Saturday, January 23, 2021

Layout Construction: Bulk Tracks bridge

 Dick came by to help design and build a bridge for the bulk tracks behind the freight house.

Here's a map to explain the layout of tracks:

The large oval highlights the two bulk (team) tracks, along with a track to Stanley Rule and Level that crosses Whiting St. Also note the crane.

The two smaller ovals are two unloading platforms. Since I can't model all of these tracks, I'll probably add one to this section.

You can see how the bulk tracks are behind the freight house, with a parking lot between them. On the layout, the freight house will be along the edge of Whiting St. Yard, and (most of) the parking will be in the aisle. The bulk tracks are on a small shelf built into the wall. To get there, I need a bridge.

Here's a shot with the Whiting St Yard benchwork to the left, and the bulk track shelf on the right. 

My initial thought was to build a swing bridge that would hinge out from the wall. The problem is that it needs to be longer than the length of that wall, by about 4-6 inches. That's OK, because I would like to extend the layout about another 4-6" to provide a little of the parking, and maybe have some trucks at the freight house, which parallels the edge of the benchwork.

However, Dick's initial thought was to attach it to the front of the benchwork. This sounded like a good idea, since it would be as long as needed, but I wanted to do it in a way that it is hidden when not in use, rather than the track being alongside the freight house. To do this, it would need to go down a slight grade to ensure that the top of the bridge was low enough that I can build out a small section of benchwork to cover it when stored. This amounts to about 1/2", and conveniently, that track is just long enough that it's a 2% grade to get to that point.

Although not prototypical, the property wasn't entirely flat either, rising to the right of this track anyway. When scenicked I think it will look good.

The bridge is a simple T-Beam. Dick routed out a slot for the vertical member, and we used a door hinge to attach it to the layout. I cut out the foam where the bulk track is, and used Woodland Scenics 2% grade (on top of a W-S 1/2" spacer). I also cut out the foam from the front house track to the edge of the benchwork so I can attach the extension that will hide the track securely to the existing benchwork. It will be a piece of OSB that simply extends out about 5" to cover the bridge when stowed.

Here's the bridge extended:

Very simple once we determined the angles. We started by cutting the vertical member to length and attaching that to the benchwork. Then we laid the other board across the top and marked the angles to be cut. It took us longer to work out specific details than it did to actually build it. 

Because we couldn't open it a full 90-degrees, we drilled holes in the fascia first, then used machine screws and nuts to attach it. We had to attach a block to the side of the vertical member so the hinge would be along the side, permitting it to hinge flush against the benchwork. I will probably devise a closing mechanism with magnets to hold it in place when in use. The electrical bus will be attached on the hinge side with feeders to the track, and I already have a bus to the shelf.

As it turns out, cork, plus a layer of the craft foam to be added later, is the perfect match to the end of the bridge. I needed some weights for while the glue dried...

The track to Stanley Rule and Level will run against the front of this shelf, and end at the edge. There will be a track over at Stanley for scenic purposes, since I can't actually connect the two.

While I could have just used the track that ended at the front of the layout for the same purpose, I think having a couple of the bulk tracks themselves will be a nice addition. The bridge will most likely be extended once or twice a session, just long enough to service the tracks, so it doesn't need to be more complicated than this. The extension to the benchwork will also help protect the freight house. While it does extend the reach, the majority (if not all) of the access that will be needed is at either end of the yard, not in the middle here. The Landers, Frary and Clark track may be a challenge, though. I guess that's consistent, though, since the Landers track at New Britain Yard is too.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Commodities - Products of Agriculture and Animals

 There are a lot of smaller commodities, along with specialized commodities that won't come to New Britain. Livestock is one I covered earlier. Let's see if there's anything left worth looking at by category:

