Stencil on the side of a BN caboose at East Lewiston

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Update

A short progress report...

A good friend from Chicago, John Bauer, visited in early April.  In addition to being a long time friend, he's also been railroad modeler for many years, modeling the RGS in Sn3.  

John is also quite the hockey fan (Blackhawks too!) and burger connoisseur, so his visit consisted of railroad construction, watching the 'Hawks and trying out the various burger joints in the Fort Worth area.

The main goals of John's visit were to finish the backdrop, install the switch motors in the staging yard ladders and for me to learn about hand laying switches.  John has a lot of experience with layout construction and especially hand laying switches He fabricated all the point and stub switches on his RGS as well as the switches on a mutual friends HO railroad.

A removable opening had to be constructed to access the chandelier in the foyer.  We constructed a frame and used four pins to hold it in place.  You'll also notice John's cup from In-N-Out burger, one of our many burger joint stops.

The removable piece completed and ready for paint, along with the rest of the backdrop in the main room.
John installs one of the 10 Tortoise motors needed for the staging yard ladders.  Fortunately, I planned the turnout placement well enough to not encounter any joists under the switch point throw bars! 
Motors attached...Now come the wiring and toggle controls.

We decided to build two "ganged", curved switches.  I intend to build my switches in place to take advantage of the natural flow and curve of the track work.  With this in mind, I wanted to observe the process of building multiple switches at a time with some curve in them.

We used Fast Tracks point/frog fixtures to fabricate the frog points and switch points as well their Stock-aid, to remove the rail web of the stock rail. spiking one of the closure rails down.  We used Minwax ebony stain, to color the cross ties previous to laying the switch, with mixed results. Chris Vanko, who is also hand laying switches on hiss HO railroad, suggested using Polyscale Railroad Tie Brown... 

...Tried Polyscale Railroad Tie Brown on some of the other ties and the results are quite nice.  I also liked the look of Polyscale Oily Black, so I will use one or both of these colors for the wood ties and the plastic ties of the flex track.   

I had been a bit stalled on construction and hadn't accomplished much since Thanksgiving.  John's visit was great timing to help me get back on track building the railroad.  Most of my work on the layout is alone, late at night, so it was nice to have someone to work with for a few days. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Making the Grade

Happy New Year everyone!  2013 promises to be a great year...the year operations will begin on Idaho's Panhandle Railroad.  I'm currently building the transition grade from the staging loop to the visible part of the railroad at Forebay.

One concern I have is how many cars a single GP9 can handle up the grade from the staging tracks to Forebay.  

Trains 881 & 882, the local running between Lewiston to Kooskia,  regularly ran with a single unit due to a swing bridge with a light axle loading near Kamiah. 

Additionally, the line from Lewiston to Kooskia is along the Clearwater River with very little grade, so a single unit could handle a sizable.  The prototype often had close to 25 cars hauled by a single GP9.  

I need my model Kooskia to Lewiston train to be able to handle 15 cars from staging to the modeled portion of the railroad.

A single GP9 with 2oz of weight added pulls 20 cars and a caboose up the grade from staging.  My GP9's are repowered with Stewart F unit motors and trucks in a modified Proto 2000 frame.  The result is a smoother running unit but at the the expense of much of the weight in the original model.

A little extra weight makes 20 cars no problem. The BN GP9 pictured above is a model I did when my era was 1974.
I compared my GP9 with an Atlas RS3.  The RS3 weighs 
11 3/4 oz and easily handled 20 cars up the grade.  The GP9 with no weight added is 8 1/4 oz and struggles with 20 cars, but handled 17 cars with no trouble.  

I added 2 oz of weight (currently on the walkways) and 20 cars was no longer an issue.  2 oz of weight will need to be added to each GP9, which should be no issue as there is sufficient room even with a decoder and speaker.