Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wordless Wednesday #151

The portable Warrenton Depot on the Ohio River taken on July 11, 1952. The idea was to move the depot out when the Ohio River flooded, in worst case scenarios the agent had the rowboat (seen under the passenger car) to escape with. The Passenger car was formerly W&LE cafe-parlor 018 Kent.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Wordless Wednesday #150

The 1964 N&W-NKP-Wabash merger allowed the three railroad's engines to wander around the new system. Here's Wabash Alco C424 #B906 visiting Brewster, Ohio, July 5, 1965.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wordless Wednesday #147

Midland Road 2-6-6-2 #949 in HO Scale from Tony Koester's old Allegheny Midland layout on display at the Nickel Plate Road Historical & Technical Society's 2017 Cleveland Convention

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wordless Wednesday #146

Main Street in Maynard, OH 1910's. The tracks in front are probably the B&O (CL&W).

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wordless Wednesday #145

Terrafoaming has moved to the Adena wye. Roadbed sections have been cut, shaped and weighted down after applying Loctite Foamboard adhesive.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wordless Wednesday #144

Steam returns to the Valley! The Nickel Plate Road 765 passes through the Cuyahoga River Valley at Big Bend Trailhead, Akron, OH, 9-17-2017 Chris Ellis photo

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tiny Construction Report: September 14th, 2017

Not much progress to report lately. Any train time I have right now is usually spent either trying out manual turnout throw solutions or running trains with my son up and down the 50 or so feet of mainline. I did however do some layout cleaning as I prepare to start laying track at Adena. It's amazing how much stuff can accumulate on open spaces not filled with track.

Speaking of Adena, I tired of seeing the void behind the yard area where a hillside should be (see the above blog banner photo for the hill view). So with only 30 or so minutes to spare one evening, I started a side project to begin filling that area with a pink foam hillside.

The above photo shows the small start to the hill over looking Adena, the end product will be bigger, hence the tiny construction report. At least now the large void is covered up behind the yard. I've found hot glue works just fine for gluing pink foam together, you just need to work quickly and have extra glue sticks handy. And yes I did move the Berkshires shortly after realizing they were perilously in harms way.

This is one of things I love about building a layout, there is always a small project that can be worked on in small time slots aside from whatever are the current main goals.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday #142 - Train Movement Sheet - Update

Interesting train movements along the Ohio River appear from deciphering a Dispatcher's sheet for the Toledo Mainline and all Branch lines east of Brewster.
I'm still slowly working through Mike Mathie's NKP Dispatcher's Record of Train Movements sheet I scanned last year converting the data into a couple of spreadsheets. This time sheet covered Brewster to the Ohio River including my modeling area of Adena for the date of 5/25/1950. This kind of data is nothing short of invaluable for recreating traffic and planning for future operating sessions. 

A unfortunate side effect of this data is the desire to purchase a Broadway Limited PRR I1sa 2-10-0 as seen in the Pennsy movement on NKP tracks to the Y&O Dorthy #1 Mine. The PRR and NKP traded working the mine every other year, apparently the PRR had the even years. Coincidentally I have a Bowser PRR Cabin #477188, just a few numbers off the protoype that worked out of the Pennsy's Mingo Junction Yard. I don't have plans (space) to model this interesting movement but maybe a basement (house) upgrade in the future will allow me to recreate this traffic up and down the NKP's Ohio River tracks.


I could've sworn I had posted sometime in November or December 2016 about scanning NKP/W&LE Dispatcher's Record of Train Movements sheets. Fellow NKP modeler Mike Mathie was gracious enough to lend me two of his Dispatchers sheets, one for Brewster to the Ohio River lines and the other for the Cleveland to Zanesville lines. Both date to May 1950 and are a fascinating detailed look into a single day of operations on the NKP's new Wheeling District.

Below are a few quick photos I took before I scanned both sheets and stitched them together in Photoshop.

Brewster East sheet

Cleveland sheet, Carrolton Branch
Brewster East sheet, Adena and AC&NA Branches Eastbound
Some Observations...

By the mid 1950's all W&LE engines and caboose still have their original numbers, although the engines would have begun to have their W&LE lettering replaced with the Nickel Plate Road script.
On these sheets no W&LE cabooses had been repainted yet. The P&WV is still running steam and diesels in the Brewster - Rook pool. The only NKP influence that can be seen is H-6 Mikados 633, 643 and 647 have been assigned to duty on the Wheeling.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wordless Wednesday #141

Change is underway, recently repainted SD-9 2345 sits with sister 351 still in NKP paint.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Adena Water Tank Mystery Solved

Recently the JJ Young Flickr page has been updated with a ton of new W&LE and NKP photos, definitely check them out when you have a moment. One of these new photos helped me solve a mystery of what kind of steel water tank was at Adena.