900 Products of Agriculture

  • 001 Wheat - 133 (NY 50, PA 50, Canada 33)
  • 003 Corn - 983 (IL 275, IN 50, IA 25, KY 25, MI 25, MN 25, NY 75, OH 425, PA 25, Canada 33)
  • 007 Oats - 708 (ME 25, NY, 50Canada 633)
  • 009 Barley and Rye - 75 (MN 25, NY 25, OH 25)
  • 015 Flour, Wheat - 3,150 (IN 50, IA 150, KS, 275, MI 25, MN 625, MO 450, NE 100, NY 1350, WI 25)
  • 017 Meal, Corn - 25 (NY)
  • 019 Flour, Edible, NOS - 275 (IL 25, IN 25, MN 25, NY 150, TN 25, WI 25)
  • 021 Cereal, Food Prep - 383 (MA 100, MI 50, NY 25, OH 25, PA 25, Canada 33)
  • 023 Mill Products, NOS - 708 (IL 75, IA 50, LA 25, MA 100, MI 50, NY 25, OH 25, PA 25, Canada 333)
  • 025 Hay - 483 (MI 100, NY 250, Canada 133)
  • 027 Straw - 50 (NY)
  • 031 Tobacco Waste - 75 (PA)
  • 033 Cotton in Bales - 450 (AZ 25, AK 100, CA 25, GA 50, LA 50, MS 75, SC 25, TX 100)
  • 035 Cotton Linters - 275 (MA 50, NJ 50, NY 25, NC 100SC 25, VA 25)
  • 039 Cottonseed Cake Meal - 350 (AK 25, GA 50, IL 125, MS 25, SC 50, TN 75)
  • 045 Soybean Oil Cake - 250 (IL 75, IN 75, OH 75, PA 25)
  • 047 Vegetable Oil Cake - 100 (GA 25, IL 25, NJ 50)
  • 199 Products of Agriculture NOS - 900 (CA 25, FL 125, IL 75, IN 50, LA 400, MA 25, NY 125, OR 25, VT 50)

There are feed dealers in New Britain. C.W. Lines on Chestnut St. Here are two views. It's on the right in the first picture, this side of the railroad tracks, and on the left in the second, on the opposite side.

This also gives us a nice view of both sides of the crossing shanty here. Unfortunately, Chestnut St didn't make the layout, the Berlin Line crosses through the helix at this point.

Reynolds Hugh Grain and Feed Co is on Commercial St, right next to New Britain Yard.

They may have received bulk grain and feed, or in bags. There's a loading door facing the tracks.

Miner, Reed and Tullock is listed as a wholesale flour dealer/broker. The building still stands, and I'm in the process of determining whether I'll build it to scale, or compress it.

There have clearly been additions, but the bulk of the building is the original one. Because these products are produced by so many producers, I'll just need to find some in each region for waybills. I probably won't need to research the remaining products of Agriculture for my layout.

910 Animals and Products of Animals

  • 215 Meats, Fresh NOS - 7,392
  • 219 Packinghouse Products, Edible - 200
  • 221 Margarine, NOS - 50
  • 225 Poultry, Dressed - 75
  • 235 Wool in Grease - 325
  • 239 Hides, Skins, Pelts - 75
  • 241 Leather, NOS - 25
  • 299 Animals and Products, NOS - 125

Of course, the most common shipments here are from the meatpacking plants. In New Britain there's the Armour and Swift plants. Of course, others may be seen too, such as this Morrell reefer:

For through freights, there are Armour, Cudahy, and Swift distribution plants in Hartford. Armour, Cudahy, and Swift are also in Holyoke. I know Wilson was in New Haven and New London, possibly others. Hormel, Rath, and Tobin all had a presence in CT, although I haven't identified towns. But they might be seen on the Maybrook freights to Hartford.

Of course, as the picture above shows, other brands may be seen regardless of whether a distribution center is present. 'Generic' meat reefers, such as Mather,  or NX, would also be appropriate.

For example, in New Britain there is also AYO Packing Co, M Krawczyk and Sons, Martin Rosol's, and Vitamin Sausage Products, all companies that make sausages and other processed meats, and would likely receive them via rail. In Hartford is Grote & Weigel, Kaufman Bros, Morris Packing, Mucke, Rex Provision, Sparvery Bros, and Stanley Provision. These would also receive reefers, even if it's at a bulk track.

The other products of animals are in such small annual quantities that I won't need to concern myself with them. For example, the 25 annual carloads of leather may be to a single industry somewhere in CT.


Combined with what I've covered in prior posts, those are all of the commodities for those categories that show up in the 1% waybill study.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Research - The State of the Railroad

Poking around through more copies of Along the Line, and I came across this article from August, 1949. Like so many "known" facts, I find that with a little research that things aren't quite what has been passed along through the years. This is the second "relaunch" of the magazine, this time in a smaller format, after missing five months.

