Wednesday, November 2, 2022

I Did a Thing (No Sacred Cows)


Ever since I had the issue with the white film over the yard (and here), I have been struggling with trying to entirely eliminate it. For the main yard I had simply removed the track and all the ground cover, but I didn't do the main tracks or Track No. 5.

Several months ago, I started cleaning out all of the ballast and most of the ground cover to the section west of Main St. In addition to not taking very long, I was able to address a few other minor issues in the process.

I wasn't entirely happy with how the ground cover, ballast, and track weathering itself. At the time I really liked it, but I've continued to experiment and improve my approach. This is the centerpiece of the layout but wouldn't be up to my current standards. So, I started the process of removing the ground cover and ballast here as well. As I was doing so, it occurred to me that I could do the same thing I did before with the yard tracks, leaving just the main tracks and Track No. 5 to clean.

Not all that much, but it is a slow process. I considered what replacing these tracks would entail but didn't want to go there. But then I damaged a piece of track. Easy enough to fix, but I could also just cut out that section of track and replace it. In fact, I could cut out all of the track, leaving the crossovers and working from them, right?

One of the things that has always worked for me is to plant the seeds of a problem in my brain, and then just go about my regular activities. In a few days, if there's a solution to be had, it will just come to me. In this case there were several other factors that I hadn't considered that really settled the best course of action.

1. I made no allowances for under-table switch actuation. I didn't intend to use it but learned that I need to tie in the main track switches with the signal system. This requires removing the spring from the throwbars, and installing them under existing, ballasted track. Furthermore, at least one is directly over joist.

2. There were some issues with the track arrangement. For example, the location where the crossing shanty sits is much tighter than it should be. Also, as I've learned more, I set the Whiting Street Yard tracks on a prototypical 14' track center. In addition to looking better, it makes enough room to add a missing yard track in New Britain Yard. Correcting the arrangement also moves a switch from Track No. 5 to a side track where it belongs, and properly extends one of the yard tracks across Elm Street. The new arrangement also increases capacity of the yard by about 10 cars. 

3. Laying new track would be much faster than cleaning and working with what was there. Furthermore, it feels much more like progress than the slow process of cleaning out the ballast. That also didn't address the issues with the track weathering either. The only delay is that Microengineering turnouts aren't readily available in Code 70 right now. But I've found much of what I need, and the rest is on the way shortly.

4. I can add all of the detail parts to the track at the bench, before installing. I can also switch to using KV models joint bars instead of standard rail joiners, improving the appearance even more. 

It also feels like progress. Cleaning out old ballast and "fixing mistakes" feels like a step back. It's often hard to step back and decide that the best option is to "start over" but with over a decade of working on this layout, helping friends on theirs, I've obviously developed new skills, perspectives and goals. 

I can confirm that grout does a great job of securing track.

Online there are a lot of folks who have built multiple layouts. My buddy Bill has been rapidly building his new layout. In his case, it was necessity that required the removal of the old layout. Tony Koester tore down the Allegheny Midland because he eventually found it wasn't lining up with his actual goal (even if he didn't realize it initially) of modeling the NKP. Progress comes in many forms, but in the end it really just means one thing - moving closer to the goal.

This seemingly drastic step is definitely achieving that, all while making a number of tasks that would be more challenging and time-consuming if I tried to accomplish them with the existing trackwork. I wouldn't even call it a step backward since it will drastically improve the scene with a decade of things I've learned along the way.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Research - Railway Mechanical Engineer

I'm well into writing an extensive article on New Haven heavyweight equipment. Fortunately, there are a lot of historical records and resources online, particularly periodicals and professional journals. Even better, most are searchable (although skimming through them manually often still yields further insight). 

Railway Age is probably the most commonly known such journal.

Many of these periodicals changed names over the years, and/or were combined with other journals. They often maintained their volume numbering system, from predecessors, which can be confusing because you may be looking for editions of, say, Railway Age Gazette, Mechanical Edition and not find many

One such periodical is Railway Mechanical and Electrical Engineer, which was absorbed into Railway Age in 1953. But it only used that title for a short period. Here's a list of links to the issues of that periodical, along with its predecessors all linked to online sources. It retained its volume numbering system from American Railroad Journal starting in 1832.