One of the problems with trying to recreate the past is simply the passage of time. Structures can change as they are remodeled, added on to or vanish when they are torn down. The Adena area did not seem to be well photographed in the past, probably due to it being in a more remote area of southeastern Ohio. Luckily the release of a few hundred W&LE/NKP JJ Young photographs has greatly improved the "visibility" into the past in that area of Ohio. Nothing remains of the steel tank today but I was hopeful some photographic evidence was out there.

The earliest photos of the Adena water tank show it being located inside the east end of the wye tracks. Below is a photo from the CSU W&LE Collection showing the water tank just inside the east wye switch next to the start of the Adena Branch on 10-19-1925. This tank was replaced in 1946 with a 195,000 gallon steel tank according to a 1954 Physical Data booklet on, and was put in a new location by the south end of the wye.

Adena Water Tower, replaced 1946 with 195k gal. steel tank, Adena, OH 10-19-25 CSU W&LE Collection
The new steel tank was a bit of a mystery, I knew where it was located (just south of the south wye switch) and how big it was (195,000 gal) but not what kind of steel tank it was. When the Wheeling started upgrading to steel water tanks after World War II they used a few different shapes. Most seemed to be either elevated on stilts or full silo-like tanks. Below is a picture of the 50,000 gal. steel tower type tank at Jewett, Ohio.

925 an ex-Clover Leaf engine next to the 50k gal. water tank at Jewett, OH, JJ Young photo
Here's a photo below of a 195,000 gal. silo type tank at Pine Valley Yard in Dillonvale, OH.

969 H-5 class near the 195,000 gal water tank at Pine Valley Yard in Dillonvale, OH.
I always assumed the new Adena steel water tank was probably like the Pine Valley tank since they both had a capacity of 195,000 gallons, but I know what can happen when you assume things. At Vermillion, OH on the NKP there is a rather larger 100,000 water tank which was elevated like the Jewett tank (it's actually is a dead ringer for the Tichy Water Tank), so I couldn't be too sure what the Adena tank looked like without some photographic proof.

While browsing the new JJ Young Photos on yesterday, one picture showed a NKP 2-6-6-2 coming off the Adena Branch at Adena. Knowing this angle was a bit more southward than other similar shots I was hopeful that the water tank would appear. Sure enough there it was at the far left side of the photo.

An NKP 2-6-6-2 rounds the wye coming off the Adena Branch at Adena. At the far left can be seen the new steel water tank installed in 1946. JJ Young Jr photo
Here it is with an arrow pointing out the tank.

Water tank at Adena, OH. JJ Young Jr photo
Just what I suspected, a match to the Pine Valley water tank. The long white stripe of the water level line and a light coat of snow on the domed top help give it's shape away. The feather of smoke from a heater in the water treatment building just to the right is a neat surprise. I planned on using a Rix Products silo model for my Pine Valley tank and it now looks like I have one more to buy!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wired Wednesday - Construction Report: August 16, 2017

Feeders! Lots of feeders went in to Pine Valley Yard over the course of a few evenings. Once I settled on a technique the rest went pretty fast.

I choose white/red bell wire for my feeders (red in back, white in front) with a spool of green 22AWG for the frogs.

This side of the layout is actually the back.
Using the bell wire, I soldered the first few feeders along the web of the rail. This was fine for the back of the rail that won't be seen but I thought it looked a bit unsightly for the front of the rail. So, I switched to a method I've seen in various paper/online publications.

I bent the end of the wire 90 degrees then flattened the end with needle nose pliers. After that I cut off a small amount of the smashed copper to allow the wire to rest inside the rail web just like a track spike.

Feeder wire
There's also a way to solder the feeder wire to the bottom of the rail to make it totally invisible. A Resistance Soldering unit makes this that method really easy-peasy. The way I settled on was pretty fast also and made for an acceptable minimally visible solder joint. When I get to laying and wiring Adena Yard I know someone with a resistance soldering unit that will help make very short work of that project.

One small problem I found were my drill bits were too short for certain areas. To help punch though the 2 inch foam and the thicker removable fuse box access section, I purchased a 3/16th 6" aircraft-type drill bit.

Feeders on the removable section

Feeder drops 
The green wire turnout frog feeders were soldered using the same method described above to one of the PC board ties used to build the switch. I made the connection at the back side of the frog so it would be out of view. The turnout frogs will be powered though DPDT switches attached to linkage that is typically used to move not only the turnout rails but also to change the frog electrical polarity.

At first I felt over whelmed at the amount of feeders that needed soldered to the DCC bus under the layout. Daydreams of battery equipped engines with the new "dead rail" systems started to fill my head. I soon remembered that many layout builders in the Yahoo Groups Proto-Layouts group swear by using 3M ScotchLok displacement connectors. I ordered a box of the red type off Amazon and quickly found them to be a godsend. I ended up with grouping feeders together with a wire nut connected to a short drop wire that in turn runs to the 3M connector at the main DCC power bus as seen in the below photo.

