Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Layout Construction Update

 Progress continues in multiple areas:

Whiting St. Yard

Painting (most) of the walls at Whiting St. so Chris could help me with the last piece of backdrop and get started on the drop ceiling.


As you can see, the grid is in, and I have one tile in place to ensure things are square. I need to install the support wires, and get the LED panels for the lighting in this section. The door and frame are painted, and I need to work on the trim. Most of the sheetrock work is done, with just a couple of corners left to complete.

The clock was moved to a new position above where the phone will be, to allow space for a chalk board/bulletin board which turns this into a small crew information area. 

Fascia

I started painting the fascia Hunter Green to see how I'll like it. The trend seems to be toward black, but I've been planning this for a decade or so now... It's not a perfect match to NH Hunter Green (too light and too much blue). It looked quite good as the trim around the room, but I'm on the fence with the much larger surfaces on the fascia. There's a good chance I may just go with black.


I've also been testing the banquet table skirt in a couple of places to see where I'll land. My current thought is skirting from the fascia, plus additional skirting that is below the lower level (which will go to the floor).


The lights are bright enough that it needs two layers of skirting to block it out, so this is folded back on itself. It's very inexpensive from Amazon or a number of specialty sites online. I haven't decided whether I like it from the fascia or not. Since it only comes 30" high, it won't go to the floor, but it's so much less expensive than alternatives that are longer, it's what I'm going with.

It actually makes the room feel a little bigger when it doesn't go all the way to the floor, since the lower level is set farther back. It makes the room look cleaner, since it hides the staging level. But I may just do a skirt around the lower level, and leave staging visible instead.  Just in case staging is hidden I installed a couple of fast clocks that will be visible while working in staging (they'll be useful either way). The one you can see at the end of the room is the desk the yard crews will use for their paperwork too, so the clock makes sense there.

Progress also continues in gluing down track, and drilling for feeders, etc. so everything is moving forward to where I can get to ground cover, ballasting, roads, and other below-the-rail detail. Not to mention getting trains running for some shake-down ops sessions.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Ballast Again...

 ...for real this time!

A couple of years ago John Grosner passed along a switch stand he had. The thing is massive (I think I found that they weigh around 800 lbs). 

A month or so ago, Joseph stopped by with some ties for the switch stand. After (mostly Joseph) attempted the first spike, we decided drilling a pilot hole was the way to go. I can't imagine how millions of ties were laid by hand.

He had previously found a set of targets for me, which I sanded, removed the reflective tape, and repainted with Rustoleum safety red, safety green and white.

Yesterday I collected some ballast from the (long-abandoned) track at Cook's Quarry to finish it off.


At some point I'll find a lantern that fits. Although it was common for the NH to use them without lanterns as well. I usually have folks enter the back for open houses and ops sessions, and it points the way. You can see how dark the NH trap rock is, also with a bit of brown. This is from the same basic location where I collect ballast for the layout.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Pullman-Standard 1937 AAR Standard Box Cars

Yes, another rabbit hole...

Railway Prototype Cyclopedia Volume 35 recently came out, and it's incredible. The entire 385 pages are on the 1937 AAR Standard Box Car, with lots of new information. Of course, the best part of these books are the hundreds of photos.

As is my usual nature, as I go through a book like this, I start to compile information that will be useful for modeling. In this case, looking at the minutia that differentiates the various prototypes. I decided to start with the Pullman-Standard built cars, and I'll work my way through other builders.

This is primarily a post to dump the information I'm gathering so I can come back to it later when I start building/modifying these cars (I have quite a few RTR ones already, of course). In the listings I've included the number of cars built by P-S along with the total number of 1937 AAR Standard box cars rostered by that road. I don't know when I'll get to the rest of the cars built by other roads.

Ever since Ted Culotta's Essential Freight Cars #40: Early PS-1 Box Cars (RMC January 2008), I had come to the conclusion that the particular shape of the side sill tabs that he modeled was a P-S trait. I'm not the only one, obviously, Ryan Mendell has produced these in resin and are available from National Scale Car Company

While these are minor details, these are the sort of things that differentiate one car from another, and also become a spotting feature when looking at photos. It can also be used to identify which models that are available are the best starting point. My plan is to start with decorated models where I can. RTR or kits are fine with me, I have no problem modifying either. 

