:

Pete, I'm sure all those narrow-gauge people are totally honest and trust-worthy. Especially the ex-anchor-clankers.

I've been switching back and forth between the bedroom layout, and Vagel's two projects. I got the last two mortises chopped and managed to artfully hide my screwups with sanding and additional finish:





I'd like to install the hinges. But they don't come with screws. And as Garth warned me was likely to be true, they use a # FIVE screw. Who keeps #5 brass screws around??? So installing them will have to wait until Monday when Fastenal or Rockler is open.

The rolling stock cabinet passed the "proof of concept" stage. Even though I had laid it out with story sticks, I was still really worried that when I put it together, there would be something horribly wrong and the drawers wouldn't fit. I dry assembled the carcase (many screws, no glue) and, oh boy, oh boy, the drawers fitted! (Well, almost - there were some minor tweaks needed, but nothing scary.) Here are some pictures:









There's a good bit still to do. I need to take it apart, add the "other half" of the oak drawer supports (another 22 pieces, each held with 4 screws), sand all the visible sides, make the skids that it will sit on, and apply polyurethane.

I think I'll apply finish while it's disassembled - easier to avoid runs if everything is horizontal. I just have to remember to keep finish off the gluing surfaces.

It might actually be finished sometime soon.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/16/2011 12:31:36 PM
Message:

Looks great, Don![:-jump2]


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 01/16/2011 2:15:33 PM
Message:

Don,

That stack is magnificent! What, pray tell, are the dimensions of the completed unit and the individual drawers?

Pete
dreamin' big
in Michigan


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/16/2011 6:35:23 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17

Don,

That stack is magnificent! What, pray tell, are the dimensions of the completed unit and the individual drawers?

Pete
dreamin' big
in Michigan

Hi, Pete --

Vagel and I finished up a busy day by zipping over to home depot to buy a sheet of luan for the cabinet back. (We got them to do the breakdown cuts so we could carry it in a Forester.) I dropped it in the shop and locked up before checking e-mail and I don't want to answer your question from memory. I'll give you the exact numbers tomorrow morning.

Half the emergency vehicles in the city - pumpers, ladders, towers, ambulances, cops - have gone flying past my place in the last 15 minutes. Must be a big emergency out east of here. It's one of those days when I wish I owned a scanner.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/17/2011 9:07:22 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

For Pete (and anyone else who is interested), here are the measurements on the rolling stock cabinet:

Drawers - 24" wide outside, 22-1/2" inside; 24" outside depth, 22-1/2" inside depth; height is about 2-3/4" BTW, the width and depth are actually just a skosh less than the stated dimensions, by half a saw kerf. I wanted to be able to get 8 drawer bottoms out of a 4' x 8' sheet so I shrank everything a tiny bit.

The case is 26-1/4" wide, 24" deep, and 34" high. The final height will be a bit more because I'm putting a couple of skids and Teflon glides under it.

I just got the first coat of poly on the 4 sides plus the final coat on the edges of the fronts of the drawers. All those pieces parts pretty much fill the shop so I do that sort of thing after Garth has gone home for the day.

Closing in on completion. [:-bouncy]

Don


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 01/17/2011 10:07:52 PM
Message:

Thanks, Don!

It's been said before, and it bears repeating -- those drawers are gorgeous!

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/17/2011 11:23:27 PM
Message:

Don's DCC storage box and rolling stock chest-of-drawers projects coming to closure in the very near future, beautiful as they are, also serve the very practical purpose of meeting our goal to have the entire planned layout operational, both from an electronic and a practical standpoint, in time for the next annual open house for the April 2011 NMRA MCR Div. 2 Jamboree. I am looking forward to showing off (or, rather, having Don show off) these wonderful wood working projects as part of the "whole layout" story.

We seem to be on schedule, as of right now, to have the standard gauge trackage completed and the narrow gauge mainline in service with yards and sidings partially installed by then. The goal we set for ourselves by the end of January was to have the diesel ready tracks and staging completed "north" of the Chambersburg roundhouse. Since we got the foam board base installed last Wednesday, I re-thought the original plan and decided to go with curved turnouts leading from the standard gauge main into three staging tracks, shown below in red. This actually results in an easing of the curvature on the main, which will essentially follow the very broad curvature of the backdrop. The three staging tracks total about 14' of staging, sufficient for 1930's-era branch line trains to serve the blast furnace operation and interchange with the narrow gauge.



I laid in a stock of flex track to complete this project and have plenty left for the blast furnace complex and hope to have the necessary turnouts on hand by next week. While putzing around the room, I've been painting some bare plywood work surfaces, including a coat of white primer at the future Dry Run site ...



... the last large surface where I can work on large projects like the Walthers rolling mill, which I'm slightly compressing to hide the power control panel at the roundhouse:



Lot's more to do on this structure, but it's nice to finally get this thing out of the box after 15 years (yep, it's been that long since "The Works" was a subscription release from our friends in Milwaukee!). And, yes, I miss Dean ...



More after our work session on Wednesday.

Vagel


Reply author: slimjerkins
Replied on: 01/18/2011 06:18:35 AM
Message:

Hey Vagel

Thanks for not kicking me out last week. Having seen this all first hand with my own eyeballs puts it into a different perspective. I'm looking forward to meeting up with you and the clan again. How about pizza delivered next time? That way I can spend more time checking out the layout.

-slim


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/18/2011 1:38:06 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by slimjerkins

How about pizza delivered next time? That way I can spend more time checking out the layout.


Glad you could come, and you're always welcome, Slim. We kinda like the 'eating out' tradition, though; it let's us say, "Let's quit and go to lunch." Plus, we like to keep the food products in the layout room limited to ginger snaps and cookies.

Quick update for Wednesday:

We got the roadbed reconfigured for the short staging tracks in "north Chambersburg" today ...



... and this evening Don drop by with the rolling stock cabinet:



After Don left, I transferred the hopper fleet from the old storage box to its new home. Thank you, Don!!!


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 01/19/2011 9:28:39 PM
Message:

I'm jealous. [:-bigeyes]

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/20/2011 12:19:32 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17

I'm jealous. [:-bigeyes]


And I'm blessed.[:-angel]


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 01/20/2011 08:02:56 AM
Message:

I like that cabinet. Storing cars with their car cards sure makes setting up for operations easy.

George


Reply author: Dutchman
Replied on: 01/20/2011 08:37:32 AM
Message:

I'm just getting caught up again, Vagel. Your "State of the Layout" posting was very helpful in that regard.

Don, your wood creations are most impressive. A true craftsman.


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 01/20/2011 11:00:08 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17

I'm jealous. [:-bigeyes]


And I'm blessed.[:-angel]



You are indeed!

