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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Coaltrain Posted - 10/13/2010 : 09:14:03 AM
This is the first official post for my new layout I am building in On3, the Slater Creek Railway. I became a fan of the Manns Creek Railway while researching information on coke ovens for a project on my HO railroad, the Roanoke and Southern. Shortly after discovering the MC an article on building MC hoppers in On30 by Sam Swanson was published in the Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette. For fun I built one hopper with the intent of it being a static display. One thing led to another and I built the car to have operating unloading doors controlled by a DCC decoder. Wanting to see the car in action I started to consider building a layout in On30, but since I had only one small space to model railroad in would mean that my HO layout would have to be torn out. My HO layout met all my goals, was published in Model Railroader, and was complete, so I decided I missed layout building and decided that I would tear out the HO layout and try a new modeling adventure.

While I really enjoy modeling prototype railroads and their equipment, and swore that the next time I would model a prototype RR, I decided to once again do a fictional railroad. My reason is I like to have a little freedom to take pieces that I like of other railroads and put them together to form my own railroad that I believe will give the viewer a good idea what form of railroading I am modeling would be like, which I do by carefully picking features of railroads that do what my railroad does. I would do not pick "one of everything" to be on my layout, rather I pick features that would have been typical of railroads that are in my area and do the same work.

I liked many of the features of the Manns Creek railroad, I liked the area where the MC was located, but I wanted to be able to do a few things differently. I wanted to have a couple Rod locomotives, I know the MC did have some at one time but I want something a little bigger than they had, and I wanted to have a few different pieces of rolling stock and do a little more than haul logs, lumber, and coal. So using Google maps I searched around the area of the MC to find a location that I could place my railroad. I found another creek a little further up the New River called Slater Creek, located along the New River at a town called Thayer on the C&O.

From what Google showed Slater Creek looked a lot like Manns Creek and was close enough to each other that I could say that coal was discovered in Slater Creek canyon as well. Actually there was a coal mine there at one time and my story is that as that coal was mined out a narrow gauge RR was built up Slater Creek to reach new seams of coal. I am using many pieces of the Manns Creek on my railroad, one of which is the car shops which I plan on building to scale.

Now I know that some of you expected me to build this layout in On30, so did I, but just recently I decided to switch to On3. I switched to On3 after having a conversation with a fellow HO modeler, who after listening to me describe what I was going to do, what scale I was going to use, and how I was going to scratchbuild almost everything and he asked me why I was going to build it in the wrong gauge. I told him all the reasons why modelers choose On30 to represent three foot gauge railroads but he said that if I was going to hand lay all my track, scratchbuild all my rolling stock, and maybe even scratchbuild a locomotive or two why would I not just build it in scale three foot gauge. I decided that he was right, all the reasons to model in On30 did not really apply to my situation, so I switched to On3.

Here is the final track plan of the Slater Creek Railway. My room is very small so I had to pick a few key scenes that I wanted to model. the first scene along the top wall (by the room door) is the coal dump trestle. I struggled for a long time with this section because I wanted to have a place to dump the coal that could justify the need for lots of coal. The MC first dumped coal into a bin that was used to feed their coke ovens, later as demand for coal increased they built a sizing plant just above the coke ovens. In the later years the coke production decreased and most of the coal went to the sizing plant. I decided that I only had room for one place to receive coal and figured that the sizing plant would be the better choice. I had a hard time fitting in the sizing plant because in O scale the structure would be huge. I condensed the sizing tipple as much as I felt it could but it was still a huge model that took a lot of layout width, pushing the narrow gauge track way to the back of the layout. I decided to try flipping the sizing plant so that the standard gauge loading tipple would be at the back drop and the narrow gauge coal dump house would be at the front edge of the layout, which puts the operating track close to the front where it is easy to reach and watch the hoppers unload coal. Flipping the tipple around also allowed me to use trees to hide the fact that the entire tipple is not modeled, cutting down on the layout width required.

Flipping the coal sizing plant will allow me to model the Manns Creek Rayís stone engine house close to the front of the layout where it can be viewed up close. I also located a storage track here so I can have a place to store a few freight cars or work equipment. In the later years the MC did not use the stone engine house, they had built a new wood engine house at a different location, so I am going to use the stone engine house to store a passenger car and something else, maybe a locomotive used at this location, not sure yet.