Along with these side sill tabs, the Pullman-Standard built cars all have the following characteristics in common, unless otherwise noted.

SREM Improved Solid Steel roofs or C-H Dry Lading Riveted Roofs.
Many modelers prefer the tooling of the Red Caboose 'Rectangular Panel' Roof, although as the article now makes clear, there were at least two roofs manufactured to this design. The SREM Improved Solid Steel Roof, and the Chicago-Hutchins Dry Lading Riveted Roof made under license from SREM. As I work on models, I'll settle on the Intermountain for one type, and Red Caboose for the other. Most likely I will use the more readily available Intermountain roof for the SREM roofs (since it was far more common), and the Red Caboose one for the C-H.

 

5/7/5 Youngtown Door on mid-level door track

The doors were manufactured in three panels, riveted together. The numbers refer to the number of corrugations in each panel, starting with the top panel, but not counting the corrugation that forms the frame of the door itself. On these particular doors, the riveted joint is on the flat panel between corrugations. The Intermountain and Red Caboose doors are both a good match.

 

If you examine pictures of box cars from this era, the lower door track is mounted in one of three locations. The first, which is what is done on all of the available models, has the lower door track mounted along the bottom of the center sill itself. While a few of the P-S built cars for KCS and Southern have this configuration, most have a lower door track mounted slightly lower, with a visible gap between the bottom of the side sill and the door track. A third variation, which doesn't appear on any of these cars, has the lower door track attached near or at the bottom of the stiffening panel that is mounted below the side sill.

 

The door stops on the IMWX/Red Caboose cars are a better match for most of the cars. But if they need to be changed, or for cars that I build with the Intermountain model, National Scale Car Company has resin door stops available.

 

Ajax Power Handbrakes

These are the most common handbrakes applied to 1937 AAR Standard box cars. The handbrake is the type that has all eight spokes connected from the outer wheel to the center post. They are available from numerous companies, but the most readily available ones at this time (and probably the best casting) are from Kadee.

 

Of the other brake wheels needed, Kadee also makes the Equipco, Miner, and Universal handbrakes.

 

3D printed Klasing handbrakes are available from Resin Car Works, and a prototype of a different one has been produced by Kadee, hopefully to be available soon. If you were lucky enough to get some of the ones we made at True Line Trains, those work too.

 

Detail Associates manufactured a Ureco handbrake, although it's not a match for the SP cars. I'm not aware of any other Ureco handbrake right now.


7-Rung Ladders

This is the most common configuration, with 7 rungs on both the side and end ladders. Some have 8 rung ladders, and a few have 7 rung ladders on the side, with 6 rung on the ends. I haven't started digging through all of the options out there, since Intermountain, Red Caboose, Branchline (now Atlas), and others are probably appropriate. But the biggest addition to the ladder options available is the Yarmouth Model Works etched ladder kits.


I haven't determined which ladders I prefer yet.

 

Pullman-Standard 1937 AAR Standard Box Car Variation #1

In addition to the characteristics listed above, these cars all have 

  • 4/5 Dreadnaught Z-bar (square corner) ends with poling pockets
  • Wood running boards

Because of the z-bar corner ends, the Red Caboose (now Intermountain) square corner models are the only starting point. However, there are some shortcomings. The poling pockets for most of the Pullman-Standard cars are more of an indentation on the tab at the bottom of the end, than a raised flange. However, the model is of the raised flange type.


The ATSF cars had Duryea Underframes. There are a couple of versions available on the market now, but the ones from Speedwitch Media are the correct ones for these cars.

 

I am not aware of a Pullman-Standard flat panel roof that is available for the Soo cars.

 

Intermountain finally announced their first run of the square corner cars about a year ago. They are still taking reservations, which means they haven't received enough orders yet. A number of those are non-P-S prototypes, but of these Southern, T&P, SP, and SOO are included


A couple of the C&O cars are in the P-S number range incorrectly include Viking roofs. That's easy to replace, and you can save the Viking roof for something else.