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/20/2011 11:03:10 AM
Message:

Thanks, Guys. Moving those hoppers last night made me realize that Don's chest of drawers frees about 5 cubic feet of space occupied by two foot locker-size storage boxes in the closet. That is more than enough to hold "stuff" that clutters about half of my work table. As Don says, we've "committed an act of neatness."


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/20/2011 12:58:03 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

As Don says, we've "committed an act of neatness."



Oops!

Don


Reply author: elwoodblues
Replied on: 01/20/2011 1:48:34 PM
Message:

Wow Vagel,

With the latest pieces Don has made for you, you have better looking furnature in your yayout room than some of us have in our own homes. [:-bigeyes]

The rolling stock caninet is a work of art and looks great. Do the drawers slide out by friction or are there metal drawer skided attached to them?


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/20/2011 7:32:11 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by elwoodblues

The rolling stock cabinet is a work of art and looks great. Do the drawers slide out by friction or are there metal drawer skided attached to them?


Each drawer has a pair of oak rails glued and screwed to the sides, and these fit between two oak guide rails mounted on the inside of the cabinet. There are no stops, so we have to take care not to pull them out too far, but it allows us to pull an entire drawer out and take it to any location on the layout for "uploading" or "downloading" cars at, say, North Chambersburg or Tascott. I'm leaving the last 2 of the 9 rows in each of the 11 drawers empty as a warning that "the end is near." The alternative of using metal slides to allow use of the entire drawer was a real budget- buster.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/27/2011 12:59:27 AM
Message:

A lot of progress to report today, but in a small territory.

Don installed his now-famous (and, if Pete, aka Orionvp17, is to be believed, Pink Pantheresque) DCC system storage unit at the end of the alcove today.



Don has some more work to do on the location of the hinges, which involves some complex wood-working tasks that are better left to him to photograph and describe. Suffice to say, wifey Debbie inspected Don's handiwork this evening and rendered the following verdict: "Ooooh! Aaaaah!" We're contemplating a parting of the under-layout curtain at this point with strategically located spot floods and perhaps a Tsunami decoder playing the Alleluia Chorus, or, better yet, Copland's "Fanfare For the Common Man."

Meanwhile, on the other side of the backdrop, John and I installed the re-configured standard gauge mainline and curved turnouts leading to the North Chambersburg staging tracks. After the guys left, I finished installing the staging tracks and gluing them down with 2x3's for weights.





Next, we'll get the diesel ready tracks down and move on to the narrow gauge above. C'ya on the railroad.

Vagel


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 01/27/2011 06:55:11 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller



We're contemplating a parting of the under-layout curtain at this point with strategically located spot floods and perhaps a Tsunami decoder playing the Alleluia Chorus, or, better yet, Copland's "Fanfare For the Common Man."
staging tracks and gluing them down with 2x3's for weights.




Or you could just rip up some track and mount it on top of the layout.

What glue do you use to fasten down the track?

George


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/27/2011 08:59:49 AM
Message:

It's really exciting to see how quickly the benchwork and track is getting done!

Soon we'll be able to cut the plywood for the "upper deck". (Vagel has already done the CAD-board for it.) Then he'll be able to move ahead with "closing the loop" of track.

Anyone know a source for HO scale gold spikes? (Hmmm....I'll bet Megan, our jeweler-in-residence, could produce something suitable.)

[:-bouncy]

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/27/2011 10:26:31 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by George D

What glue do you use to fasten down the track?


I used the same adhesive we use for gluing foam board sheets, dabbed onto the roadbed and spread very thin with a putty knife. It's a product of the Locktite folks, which seems to have replaced the old LIquid Nails for Projects on the market.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/28/2011 08:25:37 AM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

As regards the infamously silly box for holding and transporting DCC components:

As Vagel mentioned, I ran into some really frustrating problems trying to mount those solid brass lift-off hinges on a sloped surface.

After several attempts - all involving:
- drilling tiny precisely positioned holes;
- driving (and destroying) lots of expensive little brass screws;
- finding that the lid didn't fit perfectly;
- removing the screws; drilling out the screw holes and gluing in tiny dowels so I could drill them again;
- reinstalling the lid and finding it still didn't fit worth crap...[:-banghead][:-banghead]

I came pretty close to sawing the whole [:-censored] into fire wood.

So I decided to just forget about the lid for a while. It won't be needed until we're ready to go to the Midwest NG Show - until then, Vagel just needs the part that hangs under the layout, which you saw in the latest pictures.

So I cut a plywood mounting board, put some finish on it (hey, you need to make sure the underside of the layout looks nice) and added the french cleats. I also salvaged a bunch of walnut "timbers" from Garth's scrap to make little corrals to hold the components in place. All that work went fine.

For a couple of weeks it can just hang under the layout while I work on getting all the buses brought to a terminal strip on the mounting board and other wiring chores.

I think I've figured out how to solve the problem and I'll go back to work on it in a week or two - when I'm feeling less murderous toward small brass hinges.

Don


Reply author: HobbyDr
Replied on: 01/29/2011 06:43:06 AM
Message:

Don, regarding those brass screws, here's a trick I read about. Get a zinc screw the same size and use it to 'tap' the hole first. The brass screw should go in much easier.

Don
(No, the other Don)


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/29/2011 11:20:50 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by HobbyDr

Don, regarding those brass screws, here's a trick I read about. Get a zinc screw the same size and use it to 'tap' the hole first. The brass screw should go in much easier.

Don
(No, the other Don)



Thanks, Don. No, I'm not talking to myself. Good idea.

Don


Reply author: Carrie Creek
Replied on: 01/30/2011 12:26:19 AM
Message:

Don,
What do you think of this idea for your hinge problem. Find some hinges with longer arms that you can bend so that they lay inside the box instead of trying to fit on your diagonal face? That way you have more wood under them for the screws. You can still mortise the flat for a closer fit. This might also help to keep them from moving on you when installing them.
I hope I made this clear as mud.


Reply author: Twist67
Replied on: 01/30/2011 04:36:38 AM
Message:

Hi there,
During the last few days I read the whole thread of that amazing layout.Itīs an impressive work you have done there and it sounds like you boys have had a lot of fun during the last years of work on that big thing and still will have a lot of fun in future....Iīll follow that fantastic work.Keep up the great work and have fun.
Cheers,Chris


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 01/30/2011 07:20:16 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Carrie Creek

Don,
What do you think of this idea for your hinge problem. Find some hinges with longer arms that you can bend so that they lay inside the box instead of trying to fit on your diagonal face? That way you have more wood under them for the screws. You can still mortise the flat for a closer fit. This might also help to keep them from moving on you when installing them.
I hope I made this clear as mud.