3M ScotchLok and wire nuts
I can't imagine wiring the layout in any other way, in only a few hours I had the whole yard wired. The best part was not soldering at awkward locations under the layout and making my neck sore. Actually that was the second best part, the BEST part was finally testing it out.

Taking some NKP GP9s for a spin.
My next plans are to get some turnout controls in place and begin the east end of Adena Yard.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wordless Wednesday #139

A new 50 pack of of Kadee couplers inspired me to upgrade the plastic couplers on a majority of my RTR cabooses, mainly the Atlas ones. I ended up creating quite the scene in Pine Valley Yard as I upgraded each one. I threw in a custom painted W&LE caboose by Jim Kehn to finish off the heard/flock/gaggle? of cabeese.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Wordless Wednesday #138

A couple pieces of flextrack temporarily link the bridge at MP 193.22 with Pine Valley Yard at one end and the temporary mainline through Adena at the other end. Here a pair of NKP Athearn Genesis GP-9's 468 and 483 take advantage of the nearly 60 feet of mainline run. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wordless Wednesday #137

A neat piece of railroad history rolled through NE Ohio a few days ago. On July 21 Norfolk Southern train 17N contained the Illinois Railway Museum's ex Conrail E33 RPCX #4601 (former CR 4601/PC 4601/NH 300/N&W 230/VGN 130). It sat at Altoona, PA for over a year waiting restorative work but then was shipped back to the museum where that work will now be done elsewhere. The fact that it once hauled coal on the Virginian Railroad's electric lines in Virginia and West Virginia in the late 1950's makes it pretty cool in my book! Chris Ellis Photo

Friday, July 14, 2017

Construction Report: July 14, 2017 Pine Valley Trackwork Update

Last night I wrapped up the cutting and fitting of the west yard ladder of Pine Valley. Everything was glued with DAP adhesive caulk, the soup can express was parked on top and dried overnight (almost there's a few white caulk spots were air flow was blocked by a soup can). This weekend I'll solder the rails at the removable section edges and then cut those gaps along with frog gaps with my Dremel. The turnouts will also need spiked down since the copper ties do not touch the caulking and sorta float around.

As seen below the yard ladder starts with a curved #8 then a curved #6, all made with Fast Track's paper templates. The main line also now extends west all the way behind the furnace to the Long Run Tunnel area as seen in Wordless Wednesday #114. I've had to make some changes to the prototype track layout of Pine Valley Yard but I'm pretty happy with what I've fit into the available space.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

DCC: Decoder Wire Source

Recently I've installed a few DCC decoders in my son's equipment so that he can run his engines now that track is being laid. I have some nice thin flexible wire but would soon need more. I was reminded not too long ago about a potential source for the thin flexible wire that's perfect to use for decoder installs, PC ribbon cable!

Being that I build my own computers I naturally have a lot of old parts and cables stashed away. Old hard drive ATA and floppy disc drive ribbon cables are what you need to find. Cut off the cable ends and just like string cheese, peel off a few strands. In my example below, I had a fancy ATA cable that was designed to improve air flow inside the PC case. Even better it has three colors of wire to pick from! I hope this little tip can help you save a few bucks on DCC supplies!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A "Key" Engine Addition

I almost chose to not model the Adena area on the NKP's Wheeling district due to one thing, lack of inexpensive/easy to find Wheeling & Lake Erie-type Berkshire. In my mind the ex-W&LE K-1 Berkshires were a signature engine that would easily identify my layout as set in the NKP's Wheeling District. Renamed into the Nickel Plate's S-4 class and numbered 801-832, they looked similar to NKP Berks but with a few differences such as the disc-like Boxpox drivers. Without this engine I felt like it would be like trying to model the 1950's Union Pacific in Wyoming without it's signature Big Boys. 

Eventually the urge to recreate the NKP's coal operations in Appalachia Ohio became too irresistible. Research proved I could fill the S-4 engine gap with S and S-1 Berkshires, H-5 and H-6's Mikados that were bumped to the Wheeling by new diesels arriving elsewhere. The remaining I-3 2-6-6-2's, ex-N&W 4-8-2's and M-1 Heavy Mikados would help mark this layout as Wheeling territory as those engines never left their home rails. With this new approach to building a steam roster I could bide my time and wait for an opportunity to acquire Key Imports NKP (exW&LE) S-4's or possibly figure out a way to kitbash the Proto 2000 or Bachmann Berkshires into a S-4. 