Likewise the SOO cars lack the P-S flat roof, but should one become available it's also easy to replace. I highly recommend placing orders for any/all of these so these excellent models will continue to be produced (ideally in undecorated kits too).

  • ATSF 136000-134999 (Bx-26)(500 of 2,503) 9'-7" IH, 5/6/5 Youngtown, high door track (no gap), Duryea Underframes, 7/6
  • ATSF 136500-137999 (Bx-27)(1,500 of 2,503) Duryea Underframe, 7/6
  • C&O 4500-4999, 11000-11999 (500 of 4,000)  C-H Dry Lading, 8/8, no poling pockets
  • KCS 17000-17449 (450 of 750) 9'-8" IH, 5/6/5 Youngstown, high door track (no gap), 7/6, no poling pockets
  • SOO 136000-136198 (100) high door track (no gap), P-S Flat roof, early Universal, wood, 7/6 or 7?
  • Southern 10000-12022, 13043-14395 (3,377 of 5,897) C-H Dry Lading, High door track (no gap), Ajax, Miner or Universal
  • Southern (CNO&TP) 261000-262036 (1,1037 of 1,537) C-H Dry Lading, High door track (no gap), Miner
  • Southern (AGS) 306000-307021 (1,022 of 1,022) C-H Dry Lading, High door track (no gap), Ajax or Miner
  • SP 32770-33269 (B-50-18)(500 of 1,750) C-H Dry Lading, Klasing, Universal, or Ureco
  • SP 37840-38089 (B-50-19)(250 of 1,000) C-H Dry Lading, Ureco
  • T&P 40000-40499 (500 of 1,000) Union Duplex fixtures (National Scale Car minikit)
  • T&P 40500-40999 (500 of 1,000) Union Duplex fixtures (National Scale Car minikit)(Mount Vernon Car, but same tabs)

Pullman-Standard 1937 AAR Standard Box Car Variation #2

These cars all have 4/5 Dreadnaught W-section (round) corner ends with poling pockets.

 

For this group, the Intermountain models are a better match due to the way they tooled the ends, particularly the poling pockets. 

  • A&WP 37300-37339 (65 of 65) 40 in Aluminum and black paint, Miner, Apex
  • CG 4500-4749, 6000-6149, 6500-6999 (900 of 1100) Equipco, Miner or Universal, Apex, Youngstown or 7-Panel Superior
  • CR/COPR 4000-4009 (10 of 10) 7-panel Creco, wood, 8/8
  • D&M 2700-2704 (5 of 205) 7-panel Creco, wood, 8/8
  • ERIE 79000-79199 (200 of 1,200) Viking, Apex 8/8
  • GA 19900-19974 (75 of 75) Miner, Apex
  • NH 31000-32999 (1,500 of 2,500)(3) Youngstown or 7-Panel Superior, Miner, Klasing, Ajax, Apex
  • NP 15000-15499, 17000-17899 (1,400 of 3,000) Youngstown or Creco, Ajax, Wood, 8/8
  • P&LE 30500-30999 (500 of 1,900) High door track (no gap), roping staples, Equipco or Superior, wood
  • SAL 19500-19999, 22200-22499 (750 of 750) Youngstown or 7-Panel Superior, Apex or Gypsum
  • Southern 14396-15895 (1,500 of 5,897) High door track (no gap), Miner or Universal, Morton
  • SP 82990-83239 (B-50-21) (250 of 1,000) Equipco, Apex
  • SP 95520-95863 (B-50-23) (344 of 1,744) Klasing, Apex
  • TNO 54600-54849 (250 of 750) Equipco, Apex
  • WLE 23000-23499 (500 of 1,002) Youngstown or 7-Panel Superior, roping staples, Flat roof, wood (Ralston Steel Car Co, but same tabs)
  • WofA 17300-17359 (60 of 60) Aluminum and black sides, Miner, Apex

 

Pullman-Standard 1937 AAR Standard Box Car Variation #3

These are the same as the Variation #2, except that they lack poling pockets.