Hi, Phil -- I think I understand what you're suggesting and ordinarily I'd give it a try. But I want to use "lift off" hinges so we can separate the lid easily. And so far I've only found one place that carries them - Lee Valley.

I'll post more later - have to get cleaned up and head out right now.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 01/30/2011 8:12:09 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Twist67

During the last few days I read the whole thread of that amazing layout ... Keep up the great work and have fun.



Thanks for the kind words, Chris. We are having fun, even when it seems we're not! Welcome to the thread.

Vagel


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/04/2011 5:03:28 PM
Message:

Chipping away at the back end of the layout this week, the staging and diesel ready tracks are finally in place and ready to have a power on/power off panel fabricated for them. Each staging track is isolated from the rest of the layout. The diesel ready tracks are also isolated and further sub-divided into a total of 5 spaces for individual sets of m.u.'d engines.

This shot also shows a temporary piece of plywood I plopped into place to get an idea of where the edge of the upper level (HOn3) will fall above the hidden trackage. I'm playing with the idea of using a Rix Products highway viaduct to help hide the hole.



Here are a couple shots of the area with the CADboard template for the upper level tacked back in place. It's pretty clear that I'll have to engage in some structural slight of hand to make that cavernous opening less open the wandering eye.





The next few projects that we have to finish before moving to the narrow gauge involve electronics. Don spent Wednesday preparing the power buses to be divided into four power districts, and I have to build the control panel for the staging and diesel tracks, as well as install machines and control panel for the reversing section that will allow us to turn locomotives or entire trains on the hidden portion of the standard gauge under Richmond Furnace to simulate an off-scene wye.

Seems like it never ends ...


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/04/2011 9:51:07 PM
Message:

If you want to e-mail me a drawing of the next control panel, I can start cutting and drilling. There's no shortage of scrap masonite around the shop.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/09/2011 07:59:22 AM
Message:

I think Vagel's end of track bumpers made from pink foam with a cutout for the coupler are darn clever. Can't beat the price and they certainly won't damage any equipment that comes in contact. [:-spin]

No get-together today. Vagel has an activity and I needed some time to work on my own layout.

I *did* finish the over-done DCC components box and will post some pictures later.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/09/2011 08:02:20 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

If you want to e-mail me a drawing of the next control panel, I can start cutting and drilling. There's no shortage of scrap masonite around the shop.



The panel is cut out and sprayed with yellow and Vagel e-mailed me the diagram. And then my printer died. [:-banghead]

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/09/2011 1:03:01 PM
Message:

Hi, everyone --

I stopped by Vagel's briefly this morning and picked up the diagrams for the two new control panels - that way I can keep working on them while waiting to get my own printer problems solved.

I dropped off the DCC components box and a couple of other things I'd been working on. Here are some pictures.

As planned I filled and re-finished the hinge mortises, having decided that lift-off hinges were not a very good idea for this project. The repairs are visible but they're tidy.

I borrowed some "technology" from the people who make jewelry boxes and added some pieces inside the box to keep the lid nicely lined up. I had some micro-plywood on hand. I stained it with a cherry stain - it doesn't look much like cherry but it looks ok:





I decided to not bust Vagel's budget by using solid brass hardware. Instead, I bought some middle-of-the-road stuff from Rockler. Here's a picture of the catches and handle:




Here's the french cleat on the back:




Here's a view of the interior with the baby bungees that will hold the transformer and command station in place:




Vagel needs to decide what he wants to carry to shows in the lid and then I can work out ways of holding the stuff in place. I also spotted a few places where the finish needs a bit more TLC.

It was a mostly fun and always interesting project. Lessons learned - which I think I've already mentioned - always buy your hardware BEFORE you build anything.

Don



Reply author: Wolfgang
Replied on: 02/09/2011 1:28:57 PM
Message:

Vagel and Don,

I've looked through all 64 sites. Great. But I have a question. Do you have already an operation plan? Which jobs will you have in an op session?

Wolfgang


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/09/2011 1:40:50 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Wolfgang

Vagel and Don,

I've looked through all 64 sites. Great. But I have a question. Do you have already an operation plan? Which jobs will you have in an op session?

Wolfgang



Hi, Wolfgang --

Thanks for your interest. Reading through all 64 pages of this thread shows real dedication!

Vagel definitely has an operating plan. You probably noticed that he has already set up a car card and waybill system.

Regarding my personal job during operating sessions? I will make coffee (or tea) and watch with interest. I have NO interest in operating anyone's layout but my own.

Don


Reply author: hunter48820
Replied on: 02/09/2011 3:40:09 PM
Message:

quote:
[i]
Regarding my personal job during operating sessions? I will make coffee (or tea) and watch with interest. I have NO interest in operating anyone's layout but my own.

Don



Oh Don, I can't believe that you said that!! You are missing so much in life and don't even know it! Maybe a shrink would help!![:-eyebrows]


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/09/2011 5:05:10 PM
Message:

Hi, Wolfgang. This would be an interesting thread to start on the Layout Design/Ops SIG Forum, and I think I might just do that. Don says I have an operations plan, and I do. But, although I've now made car cards for all the rolling stock that will operate on the layout and locomotive cards for all the engines that are DCC-equipped, I'm still working slowly on waybills as I try to work through the interchange of commodities between the narrow and standard gauges and find some real historically and geographically correct consignees and shippers to go appropriately with the road names on the cars. I'm working through that really slowly at the moment.

This layout is not designed to keep a large crew busy for a typical 4-hour ops session, and in fact it's designed for rail-fanning more than allowing for intensive traffic management problems or supporting a lot of locals dodging through trains.

Basically, traffic is controlled by written train orders from a Dispatcher. I can't isolate the Dispatcher (unless he or she sits on the toilet seat and uses a sheet of plywood over the bathtub as a desk), so OS-ing (keeping up with where trains are at any given time) will have to be handled using an Operator, who roves the layout playing the role of tower operator and station agent at the various train order stations on the layout and relays updates to the Dispatcher. The Operator's job will rotate among all the train crew members as they come off their previous assignment, unless, like Don, that person just wants to watch the fun. The other non-road jobs are the yard masters at Chambersburg and Tascott (Tascott also handles the switching chores at the blast furnace complex). The Chambersburg position is not required; that function can be performed by road crews hostling their own locomotives and yarding their own trains.

To support the 1938 operations scheme, no more than two trains per "day" are needed between Chambersburg and Richmond Furnace: a mineral train and a mixed merchandise and passenger train on the PRR's South Penn Branch. These trains are not on the road simultaneously and, therefore, can be operated by the same person in sequence. Another mineral train arrives and departs via the Conococheague & Potomac, a fictitious line jointly controlled by the WM Ry and the B&O. That train can be run by the Richmond Furnace Yard Master, since it is staged immediately off-scene from the interchange yard at Tascott.