Five Thousand New Jobs

More than five thousand new jobs were created during the years 1947 and 1948 through the location of new industries along the line of The New Haven Railroad, it was revealed recently by figures compiled by our Industrial Development Department.

During those two years twenty-nine new industries came into our territory from previous locations elsewhere, and a total of 134 new industries started in business here, including new branches of existing industries. Only eight industries moved to other locations during the same period, and only fourteen went out of business.

The consequent benefits to the railroad and the communities were manifold. For our part, we had a net gain in freight tonnage from these industries of 251,220 tons annually. The communities had a net gain of 141 industries, employing 5,045 persons.

Translating this added number of employees into terms of purchasing power, it is readily seen how great were the benefits to the communities. Figuring a conservative average of $40. a week earnings for these new employees, this meant a total additional payroll of $10,493,600 annually. It meant more trade for the butcher, the grocer, the clothier, the electric light and gas companies, the telephone company, and everybody else in business in the territory. It meant more tax collections for the support of government.

Their food bill alone would be over $3,000,000. Housing and fuel expenditures would be more than a million and a half dollars. They would spend well over a million dollars for clothing, better than $600,000 for household furnishings, and another $400,000 for household operations. Automobiles, entertainment, medical care and other items would run over two millions.

Interesting, too, is the diversity of products turned out by these new industries. The greater the diversity of manufacture in a given territory, the less is the likelihood of disastrous results from untoward conditions affecting a particular type of industry. Diversity is good "insurance."

Here are some of the products represented by the new industries: advertising displays, furniture, groceries, air filters, plastic wire connectors, electrical appliances, printed forms, lithography, Fritos, rulers, toiletries, phonograph record blanks, wallboard, steel products, flooring, paper cartons, lumber, paper, trailer frames, yarn, cranberry sauce, castings, cotton yarn, glassware, construction equipment, plywood boat forms, plastic products, phonograph cabinets, pallets, builders' supplies, concrete blocks, paint brushes, photo equipment, metal tube and hose, dog food, aluminum foil, wire cord, rubber gloves, textiles, jams and jellies, clothes cabinets, wrenches, plasticized fabrics, synthetic felt, paper tubes, Propane gas, bananas, brass and aluminum castings, beverages, cinder blocks, frozen foods, aluminum door frames, steel chain, facial tissue, aluminum skis, woolen yarn, rayon fabrics, nails, fencing, beer, castings and shoes.

Industrial development work began on the New Haven away back in 1911, when, in cooperation with the Boston & Maine, the first railroad industrial development activities were organized. This pioneering produced such excellent results that soon power companies followed the railroads' example, and this was fallowed in turn by greater activity by local chambers of commerce and similar organizations.


This is also the issue announcing the launch of the Cranberry, plus faster service for a lot of trains, many from 5-10 minutes, but the Colonial's running time has been shaved by 45 minutes. The Merchants also gains coaches during the summer months for the first time.

It seems that things aren't quite in the decline that most attribute to the post-war era. To be sure, we do see a decline in the next few years, with a brief boost from the Korean war, but in this period where the railroad has just come out of bankruptcy looks like things are going well. 


Lastly, there's a letter from News Syndicate, Inc. referring to damage to newsprint paper rolls, and the reminder that there is a growing option of having the newsprint shipped via water routes. The author says he was a railroad man who worked the spare board for a decade and would like to see the business stay with the railroad.

As interesting as the letter is, it's the statistics that he quotes that interests me: they receive 600 carloads/month of newsprint.

This is New York City, so they may receive it from several railroads. I don't have the 1% waybill statistics for New York (much less the city), but that's 7,200 carloads a year, and more than double the average delivered to CT 1950-1954.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Designing Operations for Paul's Layout Part III - The Movement of Trains and Staging

Here's Part I and Part II.

What do Railroads do?

Railroads are a shipping company. They move commodities from one place to another. 

Well, duh, right?

The Movement of Trains
In my view of operations, there are four major components: The Jobs Performed by the Railroad, the Movement of Trains, the Movement of Cars, and Paperwork. As you may have guessed, a lot of folks like to start with the Movement of Cars (car cards/waybills) when designing for operations, but for me that's still to come.