The one strange feature of the flipped sizing plant will be the scenery, which will fall as it moves toward the backdrop. The narrow gauge track at the front of the layout will be at the top of the hill and the scenery will fall 16" actual inches as it goes to the backdrop. I don't know how this is going to work out, I hope it gives the operator a feeling of being high on the side of the mountain but we'll see, this will be a bit of an experiment.

Where I did have to deviate from the MC is where I located my switch back and which direction my RR leaves town, a forced compromise caused by the constraints of my room. My SCRy travels clockwise around the room as we leave the coal dump trestle, across Slater Creek and around a tall rock cliff and out of sight. As the tracks turn to the right wall they will be running along the wall of my layout room where my work bench will be located under the layout, this is the one spot there the benchwork supporting the visible track can be thin and high to provide enough room for a workbench. In the middle of the right wall there will be a turnout, one leg will continue along the south wall without an elevation change to a three track storage yard, the other leg will turn along the south wall and start a stiff grade up to my switch back located in the far left lower corner of the room.

At the switch back I believe I will have some room to model either a mining camp or a lumber camp. I think I can get a siding in here but I am not sure yet how I want to do it so I am leaving that off until I get to that point. the track plan makes it look like the switch back continues on behind the furnace and connects back to the coal dump area, which is how I intended it to be to give me a running loop, but a furnace duct passes too low to allow this and the switch back track will stub end in the wall as far as I can go. Instead the staging tracks that are located under the switch back will come back together and travel behind the furnace to form the running loop.

From the switch back the tracks will climb a slight grade to the car shop and foundry. There will be a spur on this slight grade that goes back next to the switch back to a coal mine. I am going to have a small earth loading ramp and dirt road on the mine spur where just about anything can be loaded or unloaded from railroad cars, like mining equipment, building supplies, and whatever else I can imagine.

The car shop will be the MC car shop located at Cliftop and it will be built to scale with full interior. The tracks around it follow the prototype pretty much to scale. Just pass the car shop will be a run around and a strip coal tipple, also built to scale from the MC's tipple at Cliftop. The strip tipple will be built to actual load coal into the hoppers. I am a little concerned that the tipple will somewhat block the view of the loaded hoppers but I may be able to work the scenery around it to make it work better.

Just past the run around tracks is the new wood engine house, also built to scale to match the MC's engine house at Cliftop. The engine house can hold two geared locomotives. And just as it does on the MC, there is a company store located at the end of the engine house spur. The company store will also be built to scale and have three stories above the road level in front with the scenery falling away to form what we would call a "walk out" lower level, which has a set of doors to allow the narrow gauge track to enter the basement for freight car to be spotted inside for unloading.

I know it seems like operation may be limited, but this layout was meant to be a test to see what I think of O scale narrow gauge modeling. I wanted to have it be a place for me to have some very detailed structures get a taste of this new gauge / scale. I would like to move someday to a get a larger modeling space and if I continue in this scale I can use the structures and scenes from this layout on the next. I made some changes to the room since my HO layout was torn down, one was the enclosure built around the furnace, that somewhat reduced the size of my layout space but will provide a nicer room to model in. I got very tired of the narrow aisles of my HO layout and I decided to run the layout only around the walls of the room to give the largest open space for people in the middle. I also wanted to make sure I had a running loop to be able to test and break in equipment, something I really regretted not having on the HO layout.

Well, that got a little long. I will be starting to benchwork soon, I am still doing the room remodeling. I did install the tracks behind the furnace already because once the walls are completed around the furnace because it was easier. I will be able to reach the tracks from one side if there is an issue but there was no way to install them if I had not done it first.

15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Chris333 Posted - 01/12/2021 : 2:56:17 PM
Try muriatic acid to clean the spot on the floor. Sometimes when my ferric chloride seems to lose it's power I pour muriatic acid in with it. Long ago I bought a big bag of powdered ferric chloride that needs to be mixed with water. I never etched bronze though.
Coaltrain Posted - 01/11/2021 : 1:38:16 PM
I poured the box a baking soda in the ferric chloride dry, smeared it around, then added a little bit of water to make it paste like, then smeared that around, then more water. I just hope I donít have a big hole there in a few years and a rusty furnace.
jbvb Posted - 01/11/2021 : 10:55:59 AM
I was scared as I started to read about your accident. Are you aware of "acid into water, never water into acid"? FeCl3 isn't really an acid, but it's certainly reactive/corrosive. Internet suggests baking soda/water to ensure co ensure neutralization. A person I know tripped carrying a jar of FeCl3 up the stairs of a subway station in Cambridge. He told the fare collector, but I guess the MBTA didn't do anything special. Both the steel treads and the concrete under them were pretty decayed a few years later.
Coaltrain Posted - 01/11/2021 : 09:37:19 AM
another weekend of shay work in the books. I needed to address how I was going to pickup power from the rails now that everything is resin. I was going to take advantage of the brass bearings but I decided to use wipers instead. The main reason I changed my mind is that I wanted to make it maintainable without having to take anything apart.