Narrow gauge operations are similarly simple. Four passenger/mail/express trains and four coal drags can be handled in the course of a session by two operators, while the branchline trains (a mixed and an ore job) can be handled by one operator (probably one of the other narrow gauge operators between runs on the mainline).

Added to that, as the size and level of energy of the crew dictates, we'll add the "time travel" element based out of the museum. Perhaps a railroad hysterical society will charter the Emmet Brown, an excursion train that leaves Chambersburg in the present, pulled by anything from a K4s Pacific to an E8A, and arrives at Tascott in 1938 to view things as they "were" then -- an extremely rare mileage trip if ever their is one. Of course, the Tascott Yard Master will have to work around this nuisance and possibly even more nuisances, like double-headed I1's pulling an ore drag, or fallen flag merchandise trains pulled by an M1a or F7's or FA2's, or a TrukTrain, or ... well, you get the picture.

So, to recap, it looks like the layout will keep six folks fairly busy for a couple hours under normal circumstances and one or two more busy -- and for longer -- if we operate the museum.


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 02/09/2011 11:22:07 PM
Message:

First, Don, the DCC box looks fantastic! It's like a piece of furniture! Almost too nice to fill with electrical stuff!

Now, onto operations. Did I read that correctly??? "NO interest in operating anyone's layout but my own." Seeing Vagel's layout develope, and seeing your planning on your new shelf layout, this surprises me! Reading Vagel's last post, it looks like the layout will be a nicely paced operations layout. I have to believe that one day you will pick up the throttle, take on a local switching job and be a changed man!


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 02/10/2011 07:13:36 AM
Message:

Don: the DCC cabinet is off the charts....your woodworking skills are superb! Vagel: I read the description of your operations with a lot of interest; is the traffic density based on the prototype's for that time period?


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/11/2011 8:18:36 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Harsco

Vagel: I read the description of your operations with a lot of interest; is the traffic density based on the prototype's for that time period?


Rick, on the PRR S. Penn Branch, I'm pretty sure there was no regular express/mail/passenger service by the late-1930s, and what traffic there was was generated by seasonal agricultural patterns and minor industry in Mercersburg on the eastern half of the branch. So I'm "making work" for this branch based on the totally fictitious blast furnace complex at Richmond Furnace, which did, in fact, once boast a blast furnace but of the charcoal variety long before the railroad came, and the historically real existence of a logging line that briefly occupied the roadbed that on the model railroad is used by the B&SGE's Buchanan Branch. Again, there were iron ore pits on that line, but they were long-abandoned by the time the railroad came.

As for the narrow gauge, the pattern of coal drags and mail/express/passenger trains generally parallels that of the EBT up 'til the early-1930s, after which the scheduled mail/passenger/express trains became mixed trains, w/ coal drags or empties trailing a combine. The traffic pattern on the Buchanan Branch, is definitely busier than the prototype EBT's Shade Gap Branch, which didn't see any iron ore traffic after 1893 and was served by a not-very-big mixed train after that. In fact, it seems that service on that line was intermittent for many years until the EBT started a progressive abandonment process in 1940 after a 1-year boom during the construction of the PA Turnpike through the area.

I base the mineral traffic on both the standard and narrow gauge lines on the flow of raw materials that would have been required to keep the blast furnace in blast 24/7 calculated from historical data about furnaces of this size and the yield of iron ore from various sources throughout Appalachia (SEE my article in Carstens' 2009 HOn3 Annual). The other passenger traffic is based on the kind of agricultural and industrial traffic that I think would most probably have been bulky and/or voluminous enough to not be viable for highway trucks plying the parallel state highway 75, although that is a bit of a stretch, since there wasn't ever enough to justify a railroad's existence north of Richmond Furnace in reality. But over on the Huntingdon & Broad Top, where one blast furnace operated until 1929, the traffic flow seems to have been like on my version of the S. Penn Branch. Likewise, mail/passenger/express service is a pipe dream by the late-1930s, but it adds operating interest, and, again, the H&BT maintained regular mail/express/passenger service until the USPS pulled the plug on mail contracts in 1954 (the year, coincidentally, when that railroad was abandoned). So, this is how historical freelancing works: set a prototypical railroad in a place where there COULD have been enough industry to support a railroad and find a prototype that actually served such an area (H&BT/EBT meet PRR S. Penn/B&SGE).


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 02/12/2011 2:57:27 PM
Message:

Vagel: I know exactly what you mean....years ago, I seriously considered modeling the PRR Lykens Valley branch, which took a right off the Northern Division and worked it's way eastward about ten miles to the coal mining town of Lykens Valley. At first glance, this line seems to have everything I was looking for: coal mining, quaint towns, rolling landscape, even a bit of homespun industry. After a field trip to the area for pictures and ideas, I was raring to go until a little research showed the line barely supported a train a day, much less the three of four I would have hoped for. I sometimes think real railroads (except for the highest density mainlines) really weren't quite as "busy" as we think they should be....


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/12/2011 10:20:49 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Harsco

... I sometimes think real railroads (except for the highest density mainlines) really weren't quite as "busy" as we think they should be ...


Great minds think alike![:-graduate]


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/19/2011 12:39:25 AM
Message:

We're finally making substantial electrical progress toward finishing the track work on the standard gauge in preparation for moving on to finishing the narrow gauge track work that will overlay it. On Wednesday Don worked on terminating the power buses for the standard and narrow gauges and future accessories at the end of the peninsula. Here he is in an all-too-familiar pose, with cordless drill in hand and a posture fit to make his chiropractor smile:



Here's the state of the art near the end of the day:



At the other end of the peninsula and on the other side of the backdrop, I worked on installing the common rail sub-bus and feeders for the staging and diesel tracks until John came by and freed me for picture taking:



Don had also delivered the latest power control panel from Slaughterhouse Switch & Signal:



You can see a couple feeders poking up through the sub-roadbed in the picture below. I pre-soldered the feeders to the sub-bus and fished them up from below; pipe cleaners, like those at lower right, stuck through the holes made it easy to find them from below.



Today I was able to finish wiring the staging and diesel tracks, running hot rail sub-buses and feeders to the SS&S control panel. Here's the panel installed and lettered. For neatness sake I bundled the feeders in twist-ties attached to screws in the supports behind the fascia.



For the Pennsy-ly challenged, LEMO stands for Lemoyne, PA, a town on the West Shore (right bank) of the Susquehanna River directly across from Harrisburg (HARRIS). LEMO (earlier 'J') tower protected the diamond and interlocking where the Cumberland Valley RR crossed the Northern Central RR before crossing the river into Harrisburg Station. There was a small yard in Lemoyne, represented on the layout by the Main and staging tracks 1-3.