Many of these are hosted in multiple places on the internet, but the ones I have linked have copies that are available to download without restrictions.

Happy reading and researching!

American Railroad Journal

  • Volumes 1 (1832) to 60 (1886)
    • This merged with

Van Nostrand's Engineering Magazine

      • Volumes 1 (1869) to 35 (1886)
    • to become

Railroad and Engineering Journal

  • Volume 61 (1887) to 66 (1892)
    • and then

American Engineer and Railroad Journal

  • Volumes 67 (1893) to 85 (1911)
  • Volumes 87 (1912) and 87 (1913) were retitled American Engineer
    • Another journal:

        • Volumes 1 (1870) to 16 (1885)
          • Only 11-16 are currently available online.
            • became

        • Volumes 17 (1886) to 26 (1895)
          • then was absorbed into American Engineer and Railroad Journal

    • Partway through 1913 it was acquired by the Railway Age Gazette:

Railway Age Gazette, Mechanical Edition

  • Volumes 87 (1913) to 89 (1915)
    • It 1916 it was retitled to:

Railway Mechanical Engineer

  • Volumes 90 (1916) to 123 (1949)
    • After 1949 it became

Railway Mechanical and Electrical Engineer

  • Volumes 124 (1950) to 126 (1952)

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

NHRHTA Shoreliner Index

John Kasey has compiled an excellent index for Shoreliner magazine and has graciously allowed me to host it here so anyone can access it.

John Kasey's Shoreliner Index

Of course, I highly encourage you to subscribe over at NHRHTA, and you can also order many back issues there too.

Shoreliner 30.4 has an excellent article on the New Haven DERS-1b (Alco RS-1) locomotives written by John. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Deluxe Heavyweight Car Side Test Prints

Here are some initial test shots of the sides for the Deluxe Coaches, Smokers, and Baggage & Smokers. I'm quite happy with how they've come out. 

There is some slight ghosting next to some of the rivets. I'm not sure they will show when primed/painted, but they should be easy enough to clean up if needed. We've (well, Chris has) also made some adjustments to the CAD that we hope will prevent it in the final prints. 

I think we're still on track for having them on-hand at the NHRHTA Reunion on September 10 in Essex, CT. 

I've also been finishing up the Heavyweight clinic for the Reunion. I'm only covering coaches (including combines) in this clinic. It's already over 130 slides and I only have about an hour. I need to compile the handout still - there will be lots of data.

The remaining slides have been split out into three other clinics now - Part II is Head End Cars, Part III is Parlors, and Part IV will be the Sleepers and Food Service cars. I could easily make each of these clinics 90 minutes, so I'm not entirely sure where I'll be presenting them just yet. I'm thinking Cocoa Beach may be my next opportunity.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

New Haven Heavyweights - New Models Coming

This is one of the projects that has been taking up much of my modeling time...

For those who didn't make it to the New England/Northeast Prototype Modelers Meet, Chris Zygmunt and I were substituting for John Greene of Bethlehem Car Works who couldn't be there. Part of the reason we're involved is that we are working on several new kits with John, that we hope to have in stock by the NHRHTA Reunion on September 10.

The first group of cars are the Deluxe Coaches, Smokers, and Combine.

These are based around the Branchline Pullman core, so assembling the kits will be very similar to building a Branchline (now Atlas) car. 

Yep, many of these heavyweights received McGinnis colors.
This is 8113, one of the Deluxe (or De Luxe) coaches.
Some of them ran into the mid-'60s.

Smoker 6824 was converted from one of the Deluxe Coaches and utilizes the same plan.

Smoker 6813 is one of a second class of Deluxe smokers.
This is a different plan, with only a men's lavatory and saloon.

In addition, there is a Deluxe Baggage and Smoker based on the same design.

These have never been available in HO scale at all, plastic or brass, to the best of my knowledge, and the available kits will cover the life of the cars.

This includes new trucks that will be an upgrade over the Labelle white metal castings (formerly Bethlehem Car Works, formerly Cape Line). In addition, we are producing the trucks after they were modified starting c1948 with the removal of the top equalizers and the addition of drop equalizers. These have also never been available in any form.

The trucks will be available separately.

We also hope to have another run of the excellent 15' Apartment Baggage & Mail cars at Essex to supplement these cars.