Many years back when I was in HO I was an early convert to sound and I added the first version Soundtraxx decoders to some Atlas RS-3 locomotives. Those early Soundtraxx decoders did not have keep alive packs and they were very fussy about good contact, the smallest dust particle would make the sound cut out or the locomotive to stall, it was very frustrating. Atlas used brass plates with holes in them to pick up power from the axle ends and what I found would happen is that dirt would build up in the axle pockets and cause all kinds of running issues. The only way back then to fix it was to remove the wheels a few times a year and clean them. I did not want to have to remove the wheel sets on the Shay to clean electrical contacts so I decided to use wipers.

The wipers are mounted to the bottom of the lower bolster with 0-80 screws and they sit in a shallow recess. the wipers are made from Phosphor bronze and the design is that each wheel has two points of contact, that makes 16 points of power pickup. I will solder a micro plug on the wiper so I can remove the screw and the wiper for cleaning without taking anything else apart. I could also replace a wiper if one wears out or gets damaged. This design follows my desire to make an easy to maintain locomotive.

I photo etched a sheet of wipers, which was a huge adventure in itself. I am still working in a temporary space so the only place to set up my photo etch stuff was on the floor by the furnace. Everything went well with getting the photo resist on the bronze sheet, where it all went wrong is with the etching . I had just a small amount of ferric Chloride left in one of my bottles so I decided to use it up and not open my new bottle. after a while etching it did not seem like the acid was working, my thought was that the old acid was weak, so I poured it back in the old bottle and opened the big full bottle of new acid (I am sure you see what's coming). I poured in the new stuff, almost all of it so it mixed with the little bit of old stuff that could not be poured back out, I wanted to make sure it was as powerful as possible. Just then my 3D printer finished a print, so I thought while I wait for the acid I will clean the print, I just have to step over the acid tank to reach the 3D printer. Yep, kicked over the acid tank and all that ferric chloride. In a frantic pace I used my hands to block it from going under the brand new furnace, I did have gloves on. I yelled for paper towels and was able to contain the spill from actually going under anything. I piled on the baking soda and some water to neutralize it while I set the tank back up and filled it with the little bit of new acid I had left, that way I could keep the etch going while I clean. It took me an hour to clean up that mess good enough to hopefully keep my furnace from becoming a rusty piece of junk. The fumes from the acid will rust metal, proof is that the metal clamps from the etch kit are all rusty from the little bit of fumes in the box when I store it away.

meanwhile, I forgot about the wipers etching away in the tank. I took them out and there was just a small amount of over etching, but still plenty good enough for testing them out. The Bronze must be a little harder to etch than brass. If I left brass in the tank an hour it would be gone.

here is the spill site all cleaned, but stained forever. Maybe I can paint over this spot, maybe nothing will ever stick to it. what a mess.

anyways, back to the shay. here is the Cad design of the wiper. I was thinking of using my riveter and add one rivet to the end of each wiper but the bronze does not rivet well. again, I can always work on the final design later, and if someday I decide a small little rivet will work better I can just swap it out.

here is a wiper, unbent and then bent into final shape. I have the final truck set prints done and they have provisions for the wipers. I will get them assembled this week and then put the trucks to bed and move one.

next I will move on to the final gearbox print, which will included a detailed firebox (all the details) and the cylinders and crankcase all detailed. it is going to take some time, there is a lot of work there and CAD design can take as long as scratch building.
Coaltrain Posted - 01/08/2021 : 11:48:05 PM
Second test run video, it is working much better. I spent some time looking at all the spur gears, I polished them with a file and wire brush and they are way better now, I can now move forward with the grade test and see how it runs downhill

Chris333 Posted - 01/07/2021 : 11:29:38 AM
I thought the gear sounds were kind of cool. And there was no echo through the whole model like a brass model would do.