The diesel tracks are sufficient to hold 3 pairs of 4-axle units on Track A and a pair of 6-axle units and the Centipedes or an A-B-A lash-up of 4-axle units on Track B. (There's an A-B-A set of FA-2's in the shop awaiting upgrade to DCC.) Have you noticed that EMD is under-represented in this HO PRR museum? Curatorial liberty!





Well, that's it for this update. I hope we can install the switch machines and control panel for the cross-over under the site of Dry Run and the power management circuit board to divide the layout into 4 power districts this coming Wednesday. If we can do that, we can finally move on to Phase II on the narrow gauge! C'ya on the RR.

Vagel


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 02/19/2011 06:39:32 AM
Message:

LEMO, huh? Literally a stone's throw across the Susquehanna from Harrisburg! Just a short trip over Shocks Bridge if memory serves.....any hot metal customers over there for Harsco? LOL. Love that C-Liner; too bad they were gone by 1966, otherwise I'd grab a pair.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/19/2011 1:10:52 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Harsco

LEMO, huh? ... any hot metal customers over there for Harsco? LOL.


Unfortunately no, Rick. The only thing hot that I'm aware is consumed in Lemoyne is the hot air that rises from the capitol and wafts across the river. [:-eyebrows]


Reply author: dnhman
Replied on: 02/19/2011 2:33:56 PM
Message:

Hi Vagel,, The box for the DCC components is very nice and you may have mentioned but you would not keep the unit covered during operations? They tend to heat up under usage and air circulation is important. I have mine on an open shelf and have had to use some cooling fans when sessions were going on..


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/19/2011 5:24:26 PM
Message:

Hi, Joe --

In use, it's just a really fancy shelf. The lid is only used to carry it to train shows. Once there, it hangs (open) on a french cleat that's been added to a pair of module legs.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/20/2011 02:21:22 AM
Message:

Now wait a minute, Don. Maybe we can figure out a way to install one of these inside the enclosed box:

[:-jester]


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/20/2011 06:56:10 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

Now wait a minute, Don. Maybe we can figure out a way to install one of these inside the enclosed box:




I'll see what I can do.

Don


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 02/20/2011 09:38:20 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

Now wait a minute, Don. Maybe we can figure out a way to install one of these inside the enclosed box:




I'll see what I can do.

Don



Don,

Are you going to have the revised version at the Midwest NG Show?

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 02/20/2011 10:00:10 AM
Message:

Careful Vagel. After watching your thread since the beginning, and seeing Don successfully tackle the many projects thrown at him, I'm beginning to believe he is your version of our SteamNut! And one thing we have learned, depending of course on the situation, is to NEVER challenge him because he WILL come up with the solution, whether you want it or not!


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/20/2011 11:26:29 AM
Message:

quote:


Don,

Are you going to have the revised version at the Midwest NG Show?

Pete
in Michigan



Oh, most definitely. [:-bouncy]

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/20/2011 11:28:33 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

Careful Vagel. After watching your thread since the beginning, and seeing Don successfully tackle the many projects thrown at him, I'm beginning to believe he is your version of our SteamNut! And one thing we have learned, depending of course on the situation, is to NEVER challenge him because he WILL come up with the solution, whether you want it or not!



Whooo-hah-hah. [Evil chuckle]


Reply author: dnhman
Replied on: 02/20/2011 2:07:22 PM
Message:

Kool Vagel,, the guys on the show American Pickers were looking for that GE fan,,,


Reply author: Carrie Creek
Replied on: 02/20/2011 4:16:11 PM
Message:

Don,
This is easy to do as I see no electrical cord to mess with so must be battery powered so just reduce the pic down and paste it inside and there you have it installed.


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 02/22/2011 09:34:15 AM
Message:

Just as a side note, the original LEMO tower building was rescued from demolition and moved to Strasburg where it now sits at the west end of the passing siding at the Strasburg RR station.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/25/2011 12:03:00 AM
Message:

Hello, all! This Wednesday was an under-the-layout day, to be sure. Don started his day by installing "snubbers" on the ends of the wire buses that will supply power to the tracks of the standard and narrow gauge mainlines. These buses terminate at the end of the peninsula that holds the blast furnace complex and the B&SGE mainline still to be built.



Snubbers consist of a capacitor and a resistor, which eliminates the problem of "ringing" that Don has read can occur in DCC signals passing over long distances.

I spent the day fabricating 27 feeder wires and making the associated solder joints for a Digitrax PM42 power manager that will divide the layout into four power sub-districts to mitigate the effects of shorts caused by derailments, etc. After Don finished with the snubbers, he spent the rest of his day installing barrier strips on a plywood board next to the command station and connecting the live ends of the four power buses to same.

Today (Thursday) I was able to install the PM42. As you can see from the coiled white power cable and the (green) ground wire hanging in space, this assembly is not yet active.





Next Wednesday we'll complete the transition to four power sub-districts by cutting gaps to separate the engine terminal bus from the standard gauge mainline, installing snubbers on the ends of the buses for the engine terminal and the Buchanan Branch, and connecting the PM42 to the Command Station. It could be interesting, but let's hope it's not!


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 02/25/2011 12:22:10 AM
Message:

Snubbers? I've never heard of this. I hope Don will a moment to explain this as I'm curious.

Looks good Vagel! I hope you guys have better luck with the PM42 than SteamNut and I did hooking another brand of circuit breaker to a layout with Digitrax last night. I think you guys are smart for sticking with Digitrax products.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 02/25/2011 12:45:19 AM
Message:

Mark, Don has rightfully become a consumer of model railroad construction literature that includes the words "iron clad" in the title ... so I'll let him explain snubbers. I might even become Son of Snubber.

As to name-brand DCC technology vis a vis third party products, I will only say that, although I have always been a patriotic Mac user, I have never regretted my decision -- against the strident opinions of DCC mavens in our area -- to go with (and stick with) the "Big Blue" of DCC. We'll let you know, of course, how it goes when we cut over to the new sub-districts next week.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/25/2011 08:50:43 AM
Message:

Guy, when it comes to actually UNDERSTANDING DCC (or DC, for that matter), I am the original Sgt. Schultz.

I have been reading and following a long web-based text on Wiring for DCC. Here's the link:
http://www.wiringfordcc.com/track_2.htm

I don't think the author actually uses the term "snubber" - I think I picked that term up from one of the DCC mavens at my MR Club.

The author has loads of practical suggestions (i.e., use lots of different wire colors; use different colored map tacks to organize your wiring; make a "proactive" short detector that will buzz whenever your create a short while adding wiring; stuff like that.) He doesn't burden you with a lot of hard to understand stuff in the main text.

