Wednesday, August 21, 2019

DIY "clamps"

So the area Chris and I worked on has a seam between the masonite used on the helix and the new OSB, and a couple of tracks will need to run across that seam. While it's a location where people won't lean or put any pressure on it, I wanted to stabilize it a bit. These will be simple splice plates glued on since there isn't clearance for anything else. You can see the mockup of the sidings here while I test whether an Atlas crossing will work in this location. There are a number of commercial options, or I may just handlay it.

Since the OSB is thicker than the masonite, I need to glue a couple of spacers first, and then the splice plates. But the problem is the same - there's no way for me to clamp them that far from the other edge of the OSB.

It's not too big an issue, so I started looking for some scraps of wood to stack underneath them, and then thinking about getting some measurements to cut a few pieces. While thinking about it, I was also thinking about cleaning up the basement again, and looked at the pile of track I'd pulled off the west end.

Aha! Instant "clamps." And it works very well because the rail is flexible so I could cut it a little long and keep some pressure on the spacers while being glued in.

For a neater approach to the same thing (which apparently are spring clamps), check out Joe Smith's use of pieces of masonite for another option.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

More progress

Chris came over. How can you tell?

Oops. Wrong picture.

We added the deck inside the helix where tracks for two additional industries and East Main Street will be. East Main will run along the straight edge on the left, and add another grade crossing. The two industries it allows me to add are Miner, Read & Tullock, a grocery wholesaler, and D&K Coal, another small coal industry.

We also addressed what I'll be doing on the inside of the helix at Stanley Works, modifications on the west end, and adding the siding for Skinner Chuck. We also removed almost all of the backdrop. I needed more space where we had coved the corners, and we're coming to the conclusion that even the gray walls (New Haven Silver-Gray) might be all I need for the backdrop. We'll see. It was a very productive day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


As further proof that I inflict the same things upon myself as my modeling buddies...

All of Stanley Works and the rest of the left side of the layout has been pulled up. And I've pulled out the backdrop. This has been operating well for probably 5 years now....

There are a few mockups for testing, but in the last photo you can see some of what I'm planning. I'd like a little more space (and a better-shaped space) for modeling Stanley Works. Most of that blue foam will be cut away in the middle, but the empty space to the right of it will be covered. It will leave an access pit about half the size of the inside of the helix. I'll be able to hide the pit with structures, and I'll also be able to put further structures around the far edge of the pit where the backdrop will be if I want to. I've found that where possible, the most effective backdrop (like one section on Jim Dufour's layout), is to have the backdrop separated from the layout with an empty space between them. The only two places I'll be able to do this is in the helix, but it will work well. In both places it will also allow more scenery on the railroad itself, and access from within the helix.

In addition, it provides a significant alteration in operations at Stanley Works. I'll try to explain it with this diagram:

The basic arrangement is on the top. When we changed the alignment a few years ago, we extended the runaround as far as we could. But because of the arrangement, it created two sections of working track, with essentially two yard leads. The three tracks on top use use the track labeled as #1, and the lower three tracks use the runaround as the lead.

What has complicated this arrangement is learning more about the actual arrangement, for example in this Thomas Airviews 1955 aerial photo:

The box cars along the building are on what is labeled as Track #1 in my diagram. The runaround is immediately next to it. Now my layout is much shorter, but if there are box cars spotted along buildings on Track #1, it cannot be a yard lead as well. Moving the end of the runaround to the right, as in the second diagram, it functions as a yard lead for all of the tracks at that end of Stanley Works.

Is it prototypical? As much as it can be. The reality is that there isn't a collection of tracks that looks like a stub-ended yard. Instead the track continues through the rolling mill, and the additional tracks are across Curtis Street. That doesn't fit, so instead the tracks are represented on the shelf to the left. Operationally they will function a lot like the prototype, though. The main difference being that you won't have to move any cars that are being loaded/unloaded in the rolling mill to get to them.

Another interesting consideration is that since Track #1 is usually occupied by cars, they will have to be moved in order to use the runaround to service the (prototypically accurate) single facing point switch in the complex.

In any event, reworking this area will add about a half-dozen more spotting locations, make the operations work better, and it's easy to do using the Microengineering Yard Ladder system (which is now available in Code 70).

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

PRR X37, X37A and X38 Box and Auto Cars

The PRR Pro Group has started a group build of these classes of cars. While I've been a lurker for a long time, and take advantage of the amazing catalog of information they've created in earlier projects, this is the first time I'll participate at the same time.

In addition to working on these cars, I have a lot of partially completed resin box cars, and I intend to work on those at the same time in an assembly line fashion.

Available Models

Funaro & Camerlengo offers the X37, X37A, X37B and X38 cars as one-piece body resin kits. They are excellent kits, and what I'll be using for my models.

What about the X38x classes?
There are 14 X38 classes. For my needs, only the X38 and X38A are really necessary. The X38B was a one car class, of a single-sheathed composite war emergency variation. The X38C and later classes were rebuilds starting in 1953 (or '55, I have conflicting information).

The 600 X38A class cars are basically the same car as the X38, but with an end door. It may be possible to cut the end off of the F&C kit and replace it with one from a P2k kit.

As a NH modeler, I probably don't need to worry about kitbashing one. But hopefully F&C will release it in the future.

Online Resources

Print Resources

  • The Keystone 14.4
  • The Keystone Modeler #62 (X37B), pg 6.
  • The Postwar Freight Car Fleet, pg 79
  • Steam Era Freight Car Reference Manual Volume 1: Box & Automobile Cars, pg 139, 204.
  • Train Shed Cyclopedia #17.


