Author Topic: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line  (Read 10387 times)

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keystonecrossings

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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #45 on: March 25, 2009, 06:46:31 PM »
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The big compromise I made early on was to push all the staging and reverse loops down a level.  I didn't want the layout looking like a yard full of trains in the Arizona desert.  Winslow was not to function as a staging yard, it was a classification yard, and the major function was to drop off and pick up blocks between trains, to other destinations, and for locals.

http://gustafson.home.westpa.net/atsfplan.htm

Randy was kind enough to share his track plan with me a few years back. I think it is a brilliant design that really ought to be published!
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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #46 on: March 25, 2009, 08:22:54 PM »
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Gee, thanks, and I appreciate that more from you than you know.

I guess the big thing to me is that it 'has survived' this long, been moved three times, and has lived to meet the original rather lofty goals of what I wanted to achieve.  Operationally, I'm satisfied.

 I mean, this was an impossible goal - modeling the Santa Fe main line in the space I had.  In 1972, the Employee timetable I have showed 60, that's right SIXTY scheduled (not counting extras) in and out of Winslow in a 24 hour period.  Only a handful of trains originated and terminated there, mostly to Phoenix (the "787" trains).  The ETT shows arrival times and departure times for each train, not a running time over the railroad, but a published chart that shows the Winslow yard schedule.  I've never seen anything else like it in an ETT.  So by having a big staging yard and the loop idea with eastbounds and westbounds, I can get up to like 16 scheduled moves, and by that time most layout operators have had about all the fun they can stand.  Ya get the point.  The MOST fun I have with the layout is giving a visiting operator the Flagstaff local, which is just a bear to switch to begin with, and about the time he settles in, to start to pepper Flag with through freights running on the open main (bidirectional CTC).  I've kept some real railroaders on their toes. 

If I ever DO get more space, there is a plan to 'graft on 'behind Flagstaff' and take that main line out of the backdrop reconnecting Winslow and Williams.  It comes over another three feet, giving me eight lineal feet to develop the 'missing scene' in my layout - Canyon Diablo, with that massive bridge over the gorge.   Right where it belongs operationally.  So still, even this many years later, I'm not looking to really tear it down - just keep adding on if I'd get the space and put in more main line.  But I'd still leave that original track in there, just disconnect it.

As far as the modules.  That came about because my former 3x6 layout - finished, sceniced, even more so than mine is today - couldn't fit down the stairs, or through the door, or anyplace else.  Had to be scrapped.  As I knew I'd be moving, probably more than once, I resigned myself to never having that to happen except by choice.

So each 'table' no more than four feet long.  The Winslow yard table is 27" wide, as wide as I could fit through my doors upright.  I can manuver a module that size up and down stairs and through halls.  You can see that in the carpentry shots.  There are basically four tables and two connectors.

Each table is fully self-supporting.  All the roadbed was cut and lap-jointed at the tables.  Every track is cut and has joiners in.  Wing bolts hold and align the tables.  Scenery is jointed through the plaster, and only the finish turf is across the gaps.  The backdrops are also jointed, which I hate because they regularly crack and expand with the seasons.

But the BIG investment was electrical.  I put EVERY inter-table wire through 12-pin Moulex connectors so that EVERYTHING could be yanked apart without cutting a wire.  That decision really paid off.  It's still really a pain to have to solder all the pins and joints up to put in circuits, but I still do it.  There's a very real chance I may change rooms in the house and get more space here.

The end result of that is a truly 'finished' looking layout that I've been able to work on a long, long time, while I had kids, multiple jobs, houses, and a 'life'.  I don't think anybody can count on staying anyplace that long to really finish a layout to the degree we all imagine we can unless you plan like this.

Now, on 'cheats, not fair' I'll admit that I have a precise 10" overhead radial saw that was my Dad's, and I've been woodworking my entire life and also have made furniture - a family trait.  So the rather insane and complex nature of my benchwork is only possible because I have the tools to pull it off.  It's kinda like owning a 25' cabin cruiser and not admitting to owning a truck to pull it.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2009, 09:22:04 PM by randgust »

amato1969

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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #47 on: March 25, 2009, 09:54:39 PM »
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Dave, do you have the PRR Triumph book featuring the Buffalo line?  It has a wealth of info that may help your planning efforts.

  Frank

Dave V

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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #48 on: March 25, 2009, 10:01:10 PM »
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Dave, do you have the PRR Triumph book featuring the Buffalo line?  It has a wealth of info that may help your planning efforts.

  Frank

No, but my book wish list is growing by the day!

Steve has me also considering Lock Haven to Renovo...  But if I can I'm going to tour the Buffalo Line when I'm on PA in May.  That will help me find my inspiration.

Either way I think I'm done with the Middle Division.  I love it, but day-um, I don't have a chance to do it justice.
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randgust

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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #49 on: March 26, 2009, 06:42:57 AM »
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Well, Dave, here's another one of my cheats.  Make that two.  Or three.