I just hope that, when we make the cut-over to the new wiring, it all works.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 02/25/2011 09:25:38 AM
Message:

Vagel mentioned "bullet proof" wiring - that comes from the "Wiring for DCC" text.

The author makes the point that MR wiring is subject to a lot of trouble shooting and that often involves tugging on wires in order to trace them under the layout. Therefore, all connections need to be mechanically strong.

He has reservations about IDC ("suitcase") connectors because they don't hold up well to tugging. He doesn't say "don't use them" - he just points out the possible problem.

In Vagel's picture that shows the spade lugs at the barrier strips, if you look closely you can see that the lugs have been not only crimped but soldered - that's part of "bullet proofing".

All connections inside wire nuts are also soldered. More bullet-proofing.

Running a lot of stuff through barrier/terminal strips rather than just soldering it together isn't so much about bullet-proofing as making trouble shooting easier. We can just disconnect section rather than having to cut feeders. It also gives us lots of places to take voltage readings if we need to.

Anyhow - I just hope it all pays off.

Don


Reply author: jbvb
Replied on: 02/25/2011 09:36:55 AM
Message:

The Hub Modular Group has had a few problems which turned out to be intermittent suitcase connectors. Not enough to ban them, but enough so I'm going to stick to my terminal strips. I've had good luck with the "euro style", where it's enclosed in plastic and lugs aren't needed. The only gotcha is (mis-) using small wires in a big terminal opening - sometimes the screw misses the wire the first time.


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 02/25/2011 09:38:28 AM
Message:

Thanks Don! There's some really good information on that site, as well as some really clear explanations as to why. Funny, I've been to that site before, but not recently and he has updated it with lot's of new good stuff.

As far as 'bullet proofing', you can't go wrong. Taking the extra time now to tie up any loose ends will definitely help you down the road. It's so easy to take a short cut so you can get trains running, with all good intentions to go back and finish it up later, but we never do and pay for it at some point down the road. You are doing the right thing.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/04/2011 03:40:59 AM
Message:

I'm with you, Mark. I want to get everything solidly soldered together, now, before we add more scenery and fascia and it gets even harder to work under there.

Wednesday went well. Vagel cut the gaps in the rail (and glued in styrene to make sure the gaps don't close up) and we made the last few changes in bus wiring and then did the "quarter test" on the four power districts with the new electronic circuit breaker. Everything worked as it was supposed to.

Vagel also had success fixing some annoying trackwork problems caused by expansion and contraction of the long, narrow pieces of plywood sub roadbed. We've learned the hard way that while big sheets of plywood may be dimensionally stable, long narrow pieces do change with changing moisture levels.

Don


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/04/2011 03:44:08 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by jbvb

The Hub Modular Group has had a few problems which turned out to be intermittent suitcase connectors. Not enough to ban them, but enough so I'm going to stick to my terminal strips. I've had good luck with the "euro style", where it's enclosed in plastic and lugs aren't needed. The only gotcha is (mis-) using small wires in a big terminal opening - sometimes the screw misses the wire the first time.



The "euro" barrier/terminal strips are indeed handy. I attach them to the back of the little control panels I've built for Vagel, with 5-minute epoxy. You're right - really tiny wire can be a problem.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/07/2011 2:29:58 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

Wednesday went well ... we made the last few changes in bus wiring and then did the "quarter test" on the four power districts with the new electronic circuit breaker. Everything worked as it was supposed to.


To add suitable dignity to the occasion, Don used a gold piece that eluded the grasp of FDR for the "quarter test."



I have been slowly chipping away at powering the turnouts for the hidden cross-over that forms a reversing loop under the B&SGE Dry Run yard site on the opposite side of the backdrop from the blast furnace. Over the weekend I wired the machines to the control panel and installed the Digitrax Auto-reverser.

Here's an overall view of the area. Because this is hidden trackage, I was able to run the wiring along the top of the sub-roadbed, which made things much easier.



Here's the control panel for the cross-over, with Radio Shack momentary pushbutton switches. It's located in the fascia at the blast furnace; the yardmaster there will control the cross-overs.



Using #8 x 3/4" roundhead screws and 3/8" sections of styrene tubing for standoff, I mounted the Auto-reverser on one of Don's prefabricated plates for under-the-layout applications. He pre-drills the holes and countersinks them, then glues and tacks a ledger to the back side to butt against the benchwork frame to ensure the thing hangs perfectly vertical![:-bigeyes]



Wiring the Auto-reverser was a piece of cake; just follow the wiring diagram. It worked fine without adjustment.

With this installation completed, all wiring and trackwork issues on the PRR portion of the layout are finally resolved and we can move on to Phase II on the B&SGE narrow gauge.[:-bouncy]


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/07/2011 4:47:30 PM
Message:

It's great that the crossover and auto-reverser came together so well!

Hey, a gold coin has much lower resistance than those synthetic pot-metal quarters they make nowadays, so it creates a much better short.

Don


Reply author: George D
Replied on: 03/07/2011 7:36:38 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

It's great that the crossover and auto-reverser came together so well!

Hey, a gold coin has much lower resistance than those synthetic pot-metal quarters they make nowadays, so it creates a much better short.

Don



And besides, itís just pocket change.

George


Reply author: ebtnut
Replied on: 03/09/2011 1:20:03 PM
Message:

FWIW, I've decided I needed a narrow gauge modeling fix, so I'm planning to go the the Canfield meet in a couple of weeks. Might run into a couple of you. I plan to drive out on Friday morning, spend the night at the Hampton, and head back to McKeesport Saturday evening.

Deane


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/09/2011 7:57:29 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by ebtnut

FWIW, I've decided I needed a narrow gauge modeling fix, so I'm planning to go the the Canfield meet ...


Great! Look forward to seeing you, Deane. It's mostly a 2-ft crowd, but we've been trying to lend a little class to the brawl with our 3-ft modular set up.[:-jester]


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 03/09/2011 8:29:09 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

quote:
Originally posted by ebtnut

FWIW, I've decided I needed a narrow gauge modeling fix, so I'm planning to go the the Canfield meet ...


Great! Look forward to seeing you, Deane. It's mostly a 2-ft crowd, but we've been trying to lend a little class to the brawl with our 3-ft modular set up.[:-jester]



Oh, good.... Class Warfare. Just what we need. NOT!!

We're all Narrow Minded there; let's leave it at that! [:-thumbu]

Pete
Modeling Maine Two-Foot
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/09/2011 10:06:03 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17
Oh, good.... Class Warfare. Just what we need. NOT!!