I currently only have an in-service picture of an X37 and X38A, so I'll probably have to work from lists and other's recommendations on the truck/brake wheel and road number combinations.
  • X37 PRR 65677 as pictured in service in the Postwar Freight Car Fleet, pg 79. The trucks resemble the coil/semi-elliptic trucks Bowser makes for their X31 cars. 
  • X37A I'm not sure of a road number yet, but several pictures show National B-1 type trucks, which are available from Kadee (50-ton), Walthers/ex-Life-Like, and Athearn (70-ton). This would need the 50-ton trucks, but I'll probably order all of them to compare.
  • X37B I'm not sure the road number I'll use, but F&C makes the Elsey trucks that was used on at least 500 of the cars. (I don't see them listed on their website).
  • X38 Don't know the road number yet, but on Jerry Britton's page he notes that Eric Thur recommends the Bowser PRR 2D-F8 trucks.

Other Parts

These are other parts that I'll use which are my current standard parts for any appropriate kit.

  • Kadee bracket grabs, brake wheels and "steel" running boards
  • Yarmouth Model Works sill steps, wood running boards, and eyebolts.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Fine Tuning Operations

My operating session is centered around the locally assigned switch crews. But the more I look at it, I think it should be focused on the Agent's shift. There's a good chance the switch crews were on duty for most, if not all, of that anyway.

That being the case, there are several questions I still need to find answers for.

I know the Station Agent is on duty from 6:15 am until 10:00 pm (10:15 pm after 1949).
The Freight House closes at 5:45 pm.

What I don't know:
  1. What time do the two switching crews start?
  2. Do they start at the same time, or are their start times staggered?
  3. What time does the Freight House open?
  4. Do the crews spot empties at the Freight house in the morning, or the evening before?
  5. Does at least one of the switch crews stay on duty to add cars to the through freights that come through in the evening? I think they might, since all freights picking up cars come through town before the Station Agent goes off duty.
I'm also not sure how long the Stanley Works crew would be on duty, so that's a whole different question. I know that at least into the '60s the NH switched out Stanley Works twice a day. For the most part, I will model the traffic to Stanley Works along the lines of the Freight House and the second interchange will be around 6:00 pm. The Stanley crew may have a little more work to do, and in theory there's an hour left in the session.

Through Freight Schedules

In most years, there are two cuts of cars left overnight, but this varies from 1-4. 
NY-4 comes through at 8:30 and drops off additional cars.
YN-3 at around 2:00-3:00 pm picks up cars.
YN-1 and AO-5 pick up cars between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm.

From 1951 to early 1953 (during the Korean War) there's a pair of Maybrook freights (AO-3 around noon to 1:00 pm and OA-2 just before 6:00 pm) that may drop off and pick up cars respectively. 


I do think that at least one of the freight crews is still on duty when trains come through in the evening. The first clue is ANE-1. This was the Hartford to Bridgeport section of the Speed Witch. It protects the Freight House closing at 5:45ish and comes through town at about 8:00 pm. The Freight House is at Whiting Street, so the crew would need to pull the cars, then bring them to New Britain Yard. The cars are split into several blocks, which will need to be worked into the train, and I suspect that was enough work that the road freight crew probably didn't do it on their own. AO-5 would follow about 40 minutes later, and YN-1 would be stopping at Whiting Street about the same time as ANE-1. So it would seem to me that both crews would be needed at this time, unless the road freight crews did the work themselves.

Since the Whiting Street/Berlin branch hasn't been used in a session yet, I don't really know how long a "complete" session will take. But I'm not sure any session has completed where the NH switchers finished all of their work. The Stanley crew usually does. The sessions themselves have been about 3-4 hours, and a maximum 16-hour day with a 4:1 fast clock works out to a 4-hour session. So that's probably what I should shoot for. 

Through Freight Motive Power
NY-4, YN-3, YN-1
  • S-2s 1946-1949 
  • RS-2s 1949-1952
  • RS-3s 1952+
  • FA-1/FB-1/FA-1
All of these in the delivery schemes, except the FA/B/A sets which switch to a second scheme c1949. Dale and Bill are helping with the delivery scheme, and the P2k models were produced in the second scheme.

For simpler operating schemes, there are no cars dropped after the start of the session from through freights  in late '52, late '53, or late '54. There may be cars dropped by the local freight. 


One the time, the maximum work day for a railroad crew was 16 hours, with a mandatory 10 hours off after working 16 consecutive hours. Working 16 or more total hours over a 24 hour period required 8 hours off. So the problem isn't so much that the crew outlaws, but that they can't start the next day until two hours later than the first day. So their work day must be less than 16 hours. Based on what I've heard, and seen for other paperwork, the first trick typically starts at 7:00 am. So if the crew worked from 7:00 am until just after 9:00 and placing cars on AO-5, they'll avoid the issue with outlawing.

But if the crew starts at 7:00, and one of their first jobs is to spot empties at the Freight House, what time does it open? They don't necessarily need to start loading the cars the moment customers start dropping off freight, so it might open as early as when the Agent comes on duty, or maybe as late as 9:00 am after cars are spotted. 

The Agreement Governing Hours of Service, etc. ... for Clerks, Freight Handlers, and Station Employes of 1947 set their work hours at 8 hours, exclusive of the 30 minute meal period. So those positions are two shifts during the day. 

Research continues...