When you're trying to build prototype operational density, what counts is basic visual difference.  Think about that.  Do you really NEED six different coal trains in a 24-hour period, three empties and three loads?  No, if you can set it up so that can just do TWO, and those two can come out of staging in either direction, then two trains (an empty and a load) can 'cover' the schedule for all six.

Passenger trains on the PRR are similarly...uh.. predictable.  You've always got head-end, coaches.  Then the variable diner, that tended to dissapear at Harrisburg anyway.  So then behind that, the Pullmans on the Buffalo trains and the Erie trains.  See what I'm getting at?  Visually, you'd be hard pressed to differentiate except for locomotive number to cover what was probably....six passenger trains by Northumberland?  Eight?  Only ONE trainset can cover that.

Concentrate on the number of trains that are visually different, try to do your staging so that they can run both north and south, have a train reappear as a different scheduled move more than once if you're building a sequential schedule.

When you're blocking in and out of your yard, one 'consist' blocks off the front end and the other blocks off the rear end representing two different trains, as in 35 cars you're not going to work the ENTIRE train, are you?  So out of the same equipment set, say one scheduled train has cars to work out of the first ten, a 'different train' has to work the last ten cars, different functions and destinations.

I ended up with the following:
2 merchandise trains; a 'hot train' with reefers,pigs, etc and a 'dog train' with grain cars, gons, everything else.  3 units each; 35 cars; each train each way switches blocks at Winslow
1 passenger train; 9 cars; switches out a private car.
1 unit coal train; 35 cars; run through but does fuel stop
1 piggyback train' 18 cars; one setout/pickup at Winslow + fuel stop
2 short divisional freights; 10 cars; originate and terminate
1 work train 6 cars; set out and pick up cars

8 trains total, each can run east and west out of staging; makes 15-16 moves.  Add to that two locals out of Winslow east and west.

Another tip:  plan on night operations of a tower.  That's the easiest way for more fun with the same trains and it feels completely different.

So in your case, you've got coal trains, passenger, merchandiser, and then the foreign-road (DLW, RDG stuff).  It's coming down to managability.

Even if you did something relatively small, like a really accurate KASE, the downtown passenger stations...some river running scene.. think of the operations.  It starts building fast.  If staging can pump bidirectionally, you CAN do it justice.  You can evolve pretty fast out of the 'roundy-roundy' to an operating session that recognizes the day-in, day-out precision machine that the PRR was.

And to Jerry's credit, I think we're playing off of the same script here.  His N layout design had possibly the most massive staging yard I've every seen anywhere underneath everything, with a loop on the end, and feeding into a helix to come up to operations levels.   That helix was really nice because he got a lot more vertical distance between levels than what I'm doing.

Oh, and in case you haven't noticed, my layout, at its heart, is still a 'roundy-roundy'.  A lot of evenings I just set 'em up and run 'em.  I can do a formal operating session, or just polish wheels.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2009, 07:18:43 AM by randgust »

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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #50 on: March 26, 2009, 08:31:58 AM »
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Randy,
You've got the perfect formula.  The design seems to be exactly what I'm striving for.  From traffic flow, to scenic mix, to modularity, expandability...

But come clean... What's one thing that you would have done differently?  Is there anything that absolutely drives you nuts when you're running?  There's got to be something...

Lee
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randgust

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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #51 on: March 26, 2009, 08:52:59 AM »
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Things I DID NOT plan on, that I've just learned to deal with.

1)  I used Lambert under-the-table switch machines with steel wire linkages.  Over time, the end contacts on them loosen, drop screws and corrode.  On this layout, that means either trackside signals or panel switch indicators go dark.  All stop, I'm running blind.  Sigh.  Never again, I'd probably use Tortise.

2)  Be more careful where I put the polarity gaps on the downhill reverse loop.  A 35-car train headed down a 2% grade at 40 scale miles per hour,hitting a polarity conflict on a loop entrance, may as well be hitting a brick wall.  The train telescopes and forces out on the curves,  and will probably derail.  I'd move the gaps further uphill, putting it higher on the hill, and plan that 'liklihood of dead stop/derail' deliberately where it is easier to reach from the side.  I've learned to check, doublecheck, and check again the loop polarities before I enter and exit the yards.  Putting it where I did on the downhill loop, yeah, that was a mistake - that S curve has seen more than its fair share of car scatters.  I only put it where I did so the lower "Y" would work, and I pulled that out later as a mistake as well.   And taking a long train downhill into the yard requires CAREFUL train handling; too slow and the train bunches up and has a nasty habit of random uncoupling.  Truly random.  I come almost to a stop at Williams Jct., then actually lightly accellerate going downhill to stretch the train on the downhill grade to staging. But creeping downhill doesn't work, the train slinkys and hammers into those S curves at the bottom.