 

The IMWX/Red Caboose, now Intermountain cars are probably a better starting point, since the poling pockets on these models is of the raised flange type and will be easier to eliminate. In most cases, only the left side tab is on the end, since that's where the uncoupling lever is attached. So the right side tab is removed, leaving a small portion for the attachment of the end grab iron.


Many of these cars have roping staples. See photos for the placement. Most are under the side sill, but the P&LE ones are mounted horizontally on the bolster tabs.

 

  • C&O 3500-3699, 10500-10749, 11000-11999 (1,450 of 4,000) roping staples, Apex
  • CIL 9000-9449 (450 of 925) 7-panel Superior, roping staples, wood
  • L&N 90000-90499, 91000-91343 (844 of 1344) Miner or Univesal, Apex
  • M&StL 50400-50498 (even) (50 of 1650) Equipco, Apex
  • NC&StL 18500-18999 (500) Miner, Apex
  • PM 83650-83799, 84300-84399 (150 of 800) 7-panel Creco or Youngstown, roping staples, Apex

 

Pullman-Standard 1937 AAR Standard Box Car Variation #4

Although the majority of 1937 AAR Standard box cars were built with SREM Dreadnaught ends, they weren't required. Pullman-Standard produced their own 4/5 corrugated ends which were used on these cars. These are often known as carbuilder's or car builder's ends.


There are two variations of these ends. On the TC/WLE (later NKP) version, the large corrugations terminate at the corner of the end. On the CGW version, the corrugations terminate before the corner of the ends.


These are the easiest to model, provided you purchased the resin kits/minikits when available. Otherwise you have a bit of work to do. None of them were built in large quantities, but they are interesting cars. The TC/WLE cars also use the P-S flat roof. The WLE cars were eventually lettered for NKP c1949-61.

 

CGW 91000-02149 (250 of 250) 4/5 P-S end, Equipco, Wood, pp Resin Car Works minikit

NKP 2400-24501 (up to 302 of that group out of 3,675) ex-WLE cars

TC 7900-7999 (100 of 100) 4/5 P-S end, 7-panel Creco, P-S flat roof, Miner, Wood  Southbound Model Works

WLE 24200-24501 (302 of 1,002) 4/5 P-S end, P-S flat roof, roping staples, Equipco, wood, no poling pockets Southbound Model Works

The Southbound Model Works cars were originally from Smoky Mountain Model Works. They are incorrectly noted as 'PS-0' box cars. The 'PS-0' designation is a modeler/historian notation that refers to early welded cars (presumably predecessors of the PS-1 box car) that Pullman-Standard produced with the same type of ends (although some were 5/5 instead of 4/5 ends). B&LE, CGW, NKP, PM, and WLE versions of these welded box cars are available from Funaro & Camerlengo.


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Layout Progress - Agent's Desk

I finally have a desk big enough for my work! This has always been a challenge, since we have a relatively small house. It means that the workspace I've got is always doing double or triple duty, requiring me to move something I'm working on to make room for another.

Most of the time I have computer work to do, along with things I'm doing on paper, with books, etc., and of course I also like to be busy working on modeling things. I've always preferred a large desk, so with the reconfiguration of the Agent's workspace, I could finally install one.

The original plan was out of stock, although when I finally got a chance to look at the display pieces I was less than impressed. Rather than wait for the full solution, I could use the legs I had from Ikea for the old desk, and build the tabletop now. It's a solid core door cut to fit the space, and stained with an espresso stain, since the wainscot was spray painted espresso.


Although it may not always be evident, I do like to be organized. My problem tends to be that I work on too many things at once, combined with the fact that I don't have a place for everything to go while I do so. Now that we've made such great progress with the major construction in the basement, the stuff is all starting to have an actual home. Which means it can be quickly and easily moved out of the way when needed.

As you can see in the picture above, the desk is separated into work areas. The Agent's desk is intended to always be clear, for ops sessions. Between sessions, it's the actual desk space where I can work with paperwork, books, etc. 

