Friday, October 15, 2021

Railfanning - Switches

While at work I get the chance to do a lot of railfanning.  That is, I get to study the rail and track.

Along Savin St. is a switch for a side track, currently not in use, but still called the Roger Sherman switch/track for a former industry. I will be (semi) handlaying a turnout soon, and also installing the two turnouts for the bulk tracks. So I decided to take some reference photos to prepare for the project. 

It's a left-hand switch, and there are many things we can document and learn. To start, there are two throwbars (actually, one spreader bar and one throwbar if my terminology is correct).

This is consistent with what I've seen in photos on the New Haven.

Here's a crop of the Jim Karl photo for comparison. To start, the New Haven photo has a joint with four bolts in the center of them. Otherwise basically the same.

The points have the manufacturer as well as 107 NH notated. They were made by Wharton in August, 1958. The 107 refers to the rail size (107 lb, which was the most common NH size), and was cast for the NH. The 15 refers to the switch (points) length in feet.

Most likely the track side track was installed in 1958, but it also highlights how switches might use heavier rail than the track in service. Code 55 switches are hard to come by, but you could use Code 55 track and Code 70 switches for a light branch line like this.

Here's another view, and you can see that the braces were also made by Wharton. 

Note that the points themselves are reinforced on both sides, and ground for a tight fit.

You can see how they fit over the base of the rail, and the stock rail is slightly ground down so it "nests" against the stock rail.

While I could file points down in a similar manner, Proto87 Stores sells them ready to go. I don't bother replacing the Microengineering ones, but for handlaid track, they are what I use.

The switch stand is the same model I have in my front yard, and is conveniently a close match to one of the ones by Rapido.

It's interesting that there aren't heel blocks. I added them to one of my turnouts, but not having to will save me time.

One interesting detail is a gauge rod for the diverging track. Forming these out of stiff wire (like piano wire) would actually function for handlaid track.

Although I don't have any way to measure it, this is a very sharp diverging track. It turns out there are 9 gauge bars along this short section. Dale said it's a sharp enough radius that they have difficulty getting cars to couple. The couplers will line up, but the pin won't drop. You can also see how worn the inside of the rail is from the flanges.

The rail in this section is still very old 79 lb rail manufactured in 1899. Some sections of rail are dated 1897. But the switch is 107 lb rail, so there are compromise bars at either end. 

The manufacturing marks have largely worn off, but you can see 107 NH on one, and 78 on the other. I've been told the NH used 78 lb and CNE used 79 lb, and based on the info in my earlier post there are very minor differences:

Head Width: 2-16/32" vs 2-6/8"
Rail Height: 4-3/4" for both
Base Width: 5" vs 4-3/4"

Looking at the frog, it's a manganese rail bound frog. I haven't researched the details, just know what it looks like. 

It also conveniently tells us it was manufactured by Racor, is a No. 10 frog for 107 lb rail on the NH. I prefer a cast or model frog to filing your own since it lacks much of the detail. The Microengineering ones look very good. For handlaid I like the Proto87 Stores ones.

The information noted, 15' foot long switch points for a No. 10 switch, matches the data in the book I have. These are in the order they appear in the book.

As a last look at my post on rail codes, for the Cottage Grove Road grade crossing, 131 lb. rail was used. But there isn't a compromise joint bar to go from 78/79 to 131 lb, so a short section of 107 lb rail was used to bridge them. So this picture conveniently has 79 (code 55), 107 (code 70) and 131 (code 83) rail so you can see how they differ in size. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

New Haven Industries: Allen Manufacturing Co

 I was working near the livestock chute today, and found this partially buried next to it:

It's a case for a hex wrench, otherwise known as an Allen wrench. It should have occurred to me that the name of the tool came from the name of a company, which was the name of a person. I also had no idea that it was invented/patented in Hartford.

But that's the case, The Allen Manufacturing Company was yet another Connecticut tool manufacturer. There's little reason for me to write up more since there's an excellent overview of the company on this blog

But I will note that they opened a manufacturing facility in Bloomfield in 1958, although it appears it wasn't directly served by the railroad, based on the location of their plant

Regardless, it was interesting to see yet another common tool comes from a Connecticut company.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Progress and work

Progress on modeling stuff is largely invisible. I'm continuing to work on the new website, feeders, additional panels to finish off the layout, and working out how I'll finish the space under Whiting St. Yard. I do have a few parts and tools on order to get moving on a couple of other projects in the next week or two.

Since there isn't much to show from the layout side of things, here are a few more pictures from work.

This is an old pipe-connected derail. It looks almost identical to the operating ones that modeling buddy John Grosner has on his layout.

The new poles are going up pretty quickly, at least I think so. Here's a tidbit (I'll let you decide if it's interesting). The state required the poles to be higher (this one is 95' tall) and spaced to allow room for catenary in case they want to electrify the line. I don't think that's likely on a one-train-a-day freight only branch line, but they are thinking ahead.

Here's another one going up.