The way you want to do the pickups is how everything in N scale is done now.
Coaltrain Posted - 01/07/2021 : 10:44:57 AM
Originally posted by jbvb

Usually where a particular kind of chain is sold, they also offer sprockets etc. to match.

they do, but not this small. Lee told me that this sprocket was not really for this chain but it works. At this point to test the drive I may just 3D print all the parts, if it works I will just have a new crankshaft printed from Shapeways with the sprocket cast into the crank shaft. inside the gear box I will just use the smallest side Micromark offers, which will change the gear ratio a little but that is fine.
jbvb Posted - 01/07/2021 : 10:05:58 AM
Usually where a particular kind of chain is sold, they also offer sprockets etc. to match.
Coaltrain Posted - 01/07/2021 : 07:13:58 AM
here is the small brass sprocket I would have to use on a chain drive, I am not sure where to get these.

Coaltrain Posted - 01/07/2021 : 06:37:00 AM
the long awaited test run, not very impressive. it runs good but there is too much noise in the spur gears, which I figured was going to happen and I was just hoping that for some reason it would not be that bad. One options would be try and replace the center gears with plastic ones that I could steel out of either some old trucks I have or from a parted out Bachmann Shay.

A second option would be to replace the gear chain with a and actual chain (like Lee Snover did). I have had bad experiences with the chain drive but maybe I have to try it again. the biggest issue is that I do not know where Lee got his parts and he has passed away so there is no way to ask him. the main part needed would be the small brass sprocket, I have one left. the small brass sprocket would have to go on the crank shaft. I could 3D print a new crank shaft from Shapeways in brass with the sprocket teeth on it. I may 3D print a crank shaft for the test, it will not last long but maybe long enough to know if I want to use it or not. The chain is just narrow enough to hide in one of the journals, but the chain goes around such a tight turn, and from my experience that is bad at higher speeds.

the way out of all this is to just default to a Faulhaber in the tender driving the wheels through a Grandt Line gear set. The model would run great but it would defeat what I am trying to do, which is to use a can motor and not a coreless motor.

here is an assembled truck test, both with and without the line shaft. The line shaft would get stuck on the test rails because it is square so a little shake would free it up. the trucks run great and this is almost the final set. If I use 3D trucks I will need a way to pick up power, wipers would work but I am thinking of using half axle shafts and running small wires to the brass axle cups to eliminate the friction of the wipers

here is the shay test run. the wobbling is from the wires dragging on the scenery, and then it did not help the the alligator clip picked up the Sergent coupler uncoupling tool. it is really hard to hold the throttle, an iphone, the test leads and run and film all at the same time.
jbvb Posted - 01/05/2021 : 08:08:23 AM
I continue to be impressed.
Coaltrain Posted - 01/05/2021 : 07:10:58 AM
Happy New Year everyone.

Shay update, built a third model with new parts, it is getting better. I enlarged all the shaft holes to accept brass tube bearings, the gearbox now turns smooth. I replaced the motor with a different one I had, it used the same mounting holes but the max RPMs were less so the motor did not cog. I changed my test decoder from an old DH140 to a ESU, which made the motor run much better, no more buzzing.

from the motor through the crank shaft everything is running good and smooth, the trucks are a different story. I noticed that I did not gauge the wheel sets before I designed the truck parts, turns out they were 0.017" under gauge. When I gauged my wheel sets the side frames were too tight, so I altered the 3D parts and as I type this the new ones are on the printer. I should be able to assemble a new set of trucks tonight. maybe tonight is the night I get a video of it running.

I also modeled up some Kadee couplers to check the fit of the box and the coupler height. my goal is to be able to use a full coupler box that will fit a Kadee and be able to self center. I know at the moment I am using Serent couplers, however that may change do to availability issues, and I still prefer Kadee couplers for ease of operation.

I made a 2D drawing of my 3D model so far so I could check some dimensions against the Lima drawing. There is still something I like about seeing a 2D drawing.

Coaltrain Posted - 01/01/2021 : 11:34:37 AM
The picture of my printed model next to my brass model is a good comparison. As you can see the detail level in the resin model is actually better than the brass castings. So between brass and resin when it comes to detail resin to me is the winner. So if the strength thing can be overcome then R.I.P. brass.
Coaltrain Posted - 01/01/2021 : 11:31:03 AM
Thanks. I am not sure why model steam locomotives donít have the sand rod ever, even the PSC models donít have it. I purchased the Lima drawings for the sand dome and it is neat how it all works and what a sand dome really looks like on the inside, not what I expected
Chris333 Posted - 01/01/2021 : 10:54:07 AM
Ha! I just noticed the slot in the sand dome for the actuating lever, nice.

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