Finally this past fall, thanks to a fellow NKP modeler switching to O scale, I finally managed to add a S-4 by Key Imports to the roster. Hopefully over the years to come I can add a couple more to my fleet, but for now she's my pride and joy!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sunday, June 25, 2017

More Curved Turnouts

Most model layouts are challenged when it comes to having straight runs and my layout is certainly no exception. Unlike the prototype both my Adena and Pine Valley Yards needed to bend around a basement wall and also required a few curved switches to further conserve space.

To finish the west end yard ladder of Pine Valley I needed two curved switches, a #8 off the main and a #6 in the ladder itself. After about 20+  template built turnouts and 6 or so made "freehand" on Fast Track's printable templates, I now feel pretty good about being able to make any turnout I may need.

Here's the mainline #8 curved turnout for Pine Valley under construction.

Even though I feel this turnout may be my best freehand attempt yet, I still need to build 6 more smaller #8's for Adena Yard's curved east end ladder. For the sake of speed, accuracy and the likely hood of using more curved switches on the branchlines I may just end up purchasing the Fast Track template for the #8 30/24 curved turnout.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Monday, June 12, 2017

Construction Report: June 12, 2017 Summer Slowdown

Layout work has been confined to building turnouts and laying track for Pine Valley Yard when time allows. This typical summer slowdown can be blamed as warmer weather, family trips and Little League baseball games all compete for time.

Because part of Pine Valley Yard ducks under the stairs (necessary evil and not a big deal as there shouldn't be much switching here), I knew I needed to have the track preformed and ready to glue down. To achieve this I didn't glue down the foam layout sections right away so they could be removed and rearranged on the floor. While on the floor I transferred my track plan to the foam and also to a paper template for cutting the rubber roadbed sheeting.

I then curved the code 70 Micro Engineering flex track (which is easier said than done) for the area that will run under the stairs.

The track then was painted with the same Rust-Oleum Camouflage Brown I used in my test scenery module. I taped off the ends so I could solder wire feeders and allow rail joiners to slip on the rail ends easier.

A simple block of wood was used to wipe the paint off the rail tops as the paint dried.

When the foam layout sections were glued down with foam paneling adhesive it was only natural the joint under the stairs was not level. With an agile hand I used DAP lightweight spackling to level the seam and fill any gaps.

Next the rubber roadbed sheeting was glued down with DAP Clear Kitchen & Bathroom Adhesive Sealant. The track plan was transferred to it with a silver Sharpie.

In the photo below I gathered all my tools I've used while laying track. I only soldered a few flex track joints, mainly the track labeled Y3. While I don't expect a lot of seasonal expansion in a layout built from mainly foam, rubber and caulking, I'd rather error on the side of caution and leave small gaps in between rails to allow some movement.

The Soup Can Express arrives in Dillonvale indicating some freshly glued track. All my track is glued down with a thin spread out bead of DAP Clear Kitchen & Bathroom Adhesive Sealant.

I built six #6 turnouts for the east yard ladder and engine terminal leads and used one previous built turnout for the Grocery Distributor spur at Dillonvale. For the east yard ladder turnouts I used the laser cut QuickSticks that came with the Fast Tracks #6 kit to see what those were like. These were glued to the assembled switch with a contact adhesive, then the sides were snapped off. I guess I was a little stingy with the glue as I had to apply more adhesive in a few spots where the ties fell off after removing the side supports.

How does all the junk pile up so quickly?

Over all I like the Quicksticks a lot for the time savings compared to working with individual ties but I got into the hand built turnout game to save money. The Quicksticks are $7.35 each and the equivalent of individual ties are probably under a dollar. With Fast Track's purchase of Mt. Albert Scale Lumber they'll get my money either way.

Here's a turnout with Mt. Albert HO scale cross ties stained with Minwax Walnut color and spiked down. A lesson learned here is since I'll end up spray painting the track my camo brown color anyways, I'll skip the Minwax stain next time. Perhaps if I know I won't paint the track in an area for a long time, I'll stain the ties with just a strong India ink wash. 

Also I could probably use a few more spikes to hold the rails down since the PC board ties don't drop low enough to touch the adhesive caulk. And yes, the wood tie/caulking/rubber sheet does hold spikes very well, I tested this about two years ago and the results have held up over that time.

To speed the process using individual ties I made a jig to help cut and arrange the ties. I then used painters tape to collect the ties and then set them in the caulking as seen below.

Either using the Fast Tracks quick sticks or hand laying ties, I've really enjoyed this part of track laying. I've often joked that I felt like the skills needed to hand lay track and turnouts must involve some kind of voodoo or black magic, but as with most things once you try it yourself it's not that bad.

Having everything fit together according to plan so far is a great feeling. There's some unusually hot weather for June coming in the forecast in the next few days, hopefully I'll get some more time in the cool basement for some trackwork.