We're all Narrow Minded there; let's leave it at that! [:-thumbu]


Right you are, Pete! We narrow-minded maniacs (or is it Mainiacs?) need to stand together against the dreaded broad gauge conspiracy! BTW, my "class" remark was stolen from Frederick the Great, who said, "Artillery lends dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl." As former non-artillerists, Pete, you and I would seem to be fellow travelers. But once again I am guilty of another obscure historical metaphor that no one else would possibly understand ... [:-dunce]


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 03/09/2011 10:21:04 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Vagel Keller

quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17
Oh, good.... Class Warfare. Just what we need. NOT!!

We're all Narrow Minded there; let's leave it at that! [:-thumbu]


Right you are, Pete! We narrow-minded maniacs (or is it Mainiacs?) need to stand together against the dreaded broad gauge conspiracy! BTW, my "class" remark was stolen from Frederick the Great, who said, "Artillery lends dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl." As former non-artillerists, Pete, you and I would seem to be fellow travelers. But once again I am guilty of another obscure historical metaphor that no one else would possibly understand ... [:-dunce]



Ah, but I do understand!

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: hunter48820
Replied on: 03/10/2011 10:03:45 PM
Message:

And now Pete, I'm finally starting to understand you!![:-eyebrows]


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/19/2011 12:18:48 AM
Message:

Hi, All. I hope you all had a happy St. Patrick's Day and didn't get caught violating Rule G.

My plan for Wednesday's work session was to get to work on the sub-roadbed for the B&SGE narrow gauge mainline. So, Don worked on extending the accessory bus under the standard gauge terminal and I worked on the blast furnace area. Logical enough, right?

John came by and took some great "candid" shots of us at work. I love this one. I think I'll call it "WTF!?" Or, better yet, "The goons having discovered Tom, Don the Tunnel King reopens Harry." (Charles Bronson is just off-scene.)



This is quintessential Don: sitting on a short stool, soldering gun in hand, and one of about 17 custom-loaded tool boxes close to hand. This is why he is always thanking me for posting periodic "state of the layout" updates ... he literally never gets to watch what's going on above ground! God, I'm so lucky!



Meanwhile, futzing was in progress at the blast furnace, where I finally got around to gluing the ramps in place for the various levels of track leading to the stock house, the cast house, and the interchange track up to the B&SGE yard.



I took the brute-force-and-ignorance approach to figuring out the grade up to the narrow gauge with Woodland Scenics styrofoam grades and fillers.



Once we got everything in place, we wrapped the ramp with tape. This ramp is to represent a slag fill. We'll trace the profile onto various thicknesses of pink foam and cut it out on a band saw.



Here's an overview of the area, with the narrow gauge yard base temporarily set back in place and the turntable, engine house, and a space filler for the station where they might or might not end up.



That's it for now. The next few weeks are going to be really busy, with the Mid-West Narrow Gauge Show coming up next weekend, a layout open house for the RPM-East in Greensburg folks on Sunday, then our NMRA Div. 2 Jamboree open house on April 10. We'll see how things turn out and post pictures if we can.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/19/2011 06:35:57 AM
Message:

Thanks for posting the pictures, Vagel. (And thanks to John for taking them.)

Yeah, WTF pretty well describes what was going through my mind. I'm staring at wiring that *I* did and have no idea what I'm looking at.

I really did spend the whole session Wednesday under the layout while John and Vagel worked up above. Afterwards, I "surfaced," blinking in the light, and asked them , "So, what have you guys been up to?"

It was worth it, I think - there's now a pretty (blue and white) accessory bus under the kitchen side of Phase I and good start on a similar bus under the other side of that Phase.

I'm going to build or buy a regulated 12v power supply for this bus (which is already in place in the "spine" of Phase II). Then I hope to master the Art of the LED and start adding lights to some structures.

Unfortunately (for model railroading), Spring has finally sprung in Pittsburgh and I'm riding my new bike at every opportunity. New toy!

Don


Reply author: Harsco
Replied on: 03/19/2011 07:37:16 AM
Message:

Vagel...great post, and I really like that backdrop....I have about 12 feet behind Commonwealth Coke that needs exactly that!


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 03/19/2011 11:44:02 AM
Message:

You surely have a wonderful helper with Don, Vagel. But apparently you're quite able to help yourself too.
I'm always impressed to see the amount of work you've been able to complete in a relatively short time. If I worked at your speed in my smaller room, I would start my second or third layout.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/19/2011 12:03:24 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Frederic Testard

You surely have a wonderful helper with Don, Vagel. But apparently you're quite able to help yourself too.
I'm always impressed to see the amount of work you've been able to complete in a relatively short time.


Thanks, Frederick. I'll tell you what ... I am not what you would call a self-motivating person. Having a regularly scheduled work session only works if I know someone is going to be pulling up at the door at 10:30 every Wednesday. Otherwise, I'd be a binge builder ... motivated only by the crisis of looming open houses.

Rick, you could do twelve feet in three or four evenings using the sea sponge technique. I borrowed it from a guy named Rick Chase who posted pictures of his beautiful results, a description of his technique, a list of acrylic paint shades, and a sample pallet showing how he arranges them on his pallet on the Backgrounds thread. Check out pages 4 - 6:

http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3884


Reply author: MarkF
Replied on: 03/20/2011 12:26:18 AM
Message:

You guys are keeping busy, that's for sure. Except for Don that is. Take a look at that first picture. Are you sure he's not sleeping on the job there??? I don't know Vagel, I think you're wearing the poor guy out!


Reply author: jbvb
Replied on: 03/20/2011 11:17:15 AM
Message:

It's a good thing you've got Don to do the wiring; if you tried to solder with what he's holding it would be disappointing...


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 03/20/2011 5:48:02 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

You guys are keeping busy, that's for sure. Except for Don that is. Take a look at that first picture. Are you sure he's not sleeping on the job there??? I don't know Vagel, I think you're wearing the poor guy out!



Not sleeping - just totally befuddled. But eventually a few memory cells kicked in and I was able to resume work. [:-boggled]

Don


Reply author: Frederic Testard
Replied on: 03/21/2011 6:35:30 PM
Message:

Thanks for posting the link about backdrops, Vagel. It's very inspiring. I'm always impressed by the artistic skills of some people when they paint their backdrops.


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/21/2011 9:24:20 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Frederic Testard

Thanks for posting the link about backdrops, Vagel. It's very inspiring.


You're so right, Frederick. It's hard to say what I would have done were it not for finding that guy's tutorials ... probably just a plain sky backdrop.


Reply author: Orionvp17
Replied on: 03/24/2011 11:02:42 PM
Message:

For Lo, I have seen The Box and it is magnificent! And Vagel showed it unto me that I might admire it, and worship it. And I did so. And great happiness came unto me.

