Author Topic: Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Modular - Portable -Flexible  (Read 9415 times)

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wm3798

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Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Modular - Portable -Flexible
« on: September 17, 2013, 11:40:39 AM »
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We all remember the cool little layout that Gregg Mahlkov (3rdRail) built in an old TV cabinet.  I'm not sure if his photos are still on line, but he had a nice compact track plan, it measured about 20 x 30" or something ridiculously small like that, and provided a nice photo bed for his small PRR steamers.  It was portable enough that he could take it to shows, and it fit nicely in the corner of the room, and I believe he could close it up, too.

Since my potential layout space is virtually non-existent, I've been thinking a lot about how I could pick up on that theme, and do a little switching layout.  There is a clear shelf next to my desk in the den, but I usually end up putting all manner of things on it, and I'm sure that if I built a railroad there, it would get damaged or underutilized under a pile of papers, coffee cups and CDs.

I also work at the Habitat ReStore, where we get all kinds of furniture donated, some of it really nice, some of it junque of the highest order.  One of the things we seem to get by the million these days are TV armoirs.  Throughout the 90s, tube TVs kept getting bigger and bigger, and furniture makers did all they could to keep up.  I've selected a medium sized oak cabinet to start working out the design of this project.





As you can see, the inside features some drawers and shelves that will be handy for storing rolling stock, tools and scenery materials.  The main section of the cabinet has the back popped out for its previous occupant, but that can easily be patched up to make a 3-sided back drop.

The simplest thing to do would be to design a small track plan that fits inside the cabinet.  The dimensions of the floor of the cabinet are 19" deep, 33" wide, and 27" high.  Plenty of room to do something fun to switch or fun to watch.  Obviously, there's not going to be any staging yards, helices or long stretches of main line, that's what I go to Eric's and John's for now.  But I could easily replicate Gregg's old track plan and enjoy building all kinds of structures and compact scenery in the small space.  I could also build the platform up a little higher than the floor to create a bit more storage under the layout.  The floor sits about 25" above the floor, a bit low even for a seated operator.


The option I've chosen is a variant of this.  I'll use shelf brackets to store a few foam or modified HCD modules that could be placed on a frame that pulls out from the cabinet.  Each module could be up to 18" deep and 32" wide, so if planned for four of them, I'd have a platform of 30" x 72", or just shy of a typical HCD plan.  I solved the downside of this sketch, but rotating the two middle modules 90 degrees, like so:




Lee
« Last Edit: August 30, 2017, 01:14:21 PM by wm3798 »
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wm3798

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Re: Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Layout in a Cabinet
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2013, 11:42:20 AM »
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Okay, you'll notice I've given this thing a name, the Oxford Branch of the Laurel Valley Railway.  As Ed pointed out, I've always had an itch to do a low density branch line during the PC or early CR era, and this is a good opportunity to mess with that.  I'll use my Laurel Valley theme, because I can.  Basically, I'm seeing generally a point to point operation with a switch in the back that allows for some roundy round.  The plan would be single track, with a short run-around at "the end".  I expect it would be a single line, although in the area I'm representing, there were two rail lines at one time, including a bridge where one crossed over the other... so a simple dummy loop might be a part of the plan just to have an excuse to run two trains through the scenery.

Basically something like this:


Ideally, I'd have it built in a way that allowed me to standardize the connections at the end module so I could ostensibly add more modules if space allowed.  These, of course, would have to be stored separately.

Operations and Scenery

Yes, a lazy branch line, such as the one I rode with Brian up in Massey, Maryland.  Connection at one end to PC/CR, then loping along through the weeds, past a grain elevator, a fertilizer plant, maybe an oil/propane terminal, and a warehouse of one sort or another to get a boxcar or flat delivered.  If there's room, I have a lumber yard kit I could include.  Scenery would be Delmarva, think Iowa with salt water fishing.  I'd like to have a classic timber trestle swing bridge, such as the one at Denton, but otherwise, a podunk town, some farm fields, and marshes will dominate.  I think I might take a stab at late fall/early winter.  I like what Ed's doing with that season, and on Delmarva, it's even more stark.


















