Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wordless Wednesday #95

The 765 in disguise as the 767 at Northside Station Akron, OH 9-25-2016, Chris Ellis photo

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wordless Wednesday #94

 Hanna Coal Truck at the Georgetown Prep Plant, Cadiz, OH. Facebook: Historical Stripping Shovel Archive, Rachel Frew Collection

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Construction Report: September 20, 2016

The Fast Tracks turnout machine is at notch eight as I crank out switches for Adena area. A fresh package containing 99 feet of Micro Engineering code 70 rail helps feed the machine every night after dinner. I try to at least build one and start a second on the days I work, occasionally I actually get two completed. My days off haven't been as productive as I've hoped but I've managed to keep the level of production steady.

I still need to build four #8 left handed curved turnouts using only the paper Fast Tracks templates like in Not So Wordless Wednesday #78 for the east Adena Yard ladder. In the meantime I'm doing a pretty fine job of procrastinating by building the easy fixture guided #6 turnouts. Sadly I only need three more of those #6's.

The turnout pile so far.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Netflix and Fast Tracks Weekend.

I spent the weekend building Fast Track switches while binging on the excellent BBC show "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell" on Netflix. It's based on a book that portrays magic as a long lost art that returns to 1800's England. Don't think Harry Potter, this reads more like historical fiction. It's also probably one of the better book to TV/Movie conversions I've watches.

Anyways... I turned out several #6 switches and began construction of the other 6 curved #8 switches I'll need to build Adena yard. If I hadn't been watching Netflix I'm sure my output might have been higher but it was a good way to pass the time.

After building a right hand curved #8 30"/24" radius switch earlier in the summer I felt pretty good about "free hand" building turnouts with only the Fast Tracks paper templates. I finished my first left handed version of the aforementioned switch type while watching the finale of that BBC show. Probably not a good idea as my split focus did not produce the results I had back in that Wordless Wednesday #78 post.

I ended up making a multitude of mistakes. The diverging route wing rail was a bit tight to the frog point rail. The frog points were too short and stubby allowing some wheel drop into the frog on my test wheel set. And to top it all off it wasn't even a #8 30/24 radius switch I built. I accidentally used the #8 40/30 paper template I thought I set aside. No wonder it didn't quite fit into the yard ladder I had laid out on paper. The 40/30 radius switch was for the yard throat and I wanted to save it for last as I figured my switch building skills would be sharper by then. Whoops.

Well I did get building that switch out of the way, but unfortunately I had to go back and fix all it's  problems. Better to make sure its right now then have to fix it when its installed on the layout.

If there's any moral to this blog post, I guess it would be don't build switches while watching compelling TV shows!

Desoldering the far too short frog points.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Wheeling & Lake Erie's Valley Line to Reopen?

On the Unofficial Wheeling & Lake Erie Fanpage on Facebook a story was posted saying the modern day W&LE may bring a large section of the Valley Line (Pittsburg Junction to Warrenton) back to life. The Wheeling has received a decision from the Surface Transportation Board allowing it an exemption to operate a 14.6 mile section of its formerly abandoned Valley Line.

Here's an excerpt from the decision covering the two different sections of track.

Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Company (W&LE) a Class II rail carrier, has filed a verified notice of exemption under 49 C.F.R. § 1150.31[1] to operate approximately 14.6 miles of trackage in Harrison and Jefferson Counties, Ohio consisting of two segments:  (a) between milepost 188.5 and milepost 189.1 near Unionvale and (b) between milepost 191.5 near Adena and milepost 205.54 near Warrenton.  Both segments are part of a previously abandoned rail line known as the Valley Line.
 This lets the Wheeling operate from Pittsburg Junction to Kenwood where a big stone operation already occupies the mainline past Unionvale near Kenwood. The other section runs west from Warrenton at the Ohio River past Dillonvale, Adena and through the Adena Tunnel. The missing 2.4 miles between 189.1 and 191.5 is left out for obvious reasons for now as seen below.

W&LE Toledo mainline washout at MP 191.5, just west of the Adena Tunnel. 11-29-2014 Chris Ellis photo
Perhaps there might be a future plan to rebuild this section? Maybe state funding is the goal to help rebuild? Either way this is exciting news, the Wheeling must have some kind of plan for this section of railroad. I wouldn't expect major levels of traffic but just to catch one train traveling this line again would be a pretty awesome experience!

For more reading here's a link to the STB's decision.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Construction Report: September 3, 2016, Coming Around the Corner

In Wordless Wednesday #91 I showed a bit of the west end of Adena as I tested my planned full train size (about 9 feet long, engine through caboose). Aside from laying down a temporary 25 foot mainline for testing and just to run some trains, most of my latest work actually involves the other end of Adena.

In order to fit the Adena yard into my space the east end of the yard ladder will curve the wrong way compared to the prototype. As you can see in the below photo the yard ladder practically starts at the bridge over the Short Creek and then curves right. My yard will unfortunately curve left here but that's just sometimes a fact of compromise when building a prototype based layout.

820 pulls a westbound coal drag over the Short Creek and into Adena yard.
This is one of only two photos I know of that show this end of the yard in action. The other is on the back cover of the April 1950 NKP Company Magazine showing a 2-6-6-2 in the same view but with much better detail. One of these days I'll get myself a copy.

To preserve the bridge being as straight as it's prototype I designed a section of benchwork that carries it above the dryer and water heater. This piece of benchwork had to be strong and removable to access the water heater if necessary, so I built it out of 3/4" plywood instead of my usual foam base.

At this point I'm sure some of you will be quick to point out I should not be building something that close to my Water Heater's exhaust flue, and you're right. In my quest to try and keep bridges and whatnot as prototypical as possible I felt building across the top of my Water Heater would be ok. Once I had this piece built and in place I immediately felt extremely uncomfortable about it and took it down.

For the last month I wrestled with how to re-approach this section, keep it and just remove it when the layout wasn't in use or do a full redesign? Knowing that my son would want to run trains when I wasn't around to help get this section back in place, I opted for the full redesign.

Compromise once again appeared and I decided to curve the bridge somewhat to get around the Water Heater. The plan here is after exiting Adena Yard and crossing the Short Creek the mainline will disappear into Long Run Tunnel and head into a staging yard representing all points east (Pine Valley Yard, Mingo Junction, and Martins Ferry). The small yard at Herrick in between Adena and Dillonvale is another victim of compromise, hence the run straight to Long Run Tunnel. As seen below, I used cardboard to mockup a new safer design.

Cardboard mockup with a slightly curved bridge.
Cardboard mockup in place.

The new design will allow me to sleep at night as it now swings around the Water Heater altogether and avoids the potentially hot areas of the Water Heater.

I still needed this section to be removable so I stuck with the same construction methods as before but this time I used some Birch plywood for added stability. The cardboard mockup ended up being sacrificed as a cutting template.

Much better, plenty of space and available airflow.
I'm real happy with how the construction turned out and it's a redesign I can totally live with. This was a good lesson to learn and I feel sharing a mistake in planning is a huge part in sharing my overall progress on this blog. Even though this won't be a perfect representation of the scene I wanted to recreate in the photo, I still can't wait to see it come to life.