First we need to figure out how trains will be moving around the layout. To do that we need to know where we are, and what Point A and B are, and if there are any intermediate stops as well. Oh yes, and the layout is a loop.

A digression - for decades we've seen layout plans talk about point-to-point layouts, as if they are inherently different from a layout designed as a loop. But the real point (ahem) is that a real railroad travels and moves goods and/or people between two or more points. So that means you have to design a layout with a start and and end, right? 

But it probably didn't take long for people to realize that even in the smallest scales, we can't build the entire rail system in our basement (or laundry closet), so we'll need to find a way to include the parts we don't build. Thus the concept of staging.

It's pretty simple - you have a layout designed with two ends, and staging at either end to represent everything else. And obviously this has absolutely nothing to do with the layouts we built as uneducated kids on a 4' x 8' loop.

Except that my layout has a helix at either end, that goes down to the lower level where the staging is, and it also forms a complete loop. So I guess it can be a loop, but part of the loop is hidden, right?

Why don't I just get to my point, which is:
Point-to-point is a method of operation, and not necessarily a physical design.

Back to my layout to clarify. If I have an open house, I can just put a train on the mainline, and let it loop through the layout for as long as I let it run. It's a loop. But when operating the layout, we consider that the right helix is heading toward Hartford, and the left is going to Plainville, and no train going down one side would ever come back up the other one.

Yes, it's certainly possible (and often preferable) to design a physical point-to-point layout. But just because a layout is a loop doesn't mean we have to operate it that way.

OK, back to where we were: Where are we?

Paul labeled the left loop as New Haven and the right as Boston. I suggested an alternative. The layout is New Haven and Boston, depending on which end of the run we find your train.

That is Point A and Point B are defined by operation, not by the physical layout. 

You start the Session in Boston Yards, and in incoming train has arrived from New Haven, from the left loop (west). You break down the train, build a new one, and head west to New Haven.

If you enjoy watching trains run around a loop, then you can do so for as long as you'd like. Otherwise it can be just one. In which case you have arrived at Cedar Hill, and the layout is now in New Haven.

Some people won't like this approach, I get it. But then I'd suggest you try it. Because my modeling buddies and I have commented many times that the details don't matter when operating, because you're focused on the operations. Both Chris and I have had many ops sessions on our plywood (OSB) central layouts, and nobody has complained that the ops session was a failure because everything was the same shade of plywood (well, except Essex through East Haddam on Chris' since that's built on pink foam).

To me, Movement of Trains also addresses things like signaling, Time Table & Train Order, etc. But those are potential layers to consider in the future. We need to get this operating for Paul first, get a handle on the basics of operating the layout before we add those layers.

But that still doesn't address the issue of (lack of) staging or, to put it another way, the lack of connection to the outside world.

So let's look at staging.

I think it's one of the most important aspects of layout design. And to design proper staging, I think you need to have a general idea of what you'll be running on the layout in terms of trains. Because you must have a staging track for each train, right?

The answer, of course, is yes. And ideally that will be off-stage. But in a small space it may not be possible for you to have off-stage staging.

There are three basic types of staging: hidden, visible, and fiddle.

Hidden staging is the traditional staging, separate from the main layout, where trains await their next run. It can be a siding on the back of a loop and hidden from view. It can be in a second room, or a second level with a helix. Anyplace you can put a hidden track where a train will start or end its run is what most people think about when discussing staging.

Visible staging is also fairly popular. A yard at one end of the layout often serves as a visible staging yard. Trains are built and broken down at the yard, which runs to the other end of the layout, sometimes another yard, or a loop that returns to the same yard. A hidden staging track or two might exist for interchange to another road, or a dummy track serves the same purpose. Another type of visible staging is an interchange track.

Fiddle staging is a point, sometimes hidden, where trains are built and broken down. It's a real space saver, but requires you to actively swap out the cars. A carfloat operation is one possibility. You can even have multiple floats, pre-loaded, and you swap out the float itself. This can be combined with other types of staging as well. 

An example I've provided fairly frequently when people online ask about small layout design and how much staging is needed is the CNZR. You can look at my earlier post for details on the operation, but the basic schematic is this:

It's a small branch line that has their engine servicing at the end of their line. On the CNZR it's literally the end of the track, with a couple of sheds, and the locomotives sitting in the open. A runaround is across a street. The other end of the line consists of a runaround, and a junction with another railroad's mainline, and a couple of interchange tracks.