Note the swing bridge in the background.



I'm sure there's more...

Lee
« Last Edit: September 17, 2013, 11:44:24 AM by wm3798 »
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wm3798

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Re: Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Layout in a Cabinet
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2013, 11:50:08 AM »
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With the help of DKS and input from the BWI a$$hat crew, we've come up with this track plan:



The names will likely be changed to protect the innocent.

The part with Podunk Jct. will be located in the cabinet, and the other three modules will be able to be stored within, and brought out for quick assembly when it's time to run.

A couple of notes:
I think putting the town scene on the endcap will help disguise the return loop.

I want to do the broad river/swing bridge for a nice scenic effect, and also to have a timber trestle and a swing bridge to build.

I have a whole bunch of the NOCH grass mat that will make decent winter wheat.  I'll have to figure a way to dull down the color a bit.  I'm thinking of getting a swath of brown corduroy to do the plowed field, adding some sifted dirt to lump it up a bit, and some flecks of sawdust to represent remnants of dried corn stalks.

And of course, I'll be making a few trees every night... :lol:

Lee
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jnevis

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Re: Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Layout in a Cabinet
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2013, 12:00:02 PM »
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Great idea Lee.  I may try and convince the boss to let me do something like that.  I thought of a smaller length that folds into the armoir.  Hmmm.......
Can't model worth a darn, but can research like an SOB.

Philip H

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Re: Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Layout in a Cabinet
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2013, 12:12:04 PM »
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Great idea Lee.  I may try and convince the boss to let me do something like that.  I thought of a smaller length that folds into the armoir.  Hmmm.......

You should see the collection of sketches (including some very fancy hardware for folding) that we already swatted down.
Philip H.
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wm3798

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Re: Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Layout in a Cabinet
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2013, 12:16:16 PM »
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The signature scene of this plan will be the swing bridge over the broad river.  The Eastern Shore was once lousy with these things.  Every creek it seemed had one.  There are still at least two that I'm aware of that are still active on the NS Delmarva division, and several abandoned ones that you can still get to.  So we went out in the canoe in Denton and shot a bunch of pictures of the swing bridge there. 

Here's a couple of factoids:
The swing span is approximately 100' long, or about 7.5" in N scale.  The channel isn't centered in the river, so there's about 150' to the east, and maybe 300' to the west.  The photos will verify.  The trestle bents are about 10' apart, near as I could figure from a bobbing canoe.

There is a simple enclosure around the bridge in its open position, basically pilings set about 6' apart with what looks like 2x8s in two rails, one at the high tide waterline, and one at the top of the pilings, maybe 3' above mean high tide.

The bridge is mounted on a circular concrete pier, which has a set of steel teeth around the top perimeter.  The bridge is driven by what must have been an electric motor mounted in the middle of the bridge deck, with a big gear head that meshes with the teeth on the pier.  The diameter of the pier matches the width of the bridge, which I'm guessing is about 10' inside clearance.

I was surprised to see that there were no supports for the ends of the bridge in the open position.  I figured there would have been some sort of block that supported the ends, but there's no evidence of that at all.  There are big pilings fore and aft of the open bridge, I assume to protect it from wayward vessels that might approach the channel at a bad angle.

For many years there were no 'night lights' on the bridge, but recently the state has installed some solar powered markers to indicate the channel.  Apart from a few pleasure crafts, there isn't much marine traffic north of here on the Choptank, which becomes quite narrow and shallow not far from here.

For the purpose of modeling, I think the maximum length for the whole operation is going to be about 16".  The approach trestles will have to be truncated a bit, but being trestles, I can curve them a bit to get to the 7.5" swing bridge.  I'll also make it off-center in the river, maybe 3" on one side, and the remaining length on the other, probably toward the cabinet.