Anyway, Vagel and Don brought the DCC "sounder box" with them to the Midwest Narrow Gauge show, and I had a chance to have a really good look. This is a Work of Art, not something that I would cobble up with a chain saw and sledgehammer. The finishes are elegant, the woods are gorgeous, and the craftsmanship is superb. The only downside I could see to this gem is that Don doesn't hire out. Pity....

Nicely done, Don! Very nicely done indeed!

Pete
in Michigan


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 03/27/2011 7:43:30 PM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Orionvp17

For Lo, I have seen The Box and it is magnificent! And Vagel showed it unto me that I might admire it, and worship it. And I did so. And great happiness came unto me.


The show planners kindly located us on an elevated stage, where the lighting was so good that one could see the underside of our modular layout from the gym floor better than one could see the scenes on top when standing next to them. Thus, The (one true) Box was mounted slightly above eye level to all supplicants and was visible from anywhere in the room. Some threw coins (at least think that's what they were).

Back home today, we hosted another open house at 6800 Meade for attendees of the RPM-East meet in Greensburg. We installed a new temporary return loop for the HOn3 half-way along the peninsula, and despite the very hastily laid track, I only noted one derailment: an ore car with plastic wheels in MDC side frames and that on the tight 18" radius return loop.

It was a good day with no significant issues surfacing, which is a good thing. I feel confident now that we can start to hide a large amount of the standard gauge under the HOn3 and scenery.

Thanks to regulars John and Don and new crew member Mark, who has discovered the dark side: car cards and waybills. Special thanks to Don, who had a late evening following me back to Uhaul after helping unload and repack my HOn3 modules under the layout after a very long weekend at the Midwest NG show.

Vagel


Reply author: bullbrauch
Replied on: 03/31/2011 10:56:38 PM
Message:

Vagel, Don, and Crew,

2 nights and 67 pages later and I feel like I've just read an awesome layout building tutorial! It's a big confidence booster for what I have planned for the future. Thank you very much for sharing your' experience with us.

I'm planning a HOn3/HO layout that will feature the D&RGW from Alamosa to Chama, I'm going to post some thoughts to the "Layout Design / Operation Sig Forum". I'd love to have your input.

Brandan from Colorado



Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/01/2011 12:58:11 AM
Message:

Welcome, Brandan! It's great to have another dual gauge enthusiast join the forum. And thanks for the praise. Alamosa to Chama is a far bigger geographical area than what we're dealing with, so I'll be very interested in reading your thoughts over in the layout design forum.

Vagel


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/03/2011 6:04:07 PM
Message:

My welcome to Brandan, also. Good luck with your project.

Vagel opened the layout the same weekend as the Midwest Narrow Gauge Annoyance for people attending the RPM meet and he wanted to restore continuous operation of the narrow gauge. So he cleverly dug out the big loop we had previously put in place (you can find it in earlier posts) and cut out the center so that it could be snaked through the backdrop.

In fairly short order, with some temporary supports and a handful of drywall screws, he had the NG in continuous operation.* That will continue through next weekend, when the layout will be operation for the NMRA Keystone Division Jamboree.

*(I'm making it sound too easy. He also had to glue down roadbed and lay NG track. It took a few hours.)

I hope we have a good turnout next Sunday.

Don


Reply author: Vagel Keller
Replied on: 04/11/2011 01:08:33 AM
Message:

Well, in the last three weeks we've had two open houses, and all went fairly well, although we have one persistent glitch in future hidden standard gauge track work that will have to be diagnosed and fixed before the narrow gauge can proceed over top of it.

One of the really positive things to come out of all this is that the standard gauge ops scheme can keep the Chambesrburg yard master busy for three or more hours. Just ask Mark.



Of course, having to use the main through track as a run-around for switching moves between the arrival/departure track and newly designated team tracks, a trailing switch move, while dodging through-trains can cause delays. But it was either that or make the aisle too narrow for two model railroaders to pass. Remember the famous rhetorical question ... how many model railroaders can you fit in an 8-passenger van?



Apparently, the answer is 3 1/2. Young Mr. Frederick did yeoman service relieving John Polyak on the B&SGE today.



On the PRR, we had a relapse of issues that I thought I had fixed at the east turnout leading to the reversing track. We worked through it well enough to get through the open house. The problem exists only with west-bounds; so we sent only east-bounds over the route for the last hour or so. Here young Charlie Hallman, operating the last west-bound through train and Chambersburg yard master Mark Neitznick work out who gets to occupy yard limits.



It was an important, if sometimes stressful, afternoon. Beside the reversing track turnout, we have a couple of poltergeists in the turntable control panel, both of which we'll have to solve once and for all before proceeding with the narrow gauge expansion. I hope it will not take too long.


Reply author: nhguy
Replied on: 04/11/2011 03:31:50 AM
Message:

Have faith Vagel. Problems like that are usually a closed gap, a broken solder joint or some foreign object that is conductive decided to take up residence in a gap. I hope it is as easy as that to figure out.


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/11/2011 07:26:02 AM
Message:

The Open House was fun. The two young operators seemed to be having a particularly good time, and I'm guessing Mark also had fun, although he seemed very serious about the whole thing.

I fooped out early - my excuse being that I have started doing group bike rides on Sunday mornings that involve some serious hills, to get ready for the big ride across Iowa in July. Anyhow, I bailed about 3 PM and was gone before the technical glitches showed up.

I have decided I don't much like suitcase connectors and I wish I hadn't used them to do that mass of wiring under the turntable. I will probably replace them with soldered joints. Be prepared for more pictures of me with a soldering iron and the "WTF?" look on my face.

Don


Reply author: Dutchman
Replied on: 04/11/2011 08:07:59 AM
Message:

Don,

I was just going to order some of those suitcase connectors. So you think that they are part of the problem?


Reply author: AVRR-PA
Replied on: 04/11/2011 09:19:18 AM
Message:

quote:
Originally posted by Dutchman

Don,

I was just going to order some of those suitcase connectors. So you think that they are part of the problem?



Hi, Bruce -- yes, I do. The last time we had a problem in that area, it turned out to be a wonky suitcase connector.

That long piece on "Wiring for DCC" that I've mentioned in earlier posts has a thoughtful, even-handed discussion of suitcase connectors that I think is well worth reading. But here's the CliffNotes version:

Good points - fast, easy to use.

Bad point - model railroad wiring get trouble-shot (shooted?) by tugging and (in the case of the wiring under the turntable) is also subject to being bumped because there's other stuff under there; IDC's do not stand up well to mechanical abuse.

His advice: buy the tool that's sold for closing and locking them; don't try to make do with a pair of pliers. (I read that advice AFTER I'd installed all of them.)

Model Railroader magazine recommends them enthusiastically and thos