3)  I'd make the interior pit 6" wider if I had the space.  It's a little narrow.  It wouldn't fit in the room without it, but if I could, it would be.  It would sure help the entire design for another six inches there.  The tables would lengthen out on the ends, making it 6' wide. 

4)  Not a design issue, but I've been slowly tearing out track and replacing it with Peco C55 in the most visible areas.  The industrial tracks around Flag are all done, and changing over switches to Electrofrogs.

« Last Edit: March 26, 2009, 09:45:59 AM by randgust »

ron

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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #52 on: March 26, 2009, 11:19:08 AM »
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Dave, Ron here. Have you given any thought to looking for a used camping trailer?About 10 years ago I bought a 8X16 foot construction trailer w/heat & air for 500.00. I'm sure you can pick up a used camper cheap, gut it except for elect,air & heat. most campers are about 78 inches inside width by anywhere from 12ft. to however long you want it. You can put a good size layout in about a 20ft. camper. Just make sure you have a rear wheel drive tow vechicle and check the towing ability.most 1/2 ton p/u trucks can tow up to about 6,000 pounds depending on 6 or 8 cyl. most front wheel drive only up to about 3,000 lbs.If you do a layout in it you will be able to take it with you and use it to haul boxes when you move. Just a thought for you. ron.

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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #53 on: March 26, 2009, 01:35:36 PM »
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Quote
A 35-car train headed down a 2% grade at 40 scale miles per hour...

That sounds pretty gutsy to me in any case.  Do you have any recurrent problems with this aside from the polarity?  I'm anticipating ~20 spmh limits on my down grades (similar train length & steepness) -- at least until Lee's Rule G (Get me another beer) kicks in.  ;)

Dave V

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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #54 on: March 26, 2009, 08:42:10 PM »
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Dave, Ron here. Have you given any thought to looking for a used camping trailer?About 10 years ago I bought a 8X16 foot construction trailer w/heat & air for 500.00. I'm sure you can pick up a used camper cheap, gut it except for elect,air & heat. most campers are about 78 inches inside width by anywhere from 12ft. to however long you want it. You can put a good size layout in about a 20ft. camper. Just make sure you have a rear wheel drive tow vechicle and check the towing ability.most 1/2 ton p/u trucks can tow up to about 6,000 pounds depending on 6 or 8 cyl. most front wheel drive only up to about 3,000 lbs.If you do a layout in it you will be able to take it with you and use it to haul boxes when you move. Just a thought for you. ron.

Ron,

Thanks for the idea...  No place to put a trailer at the moment, though, and no gaurantee I can park it somewhere at the next assignment.  These Nebraska winters are brutal too...  would like to keep it inside.
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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #55 on: March 26, 2009, 08:46:17 PM »
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Randy,

I really like your plan, and I'm liking the operating scheme quite a bit.

One challenge I'll face is that of adequate, yet small and portable, staging.

Clearly anything other than a branchline on the PRR is unsuitable for a small portable layout even in N...
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wm3798

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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #56 on: March 27, 2009, 09:14:42 PM »
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Cheer up Dave.  Here.  We've sent Gregg in a happy suit to make you feel better...

The Gang at Railwire
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Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #57 on: March 28, 2009, 10:43:53 AM »
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LOL!

That guy has the same hairstyle and everything!
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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #58 on: March 29, 2009, 11:17:39 AM »
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Quote
A 35-car train headed down a 2% grade at 40 scale miles per hour...

That sounds pretty gutsy to me in any case.  Do you have any recurrent problems with this aside from the polarity?  I'm anticipating ~20 spmh limits on my down grades (similar train length & steepness) -- at least until Lee's Rule G (Get me another beer) kicks in.  ;)


Because of my absolute paranoia about derailments, I've stayed with pizza cutters, because the slack run-ins and run-outs headed downhill can knock a car off low-pros.  I've lowered frames, but stayed with PC's.   I've also made MT's 100% mandatory, because the random uncoupling with accumates (along with spontaneous dissassembly) kinda turned me off.

Going uphill, I had to use Jim Fitzgeralds 'RDA notch treatment' way before MT ever put it on couplers, because the MT's would pop apart.  Notching in the knuckles stopped that.  When you can haul 17 piggyback flats uphill from Chila Yard, right up to Flag (just about completely wraps over itself) without a pull-apart, you've got it beat.

And Dave, I never met a layout so small that staging wouldn't help it.  My current "Ross Run" logging module on the Hickory Valley has three storage tracks stuffed under it, and it is only 18 x 42 inches.  I've got to do something with all that logging equipment I've acquired.


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Re: Back to the PRR Buffalo Line
« Reply #59 on: March 29, 2009, 12:59:02 PM »
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You can have reliable operations without pizza cutters ..