My computer, important for my work, now has a permanent place along with my phone in the middle. This lets me always have access while doing other things. 

To the right is my modeling workstation. Whatever the current project is now has a place to stay, instead of me having to move it out of the way when I need to do other work.

My primary toolbox lives on top of a rolling cart that fits in the space just to the right of the desk, and next to where I've set up the modeling station.


My favorite part about having a home for all of these things (and various in progress projects) is that I won't have to be constantly cleaning things up before I can get working on something. While working on the RS-2s I still had to move them out of the way frequently, and then get everything back out when I had the time to work on them. So this saves a lot of time and effort.

Another part of the design as planned are several brush plates to allow me to plug things in without having to install outlets in the Agent's office.


This way I can run several wires through to a power strip that is in the space behind the Agent's office. I did have to remove the end of the vintage lamp cord, since it didn't fit. But that was easy, two wires to unscrew then reattach after passing the wire through the wall. I installed three of them so I don't have any wires under the desk, or in the way on top.

I installed cork on the side wall to use as a bulletin board:


I haven't decided if I want to have anything under the desk anymore. The initial plan was for a small bookcase base that would point to the left aisle. But I've rearranged book storage, so that's not necessary right now. I'll probably look at some sort of rolling cart instead if I feel I really need it. 

Now I need to work through the process of hooking up the vintage phone system and the Agent's office will be complete.

Another shout out to Chris, Dick and Pete, because this really wouldn't have gotten this far without them. Thanks!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Layout Progress - Circuit Breakers and Fast Clocks

This is the sort of work that I don't do nearly as well as I'd like, it's time consuming, takes me longer than it probably should, but it's got to get done.

I've been working on the sheet rock, the benchwork for the bulk tracks on the wall opposite Whiting St Yard, and painted the door New Haven #292 Warm Orange:

Like the rest of the basement, the walls will be New Haven #246 Silver Gray and the trim is New Haven #212 Hunter Green. I simply take the paint chips for the New Haven Color Guide (available from NHRHTA) and have Home Depot match the colors. Oddly, their machine was unable to match the Hunter Green this time.. Too dark they said. Fortunately, they had matched it for me 10 years ago, and I brought in a piece of trim that I had already painted and they were able to match that.

I'm also trying to engineer the swing bridge (my preference) or lift out to connect the bulk tracks to Whiting St Yard. I have the materials to install the grid for the drop ceiling too, so the room is coming together quite well, if slowly.

Wiring Circuit Breakers

While the construction is continuing, I've also completed some more interesting projects. These go much faster...

As I noted in a prior post, I ran a new bus line all the way around the room to allow both parts of the Berlin Line to be in the same electrical block. The lift out is where the two sections meet, but I didn't want to make an electrical connection across the lift out since that would require plugging/unplugging wires to operate and it's across the only entrance/exit to the basement.

So I decided to figure out where I'd place the remaining circuit breakers, and rewire for those.

I had originally installed a switch to allow DCC or DC use, but now that I'm installing the PSX circuit breakers, it was time to finally remove the DC option. I mounted the circuit breakers for the main deck and the staging deck on the wall between the two.


This seemed like the best place to keep it out of the way, but accessible. To do so I used some scrap 1" x 3" lumber drilled into the studs, so I could mount the boards to a piece of Masonite across those, leaving space behind the board for wires.

Fun fact: the piece of Masonite was the test piece to see if it would work for building the helix. I glued two small lips (3/4" strips of Masonite) to stiffen it, and brought it to the NE Proto Meet and showed it to Bill, who immediately said, "I know what that's for!" He agreed that it looked like it should work, and I moved on from there. In this case, it was a scrap piece just the right length to span this location.

The main power comes up from the MRC Prodigy Advance unit on the shelf below, behind the board, and comes down to the input on the top left of the upper PSX circuit breaker. There are short connectors to the board below it, and then the output on the bottom left goes behind the board again, then up to run under the upper deck. This required yet another bus that I just ran to provide the power to the Stanley Works and Berlin Line. Between the center of the layout and the Stanley/Berlin Line circuit breakers there are three bus lines under the upper deck - the upper deck bus, the bus to the circuit breakers, and then the bus back from the circuit breakers to get to the other half of the Berlin Line. 