Here's the movable bridge, I'm guesstimating that the girder plates are each 4', adding up to approximately a 100' span.  Allowing for the swing pier and the abutments, that leaves about 40' clear in each channel.


Another angle.


Here's the drive detail.  After watching Dave's video, I'm almost certain that the cog is manually driven.  A little trespassing onto the bridge deck would answer the question definitively.  Of course, now I'll have to have DKS develop an gear head that allows me to insert a rod with a little figure on it to "walk around" to move the bridge!


The gun carriages.  There are 4 sets of these, two outboard, and two under the track.


We got a good close up of the end of the bridge, and you can see there's two bars that slide out between the guardrails to lock in the track alignment.  It would be interesting to see if the PRR goobs have a set of drawings for a bridge like this to nail down details like that.


Here's the end detail.  Looks like there's some sort of lever that gets pulled down to lock the bridge into place when it's closed. 


The abutments have these cast steel brackets, and two bridge shoes that the ends rest on.  It looks like there's a groove in that clip that must receive whatever tongue is operated by the lever on the bridge.


Here's a good view of the cribbing that surrounds the open bridge.  Should be easily accomplished with some round toothpicks and strip wood.


Here's the longer approach trestle.  Pretty standard issue stuff here.  I'm estimating the bents are spaced on 10' centers.  I'll have to make mine shorter, but I think using the general principal and the bracing patterns I can give it a reasonable representation.


An overview of the whole shebang, viewed from the north.


Finally, here's a detail shot for the modern modeler...  The little solar powered channel markers.  Obviously, these are placed in a way that wouldn't work if the bridge were operable, but I'm sure with a little modification, it could be added to a working bridge.  By the way, I already have my green and red LEDs ready and waiting...


I almost forgot how much fun field research can be!

Lee


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wm3798

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Re: Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Layout in a Cabinet
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2013, 12:49:24 PM »
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Here's the active swing bridge in Seaford, Delaware, crossing the Nanticoke River.  (It's behind the Conrail Geep everyone's drooling all over).


Note that it has a control house hanging on the side.  I'm wondering if this bridge was similarly equipped, based on these brackets attached to the bridge plates?  Could that have been where a doghouse was scabbed on?



The Seaford picture also answers another question that arose.  If the bridge is operated manually, then how does the bridge operator get over to the span to operate it?  I see there are steps attached that extend down to a floating platform.  Must be a dinghy they use to get out there.

Lee
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Re: Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Layout in a Cabinet
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2013, 01:41:17 PM »
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Lee -

Just FYI, out here on the West Coast, trestle bents are generally at 14' and/or 15' centers depending on use of 28' or 30' stringers. 
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Chris333

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Re: Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Layout in a Cabinet
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2013, 02:20:52 PM »
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Here's the active swing bridge in Seaford, Delaware, crossing the Nanticoke River.  (It's behind the Conrail Geep everyone's drooling all over).



Man that track to the right sure kinks over.

Philip H

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Re: Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Layout in a Cabinet
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2013, 02:38:06 PM »
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Man that track to the right sure kinks over.

I'm sure Lee has the skills to model it faithfully. And the hammer.  :facepalm:
Philip H.
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"Yes there are somethings that are "off;" but hey, so what." ~ Wyatt

"I'm trying to have less cranial rectal inversion with this." - Ed K.

"There's more to MRR life than the Wheezy & Nowheresville." C855B

davefoxx

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Re: Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Layout in a Cabinet
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2013, 02:54:48 PM »
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Man that track to the right sure kinks over.

Ed's Law.

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Bob Bufkin

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Re: Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Layout in a Cabinet
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2013, 02:57:12 PM »
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Good to see you back in the game Lee.  With a little work, that life bridge you got from me a few years ago would also look good on this.

DKS

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Re: Laurel Valley Oxford Branch - Layout in a Cabinet
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2013, 02:59:32 PM »
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With a little work, that life bridge you got from me a few years ago would also look good on this.

He was going to use it, in fact. We all talked him out of it (nothing wrong with the lift bridge itself, it was just the wrong type in this case).
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