If we look at it from the perspective of the crew, then they pull cars and drop them on one of the interchange tracks, and pull inbound cars from another interchange track. That, on the prototype, is visible staging. If this is wrapped around the walls of a room, you can easily add a hidden track to create a full loop for continuous running when you want it. They only have a single customer, but there's no reason why you can't add more.

For this layout, it's all visible staging. The passenger train never leaves the layout. Freight cars can stay on the layout, or you can fiddle some of them on/off, either during or between sessions. Locomotives are on trains or being serviced, and never leave the layout. But we can still have a connection to the outside world.

Track No. 5 is now designated as an Interchange Track.

We've already declared Track No. 3 as westbound, and Track No. 4 as eastbound. Since we're only running one freight at a time, this helps prep everything for the next train. Which means next time we can talk about the Movement of Cars.

Movement of Trains - Passenger Service
We can extend the "road scene" by switching between the freight and passenger trains. Since Track No. 2 is an independent block, the passenger train can be at the station while the freight pulls into the siding. Then the passenger will proceed to the passenger station on the Coast Main Line, stop, and then proceed back to the other side. If desired, it could be stopped in the New Haven block, while the freight continues around the Boston loop, and so on.

I would also use the reversing loop to allow the passenger train to go out, then back to meet the freight in different directions. Again, the freight can be parked temporarily in a block so the passenger crew can "turn" the train by running around their consist using Track No. 2, and being ready for another out-and-back.

Admittedly, this is not an ideal layout for long runs, but you can have a meet or two, and some people just enjoy watching the trains run. That's possible here, but for me the bulk of the operations would be in the yard. 

Back to the Movement of Trains
As for how trains are moved across the road, which is what I usually focus on? There isn't really any need to worry about TT&TO, or even operational paperwork here. Signaling could be added to indicate when one of the blocks is occupied. But as a single-operator layout with a single-track mainline in DC, there's not going to be any need for anything other than, "the train I'm running has the main." 

Having said that, we can design a schedule and we'll look at that next week.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Layout Construction: Spray Booth is Installed (again)

 I moved the spray booth back to where I originally planned, under the west end of the layout:

I had moved it to where Whiting Street is, and vented it through the old dryer vent. But since I built the backdrop only 2" off of the concrete wall, it's not thick enough to accommodate the flexible vent anymore. Here I have it running up through the wall and out the window:

As you can see, the booth has two fans, and two vents. Fortunately, I hadn't bothered taking this down when I moved the booth. One of the reasons I moved it was to provide desk space for the crews here. But they can use the booth for their paperwork just as easily, along with the other half of the agent's desk next to it. The bad patch job used to be behind the backdrop, so I'll have to finish that repair.

The refreshments (and bar) move to under Whiting St.

The compressor was a Christmas present, and is the same one Bill S. recently got and recommended. This all fits quite well, and accessing the two turnouts behind it isn't that difficult either. Lighting, of course, is great, and I think I may add a second one further back because the booth has a clear plexiglass top to allow a light to be used inside the booth too.

The booth itself was made by Artograph, and I did a lot of research before I purchased it years ago.  It has only seen a little use, but I'm sure that will change. Micro-Mark sold their own brand of the same one, but I paid a whole lot less than they want for it. I'm pretty sure it's out of production altogether, though, and now I'm having trouble finding the filters. It uses three, a think pre-filter which you used to be able to buy as a roll and would come through a slot in the back, plus a regular filter that other booths use, and a third layer that also looks like a pretty common material, even if I'll have to cut my own. There was a 20" wide version, but this is the 30" because I figured I might be doing buildings and other larger items at some point.

Next to it is a Flambeau tackle box from Walmart, that I purchased when I was building Harvey's layout. It has 5 multicompartment storage boxes which I have organized for various small parts, plus a good size open compartment for tools.

The storage drawers are just a basic plastic mobile storage unit, purchased from Wal Mart probably 20 years ago, but there are always similar ones available. These right half of the agent's desk is where I do my modeling now, so this unit and ready access to the spray booth will work well going forward I think.

The shelving, of course, is (at least 3 generations of) Ikea Ivar shelving that I've been using for years.

This is all part of finding a home for everything that doesn't currently have one, which is critical when living in a small house.