I continue to be impressed with the whole process. There are as many as 4-6 crews working on any given day. The bases for the east side of the line will probably be completed this week. Erecting the poles themselves will slow a bit when they have to work directly from the rail. The outage for the west side of the line isn't until November, so we'll be here for a while.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Stanley S1

While continuing to work on the new version of the website, I decided it was time to finally pick up Porter Steam Locomotives published by the NMRA.

This is a reprint of a 1930 catalog, plus a complete roster. I was also able to find a reprint of a later catalog as supporting material. This is, of course, to acquire whatever additional information for the Stanley locomotive:

I was able to compile quite a bit of useful information between these sources, verified against the measurements I took in July, 2020.

Stanley No. 1

The Stanley Works rostered a 45-ton 0-4-0F (fireless) steam locomotive, the Stanley S1.

HK Porter no. 7230 built in September, 1936.
  • Cylinders - 22" Diameter, 18" Stroke
  • Drivers - 36"
  • Wheelbase - 6' 3"
  • Length (over bumpers) - 23' 0"
  • Height - 12' 8"
  • Weight - 90,000
  • Advised radius of operation - 60 feet
  • Sharpest radius of operation - 35 feet
That works out to ~8" or ~5" in HO(!) unless my math is wrong...

They are rated to haul 1,420 tons on level track, the equivalent of ~twenty-eight 50-ton cars. Even as much as 170 tons up a 3% grade.

It was sold (donated?) to the Connecticut Trolley Museum at Warehouse Point c1970.

A fireless steam locomotive has no firebox or smokebox. Instead of burning coal or wood to heat the water in the boiler and generate steam, the locomotive is connected to a steam line at the factory. Only a 5th of the tank is filled with steam, the rest is water. Each charge can run for two to five hours. Recharging takes about 15 minutes.

The Connecticut Trolley Museum sold the locomotive to Railstar who, to the best of my knowledge, intended to put it back in service. On July 2, 2005 a 12- and two 13-year old girls started a fire that burned the warehouse where it was being stored. The locomotive was damaged significantly and moved outside where it has remained.

There were eleven other locomotives built with the same specifications. They did have a streamlined version (that looks a lot like an I-5). I haven't found photos of these 11 units, so I'm not sure which, if any, were streamlined.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Not an Ops Session

Last night Chris, Bruce and I convened at Bill's to test the new layout. Today Bill posted on Facebook a reminder that 7 years ago the four of us dismantled his old layout, taking it out in pieces through the window of the second floor bedroom while it was snowing. That layout lives on at Bruce's and I've mentioned many times how influential that layout (and Bill) have been in my modeling.

Jason has threatened to fire Bill if he has an operating session before Jason. Obviously this isn't an ops session. Just several guys running trains. With a schedule. And switch lists...

This is a test, it is only a test. 

Looking down the right aisle. The Delhi branch is the lower deck, with scenery well underway along with many of the structures. The upper level is Sidney (not started yet), along with staging on the right wall (also not started). If I recall, Chris and I were over to help start the benchwork 15 months ago or so.

Chris and Bill working on the first problem of the night - getting a second throttle to work. Bill has an NCE Power Cab along with an SB5 booster. The booster is supposed to remove the limitation that the Power Cab must be plugged into the same location all the time. As it turned out, the SB5 supports 6 additional throttles, with cab numbers from 1-7 only. Bruce and Chris both brought throttles, and we just needed to change the cab number to be in that range so they would work. 

This is the second aisle of the layout, with Walton the major town on the lower level on the right. It continues around to a helix off to the left of the photo, then continues around the upper deck to Sidney in the other aisle.

Bill and Chris still troubleshooting the throttle problem, back in the Delhi aisle.

Bruce and Chris are running the Delhi local, coming out of staging here.

After coming around the end of the peninsula from staging, it goes through the wye in Walton to come back over the staging it just left.

In the meantime, Bill and I ran a through freight around the entire layout other than the Delhi branch.

Another look at Bruce and Chris running the Delhi local.

Walton station. Bill purchased a laser cutter last year since he has so many buildings to make. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's responsible for the line of laser-cut buildings that Branchline produced.

More Chris and Bruce.

Bill and I ran a local with one of Bill's camel back steam locomotives. We wanted to test the primary steam since it's likely to be the most finicky. (It was).

Overall things ran quite well. There is definitely some work to be done with the turnouts, almost all of which are Microengineering. Chris and I haven't really had any issues with them, but we have found that the gauge is sometimes tight between the frog and guardrails. That seems to be the case here, particularly with steam. It's an easy fix with a file, and the tight tolerances means that once it's corrected they will be very reliable.

For fun here are some videos. 

There was a lot of joking around and chatting, but when our through freight was approaching the trestle it was pretty quiet so I decided to take this video. Bill's running the train at this point.

This is more like a typical initial shakedown session. I was also attempting to run the train and take a video, and decided it wasn't working. Overall things ran much smoother than this implies.

And this is a glimpse of what it's like when the four of us are together. I tried very hard not to laugh while taking the video. I took this from the vantage point of somebody in front of their house in the valley.

Here are links if the videos don't show up:

Diesels on Bill's O&W - YouTube

Almost running the O&W - YouTube

Camelbacks and Turntables - YouTube