The right outputs go to the upper deck (upper PSX), and staging deck (lower PSX). Very simple, actually, and mostly required repositioning the existing wiring and allowed me to eliminate the DC/DCC switch I had installed.

Behind the agent's desk are the PSX boards for Stanley Works (top) and Berlin Line (bottom):


Access is through a window I cut in the utility room wall, which also provides better airflow to the furnace (which is needed). The input is the upper left, and the two boards are connected on the left. I haven't run the new Stanley Bus yet. The two wires to the left of the boards are the Berlin Line which will connect to the output of the lower PSX.

I tested them all, and power is flowing to the circuit breakers and not shorting. All of the feeders are ready to be soldered on the Berlin Line. I'm getting started drilling and pulling feeders for Stanley Works and the east and west sides of town. I'm also completing some track adjustments in staging.

To the left of the window the Berlin Line bus is connected to two terminal blocks, because I needed to run a bus to the three (!) different sections of the Berlin Line:


You can see that one of the bus lines goes back through the window, and then circles the entire room to get to the Berlin Line. The others connect to Whiting St Yard and the bulk tracks.

My initial plan was to separate the main line into its own circuit, but it's really not necessary. I still have to cut gaps for the different blocks as well. But I have 4 blocks now for short protection:
  1. New Britain. This is the main deck, from just before you exit the top of the helix from Hartford, to just after you enter the helix toward Plainville. 
  2. Berlin Line. This will keep the two switching crews in separate blocks for a lot of the session. This starts just east of Elm St on the Berlin Line, to the end of the Berlin Line Staging.
  3. Stanley Works. Again, this keeps this crew entirely independent electrically from the others.
  4. Staging. This includes the helixes.
The goal is to largely isolate each crew electrically so that if one causes a short, it won't affect the other crews. There will be times when both switching crews are working parts of New Britain (I think), and two crews will operate in the same block for through trains. But for probably 80% of the session, each crew is isolated electrically.

Installing Fast Clocks

Another project that has been a long time coming is to install fast clocks. I've looked at a number of options, but the key for me is that I wanted analog clocks. So I'm using the FCC4 by Mike Dodd. (He has a great website for his model of the Virginian too, although unfortunately it was dismantled when they moved. He is working on a new one.)

It's a pretty simple system. There's a controller, you can wire some switches for additional control to it, and then use modified quartz clock movements installed in cheap clocks. You can purchase the controller as a kit, and he also shows you how to modify the movements yourself, or you can buy them preassembled by Mike, which is what I did. I've had them for some time, and had a number of clocks ready to convert.

I installed the controller next to the PSX circuit breakers, and used a surface mount electrical box to house the switches. The upper left turns the power to the system on/off. The upper right starts and stops the clocks. The lower left is a fast forward switch (which causes them to run 17x faster than normal), and the push button resets all the clocks to your start time. There are dip switches on the circuit board to change the fast clock ratio, for now I have it set at 4:1, I might experiment with 3:1 as well.


Right now I have one clock I built into the fascia at the station:


There's a second clock at the agent's desk:


It also conveniently hides the seam between the two pieces of plywood. 

I installed a larger wall clock next to where the phone will be at Whiting St. Yard:


The square hole is where I'll run the wires behind the phone. This one is behind the door if it's open, but I don't anticipate having that door open during sessions unless somebody needs to go into staging for some reason.

I needed to order another movement and a couple of sets of hands. Once those arrive, I'll install one above the other desk, plus one in the center of the staging level. Basically I want at least one visible from all of the common operating locations. Since the staging will probably be behind a skirt/curtain, they'll need one. And if the crew is using the desk to work on paperwork, they'll have one right there as well.

The system supports up to 15 clocks. I have three of the smaller ones that I haven't used yet, and when we get to the next shakedown session I'll see if we need to put up a few more. I'm thinking that maybe I'll need one near Stanley Works, although they do have a clear view to the one at the station.